Safety of Wishek Auction Site for Wild Horses Questioned

Source: Lauren Donovan – Bismarck Tribune

“…the 2013 Legislature sanctions the preservation of the park horses as a historically important living treasure…”

A North Dakotan who has been working for years to preserve what he says is the original blood line of horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park says the upcoming wild horse sale is a bad accident waiting to happen.

The park will cull 105 horses from its herd next week and sell them Sept. 28 at Wishek Livestock, the first time it’s held a wild horse sale outside of western North Dakota.

Frank Kuntz, of rural Linton, who formed the Nokota Horse Conservancy to save horse genetics he says date to Sitting Bull’s horses and early ranch stock from Roosevelt’s time in the Badlands, said the Wishek location is dangerous because its outdoor pens are constructed of steel girders and other sharp metal hardware.

“There’s not an alleyway or a pen where they can safely handle these horses,” Kuntz said. “It’s ridiculous to put them in a facility like that.”

Kuntz said he’s especially concerned because one of the park horses jumped the sales ring in Dickinson in 2009 and injured an elderly man in the audience. He said the park should use its own roundup facility, which is constructed with wood and tubular metal.

Park superintendent Valerie Naylor said the sale will continue as planned, though the park’s animal handling facilities near Fryburg could be considered in the future.

She said there is always risk when wild animals are taken out of the wild and handled during the roundups, which are held every several years to reduce the number of horses in the park.

There are some 200 horses in the park and the upcoming sale of roughly an equal ratio of foals and 1-, 2- and 3-year-old horses will reduce the overall number by half.

She said park staff and the livestock barn management are working together to ensure the animals are safe.

“They’re (Wishek Livestock) taking the horses’ safety very seriously and the whole community is taking this very seriously,” Naylor said.

She said ideally, the sale would be held closer to the park, but local livestock facilities weren’t interested, big enough, or available on the date.

The horses will be transported nearly 200 miles to Wishek and Naylor said problems in transport can occur no matter how far the distance.

“We’ll do our best, but there are no guarantees,” she said.

Kuntz has been advocating for the horses’ safety and bloodline preservation and sent letters to the Department of Interior.

He said a resolution passed by the 2013 Legislature sanctions the preservation of the park horses as a historically important living treasure.

Instead, he said the park continues to damage the historic nature of the herd and it no longer represents the old, Native American-infused bloodlines.

Sen. Robert Erberle, R-Lehr, who sponsored the resolution, said it’s wrong for the Interior Department to say the department doesn’t recognize the Nokota name because it’s a registered trademark of one interest group.

“The state of North Dakota is that special interest group,” Erberle said in a letter to the Interior Department. He said it wouldn’t be hard for the park to honor the state’s resolution by culling out horses that don’t have Nokota characteristics and reintroducing those traits if new sires or brood mares are added.

“Having a hodgepodge of sires such as Arabians, Clydesdales and others does nothing to enhance the horse herd in the park,” he said.

Kuntz said he’s been preserving the original bloodlines for decades by buying the most pure horses offered for sale. He said the Nokota conservancy has horses that could be used to restore original genetics in the park horse herd.

“We would be more than happy to do that,” he said.

Naylor said the park has never tried to reintroduce the old bloodline into the herd and has not introduced any new breeding stock for more than three decades.

“I think there would be very little chance that we would put unknown horses that he has bred, or that anyone has, into the park. These horses have been there for generations,” she said.

Nevada Tribal Leader, 81, Sues BLM for $30 million

Article by Scott Sonner as it appears in

“The perversity that permeates Obama’s BLM runs deeper than just massacring the last of our native wild horses and burros, they target our Native American brothers, as well!” ~ R.T. Fitch, president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Violating Constitutional Rights is the Core of BLM’s Business Plan

photo courtesy of Danny Brady

The federal government seized Raymond Yowell’s cattle — all 132 head — and hauled them across the state and sold them at auction.

Then the U.S. Bureau of Land Management sent Yowell a bill for $180,000 for back grazing fees and penalties, and later garnished part of his Social Security benefits.

Now, nearly a decade later, the 81-year-old former chief of the Western Shoshone National Council is fighting back. He’s suing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Treasury Department and others for $30 million. Yowell claims the government violated his constitutional rights, broke an 1863 treaty and saddled him with a debt that he doesn’t owe.

“There’s no other way,” said Yowell, a member of the Te-Moak Band of Western Shoshone, who still works a small cattle ranch with his son in northeast Nevada’s high desert.

“I kept writing letters to them saying I didn’t have a debt with them, that I never signed a contract,” he told The Associated Press. “But they just ignored it. There’s no use talking to them.”

Yowell said in the lawsuit filed earlier this month he was exercising his “treaty guaranteed vested rights” to be a herdsman when he turned his cattle out in May 2002 to graze on the historic ranges of the South Fork Indian Reservation.

BLM officials said the tribe’s Te-Moak Livestock Association held a federal permit to graze cattle on the public land in northeast Nevada from 1940 to 1984, but had quit paying the fees to the BLM in 1984, claiming the tribe held title to the land.

Despite earlier federal and U.S. Supreme Court decisions against them, the Indian leaders asserted then — as Yowell does today — that the land is still theirs as dictated by the Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863.

Under the treaty, the United States formally recognized Western Shoshone rights to some 60 million acres stretching across Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. But the Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling determined the treaty gave the U.S. government trusteeship over tribal lands, and that it could claim them as “public” or federal lands.

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

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The Exhibit – The Horse

The Field Museum, Chicago; Feb 16th – Aug 14th, 2011

Everything you wanted to know about Horses but were afraid to ask

Whether racing down the backstretch of a racetrack or making unbelievable plays on the polo field, horses and humans are a proven unstoppable team. Did you know that this bond also shaped human civilization? In the exhibition The Horse, explore the profound relationship between horses and humans and discover how almost every facet of human existence has been influenced by our union with the horse. Artifacts, dioramas, fossils and a multitude of displays guide the visitor through the evolution of the horse from the early equines that lived on North America’s Great Plains over 10 million years ago to the horses role in the development of nations around the world and its noble place in our society today. Through domestication, horses have allowed us to travel greater distances, expand agriculture, and enhance our efforts in battle; and have also become symbols of status and prestige. At the same time, we have shaped horses, breeding them in different ways to suit our needs.

Explore over 200 different breeds of horses and investigate their extraordinary qualities that have made them so significant and useful to humans. Witness the horses’ powerful gaits and learn why they can stand all day without becoming fatigued. Discover how horses express their emotions with their ears and how they can see almost all the way around their body. Explore how the bond between horses and humans continues today in therapy and sport, and learn what you can do to protect the lives of the last remaining wild horses. Celebrate The Horse, only at The Field Museum.

The Horse is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with The Field Museum, Chicago; Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau-Ottawa; and San Diego Natural History Museum.

Star-Studded Wild Horse Documentary Screens in DC

Press Release from The Cloud Foundation

Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen and Ginger Kathrens Speak Out to Save The American Mustang in Kleinert’s New Film

Filmmaker James Kleinert

Washington, DC (March 10, 2010)—International award-winning filmmaker, James Kleinert, screens his latest star-studded film, Disappointment Valley … A Modern Day Western, featuring Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen and Darryl Hannah, on Wednesday, March 24 in Washington DC. Kleinert’s documentary examines the politics behind the Bureau of Land Management‘s (BLM) controversial policies on public lands while questioning the fate of America’s wild horses and burros. The screening begins at 6:00pm at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V, Washington, DC.  The film will be followed by a Q&A with Kleinert and Emmy-Award Winning filmmaker and wild horse advocate, Ginger Kathrens, who also appears in the film. The screening will be followed by the “March for Mustangs” rally on March 25th in Lafayette Park from 1:00pm- 3:00pm to stop the destruction of America’s wild horse and burro herds. Actress Wendie Malick will join speakers Kathrens, Kleinert and more for a 1:30pm press conference.

“Wild horses are living things who have a right to coexist in what is a vast landscape, which is the American west.”- Viggo Mortensen, Actor/Advocate

Disappointment Valley centers around dramatic footage of heart-wrenching wild horse roundups and interviews with Jim Baca, (former Director of the Bureau of Land Management), Michael Blake, (Writer, Dances With Wolves), Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen, Daryl Hannah, Congressmen Raul M. Grijalva, American Indian Actor and advocate Raoul Trijullo, energy consultant Randy Udall, scientific experts, animal rights and environmental activists. Probing deeply into the issue, the documentary examines the effects of the 2004 legislation that cleared the way for the removal and slaughter of America’s wild horses.

“The BLM is not just trying to destroy wild horse herds, they’re really challenging the system of democracy in the US and this is a very, very dangerous path they’ve gone down” –Ginger Kathrens, filmmaker of the popular PBS Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies programs and Director of The Cloud Foundation.

Disappointment Valley documents the struggle of the legendary mustangs who have long symbolized freedom, individualism and the wild spirit in America. However, greed and corruption take center stage, exposing deceit within the BLM.  The film delves into the current impacts on western public lands by oil, gas, mining and corporate cattle grazing.

“I hope this film will not only educate viewers about the disturbing, massive removals of our wild horses but inspire change to protect these precious animals in the West,” explains Kleinert. A former World Cup competitor in freestyle skiing aerials, and a top action, environmental and Native American filmmaker, Kleinert’s short film Wild Horse Spirit was pivotal in the 2007 Emmy award-winning PBS series Natural Hero’s.

“As remarkable as a distant sight of wild horses can be, it remains the tip of a glorious iceberg. The actual lives of wild horses reveal to humanity the privilege of having a life on the planet earth and how vital it is to respect the privilege.”- Michael Blake, Author Dances with Wolves and Twelve the King.

James Kleinert works closely with the Spirit Riders Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit ( The Spirit Riders Foundation produces multimedia state of the art audio-visual programming to educate, enlighten, entertain and to create positive understanding, hope and action among people and cultures. These materials are designed to foster harmony and understanding by empowering the human spirit, mind and body.

Reservations for the screening are recommended but not required, please contact: Elizabeth Slagsvol at or Makendra Silverman,, 719-351-8187

Venue capacity: 80 people

Links of interest:

Disappointment Valley Trailer & Information

James Kleinert, filmmaker Moving Cloud Productions

PSA by Moving Cloud Productions on mustangs in danger

March for Mustangs- March 25th, DC Rally:

Hosted by Friends of Animals and co-sponsored by a group of organizations

Spirit Riders Foundation:

News Story on Calico, rising death toll & skewed numbers from George Knapp (KLAS- Las Vegas):

BLM Daily Reports from Calico Roundup/Fallon Holding:

American Herds – “What’s Left?”

Humane Observer blog

Straight from the Horse’s Heart blog:

“A Cruel Waste” – explanatory youtube video:

Rebuttal to Salazar’s plan in LA Times:

The Cloud Foundation position paper on Salazar plan—Oct. 2009:

Good Morning America at Calico

New York Times “Horses Die in Roundup”

After campaigning for Obama, Sheryl Crow at odds over his administration’s wild-horse plan (Associated Press)

Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.  America’s Disappearing Wild Horses – A History

Frequently Asked Questions on Wild Horses


Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now (

Unified Moratorium letter and signatories

Roundup Schedule- updated January 11, 2010

Photos, video and interviews available from:

The Cloud Foundation


The Cloud Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.

107 S. 7th St. – Colorado Springs, CO 80905.

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