Poster Reignites New Mexico Free-Roaming Horse Fight

By of the

“They want the horses put in the same category as wild pigs. These guys are not qualified to round up horses. It’s not easy,”

Free-roaming horses are pictured on Camino de las Huertas in Placitas this summer. A dispute involving the horses has flared up again. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The ongoing free-roaming horse dispute that has roiled the Placitas community has flared again.

A poster displayed Oct. 28 at the village post office bore the headline “Illegal horse round-up by Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District” and implied the animals would end up “in slaughter.”

The body of the poster contained copies of emails – including names and partial email addresses – between Placitas residents and some Coronado board members discussing options for getting equipment, and volunteer efforts, to help property owners corral free-roaming horses.

Coronado’s board approved a resolution in August saying the horses should be removed. On Oct. 1 the board passed a motion to look into securing necessary equipment for residents who want to remove horses from their land.

Board member Lynn Montgomery, who made the motion, said the board is not actively rounding up horses but could help landowners who wished to do so.

Coronado board president Will Ouellette called the poster headline “false, libelous and inflammatory,” in a statement issued Oct. 30.

The statement said state law authorizes the conservation district to conserve and develop natural resources, provide flood control and preserve wildlife, among other tasks. Following this mandate, it said, Coronado approved efforts of private landowners to remove free-roaming horses from their own property as long as they cooperate with the state Livestock Board.

The statement also said, “If concerned citizens wish to protect the horses from what they perceive is the threat of slaughter, they can take responsibility and adopt a horse.”

The horses have long been a flashpoint in Placitas, with some residents fiercely advocating for their right to roam free, while others claim they are damaging private property, endangering drivers and polluting local streams.

In June, the conservation district ordered the Livestock Board to round up the horses, but Livestock Board director Ray Baca said Coronado lacked authority to issue the order, a position the Attorney General’s Office supported.

Placitas resident Mike Neas shares the environmental concerns, and his name appeared as a recipient of one of the emails shown on the poster. He believes Coronado is doing a good job listening to residents.

“We have tried to get elected and public officials to do something, but they’ve declined to do anything,” Neas said.

Horse supporter Gary Miles was elected to the Coronado board this summer and voted against Montgomery’s motion. He strongly disagrees with Coronado’s position on the horses.

“They (Coronado) want the horses put in the same category as wild pigs. These guys are not qualified to round up horses. It’s not easy,” Miles said.

Miles runs Placitas Animal Rescue. He said he has removed 30 horses that were straying on Placitas roads. He arranged for the Livestock Board to microchip the animals, and he has claimed ownership of them while he tries to find adoptive homes.

Click (HERE) to comment directly at The Journal

Wild Horses Leap to Their Death—and Live!

Source: by Johnny Rustywire of the Indian Country Today Media

“Some of the Utes did not agree with the roundup of the horses…”

Original Photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Original Photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

One spring a few years ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) set up a wild horse roundup in Eastern Utah. I was doing some title search work and found myself one morning riding out with the wranglers who would be catching and rounding up the horses for the BLM adoption program.

There has been much argument about the horses. Some people believe that these wild horses needed to be removed from the land because of overgrazing and inbreeding. Others believe that they should stay where they are and run free. “I am not sure about the debate but I guess someone should ask the horses,” I heard one person say.

We headed to a place known as Moon Water Point, way out in the middle of nowhere with undulating hills that dropped into the valleys and canyons surrounding the Green River some 50 miles north of Green River, Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.

Some of the wranglers were private contractors and some were employees of the BLM. The rest were from the Ute Tribe Fish & Game Department, easy to tell from the BLM guys because they were Indians. Everyone was anticipating the round up. I had heard that a helicopter was out early that morning gathering the horses. We had been on the road for about two and a half hours over a long windy dirt road when we got to Moon Water Point.

The wranglers’ trucks and trailers were off the hill out of sight. We parked there in the brush and walked up the hill to the top of the bench. On top there was a brush line, set up in a V, to funnel the horses into a makeshift corral that had three sides dropping off the bench like a cliff dropping off steeply and the brush hid a portable fence set up to hold the horses.

The guys had been there for a few days gathering the horses and were set to catch them. The Ute cowboys were a hardy stock, rough and ready. I have heard they pride themselves as horsemen, those Utes. I did not hear anyone say it, but they seemed to know the animals and this area was Ute land.

Some of the Utes did not agree with the roundup of the horses. These were the last remaining part of the herd that represented their former life as the People of the Shining Mountains who were born on horses and roamed all over these lands from Denver to Salt Lake. I could sense their feeling but they were there to do a job.

Everyone mounted up and headed out, moving off the bench to the north and in the distance you could hear the herd of wild horses coming. You could see them off in the distance, kicking up the dust and running through the sagebrush in groups of two and three with others of four and five running alongside.

The horses usually travel and live in small groups to be able to forage the high and low areas for food. There were groups of 4- and 5-year-old stallions eager to make a place with the herd but they cannot live together and so they break off in small groups, each having his own band, but the helicopter was chasing them from behind and so they were all running together.

They were of assorted colors, magnificent animals, their legs flying and moving with a grace of years of running through sagebrush and these lands. This was their place and we were the interlopers. Their nostrils were flaring, their manes and tails blowing in the wind. There must have been 35 or 40 of them coming…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and comment!

Something Smells Rotten in Nevada and Goes by the Acronym of BLM

“In My Humble Opinion” by R.T. Fitch ~ author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Is there an odor circling about that just does not smell quite right?

You know what I mean; that ambient, just can’t quite put your finger on it smell of something that has gone very bad with a sickly sort of sweet odor trying to cover it up.  The smell that almost turns you stomach yet it’s masked just enough to keep you from retching.  That’s the feeling I get whenever I read a comment made from anyone affiliated with the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program.

Perhaps my olfactory sensors are stymied from the years of smelling dump truck loads of bull crap coming from the BLM’s direction; but bull crap doesn’t smell this rotten nor sickly sweet.  Perhaps I am jaded but the new stench slimes its way down from the very top to the bottom; no one is telling the truth.

First we had the career cattleman from Colorado, Ken Salazar, Obama’s hand picked Secretary of the Interior tell us he was going to clear all those pesky wild horses off from their rightful public lands in the west and ship them out east to purchased or leased land where Americans could come and watch them all die off.  You see, when you castrate all the males and sterilize  all the females there’s really little hope of having a bunch of babies running around, that much I learned when I was 11 from Bertha Butts behind the Jungle Gym at Glendale Elementary; maybe Salazar never had such an enlightening conversation.

Next we have an accelerated and aggressive round-up schedule implemented that totally destroys and completely removes many herds with total estimates of ruined equine lives measuring into the thousands (in one herd alone).  Even the few horses in the world famous “Cloud Herd” are not safe and are tortured and harassed simply because the BLM “can”.

Follow that up with the BLM Advisory Board meeting, last December, where program director Don Glenn stood up in front of God and country (also a video camera) and promised that the BLM would be transparent and equine advocates (taxpayers, the one paying his cushy government salary) would be “allowed” to witness all round ups and at the same time he was speaking an undercover round up that was never publicized was taking place.  I mean it was going on while the words were falling out of his mouth and splatting on the floor before him.

Terrorized from the very beginning, the Horses of the Calico BLM Roundup - Photo by Kurt Golgart/Bureau of Land Management

Then the Calico Complex death stampede was planned and a suit was filed to stop it.  The BLM’s genius master plan was to conduct it in the dead of winter, when horses need to conserve their energy, at a time when many mares were pregnant and to make it worse, they were going to use asinine helicopters to terrify and stampede the poor horses across miles of volcanic rock and ice, at least one young horse was run until it’s poor hooves sloughed off.  The Federal Judge who sat on the case denied the suit but made comment to the fact that long term holding of horses by the BLM may very well be illegal and he strongly advised the BLM that moving forward with the winter round up would not be prudent.  The BLM  jumped right on it.  And in so doing over a hundred horses are now dead, dozens and dozens of foals were aborted and there are virtually NO horses in numbers left on the complex, virtually none while almost 2,000 languish in a concentration camp that is under investigation for animal cruelty.

Now Salazar’s henchmen Bob Abbey tries to spray room freshener on the entire smelly mess by saying that the BLM is taking the Wild Horse and Burro program in a new direction by seeking input from the American public.  Have you tried to use their electronic data base input tool for comment?  This ole cowboy has been riding a computer keyboard since the ole Commodore 64 was a hot item and I can’t get the blinking thing to work.  And if “input” means giving another stunted 2 minute speech before a finger tapping, eye rolling, day dreaming bunch of special interest Advisory Board members then no thank you.  I don’t need to travel half way across the country, on my dime, so that total strangers can tune me out; I have friends around these parts that will do that for free.

And isn’t it strange that Abbey’s sugary sweet overture comes just as the BLM announces that the public will now be banned from checking on the 1,800+ horses at the Broken Arrow concentration camp near Fallon, NV.  For crying out loud it has been the advocate visitors who, during their once a week 90 minute visits, have pointed out sick and injured animals that the only vet in attendance has not noticed all week.  Sort of smacks of retribution for the animal cruelty investigation, doesn’t it?

Calico Wild Horses, healthy upon capture - Photo by Laura Leigh

So now we have almost 2,000 horses, young males castrated, many foals dead, many more sick, all imprisoned while their giant natural home remains vacant EXCEPT for the privately owned cattle that are allowed to be there and destroy the public lands.  Anything wrong with this picture?

I’m not against proper (operative word) management using scientific processes with accurate numbers reviewed by qualified personnel.  Appropriate birth control could be a method but we have no way of knowing if that is even required because the BLM cannot add one plus one and come up with two…here’s what I mean:

In January and February the BLM posted numbers as they progressed with thier deadly Calico helicopter stampede, here is a sampling of their POSTED statistics from their own website; you can verify these numbers by clicking (HERE)

* 1/29, the Daily Gather Report (herein after known as the DGR) quoted 1518 Horses gathered & 1435 sent to Fallon. (a difference of 83)

1/30 shows 1534 gathered & 508 sent to Fallon (dif. 1026)

1/31 shows 669 gathered & 527 sent to Fallon. (dif. 142)

2/1 shows 751 gathered, 646 sent to Fallon. (dif. 105)

2/2 shows 878 gathered, 744 sent to Fallon. (dif. 134)

2/3 shows 892 gathered, 861 sent to Fallon (dif. 31)

2/4 shows 922 gathered, 914 sent to Fallon. (dif. 8 )

Now mind you, these are their daily computations, we are not even talking about the numbers that were quoted prior, the numbers they quoted after and the insane numbers that they are using now for alleged horses left alive in the wild.  It is all just way too outrageous.

Do you trust these people?  Want them managing your bank account and stock portfolio?  For a moment do you think that they are qualified to be making life and death decisions for the few remaining national icons that are left in the wild?  I would think not.

For just a week, I would love to have Salazar, Abbey or Glenn work on my staff where they would be actually held accountable for deliverables and I would like to see how long they would last.  Such gross negligence does not exist in the private sector, but in the government incompetence is rewarded by promotion.  It is essential that all government employees be elevated to their peak level of incompetence so that they can begin their sideways drift while awaiting to be cycled into yet another job where no one remembers what horrible performers they were at their last position.  It’s a self-perpetuating shell game and we get to pay for it.  Ain’t it great?

Currently there is a story floating about that there is a plan being put together to release the horses on a private resort in northern Nevada.  No comment on that in this article but although we would like to have the horses released from their restrictive concentration camp it is the general consensus that the horses should be released back onto their own land, the public land that was set aside for their use and not that of private cattle, pipelines, or geological extraction.

With that being said, I would like to levy two fair and straightforward requests to the BLM:

1.)    Keep the Broken Arrow facility’s current visitor schedule in place.  We are not even asking for fair access; just keep the same, stingy, unreasonable 1.5-2 hours a week open so that competent and compassionate eye balls can be laid up these publicly owned horses.

2.)    Assemble a gender balanced herd consisting of 25% of the current captives and release them, immediately, back onto the complex.  There are not 600 horses out there although the BLM will say so to cover for their gross error in managing numbers but independent observers have not seen anything remotely close to that number in the wild.  Hundreds of range destroying private cattle but few horses.  For the time being, at the very least, 25% should be set free.  Of course their bands and families have now all been destroyed but out of that 25% maybe a few viable groups will be able to reassemble and survive.  That is not too much to ask.

Way forward?

I would recommend that you write, and don’t write like me even though you are pissed (for good reason) and ask for the two, simple concessions listed above.  Be angry to your core, it will drive you to sit down and compose your note.  The anger will also flavor your letter with honest passion and caring but don’t let the ugly side bleed over into your text; the result will be the pushing of a delete key prior to your message being heard.  When you are finished you can then go outside and fix a fence, dig a ditch, muck the barn or pressure wash the fence.  Find a constructive way to vent off the legitimate frustration that all of us are feeling over this unwarranted situation.  Turn the anger to good, you’ll be better for it.

Be sure to address your emails to Gene Seidlitz of the Winnemucca district, he would have the final say over the Calico situation. His email is

Laura Leigh, Project Manager of Herd Watch, has an example of her letter on her blog (HERE) and on our blog you can visualize Craig Downer’s letter (HERE)

Be sure to copy the following personnel on your letter to Gene Seidlitz:

Bob Abbey –

Make sure that they ALL know that you want the facility left open and a token release of the horses back to their rightful environment.  If you have the time, please do it today as the clock is ticking for these horses and tomorrow may be the last time anyone ever has a chance to see these horses ever again.

Be the voice, send the message, pass the word that we need this broken agency to stop stealing our wild horses from our public lands.  It’s time to access, compute and approach this situation with a proper process and accurate numbers.  For the sake of all those that the BLM has caused to die, this has to be turned around…and it has to turn around, now!!!

*Statistics and research supplied by Lisa LeBlanc

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BLM’s Bob Abbey talks Wild Horses and Burros: Fact or Fiction?

“In my Humble Opinion!” by R.T. Fitch – Author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

June 3, 2010 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey announced that his agency plans to take the Wild Horse and Burro Program in a new direction, and in so doing he is requesting public comment on the document that implements Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s Wild Horse and Burro Initiative (Salazoo).

That’s pretty close to how the press release opens and reading those words makes me sit a little deeper into the saddle and latch onto the horn just a tad tighter because I feel something beginning to collect between my legs and the outcome is not going to be pretty.

It’s almost as if you are afraid to read any deeper into the announcement as truth and accuracy, to date, have not been forth coming from the BLM.  Although the words “seeking public input” has merit the mention of Salazar’s death zoo concept makes one’s blood boil.  (Let’s spend millions of dollars to round-up the last of our native wild horses, sterilize them and then spend untold millions more shipping them back east to leased or bought property with different forage to watch them wither away and die, gone forever.)  Can’t get me too revved up over a plan like that; neither scientifically or emotionally.

Although I hope that one day we can have productive and fruitful dialogue with an agency that looks over our wild horses, hopefully not the BLM, this current invitation appears to be flawed from the git-go.

The entire idea of well rounded discussion is immediately stifled when Abbey inserts caveats such as;

certain topics and options will be off the table, including the euthanasia of healthy excess animals or their sale without limitation to protect the animals from slaughter

Sorry dude, that’s one of the FIRST things I want to discuss as your agency has not only been involved with but makes it easy for our national heritage to slip across our boarders to be butchered for wealthy foreigner’s dinner plates.  And it can and IS still happening today!  Excuse me while I clear my throat, “Errr, cough, hrmmm, excess horses my ass, brmmm, cough!”  There, that feels better.

Also, without producing accurate numbers or qualifying the need Abbey say’s that the unnecessary and deadly helicopter stampeded round-ups will continue;

These gather operations are being carefully analyzed, engaging the public in the planning process.”

Says who?  Last December while your henchman Don Glenn was standing before a small group of equine welfare advocates extolling how transparent you all are a wild horse herd was being zeroed out in a covert, unannounced round-up and you expect us to believe you now?  Pardon me while I sneeze, “DOINK!”  thank you.

Carefully analyzed!?!?  For Pete’s sake you screwed up the math on the Calico Complex round-up and stopped stampeding horses well under the number you intended to gather because why?  You ran out of blinking horses to harass and capture, you had no idea how many were really out there.  You claim that you left 600 horses on the range and multiple flyovers and visits from independent sources indicate that if there are 100 still surviving, we are lucky.

Based on the best information the BLM currently has, without these gathers the land will suffer, wildlife will suffer, and ultimately, the horses will suffer.”

And where did you acquire that “best information”?  Would it perchance come from your boss’s buddy’s from the cattle industry?  How about stampeding the forage destroying, privately owned cattle off from our public lands and let the non-destructive, native wild horses alone?  That would be a novel concept.  And how much would that cost, you know, just to leave the horses on the land that Congress put aside for them to live on?  Hmmm, let me get out my calculator, this is going to be complicated…cipher this to the 8th power of that, shift the decimal point to the left and the grand total comes up to be ZERO!  Goodness gracious, why have we not thought of this sooner?

It just blows my mind how this mess goes from dumb to dumber; somehow I missed that “Government Employee Double Talk 101” class in college.  It must have been over in that “Bachelor of Incompetency” program.  I knew I messed up, just imagine the freedom a graduate from DOI U must have as they are not held accountable for anything while the rest of we dumb idiots are forced to live the truth and are required to produce deliverables throughout our careers.  Life could have been so easy but we just had to go and pick the path of accountability, bunch of dopes.

Abbey’s press release closes with a statement that indicates there are 38,000 horses left free with 35,000 held in concentration camps.  The former is probably way high and the later may tend to be a tad conservative.  Wonder how many of that alleged 35,000 are still alive and intact as the public has not been allowed to verify the well being of captives.  How many truckloads have been shipped across the boarder for slaughter as that is just what the BLM wanted to do two years ago and I don’t think a leopard changes spots that quickly.

But at least Abbey is being honest in bringing to light one thing; the fact that the BLM’s mission is near completion.  They have reached, at minimum, the point where there are more horses held in captivity then are free in the wild and that very, very soon…there will be no more wild horses, none, zero, nada, zippo.

That you can count on.

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Federal Lawsuit Against Wild Horse Roundup Seeks Return of 1800 Horses to Nevada Range

By: In Defense of Animals

Calico Lawsuit Secured Reprieve For Wild Horses; Now Plaintiffs Move To Rescue Horses From Lifelong, Zoo-Like Holding

Calico Wild Horses, healthy upon capture - Photo by Laura Leigh

WASHINGTON, D.C. March 31, 2010 – In a final brief filed today, wild horse advocates are asking a federal court to order the government to return to the Nevada range approximately 1800 wild horses who, after being rounded up earlier this year, await their fate at government holding pens located approximately 200 miles from their home range in Nevada’s Calico Mountain Complex. The international law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, on behalf of plaintiffs In Defense of Animals (IDA), ecologist Craig Downer and author Terri Farley, highlighted the Honorable Judge Paul L. Friedman’s preliminary analysis that long-term holding of wild horses in the Midwest is likely illegal when asking for the court to order defendants Department of Interior (DOI) and Secretary Ken Salazar to find room for the captured Calico horses on the more than 30 million acres of public lands designated as wild horse herd areas.

Early in the case, Plaintiffs secured a reprieve for the captured horses ensuring that no horses would be moved to long-term holding and that no stallions would be gelded (castrated) until Judge Friedman issued a final ruling. This ensures that the horses remain in suitable condition to be reintroduced to the wild.

“It’s time for Interior Secretary Salazar to acknowledge that warehousing wild horses in Midwestern holding facilities is illegal and that new approaches to wild horse management are urgently needed,” said William J. Spriggs, lead counsel on the pending wild horse lawsuit filed pro bono by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. “The place to start is with the return of the Calico horses to the wild Nevada rangelands where they belong. Next, the Interior Department must shift its resources toward minimally feasible on-the-range management of our wild horses, as Congress intended when it passed the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

To date at least 79 horses have died as a result of the Calico roundup and more than 40 heavily pregnant mares have spontaneously aborted. In addition, an unknown number of Calico horses at the holding pens have been reported to have “Pigeon Fever,” a highly contagious bacteria-based disease which is known to be spread by flies. The bacteria lives and multiplies in dry soil and manure.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 30. A final ruling in the case is expected by May 26.

The Calico Mountain Complex roundup of 1,922 wild horses is one of the largest roundups in recent years. The BLM removed at least 80-90 percent of the Calico wild horse population, leaving behind an “estimated” 600 horses on the 550,000 acre (or 859 square mile) Complex in northwest Nevada. The roundup ended on February 4, 2010, 500 horses short of its target for removal. The roundup proceeded despite a ruling by Judge Friedman ­ in the lawsuit brought by Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney ­ questioning the legality of the BLM’s long-term holding facilities and suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 million acres of public lands of which cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres; wild horses are only allowed on 26.6 million acres this land, which must be shared with cattle. The Obama Administration plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010.

There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.


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EWA Chair Calls BLM Handling of DC Protestors Heavy Handed

by John Holland, EWA President – Reprint from “Horseback Magazine

EWA President John Holland - Photo by Terry Fitch

WASHINGTON, (EWA) – The demonstration was great, but you really got the feeling of being in a dictatorship! Much of this might be because of the recent anti-health care bill demonstrations and threats, but I have not felt this atmosphere since the 60s.

A guy came around us, climbed the stairs and stood at the top with the armed guards and used a zoom lens to take photos of all of us individually. Funny thing was that one of the guards thought he was with us and tried to throw him off the steps because we were not allowed to touch a single step. Another of the other guards stopped the first guard. It just shows what a stupid bunch we are dealing with. I just couldn’t help thinking about the Keystone Cops.

I especially loved it when they called out the mounted patrol on us. Many of us immediately migrated toward them. One of the horses was a huge gray that did not have a body shape we could identify. I asked his mount what breed it was and he ignored me. Only their leader would talk and he was less than hospitable. I was so tempted to say “I have been around horses all my life and never seen one before that had two anal sphincters” but discretion got the better of me.

I told him that if they were looking to intimidate us, they picked the wrong crowd! I said I face three times that many horses every morning for their feed. He said “We are not here to intimidate you.” So I figured that meant they must be have been there to do something more physical.

I used to marvel that I was able to roam the halls of Congress as freely as I was, but that is changing. It is get darker and more brooding every time I go. Reuters and AP were both there, so we should see more!

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DC March for Mustangs – The Nation is Speaking but is Anyone Listening

by R.T. Fitch – author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Obama still turns Deaf Ear to Wild Horse Deaths

Wild Horse Advocates before mounted Police - Photo by Terry Fitch

It sort of turns the average citizen on their ear when they write, call, fax, email and even go directly to Washington D.C. only to be greeted by a wall of total silence.  For years Americans have been demanding that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cease their senseless stripping of native wild horses from public lands yet they have continued to do so.  In fact, this year the pace has accelerated to the point that there is true doubt over how many wild horses still exist in their native habitat.

This past week, dozens of law abiding citizens left their homes, family and jobs to participate in a rally in Washington D.C. called “March for Mustangs’, an effort to highlight the the need to stop the deadly helicopter round-ups conducted by the BLM.  Participants not only walked the halls of the Congress and Senate but they joined in a rally before the White House and marched to the Department of Interior building.

Everyone attending was a celebrity for taking the time and spending their own funds to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  There is an Op-Ed/Commentary stirring within this story but oftentimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  So we share with you a pictorial collage of the people who are battling the federal government in an effort to save our wild horses from extinction (Please see below)

This Video is Dedicated to all of the Advocates who give of Themselves for the sake of the Wild Horses

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Emmy Award Winners Blast BLM For “Hiding” Wild Horses From Press and Public

Press Release from The Cloud Foundation

Emmy Award Winner Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation - Photo by R.T. Fitch

COLORADO SPRINGS (Cloud) — The Cloud Foundation objects to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) severe limitations placed on viewing of the wild horses captured in the controversial Calico Wild Horse roundup.

Despite the enormous cost to the American taxpayers and the controversial nature of the roundup, the BLM and the Department of Interior (DOI) are denying requests for independent humane observers during the processing of nearly 1900 mustangs over the next few months in preparation for their long term holding or adoption.

During this dangerous time for the mustangs, the public will be denied an opportunity to view BLM running the animals through alleyways and into chutes where they will be freeze-branded, inoculated and neck-tagged.


been watching the processing of mustangs on and off for 15 years. What is the big deal this time?” Asks Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, “There’s something very wrong when it’s easier to crash a party at the White House than go view our wild horses being freeze-branded in Nevada. Makes you wonder if there’s something to hide out in Fallon?”

Forty-nine horses have died as the result of the roundup. This does not include the 30 plus mares who have aborted their late-term foals in the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada. The four percent death rate is over eight times the BLM expected level for a helicopter roundup. Foals are now being born in the pens and the public is not permitted to confirm young, sick and old animals are being humanely treated in a timely fashion.

BLM says that the shut down of the facility is a safety issue due to the horses being continuously in facility alleyways during the preparation process. Given the high level of interest The Cloud Foundation asks BLM to figure out a way to safely allow the public to observe.

“Processing our wild horses in secret does nothing but promote suspicion on the part of the public who simply request to have independent representatives present to verify that our horses are being treated humanely,” said Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and Nevada wild horse advocate. “Denying American citizens the right to watch over their horses is a very disturbing trend, and simply throws fuel on a spreading fire.”

All 1922 wild horses were captured in the 40-day dead-of-winter helicopter roundup which stopped weeks early and over 600 horses short when BLM discovered fewer wild horses than anticipated in the huge 500,000 acre Calico Mountains of northwestern Nevada. The horses are now being housed at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $75,000 per week while the death toll continues to rise. One stallion was euthanized on Monday, however, vet reports are now being withheld so the official reason for killing the stallion is unknown.

Despite Wild Horse and Burro Chief Don Glenn’s promise that the public is welcome “anytime” to view the roundups, the BLM conducted the Calico roundup with limited access.

Now BLM has repeatedly denied official requests from the Cloud Foundation and others to allow even two members of the public to be present during processing of horses which began February 15.

Ed Roberson, Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning with the DOI told The Cloud Foundation in an email last week not to worry about the horses as “we have a licensed vet on site during the prep work to ensure humane treatment.” Given BLM’s reticence to release vet reports from Fallon this is no consolation to the concerned public.

By disallowing access to any independent humane observers, BLM’s “bunker” mentality appears to have trumped any requests for transparency. “If American citizens are willing to travel to Fallon, Nevada to check on and observe wild horses that have been removed from public lands against the public will by a federal agency, why is this access being denied?” asks RT Fitch, Texas author of the popular book “Straight from the Horses Heart.”

Meanwhile the captured Calico wild horses, many still with swollen joints and injuries from being run over sharp volcanic rock by helicopters, stand in pens without windbreaks. “Topography credited by the BLM as a natural wind break is a joke. I’ve been to Fallon and I’ve seen the conditions these horses are exposed to—no cover, no windbreaks except for some of the ‘hospital’ pens”, explains Terri Farley. The celebrated children’s author of the Phantom Stallion series, based on the Calico mustangs, visited the holding facility on February 11th with a professional photographer whose photos will soon be posted at

To combat the continuing roundups of America’s wild horses and burros, Nevada is planning two protests in coming days to gain the attention of a visiting President Barack Obama.

On Thursday, February 18th, protestors will unfurl over 50 banners along Las Vegas Boulevard calling for a stop to the roundups which will remove half of Nevada’s wild horses this year. On Saturday, February 20th the public will gather in Carson City, Nevada to further protest the tax-payer funded destruction of America’s Wild Horses and Burros.

According to Wild Horse and Burro Chief, Don Glenn, the facility is charging the government around $5.75 per day/per horse. That amounts to over $10,000 taxpayer dollars per day to house the mustangs. The cost of the Calico roundup alone was at least $1 million and holding of horses will cost taxpayers additional millions.

While nearly 2,000 Calico mustangs languish and die in Fallon, thousands of privately-owned cattle still graze the Calico wild horse herd areas, bringing in revenues to the BLM of around $40,000 per year. The cost to administer the grazing program for the Calico area is six times this amount based on the national average for the program as calculated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO reported that yearly revenues from the national public lands grazing program are $21 million per year, while the costs to administer the grazing program are $144 million per year, resulting in a yearly loss to the American taxpayer of $123 million. This taxpayer subsidized grazing program is often referred to as “welfare ranching” due to the small fees charged to livestock permittees. The rate is currently the lowest allowed by law—$1.35 per cow/calf pair per month.

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Video: Defenseless Foal Incessantly Chased by BLM/Cattoor Helicopter during Calico Wild Horse Round-up

Op-ed by R.T. Fitch, author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

A Picture is worth a Thousand Words

Cattor chopper hunting for our Wild Horses - Photo by Terry Fitch

Acclaimed artist and videotagrapher Laura Leigh has released a devastating video of a young foal which from the footage appears as if it is being aggressively and dangerously “pushed” and attacked by a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contractor’s helicopter during the much contested Calico Wild Horse round-up.

After a terrifying  chase for miles over volcanic rock, ice and snow the small foal had difficulty keeping up with it’s family and was continually terrorized by the Cattoor’s helicopter at an alarmingly close and dangerous range.

Additional footage shows one foal limping in the BLM pens while another, which is on the ground, was reported by the BLM to have died due to having it’s young “hooves run off” by the Cattoor helicopters.

This is documented evidence of the out of control and deadly behavior of the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management.

Please forward  this video to the President, the First Lady, the Vice President and every single one of your elected representatives.  Our “animal friendly” administration needs to be held fully accountable for supporting known animal abusers within it’s organization.

Warning if you understand, love and/or care about animals you will find this footage to be extremely unsettling.

Use the “SHARE” button below to broadcast this video!

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USA TODAY: Activists decry wild-horse roundups

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY           (Here’s your national coverage – R.T.)

The Voice of the Public is Ignored by the BLM

Federal officials have begun rounding up at least 2,500 wild horses from Nevada rangeland, triggering protests from animal advocates who say the trapping endangers these symbols of the American West and condemns them to lives in captivity.

The protesters are organizing demonstrations around the country Wednesday to pressure the Obama administration to impose a moratorium on roundups by the Bureau of Land Management. They want to halt the practice of sending captured horses to Midwestern pastures and holding pens, where some are adopted but most remain for the rest of their lives.

“We are very, very disappointed this is happening under the Obama administration,” said Suzanne Roy, program director at In Defense of Animals, a group that has sued in federal court to halt the roundups. “This will devastate the herd and have a devastating impact on the horses left behind.”

MORE: Plan to round up wild horses draws opposition

AT ISSUE: Wild horse debate gallops on

The BLM contends the roundups are necessary because there are more wild horses than Western lands can support. Allowing the herds to grow unchecked will lead to starvation and suffering by the horses while destroying grazing land used by cattle ranchers, said Tom Gorey, spokesman for the BLM in Washington.

“Herd sizes double about every four years,” Gorey said. “To put a moratorium on gathers (roundups) would be untenable.”

BLM contractor's chopper running Pryor Mountain horses into trap - Photo by Terry Fitch

Helicopter wrangling

The BLM and contracted horse wranglers used two helicopters Monday as they began trapping wild horses that have roamed on more than 850 square miles of rangeland in northwestern Nevada.

Heather Emmons, spokeswoman for the BLM in Nevada, said 20 or more horses were captured by midday and the roundup would continue for as long as two months, until at least 2,500 horses are taken off the range.

The helicopters skim the ground to chase horses into pens, where they are trapped and trucked to holding facilities at Fallon, Nev., for evaluation, veterinary treatment and branding, Emmons said. She said the agency intends to leave 800 to 900 horses from this herd on the range.

Older horses will be sent to permanent holding facilities in the Midwest while younger ones go to short-term facilities and will be put up for adoption. Rates of adoption have been falling, and Gorey said the agency expects about 3,500 horses to be adopted in the next year.

More than 34,000 wild horses and burros are kept by the federal government in corrals and pastures, primarily in Oklahoma and Kansas. The government estimates that 33,000 wild horses roam on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, half or more of them in Nevada.

About 30 protesters gathered Sunday at a conservation area near Las Vegas, demonstrating against the roundup. In Defense of Animals said it was organizing a demonstration Wednesday outside the San Francisco office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the hope of spurring political support for their call to halt the roundups. Other protests were planned in Chicago, Boulder, Colo., and elsewhere, said Makendra Silverman, associate director of the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based group that tries to protect mustangs.

‘Situation is unpatriotic’

The fight over taking wild horses off federal land has intensified in the past two years since the BLM under the Bush administration proposed, then backed away from, a plan to euthanize unadoptable wild horses in captivity.

Under the Obama administration, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposed buying land to create national preserves and sanctuaries in the East and Midwest as permanent homes for mustangs. Horse advocates have opposed Salazar’s plan as a dressed-up version of the status quo combined with aggressive roundups they say would threaten the future of wild horse herds.

“The situation is unpatriotic,” said Deanne Stillman, author of Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West. “What represents freedom more than wild horses? We are a country born in hoof sparks. … I do think most Americans are not happy about this stripping away of our heritage.”

Celebrities including singers Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow and former Playboy models Shane and Sia Barbi have tried to call attention to the issue.

“We must act now before the BLM has managed these magnificent animals into extinction,” Nelson said.

Advocates say that trapping in winter threatens the horses’ health because of cold temperatures and rugged terrain, and that the actions separate foals from mothers.

Emmons of the BLM said winter trapping is better because the animals are at lower elevations and can be captured in shorter distances with less stress.

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