The Big Win in Wyoming

Source: Western Watersheds Project

Welfare Ranchers Get a Boot in the Butt!!!

Western Watersheds Project is not primarily known for its defense of the U.S. Constitution. We tend to focus on federal laws and policies relating to the environment and public lands. But now, thanks to a Tenth Circuit Court win and a successful but protracted battle in Wyoming, you can count us among the defenders of free speech!

It all started when Jonathan Ratner, our dedicated Wyoming Director, started gathering evidence of livestock-caused water pollution on public lands and submitting his data to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). His results of significant fecal coliform contamination were so threatening to the political establishment of the “Cowboy State” that rather than clean up the water, Wyoming ranchers started to seek ways to shut us up.

In 2014, anti-environmental attorney (and potential Trump pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management) Karen Budd-Falen and a group of ranchers claimed Jonathan must have trespassed on their private property in order to gather water quality samples from public lands grazing allotments. She wound up the loser. This frivolous lawsuit was resolved in 2016 through a settlement agreement that ultimately penalized the ranchers through their legal fees, and WWP agreeing to follow the same laws it always follows regarding private lands.

Then, in 2015, the Wyoming DEQ decided not to accept any of WWP’s data: “Any submission submitted by such organizations should not be accepted due to their inherent bias towards one of Wyoming’s leading economic industries.” If an organization cares about water quality and native fish habitat more than cows, the data be damned.

Also that year, the DEQ decided to change the rules about E.coli in 76 percent of the waterways in the state – effectively legalizing the extreme pollution levels that Jonathan had been documenting. The rule change, requested by the livestock industry, went into effect in February 2017 despite broad opposition by non-ranchers, recreational users, and federal land management agencies.

In addition to working against WWP and the public’s interest in healthy waterways, the Wyoming State Legislature decided to take special interests’ right to wreck the environment to another level by passing legislation making it illegal to cross “open land for the purpose of collecting resource data.” WWP and our allies were alarmed by the fact that the laws – dubbed “Jonathan’s Laws” by our staff – would seek specifically to punish people who intend to communicate data to the government; this is a restriction on free speech and targets a specific class of citizens (data collectors) in a way that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

After the Wyoming legislature modified the laws in 2016, Wyoming had our case in District Court dismissed. But WWP and our co-plaintiffs weren’t fooled by the tweaks in language, and we appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal and concluded that plain reading of the statute demonstrated that Wyoming was seeking to regulate an activity that occurred on public land and that resource data collection is within the definition of the creation of speech – protected under the First Amendment and essential to public participation in numerous federal environmental statutes. The case now goes back to district court.

Wyoming counties have also taken up the charge to block public access in public lands. In Lincoln County, for years the public used a county road to reach the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area on public lands. In 2013, the county sold a strip of land along the road to an Idaho rancher and subsequently made the private portion of the road impassable. According to emails revealed in litigation, this was done specifically to block WWP’s access to a long-troubled grazing allotment.

WWP is enormously grateful to our attorneys at Public Justice and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association and Natural Resource Defense Council for standing with us on this appeal. We’re also enormously proud of Jonathan Ratner’s work to expose and address the harmful impacts of public lands livestock grazing in the “Cowboy State.”

While we wait for this next round of litigation, we hope that Wyoming’s next move is simply to clean up its act and stop letting the livestock industry foul the state’s precious waters with impunity. 

https://www.westernwatersheds.org/

BLM’s Sally Spencer, who authorized sale of about 1,000 wild horses to kill buyer Tom Davis, gets “promoted” to Acting District Manager

Source:  eplanning.blm.gov

BLM’s Sally J. Spencer

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Sally Spencer, as the Supervisory Marketing Specialist for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse & Burro Program, personally authorized the sale of almost 1,000 of the wild horses (that ended up going to slaughter) to kill buyer Tom Davis.  Spencer was also willing to sell 10,000 wild horses to slaughter in Canada.   In 2017, Sally Spencer signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an oil and gas lease sale, as the “Acting District Manager” for BLM’s Southeastern States District Office.

The BLM must’ve been very happy with Spencer’s work selling wild horses & burros to slaughter, to allow her to be an Acting District Manager and make major decisions about selling off our public lands.

FONSI signed by Sally J. Spencer as Acting District Manager (see the entire FONSI HERE.)

Bill of Sale to kill buyer Tom Davis signed by Sally J. Spencer (note: the year at the top of the document is 2012, and the year by Tom Davis’ signature is 2012, BUT, Sally Spencer wrote in the year as 2011.)

Georgia offers help for horses being evacuated from Florida

Source:  womenofageridinghorses

Excerpt:

Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter

Starting Thursday morning GNFA is offering 350 stalls on a first come, first serve basis. No need to call ahead but have a back up plan should the facility reach capacity by the time you arrive.

There is on-site camping available for those sheltering a horse at the facility. Three bags of shavings per stall will be available at the time of move in, but owners will be responsible for feed, hay and tack to care for the animals. Local feed stores are available for those unable to bring necessary items. Evacuees are welcome until it is safe for you to return home.

“We hope that by offering these stalls to evacuees to house their animals, will help give them a sense of peace and security,” said Philip Gentry, the livestock and youth director at the Perry facility.

Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter
401 Larry Walker Pkwy. • Perry, Georgia • I-75 Exits 134 & 135

Georgia International Horse Park

Built for the 1996 Olympics, GIHP has become a regional mainstay for equestrian events in the South. While there are shows scheduled at the facility in coming weeks, there are stalls available for those evacuating Hurricane Irma. The GIHP is happy to offer help and asks that you call ahead for stabling 770-860-4190.

Georgia International Horse Park
1996 Centennial Olympic Parkway, Conyers, GA 30013, Conyers, GA 30013

More Options

The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s website provides a list of licensed stables accepting evacuations

Be Safe, Be Careful and Don’t Wait.

 

Fighting Wildlife Crime amid Bureaucracy and Solutions

In 2016, a Minnesota man was found guilty of smuggling objects made from elephant ivory.

SOURCE:  PPJ Gazette

by Sam Jojola

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Background

“This article was originally published for World Animal News in November, 2015 and titled “Wildlife Crimes: Why Is It So Difficult to Enforce Laws”. This is an updated version that includes reference to a 2016 GAO report detailing the shortcomings and successes of combating wildlife trafficking. It often seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are some positive changes, but they are slow.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Global Anti-Poaching Act of 2015

The passage of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494) through the House on June 25, 2015 was long overdue and very encouraging news for wildlife law enforcement. It will greatly assist in addressing the rapid expansion of wildlife criminal syndicates and terrorist groups globally. Finally, after decades of “paralysis by analysis” there is some political motivation in the U.S. to deal with the exponential growth of wildlife crime here and around the world. Why has it taken so long?

The most recent GAO report dated September, 2016 titled Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Agencies are taking a range of actions but the task force lacks performance targets for assessing progress: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679968.pdf

Perhaps there will be another GAO report this year to show measurable progress.

Layers of bureaucracy and political meddling

When one examines the primary agency responsible for investigating wildlife crimes on the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS/OLE) has been and is the lead entity to do so. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is primarily a biological entity under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior that oversees a host of at least nine (9) agencies, like the U.S. Park Service (USPS), the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to name a few. The USFWS/OLE is just one of fifteen (15) National programs managed by USFWS. In essence many layers of government within the Department of the Interior which is not a law enforcement entity like the Department of Justice. Other law enforcement agencies like the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, and the Secret Service, are not under the umbrella of a non-law enforcement entity that can sometimes run political interference and impede wildlife investigations and protection.

There are a number of glaring examples over the decades where political meddling by high level non-law enforcement leaders were persuaded by the interests of well-connected trophy hunters or landowners to “bend the rules” and give a seized hunting trophy back or not pursue an investigation into violations of federal wildlife laws. You won’t find these examples on the Internet as they are buried in the minds of former agents like myself or in obscure articles from the 1980’s and 1990’s hidden in library archives or this amazing October, 1996 29 page account from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER): https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/whitepapers/1996_tarnished_trophies.pdf

Here is a more recent account of a colleague of mine who was forced into retirement several years ago after he reported political interference and scientific misconduct in USFWS: http://www.hcn.org/articles/u-s-fish-and-wildlife-whistleblower-retaliation-case-raises-questions#commenting.

Just Google “USFWS political meddling into wildlife science based decisions” and a disturbing pattern of pages emerge over the years where politics overrides the protection of key species such as Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Wolverines and other species of concern.

Historical Neglect of Federal Wildlife Law Enforcement

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Action alert: focus your fight to save our wild horses & burros on the Senate

Our thanks to Representatives Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Peter King (R-New York), Jared Polis, (D-Colorado), Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-New Mexico) for their efforts and for sponsoring the House Amendments that would have stopped the slaughter of tens of thousands of our wild horses and burros.

Unfortunately, the House Committee on Rules has voted down the amendments that were introduced to stop horse slaughter and the killing of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros.  The House Committee on Rules stopped these amendments from going to the House floor for a vote by all Representatives.

Our fight is not over.  We need to focus on the Senate.

Please fax (your letter will get to them quickly) even a simple handwritten note and/or make phone calls to your Senators, and tell them you are a constituent and:

1) you do NOT want our wild horses and burros to be killed, “euthanized” or sterilized.

2) Do NOT remove the sales restrictions that protect our wild horses and burros from being sold into the slaughter pipeline.

3) you do NOT want horse slaughter in the U.S.

Share this message with your friends and on social media and ask everyone to take action to save the lives of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros in BLM holding facilities and on our public lands.  And ask them to share this message, too. 

We need many voices to save our wild horses and burros.

Also, our thanks to Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-Florida), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California), Ed Royce (R-California), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon),  for introducing the bipartisan amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that would bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture from funding horsemeat inspectors.

THE TRUTH #8 – The BLM’s own records indicate its plans for sterilizations and non-reproducing herds for wild horses & burros could be challenged by law

Wild Horse Freedom Federation issues THE TRUTH to share Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents and information with the public. Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

THE TRUTH #8 – The BLM’s own records indicate its plans for sterilizations and non-reproducing herds for wild horses & burros could be challenged by law.

Note the following “LIMITATIONS AND BARRIERS” in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records below, and then note the “NEEDS” in the column on the far right, where they even state they need a “clarification” in the WH & B Act to indicate that non-reproducing herds are acceptable. And that they also need a “Change to the WH & B regulations to eliminate the phrase ‘Shall be managed as self-sustaining populations.'”

There is no question that the BLM intends to manage to wild horses & burros to extinction.

Here are a few “population suppression methods” with the BLM’s comments in italics:

Regarding Non-Reproductive or Minimally Reproducing Herd“Certain litigation challenge WH & B regulation states to manage for sustainable populations. Solicitors indicate this presents gray area of uncharted waters to navigate legal challenge.”

Regarding Ovariectomy“Likely to be litigated. Challenges are presented because ovariectomies conducted in first 100 days of conception have been shown to cause spontaneous abortions. About 75% of captured mares are pregnant. Spaying is traditionally conducted in sterile surgery room on non-pregnant domestic mares, and is considered highly invasive. Has been conducted on experimental basis in field Sheldon Wildlife Refuge wild mares, but no data were recorded on mortality or rate of abortions.”

Regarding Non-Reproductive Herd Components“Certain legal challenges. Higher controversy if ovariectomy is involved. Unknown behavioral effects.”

Regarding the fertility control SpayVac“Unknown efficacy and unknown exact mechanism of action. Field trials will be litigated w/o further data from pen trials.”

Read the rest of this article and see the FOIA documents HERE.

Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

Chemical companies have already released 1 million pounds of extra air pollutants, thanks to Harvey

Source:  The Washington Post

A refinery in East Houston on Wednesday. Hurricane Harvey pushed thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Oil refineries and chemical plants across the Texas Gulf Coast released more than 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants in the week after Harvey struck, according to public regulatory filings aggregated by the Center for Biological Diversity.

While attention has zeroed in on the crisis at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Tex., other facilities — oil refineries, chemical plants and shale drilling sites — have been reporting flaring, leaks and chemical discharges triggered by Harvey.

Emissions have already exceeded permitted levels, after floating rooftops sank on oil storage tanks, chemical storage tanks overflowed with rainwater, and broken valves and shutdown procedures triggered flaring at refineries.

The chemicals released in the week after Harvey made landfall, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, hexane, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, toluene and xylene.

All seven chemicals are toxic air pollutants documented to harm human health; several cause cancer. Other emissions would bring the total to more than 5 million pounds, the Center for Biological Diversity said.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

 

Russ Mead, Esq., V.P. and General Counsel of Animal Law Coalition, talks about wild horses & burros and advocacy, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 9/6/17)

painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This show will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

Our guest tonight is RUSS MEAD, Esq., the Vice President & General Counsel of Animal Law Coalition, a 501(c)4 that lobbies for legislation in support of animal welfare. Its mission is to advocate for animals to live free of cruelty and neglect. His legislative advocacy work includes grass roots organizing, lobbying, and media promotion.  Russ talks about wild horses & burros and advocacy.

Russ has served as General Counsel for two of the nation’s leading non-profit animal sanctuaries: Best Friends Animal Society, the largest no kill companion animal sanctuary in the U.S. and Farm Sanctuary, the first farm animal sanctuary in the U.S. At Best Friends, Russ set up the rescue operation compound for hurricane Katrina where 6,000 animals were rescued. His work has included rescues from animal hoarders, puppy mills and dog fighting cases, including the Michael Vick case.

Russ is married to Laura Allen, who is also an animal rights attorney and President of Animal Law Coalition. Together they have the Seattle based law firm of Allen & Mead. Russ and Laura balance this law practice with their animal rights and animal welfare work.

See Russ Mead’s paintings on russmead.com

This show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

TO LISTEN TO ALL ARCHIVED WILD HORSE & BURRO RADIO SHOWS, CLICK HERE. Continue reading

Keep calling Congress TODAY (Sept. 6th) – Our Wild Horses & Burros Need Your Help Now!

SOURCE:  Wildhoofbeats.com

Wild Horses Rounded up at the Checkerboard Roundup in 2014

Wild Horses Rounded up at the Checkerboard Roundup in 2014

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Congress is back in session and the 2018 Budget will be under consideration. Over 46,000 wild horses and burros currently in short term holding and long term holding plus over 46,000 right now still on public lands but deemed “excess” by the BLM are at risk of being killed or sent to slaughter.

Despite asserting the need to do this to save money, on 8/29 the BLM announced its decision to roundup and remove 1560 wild horses from the Checkerboard Area in Wyoming, a vast area of over 2.4 million acres. They will begin this removal on or after September 15 and will take 513 wild horses from Adobe Town, 725 from Salt Wells Creek and 322 from Great Divide Basin. These horses are doomed to be killed if the 2018 Budget passes as is.

Wild Family in Adobe Town

Wild Family in Adobe Town

Here is the Decision Record for the 2017 Checkerboard Roundup:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/74247/118694/144899/3.Decision_Record_8_29_17.pdf

We need your help NOW to stop the killing and slaughter of our wild horses and burros.

Please call your Senators and Representatives today and every day until the 2018 Budget is passed.

Find your Representatives here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Tell them I support the Titus-King-Polis Amendment to restore the prohibition on killing wild horses and burros

Tell them I support the Buchanon-Roybal-Allard-Royce-Blumenthal Amendment to prevent horse slaughter

Find your Senators here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Tell them I oppose any provision allowing BLM to kill wild horses and burros or sell them to someone who will

I oppose any attempt to remove sale restrictions on wild horses and burros

Checkerboard mare and foal

Checkerboard mare and foal

You can download this flyer here:

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/TellCongresstoSTOP.pdf

Wyoming BLM Fails to Analyze Climate Impacts of Oil and Gas, Yet Again

SOURCE:  climatewest.org

By

Last week, Guardians submitted comments on Interior Secretary Zinke’s and the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to hold two oil and gas lease sales in March of next year.

Instead of turning over a new leaf in 2018, the Wyoming BLM is planning to giveaway 125,000+ acres of public land for fracking in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (northwestern Wyoming) and 48,000+ acres in the High Plains District (eastern Wyoming).  Not surprisingly, based on the draft environmental analysis, Wyoming fails again to fully analyze the climate change impacts from the lease sales.

The Wyoming BLM continues to refuse to analyze the cumulative climate impacts even when the lease sales are occurring at the same time and in the same state (not to mention the 1 million plus acres leased in the West 2017).  And, Wyoming continually touts the benefits of oil and gas while failing to even attempt to look at the social costs of releasing more carbon into our atmosphere (a requirement that two courts recently re-affirmed).

Read the rest of this article HERE.