Ochoco Natl. Forest Doubles Wild-Horse Monitoring

by KTVZ.COM news sources

Two census efforts set; volunteers sought

This image of wild horses is on the cover of the Prineville BLM’s Murderer’s Creek HMA (Herd Management Area) Wild Horse Gather Plan

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – The Ochoco National Forest announced Monday it is embarking on a new strategy for monitoring its wild horse population for the Big Summit Territory.

This year, two wild horse census efforts are expected to provide a more complete picture of the herd’s condition, demographics and location.

A herd count has been done annually for many years on the forest. However, officials said, it is challenging to cover all of the territory and outlying areas where horses are thought to frequent in a single monitoring effort.

Horses are reported to move into many remote sites and canyons.  An accurate numbers count will provide needed information for the development of the new Herd Management Plan.

This new plan will replace the existing one, which is more than 40 years old. Many conditions outlined in the present plan have changed over the years, forest officials said.

The Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition has a long-standing partnership with the Ochoco National Forest in monitoring the Big Summit herd.

This June, as in the past, the coalition will bring volunteers to help with their census ride.

“The efforts of the coalition have contributed greatly to the Ochoco National Forest’s administration of the wild horse herd,” the announcement said. “This year’s two-prong monitoring effort, to add a second census ride for two days in July into outlying areas, is expected to compliment the efforts that the coalition has coordinated in the past. ”

There is much interest in the herd, the forest officials said, and with additional volunteers to support a second census effort, the forest can make a better determination of the overall health of the horses, try to determine how many are actually on the landscape and what possible interactions they are having with the land and resources.

The forest is working with Discover Your Forest to recruit volunteers for the July effort.  Those interested in helping can contact Stacey Cochrane, Community Engagement Director, DYF at (541) 383-5530 or discoveryourforest.org.

For those interested in further information about the program, please contact project team leader Tory Kurtz at (541) 416-6500 or tkurtz@fs.fed.us.

http://www.ktvz.com/news/ochoco-natl-forest-doubles-wild-horse-monitoring/529495671

Speak Up Against BLM’s Plans to Decimate Wyoming’s Red Desert Wild Horse Herds

by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats

“The BLM should raise the Appropriate Management Level for the Red Desert Complex wild horse populations…”

Red Desert Wild Horses at Risk of Removal and Slaughter

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning a massive roundup and removal of 2,096 horses, or 80% of the 2,620 horses in the Red Desert Complex that includes Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek, and Stewart Creek Herd Management Areas.  BLM wants to end up with a  low Appropriate Management Level of only 524 wild horses on 753,000 acres of public land.

Please also consider that any horses currently in short and long term holding, as well as any removed from their homes on public lands this year will be in jeopardy of being sold without limitation and may end up at slaughter if the Trump Budget is passed.

There is no question that these horses will be better off left on the range. Not only will they continue to live out their lives free with their families as wild horses should, but they will not become a further burden on taxpayers who are paying to warehouse 45,000 wild horses currently. This roundup is senseless, cruel, and may result ultimately in the deaths of thousands of these wild horses.

Please write a letter to the BLM asking them to NOT roundup and remove over 2000 wild horses from the Red Desert Complex. If they need to control the numbers on the range, there are methods of birth control that can be used, but only if the herd size is in the genetically viable range of 150-200 adult wild horses. The Bureau of Land Management is accepting comments on a revised Environmental Assessment for a proposed helicopter roundup and removal of most of the wild horses living in Wyoming’s Red Desert Complex despite the thousands of public comments made on this plan in 2015 calling for the more humane method of bait trapping be used if horses were to be removed.

In order to reach the low Appropriate Management Level of 524 wild horses, the Proposed Action would remove approximately 80% of the horses, or about 2,096 horses, in the Complex – about 1,518 horses within the HMAs and 578 horses outside of the HMAs.  If any mares older than one year old are released back into the HMAs, they would be treated with PZP. This would reduce the size of the herds in the complex to dangerously low numbers, especially if the aerial census counts performed by the BLM which use outdated statistical models to “estimate” and pad herd numbers are wrong. Three out of five of these herds would be reduced to numbers below those needed to maintain genetic viability.

The BLM should raise the Appropriate Management Level for the Red Desert Complex wild horse populations. The BLM must also fairly allocate range resources to ensure that wildlife – including wild horses – have a fair share of the forage on our public lands, rather than giving exorbitant resources to the privately owned cattle and sheep operations. 7-11 times as much forage is allocated to privately owned livestock over wild horses. These numbers should be changed – decrease livestock grazing in these wild horse management areas by retiring grazing leases.

Ask BLM to select the NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE.

Please make your comments in your own words – the online form letters are only counted as one – so you need to write your own comments.

Please send them in by June 5 by email or mail to the addresses below:

Comments may be emailed to RedDesertComplex_HMA_WY@blm.gov

Please include “Red Desert Gather EA Comments” in the subject line.

Mail

Tim Novotny
BLM Rawlins Field Office
1300 N. 3rd Street
Rawlins, WY 82301
Clay Stott
BLM Lander Field Office
1335 Main Street
Lander, Wyoming 82520

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/speak-up-against-blms-plans-to-decimate-wyomings-red-desert-wild-horse-herds

BLM’s Requested Budget Cuts of $10 Million From Wild Horse & Burro Program Could Spell ‘Slaughter’ For Our Wild Equines

Story by as published on Horse Nation

Language in the Bureau of Land Management fiscal year 2018 budget justification, released Tuesday, specifically requests “the ability to conduct sales without limitations.”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The new 2018 budget proposal calls for a 9.2% reduction in spending for the Department of the Interior, which includes the Bureau of Land Management or BLM — this is the federal agency charged with overseeing and protecting the nation’s wild horse and burro population.

Traditionally, the BLM has managed the nation’s wild horse and burro population by setting management levels for herd management areas, and then conducting roundups to remove what it deems to be excess wild horses from areas when necessary. Gathered horses are available to the public for adoption, with unadopted animals living in long-term holding. Tens of thousands of horses have accumulated in long-term holding at the expense of the taxpayer.

The Bureau of Land Management has come under criticism for this method of so-called population control, with advocacy groups suggesting everything from birth control vaccination administered by dart (the PZP vaccine) to allowing nature to take its course and stopping gathers and any population control altogether. While advocates may not agree about the best course of action to take to manage wild horse numbers — or if management is even necessary — most agree that the BLM has not done the wild horse any favors with its current plan.

The BLM’s 2018 budget justification, which can be viewed by clicking here, calls for a $10 million reduction in spending in the Wild Horse and Burro (WHB) Program, describing the current situation as follows:

The consistent growth in annual costs for the program is unsustainable and constrains the Bureau’s ability to effectively address competing uses of public lands, as the number of animals on the range and BLM holding facilities grows.

The majority of the WHB Program’s budget has gone towards maintaining the tens of thousands of horses in holding facilities while numbers of horses on the range still continues to rise according to estimates, demonstrating clearly that the model of gathering horses and removing them from the range is not a sustainable long-term solution. To reduce this spending, the BLM suggests the following:

As such, the budget proposes to give BLM the tools it needs to manage this program in a more cost-effective manner, including the ability to conduct sales without limitations.

A BLM press release went even further, stating explicitly that this budget would allow for the humane euthanasia and unrestricted sale of “excess animals.”

The budget justification addresses advocate-supported methods of population control such as the PZP vaccine as well:

The remainder of the funding decrease will be achieved by reducing gathers, reducing birth control treatments, and other activities deemed inconsistent with prudent management of the program.

One can only imagine how the BLM seeks to both reduce the need for gathers and reduce the number of wild horses on the range.

How can you affect change?

If you are opposed to this budget plan for fiscal year 2018 for its dramatic proposed changes to the Wild Horse and Burro Program, we urge you to contact your representatives in Congress and explain to them why. There are numerous online petitions in circulation, but the most effective and meaningful way to affect real change is to speak with your lawmakers and make your opinion known. If you need assistance finding your representation in Congress, you can find your representatives here and your senators here.

http://www.horsenation.com/2017/05/24/blms-requested-budget-cuts-10-million-from-wild-horse-burro-program/

BLM Transfer Provision in Omnibus Outrages Advocates

by Scott Streater, as published on E&E News

“The provision in the latest omnibus bill was requested last year as part of President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget proposal (Greenwire, Feb. 10, 2016).”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The omnibus spending package the Senate approved today contains a provision that would make it easier for the Bureau of Land Management to adopt out or transfer wild horses and burros, reducing the growing number of animals under the agency’s care.

But the provision has angered animal rights advocates, who say it contains too many loopholes to protect thousands of wild horses and burros from being slaughtered.

At issue is a section in the omnibus package to fund the federal government through September — originally requested by the Obama administration last year — that would allow the Interior secretary to “transfer excess wild horses or burros” BLM has removed from federal rangelands “to other Federal, State, and local government agencies for use as work animals.”

The provision would authorize the secretary to “make any such transfer immediately upon request” of a government agency, such as the U.S. Border Patrol. The provision includes language stating that the animals cannot be killed or sold or transferred to any entity that would slaughter them “for processing into commercial products.”

But it allows transferred horses and burros to be euthanized “upon the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian, in cases of severe injury, illness, or advanced age.”

It’s that language that has wild horse advocates outraged.

Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation, said BLM “has a history of misinforming the public” about issues related to wild horses.

“Couple this with the vague ‘illness’ and ‘advanced age’ language” in the omnibus provision, “and the potential exists for the killing of thousands of horses,” said Kathrens, a member of the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board…(CONTINUED)

https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/2017/05/04/stories/1060054082

BLM claims selling wild horses to kill buyer Tom Davis was selling them to a “good home”

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2017

On the Bureau of Land Management’s new website, on the Program Data page for the Wild Horse & Burro Program (under the Wild Horse and Burro Sales to Private Care tab), the BLM claims “It has been and remains the policy of the BLM, despite the unrestricted sales authority of the Burns Amendment, NOT to sell or send any wild horses or burros to slaughterhouses or to “kill buyers.”

The BLM claims “Wild Horses and Burros Sold to Good Homes” but then includes a total of 402 wild horses and burros sold in Fiscal Year 2012. (In this 402 total, 320 were horses and 82 were burros.)

BLM sale logs obtained by us in Freedom of Information Act requests indicate that in Fiscal Year 2012, the BLM sold 239 wild horses (almost 80% of the 320 horses that were sold) to kill buyer Tom Davis of La Jara, CO.  Many, if not all, of these wild horses went to slaughter in Mexico.

Does this look like a “good home” to you?

BLM states it has a policy not to sell wild horses and burros to kill buyers, but:

  1. On 1/11/12, Lester T. Duke (BLM Burns, Oregon) sent an email to BLM’s Bea Wade, regarding 50 sale authority horses, noting that a “large portion”of the mares were “possibly pregnant.” Lester asked if they should ship to long term holding or hold them at the corrals for sale. Bea responded that she forwarded the email to Sally Spencer. After a couple of more emails regarding this, Sally finally sent email on 2/23/12 that Tom Davis would purchase the horses, starting with the load of mares from Burns, Oregon. (About a week later, BLM sold Tom Davis 32 horses from the Burns, Oregon corrals.   19 of these horses were mares)
  2. On 4/19/12, Deanna Masterson, Public Affairs specialist for the BLM Colorado state office, sent an “Early Alert” email to “WO BLM/DOI Officials” (Jeff Krause, Leigh Espy, Helen Hankins, Steven Hall, Tom Gorey and Sally Spencer) that “The Colorado Department of Agriculture notified the BLM Colorado State Office of a Colorado Open Records request from David Phillips, a freelance journalist, for brand inspection and transfer paperwork for horses the BLM sold to Tom Davis of La Jara, Colorado. Phillips indicated he suspected Davis of selling these horses for slaughter to Mexico.”
  3. On 4/24/12, the BLM, alerted that Tom Davis was suspected of selling horses for slaughter, still sells 106 wild horses to Tom Davis.
  4. On 5/17/12, Sally Spencer sent out an email, marked “High” importance, to 21 people (Joe Stratton, Roger Oyler, Amy Dumas, Fran Ackley, Karen Malloy, Christopher Robbins, Jared Bybee, Robert Mitchell, Alan Shepherd, Rob Sharp, Robert Hopper, Gus Warr, June Wendlandt, Joan Guilfoyle, Mary D’Aversa, Dean Bolstadt, Jeff Krause, Tom Gorey, Debbie Collins, Lili Thomas, Bea Wade) and BLM_WO_260 WHB Communications, telling them a reporter was calling about Tom Davis. Spencer asked Joe Stratton to send out a message to all facility managers and the state leads to send a message out to all WHB Specialists that if they were asked “specifics” about a purchaser, they shouldn’t respond for privacy issues…”

If BLM personnel were so convinced that they sold the wild horses and burros to a “good home,” why all of the urgency and secrecy?

If the BLM truly believes these horses were sold to a “good home,” why isn’t Tom Davis’ photo featured on the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program page on the BLM’s new website, instead of the photo of the young blonde girl? After all, the BLM sold Tom Davis 1,794 wild horses and burros from 2008-2012.

If the BLM thinks they’re fooling us, they’re only fooling themselves.

All documents referenced above can be seen HERE.

Wyoming Opinion Differs on Leaked BLM Talking Points and Expanding Energy Development

by as published on The Casper Star Tribune

“Let me make one thing clear: The Interior Department is in the energy business,”

English: Bureau of Land Management logo

English: Bureau of Land Management logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A leaked draft of a new priority list from the Bureau of Land Management recently put energy development front and center among the agency’s initiatives.

In Wyoming, where the BLM manages 17.5 million acres of public land, any changes in how the agency permits and leases land for drilling oil and gas, or digging coal, sparks debate between those seeking to do business and those who want to reserve more land for public use and conservation.

The five-point draft from the BLM lists a number of priorities for the agency, like promoting energy independence for the U.S. and developing habitat improvement projects. The majority of the bullet points concern fossil fuel development. They include streamlining the drilling application process, opening new lands for drilling and addressing a “backlog” of industry requests. E&E News obtained a copy of the document and reported on its contents April 10.

 A spokeswoman for BLM said the list reflects the multi-use responsibility of the BLM but emphasized that it is not a final draft.

“While these documents are still in draft form, these talking points are being assembled by the team at the BLM to clearly lay out our continued commitment to ensure opportunities for commercial, recreation and conservation activities on BLM-managed lands,” said spokeswoman Megan Crandall in a statement. “Our multiple-use and sustained yield mission for managing public lands on behalf of all Americans supports an all-of-the-above energy plan, shared conservation through tribal, state and local partnerships, public access for recreation and other activities and keeping America’s working public landscapes healthy and productive.”

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story.

http://trib.com/business/energy/wyoming-opinion-differs-on-leaked-blm-talking-points-and-expanding/article_5105a15d-51f8-5e1b-8751-8624c707cc55.html

The Bureau of Land Management is scrubbing their trail on the internet

After NBC News wrote about the Bureau of Land Management featuring a photo of a coal bed at the top of their website, the BLM changed it… to now feature this photo of an oil & gas pipeline.

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation                                                                    All Rights Reserved.          Copyright 2017

The Bureau of Land Management is scrubbing most of its links off of the internet, and in doing so, erasing much of its history from public view.

Many of the blm.gov links that are still remaining on the internet at this point say “page not found,” or the links are no longer cached.

The BLM also suddenly removed state and district websites.  Instead, you will now find “landing pages” that direct you to only one main Bureau of Land Management website.  (You can look at the new BLM website HERE.)

I called a BLM Public Affairs Specialist to ask some questions about the defunct websites and links.  This person said in the past there were about 90,000 pages (and then a bit later stated that it could possibly be only about 60,000 pages) of BLM content on the internet, but that all of these pages couldn’t be maintained or updated, and weren’t centralized.  This person said the BLM’s prior content management system was outdated.

Most importantly, this person also said there were now standards to reduce the amount (of pages/content).

Who made the decision to even have a standard to reduce content available to the public on the internet?  During this website transition, who is making the decisions, and on what basis, of what data to migrate, or not to migrate, to the new BLM website?  These decisions cherry pick what information will be available to the public in the future.

Make no mistake, this “reducing the amount” of content on the internet is erasing many of this agency’s past actions, activities, and government documentation.  Many of these links had historical value.  For example, the BLM activities of BLM employees Sally Spencer and Lili Thomas over the years are now gone.  These types of links on the internet didn’t need to be “maintained” or “updated.”  They were historical in nature.

In the past, in doing a google search for Sally Spencer (a longtime BLM employee, and the Marketing Specialist famous for selling so many wild horses and burros to kill buyer Tom Davis), she was included on many, many BLM government links.  I went to the BLM’s new website and searched “Sally Spencer,” and only 3 items appeared.  When I searched “Lili Thomas” (another longtime BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program employee who oversaw the BLM’s Long Term Holding facilities for wild horses for many years), only 4 items appeared.  And when I searched “John Neill” (a longtime Palomino Valley Center manager), all that came up was “No results found.”

These individuals are BLM personnel who have been central in management issues in the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program, as evidenced by FOIA documentation garnered by the late Dr. Patricia Haight of The Conquistador Program.

Even when I searched the new BLM website for “Dean Bolstad” (the Division Chief of the Wild Horse & Burro Program) only 2 items appeared.

(Although, luckily, thanks to In Defense of Animals, you can still go online and see this youtube video of Lili Thomas saying “working with wild horses is not a pretty sight” at a public meeting.)

What I can’t understand is, if the new content management system is bigger and better, why couldn’t the new content management system have contained all of the old data along with new data?  If this agency were truly transparent, they would add data, not reduce data, available to the public on the internet.

At first the Bureau of Land Management only removed the Directories for District offices and Field Offices, making it difficult, for example, to find out who was the Wild Horse & Burro Specialist, Hydrologist, Range Management Specialist or other personnel in any particular district or field office or to find an email address or telephone number for them.  BLM personnel frequently transfer to other offices and states, so it was already hard enough to try to keep up with who was where.  But now the public really doesn’t have a clue who is doing what or where.

You used to be able to go to the home pages of BLM state and district websites, and get a quick overview of not only roundup plans for wild horses & burros, but mining expansion plans, oil & gas lease sale plans, and other uses of our public lands in that area, all in one place.

Now, the BLM has divided these by topics or by “regions,” on their new website.   Under the “region” of Nevada (we call them states here in the U.S.A.), there isn’t a box for wild horses & burros (only oil and gas leasing, greater sage grouse, Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Information Access Center, Nevada Resource Advisory Councils & Federal Register Notices).

By scattering information all over this one “centralized” website, the BLM has made it much harder for the public to put together the pieces of information for a clear picture about the multiple uses of our public lands in any one area.

The Program Data page for the Wild Horse & Burro Program is HERE.  When I clicked on the box for Historical Program Data and Public Lands Statistics, I noticed something was missing that used to be available to the public.  It was the column on Adoptions by Locations & Date.  Information from the years 2009-2015 were previously available.

The biggest reason this data was important is because it let the public know the dates of adoption events (including internet adoptions), the locations of the events, the number of the wild horses and burros offered for adoption (until Fiscal Year 2014) and the number of wild horses and burros that were actually adopted at each event.

The BLM likely stopped reporting the number of horses & burros offered at adoption events in Fiscal Year 2014 because it didn’t want the public to know how many horses & burros were racking up “strikes” by not being adopted.  When a wild horse or burro isn’t adopted after 3 events and gets 3 “strikes” it can be sold without restriction (to slaughter), no matter how young it is.  Even this seemingly small reduction of data indicated a lack of transparency by this agency.

Another reason this data is important to the public is because it let the public see what areas of the country adopt the most (and the least) wild horses & burros.

While the new BLM website contains a lot of information, it seems we have lost much more information that was once available on the internet, but was not migrated to the new BLM website.  For example, the BLM News Release on its promised investigation into the deaths of wild horses at the Scott City feedlot is on the internet, but as of today, is not one of the 63 News Releases available to the public on the BLM’s new website.

We will never know how much, or what, the BLM has removed from the internet.  The BLM’s scrubbing of their trail on the internet has not only erased part of the history of this government agency, it is censorship, and it is the equivalent of a modern day book burning.

SEE EXAMPLES REFERENCED ABOVE HERE.

Wild Horses Are Being Forced to Wear Dangerous Collars – Demand These Be Removed (PETITION)

by as published on OneGreenPlanet

Right now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is conducting a five-year study on wild mares in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area (ATHMA) of south-central Wyoming with the help of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. And like most recent interactions between the BLM and wild horses, this is likely to result in dire consequences for those mares.

Supposedly, the study is meant to “document habitat selection, movement between habitats, seasonal use, and migration patterns of wild horses” within and outside this area in order to understand how horses move across the Colorado-Wyoming border, how the removal of horses from the checkerboard portion of the HMA influences the movement of mares from non-checkerboard portions of ATHMA (i.e. creation of a void), how horses select landscape resources relative to their proportional availability, and how site fidelity of horses is influenced by season.”

But as Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, explains, “The researchers are seeking to prove that wild horses will ‘move into a void’ created by rounding up and removing horses from the Checkerboard, so they can ‘prove’ that it impossible to remove horses from the Checkerboard and keep them out. They are also hoping to ‘prove’ that wild horses degrade riparian areas.” The reason? It’s because the BLM works hand-in-hand with the cattle ranching industry to allocate more public land for grazing beef and dairy cows in order to collect more livestock grazing tax from those industry interests.

Those interests continue to claim that there is not enough grazing land due to an overpopulation of wild horses that deplete the area of feed, when, in fact, wild horses occupy just 11 percent of BLM-managed land and ranchers’ cows already outnumber wild horses 50 to 1 … and growing.

Meanwhile, using our tax dollars, the BLM and University of Wyoming team have already bait-trapped at least 14 “test subjects” in the ATHMA area, along with a handful of mares who, after being trapped, were deemed too young to participate in the study. It isn’t uncommon for the BLM to turn around and cull wild horses trapped in its holding facilities or send them to slaughter. And since the agency already voted in September 2016 to kill off 44,000 of the nation’s 67,000 total remaining wild horses, this act of trapping is, in and of itself, a very scary step.

So far, these horses have been spared that fate, though their future remains wildly unsure. They are being fitted with radio collars, which can dangerously impact their health and well-being. For example, if they gain weight either by growing naturally or due to pregnancy, the collars will become too tight for comfort or should their collars become caught on brush or the horses’ own hooves, as has happened in previous studies, it could prove disastrous. Plus, these collars ensure the agency will know exactly where to find them should the decision be made to cull this group of horses…(CONTINUED)

To read the rest of the article: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/wild-horses-are-being-forced-to-wear-dangerous-collars/

BLM Wants Earlier Wyoming Wild Horse Rip-Off

Source: Multiple – (Unedited)

“Welfare Ranchers want DIBS over Wildlife on Public Lands…”

(2014) BLM destroying the last of Wyoming’s Wild Horses for the benefit of Welfare Ranchers ~ photo taken by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management official says he’d like to round up excess wild horses from an area southeast of Riverton later this year.

The roundup had been planned next year but BLM Lander Field Office Manager Rick Vander Voet tells Fremont County commissioners the horse population is way above desired numbers.

BLM officials want to maintain a population on the low end of between 480 and 720 horses.

The BLM estimates more than 1,000 wild horses currently inhabit the area. Horse advocates advocate keeping large numbers of wild horses on the range but ranchers say wild horses can damage grazing lands and compete with cattle for forage.

BLM Violates Own Wild Horse Welfare Standards

Source: The Cloud Foundation

Roundup Incident Sparks Outcry

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – On February 12, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a helicopter roundup of wild horses at Cedar Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) in Utah.  The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and advocates across the country contend that BLM’s actions at the roundup violate standards in their own Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP).

Eyewitness, Mosie Trewhitt, a professional horse trainer, photographed the incident of a lone pinto mare being driven by a helicopter. The mare could not keep up with her band but the helicopter kept pushing her. Then a wrangler joined the pursuit and both helicopter and wrangler chased the mare on a dead run along a barbed wire fence line. The wrangler tried to rope her numerous times and was finally successful. The mare lurched and flipped over or tried to jump the fence. She became entangled in the barbed wire, and ended up on the other side of the fence.

The mare escaped, dragging the rope behind her and has not been seen since the incident according to BLM who also contend she was uninjured. Trewhitt’s blog, Voices of the Herd, documents the incident with vivid photographs. Fears persist that this mare who appears to be pregnant may be strangled by the rope or suffer from infection due to an obvious gash on her right rear leg.

“I’ve witnessed roundups since 1994 in which inhumane actions were common and often ignored,” states Ginger Kathrens, the Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation and the BLM’s Humane Advocate on the National Wild Horse and Bureau Advisory Board. “To their credit BLM responded to growing concerns about the inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros during and after roundups by creating the CAWP.”

In 2011 BLM began the process of creating humane roundup standards.  The final product, published in 2015, tried to reduce incidents like this.  “Years were spent on this document at considerable expense, but the document does no good if the BLM does not follow or enforce the standards,” adds Paula King, TCF Communications Director.

After extensive review, TCF cites the following violations of the CAWP:

 1.     II. Capture Techniques. B Helicopter Drive Trapping, Para. 1 “Regarding helicopter driving, the standards state “the helicopter must be operated using pressure and release methods to herd the animals… and should not repeatedly evoke erratic behavior in the WH&Bs causing injury or exhaustion. “

2.     II. Capture Techniques. B Helicopter Drive Trapping, Para. 4 “When WH&Bs are herded through a fence line en route to the trap, the Lead COR must be notified by the contractor.  The Lead COR must determine the appropriate width of the opening that the fence is let down to allow for safe passage through the opening.”

 3.      II. Capture Techniques. C. Roping, Para.1  “The roping of any WH&B must be approved prior to the procedure by the Lead COR.” 

 4.     II. Capture Techniques. C. Roping, Para.3  “Ropers should dally the rope to their saddle such that the animals can be brought to a stop as slowly as possible and must not tie the rope hard and fast to the saddle so as to intentionally jerk animals off their feet.”

 5.     Instruction Memorandum No. 2015-151 Policy/Action  “At all times, the care and treatment provided by the BLM and our contractors should be characterized by compassion and concern for the animal’s well-being and welfare needs.”

 6.     Instruction Memorandum 2013-60 “The Incident Command will ensure that everyone involved in gather operations receives a copy of these expectations prior to the start of the gather and the Lead Cor and all BLM employees present shall ensure that gather operations are conducted in compliance with these expectations.”

 7.     Instruction Memo 20133-59  “…animal condition and fatigue will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the number of attempts that can be made to capture the animal.  Animals will not be pursued to a point of exhaustion or distress.”

BLM issued a statement about the account but has made no mention of any disciplinary actions they plan to take against the COR, the helicopter contractor, the wrangler or the BLM staff at the trap.

 “Who is responsible? Who was the COR on this operation? Why are contractors not required to comply with standards?  Why is no one held accountable for these abuses?” King asks. “This should never have happened.  Responsible parties must be named and held accountable,” she concluded.

Eyewitness Trewhitt writes: “With the impact, the cuts she must have gotten from the barbed wire and the trailing noose around her neck…there is no saying what could happen out there.  I hate to think about it, but we need to understand the consequences of these actions.”

“I have a basic question: what was the reason to endlessly pursue this terrified, pregnant mare to exhaustion?” Kathrens asked.

“This contractor has been rounding up wild horses for nearly 40 years, and should be aware of BLM’s humane standards,” states Lisa Friday, TCF Board Member who has extensive experience with wild horse herds in Utah. “Their helicopter pilot must have known that the mare was exhausted. Yet he continued the pursuit, and when a wrangler on horseback was dispatched the mare was run some more. This is a clear violation of the CAWP.”

“Contractors make millions of dollars at the expense of our beloved wild horse families – and at the expense of the American taxpayers,” Kathrens concludes. “They should not be rewarded for this kind of inhumane behavior and we ask that penalties be imposed on those involved.”

LINKS of Interest:

Escape of the Paint Mare

http://voicesoftheherd.com/escape-of-the-paint-mare/

 BLM Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program

https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/comprehensive_animal.html   BLM COMPREHENSIVE ANIMAL WELFARE PROGRAM.

COMPREHENSIVE ANIMAL WELFARE PROGRAM FOR WILD HORSE AND BURRO GATHERS  -Standards  https://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/wo/Information_Resources_Management/policy/im_attachments/2015.Par.70807.File.dat/IM2015-151_att1.pdf

BLM INSTRUCTION MEMO No. 2015-151 Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program for Wild Horse and Burro Gathers  https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/national_instruction/2015/IM_2015-151.html

BLM INSTRUCTION MEMO: NO. 2013-059

https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/national_instruction/2013/IM_2013-059.html

BLM Response to Cedar Mountain Roundup

https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/about-the-program/common-questions-from-the-public#quickset-wildhorse_aboutqa18_0

Charge the BLM & contractor for animal abuse for the inhumane handling of a pregnant mare.

https://www.change.org/p/representative-suzanne-bonamici-charge-the-blm-contractor-for-animal-abuse-for-the-inhumane-handling-of-a-pregnant-mare?recruiter=359330900&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=fb_send_dialog