Breaking! Support Calls Needed This Week Before Iconic African Species Protection Act Advances To California Senate Committee On Public Safety On April 24th

Wild Horses get Favorable Hearing in Battle with California Welfare Ranchers over Sanctuary

as published on The Sun Herald

“Judge Robert L. Wilkins called a government assertion “factually unsupported,””

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A top federal court on Wednesday appeared ready to force changes in a Forest Service plan that reduced wild horse protections in a remote Northern California county.

With tough questions and some pointed statements, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit revealed their apparent skepticism about management of the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Modoc County. The Forest Service shrank the territory by about 25,000 acres in 2013.

“You’ve got a problem here,” Judge Patricia Millett told a Justice Department attorney.

At another point during the 30-minute oral argument, Judge Robert L. Wilkins called a government assertion “factually unsupported,” while Judge David Tatel offered that the wild horse advocates “still have a case” even if the government prevails on one issue.

The tenor and the content of the oral argument held before what is often called the nation’s second-highest court suggested eventual victory for the advocates who are challenging the Forest Service. Underscoring the stakes, an attorney for the California Cattlemen’s Association, the state’s farm bureau and other groups sat at the table alongside the federal government’s team…(CONTINUED)

Judges corral arguments over wild horse protections in remote California county


“This is one of the most significant wild horse populations left in California,”

A dust-up in California’s remote Modoc County has lassoed the attention of one of the nation’s top courts, with wild horse protection and property rights both on the line.

Animal advocates want more land within the Modoc National Forest set aside for wild horses. Ranchers fear the loss of rangeland suitable for cattle grazing. Their legal fight might foreshadow plenty of other public-lands conflicts when the incoming Trump administration starts putting its brand on agencies like the Forest Service.

“This is one of the most significant wild horse populations left in California,” Suzanne Roy, executive director of the Davis, California-based American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said Thursday.

Located in California’s far northeast corner, Modoc County claims fewer than 10,000 residents. Roughly half the county’s land mass sits within the 1.3 million-acre national forest, enhancing the clout of federal officials and inciting the occasional conflict with residents. It’s a region in which political phrases like Sagebrush Rebellion take root.

This case, though, allies the ranchers with the Forest Service.

In an oral argument set for next Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will consider claims made by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and its allies. The court, in Washington, is sometimes called the nation’s second-highest because of its far-reaching authority over federal agencies, so its eventual decision could resonate well beyond Modoc County.

“This action has important implications for how the Forest Service manages the nearly 200 million acres of national forests,” attorneys for the wild horse advocates said in a legal brief.

The 30-minute oral argument is fallout from the Forest Service’s 2013 management plan for a portion of the Modoc National Forest called the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory. The territory consisted of two parcels totaling 236,000 acres when it was established in 1975.

The Devil’s Garden site is one of 37 federal wild horse or burro territories nationwide.

The Forest Service adjusted the Devil’s Garden borders in the 1980s to create a larger, unified territory, some of it including private land previously used for grazing. The agency further recognized these new borders in a 1991 forest plan. The new management plan in 2013, though, shrunk the territory back to the original 1975 layout.

The change in 2013 cut the expanded wild horse territory by 25,000 acres as it reverted to its original size, and it set a maximum wild horse population of 402.

“We’re trying to prevent the Forest Service from reducing the size of their habitat,” Roy said, adding that “it’s all being driven by the (ranching) interests in the area.”

The California Cattlemen’s Association, state farm bureau and others favoring the smaller territory noted in a legal brief their concerns about the “unprecedented wild horse population explosions that have spilled over onto adjacent private lands and into government-funded offsite holding facilities.”

“Over the past decade, the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory population has exploded to reach 1,124 horses,” the farm groups wrote, adding that “wild horses have even been observed on private property far from the wild horse territory.”

In a 2015 ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson upheld the Forest Service’s action as administratively justifiable.

“At the time the Devil’s Garden (territory) was established, the Forest Service concluded that the disputed territory did not qualify as the territorial habitat of wild free-roaming horses,” Jackson said in her 50-page opinion.

The challengers appealing Jackson’s decision counter in legal filings that the disputed territory “is, and always has been, prime wild horse habitat.”

Failed prosecution in US underscores uphill battle to end horse slaughter

Source:  The Guardian

Animal welfare advocates left exasperated with Proposition 6, a law that has done nothing to stop California horses from ending up on foreign dinner plates


No horses have been legally slaughtered for human consumption in the US since 2007, when the last operating horse slaughterhouse in Illinois was closed down. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

by Daniel Ross

In 2014, Billy Ray Brown Jr, a prolific livestock dealer on the west coast, was charged with buying two old rodeo horses in California, and shipping them to Washington state before selling them to be slaughtered across the border for human consumption.

The case was expected to have far-reaching implications. It was the first time in its 18-year history that someone had been charged under Proposition 6 – an obscure California law intended to crack down on horse slaughter. And the time and resources that the local sheriff’s department had dedicated to the case was unusual for an investigation involving livestock.

But at a preliminary hearing for the case this month, the charges against Brown were dropped, leaving animal welfare advocates exasperated with a law that has done nothing to stop California horses from ending up on foreign dinner plates.

“Tons of horses are crossing the border every week for slaughter. This was the one chance to hold someone accountable,” said Caroline Betts, a University of Southern California professor, and founder of Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue. “I think this will embolden California horse traders. They’ve been getting away with this stuff for 18 years. The law’s well written, but with zero enforcement, it’s meaningless.”

No horses have been legally slaughtered for human consumption in the US since 2007, when the last operating horse slaughterhouse in Illinois was closed down. An effective federal ban on commercial horse slaughter – which essentially pulled funding for inspections of horse slaughter plants – put the brakes on an industry already on the decline. In 1990, nearly 350,000 horses were slaughtered in the US for consumption. By 2006, that number was a little over 100,000.

Welfare was the deciding factor in the ban. Frequently on long journeys to slaughter, horses were crammed tightly without food and water into trucks ill-equipped to haul horses great distances. Many were found fallen and trampled during transit, often resulting in terrible injuries including broken bones. Some died even before they reached the slaughter plants. Other studies linked slaughter plants to high local crime levels and environmental pollution.

In the wake of the 2007 suspension of horse slaughter, Mexico and Canada picked up the slack. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a total of 130,707 horses left the US for slaughter in Canada and Mexico last year, worth an estimated $45.6m of horsemeat combined.

The slaughter industries in both Canada and Mexico have come under scrutiny in recent years. The EU suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico on the back of a damning 2014 audit that showed how lax identification standards opened the door to banned drugs making their way into the food chain. A subsequent EU audit of Canadian slaughterhouses also raised similar concerns, though no such EU suspension has been enacted against Canadian horsemeat imports as yet.

But the sale of horses for slaughter outside of the US is still widely permitted. Only a handful of states like Texas, New Jersey and Illinois have enacted similar legislation to California’s Proposition 6, attempting to tackle the issue at the state level.

With these laws on the books, animal welfare advocates have hoped to save horses from days-long journeys across the border, and the slaughter practices used in foreign plants. Multiple investigations have found that the captive bolt – a cattle gun method of stunning horses – sometimes fails to render horses unconscious before they’re hung upside down and butchered. Many saw Proposition 6 as an important step towards a federal ban on the export of horses for commercial slaughter altogether.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Read the rest of this article HERE.


Feel Good Sunday: Escaped ‘Unicorn’ Evades Police for Hours

Source: CoastToCoastAM

“Ya gotta love it!” ~ R.T.

Police near Fresno, California were faced with a particularly tough suspect when they tried to locate a pony that had escaped from a children’s party while ‘dressed’ as a unicorn.

The centerpiece of a fairy tail-themed event, the diminutive creature named Juliette somehow scampered away from her handler and took off into the street.

Proving to be just as elusive as a real unicorn, police eventually needed a helicopter and thermal imaging technology to find the rogue pony after spending hours searching for her.

While we can only speculate as to Juliette’s motive for running away, a likely factor may have been the desire to find someone who would take that annoying horn off of her head!

Feel Good Sunday: Volunteers Help Horses Ravaged by CA Wildfires

Forward and Story by Grandma Gregg

Hi again R.T.-

You probably are not aware that for the past 2 weeks there have been two gigantic and very fast moving wildfires in the foothills of northern California.

Many horses and other wild and domestic animals have been injured and have lost their lives. On the “feel good” side of this, there has been an incredible volunteer force that have done every imaginable job to help these animals. 

I know that you did similar animal assistance after hurricane Katrina and will know the physical and emotional drain and yet fulfillment that the volunteers experience but of course it is the animals who are the innocent creatures that need help in a disaster like this.

I have put together a little bit of information and links in case you wish to use it for feel good Sunday. I realize that the fire is no where near “feel good” … but the volunteers that have and continue to help are without a doubt worthy of a “feel good” moment and even more important any and all of the animals that have been saved and given medical attention and taken to safe homes and on and on are what REALLY count.”

– Grandma Gregg (the mean old grandma with the soft heart for animals)

Hundreds of Animal Lovers Step In to Help Hundreds of Horses and Other Animals

photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

Northern California wildfires have been burning for the past two weeks and have put hundreds of horses and other animals in jeopardy and there is even a rumor that at least 585 horses have lost their lives and hundreds more are in need of short-term and long-term help.

These fires are almost contained but as of today are still burning. The two largest N.CA wildfires are the Butte in Amador Co. with 70,868 acres burned, 93% contained, 1,726 personnel, 475 residences, 343 outbuildings and an unknown number of animals lost and the Valley fire in Lake Co. with 76,067 acres, 90% contained, 2868 personnel and 1,910 structures and an unknown number of animals lost. Both of these fire areas are in the foothills with many small mom-and-pop ranchettes with only a few acres and a few animals at each but they add up to hundreds of goats and pigs and chickens and even emus and llamas as well as cats and dogs but they also include many horses.

“Many of these horses will return to their homes once their owners can come and get them and bring them home,” said representative for the Calaveras County Fairgrounds. “But some owners’ properties have been destroyed and the horses will have no place to go, so we’re going to have them for a while.”

More information and ideas on how to help are provided here:

3 CA Men Arrested for Shooting Wild Burros

BY PETER SUROWSKI from The Press Enterprise

Three men were arrested on suspicion of shooting at the wild burros that are known for roaming the hills of Moreno Valley.

Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Eduardo Loza, 19, and Joel Rodriguez, 21, both of Lenox, were booked into jail on suspicion of attempted animal cruelty, discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner and conspiracy to commit a felony, according to a Riverside County sheriff’s news release and jail records.

Anthony Robert Holquin, 19, was booked on suspicion of the same three felony charges plus being a felon with a firearm and presenting false identification to a police officer, jail records show. He told police his name was Jonhy Fabela, according to the news release.

All three were booked into different jails, in Riverside, French Valley and Banning. Bail was set at $5,000 for each.

Witnesses reported seeing three men shooting at the animals about 12:50 p.m. Saturday, April 18, in the 9700 block of Sunnybrook Drive, the release said.

Deputies showed up and found the three suspects and a gun. They also found physical evidence that a gun was fired, though they found no indication that any of the animals was injured, the release said.

After interviewing the suspects and witnesses, deputies arrested the trio, the release said.

The incident is under investigation and anybody with information was asked to call the sheriff’s Moreno Valley station at 951-486-6700.

Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought

Before we get to our featured article below, it is important to note that the BLM continues to remove wild horses and burros because of “drought,” or because there’s “not enough” forage and water.  We know there is a “man-made” drought because the huge amount of water used by mining and other extractive industries (oil & gas).  Advocates need to be aware of all of the issues surrounding big users of water from our aquifers.   I’ve listed a few sources regarding California’s dire drought below, but there are similarities in other states and areas.

A recent Los Angeles Times editorial by the hydrologist Jay Famiglietti starkly warned: “California has about one year of water left.”

Sonali Kolhatkar recently wrote an article “To Solve California’s Water Crisis, We Must Change the Nation’s Food System.”  Residential use of water in California is about 4% and agricultural use is 80%.

Kolhatkar states:  “The truth is that California’s Central Valley, which is where the vast majority of the state’s farming businesses are located, is a desert. That desert is irrigated with enough precious water to artificially sustain the growing of one-third of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, a $40 billion industry.   Think about it. A third of all produce in the United States is grown in a desert in a state that has almost no water left.”

Kolhatkar also states “When water allocations from the federal government were cut, Central Valley farmers began drilling deep into the ground to pump water out of the state’s precious, ancient aquifer. Now, the pumping has gotten so out of control that water is being tapped faster than it can be replenished by rain or snowfall, leading to some parts of the land literally sinking. What’s worse, California’s farmers are irrigating their lands with water from a 20,000-year-old reserve, depleting and probably permanently damaging a reservoir that formed in the Pleistocene epoch.

Shockingly, until recently, California did not even regulate groundwater use, unlike states like Texas. Anyone could drill a well on their property and simply take as much water as they needed for their own use—a practice that dated back to the Gold Rush.”

The New York Times also recently ran a big article on the drought.  You can read it HERE.

Hopefully the links to articles above and the article below will give you some information on a few (of the many) issues with water and what is happening with our aquifers.  The wild horses and burros are “the canary in the coal mine.”   –  Debbie Coffey

Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought


Nestlé is draining California aquifers, from Sacramento alone taking 80 million gallons annually.  Nestlé then sells the people’s water back to them at great profit under many dozen brand names.”


The Arrowhead Mountain Water Company bottling plant, owned by Swiss conglomerate Nestle, on the Morongo Indian Reservation near Cabazon, Calif. Photo credit: Damian Dovarganes

The city of Sacramento is in the fourth year of a record drought – yet the Nestlé Corporation continues to bottle city water to sell back to the public at a big profit, local activists charge.

The Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento is the target of a major press conference on Tuesday, March 17, by a water coalition that claims the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during the drought.

The coalition, the crunchnestle alliance, says that City Hall has made this use of the water supply possible through a “corporate welfare giveaway,” according to a press advisory.

A coalition of environmentalists, Native Americans and other concerned people announced the press conference will take place at March 17 at 5 p.m. at new Sacramento City Hall, 915 I Street, Sacramento.

The coalition will release details of a protest on Friday, March 20, at the South Sacramento Nestlé plant designed to “shut down” the facility. The coalition is calling on Nestlé to pay rates commensurate with their enormous profit, or voluntarily close down.

“The coalition is protesting Nestlé’s virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drawn from local aquifers – while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them,” according to the coalition.

“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profits,” the coalition said.

Activists say that Sacramento officials have refused attempts to obtain details of Nestlé’s water used. Coalition members have addressed the Sacramento City Council and requested that Nestle’ either pay a commercial rate under a two tier level, or pay a tax on their profit.

Warming Drought

Cracks in the dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif. Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez


In October, the coalition released a “White Paper” highlighting predatory water profiteering actions taken by Nestle’ Water Bottling Company in various cities, counties, states and countries. Most of those great “deals” yielded mega profits for Nestle’ at the expense of citizens and taxpayers. Additionally, the environmental impact on many of those areas yielded disastrous results. 

Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said, “This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation. For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they’re getting for it. In this case, they’re getting ripped off.” 

For more information about the crunchnestle alliance, contact Andy Conn (530) 906-8077 camphgr55 (at) or Bob Saunders (916) 370-8251 

Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world’s bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino, and has been criticized by activists for human rights violations throughout the world.  For example, Food and Water Watch and other organizations blasted Nestlé’s “Human Rights Impact Assessment” in December 2013 as a “public relations stunt.”

“The failure to examine Nestlé’s track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck challenging the human right to water,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.  She noted that the company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need—not as a human right.

“In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation’s refusal to hear their grievances,” according to the groups. 

The press conference and protest will take place just days after Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, revealed in an op-ed in the LA Times on March 12 that California has only one year of water supply left in its reservoirs.

“As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century. 

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.” 

Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking operations.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Auctioneer 1st Man Charged Under California Law To Protect Horses From Slaughter

SOURCE: CBS San Francisco

by Elizabeth Cook (Co-Anchor for KPIX 5 News)

MADERA (KPIX 5) — They were called Lacey and Squirt, two professional rodeo horses and beloved pets. But they ended up sold for meat on someone’s dinner plate overseas.

In a landmark case, a suspect has been charged with delivering at least one of them to slaughter.

The case is the talk of the town in Madera. Sheriff John Anderson has arrested a well-known businessman for an almost unheard of crime. “He will be treated no differently than anyone else,” Anderson said.

Click on Image to View Video

Click on Image to View Video

Billy Ray Brown Jr., son of the owner of the local B and B Livestock auction, is accused of sending a horse called Lacey out of state to slaughter for human consumption.

That is a felony in California. A law was passed in 1998 to protect horses. This is the first time that it has ever been enforced.

Brown is a familiar face at B and B: He is the auctioneer.

So how did he get Lacey? Detective Adam McEwen said his investigation started when Lacey’s owner reported her and another horse called Squirt missing.

The owner told the detective that he had given the horses to Summer Rose Tex, a brand inspector with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, whom he trusted, and whom he says promised to take them to Harris farms to retire.

But instead, according to arrest records, she admitted to the owner that she had lied about where she had taken them.

Tex admitted selling them to a horse dealer, who McEwen later learned sold them to Billy Brown.

A paper trail led the detective across three states from California to Oregon, Washington, and across the border to a slaughterhouse in Canada.

“I visited this slaughterhouse in an undercover capacity,” said Eric Sakach, a senior investigator with the Humane Society of the United States.

The Humane Society supports the SAFE Act, a bill that would ban the export of horses to slaughter for human consumption.

“In many cases you will see the stunner hit the horse five, six times before they are actually going down and staying down,” he said.

Sakach said California is one of the only states that bans shipping horses here. And yet in 2013 over 140,000 horses went to slaughter, and many of those horses came from California.

KPIX 5 couldn’t find Brown, but did meet up with his father, Billy Brown Sr. “There’s nothing to be said, instructions from the attorney, until its done,” he said. Then he proceeded to kick us out.

McEwen and his boss Sheriff Anderson said they are confident there will be a conviction, because Brown admitted using a fake name in the deal.

“He picked the name out of the phone book,” said McEwen.

But McEwen said the signature was just like Brown’s.

“It was painfully obvious that it had been forged. We asked him, ‘If this deal you are saying is legit, then why not use your own information?’” the detective said.

He said Brown told him that from selling horses in the past that he had aroused the suspicion of Canadian authorities. At one time or another they inquired why he was bringing so many horses to the facility.

Summer Rose Tex faces grand theft charges in the case. Her attorney said she never made any promises to the owner of the horses and had no idea they were going to go to slaughter. She is on administrative leave while the Department of Food and Agriculture investigates.

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Two More Wild Horses Killed; BLM Goes Silent

Wild Horse Shootings Swept Under the Rug?

Dead HorseMay 14, 2014

Emails from 2 BLM employees:

 1)    Winnemucca confirms they have been investigating:

“We have been investigating the two horses killed along Highway 447, MM 49, for the past week. Doing a lot of outreach with the community and local law-enforcement but still no leads.”

2)    From the John Maurer, BLM office:

“I am the investigator looking into the deaths of the two horses … I am particularly interested in what those two individuals had to say…”

Since May 14th … and still not a peep out of BLM about this?

At two recent North-Eastern BLM Stewardship public meetings, the illegal killing of wild horses was advocated by two separate public speakers. During the meetings, a local rancher said that he was a former military man and said that there were plenty of remote canyons up there and the people in the area could take care of the [wild horse] “problem” themselves … and that was what he had done while in the military.  And … another local rancher said that she would shoot any animal, whether it was a horse, wild horse or otherwise that came on to her property and ate her cows’ grass.

The members of the committee as well as numerous members of the public heard the illegal suggestions about killing/shooting our wild horses. BLM employees at the meeting did not speak up and tell the speakers that what they were advocating was a federal crime – until a member of the public brought it to the BLM’s attention.

And this was not the first time our wild horses have been found killed in that same area!

April 2012The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is investigating the shooting deaths of nearly a dozen wild horses in four separate incidents in California and Nevada since the beginning of the year.

February 2006 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office received a report Tuesday afternoon, February 14, that some wild horses had been found shot to death along State Highway 34 about 40 miles north of Gerlach. Investigation confirms that three wild horses, two mares and a stud, were shot and killed. One of the mares aborted a foal after being shot. The foal is also dead.

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