Scandal at the BLM

waterflow

(photo: Cadizinc.com)

SOURCE:  weeklystandard.com

Scandal at the BLM

Inside information, investors, and a pipeline plugged by politics.

by Jim Swift

Strange things are afoot at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency housed within the Department of the Interior tasked with managing the nation’s vast swaths of publicly held land.

The main character in this mystery is a not a person, but a proposed pipeline intended to bring water from remote aquifers in the Mojave desert to drought-stricken southern California. Named the Cadiz project, it’s a privately owned venture that has been in regulatory limbo for over a decade—the work of the buzzsaw that is Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has pulled out all the stops to kill it. (You can read my earlier story on that here.)

Feinstein has used her clout on the Appropriations Committee to successfully insert a policy rider into law each and every year to specifically delay or deny the ability of the Cadiz project to move forward, running roughshod over her state’s House delegation (including Democrats), many of whom want the project to go forward.

The debate is over whether or not a proposed water pipeline within the right-of-way of a railroad that crosses over public lands “furthers a railroad purpose” and whether it has to get BLM approval. In the past, BLM pre-approval was not needed. Because of Feinstein’s urging, BLM withdrew a longstanding regulatory opinion and replaced it with one that “requires a fact specific case-by-case inquiry” for right-of-way use on BLM lands.

Despite this setback, Cadiz pushed forward and sought determination from BLM under the revised regulatory opinion.

And here’s where it gets fishy.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, a BLM employee routinely shared inside information about the Cadiz project’s future prospects with an investor at Whetstone Capital, a Kansas City firm that often short-sells publicly traded entities as part of its investment portfolio. That investor, Thomas McGannon, runs Whetstone’s investment research efforts. He exchanged a number of emails and phone calls with Erik Pignata, a realty specialist for BLM in California.

McGannon had a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) pending with BLM, but repeatedly and persistently fished for more information from Pignata while it was being processed. Pignata is not a FOIA officer.

It appears, per WSJ’s reporting, that McGannon’s fishing expidition was successful:

“Does the green line go through BLM lands?” Mr. McGannon asked in a Sept. 9, 2014 email, referring to a map of the Cadiz project. “I was mostly just curious if an alternate route along the green line would require BLM approval.” Mr. Pignata responded later that day that the alternative route “almost certainly” does.

On Feb. 19, 2015, Mr. McGannon inquired if there has been “any movement on the project discussions since we last spoke?” Mr. Pignata replied: “No, we are formulating our evaluation with DOI legal staff.” The emails suggest the two chatted repeatedly over the phone.

On June 4 Mr. McGannon emailed “great to catch up” along with a link to a blog post “Strong Sell On Project Failure, Insider Enrichment, And Bankruptcy, Price Target $0” that eviscerated Cadiz. On September 23 Mr. McGannon asked if there was “any news likely this week?” Mr. Pignata replied: “I have a briefing w/ the almost-highest people in my agency tomorrow . . . No pressure or anything.” Mr. McGannon cheered him on: “You got it man!”

A week later, Mr. McGannon inquired into when an adverse ruling would be finalized: “Wont [sic] it be great when I don’t bother you anymore.” Mr. Pignata replied: “I have a feeling Cadiz, Inc. isn’t going anywhere . . . so you’ll get to keep bugging me.” Several of Mr. Pignata’s emails suggest an animus toward the Cadiz project.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

BLM appoints Ed Roberson, former Asst. Dir. of Renewable Resources and Planning, as Utah State Director

blm-director-970x546

 Edwin Roberson (photo:  St. George News)

Source:  BLM

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today that it is appointing veteran BLM manager Edwin L. Roberson as the BLM Utah State Director, a key leadership position based in Salt Lake City.

Roberson, a 37-year career leader with the BLM, comes to the Utah post after serving as Director of the BLM National Operations Center in Denver, where he oversaw the Agency’s operational and technical support for information technology, finance, and human resources. Roberson also served in top leadership roles in New Mexico, and held senior level positions in Washington, D.C., including a seven-year tenure as the BLM Assistant Director for Renewable Resources and Planning, a position that oversees a number of BLM resource programs.

“Ed is a good listener, a proven coalition-builder and a natural leader. We are fortunate to have his experience and expertise in Utah,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “Ed has guided some of the agency’s most important work during his career, and his experience working with local communities makes him the perfect fit for this job.”

As BLM Utah State Director, Roberson will lead a team that administers 23 million acres of public lands and 32 million acres of minerals and energy resources in Utah. BLM public lands in Utah feature some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, from snow-capped peaks of remote mountain ranges to colorful red-rock canyons. They offer a unique combination of archaeological, paleontological, and geological resources along with unmatched opportunities for many outdoor recreation activities. Roberson begins his new job October 3rd.

Roberson has a Bachelor of Science in Business and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning, earning both degrees from Auburn University. He and his wife Mary have two grown children and four grandchildren. Roberson is a jogger who enjoys all types of outdoor recreation.

 

Wild Horse & Burro Advocate Hits Back at Bogus BLM Numbers and Bad Math

“In response to a recent Elko Daily Free Press article, which was biased and riddled with BLM BS and propaganda, a wild horse & burro advocate comments in an attempt to set the record straight.  Said comment is worthy of being repeated…many times over!” ~ R.T.


COMMENT:

BLM's war on America's wild horses and burros at Antelope Valley, 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM’s war on America’s wild horses and burros at Antelope Valley, 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Fraudulent Growth Rates: Three herds were featured on the Advisory Board’s tour — Antelope Valley, Goshute, and Spruce Pequop. A review of BLM’s alleged growth figures for those herds showed biologically-implausible increases. From a combined total of 1,440 wild horses in 2013, BLM claimed the herds grew to 3,025 wild horses by 2016, a 110% increase. That would mean a 37% average growth rate, which is 740% times the norm. Moreover, if given a 37% growth rate, then to overcome foal mortality (50%) and adult mortality (5%), the average birth rate would have to have been 84% — which is 420% times the norm. The advisory board members unknowingly “drank the Kool Aid” — they swallowed BLM’s propaganda. Truth be told, the range they toured had been degraded by livestock, which outnumber those few wild horses by a ratio of 100 to 1.

Allotments Not Necessarily Rested: Just because allotments are listed as officially rested from livestock-grazing does not mean they actually are. BLM lets ranchers self-report whether they run cattle or not, and then bills them accordingly. So, if grazing permit-holders don’t report use, BLM doesn’t bill them, and declares the allotments to be in “voluntary non-use.” Conditions are egregious in Nevada, where permittees have defied BLM’s authority to rest allotments from grazing. Ranchers went ahead and put cattle out on the range anyway, despite the drought, and then tried to get the local BLM Field Manager fired. But instead of penalizing the scofflaws, BLM administrators pandered to them, waiving fines and allowing the illegal grazing to continue. Even when BLM tried to enforce the rules, politics blocked those efforts. For instance, a particularly-rebellious permittee openly grazed his cattle beyond the authorized season, running up nearly $30,000 in fines for repeated and ongoing willful trespass. But one of his US Senators asked BLM’s Director to reduce the charge to simple trespass — which he did — and to lower the fine — which he also did — to $6,000.

Wild horses are underpopulated: Per BLM’s own geneticist, 83% of wild-horse herds suffer from arbitrary management levels (AMLs) set below minimum-viable population. For instance, the AML for Oregon’s Beaty’s Butte herd restricts the stocking-density to 1 wild horse per 7 square miles. Imposing such a low density is absurd, but it is done for a purpose. Because by inflating the numbers to make it seem as if there are 2 wild horses per 7 square miles, then BLM can technically declare an “overpopulation” and cite the herd for being at “double the number” that the preposterous AML allows. Please note that, in contrast, BLM authorizes 119 cattle per 7 square miles. After eliminating 99% of the Beaty’s Butte herd, BLM replaced the wild horses with cattle to accommodate a rancher, who had secured a contract to supply grass-fed beef to an upscale grocery chain.

Wild burros are also underpopulated: Again, per BLM’s own geneticist, 90% of wild burro herds suffer from AMLs set below minimum-viable population. For instance, the AML for Arizona’s Black Mountain herd restricts the stocking-density to 1 burro per 4 square miles. The idea that 1 little burro would need 4 square miles of range is just silly, particularly because BLM authorizes 68 cattle per 4 square miles. But, as with the wild horses, by exaggerating the figures to make it seem as if there are 2 burros per 4 square miles, then BLM can call the herd “overpopulated” and point to their being at “twice the AML.”

Save Money, Save Lives: The Wild Horse and Burro Program, if run correctly — that is, per the minimum-feasible management-model specified by Law — would be cost-effective. BLM does not lack for resources. There are 22 million acres of legally-designated herd areas — which BLM previously took away for administrative convenience and political expediency. That land can and should be reopened as habitat. The wild horses and burros now held captive can then be released to those areas, where the cost of their upkeep will be $0.” ~ Mary Beth Delvin

10 Things You Should Know about Wild Horses & Burros AND the Bureau of Land Management

by Alicia Bayer as published on the Inquisitor

“Why stop at 10, there is so much, much more love to share about the BLM and their gross mismanagement of our wild horses and burros, so much more.!   We are not on board with 100% of what is written here but there are several poignant points worth noting.” ~ R.T.


“…the agency sold 1,794 wild horses for $10 each to a Colorado rancher who sent them to slaughter”

There has been a lot of frenzy about the news that the Bureau of Land Management’s advisory board voted to recommend euthanizing 45,000 wild horses. Rumors and contradictions have been flying since the announcement. Here are 10 things you should know about the issue.

1. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) itself did not vote to euthanize the horses. Its advisory board, the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, made the controversial decision. As the Inquisitr reported Wednesday, this board voted to recommend euthanizing the horses. At that time, the BLM had not commented on whether it would take their advice.

2. The BLM has now said that they will not euthanize the horses. WTTW reports that the bureau usually takes several months to respond to their advisory board’s recommendations, but they reacted quickly this time in response to the public uproar.

“The BLM will not euthanize or sell without limitation any healthy animals,” BLM spokesman Jason Lutterman told the press. “We’re going to continue caring for and seeking good homes for the un-adopted animals in our off-range corrals and pastures.”

3. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (Public Law 92-195) put the Bureau of Land Management in charge of ensuring “the protection, management, and control of wild free- roaming horses and burros on public lands.”

“That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.”

The act further says that they must be “protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

4. According to the act, wild horses may be removed if they are old, sick, or lame and destroyed in the most humane manner possible. Capture of excess wild horses is allowed under the act, provided there are suitable adoptions for them where they can be provided with adequate care. No more than four wild horses are to be adopted by any one individual in a year unless the person can prove that he or she can properly care for more. The act further says that if there are excess wild horses that cannot be adopted, they should “be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.”

5. The BLM has been in trouble for their treatment of wild horses in the past. The Washington Times reported in 2015 that the agency sold 1,794 wild horses for $10 each to a Colorado rancher who sent them to slaughter. An investigation revealed that the bureau did not follow their own rules to protect the wild horses, including limiting the number sold to each individual and ensuring that they were going to good homes and not to slaughter. (MORE)

Federal report: Colorado wild horse buyer sold mustangs for slaughter

Reports are also rampant of abuse of the horses during roundups and in their holding facilities. The Humane Society reports that they have witnessed abuses such as a BLM contractor who appeared to hogtie and leave a lost foal in the path of stampeding mustangs, for instance. The BLM publicly admitted to some abuses on its own website, such as using electrical prods on horses. There are also many concerns about the use of helicopters to round up wild horses and burros and the fact that long runs often permanently separate foals from their mothers.

6. Wild horses are allegedly not native to the United States, but neither are cattle. Proponents of euthanizing the horses are quick to point out that wild horses were brought to the United States by the Spanish in the 16th century and are not native to America. However, the lands where wild horses are being removed are often being used for grazing cattle, which are not native either.

Nature World News reports that the species that’s currently the most damaging to our ecosystems is cattle and that 41 percent of all land in the United States is now grazed by livestock.

“Livestock are one of the main drivers of ecological degradation globally, and the crisis is only becoming worse. Grazing has a place in just about every agricultural system, but introducing large numbers of grass-munching cattle into areas where cows were not previously found is rapidly wreaking havoc on native ecosystems – so much so that the practice can now be characterized as an ‘invasive species.’”

One Green Planet reports that cattle now outnumber wild horses 50 to one.

7. Fracking and other forms of Big Energy are also driving forces behind the removal of wild horses and the loss of resources that all wild animals depend on.

“It is very clear that the energy frontier has a significant impact on wild herds, as well as all other interests on western public land,” says Wild Horse Education.

They point out that energy projects are given special status and are exempt from many regulations on public land, and that processing like fracking require massive amounts of water in areas that are plagued with drought as it is.

8. Wild horses have been used to rehabilitate prison inmates since 1986 through the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP). The program, which began in Colorado, now runs in five states. WHIP matches up wild horses and burros with inmates to receive “personal and extensive training as part of an inmate rehabilitative program.”

9. Some of these trained horses now work for the border patrol. The BLM sells some of the trained horses to work the Canadian and Mexican borders.

“All of our mustangs can move up a trail at a good pace. ATV’s can’t get up there. Trucks can’t get up there.” said U.S. Border Patrol ranger Bobby Traweek on the BLM website.

The bureau also points out that not only are the horses excellent at working the rough terrain and handling dangerous situations, but they cost the Border Patrol half of what they’re used to paying for trained horses.

10. Wild horses and burros are available for adoption, starting at only $125 each.

Click (HERE) to visit original article

TWO WINS FOR AMERICAN NATIVE WILD HORSES

“The attached press release, below, gives the inside story of how the Oregon wild mare sterilization experiments were stopped by an appeal to the Department of Interior’s IBLA (Interior Board of Land Appeals) by a coalition of equine advocate, animal welfare and environmental groups.  Thanks again to all the individuals and groups that supported our appeal and kept believing we could win.  The topsy turvy events of the past week demonstrate that unity is more important than ever to protect our public lands and the wild animals we cherish.” ~ Charlotte Roe


Citizens Against Equine Slaughter

8 month old fillies at BLM's Hines, Oregon holding facility...saved from the "experiments" ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

8 month old fillies at BLM’s Hines, Oregon holding facility…saved from the “experiments” ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In a precedent setting case with the Department of Interior’s Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), environmental, animal welfare and wild horse advocate groups joined forces to defeat Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brutal plans to sterilize 225 wild mares, fillies and foals in Oregon’s Hines corrals in cooperation with Oregon State University (OSU).

On July 29, 2016, the BLM and IBLA received a Notice of Appeal and Stay of Implementation Petition from a coalition of 14 environmental groups. The Notice/Stay named Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES), Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association (OWHBA), Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition (COWHC) and Wild Equid League of CO (WELOC) as the main appellants.

On August 4, 2016, BLM filed a motion to dismiss the appeal with the IBLA. They claimed appellants did not have standing or proper representation.

On August 12, Appellants delivered a response to this motion proving that our representative was indeed a pro se attorney and that she was the founding member of the lead advocate group, Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES). Several affidavits were delivered proving standing of all the appellants. In particular, one member of both CAES and OWHBA who is disabled, challenged BLM’s claim of no standing of a person who cannot physically stand out on the range or travel to the holding pens as often as BLM felt was necessary to be considered sufficient for “standing.”

Two other appeals filed by individuals were dismissed September 7, 2016, for lack of standing. This coalition’s appeal was the only action that stood. Three lawsuits were also filed, but the Board’s procedures dictate that these legal challenges could not be considered until the it acted on the IBLA appeals.

On August 29th, 2016, the Coalition filed their Reasons for Appeal Brief. Among the affidavits delivered with this brief were the eyewitness testimony of an individual who watched Dr. Leon Pielstick perform ovariectomy via colpotomy on burros and mares during a public workshop in Arizona. This video and testimony demonstrated that the procedures were not successful, and that the death rate was significantly higher than that allowed by veterinary standards.

Seven business days after the reasons for appeal and these documents were presented in the case, the BLM submitted a Motion to Vacate and Remand. This was done because BLM no

longer wished to implement the Decision of Record (DR). In all likelihood, the Agency chose to avoid the risk that the Board could rule against it, setting precedent for the horses. On September 9, 2016, the IBLA Vacated and Remanded the DR to the BLM. This action meant the BLM’s decision to sterilize the wild mares and foals was vacated and rescinded. Implementation of these experiments would now be illegal.

The pressure put on the Department of Interior and BLM due to this Appeal, public outrage and a combination of related actions stopped BLM and OSU from submitting these wild mares to barbaric, unwarranted experiments and dangerous surgeries that would have resulted in the deaths of many mares, aborted foals, and permanent injury for countless others that may have survived.

To date, the coalition is formed of the following groups: Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association, Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, Wild Equid League of Colorado, In Defense of Animals, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Union for the Preservation of Wildlife, Animal Rights Leadership Council, Animal Horse Defense Coalition, Mobilization for Animals, Monero Mustang, New Mexicans Against Horse Slaughter, Wild Horse Observers Association and Pity Not Cruelty.

The coalition is growing and will continue to fight to keep wild horses and burros alive and free, and to defend all wildlife and the health of public lands.

The day we received the news of the victory with IBLA, the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Council voted with one dissent (by Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation) to recommend that the BLM euthanize all ‘unadoptable’ horses in long-term holding. This would mean killing some 45,000 healthy wild horses that the BLM had removed from the range. Killing captive prisoners whether human or animal is NOT what we or most Americans can accept. It HAD to stop, and it has been stopped by a tremendous civic uproar. This afternoon BLM announced that it has no plans to perform mass euthanasia. Our wild horses and burros have had a good week. How long will it last?

For questions or more information please contact:
Val Cecama-Hogsett, CAES & OWHBA media liaison Phone: 541.315.6650
Email: val4.wildhorses@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CAES4OWH/

Update: Hold your Horses…Wild Burros and Horses not to be Murdered by BLM, YET!

“In my Humble Opinion” ~ R.T. Fitch, president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last Friday, with only one dissenting vote, the BLM’s appointed Advisory Board recommended that all horses and burros in holding should be either killed or sold. That’s it, down and dirty.

Message to the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board

Message to the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board

The above inane recommendation came as no surprise to many of us as we have been saying for years that the BLM is deliberately creating a crisis by pulling wild horses and burros off from their rightful range and placing them on contractor’s land across the country at taxpayers expense. Such an idiotic plan is not sustainable and they are hoping for some drastic action to take place to get rid of the native wild animals so that their welfare cattle bedfellows can have the public land all to themselves.

Getting the hand picked and appointed special interest members of the board to vote to do so kept the BLM’s hands clean and allowed the lemmings on the board to be their fall guys, although they are too dense to know it. The recommendation was/is non-binding BUT it opens up the door and begins the discussion, again.

Back in 2011 the sitting “Boared” recommended researching and experimenting with sterilizing wild mares in the field, and five years later what did the federal governments most corrupt agency attempt to do, conduct experiments on sterilizing wild mares in the field. (Plans now nixed)

Tom Gory, mouthpiece for the BLM, stated yesterday that the BLM, proper, had made no decision to murder (and that IS the correct word) 45,000 wild equines in holding and will continue to care for the horses and burros that they have ripped from their rightful land, separated from their families and shoved into gender specific herds.. Everything is okay, don’t bet on it!

There IS a silver lining to this gross and demonic recommendation, though:

  1. It has revealed to the public the corrupt and cruel intent of this handpicked board of fools. They are an embarrassment to this country and should all be removed from their volunteer positions. Good air is being wasted.
  2. The wild ones finally found a voice in the mainstream press, although the story might have been skewed a bit people still sat up and paid attention, that is a mega-win for the horses and burros.
  3. Super bad press for the BLM; their idiot plan backfired and although they did not make the recommendation, they were whispering in the ears of their little demented buddies to do so. It is always a good day when the horse haters get a little bad press as they speak nothing but lies and untruths to the press and public. Good to see their big fat backsides singed a little bit.

But don’t let your guard down, this has been the plan of the BLM for years and the only way to stop it is to either wrest the control of the wild ones out of their bloody little fists or legally chop them off at the knees and stick a fork in them.

What would be YOUR preference?

BLM Wild Horse Advisory Board Proposes Euthanasia of Excess Mustangs: Q&A With Ginger Kathrens

As published on HorseNation.com

Horse Nation spoke with Advisory Board volunteer Ginger Kathrens, who voted in opposition to the controversial proposal calling for the euthanasia or sale of 45,000 mustangs currently in BLM holding facilities.

BLM Antelope attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM Antelope attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board consists of representatives from both the public and multiple (special?) interest groups, serving to discuss key issues and help advise to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the (mis)management of wild horses on public lands. In its meeting at the end of last week, the Board visited Herd Management Areas, or HMAs, to observe wild horse ecosystems at work. The Board also deliberated over the pressing issues of mustang management across the American West, culminating in a proposal that reads as follows:

Follow the stipulations of the Wild Horse and Burro Act by euthanizing or offering for sale without stipulation all suitable animals in short and long term holding facilities.

This radical proposal has already been met with massive waves of public outcry as news rippled across social media on Friday, September 9. To help readers understand the issue, here are some key facts and figures, as stated by the BLM:

  • Under protection, wild horse and burro populations have grown an estimated 15-20% annually, which required the BLM, the government agency charged with protecting wild populations, to created Appropriate Management Levels, or AMLs. AMLs state the number of horses each HMA can handle to sustain a balanced ecosystem with wildlife, vegetation, soil, water and in some cases, livestock.
  • The current total AML for BLM public lands is 26,715.
  • Censuses estimate that as of 2015 there were over 67,000 wild horses living on public lands.
  • Long- and short-term holding facilities operated by the BLM currently house 45,000 wild horses.
  • About two-thirds of the BLM’s annual budget supports horses in holding facilities — about $50 million.

The proposal for sale or euthanasia was voted in favor by seven of the eight members of the board. The sole vote in opposition was cast by Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation: Kathrens has spent an estimated 12,000 hours observing and documenting wild horses all over the west, most famously the Pryor Mountain herd on the Wyoming/Montana border. Her work in chronicling the mustang stallion Cloud and his social band and family in a PBS documentary series has brought the mustang crisis to a personal level for Cloud’s fans and followers, and The Cloud Foundation has worked hard to educate the public and encourage the public to get involved in mustang advocacy.

Horse Nation spoke with Ginger Kathrens to learn more about her reasons for opposing the proposal and her thoughts on alternative solutions.

HN: The concept of euthanizing 45,000 horses is horrific — that aside, what was your reasoning for opposing this proposal?

Because I believe that healthy horses shouldn’t pay the price for government mismanagement that’s gone on for decades. There have been alternatives to manage horses on the range for years, and they were not being utilized. Some herds right now are already able to do this: the tools available are used to manage their numbers on the range and only require small or even no roundups at all. The Pryor Mountain herd is one example.

Unlike other hooved mammals, horses have a unique social structure — the males don’t just come in and breed and then leave; the stallions stay with family bands in social units. The helicopter roundups shatter these social bands: families are broken up, the remaining horses restructure socially and then there’s a spike in reproduction accordingly.

HN: Can you could pinpoint one turning point where you feel the BLM went wrong in managing wild horses?

They were never managing the range. In 1971, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed and the BLM was charged with managing the herds and the range. In 1972, 1973, they did their censusing of wild horse populations, and in 1974 they completed their reports on where they would set up management areas. In 1978, they reported 54,000 horses living in 339 herds on management areas. A recent count reports 179 herds.

The BLM set the Appropriate Management Level [AML] at 26,715 and no one really seems to know how that number was determined. It appears to be a low number based on what was already out there at the time.

Now, we have herds that are too small to maintain genetic viability — Dr. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M did research that found that you need around 150 members for genetic viability, and most of the herds are not even at that bare minimum. Now, there are a few herds that are far larger; there’s a herd in Nevada of over 1,000 animals living on a million acres.

The cheatgrass crisis has hit everywhere. Cheatgrass is an opportunistic invasive, and the only way to get rid of it is by tilling up the earth and replanting. The BLM has described that the crested wheatgrass is the only plant that will out-compete cheatgrass. Of course, you can only till and replant in certain areas — that won’t work in rocky, rugged areas.

HN: What would you offer as an alternative solution to the current crisis?

There are certainly much more humane alternatives for sure — we need to use PZP! Using the PZP vaccine involves a lot of hard work but it’s been proven to be effective. The Pryor Mountain herd currently has zero population growth through the use of PZP. Rounding horses up with helicopters is easy and PZP is going to involve much more work.

More of the horses in short-term holding can be moved to long-term holding facilities — there are more long-term holding facility contracts coming in now to open up more opportunities. Some of these horses from short-term holding can be repatriated on Herd Management Areas (HMAs) where horses have been removed, as non-producing animals: stallions can be gelded so the mares are not exposed. It costs an estimated $5.50 per horse per day to keep an animal in short-term holding, and about $2 a day per horse in long-term holding. The majority of horses are in long-term holding right now.

At that point, PZP needs to be used aggressively on the existing wild populations to really cut back on births so we can achieve zero population growth. PZP-22 has a multi-year factor.

Yes, it will take a lot of hard work — it will take a lot of volunteers to be out there in the field. It’s easy to push a pen and paper around at a desk all day and it’s hard to go out there and document where the horses are, who they are, how many, where the food and water sources are. But we have over 100 volunteer trained darters — myself included — who are not in places they need to be because the BLM has not used the resource.

HN: One of the big criticisms of PZP for population control is that there are horses in inaccessible places where they cannot be routinely darted.

Yes, there are — I spoke with some of the people involved in a herd removal in a rugged section of Nevada and they know there are still horses out there. That would be a good place to repatriate a gelding-only group from short-term holding.

There are many places where it’s going to be difficult, but it’s always possible — the key is knowing where the horses are. For example, in the Pryor herd, at certain times of the year we know exactly where the horses will be because they won’t be on top of the mountains in the snow. It’s going to require a really solid knowledge base — we will need to build a database on the horses themselves, documenting what they look like, their markings and identification, as well as the geography of an HMA, where the water and feed is — we can use technology like drones, trail cameras. In areas that we can’t easily access the horses, we can use bait and water traps and use small dart guns.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s possible.

HN: If you’re recommending repatriation of horses from short-term holding, do you believe that overgrazing is an issue on the range?

Overgrazing comes from livestock. The horses have become the scapegoat.

We visited an HMA that hadn’t had any livestock on it for eight years — part of it looked good, part of it not so good. The cheatgrass came into the area because it had been overgrazed by sheep. I’m glad we got to look at that particular area, because it let me see the extreme and compare it to the normal.

But this “the sky is falling and the horses are taking over the range” mentality is not correct.

HN: Let’s talk about the Advisory Board proposal — do you believe that there’s a possibility this recommendation could come to pass?

Absolutely I do. A few years ago there were secret meetings taking place in the BLM about how many horses they could kill annually. These only came to light thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and it somehow never got the press coverage I felt it deserved. Some of those people are still in high-level positions at the BLM.

This recommendation could come to pass because it’s easy. It’s not easy to go out there and actually euthanize those horses, no — but it’s an easy solution when compared to the hard work it would take to resolve the crisis through other means. Now, there are wonderful people in the BLM, don’t get me wrong — but there are plenty of others who would be willing to carry that out.

It’s still a difficult thing to do — no one wants to go out and tell their employees to go euthanize thousands of horses.

HN: How do you think it came to this point — that this recommendation is even a feasible option? Is this a power-play move to try to leverage more funding?

I still don’t understand it. Congress would have been willing to give the BLM more money — or so I hear from my Congressional representative on the Appropriations committee.

No one discussed this recommendation with me prior to introducing it. The subcommittee discussed it prior for some time, but when it was introduced at the board meeting I was fairly rattled.

It still doesn’t have to come to this: it’s possible to do on-the-range management. It will take real censusing, mapping, going out there. I’ve been working so hard to get volunteers out there on the ground. All of these tools have been available for a long time but never utilized.

HN: Do you think this recommendation might work as a scare tactic to encourage more public involvement with mustang management?

I certainly hope so! There was a massive public pushback on the proposed mare sterilization project and that project was canceled just recently. There’s going to be even more public outcry about this proposal.

I always encourage people to do something positive: it doesn’t do any good to just scream and yell on social media. Get out and volunteer, if you can. If you can’t, write a politely-worded letter to your government representatives. Do something positive and we can affect change.

Please Comment Directly at Horse Nation, tell them we sent you:  http://www.horsenation.com/2016/09/13/blm-wild-horse-advisory-board-proposes-euthanasia-of-excess-mustangs-qa-with-ginger-kathrens/

Newbie BLM Advisory Board Member Attempts Justification of Wild Horse & Burro Murder Recommendation

Reply from and Facebook post by BLM Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board member Ben Masters

“Wet behind the ears, eager to make a name for himself and an ego the size of Texas newly appointed BLM Advisory Board member Ben Masters gives a weak and misguided explanation on why he would just LOVE to see the blood of 45,000 wild horses and burros spilled.  The father of the most inhumane concept in modern human history falls flat but welcomes comments on his idiotic attempt to make a name for himself at the expense of tens of thousands of innocent equine souls.

Important to remember:

  1. This is only a recommendation from a corrupt group of appointed special interest individuals whose intent is known to all.  They are an embarrassment to the American Way and fly in the face of Federal checks and balance systems.
  2. Do not confuse the name of Ben Masters with several really great people out there…it is not their fault that this dark lord was given the same first name as they.” ~ R.T.

The State of Wild Horses & Burros – September, 2016 WH&B Advisory Board Meeting

"Come here 45,000 ponies, we have a big surprise for you!", BLM Advisory Board

“Come here 45,000 ponies, we have a big surprise for you!”, BLM Advisory Board

The current situation with BLM Wild Horses, Burros, and the habitat they and wildlife depend on is an emergency. Yesterday we finished the Advisory Board Meeting in which I am the volunteer sitting in the Wildlife Management chair. The meeting was intense and the incredibly difficult recommendation to the BLM was made “To follow the stipulations of the Wild Horse and Burro Act by offering all suitable animals in long and short term holding deemed unadoptable for sale without limitation or humane euthanasia. Those animals deemed unsuitable for sale should then be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.” Here is how this recommendation came to be.

For those of you unfamiliar with the “plight” of the mustangs, here it is in a nutshell…
The Ancestors of Wild Horses evolved in North America but went extinct in the Great Pleistocene Extinction over 10,000 years ago. Fortunately, they migrated across the Bering Strait prior to extinction where they were eventually domesticated, breeds developed, artificial selection occurred, and horses were ultimately brought back to the Americas during European Expansion. Horses escaped, were set free to breed, and multiplied in a “Wild” or “Feral” state for hundreds of years. As the West was settled, these Wild Horses, often called mustangs, were rounded up to the point that Velma Johnson, AKA Wild Horse Annie, pushed for legislation to protect the remaining Wild Horses. This culminated in the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 that protected the 15,000 or so Horses and Burros remaining in the American West. Today Wild Horses and burros are managed on about 32 million acres of land in about 179 Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
Under protection, the Wild Horses and Burro populations grew about 15-20% annually and threatened overgrazing on the rangelands that they shared with wildlife and in some cases livestock. So the BLM, the government agency in charge of managing the Wild Horses, created Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) which is the number of horses that each Herd Management Area (HMA) can supposedly sustain in a thriving ecological balance with wildlife and in some areas livestock. Currently, the total Appropriate Management Level nationwide for Wild Horses and Burros is 26,715.
The Appropriate Management Level on the range is 26,715 but the current population is about 75,000 horses, nearly 3X the AML. I’m getting that number from censuses (conducted in the manner recommended by the Academy of Sciences) on March 1, 2016, which was 67,000 plus the additional number of foals that have been born since then. The BLM is supposed to gather excess horses to prevent overgrazing but they can’t because they’ve already gathered and are boarding 45,000 Wild Horses and Burros in holding pens. The BLM is spending $50 Million annually (2/3 of its Wild Horse and Burro budget) on hay and pasture bill for the horses in holding. This expense has eaten into funds that could be used for on-range management or adoption incentives. The BLM doesn’t have enough money to conduct enough gathers to control populations on the range and they don’t have a place to put them even if they did gather them.
So why can’t we just leave the horses alone? The reason is simple. Overpopulated grazers (whether horses, cattle, sheep, elk, or deer) will and can overgraze the land that they depend on. In the delicate Western desert ecosystems that our Wild Horses and Burros depend on, overgrazing can lead to devastating effects that can last far beyond my lifetime. Right now we are witnessing an ecological disaster on tens of millions of acres of our beloved Western Landscapes. It is affecting reptiles, mammals, birds, invertebrates, migrating species, amphibians, threatened and endangered species, plant communities, soil health, and even water availability. I have seen it firsthand.
During this Advisory Board Meeting, we took a field trip to the Antelope Valley HMA Complex. The Complex is East of Elko, NV and is 1.3 Million Acres of High Desert that gets about 5 inches of precipitation a year, mainly as snow. It is a very delicate ecosystem that can take decades, if ever, to recover if it is overgrazed. The Appropriate Management Level for the Antelope Valley HMA Complex is 278-464 horses. The current population is 3,360 horses, over 700% of the Appropriate Management Level.
On the way to the Antelope HMA Complex, we saw about 100 horses drinking from a pond next to the road. Bruce, our tour guide, explained that the main water sources for all 3,360 horses were on private land. That means that the water for all these horses is dependent on private landowners who could very easily and legally fence out the horses. In this particular case, the private landowner was a mining company that bought the ranch for the water rights for future mining activity. This shocked me. It seems extremely risky to me to depend on the water generosity of private landowners or businesses that own the surface and water rights…(Click HERE to continue reading and to comment directly to Darth Vader on his Facebook post)

The BLM Abandons Plans to Do Gruesome Sterilization Experiments on Wild Mares, Call to Action

By Carol Walker ~ WHFF Director of Field Documentation
As published on Wild HoofBeats

“We have stopped the first part of the plan, now it is time to work on stopping the second…”

With amazing public outcry beginning in April of this year, with 50,000 emails and letters sent and three legal actions filed, the BLM finally got the message that the American public would not stand for the barbaric sterilization experiments they had planned for 225 wild mares in a filthy holding facility in Burns, Oregon. The BLM called off the Wild Mare Sterilization Project at 3 am on Friday, September 9, 2016.

I personally want to thank all of you who wrote, emailed and called, some of you every day, Oregon State University to try to discourage them from participating in this inhumane butchery that the BLM had planned for 225 wild mares. Thank you to those of you who wrote articles in magazines and newspapers, who told your friends, and who spread the word. Thank you to the three groups/organizations who filed legal actions: Front Range Equine Rescue, The Cloud Foundation, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Assn., Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, and Wild Equid League of Colorado.

We do make a difference and we can make a difference.

When in late June this year, Republicans on the Federal Lands Sub-Committee launched a full out assault on wild horses on public lands in the West we found out what the plan was – to eradicate wild horses on our public lands using sterilization, and to euthanize the 45,000 wild horses and burros in holding facilities.

We have stopped the first part of the plan, now it is time to work on stopping the second. When the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board voted to recommend on Friday, September 9, 2016 to euthanize (actually the correct word is kill) all 45,000 “unadoptable” wild horses that have been stockpiled over decades in BLM holding facilities, (the lone “no” vote being Ginger Kathrens of the Cloud Foundation) the gauntlet has been thrown down, the challenge is on for the second part of the plan.

Hundreds of people have been writing me “what can I do to help?”

Here is my answer…(CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE)

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/news/the-blm-abandons-plans-to-do-gruesome-sterilization-experiments-on-wild-mares-call-to-action

I GUESS IF YOU ARE GOING TO MURDER THEM ALL – THEN KILLING A FEW DOZEN WILD BURROS ALONG THE WAY MEANS NOTHING?

OpEd by Grandma Gregg

“With all the other evil garbage at the advisory board meeting Friday, the actual facts of the Sinbad burro deaths were skimmed over as if these deaths meant nothing and not worth talking about…”

photo by Grandma Gregg

photo by Grandma Gregg

BLM’s “research” report to the advisory board included the fact that during the recent capture for “research”, 25 captured wild burros died and then 6 more were found dead on the Sinbad range.

236 wild burros were captured from the Sinbad Utah legal wild horse and burro range. Some were to be removed and some were to have radio collars and then returned to the wild. The BLM was pre-warned but ignored the fact that previous BLM radio-collaring experiments caused many deaths but of course they didn’t care. in the 1980s similar “research” was done on wild horses with devastating results including collars being embedded into the wild horses’ flesh and some ultimate deaths caused by this collaring procedure (see below link).

With all the other evil garbage at the advisory board meeting Friday, the actual facts of the Sinbad burro deaths were skimmed over as if these deaths meant nothing and not worth talking about. They did finally admit that they thought (where are the necropsy reports!) the deaths might have been caused by equine herpes which is highly contagious. Did the wild burros get this deadly infection from the contractor’s horses or from filthy corral panels at temporary holding facilities or from filthy horse trailers or did they die after being shipped to Axtell facility? The Sinbad burros were shipped to the Axtell Utah holding facility. So how many wild burros were then infected and died at the Axtell facility because of this? The most recent BLM facility report (July 2016) stated there were 800 burros at the Axtell facility but an eye witness reported to me as of yesterday, only 85 burros were seen there. The BLM’s online Sinbad 2016 capture report provided some statistics that stated they had captured 236 burros and only ONE death. The online vet reports all said that the burros were all fine. Well, of course they lied – dead burros are not “fine”!

9/9/2016 Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board (excerpts):

“… with the situation with the Sinbad burros, there are some questions that we discussed with that. It was part of a — a research project, not only to get to AML, but also the special use of habitat by burros and the recitability of burros and Paul can give a greater update on that. There was — when those animals came in, there started to be some death. And there was 25 burros within the corrals that died and during the research project, six additional burros were located on the range that had also died and the preliminary results of those findings for those burros is that it was viral pneumonia, brought on by — I have to get Al to give me the — the equine — equine herpes… This virus has been identified for over 20 years in horses and donkeys and in domestic populations not very much is known about the disease ecology or how, when or why it causes illness sometimes. So it was a little bit of a surprise to find it… There was absolutely no relation between the mortality that occurred, any of the mortality and the research project. So no relationship to the collars that were used on the animals or that sort of thing. >> GINGER KATHRENS: So additional stress wouldn’t have been a factor at all? >> I think the elements that occur during any gather is a factor. Stress is one of those elements. Dehydration, dust, those sorts of things affect pulmonary clearance and this virus is known to modulate immune function and act like a typical herpes virus. So all of those things play into — come into play, but I don’t think the stress related to the handling in the research project had that much to do with it. It’s more of the bigger picture. of being gathered and removed…”

Information on Equine Herpes from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (excerpts):

Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4) can each infect the respiratory tract, causing disease that varies in severity from sub-clinical to severe and is characterized by fever, lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, and cough. Infection of the respiratory tract with EHV-1 and EHV-4 typically first occurs in foals in the first weeks or months of life, but recurrent or recrudescent clinically apparent infections are seen in weanlings, yearlings, and young horses entering training, especially when horses from different sources are commingled. Equine herpesvirus type 1 causes epidemic abortion in mares, the birth of weak nonviable foals, or a sporadic paralytic neurologic disease (equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy-EHM) secondary to vasculitis of the spinal cord and brain.

Both EHV-1 and EHV-4 spread via aerosolized secretions from infected coughing horses, by direct and indirect (fomite) contact with nasal secretions, and, in the case of EHV-1, contact with aborted fetuses, fetal fluids, and placentae associated with abortions. Like herpesviruses in other species, these viruses establish latent infection in the majority of horses, which do not show clinical signs but may experience reactivation of infection and shedding of the virus when stressed.

http://www.aaep.org/-i-173.html

BLM Sinbad wild burro capture report: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro/SinbadGather.html

 “1991 WILD HORSE POPULATIONS: FIELD STUDIES IN GENETICS AND FERTILITY Report to the Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of the Interior Committee on Wild Horse and Burro Research Board on Agriculture National Research Council”.

http://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5QafT-WVwd7S7fgu9jqcohICyYqYhWjfQaIhsVxxpxWnjLo25UuV7aKBHFA3dO3w_DgBrixfPbA6M6y0tTPX9aX2XIheznCGIpC3O9WWTXVyJQu4leZ9M5JoqFJ2p9r3wp4GRK51yAW2zmAimpqdxJOZ-4ikTeD_UYiXGU1JG5Cs377oz8Xu9sGY1xXY80S2l7D5Ca6bvE6X9iaundjiGXzFkEgJ6u9Jow6g5soUXTGVhA8RyXo49S_vvrPZoTWjkmFeEbzD_We5A1ZnyTEZElvC-Ebug9Q