Wild Horses & Burros Need Your Voice More Than Ever!

Source: Return to Freedom and endorsed by Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill – shoot – healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros!”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

As infuriating as that is, as saddening as that is – and it is both — we cannot give up.

We’ll return to the House vote in a moment, but first we need you to make a call on behalf of horses to each of your senators TODAY. That’s because on Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on an amendment to keep a ban on horse slaughter in place.

Please call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (if you reach a full voicemail, look for district office phone numbers on your senators’ webpages and call them).

Urge your senators to oppose any provision that:

  • allows horse slaughter,
  • allows the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses,
  • or removes sale restrictions, opening the door for BLM to sell wild horses to kill buyers.

Remind your senators that proven humane solutions that would enable the management of wild horses and burros on the range have long existed. We do not need to kill national icons.

All of this can be as confusing as it is upsetting. What’s happening is that we’re fighting provisions on parallel tracks, in the House and Senate, which threaten all horses as well as wild horses and burros. To be clear:

The horse slaughter votes are part of the agricultural funding process. In the absence of a total federal ban on horse slaughter, advocates push each year to bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using our tax dollars to hire horsemeat inspectors. On July 12, the House Appropriations Committee narrowly rejected this year’s anti-slaughter amendment. If the bill becomes law without it, slaughter plants could reopen in the United States for the first time since 2007. That affects all kinds of horses, domestic and wild, so now we need the Senate to step up and pass an amendment to make sure that does not happen.

Meanwhile, the wild horse votes are part of the interior funding process. As noted above, the same House Appropriations Committee voted to remove language preventing BLM from killing healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros. The amendment passed on a voice vote, meaning individual votes were not recorded. Again, that means that we need to turn up the pressure and ensure our senators stand up for wild horses in the days ahead.

We’ve written that the situation is as precarious for wild horses as it’s been in Return to Freedom’s 19-year history. We wish we were wrong. Alas, today’s vote was still more proof:

Proof that we must keep calling and writing Congress. Proof that we must keep encouraging our friends and family to do the same. Proof that we must keep writing letters to the editor and sharing information on social media, so that others know what’s happening.

The cost of inaction could mean the needless deaths of thousands – even tens of thousands – of wild horses and burros.

We need to push back against propaganda that blames wild horses (never livestock) for range degradation or that falsely claims scores of wild horses are starving and dying – so many that shooting captured wild horses in government corrals or on long-term pastures is held up as a “humane” alternative. We need to push back at the lie that fertility control has been a failure when BLM has never spent more than 3.88% of its budget on PZP.

We need to demand thoughtful nonpartisan leadership that will work with advocates and scientists to create a proud, long-term plan that provides wild horses with a sustainable future on the range.

The American people still have the power to avert a tragedy in the making, but it will take all of us.

Let’s get after it!

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

Story by as published on Horse Nation

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

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can you affect change?

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

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

USDA’s Wildlife Services Sued Again: Enviro Orgs Ask Court to Halt Wildlife-Killing Program in Idaho

Story by Dan Zukowsk as published on EnviroNews.TV

“Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ‘ Welfare’ Ranchers…”

(EnviroNews Nature) — Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2017, aimed at stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from killing Idaho’s wild animals. The USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program killed more than 280,000 mammals and birds in Idaho during 2016. The animals axed include 3,860 coyotes and 72 gray wolves, along with cougars, black bears, feral dogs and more than 273,000 European starlings.

Plaintiffs in the suit include the Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) and Predator Defense. The suit alleges that the USDA has never prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Most people in Idaho would be shocked to learn how many animals Wildlife Services already kills in our state,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Senior Attorney at the Center. “Now this reckless agency wants to slaughter even more of our black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, ravens, and other wildlife using nightmarish methods like poisons and aerial gunning, without even studying the environmental consequences. Such a lackadaisical approach to wildlife management is not permitted by the law.”

Wildlife Services, an arm of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is described on the agency’s website as a program to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources and to reduce threats to human health and safety.” APHIS received $1.1 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2017.

Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ranchers. The program was the subject of a 2016 exposé in Harper’s Magazine. In a related interview with National Geographic, the author, Christopher Ketcham said, “Since its founding in 1885, Wildlife Services has served one purpose—to clean up the American West for the ranching industry, so they wouldn’t have to deal with predators or other animals they deemed pests.”

EnviroNews has previously reported that, nationwide, WS slaughtered 2.7 million wild animals in 2016. “Wildlife Services is stuck in the barbarism of the 19th century, before the full value of predators in ecosystems was understood,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.

The USDA’s obscure, century-old wildlife-killing program traps and poisons these great many animals. It swoops in to shoot them from the air using both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Both neck and foot snares are used — methods considered inhumane by many prominent animal rights advocates. It kills coyotes with controversial M-44 cyanide bombs.

In what might be called “collateral damage,” reports of pets being killed are not uncommon. In March, 2017, a cyanide bomb left by Wildlife Services in Pocatello, Idaho killed a dog and poisoned its owner, a 14-year old boy. Between 1985 and 1993, 21 people in Arizona were injured by M-44s. A Utah man was left permanently injured and unable to work after being poisoned by one of the dangerous devices.

“It isn’t just wildlife that is directly harmed by the killing programs,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, in the press release. “These lethal weapons pose a risk to recreational users of public lands, their pets and the ‘nontarget’ species that die by the hundreds every year.”..”CONTINUED

http://www.environews.tv/051217-usdas-wildlife-services-sued-enviro-orgs-ask-court-halt-wildlife-killing-idaho/

Longtime Horse Slaughter Radical Gets Violent at Equus Film Festival

Source: NewsoftheHorse.com opening opinion by R.T. Fitch

“Well, well, well, guess who crawled out from underneath his moldy rock and showed his hairy backside last week?  An old, has-been topic of many an OpEd here at SFTHH who we thought died and shriveled away when his cohort in crime, “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallace, literally left the planet earth to go spend eternity in that special place where killers, and consumers, of companion animals go to rot.  Drum roll please; ole Dave “Doink” Duquette, the great failure of the west, reared his ugly head and laid his hands on a member of the press asking a well thought out question last Friday.  You see, when you corner an animal abuser with an intelligent question they respond in one of three ways; either they cuss, lash out or leave the room.  Duquette was, and is, too stupid to leave the room.  Known for eating horses, not training them, Duquette considers himself a Subject Matter Expert on murdering equines and then spreading out their body parts on the table for all the sickos to enjoy.  And whenever the subject of horse and donkey murder comes to light, or attempts to, there is Duquette spouting off non-nonsensical dribble laced with expletives because he wouldn’t know the difference between a pronoun and a dangling participial if they hit him in the the head.

Please read on about Doink’s abusive conduct and the thinly veiled horse slaughter organization that he belongs to which sponsored the festival this year.  It all stinks of decaying horse flesh and will make you want to shower, or at least wash your hands, after reading about this low-life.  Duquette needs to crawl back into that slimy hole from whence he came; the world has moved on and his primal urges are no longer considered acceptable in contemporary society” ~ R.T.


An employee of Protect the Harvest, wearing a Lucas Cattle Co jacket, Dave Duquette, violently grabbed the microphone from See’s hand, and continued to bully him in an aggressive manner.

Dave "Doink" Duquette: The Bully who gives the cowboy hat a bad name...(take it off in the house, Doink)

Dave “Doink” Duquette: The Bully who gives the cowboy hat a bad name…(take it off in the house, Doink)

New York City – On Friday the 18th at the Equus Film Festival during a panel discussion of horse welfare issues sponsored by Protect the Harvest, a reporter was assaulted and the microphone violently ripped from his hand mid-sentence. Clant Seay, reporter for Billygoboy.com, asked Duke Thoreson, owner of Thorsport Farms, if he was pro-slaughter.  The moderator of the forum stated “I’m getting the hook from the management, so what I’m going to do is thank the panel,” as she attempted to close down the discussion.  Mr See asked why he was being shut down from speaking, and explained he believed he was being censored, and “I believe we have a situation where money has bought and paid for a situation to dodge the issue.”  An employee of Protect the Harvest, wearing a Lucas Cattle Co jacket, Dave Duquette, violently grabbed the microphone from See’s hand, and continued to bully him in an aggressive manner.

Protect the Harvest, $100,000 sponsor of Equus Film Festival and sponsor of Thorsport Farms, is a Political Action Committee founded by Forrest Lucas, founder and owner of Lucas Cattle Company and Lucas Oil Company.  Protect the Harvest’s goal is to round up all mustangs and ship them to slaughter, open horse slaughter plants in the United States, deny any legal rights to dogs abused in puppy mills, sue any state that passes animal agriculture welfare laws, and generally oppose any law that furthers animal welfare goals.  In their logo, Protect the Harvest has a horse head, which would indicate they are in agreement with harvesting horses for food.

Duke Thorson, owner of Thorsport Farms, is no stranger to soring allegations.  Thorsport Farm has been investigated by the Humane Society of the United States and found to sore many of their Tennessee Walking horses.  Thorsport Farm horses are routinely barred from competing by USDA inspectors for soring violations.

Father of BLM Wild Horse Murder Plot invited to Speak at Alleged Wild Horse Sanctuary Fundraiser

In my most OUTRAGED Opinion ~ R.T. Fitch

“Lets Kill All Dem Dare Ponies In Da Corrals…DUH!”

Plotting to kill wild horses and burros - now a featured speaker at Wild Horse Sanctuary?

Plotting to kill wild horses and burros – now a featured speaker at Wild Horse Sanctuary?

Regrettably, it has been brought to my attention that the ‘Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary‘ is holding a fundraiser, this weekend, where they have invited BLM Wild Horse & Burro newbie Advisory Board member, Ben Masters to be their guest and honored speaker for the event.  You remember ole horse killing Ben who spearheaded the recommendation to the BLM to murder tens of thousands of captured wild horses and burros in holding so that they could make room for more wild equines illegally ripped from their rightful range?  That’s the guy…he’s a real wiener, I mean winner.

And now this alleged Mustang Sanctuary is inviting him to speak at their fund raiser; is it just me or has something become seriously unhinged, here?  I am aware that this group is already in bed with the BLM and works with them in helping to decimate the dwindling wild horse population in Colorado but this is a step too far.  Perhaps a little show of outrage is due here.

“Join us in celebrating our 5th year with our annual fundraising event with special guest Ben Masters! Enjoy an evening of artisan cocktails, featuring Cocktailpunk Bitters, bourbon tastings by Mobb Mountain Distillers, delicious food by Farm+Smoke and My Mom’s Pie, live bluegrass music by the Ginny Mules and a new short film by Ben Masters. Then, attend a special screening of ‘Unbranded’ with a Q&A session with Ben Masters himself.”

 ARE YOU FRIGGEN KIDDING ME – HOLY CRAP, BATMAN!!!!

There has been too much collusion with the enemy, as of late, and perhaps it’s time for a little house cleaning within the advocacy and the culling of our own herd…this is an outright disgrace.

These people are truly insane!

http://greatescapesanctuary.org/portfolio/1112-boots-buckles-bourbon/

Check out ole Ben’s BS, here: https://www.google.com/search?q=Ben+Masters%2C+BLM&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

The one good thing that he did was manage to piss off an entire nation, I guess that makes him some sort of twisted celebrity, huh?

Reward Increased for Information Related to Shooting of Salt River Wild Horses

by Max Walker as published on Arizona ABC 15

“…a matching donation from Animal Recovery Missions Investigations of Florida, has more than doubled what was previously a $12,500 reward.”

Click Image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

PHOENIX – Officials say the reward for information relating to the shooting of several wild horses living along the Salt River is now $25,000.

A release from the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) says a matching donation from Animal Recovery Missions Investigations of Florida, has more than doubled what was previously a $12,500 reward.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after one horse was killed and two others were injured in a shooting on October 21.

As of Monday, SRWHMG officials said no tips leading to the suspect’s apprehension had been received.

MCSO says a witness saw a man wearing black shorts and a dark green shirt shooting horses along the Salt River near the Pebble Beach Recreation Area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at 602-876-1011.

http://www.abc15.com/news/state/reward-increased-for-information-related-to-shooting-of-wild-salt-river-horses

If You Starve an Animal to Death, YOU are a CRIMINAL

In my most OUTRAGED opinion by R.T. Fitch

(Warning, if you find the truth offensive or only think with a portion of your brain then do not continue, it will only serve to confuse you)

Oh boy, the ole blood is a boiling as my “Stupid Meter” is pegged at 100% and in the good ole words of Popeye the Sailor, “That’s all I can stands cause I can’t stands no more!!!”  This bloody ISPMB saga is totally out of control.

Courtesy Photo of emaciated horse in a pen at the International Society for the Protection of Wild Horses & Burros near Lantry, S.D.

Courtesy Photo of emaciated horse in a pen at the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros near Lantry, S.D.

For nine days I have remained quiet, for nine days I have watched good people work hard to do the right thing and for nine days I have witnessed lemmings follow a self-anointed expert who has conned them into being co-conspirators and accessories in the crime of murder; the abuse and neglect of starving wild horses to death.

In an effort to be fair and considerate I am publishing Karen Sussman’s latest letter and plea for money (below) where she discounts the evidence of her starving horses to death and has the unmitigated gal to wag her crooked, wart covered finger at those who did not and do not support her with a flow of hard earned dollars AND accuses THOSE very same people for the death of the horses; can you believe it, I can’t. The timing is perfect for a horror story just before Halloween, and we even have the evil, wicked, demented witch as a main character.

It’s just THIS simple ladies and gentlemen and it is NOT rocket science:

If you allow only ONE helpless animal to suffer the slow and painful death of starvation while under your care, you are an abusive criminal, hands down, full stop, no doubt about it. DONE DEAL. You can’t explain it away, you can’t sugar coat it, you can’t sweep it under the carpet cause you simply can’t polish a turd and YOU are that TURD.

Right now the important issue is to get feed/food to the horses and burros, God only knows what other horror stories are out there.

Next the ISPMB’s Board needs to step up to the plate, remove Sussman and manage the recovery and proper dispensation of the suffering animals i.e. adoption, transfer to other sanctuaries, etc.

Finally, local law authorities need to bear down on Sussman to the fullest extent of the law as a neglectful abuser and horse killer. She is no different than Meduna and perhaps even worse as she has pranced around for years as one of us while being a horse killer in advocate’s clothing, someone who both people and horses trusted only to find out that she has no heart and most definitely a forever damaged soul.

It is that simple and it should happen immediatly. There are people out there right now attempting to get hay to the horses and they are good folks who will take your money and convert it into what the horses need but shame on those who give to the abuser; the one who has mismanaged donations for years and now has been caught with the blood of wild horses on her hands, again.

It is THAT simple, Karen. Kill one and you are guilty…no one can save you from that shame and no amount of money will ever make that go away. So, how’s that for not remaining silent because in your words, below, silence is NOT a virtue…but in my humble opinion, telling the truth is!!!

If you want to be certain that your money makes a difference please click (HERE) to learn about viable donation options from the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary to the SD Dewey County Auditor’s Office.

https://rtfitchauthor.com/2016/10/06/sd-dewey-county-auditor-creates-way-to-donate-to-starving-former-wild-horses/

Jatara also has a GoFundMe page set up, too…  https://www.gofundme.com/2s6e7j8


Below is the lament of an abuser:

Dear Mindless Lemmings – (I added that, it fit – R.T.)


I know just how deeply you care about the future of wild horses, which is why I am writing you today.  The need for your financial support at this time could not be more urgent!

The plunder of wild horses in America is a true horror story.  I know you know this.  To this day, even with protections afforded by the Wild Horse and Burro Act (1971), the Burns Amendment enacted by Congress (2004) now allows for commercial sales to kill-buyers … and the round-up and slaughter of these magnificent creatures continues

ISPMB now shelters over 600 wild horses at its conservation center in Lantry, South Dakota.  Our historic and unique herds were originally rescued from slaughter nearly 16 years ago and we have studied and preserved the integrity of their bloodlines ever since.

But it now costs ISPMB more than $50,000 a month to feed and care for all of these horses.  It shouldn’t cost this much, but the price of hay has skyrocketed from less than $50 to more than $90/bale, which has created a real financial crisis for ISPMB.

We are now forced to spend more than $10,000/week in hay alone, just to keep our herds strong and healthy … but we currently do not have enough hay to see us through to spring and are truly worried our horses won’t survive the winter without additional financial support

While we continue to solicit donations from everyone we know, many people have chosen to remain silent and have not responded to our urgent call for support.  We rely on contributions from caring people like you to provide for our horses.

How can anyone stand on the sidelines and pray someone else will come to our rescue at a time like this? The stakes are too high.  Surely, our horses will not survive the winter without this support!

It is truly a frightening thought.  We cannot let this happen.

Please come to our rescue today.

The great recession nearly brought our adoption program to a screeching halt.  Thankfully, we are now seeing an uptick of interest and inquiries from individuals seeking to adopt a foal, a family … and entire bands of horses, which will help reduce the size of our herds.  This is an important development and a key aspect to ISPMB’s long term survival.

We are also diligently working to mitigate the need to purchase so much hay in the future.

Our long range plan includes the purchase of a significantly larger ranch property with its own hay producing capacity.

ISPMB has already identified a suitable property that will truly help stabilize our financial operation in the long run.   We plan to launch a capital campaign in the spring to help make this vision a reality and acquire this property.   Its location also holds great promise for the future of ISPMB, providing a potential new source of revenue through increased eco-tourism.

I am sharing all of this with you, because I want you to know we are not simply wringing our hands or praying for a miracle.  We are actively pursuing a solution and truly need your help to avert a serious financial crisis.

Thank you for responding to this urgent call for support.  Please send us your gift today and help save our horses.

With gratitude,

Karen Sussman

President

P.S.  Silence is not a virtue.  Please encourage family and friends to join you in support of our mission.  Together, we can overcome this short term financial crisis. Thank again for your support.

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

As published on HorseNation.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important to remember:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OpEd by Grandma Gregg

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

photo by Grandma Gregg

photo by Grandma Gregg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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