Craig Downer, author and wildlife ecologist, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed. 11/2/16)


Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Nov. 2, 2016

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

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

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

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


Craig Downer (photo by Rona Aguilar)

Our guest tonight is Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and author of the book “The Wild Horse Conspiracy.”  Craig is the Founder of The Andean Tapir Fund, the Wild Horse & Burro Fund, and has a website called The Wild Horse Conspiracy.  Craig will be talking about his observations of Herd Management Areas, the Brumbies (wild horses in Australia), the Wildies (wild horses in Canada), the fertility drug PZP and many interesting stories about the history of wild horses in the American West.

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

To contact us:, or call 320-281-0585

Continue reading

Mae Lee Sun & Craig Downer on the culling of Australia’s brumbies (wild horses) on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 9/21/16)



Join us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Sept. 21, 2016

6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST in the U.S.A.

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

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

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

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


There have been many horrific aerial cullings of brumbies (wild horses) in Australia, where shooters in helicopters have shot and left many brumbies suffering before death. The New South Wales government plans to wipe out 90% of the Snowy Mountains brumby population over the next two decades.


Our guests tonight are:

mae-lee-trooper-33-reducedMAE LEE SUN, co-author of the 2013 release, “Brumby: A celebration of Australia’s wild horses” by Exisle Publications. She is a freelance journalist/photographer, editor, writer and animal welfare advocate and her articles and essays have appeared in numerous newspapers and literary journals. Mae Lee has worked in the United States and abroad since 1995 and is currently in Australia. Mae Lee’s blog is the Wild Horse Journal.





screen-shot-2014-12-12-at-9-04-58-am CRAIG DOWNER is a wildlife ecologist and the author of the book “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” Website:

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

To contact us:, or call 320-281-0585 Continue reading

Craig Downer & Bob Bauer on Wild Horse & Burro radio tonight!


7:00 pm PST8:00 pm MST 9:00 pm CST10:00 pm EST

Listen Live Here!

Call in # 917-388-4520

You can call in to the live show with questions!

The shows will be archived, so you can listen anytime.


Tonight’s guests are:

Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and a member of the
Board of Directors of the Cloud Foundation. Craig is the author of the
book “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” and has a website (photo below of Craig Downer)


and Robert Bauer, Wildlife Biologist


(photo of Bob Bauer)

Bob and Craig will debunk the Bureau of Land Management’s unscientific “myths” about wild horses & burros.

Wild Horse & Burro Radio is co-hosted by Debbie Coffey, Director of Wild Horse Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Marti Oakley, PPJ Gazette. This series of radio shows will feature upcoming guests including Elizabeth Lovegrove of Wild Horses Kimberly in Australia and Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation. _______________________________________________________________________________                                                    To contact us:, or call 320-281-0585


11/6/13 – John Holland, President of Equine Welfare Alliance discussing the latest in horse slaughter issues. Click HERE.

11/13/13 – Marjorie Farabee, Director of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and founder of Wild Burro Protection League (under Todd Mission Rescue) and Carl Mrozak, videographer (Eagle Eye Media), with work appearing on CBS, PBS, the Discovery Channel, the Weather Channel and other networks. Click HERE.

11/20/13 – Simone Netherlands, Natural Horsemanship Trainer, founder of respect 4 horses Organization, and director & producer of the documentary “America’s Wild Horses.” Click HERE.

11/27/13 – R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and author of the much acclaimed book “Straight from the Horse’s Heart: A Spiritual Ride through Love, Loss and Hope.R.T. also runs the blog “Straight from the Horse’s Heart,” which posts current news and information and gives a comprehensive education to the public on issues in connection with wild horses & burros and public lands. Also, Ginger Kathrens, Director of the Cloud Foundation, joined in on the show to talk about the Salt Wells & Adobe Town roundups. Click HERE.

Ecologist tells Steamboat Audience Wild Horses Play a Vital Role in the West

Source: By Tom Ross of the STEAMBOAT TODAY

“The horse family is one of the most native of any group in North America,”
Craig Downer and R.T. Fitch at Twin Peaks Roundup ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Ecologist Craig Downer and author R.T. Fitch at Twin Peaks Roundup ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Steamboat Springs — Ecologist Craig Downer came to Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs on Thursday to make the scientific and archaeological case for one of the most romantic figures in the American West: the wild horse.

Wild horses and burros, Downer told his audience, mistakenly have been cast as an invasive species to North America when in fact they roamed here for tens of millions of years, evolving along with other flora and fauna until they formed mutually beneficial relationships and became an integral part of the ecosystem.

Today, in Downer’s opinion, an unwise effort by the Bureau of Land Management to round up thousands of wild mustangs and reduce them on their ranges until their populations are genetically untenable is opening the door to damaging the grasslands of the intermountain West and even promoting the spread of forest fires.

Downer is the author of the 2012 book “The Wildhorse Conspiracy,” available locally at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.

One of the places where wild horse herds still can be observed is Moffat County’s nearby Sand Wash Basin, Downer pointed out.

Ultimately, the horses and burros, or equids as he refers to them, migrated out of North America, not the opposite, as commonly is thought.

Ultimately, the horses and burros, or equids as he refers to them, migrated out of North America, not the opposite, as commonly is thought.

“The horse family is one of the most native of any group in North America,” Downer said. “They were here continuously since the end of the dinosaurs.”

Horses and burros complement ruminant species like cows, deer, sheep and pronghorns, which have multiple chambers in their stomachs and chew their cuds, Downer said. Instead of directly competing with those animals for forage, they graze on coarser material. Their wallows serve to collect water in arid regions where many smaller species benefit. And their waste contains viable grass seeds that can germinate in what amount to small packets of compost the horses leave behind.

In winter, their heavier hooves can break through icy snow crust on the landscape, benefiting the survival of deer.

“Horses and burros represent a giant missing piece in the ecological puzzle,” Downer said.

Most of all, Downer said, he objects to the BLM’s wild horse roundups, which he describes as being in direct conflict with the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which calls for the wild horses and burros to be “protected from capture, branding, harassment or death.”…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and to Comment

The Wild Horse and Burro Christmas Carol

Joint effort by Vicki Tobin and R.T. Fitch

This little piece originally appeared on SFTHH on Christmas Day of 2009.  As of late it has graced the pages of the December 2010 edition of TrueCowboy Magazine and SFTHH in 2011

Twas the night before Christmas on our public land
not a Mustang was stirring, knowing what was at hand.
They huddled in fear hoping someone would care,
in hopes that the advocates soon would be there.

The foals hid in cover while Mom stood her ground
while stallions ensured Sun-J was no where around.
With Salazar lurking and Cattor so close by
the bands must stay quiet and not blink an eye.

When out on the range there arose such a clatter
the Mustangs all knew, what was the matter.
They ran to take cover, on wings they did fly
for surely they thought that they all would soon die.

The visions of millions made contractors grin
while ranchers and wranglers high-fived a big win.
More horses removed by ignoring the law
hold on to your hats and stand back in awe.

The chopper did glisten on new fallen snow
sealing the fate of the horses below.
When all of a sudden, the bands all stood still
and watched as the chopper came over the hill.

They stood in amazement, can it really be true
the advocates appeared right out of the blue.
The horses retreated; not believing their eyes
for surely this is a BLM guise.

Then leading the charge, both lively and quick
were Downer and Holland and Fitch with a stick.
More rapid than lightening, Cate was in tow
with Simone close behind, telling all where to go.

Now Ginger and Wagman and Ann times two,
Oh Debbie and Grandma and Julie it’s you.
Now Vicki and Jerry and right there is Anne
now Terry and Marjorie with their cameras in hand.

Down the hill they descended toward the horses with care
and watched as the chopper, fled into the air.
The advocates came with injunction in hand
the decree shouted out, “this is our public land”.

“Enough is enough” the judge did declare
the horses were saved by the breadth of a hair.
Our work here’s not done, the advocates did cry
the choppers still flying, more herds could be spied.

Its back to D.C. with a permanent plan
to ensure all the horses can live on their land.
So love was delivered to the horses with pride
but the warriors must leave so that no more would die.

They climbed up the hill and turned back to the band
who all now had gathered on what was their land.
“We carry you with us”, R.T. did proclaim,
“We go to the White House to show them your way.”

The horses all bowed with a sign of approval
as they all now knew that there was no removal.
They neighed and they nickered to the spirit above
Thanks for sending the people who gave us their love.

Recognized Wild Horse Expert Adds More to Obama’s BLM Dunce List

A Continuation of Craig Downer’s Open Letter to the BLM~ Click (HERE) for first installment

BLM’s Lack of Equine Understanding is Stunning

Feb. 6, 2011

BLM Ely District Office (Nevada)
Attn: Gary W. Medlyn, Egan Field Manager
re: DOI-BLM-NV-L010-2011-0004-EA (2nd input)

BLM's Renegade Pilot Flying Crazy at Antelope Stampede ~ Photo by Laura Leigh

Dear Sirs:

I sent you an email input on Jan. 30th of this year and would like to add the following input:

On page 23 of your document you paint a very rosy picture of the results of the roundup, but in fact overlook many positive aspects of leaving the wild horses alone. You mention that the rate of foaling will increase after the roundup. Yes, I agree, but is this not what you want to prevent by allowing the herds to self-stabilize? They do self-stabilize if allowed to fill their niche. I suggest you look into natural boundaries, predators, buffer zones, etc., as part of an effective Reserve Design concept.

I would like to add that by over-reducing the herd, you set back the natural adaptive process, that I so appreciate as a biologist. This occurs between the wild horses and the ecosystem they inhabit. Part of this is that by removing the mature horses, you disrupt the social and ecological order. These older horses have had more time to attune themselves to the natural life community where they live and they guide the younger ones, prevent too early reproduction, and lead the bands in their seasonal migrations up elevation in the warmer seasons and down elevations in the colder seasons. They perform a natural rest rotation of grazing pressure on forage when fences do not prevent them from doing so. So my question to you is: are you taking into full account all these natural factors that you should when providing for a integrated wild-horse-containing ecosystem that provides for a truly long-term genetically viable population? And is this in harmony with the true intent of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971? I protest your overly low AML (see earlier input) and your skewed sex ratios and PZP’ed mares and favor a Reserve Design concept for the attainment of self-stabilizing herds, in conjunction with a fairer allocation of forage for the wild horses, meaning less given to livestock and more to the wild horses who by law should be treated as the principal presences within their legal herd areas or herd management areas (BLM) or territories (USFS).

On page 24, you mention those older or infirm horses that will be targeted for euthanasia. Here I would just like to make two points: Would it not be much fairer and more in tune with the WFRHBA were you to allow the natural life cycles to complete themselves in the wild, rather than subjecting these horses, who have managed to survive, obviously, up unto the point of gather, to a very stressful and anguishing jerking out of their natural home and band and herd companionship and placing in the artificial confines of a corral and its truly overcrowded conditions compared with what they are used to? By allowing them to contribute their remains to the natural world and its food web when they die, you would be in true conformance with the WFRHBA, which stresses that they are to be regarded as natural components of the federal lands ecosystems and minimally interfered with.

Also on page 24, you mention that only 0.5% of the horses gathered die in the gather operation. This is a misleading statistic that does not account for the much larger percentage that later dies during the processing, short-term holding and long term holding. This is usually ca. 5% or more, judging from the Calico Complex wild horse roundups that occurred during the first months of 2010 and their attrition at the Broken Arrow private short term holding facility north of Fallon.


Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist

Renowned Wild Horse Expert Disputes BLM’s Flawed Math

From: Craig Downer
Cc: Craig Downer
Sent: Sun, January 30, 2011 4:59:49 PM
Subject: Re: Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley HMA’s Preliminary E.A. DOI-BLM-NV-L010-2011-0004-EA

Craig Downer and R.T. Fitch at Twin Peaks Roundup ~ photo by Terry Fitch

January 30, 2011

BLM Ely District Office

HC 33 Box 33500

Ely, NV 89301

Attn: Gary W. Medlyn, Egan Field Manager


Re: Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley  HMA’s Preliminary Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-NV-L010-2011-0004-EA

Dear Sirs:

Thank you for this opportunity to give input.  I have reviewed the E.A. and am disturbed by the repeated arguments that I have read many times before as concerns “wild horse overpopulation,” “multiple use,” “thriving ecological balance,” etc.  The employment of these terms to justify what you are planning to do to the wild horses makes a mockery of their true meaning.

Objectively there is no overpopulation of wild horses in the herd management areas/wild horse territories under consideration.  How can there be when the current estimated population of 2,198 wild horses translates into 766 acres per individual wild horse in 1,682,998 acres of hma’s (BLM) or wild horse territories (USFS)?  After the proposed roundup to reduce the population by 1,726 to 472 wild horses, there would remain an immense 3,566 acres of legal habitat per individual wild horse.  This would be a nearly wild-horse-empty wild horse hma complex.  This mocks the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act (WFRHBA) where it clearly states that wild horse/burro herd areas shall be dedicated “principally though not necessarily exclusively” to the wild horses/burros in the wild.  This latter is in keeping with the multiple use concept of the public lands (upheld by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act as well as the Multiple Use Act), since the wild horse and burro areas only represent a small percentage of the public lands (ca. 12%).  To squeeze their population down to such radically low levels expands the monopoly of livestock upon the public lands as a whole.  I detect a biased motivation operating to the detriment of the wild horses and burros. Year after year, this further displaces the wild equids and reduces their numbers, ignores their legal right to freedom and land, further disrupts their natural adaptation where found as well as their self-stabilizing societies, etc.

Examining Tables 3, 4 & 5 of your EA, I see that there are a total of 28 livestock grazing permittees/allotments of which 17 have 90% to 100% of their allotments within the hma’s.   These livestock graziers have a total of currently permitted livestock Animal Unit Months (AUM’s) of 88,978 on a year round basis.  Since the current wild horse population is 2,198, there are 26,376 AUM’s (2,198 x 12 months) currently being utilized by wild horses in the complex.  This represents a little less than 30% of livestock AUM’s and only 23% of the total livestock plus wild horse AUM’s of 115,354.  This is not an overwhelming percentage and in no fashion constitutes the “principal” in these hma’s.  Yet, unsatisfied with this, your plan is to reduce the herds to the lower end Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 472 wild horses.  This figure of 472 represents 5,664 AUM’s per year, which is only 6.4% of permitted livestock AUM’s and a little under 6% of combined livestock and wild horse year-round AUM’s.  The upper end of the AML is 889, which multiplied by 12 months equals 10,668 AUM’s per year.  This is still only about one-nineth of livestock within the wild horse complex …even less of the combined.

This is an extreme marginalizing of the wild horse presence and, for this reason, I urge you to increase the AUM’s for wild horses, and to decrease the AUM’s for livestock, with the goal being that wild horses receive at least 50% of the grazing allotments in order to comply with the “principal” mandate of WFRHBA.  I therefore favor the No Action alternative proposal in your EA and urge you to reformulate a more just plan here, employing principles of Reserve Design that involve buffer zones, natural barriers and predators, and the allowing of the wild horses to fill their niche and naturally self-stabilize.  This would obviate the cruel and biologically disruptive helicopter roundups that are now causing such enormous problems, suffering and death for the wild horses.

Finally, I urge you to hold your ground in the water issue in Nevada and not be cajoled by vested interests — under the guise of state’s rights — into relinquishing water for the wild horses.  As a 4th generation Nevadan and holder of my high school’s history award, I know that the Nevada State Constitution gives top priority to the federal government on all lands that were not claimed during the first several years after the Civil War and the formation of Nevada.

Please feel free to contact me for further details about my protest of your proposal, reserve design, etc.  Again I appreciate this opportunity to give input and look forward to hearing from you again soon.


Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist

Renowned Wildlife Ecologist Responds to Biased Audubon Anti-Wild Horse Ranting

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director of HfH Advisory Council

Audubon Mag Shows It’s Feathered Behind

Often times it is best to let bad news and glaring stupidity simply slip away into the night without any notice and that was exactly what I intended to do regarding the Audubon Magazine’s recent article about wild horses.  Written by Ted Williams, no not the famous guy, the article is riddled with misinformation and tainted with a leering overtone that leaves a bitter taste in the reader’s mouth.  Poor journalism at best for such a highly regarded conservation publication.

But the outrage of the general public is not going to allow this abomination to slip quietly away.  My inbox has been loaded with outrage which has spilled over onto our blog and out into social networks urging me to say something, to respond, to fight back.  So we will do just that, today.

Good friend and fellow equine advocate Craig Downer responded to the editor of the Audubon and we would like to share his unedited candor with you today.

Thanks Craig” ~ R.T.


January 9th, 2011

Dear Audubon Editor:

I just finished reading Ted Williams’ diatribe: Incite: Saddle Sore against wild horses in America and consider this to be full of half truths and distortions of fact.  It is funny that Williams presents little or no factual information to back up his claims, but rather relies most heavily on innuendo and hearsay.  There is little of the rational in his article.  What is most upsetting is how consistently negative he is toward the wild horses and their supporters.  This mocking tone really gives Williams away.

A more just writer would acknowledge that the wild equids have much to contribute to the American ecosystem and that in their very differences from the majority of ruminant herbivores, being post-gastric digesters, lies the explanation of much of this positive contribution.  For example, the less decomposed droppings of equids contribute humus to the soils and augments their moisture retentiveness and nutritional content to plants growing from them.  They also bolster the food chain, from tiny to large animals.  This then benefits many more species of plants and animals.  Williams ignores this and bases his attacks on twisted partial view scenarios as that which compares wild horses to certain weed species.  These comparisons simply do not hold water when held up to the higher light of holistic ecological and evolutionary (returned native) scrutiny.  Williams also fails to acknowledge the relative proportions of livestock and big game animals vis-a-vis wild horses on the public lands, which reveal just how tiny are the numbers and resource consumption of the latter and how overwhelmingly monopolistic are the former.

In his Incite column, Williams lacks insight into the value of a wild-horse-containing ecosystem and the role of the horses therein.  And he lacks the gifted imagination to conceive of a way whereby humanity could in fact learn to permit and to live in harmony with this.  This involves Reserve Design and the Rewilding proposal of professional ecologists and conservationists, and I would be happy to discuss this further with Williams and Audubon.  This way would make for a much better world, a much better relation among the living species, not man apart, than what we have realized so far.


Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist
Minden, NV 89423

Aerial Survey Reveals Twin Peaks Wild Horse Population Decimated

by Maureen Harmonay ~ Equine Advocacy Examiner ~ LIVE LINK

Equine Advocates Use Science Against BLM’s Bad Math

Cattle at Twin Peaks ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

A September 24th flyover survey of the California-Nevada Twin Peaks Herd Management Area by respected wildlife ecologist Craig Downer reveals that only about 265 wild horses remain in this 798,000-acre range in the wake of the recent BLM roundup, which captured 1638 horses.  Fourteen of those horses died in BLM custody or as a direct result of physical injuries or trauma sustained during their capture.

Mr. Downer’s conclusions are in stark contrast to the BLM’s own estimation of the remaining wild horse population at Twin Peaks, which it puts at 793.  As is shown in Mr. Downer’s chart of Supporting Population Data for this HMA, published yesterday by the Equine Welfare Alliance, BLM’s figures are “contradictory to the historic population data and viable reproductive rates.”

During his four-hour aerial reconnaisance over 133.3 miles of the Twin Peaks HMA in late September, Mr. Downer and his pilot actually observed 186 cattle but only seven wild horses, in two bands on the east side of the territory:

“One male-female pair and another group of five, composed of a stallion, three mares, and a colt.  They were located near rocky cliffs and had been grazing on grassy mesas in the higher reaches of the HMA.  They seemed to cling to these remote, rugged redoubts, which perhaps had permitted them to escape the helicopters that had so decimated their numbers.”

Ominously, Mr. Downer did not see even a single burro during his flight, leading to his conclusion that “the population could be dangerously low.”  The BLM reported on September 3rd that it had released only one of the 160 burros it had captured, but Mr. Downer maintains that “all burros should be returned (to the HMA) to ensure a minimal genetically viable population.”

In light of his findings, Mr. Downer is calling for the BLM to restore the wild horse population to 448 horses, a number that it has determined to be the low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for Twin Peaks.  To accomplish this, he is urging the BLM to release 187 wild horses and all of the 159 burros it had captured during the controversial six-week roundup.

Mr. Downer’s Report may be Downloaded (HERE)

BLM Says Dead Foal at Twin Peaks Not Shot

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch ~ author of Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Federal Report Comes as NO Surprise

BLM and Advocates at odds over cause of foals death ~ Photo by Craig Downer

HOUSTON (SFTHH) – On Aug 17th federal officials released a report stating that the holes in the carcass of a young foal found by wild horse advocates probably came from scavenger birds and not gunshot wounds.

Two days after the remains were found by concerned U.S. citizens a vet from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service examined the carcass and stated that the cause of death could not be determined due to advance stages of decomposition according to BLM spokesperson Jan Bedrosian.

“The bony skeletal remains of the four- to six-week old colt showed no detectable physical trauma,” Bedrosian said in a statement on Monday. “There were random holes of various sizes that were evidence of feeding by scavenger birds, according to the veterinarian.”

Yet wildlife ecologist and wild horse scholar Craig Downer upon discovering the dead foal clearly noticed that a well defined hole passed through the carcass and exited on the side that laid against the ground.  Begging the question of how could scavenger birds attack the side that was protected against the earth.  Likewise, Downer stated during an interview on Big Blend Radio that spent shells from a high powered rifle were found nearby while other advocates indicated that there were rope burns and obvious skin trauma evident on the foal’s body.

Downer, a Director on the board of The Cloud Foundation and working with the Equine Welfare Alliance, was with the group that found the foal last week. He said it was within a few miles of a corral where a BLM contractor with helicopters stampeded hundreds of mustangs last week along the California-Nevada border.

Downer said BLM officers in the field initially dismissed his report, at one point telling wild horse advocates that the carcass was that of an antelope, not a horse.

But Downer  said BLM officials from the district office subsequently showed genuine interest in the case. He said they requested—and he provided—copies of photographs he taken at the scene.

Downer, who has done numerous studies at the roundup site, said on Tuesday that he had not heard from the BLM about the examination results. He said he thought that the USDA and BLM would have the expertise to determine the source of the wounds but that he remained suspect of the conclusion.

“What gets me is the near-perfect roundness of the hole going in,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He has asked to review the details of the findings.

“I’ve seen how the high-powered rifle perforates and leaves the round hole going in and going out the other side … Based on that fact alone, I would be a bit suspect of the conclusion.”

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