Mesa Verde National park prefers removal of ‘trespass horses’

Source:  the-journal.com

About 80 horses live off the land at Mesa Verde National Park (photo: The Journal file)

Mesa Verde National park prefers removal of ‘trespass horses’

Proposal includes five-year capture plan and a last resort

By Jim Mimiaga Journal Staff Writer

Mesa Verde National Park is seeking public comment on a plan to remove free-roaming horses and cattle from the park’s interior.

Currently, about 80 “trespass horses” and 12 feral cattle roam the backcountry of Mesa Verde, which is known for its Ancestral Puebloan ruins. The animals are not considered wildlife, and the park does not allow livestock grazing under its management policy.

On Friday, a Livestock Removal Environmental Assessment was released for a 30-day public comment period on the issue. The park’s preferred Alternative B includes a phased, proactive approach to remove all livestock within five years, and improve the park’s boundary fencing over the next 10 years to prevent livestock from re-entering the park.

“We are working on how to humanely remove livestock from the park and identify potential homes for captured, unclaimed livestock,” said Mesa Verde National Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer. The primary capture methods identified in the preferred alternative include baited pen trapping and horseback roundups.

The National Park Service will coordinate with the Colorado Brand Inspection Division and local brand inspectors to identify possible owners of the trespass livestock, and will follow the most humane methods as defined by the American Veterinarian Medical Association, the park said.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

HOW TO COMMENT:

The 30-day public comment period for the draft Livestock Removal Environmental Assessment opened on Friday, April 13. Comments are requested by Sunday, May 13.
The public comment site is available online at bit.ly/2JL0CFK
A printed copy will be available for review at the Mesa Verde

THE TRUTH #20 – National Park Service gives Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue all of the wild burros in Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve

Wild Horse Freedom Federation issues THE TRUTH to share Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents and information with the public.  Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

THE TRUTH #20 – National Park Service gives Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue all of the wild burros in Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

Wild horses and burros on National Park Service lands fell through the cracks on being protected when the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act of 1971 was passed.

The National Park Service (NPS) is not paying Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR) to remove all of the wild burros from Death Valley National Park and the Mojave National Preserve over the next 5 years.  NPS seems to just be signing a Memorandum of Understanding to give Mark Meyers/Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue an estimated 2,500 wild burros, the last remaining wild burros in this Park and Preserve, to do with as he will.  Mark Meyers has to come up with about $5 million to pay for this project.

NPS may have bypassed the U.S. Government’s contracting bidding process open to the public by just giving away the wild burros to Mark Meyers/Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue and only signing a Memorandum of Understanding.  However, in a 10/17/2017 email, Debra Hughson of NPS notes (in talking about Mark Meyers/Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue) “They appear to be worried about investing in this project and then us having someone come in and under cut them out of the process or directly competing with them.” 

Josh Hoines of the NPS initially contacted Mark Meyers about this project, but there was no mention in any of the FOIA records we received about any other burro rescue groups being contacted.

A rough draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is below, but it seems that this is still under review by the NPS legal team and is NOT a final version.  This is being posted so that the public can be aware of what is being considered at this point.

This MOU states “Upon capture, the NPS relinquishes any rights to the feral burros.”

Per this version of the MOU, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue “Maintains detailed records of animals collected from the Park and Preserve.”  However, unless PVDR gives these records to the NPS, the detailed records, including the exact number of wild burros that are captured and removed, will not be available to the public with the Freedom of Information Act.

The bottom line is that the NPS is relinquishing any rights upon capture, and these burros become the property of PVDR.  The public will never have accountability regarding what happens to these wild burros down the line.

In an Aug. 3, 2017 email from Mark Meyers to Josh Hoines of NPS, Meyers states “Also, I have been contacted by a person that is interested in underwriting a large part of this project.  More details to follow.”

The big question about this is who would donate almost $5 million for about 2,500 wild burros, and more importantly, why?

Read the rest of this article and see the FOIA documents HERE.

 

Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

Read all of THE TRUTH and see other FOIA documentation HERE.

Donate here: http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/donate/

 

Stephany Seay, Media Coordinator for Buffalo Field Campaign, on the fight to protect the last, genetically pure wild buffalo in Yellowstone National Park (Wild Horse & Burro Radio, Wed., 3/28/18)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us for Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, March 28, 2018

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

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

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

The Buffalo Trap

Our guest tonight is Stephany Seay, Media Coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), the only group working both in the field and in the policy arenas to stop the harassment and slaughter of America’s last wild buffalo.

The buffalo of Yellowstone National Park, considered by many to be a living national treasure, are often harassed and killed by federal and state government agencies.  BFC serves the herds as defenders and protectors, helping ensure the survival of future buffalo generations.

This show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey (V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs) of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com

TO LISTEN TO ALL ARCHIVED WILD HORSE & BURRO RADIO SHOWS, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep wild horses and burros wild and free on our public lands visit www.WildHorseFreedomFederation.org

Donate Here: http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/donate/

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TEMPORARY INTERIOR DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS ILLEGAL

Brian Steed, Bureau of Land Management’s Acting Director

“Federal agencies are not supposed to be run like a temp service.” – PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

For Immediate Release: Feb 12, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

TEMPORARY INTERIOR DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS ILLEGAL

All Decisions by Acting Park Service, BLM, and Fish & Wildlife Heads Legally Void


Washington, DC — President Trump’s record tardiness in nominating agency leaders may undo months of work inside the Department of Interior, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The way the Trump administration has filled agency leadership slots with temporary or acting directors violates a law enacted to prevent a president from circumventing the U.S. Senate’s constitutional advice and consent power.

The PEER complaint filed with Interior’s Office of Inspector General charges that the acting directors of the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) are in blatant violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.  Under that act, any action taken by a noncompliant official “shall have no force or effect” nor may it be later “ratified.”

“The law prevents a president from installing acting directors for long periods and completely bypassing Senate confirmation,” argued PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that President Trump has not nominated or even announced an intention to nominate, persons to fil the NPS, BLM, or FWS vacancies.  “Federal agencies are not supposed to be run like a temp service.”

The complaint recounts Vacancies Reform Act violations invalidating the appointments of –

  • NPS Acting Director P. Daniel Smith, who did not serve in a senior position for 90 days during the prior year, as the Act requires. Nor did Trump appoint him, another requirement of the act;
  • BLM Acting Director Brian Steed, who also did not serve in a senior position for 90 days and Interior Secretary Zinke, not Trump, appointed him.
  • FWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan, who not only suffers from these same deficiencies but also now exceeds the 210-day limit the act imposes.

Read the rest of this press release HERE.

 

 

 

Stephen Nash, author of “Grand Canyon for Sale,” on special interests controlling public lands that belong to all Americans (Wed., 9/27/17 on Wild Horse & Burro Radio)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

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

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

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

Our guest is Stephen Nash, the author Grand Canyon for Sale.” Stephen will tell us how the interests of an extraordinarily powerful few are controlling public lands that belong to all Americans. Grand Canyon For Sale is a carefully researched investigation of the precarious future of America’s public lands: our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, and wildernesses. As one example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allows livestock grazing on 60% of public lands, even though cattle cause serious detrimental impacts to the land. Livestock grazing permittees include hoteliers and heiresses; the Koch brothers and the Walton family.

Stephen Nash is the author of two award winning books on science and the environment. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BioScience, Archeology and the New Republic. He is Visiting Senior Research Scholar at University of Richmond.  You can read Stephen’s articles and find out about his other books and more at stephenpaulnash.com

This show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey (V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs) of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com

TO LISTEN TO ALL ARCHIVED WILD HORSE & BURRO RADIO SHOWS, CLICK HERE. Continue reading

Feel Good Sunday: Wild horses continue to roam Cumberland Island

SOURCE:  AJC.com

Caption: About 125 to 175 wild horses reside on Georgia’s Cumberland Island, according to the National Park Service. Credit: Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

Georgia’s southernmost and largest barrier island claims Jekyll Island as its neighbor to the north and Amelia Island, Fla., to the south.  Unlike its neighbors, however, Cumberland is only accessible by ferry from St. Marys or by private boat.

The tranquil island is roughly 18 miles long and ranges from three-quarters to 2.5 miles wide, depending on the location.  Across the sound to the west lies U.S. Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, which houses Trident nuclear-powered submarines.

While submarines may roam the waters around Cumberland, wild horses roam the island.

Today, 125 to 175 horses reside there, said Jill Hamilton-Anderson, chief of interpretation, education and visitor services for Cumberland Island National Seashore, part of the National Park Service.  The horses keep to smaller groups, often staying within certain areas, such as the island’s south end.

The earliest account of horses on the island dates back 275 years to a battle over Fort St. Andrews in 1742.  When the Spanish entered the British colonial fort on the island’s north end, they found about 50 to 60 horses in a corral, according to the NPS.  However, while evidence is scarce, the NPS believes that horses were brought over in the late 1500s when the Spanish missions were established.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

In Memoriam: Well-Known Yellowstone White Wolf Dies Unnatural Death

by John Soltes as posted on Earth Island Journal

“Twelve-year-old alpha female deserved a wild end to her wild life, but that was not to be…”

Photo Neal Herbert/National Park Service
The wolf, pictured above, was one of three rare white wolves in the park and had 14 living pups. Park officials are offering a $5,000 reward for information on who might have shot her.

Officials at Yellowstone National Park first shared the sad news in mid-April: A well-known white wolf in the park had been found severely injured and was later euthanized. Then on May 11, after a necropsy by the US Fish and Wildlife Service forensics laboratory in Oregon, they shared the real shocking news: This wolf, the alpha female of the Canyon Pack, had “suffered from a gunshot wound.”

Details are still emerging on what happened, when and where; the investigation remains active.

It all began on April 11, when hikers discovered “a severely injured” alpha female wolf, according to a press release from Yellowstone National Park. The white wolf, well-known among wolf enthusiasts and park officials, was seen near Gardiner, Montana, the town at the north entrance to the iconic park.

Staff eventually found the wolf in “shock and dying from the injuries,” and made the difficult decision to euthanize the majestic canine. The necropsy confirmed the animal had suffered from a gunshot wound, and park officials believe the incident took place near Gardiner or the Old Yellowstone Trail, located along the park’s northern boundary. The shooting likely occurred on April 10 or 11.

“Due to the serious nature of this incident, a reward of up to $5,000.00 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a press release.

When the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf, which can be gray, black or white in color, was taken off the endangered species list a few years ago, states were given the authority to set up their own wolf management plans. In 2015, Montana saw 210 wolves hunted or trapped. Yellowstone, which is nationally protected, is mostly in Wyoming with slivers of land in Montana and Idaho. Hunting and discharge of firearms are prohibited in the park.

There are approximately 100 wolves in Yellowstone, which is an impressive number given that the canids were once extirpated from the local wilderness. In 1995, wild wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park as part of an extensive recovery program. The population took hold, and now the park features several packs that fluctuate in numbers. The oasis that is Yellowstone is often seen as the best place in the world to view wild wolves.

Of the nearly 100 wolves in the park, only three were known to be white in color. The white wolf who was euthanized in April was 12 years old, twice the average age of a wolf in Yellowstone. She was a leader of the Canyon Pack and could be seen in many areas of the park. “For these reasons, the wolf was one of the most recognizable and sought after by visitors to view and photograph,” the press release states.

I think I saw that alpha female during a wintertime visit in January of this year. Of course, it’s difficult to 100 percent confirm that the sighting was of the Canyon Pack alpha female, but all signs point to this impressive 12-year-old animal being the one…(CONTINUED)

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/in_memoriam_well-known_yellowstone_white_wolf_dies_unnatural_death/

Everything We Know About the Horse Ryan Zinke Rode to Work Yesterday

by Sarah Emerson as published on Motherboard

“Secretary Zinke was proud to accept an invitation by the US Park Police to stand shoulder to shoulder with their officers on his first day at Interior..”

Hats off to Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, for making a dramatic entrance on his first day of work. The new agency head rode in on horseback—Stetson, jeans, boots, and all—from the National Mall to the Interior’s headquarters, just east of the White House.

The secretary was escorted by nine officers from the the National Park Service’s law enforcement arm.

All things considered, it could have been worse! (Looking at you, Betsy DeVos.) But that’s not what we want to talk about today. While Zinke’s ability to protect 500 million acres of American lands is still up for debate, one federal employee is already excelling at his job: his name is Tonto, and he’s a horse.

That’s according to Heather Swift, a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior, who revealed the identity of Zinke’s handsome steed.

“Secretary Zinke was proud to accept an invitation by the US Park Police to stand shoulder to shoulder with their officers on his first day at Interior—the eve of the Department’s anniversary,” Swift told me.

After seeing photos of Tonto, I wanted to know everything about this enigmatic equine. How did he get this job? Where does he live? Is he worried that Zinke’s dedication to public lands will be rendered useless by President Trump’s desire to exploit them?

For starters, Tonto is a 17-year-old bay roan gelding. He stands nearly six feet tall, which is a pretty average height for an Irish sport horse. This breed is celebrated for its agility and speed, but is also known for having a good temperament; an important quality for a civil servant!

Sergeant Anna Rose of the United States Park Police (USPP) told me that Tonto was donated to the unit in 2014. He lives at their central stables on the National Mall, which according to the Trust for the National Mall, are in desperate need of an upgrade. I hope Tonto’s living conditions are at least comfortable…(CONTINUED)

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/everything-we-know-about-the-horse-ryan-zinke-rode-to-work

Assateague Island’s wild horses to be featured on new U.S. stamps

The only wild horses that will be “forever” may be the ones pictured on this stamp.

Source:  Richmond Times-Dispatch

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The horses of Assateague Island will be featured in a series of stamps honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

The wild horses of Assateague Island National Seashore will be part of a series of U.S. Postal Service stamps celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The park, which straddles the Virginia-Maryland border, is known for the horses that inhabit the island and the nearby Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The horses are divided into two herds — one on the Virginia side of a fence marking the state border, the other on the Maryland side.

In summer, the Virginia horses are moved from the Chincoteague refuge to Assateague Island in the annual pony swim.

Tim Fitzharris of Fayetteville, Ark., took the photo used for the stamp, the Postal Serivice said.

The stamps will be issued June 2.

While Some Park Rangers Head To Greener Pastures, Their Horses Aren’t So Lucky

By Barbara Moritsch as published in the National Parks Traveler

Although most people don’t know it, the horse slaughter industry is alive and thriving in the United States.

“Norman,” a retired NPS steed, was destined for a slaughterhouse outside of the United States before he was rescued/Photo courtesy of Kat Gonzales

“Norman,” a retired NPS steed, was destined for a slaughterhouse outside of the United States before he was rescued/Photo courtesy of Kat GonzalesMy first partner in my first job with the National Park Service was a dark bay mare. I was extremely popular with the kids when I’d show up at the General Sherman Tree or Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park riding Sweets. So you can imagine the shock and horror I felt last August when I learned that three NPS horses were on a feedlot in Colorado, waiting to be shipped to a slaughterhouse in Mexico.

In September of 2014, my husband and I rescued our first kill pen horse: a coal black, BLM-branded mustang in his mid-20s. Since then we’ve been able to do the same for 19 other horses in the same predicament. I regularly monitor Facebook pages that list these equines-in-need, and in August I spotted a photo of a big sorrel horse with the caption: “Fern, NPS Horse.” I scrolled further and found two more: a black and white paint gelding named Fairplay, and a big, thin sorrel gelding named Norman. All three of these beautiful, fit-looking NPS horses were at immediate risk of being “shipped.” I was stunned. How could we allow an NPS horse to end its career at a slaughterhouse?

Although most people don’t know it, the horse slaughter industry is alive and thriving in the United States. Ten years ago, Congress passed an act prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horse slaughterhouses, which ultimately led to closure of all facilities in the United States. It’s still legal, however, and lucrative, to ship horses to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Slaughter is a brutal and terrifying end for horses, and it is not humane. Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water, or rest in crowded trucks. They are often seriously injured or killed in transit. Horses are skittish by nature (owing to their heightened fight-or-flight response), which makes accurate pre-slaughter stunning difficult. As a result, horses often endure repeated blows and sometimes remain conscious during dismemberment—this is rarely a quick, painless death.”

Fortunately, numerous people are working to end the transport of horses for slaughter in the United States, and to save horses that find themselves in the “slaughter pipeline.” A horse enters this pipeline when a “kill buyer” finds a free or inexpensive animal advertised on Craigslist or in the newspaper, or buys horses at public auctions. In most cases, the horses are hauled to feedlots, where they are microchipped for shipping and fattened up on substandard feed before being hauled to the border. The fatter the better; the horses will be sold by the pound.

Groups in several states try to find homes for the feedlot horses before they ship. In these situations, the kill buyers charge a few hundred dollars more per horse than they would get from the killers. Many groups use Facebook pages to post photos of the kill-pen horses. For some horses, limited information is provided: sex, approximate age, and deadline (when the horse is scheduled to ship). Occasionally, there are a few notes: “very friendly,” “sound,” “injury to left leg,” “said to be broke.” The price also is posted, usually ranging from $200 for a yearling to $1,000 for a big draft horse. The rescuers sometimes give the horses names.

When the three NPS horses popped up on my screen, I immediately shared their pictures on the slim chance someone might recognize them. Over the next few days, two of the horses were saved by people I don’t know, but no one was stepping up for Norman.

I put out a call for help, and was contacted immediately by several former and present NPS employees. The Santa Monica Mountains Fund provided Norman’s bail to get him off the feedlot, and several individuals pulled together money to transport him to a safe foster home, and to cover his board while in foster care. In a wonderful gesture of kindness and generosity, one former NPS employee, Kat Gonzales, even offered Norman a forever home.

After we got him hauled off the feedlot, Norman was quarantined at a foster facility for 30 days, because horses from auctions and feedlots are under great stress and often are exposed to numerous equine diseases. The quarantine period helps prevent a new owner from taking a horse home and exposing their other horses. At the end of Norman’s quarantine, he was moved to his new retirement home in Minden, Nevada. A GoFundMe account was set up to pay for Norman’s ride to Nevada, as well as hoof trimming, vet bills, and lots of horse treats.

So this story had a happy ending. Fern, Fairplay, and Norman got lucky; very lucky. But these horses, who likely worked very hard for the National Park Service, came too close to ending their lives in terror at a Mexican slaughterhouse. This raises serious questions:

* How did they end up in the slaughter pipeline?

* What NPS policy is in place to ensure that hard-working equine rangers are guaranteed a safe retirement?

* Were Fern, Fairplay, and Norman simply unfortunate exceptions, or are numerous former NPS horses landing on slaughter lots and meeting gruesome ends?

While handling the logistics of getting Norman safe, healthy, and settled in his new home, a few of Norman’s supporters attempted to contact NPS managers to alert them to the fact that NPS horses were showing up on slaughter lots, and to inquire about NPS policy for retired equines.

Phone calls weren’t returned and emails generated no response. The Yellowstone Park Foundation (although polite and seemingly sympathetic) reported that they were not “privileged to release information” about equine retirement policies in the NPS. When a manager in the NPS’s Washington, D.C., Visitor and Resource Protection (VRP) Branch office finally responded, he told us to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. We are waiting for the information from this request.

What we do know is that the NPS defines live animals as property; basically, the same as a desk, gun, computer, or toilet brush. In the NPS Handbook for Director’s Order #44 (Personal Property Management), live animals are included on the list of “excess personal property” that can be donated to other entities. If such an animal is auctioned, there is a clause in DO44 that may prohibit anyone who had “prior contact with the item” from bidding. So if I had wanted to purchase the mare I rode on patrol in Sequoia after she was done with her career, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to do so. Treating live animals the same as any other type of property is outdated and demeaning to these public employees, and is likely one of the primary reasons retiring equines are showing up on kill lots.

How could an NPS horse land on a feedlot that ships horses to slaughter? There are many ways it could happen, but it starts when a horse like Norman gets too old to do his job, or when the park where he is working decides to terminate their equine program. The park contacts a local horse rescue operation and asks for help in finding Norman a safe and comfortable retirement home. The rescue group finds Norman a home. Norman’s new owner dies, and the rescue is not notified of the person’s death. The heirs take Norman to a local auction, where he is purchased by a “kill buyer.” Or the new owner finds herself in a financial crisis and can’t keep Norman. Instead of contacting the rescue, she takes him to an auction. Few people know that all horses sold at auctions in the United States are at high risk of being purchased by a kill buyer. Approximately 130,000 horses per year are shipped out of the United States for slaughter every year.

National Park Service officials in Washington, D.C., however, cited a provision for disposing of horses and mules unfit for continued service.

§ 1308. Disposition of unfit horses and mules

Subject to applicable regulations under this subtitle and division C (except sections 3302, 3501(b), 3509, 3906, 4710, and 4711) of subtitle I of title 41, horses and mules belonging to the Federal Government that have become unfit for service may be destroyed or put out to pasture, either on pastures belonging to the Government or those belonging to financially sound and reputable humane organizations whose facilities permit them to care for the horses and mules during the remainder of their natural lives, at no cost to the Government.

That said, some horses and mules apparently fall through the cracks. Some parks relocate horses to other NPS units, which can be successful, but also has ended in at least one horse’s death when the receiving park employees were not horse savvy. Other parks work with local equine rescue groups to find homes for the retirees, and some horses have been passed on to nearby police departments.

Several years ago a now-retired NPS employee involved with Yosemite’s horse program drafted a retirement plan for NPS horses and sent it to NPS’s property management office in Washington, D.C., but the draft plan seems to have dropped out of sight.

On a brighter note, it became clear during our investigation that many NPS employees are very concerned about the fate of the agency’s hard-working equines after they retire. Sadly, as with so many other issues within NPS, these employees are afraid to speak out about their concerns because doing so could compromise their jobs.

In 2000, H.R. 5314.ENR, also called “Robbie’s Law,” was passed to facilitate the adoption of retired military working dogs. It is time for the Department of the Interior to promote a similar law (perhaps named Norman’s Law?) that would address the lives of working equines and other service animals from the time they are acquired to the time they are laid to rest.

Norman cannot tell us what his job was with the NPS. Unless someone recognizes him and steps up to tell us his story (and he is, by the way, easily recognizable by his very large size, his white star and strip, and his brushy moustache), we will never know what services he performed. Did he pull a wagon or sleigh? Did he walk long distances in the backcountry to rescue injured hikers? Did he proudly carry a ranger in the front country, having his photograph taken by thousands or millions of park visitors? If I had not seen the NPS horses on Facebook and if others had not immediately been willing to help, Norman, after his years of dedicated service, might have, in the words of one of his key supporters, “become a taco.”

The year 2106, when the NPS celebrates its centennial, is a perfect time for the Service to establish a rock-solid plan and policy to ensure NPS equines are safe and healthy in their retirement years. Let’s hope the agency will step up and take full responsibility for these horses who have been such reliable and beloved public employees. It’s the right thing to do.

Click (HERE) for more photos and to comment directly on The Traveler

http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2015/12/while-some-rangers-head-greener-pastures-their-horses-arent-so-lucky