Pictorial: Day 12 Wild Horse Checkerboard Roundup ~ Lost Freedoms, Families and Futures

Eye Witness Observations by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Today was a very tough day for me for a number of reasons. But no matter how tough it was for me, I always keep in mind, it is a thousand times tougher for these horses who lose everything dear to them, their families, their homes and their freedom all at once.”

Waiting to head out to the next observation point for the Checkerboard Roundup. It is a little later in the morning. I will be posting updates if I have cell service out there.

We have been waiting for almost 2 hours at the Point of Rocks exit for the Cattoors to come and set up the next trap site. Now we moved to Bitter Creek Road and the helicopters are looking for a trap site for the last few horses in the Great Divide Basin Checkerboard area. I was told they are waiting for an archeologist to come and clear the site and it may be another 2 hours before the helicopters fly driving the horses into the trap. We are headed to a coal mine where apparently about 16 horses have been living for many years within the fenced area around it. Why on earth I wonder, do they have to remove these horses? How are they disturbing the operation of the mine? It is a huge area.

The BLM vehicle speeds up Bitter Creek road so fast that dust billows up in spots, because it is so dry here. Several times I slow, and fall way behind the vehicle in front so that I can see. The road is so dusty following the BLM to the trap. I am concerned I might lose them because I have no idea where we are going, but I am more concerned that I do not fly off the road into the steep ditch next to it because I cannot see it. At one point I could not see anything at all except the boiling dust, so I stopped because I was afraid of going off the road into the ditch, and suddenly there is a bang, and the Ranger’s truck behind me rear ends my car. We stop and get out to see the damage. We keep going to a junction in the road where we still have cell service and then wait for the county sheriff to come and file a report on the accident. This was not at all how I thought this day would go.

We headed finally to the trap in the mine area. We missed 4 horses coming in while meeting with the county sheriff but there are at least 12 more they are trying to get. It is wild and beautiful and quiet out here with gorgeous view of Black Rock and the surrounding mountains.

After we arrived to our observation point a half mile way but with a view of the trap for a change, I observed the longest chase I have ever seen, over an hour, of 8 wild horses by the helicopter in the coal mine area. These eight wild horses including a foal were running up and down steep hills and ridges in the hottest part of the day. They finally went into the trap with lots of close pressure from the helicopter at the very end. He had to circle back to get a line black horse trotting slowly who almost ran back out but finally went into the trap. By this time I was pulling for the horses to finally be caught and end this for the sake of their health. Never before in all my years as an advocate and in the 10 years I have been observing roundups have I been pulling for the horses to go INTO a trap, just to make it stop.

There seems to be a major problem with this trap, despite the fact that the archeologist Ok’d it, the Cattoors don’t seem to have selected it wisely to conform to the landscape and make it easy for the horses to enter as they usually do. The hills are so very steep, and the horses are heading up this one ridge which overlooks the trap, and naturally when they see the trap, they do not want to go in, they run off, and then the helicopter has to chase and chase and chase to get them to approach it and go in.

Helicopter just drove in a family of 6 the brave red stallion in front who kept looking back at his family and three foals and two mares came in after going up hills down in the mine up ridges down valleys and up on a really scary ridge where luckily they stopped then turned around. The red stallion finally led his family into the trap and I sighed with relief I did not want to see them run any more when the intention is to get them all.

We are told they are leaving the two horses who are still in the mine there, and we think they might be done for the day.

But suddenly the helicopter flies out in a direction I have not seen him head, behind us, and we see a family of four pop up over the ridge. The bay stallion is in the back, sorrel mare and foal in the middle, with a black mare leading, and they are running very fast. They fly across the terrain. They are finally driven on top of the ridge near the trap, and they run right by it. The helicopter chases them around the ridge and finally at the top of the ridge they wheel and turn, the helicopter wheels too and from our angle it looks as though it might hit them, but our perspective is distorted, and it is hard to see in the dust. It looks as though they were all going in the trap, but it is only the elegant black mare, who trips somehow and flips over. She gets up and continues into the pen at the end of the trap. On the other side of the hill the foal pops out, and I wonder if he has become separated from his family, but no his mother joins him. The stallion runs as fast as he can in the opposite direction, and I hear that they are letting him go. The helicopter pulls up and flies off, and the exhausted mare and foal slow to a walk, and we wonder, is it really over? Can they actually go free? Down below the Cattoors are packing up the trap, which seems to be answer enough. We watch the bay stallion top a ridge, and pause, looking down, as if he is wondering if it is safe. He trots down to his mare and foal, and they trot up to join him. It is such a very bittersweet moment. I am feeling joy for this small family, that at least the three of them are reunited and will live at least for now in their home in Great Divide Basin. But it is a harsh and cruel reminder of all the horses like the black mare in their family who will never roam free there again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Court Ruling Continues Wild Horse Roundup

Courtesy of the Mesquite Citizen Journal

U.S. District Court Judge Howard McKibben denied a motion to enjoin the use of a helicopter…

BLM Bird of Prey ~ by Terry Fitch

The BLM will continue its emergency gather of wild horses in the southern portion of the Jackson Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) following a court ruling Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Howard McKibben denied a motion to enjoin the use of a helicopter to conduct the emergency gather that is currently underway in the southern portion of the HMA, but enjoined the agency from gathering excess wild horses from the non-emergency areas of the HMA by helicopter before July 1

“The Court recognized that emergency conditions in the southern area of the HMA required prompt action by the BLM,” said Gene Seidlitz, BLM Winnemucca District Manager. “To not take emergency action to gather excess horses to alleviate the distress of the wild horses as they became thinner and weaker by the day was unacceptable.”

“The emergency gather of the southern portion of the Jackson Mountain HMA continues to occur in a safe and humane manner,” said Seidlitz.

The BLM has gathered 368 wild horses since the emergency gather began on June 8.

The BLM estimates it may finish the emergency portion of the gather within the next 5 to 7 days. No helicopter gather operations will be conducted in the non-emergency areas of the HMA before July 1.

Call to Action: The Implied Threat of the BLM

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ President of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“We Want Your Personal Info So We Can Abuse You”

BLM: “How dare YOU question US!!!”

In this day and age there is plenty that is going on to keep one from sleeping well and gaining a good night of much needed rest.  Usually, I am pretty good at holding such monsters at bay and obtaining the required sleep to function properly for yet another day.  But last night was a different story, several words of text and droning voices kept nagging at me through the mist of the night and I could not shake the feeling of dread and the threat of an evil presence as I floated through the fog with my head looking squarely back behind at where I had just been.

The letters of the elusive words rushed by so quickly I could not read them and the raspy voice droning away was unintelligible until this morning when I entered my office and read the words as clear and crisp on my own computer screen from a blurb that I had written, yesterday.

It was a shocking revelation and one that should set off alarms to all free spirits that live in this once great land of ours…the words were uttered by our very own Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and they are a clear and present threat aimed at each and every tax payer in the United States as it came through loud and clear in a recent press release issued by the Nevada bureau in regards to their lack of transparency in planning for a hearing on the use of Helicopters in wild horse and burro stampedes.  They tried to slip the notice in under the radar over the past holiday weekend and planned the meeting on Tuesday the 29th of May immediately following the holiday.  Advocates’ caught it and spent their holiday attempting to right the wrong.

The BLM’s response, and they still held the meeting with few attending, is unedited below:

“Carson City, Nev.–The Bureau of Land Management Nevada invites the public to submit comments as part of its annual statewide hearing on the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles in wild horse management operations.

The hearing was held May 29, 2012 in Carson City, Nev. If you were unable to attend, or would like to submit an additional comment regarding motorized vehicles in the management of wild horses throughout Nevada from June 2012, to May 2013, we invite you to do so. Comments must be received no later than June 12, 2012. Only comments sent to the address, email or fax number identified below will be accepted and considered.

Comments may be sent by mail or fax:

Carson City District Office
5665 Morgan Mill Road
Carson City, NV 89701
Attn: WHB Motorized Hearing
FAX: 775-885-6147

Comments may also be sent by email: ccfoweb@blm.gov,  Attn: WHB Motorized Hearing

Planned management actions include wild horse removals, aerial population inventory and distribution flights of herd management areas. Motorized vehicles, such as semi-trucks and trailers, and pickup trucks, will also be used to transport wild horses. BLM plans to use helicopters to help gather wild, free-roaming horses and burros from public lands in 2012 and 2013.

Comments submitted to BLM must include your address, phone number, email, or other personal identifying information in your comment. Please be aware your entire comment–including your personal identifying information–may be made publicly available at any time. While you may request we withhold your personal information from public view, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.”

Of course, and as usual, the document is riddled with BLM posturing and self-justification but did you catch the last paragraph, do you smell the threat and feel the implied violence?  It is not only flagrant in it’s intent but obnoxious in it’s presentation.

In a nutshell it says:

Go ahead, you sniveling vermin, feel free to comment on our actions and plans but as you well know, by now, we are going to do what the hell we want to do ANYWAY because we CAN.  And just to add a little adventure into the mix, if you are stupid enough to question us, or even give a rat’s ass, then we are going to label and document your personal information while throwing it out into the mainstream for all to see while we just sit back and play dumb, like we had no control over any of it, stuff just happens…we love you, America.

I know there is a little literary license used, there, but you get my drift.  Not too often do I play the conspiracy theory card but in this case it is fairly well documented to say the least.

If you comment they will not only have your personal information but the Feds may elect to publicly trash you if the mood so moves them.

Is that what government has come to in the United States, a place where a federal agency can publicly threaten to disperse proprietary personal information so as to pervert and limit response to a controversial and unfavorable operation?

I would call it bold, brash and extremely dangerous.

We are all too aware that the BLM acts outside of the law with it’s obvious destruction and decimation of our native wild horses and burros on their rightful public lands but to document their distaste for those who give a voice to the voiceless is carrying things one step too far.

In the old days I would say we should write our Congressmen, our Senators and to call our local representatives but today things need to go to the next level with physical and direct action taking place as inaction and postulating is tending to get old, rapidly.

First, we as a group should clog that fax with as many comments as possible.  We need to burn up dozens of printer cartridges and shut the units down so that their normal business cannot progress.

Secondly, we must stuff their snail mail and email inbox’s and let this office know that we are NOT going to stand for this sort of insolence and YES, we do think that using helicopters and motorized vehicles is dangerous.

And thirdly, we sincerely need to get our act together and begin to function as one cohesive and well-organized body.  We, as equine advocates, must check egos at the door and learn to play nice as the only reason we have not gotten accomplished what needs to be addressed is because we go a hundred different directions at once while gossiping about what the other ones are doing; this has to stop and stop now.  There is a plan in the works to get this accomplished but imagine what power we could flex if we were not just the 80% in a survey but instead, millions in an organized membership/association.  Now THAT has clout.

The nightmare is real, the threat is apparent and the gauntlet has been thrown down.  Do we stand and fight or do we tuck our tail between our legs and run…?

I, for one, am going to fight and I intend to spread my personal information all over those comments, nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of as truth and honesty are the best, and only, swords to wield.

Any takers?

Let’s take out a few fax machines first and then clog a few inbox’s.

These overfed government workers have no idea of the power within the sleeping beast that they have awakened.

This is America and in this country, we don’t take kindly to being threatened.

“Turn up the Volume” 

“Clog the Fax”

BLM Uses Junk Science to Attack Another Wild Horse Herd

story by Mary Bernard, of the Vernal Express

Bad Numbers and Propaganda Permeate BLM’s Justification for Wiping out Herd

(The comments made by the BLM and their associates do NOT reflect the opinion of the staff of SFTHH)

Cowboys and helicopters worked earlier this month to gather 109 wild horses from the Winter Ridge Herd Area, roughly 60 miles south of Vernal.

Range conditions forced the removal of the herd from the public lands under the direction of Vernal Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management.

“There’s barely enough range to support the herd as it is,” said Gus Warr, director of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program in Utah.

An environmental assessment of the range indicated the herd had exceeded the available forage.

“In a good year, one animal needs seven to eight acres of forage,” Warr said. “But in a bad year up to 20 acres might sustain one horse.”

The cumulative effect of drought, disease, heavy snows and lack of winter forage have taken their toll on the animals. Herd records were first made in 1977, when 40 animals were counted. But within five years the number had dwindled to eight animals.

“I truly believe these animals should be left wild and free,” said Lisa Friday, a wild horse advocate from Richmond, Va., who traveled to Utah to observe the roundup.

“The alternative is natural selection,” she said, noting that the forces of nature are effective in population control.

Friday also disputes the BLM’s findings of deficient range on Winter Ridge.

“Look at this, there’s grass everywhere,” she said while standing near the corrals. Her advocacy has led her to testify before Congress to stop the BLM’s actions.

An unusually wet spring left the herd in good shape this year in contrast to most years. But after years of difficult management the BLM determined the Winter Ridge Herd Area was not a suitable habitat to sustain the horses.

“Today, we estimate between 120 and 150 animals — horses, burros, and at least two mules — roam the Winter Ridge Herd Area of 46,500 acres,” said BLM public affairs specialist Lisa Reid.

These are not the legendary mustangs of western lore. Instead they are feral horses escaped from nearby ranches and tribal properties, according to the BLM’s environmental assessment. Their range is a wind-swept landscape on the edge of the Bookcliffs shared by oil and natural rigs, hunters, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The BLM and Cattoor Livestock Roundup Inc. from Nephi spent the days leading up to the Sept. 9 roundup attempting to get an accurate count of the herd and scout a location to place their trap — an area where horses are brought in large groups, and then moved to corrals.

“The trap site needs to be carefully selected in a place close to the animals and somewhere they would naturally go,” said Cattoor spokeswoman Sue Cattoor.

“The trap site is selected for humane capture of the animals and not necessarily public viewing,” Cattoor said.

Still, assistant director of the Utah State School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, Kim Christy, whose agency’s lands are included in the herd area, was able to visit the trap site. Christy, who said his agency “applauds the initiative of the BLM in taking this action,” was given full access to the gather beyond the restricted areas.

Cattoor said restricted access is crucial because the company carries millions of dollars in liability insurance to ensure the safety of people and horses during a helicopter roundup.

The roundup procedures, in general, used two helicopters flying low to slowly drive small bands of horses into a trap. On Sept. 9, the helicopter flew just over the horses, “herding them up a hillside into the narrowing wings of a fence line covered with jute,” said Shane Sampson, a wrangler for the drive.

“A prodder horse leads them into a catch pen where we separate the studs, foals and mares into holding corrals,” he added.

Once separated, the horses were loaded about a dozen at a time onto trailers and transported to holding pens. The process was repeated until all the horses were removed from the trap.

It was a fairly calm process designed to keep the animals quiet in order to reduce injury among the herd.

Once captured, a final health evaluation and sort in the holding pens was completed by U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian Al Cane. He refused to comment on the condition of the Winter Ridge herd after collection, but an overall assessment by BLM officials rated the animals’ body condition as “normal.”

However, Reid told the Vernal Express that two horses had to be destroyed after the gather.

“Two were humanely euthanized after it was determined their injuries were significant,” she said. “These were old injuries and neither animal was hurt during the gather.”

Reid went on to say that officials traveled into Bull Canyon near Winter Ridge where they located an additional 50 horses, mules and burros.

“The terrain presents its own set of challenges, as not every locality is open enough to fly helicopters,” Reid said.

Altogether 36 studs, 46 mares, 26 foals and one gelding were gathered in the roundup. The animals were kept at the holding facility pending further tests for equine infectious anemia. As of Sept. 12, all blood samples taken had come back negative and all horses were being prepared for transport to the Delta Wild Horse and Burro Facility.

The facility houses the animals short-term before they are sent to pastures in Eastern states or adopted. Adoptions are by appointment only, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are closed on federal holidays. Call 435-743-3100 for information.

Shady Tactics Surround Obama’s BLM Roundup of Famous Kiger Wild Horses

Information supplied by The Cloud Foundation

Typical Underhanded Operations Still the Main Theme of BLM

Using Multiple Stampede Choppers on Day 1 at Kiger ~ Photo by Laura Leigh WHE/WHFF

Click (HERE) to read Laura’s Day One Report

PORTLAND, Ore. —The Cloud Foundation is outraged at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) lack of transparency and avoidance of public input pertaining to the Kiger/Riddle Mountain roundup happening now outside of Burns, Oregon. The herds are famous for their Spanish Conquistador ancestry as well as Disney’s hit movie, Spirit: Stallion of the CimarronThe Foundation asks Congress to stop the illegal roundup now in order to save these herds from being destroyed. BLM’s plan would reduce the two herds to grossly non-viable populations of less than 50 animals each.

To the Foundation’s knowledge, no pro-wild horse interested parties received the Environmental Assessment (EA) within the allotted 30-day comment period. The only public notification appears to be a March 16, 2011 blurb in the local Burns Times Herald newspaper saying “the proposed action will begin in September, 2011.”

“I was shocked to learn that the Kiger and Riddle Mountain herds were going to be rounded up in early July,” states Diane Pinney, Kiger wild horse adopter and Wild Horse and Burro Representative, Southeast Oregon’s Resource Advisory Council (RAC). “I never received the EA or a notice that it was available, and I can’t find anyone else who did.”

BLM typically receives thousands of comments from concerned members of the public protesting their wild horse removal actions. Despite this, BLM Three Rivers Field Manager, Richard Roy, indicated the agency received “no public comments pertaining to the EA.”

As soon as The Cloud Foundation realized they had not received the EA, nor had anyone they knew, they alerted Portland Attorney, Geordie Duckler. He quickly filed a request for a temporary restraining order. It was denied by District Judge Hernandez and this denial allowed the roundup to begin today.

“This is one of the sleaziest BLM tactics I’ve seen in 16 years of documenting wild horses and dealing with the agency,” states Ginger Kathrens, EMMY Award-winning filmmaker and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “BLM’s actions appear to be a carefully designed strategy to keep the public in the dark and subvert the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process which promotes public involvement.”

“If BLM succeeds in flying under the radar, the wild horses and American taxpayers will pay the price,” explains Kathrens. “We want this roundup to be put on hold right now so we can have at least 30 days for public comment.”

The Cloud Foundation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Equine Welfare Alliance and many other reputable equine advocacy groups believe that BLM’s actions are a violation of the public trust and they vow to continue to fight for the rights of America’s wild horses and burros to roam freely on their legally designated ranges. They encourage members of the public to contact their U.S senators and representatives and request intervention on behalf of our nation’s wild horses and burros before they are managed into oblivion.

Click on Image to View Laura’s Day One Report ~ photo by Laura Leigh

Obama’s BLM Wild Horse Harvesting Machine Continues at Full Throttle in Nevada

Eye witness report by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director of HfH Advisory Council

A Few Moments in the Day of a Wild Horse Stampede Observer

A last cry for his family ~ photo by Terry Fitch

The day goes something like this: we hear the distant sound of helicopter rotors.  Across the valley we see a small cloud of dust as a family band of wild horses runs to escape an overhead helicopter.  The cold, frozen wind roars in our ears as we watch the seven horses run one way and then another trying to escape the noise of the pursuing chopper.

Dozens tick by and watch the small group of horses grow larger as the run for their lives.  They disappear behind a bluff but we can still see the chopper hovering over their position.  But one lone head breaks over the bluff running for his life while the chopper stays on the bulk of the herd.  The escapee stops on top of the bluff, turns to his family and screams but no one can hear him over the roar of the deadly chopper blades.  He turns, runs and then calls again.  Frantic, he runs towards us but behind the lurking trap.  Down across the gully floor then up on top of our observation bluff.  He turns, looks at us, cries and runs away towards the trees as the chopper stalks his family.

Wet in below freezing temps with family destroyed ~ photo by Terry Fitch

We continue to watch the chopper move towards the mouth of the gully, unable to see the remnants of the family beneath him.  Once near the entrance to the gully we see the chopper twist and dive, it attacks to the left and then dive bombs to the right out of site as another ridge blocks our view.  We see three horses break over the edge of the ridge and head to the south, the chopper lunges like a combat aircraft and attempts to cut them off, they are having none of it.  Lost, the inexperienced pilot turns off to the north and repeatedly dives at the remaining unseen horses.  Moment’s later three lathered horses appear in the mean holding pen as we cannot see the approach to ugly trap or even the trap itself.  One tries to climb the fencing, they all scream.

The horses are met with plastic bags tied to short whips and are beaten into the end of the holding cell.  An open slat trailer is backed up to the pen.  The screaming horses are smacked in the face until they are caught in a small area only a few feet wide behind the trailer.  Over and over again they are hit, they lurch forward and they fall and trample each other while the contractors converge on our side of the pen to obstruct our view and camera lenses.

A final, failed break for freedom ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Loud bangs and the sound of hooves on unmated slippery floors echoes across the gully and the trailer is quickly pulled away down a dusty, rough back road for 45 minutes then an hour trip down the high way at 70 mph for more cruel handling at processing an hour down the road.  The ambient temperature is 28 degress, the wind is blowing 30 miles an hour, standing still the wind chill is below zero, the horses are wet.

Meanwhile, the survivors are scattered, terrified, lost, soaked and exhausted yet still running for their lives.  Then we hear the sound of a helicopter across the valley and the destruction of yet another family begins.  The cycle of terror continues all day, and day after day after day.

The wild horses of the Antelope Complex in Nevada are no more, they are finished.

NV Congresswoman Speaks Out on Obama BLM Animal Cruelty at Wild Horse Stampede

Reported by Brooke Boone from Reno’s NBC Channel 4

BLM Says They Will “Look Into It” But Dangerous Pilot Still Flying

Click on above image to view the Broadcast and to Comment ~ Photo by Laura Leigh

The disturbing images of the roundup going on in eastern Nevada have upset many. We showed Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley the video and she was appalled by the pilots behavior. Shelly Berkley–“I was troubled by images from the recent wild horse roundup. The Bureau of Land Management must ensure that all rules are followed during any roundup. Those who are hired to perform wild horse roundups must obey these rules and if they fail to do so, appropriate steps should be taken.”

Action was taken only after I showed the video to the BLM’s Chief Washington spokesperson, Tom Gorey. He says an investigation is underway involving Sun-J, the helicopter contractor for the round-up in this video. Gorey says “It will certainly involve questioning Sun-J and the pilot and matters related to this incident.” Even with this investigation, the BLM tells me the pilot in this video remains on the job.

Since our story first aired on Monday, we received new photos of a helicopter buzzing horses. Witnesses claim these photos were taken on Monday, after the BLM knew of the problem — the BLM says they believe the photos were taken the same day of the video… Just from a different angle.

But no matter when those pictures were taken, this is not the first time the BLM has had to deal with complaints about helicopter pilots. Seven months ago this video was taken at an Oregon roundup. At first glance it looks like a horse is flipped by a helicopter pilot. BLM calls this video “bogus.” Gorey says, “There is a shadow of the helicopter that makes it appear the horse is flipped over. But no such incident occurred.

We are not saying what happened. You make the call on that. But we do know the helicopter was flying close to the horses.

Today, News 4 went as far as calling Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to get some answers. He runs the Bureau of Land Management. So far, we have not received a response.

News 4 will continue to follow this story and update you, the viewer, on the internal investigation as that information becomes available.

Obama Wild Horse Stampede Contractor Rewrites the Truth

(In My most Pissed Off Opinion) by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director HfH Advisory Council

Sue Cattoor Loves that Rogue’s Limelight

Sue Cattor playing to the Cloud Foundation's camera of Ginger Kathrens and Makendra Silverman at the destruction of the Pryor Mt. Herd in 2009 ~ Photo by R.T. Fitch

On January 24th our good friend and college Robert Winkler of The Desert Independent published a guest editorial written by the wife of one of the Bureau of Land Management’s chief helicopter wild horse stampede contractors, Sue Cattoor.  I read it, I gagged, I moved on and did not comment.  There was a moment that I considered posting it, here, and decided against giving this self-ordained queen of wild horse suffering any more publicity to feed her maniacal ego.  But after days of eating at my soul; I just can’t let it go as I sincerely owe it to the tens of thousands of wild horses whose lives have been destroyed, both figuratively and literally, to respond to this trashing of the truth and blatant attempt to further mislead and twist the opinion of the American public.

Now a word of warning about Sue Cattoor, the woman is out of touch with the laws of the land and is seriously attempting to rewrite the First Amendment and quell free speech in the press within our borders.   Last year the Cattoors had their attorney send ugly and shabbily constructed (in my pissed off opinion) threat letters to rescues, foundations, publications and bloggers who publicly questioned the high flying duo for their techniques, tactics and methods of mismanaging the costly and deadly Calico Complex debacle. (You can view our letter by clicking (HERE)) These letters laid out demands for retractions, apologies, deadlines and timelines with threats of what would happen if we did not comply.  Some caved, some did not, others engaged their attorneys who basically told the constitution assailing Cattoor attorneys to stick it.  What ole Sue fails to realize is that she has gone above and beyond the norm to make herself a public “personality” and once that was established we are all welcome to have our own opinions of this very public, controversial, outspoken media Black Hole.  As a writer and blogger I most certainly have my opinion and that is exactly what is expressed within this article.  (Actually, several of us feel that a suit initiated by the Cattors would be a really fun ride for all of us because the discovery of their books and background would be a riot, wouldn’t it?…enough fodder there for the next several decades worth of Op-Eds)

The title of this “look at me” rant is “Helicopter Roundups are the Most Humane Way to Gather Wild Horses”.  That one sentence says a lot, in fact, its double talk.  The BLM and Cattoors refer to their helicopter stampedes as “gathers” and they have cringed when more astute individuals use the term roundup.  Now we have ole Sue using both terms in one sentence, pretty slick.  When we use the term “gather” we are usually using it in regards to flowers, eggs, leaves or maybe something like, “Come children, gather around and we will tell you a fairy tale before you go to bed.”  Images of young girls dancing through meadows of tall lush grass with baskets of flowers on their arms comes to mind when we think of gather, NOT the bloody images of stampeded horses running for their lives before a roaring, mechanized bird of prey.  The images just don’t mix.

And then there is the intent of the headline; ”most humane way to gather wild horses”.  Like there are other ways that are worse or the entire process is inhumane and this is the lesser of the evils?  I for one think the later is the implication.

But enough chatter regarding the title let’s get on to the article which is pretty much, yup you guessed it, a one-sided list of lies that ole Sue’s BLM boss Bob Abbey could be proud of.  The Cattoors have made millions off from the backs of traumatized wild horses so why would anyone think for a single second that they wouldn’t believe it is such a wonderful and noble thing that they are doing.  Sue is pulling all of these starving horses off from the over grazed range so the handful of wild horses that are left can grow fat and sassy.  The Cattoors have been drinking that BLM Kool-Aide for far too long.

I won’t answer sentence by sentence but I will counter Sue’s hurt feelings for the likes of us using the term “Stampede” when we refer to their helicopter chasing horses down.  That’s what it is Sue, it is not a walk, trot, gallop, stride, nada…it is a head long rush to escape the 100+ mile an hour generated winds, noise and terror from a giant metal bird that is swooping down upon these terrified creatures.  Panic, sheer panic is what ensues when your helicopters chase the horses upon our public lands.  There is nothing calm, civilized or humane about it and you have actually run the hooves right off from horses in doing so.  Documented, signed and sealed so don’t attempt to quote a dictionary to me as to what the meaning of the word “stampede” is, you have taught it to me well, in person and it ain’t pretty.

If you have the stomach for it you can read the article by clicking (HERE) but I won’t dignify it on this website…she has a whopping 9 comments on it at the time of this writing and most of them are from family, friends or maybe even manufactured email addresses as all seem to think what she is doing is so wonderful and kind.  Bullshit.

Personally, I believe that the Cattoors, employees of the BLM and DOI should be arrested and tried for thousands of counts of animal cruelty and held to the same standard that the general public is as outlined by very descriptive warning signs on BLM supervised land.  But no, our government allows these private contractors to decide what, when, where and who can watch their destruction of OUR wild horses on OUR public land.  It’s an outrageous travesty.

We said it before and we will say it again, Sue…we live for the day when you and your indicted hubby just go away, dissolve, disappear, never to be seen again over the blue skies of our public lands.  And as we gaze out over the empty plains we will remember that once there were happy bands of wild horses there, living out their lives prior to the cattle and your cruel intervention.  Now those horses are in long and short term holding while the bulk of them have been sold off to slaughter to tantalize the palate of  wealthy foreigners;  our national icons in the bellies of other nations.  Thanks for being great Americans, Dave and Sue, you’ll have a whole lot to talk about come judgment day as you sold your souls to the devil a long, long time ago…and that devil, today, is Obama’s BLM.

Sleep tight.

BLM Participation in “BloodFest” Shocking

Press Release from The Cloud Foundation

BLM Director Bob Abbey to speak at pro-horse slaughter convention

Las Vegas, NV (December 23, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation voices its concerns today over the significant BLM participation in the early January “Summit of the Horse”, better known as the “Slaughter Summit”. BLM Director, Bob Abbey, will be a keynote speaker at the conference, which purportedly ties wild horse management to the “solution” of horse slaughter. American wild horses must be protected from groups trying to profit from their slaughter. Director Abbey’s taxpayer-funded trip to Las Vegas to participate in a conference supporting horse slaughter is concerning.

“The BLM’s significant participation in this slaughter summit is truly troubling,” states Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens. “The BLM needs to change course and begin listening to the American people who are calling for the protection and preservation of our wild herds, not to those who would profit from their flesh.”

Joining Director Abbey is the BLM’s longtime primary roundup contractor, Dave Cattoor, who, in 1992 pled guilty to one federal misdemeanor of “aiding and abetting” the use of an aircraft to illegally capture wild and free horses. The horses were sold to a Texas slaughter plant. Despite this conviction, BLM continued to award Cattoor millions of dollars in roundup contracts. Other speakers of note at the conference include current BLM Wild Horse and Burro Public Advisory Board member, Dr. Boyd Spratling DVM and Larry Johnson, who served on the Advisory Board for over ten years and made no bones about supporting the euthanasia of healthy wild horses in government holding facilities.

Organizers of the Summit promote the building of horse slaughter plants in the USA that would export horsemeat to Asian and European markets. Wild horses, essentially “grass fed”, are not tainted by drugs and dewormers, thereby making them more vulnerable to slaughter. The European Union, tightening food safety regulations, currently prohibits all wild equid meat except for that of zebras. Despite BLM assertions to the contrary, wild horses are sent to slaughter in Mexico and Canada regularly (link to video).

“How many of our wild horses sent to long term holding have ended up in slaughter houses?” questions Kathrens. “BLM lacks a transparent tracking system in order to account for the thousands of animals sent to numerous facilities around the country.  To make matters worse, independent observers are denied access to these facilities to confirm the total number of animals being held.”

Horse slaughter is illegal in the US where horses are not consumed. The majority of horses sent to slaughter are young, healthy animals while others are barely able to walk and may be old and infirm, deserving of humane euthanasia—not slaughter.

The Master of Ceremonies for the Summit is agricultural talk show host and former disgraced pork factory farmer, Trent Loos. Conference organizers include the leading advocate of horse slaughter, Sue Wallis, Republican State Representative of Wyoming. Wyoming resident, Patricia Fazio, Ph.D. recently filed a complaint with state officials for alleged violations of ethics laws and securities fraud by Representative Wallis.

“They call the wild horses ‘feral’ and the slaughter horses ‘unwanted’ to denigrate them,” explains author RT Fitch. “The proponents of horse slaughter complain about the cost of wild horses in holding, but completely ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars shelled out by taxpayers to subsidize privately-owned livestock on public lands.”

The Cloud Foundation requests transparent tracking of all American wild horses removed from the wild and held by the BLM as well as an independent count of the estimated 40,000 wild horses in long and short term holding corrals and pastures. Wild horses cost little on our public rangelands but more than $40 million annually when incarcerated in government holding. Meanwhile, subsidized privately-owned livestock graze the majority of the wild horse ranges, at a net loss of at least $123 million per year. Restoring wild horse and burros to the more than 24 million acres removed from them over the past 40 years along with reinstatement of the more than 150 “zeroed out” herds while managing ranges “principally” for wild equids would effectively solve the “wild horse problem,” created through decades of mismanagement by the BLM.

Currently the BLM is removing the last of America’s wild horses and burros from Western public lands at enormous taxpayer expense—animals that Congress intended to remain free and unharmed. Population estimates, based on BLM’s own data, reveal a wild population of less than 20,000 wild horses and burros remaining now on American western public lands—at least 5,000 fewer than roamed free in 1971 when Congress decreed wild horses and burros to be “fast disappearing” and unanimously passed the Wild Horse and Burro Act. In 1971 there were more than 8,000 burros. Today BLM reports there are 4,7000 but likely far fewer. The BLM’s target population is only 1,200 burros.

On December 10th the US House of Congress agreed to a budget increase for BLM, giving the broken program $75 million to continue the roundup/removal of America’s wild herds. However, this week the Senate held BLM funding at 2010 levels until March by passing a Continuing Resolution. This resolution did not include the additional $12 million requested by BLM and did continue the prohibition to not allow the use of federal dollars to kill healthy wild horses or sell them for slaughter.

The Cloud Foundation will continue to push for a “defunding of the roundups” as legitimized by a recent independent report on the BLM’s mismanagement. Economist Dr. Caroline Betts of Southern California University estimates that wild horses and burros will undergo rapid extinction in as little as 11 years if BLM is allowed to continue on the current track of removals.

Links of interest:

Horse slaughter http://bit.ly/fZjRv5
R.T. Fitch www.sfthh.com
Trent Loos http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/Abbey-Summit.pdf
Independent Report to Defund Roundups: http://bit.ly/gCyiu0
WY Resident Files Complaint against Wallis http://bit.ly/hZPccF
Stampede to Oblivion: An Award Winning Investigative Report from CBS Las Vegas: http://bit.ly/iiNNYs
American Herds – “What’s Left?” http://americanherds.blogspot.com/2009/12/whats-left.html
Congress Sends Letter for Wild Herds to Secretary Salazar: http://bit.ly/54sign
Roundup Schedule: http://bit.ly/roundupsched
Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.  America’s Disappearing Wild Horses – A History: http://bit.ly/8ZCk8e
Public Lands Grazing Costs http://www.sagebrushsea.org/pdf/factsheet_Grazing_Fiscal_Costs.pdf
Short link to this release: http://bit.ly/dVMNZB
Past Cloud Foundation releases: http://bit.ly/9XD0TE

BLM Delivers another Public Relations Nightmare

Press Release from the Equine Welfare Alliance

Heaps of BLM B.S. Does Not Hide All the Wild Horses Killed

Dying Calico Foal who's hooves were run off by BLM contractor Dave Cattoor ~ Photo by Laura Leigh

Chicago (EWA) – The Bureau of Land Management’s December 3rd Observer’s Report evaluating BLM’s handling of wild horse round-ups has left advocates and independent observers stunned. It is impossible, they say, to reconcile the positive, almost congratulatory findings with the mountain of negative evidence they have collected over the past year.

The disconnect appears to begin with BLM’s appointment of Robin Lohnes to its Wild Horse Advisory Board. Lohnes in turn appointed the “independent observers”.

Lohnes is the executive director of the American Horse Protection Association (AHPA). The AHPA has no website and maintains only a small, unoccupied office on the lower level of a Georgetown hotel. If the organization has been involved in any activity (horse protection or otherwise) since the 1990’s they have managed to conceal it both from Google and from the hotel’s maid who told an EWA investigator that she had never observed anyone in the office.

The report’s observers witnessed a 3 – 4 day period from 3 round-ups conducted during the summer; the Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA) in Nevada, the Stinking Waters HMA in Oregon, and the Twin Peaks HMA in California.

Typical of the findings were comments like, “contractor and BLM personnel appeared to be gentle and knowledgeable, horses did not exhibit undue stress or show signs of extreme sweating or duress due to the helicopter portion of the gather…”

It is difficult to reconcile this with independent observations at round-ups like that in the Calico complex. There, the helicopter, that the report claims was no louder than a riding mower, literally ran hooves off of foals. There were at least 39 simultaneous abortions in pregnant mares and a reported death toll of 160. Dozens of videos and hundreds of photographs were released that tell a totally different story than the observer’s report.

Virtually every round-up over the past year has had inexcusable incidents that would have no doubt gone unreported if independent observers were not present to capture the incidents on video and photographs. A recent round-up video documents a stallion that was literally lifted off the ground by a helicopter. In another case, BLM’s “gentle and knowledgeable veterinarian” was captured on video amusing himself by poking a stick at terrorized mustangs packed into a truck.

Suzanne Roy, Director of American Wild Horse Preservation commented “This biased report is an attempt to deflect increased scrutiny on and public opposition to the BLM’s inhumane wild horse roundups. The report’s authors do not have any wild horse handling experience and its conclusions are not credible and lack scientific validity.”

One hand-picked observer is outspoken horse slaughter proponent, Dr. Carolyn Stull from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Stull aggressively opposed Proposition 6 in California, a law that banned the slaughter of horses. She testified that there would be increases in abuse and neglect if the proposition was passed. Not only did her warnings prove false, but horse thefts decreased 39% in the year after the law was enacted (1998), and continued to decline over the years that followed.

The Equine Welfare Alliance and wild horse advocates across the country are calling for an independent commission appointed by Congress to oversee the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Enough tax payer dollars have been wasted on Public Relation firms to change the perception of a rouge government agency that has no intention of changing.

For the BLM to regain any credibility, their claims of being transparent must be backed-up with actions. Allowing truly independent observers at all stages of round-ups and at holding facilities would be a good start.

EWA President John Holland summed up the organization’s position, saying “The BLM needs to understand that this is the age of Wikileaks, cell phone cameras and YouTube. Attempting to hide a smoldering pile of misdeeds with a fanciful report, instead of trying to fix problems, only makes the agency look more dishonest and inept.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 125 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids. www.equinewelfarealliance.org