Public comments needed on BLM’s plans to roundup wild horses on the Onaqui HMA in Utah

(Photo: BLM)

Public comments are due by Oct. 31 on a BLM Salt Lake City Field Office Scoping Notice for a roundup of wild horses in the Onaqui Herd Management Area in Utah.  Send a personal comment to  blm_ut_cedarmt_onaqui@blm.gov   and in the subject line, put Onaqui Wild Horse Gather/Population Control and Research

We are sharing this public comment written by our friend, wild horse & burro advocate (and beekeeper) Susan Rudnicki:

To: blm_ut_cedarmt_onaqui@blm.gov

BLM—           It has come to my attention that the Utah BLM is considering removing a majority of the Onaqui Mountain wild horse herd—325 horses out of a herd of 450.   This is a reckless gutting of the genetic viability of this herd, a 72% decrease that can not sustain genetic resilience, a authoritative opinion of Dr Gus Cothran, equine geneticist.

   The citation by BLM that the horses are to be removed to preserve sage grouse habitat also is not underpinned by the facts at hand.  The public is well aware of the proposal by the current administration to ACTIVELY REDUCE sage grouse habitat protection, as announced  by  Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke,  who released the recommendations of his sage-grouse “review team”.  A short summary of some of the recommendations does not seem to support the contention by Utah BLM that wild horses are a significant impact to Sage Grouse.  Instead, the list tries to damage the already concocted 5 year planning process that went into the good-faith flexibility of the 2015 Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments (ARMPAs) and test how far the Interior Department can bend the rules without getting sued. Where is the “protection of Sage Grouse”,  as purported to be driving a removal from Onaqui HMA?
   In fact, the BLM plan for wild horse removals is factually contradicted by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service study released in 2012 that did not cite wild horses as one of the top five threats to sage grouse. Instead, it cites energy development, transmission right of ways, fire, invasive species, and commercial development as the top threats.   Interestingly, these human installations are the very things Zinke has openly committed to smoothing the way for opening on our public lands.  
 
   The round-up proposed by BLM in Onaqui would seem to be driven instead by industrial considerations, as described in the list below, gleaned from Zinke’s team list.    I am a citizen and taxpayer able to discern when scapegoats, such as the wild horses, are being used for distraction purposes.   
   The Zinke report and the forthcoming processes that will revise the ARMPAs  are determined to weaken any provisions that inhibit industry, including proposals to:
  • Narrow the buffer zones that would protect leks from fossil fuel development disturbance;
  • Remove Sagebrush Focal Area restrictions (“SFA” the most important habitat) for fluid mineral operations, and ultimately consider getting rid of SFA altogether;
  • Train staff to weaken grazing Habitat Objectives so that they are not included as terms and conditions of livestock grazing permits in key grouse habitats;
  • Encourage captive breeding of grouse and increased predator killing – which science has proven don’t work – instead of habitat protection which does; and
  • Create the false impression that livestock grazing is good for sage-grouse habitat, when in fact there is no scientific evidence that even light grazing by domestic livestock is beneficial.
   I am a astute reader and am able to discern conflicts of interest masquerading as cover for “takings”  Sage Grouse AND wild horses are protected and stand to get in the way of industrial development for private profit.
 
  The removal of the wild horses by BLM in the Onaqui HMA must change,  to focus instead on fertility control. The plan to treat 60 mares in FY2018 is not adequate to slow reproduction. Volunteers with the Wild Horses of America Foundation are ready and able to implement a larger population control program.
 
   I do not want my taxpayer dollars used on another expensive round-up and stockyard impoundment for wild horses. 
 
   Finally, per the most recent recommendation of the BLM National Advisory Board, all wild horses in holding are to be slaughtered or sold to foreign countries for slaughter in the next three years.   This is NOT acceptable to the public at large, who are granted by the 

 WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971
(PUBLIC LAW 92-195)

to be the public which enjoys and oversees the animal’s protection.  Any horses taken in the Onaqui HMA could become caught in this tug of war between Federal agencies.   
 
I remain a active, informed American taxpayer,
Sincerely, Susan Rudnicki

Day 18 of the Checkerboard Roundup Where Less and Less Horses Will Be Free

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

Day 18 of the Checkerboard Roundup Where Less and Less Horses Will Be Free

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Stallion Running Away

Stallion Running Away

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And a very little foal

And a little foal

On the way out to the Checkerboard Area in Adobe Town, we saw a group of horses, several families, that we surprised as we drove by. I knew that they would not be here when we headed back to Rock Springs, and I wished I could tell them to hide as they ran away.

Very far away

Very far away

When we were shown our location for observation near the Haystacks, a unique formation of hills, we set up and soon realized that we would see very little – between the distance to the trap and the ridges and sagebrush in the way, we only got quick glimpses very far away.

The little family on the ridge

The little family on the ridge

Looking at us

Looking at us

Starting down the hill as the stallion watches

Starting down the hill as the stallion watches

But we soon became very lucky because there were horses coming down the rock formation! A little family, with a stunning sorrel stallion, his grey mare and her grey look alike filly. They looked down at us, and I realized they were going to come down the steep formation to get away from the helicopter, which was behind the butte.  READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, with updates on latest BLM roundups of wild horses in Wyoming, and the lawsuit filed to try to stop it (Wed., 10/11/17 on Wild Horse & Burro Radio)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017

6:00 p.m. PST … 7:00 p.m. MST … 8:00 p.m. CST … 9:00 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.

Wild horses on the way into the BLM’s trap

Our guest tonight is Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation. Carol will give you an update on the Bureau of Land Management’s latest roundups of wild horses in Wyoming. Carol will also tell you about the lawsuit filed to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from illegally rounding up hundreds of wild horses in a helicopter capture operation currently underway in southwestern Wyoming. Carol is a co-Plaintiff in that lawsuit.

These wild horses could soon end up in the slaughter pipeline unless you call your U.S. Senators to tell them not to euthanize, kill or sterilize our wild horses, and that you oppose horse slaughter in the U.S.

Carol’s website is http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/ and you can see her photography of wild horses at http://www.livingimagescjw.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

A Wild Horse Release is a Bittersweet Reminder of Those Who Are No Longer Free

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

A Wild Horse Release is a Bittersweet Reminder of Those Who Are No Longer Free

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

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This morning the BLM allowed me to watch the release of the 6 Curlies that were released back into Salt Wells Creek.  Of course I much prefer watching wild horses be released than be rounded up, but as much as I was elated for these 6 lucky horses, I was very sad for those they left behind at the holding facility.

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Ike in the trailer

Ike in the trailer

I was not sure which horses were going to be released, but when I asked at 6:30 at the BLM office I was told no pintos were to be released but some curlies.  This meant Maestro would not be released, much to the disappointment of local people who consider him a favorite.

Mares get out

Mares get out

Mares run

Mares run

We stopped on County Road 76 off of Hwy 430.  These horses had been captured near Maggie Springs off 191, so it was not where they were captured.  However, the BLM had not rounded up any horses off County Road 76 so there should be other wild horses around – I saw fresh manure and knew I was right.  The trailer went down the road making sure that the road was still good and not too muddy, then they called for us to follow.  They put us at the top of the hill and as it turns out it was the wrong side of the road, but I did the best I could to take photos in such a way that people could identify the horses.  As it turns out they were all curlies.  The two black mares got out first as they were in their own compartment in the back.  They ran as soon as they got out, two big girls who reminded me of war horses in their outlines.        READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

More Wild Horses Including Curlies Lose Their Freedom in Salt Wells Creek

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

Wild Horses Including Curlies Lose Their Freedom in Salt Wells Creek

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Maestro and a yearling

Maestro and a yearling

Yesterday I went out to see wild horses that were still free after the horrible morning watching 167 get captured. It usually serves as a balm and helps combat the feelings of helplessness generated by watching large groups of wild horses that should never be captured rounded u with helicopters. But this time I knew that freedom was fleeting for these horses. I had heard that the BLM was going to round up horses the next day who were near the 191 highway in Salt Wells Creek because some horses had been killed on the highway and it was a hazard for public safety. We passed a game warden who told us that there was a big group at the top of the hill.

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Sure enough, once we wound our way up the hill we saw a large group of wild horses grazing behind a fence on a flat area. I parked and we walked out toward them. The horses were completely unconcerned by our approach.

Little black foal nursing

Little black foal nursing

Curly mare and foal

Curly mare and foal

Many foals were lying down napping, and I spotted a bald faced sorrel mare who had a tiny foal nursing. He or she looked to be less than a week old. I was concerned about the little one’s ability to run from the helicopter the next day and decided to let them know about this foal so they would hopefully look out for it. As we were watching I realized that many of these horses were Curlies, with curly coats and manes. Here is a link for information on them: www.curlyhorses.com

Maestro chasing off another stallion

Maestro chasing off another stallion

There was an impressive bay stallion with a very wavy curly mane and there was a gorgeous pinto stallion red and white, who really seemed to be the big boss, who I learned was named Maestro.    READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Losing the Beautiful Wild Horses of Salt Wells Creek

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

Losing the Beautiful Wild Horses of Salt Wells Creek

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

 A grey stallion at dawn

A grey stallion at dawn

His family

His family

Just after dawn we arrived at Bitter Creek Road, way down Highway 430 in Salt Wells Creek, Wyoming.  I was dreading this day when the helicopters would be taking most of the wild horses in this area, within sight of Kinney Rim.

We saw a small family right by the road as we were driving in, and it was sad to see how unafraid the horses were when we got out of our cars to photograph them.

The little family I knew leading the way

The little family I knew leading the way

On the way to the trap

On the way to the trap

We drove down the road to a gas pad with a view of the run into the trap and I set up my tripod and camera and lens and waited for the helicopters.  This was the closest we had been to the trap.  When we saw a line of horses in the distance, I watched as they got closer and I realized it was a huge group of horses.  As they came closer, it hit me.  This beautiful little family I had spent time with last week with an older Cremello mare, older grey stallion and beautiful palomino yearling were leading the way to the trap.  I had hoped that they would be among the lucky ones, and I despaired because those two older horses would not have a chance of being adopted especially if the stallion was sent to Axtell, Utah and the mare possibly sent to Bruneau, Idaho.  The BLM does not allow public visitation and adoption at their private facilities.

Another large group coming in

Another large group coming in

The palomino and cremello stallions rearing up to fight

The palomino and cremello stallions rearing up to fight

Running away

Running away

In the trap

In the trap

After this group came in soon afterward, an even larger group approached.  Then I saw a Cremello stallion  and a Palomino stallion touched noses then reared up, clearly unhappy to have their families close together.  I thought that they had much bigger problems, like the helicopter chasing them.   READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

The Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup in Wyoming Doesn’t Look Any Better at a Distance

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

The horses look like ants

The horses look like ants

The Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Doesn’t Look Any Better from a Distance

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Today we were placed 3 miles from the trap site above the Eversole Ranch in Salt Wells Creek. I could barely make out the little ant sized horses in the viewfinder despite my very long lens. I could only tell if the horses were dark or light colored, and make guesses about how many there were.

With the helicopter

With the helicopter

Going into the trap

Going into the trap

After a frustrating 3 hours trying to keep track of horses very far away, we were told that we had the option to go to temporary holding so we could see the horses that had been rounded up so far today before they were loaded up and trucked off to one of two long term holding facilities that would not allow visits from the public. Since we had not gotten any sort of useful view of the horses I jumped at the chance.

We had a far better view of the pronghorn antelope family

We had a far better view of the pronghorn antelope family

While we were waiting for the Cattoors to process the horses so we could be let in to see them, we watched an antelope family move to a puddle to drink.

The stallions

The stallions

Once we were allowed in to see the horses, we walked around looking first at the mares. All but one of the foals had been weaned and were separated from their mothers for the first time. One mare with a collar from the Adobe Town Radio collar study had been captured. I asked about the mares who had been captured last week with collars and was told they had been released back into Adobe Town.

The foals

The foals

More foals

More foals

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Rounding Up Wild Horses Will Break Your Heart if You See Them First When They Are Free

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

A wild family in Salt Wells Creek

A wild family in Salt Wells Creek

Rounding Up Wild Horses Will Break Your Heart if You See Them First When They Are Free

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Dust boils up from the running wild horses

Dust boils up from the running wild horses

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Running into the trap

Running into the trap

The first day I went to the Checkerboard Roundup this year we traveled a long way to get to the border of Colorado and Wyoming, and the BLM was rounding up wild horses just outside the Adobe Town Herd Area in Wyoming. We were allowed to climb up on a rocky hillside so that we could see the trap.

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Mare with radio collar and foal at her side

Mare with radio collar and foal at her side

In the Trap

In the Trap

We watched horses coming in from very far away, and we had group after group come in. In one group, where most of the horses had identical blazes, marking them as family, there was a mare with a radio collar!  I had been following the BLM when they traveled almost to the border in the deep snow to release this mare. She had strayed out of the area. At her side was a foal.As it turns out there was also another mare with a radio collar. I asked what the BLM was going to do with these mares. They seemed to think that they might release them, but in a different area, later. In fact, there was a new press release about the study, that two radio collars had failed to work, and three more were too loose, and so they dropped these 5 collars, and they needed more mares for the study. Conveniently, rounding up wild horses in Adobe Town allows the BLM an opportunity to put more collars on captured mares. Now there will be 30 wild mares wearing radio collars in Adobe Town. At least they will be released unlike the other mares, foals and stallions that will be captured in this area over the next couple of weeks. Radio Collar Study information:

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Please Comment to Protect Wyoming’s Wild Horses from the Devastating 2017 Checkerboard Roundup

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

Adobe Town Family

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Please Comment by April 4, 2017 on the Checkerboard 2017 Roundup

The BLM was unable to roundup wild horses from Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town and Great Divide Basin in 2016 because we won a lawsuit that prohibits the BLM from managing the wild horses in the Checkerboard using only Section 4 of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which allows them to remove wild horses from private lands.  Because the Checkerboard includes public lands, it is illegal to manage them as if they were privately owned by the ranchers demanding these roundups.  In order to legally roundup wild horses from the Checkerboard, the BLM must prove that the numbers are above Appropriate Management Level, or AML.  Now, they are not even conducting a census to prove this, instead they are “projecting” that the horses are over the high end of AML.

Roundups cause the destruction of hundreds of wild horse families, as well as injuries and death to the horses as they are chased by helicopters and flee in terror into traps.  These captured wild horses are chased into trailers and taken away from the only home they have ever had to end up spending the rest of their days languishing in holding corrals with no shelter.  Only a lucky few are adopted by members of the public and these do not always mean good homes – the return rate back to the BLM for adopted or purchased wild horses is over 50%.  Many many of these horses will end up at slaughter in Mexico.  There is no good reason to roundup and remove these horses from Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin.

I have been following and observing and photographing the wild horses in these three herd management areas for the last 13 years. These horses are uniquely suited to this sometime harsh high desert environment.  They are the last three largest herds in Wyoming, and they deserve to be preserved on our public lands.  Although the Checkerboard presents challenges to BLM management because of its pattern of public alternating with private lands, that is no reason to cave into petty demands from the Rock Springs Grazing Association, which is made up from less than 25 members.  These wild horses are valuable to us, the American public, and so every effort must be made to preserve them here where they were found at the time the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed.  These horses were here long before the Grazing Association, and now what needs to happen is land swaps to consolidate blocks of public land that the horses can continue to roam upon.  Managing the wild horses on the range, on our public lands where they can continue to roam free and making these necessary land swaps happen is what the BLM needs to be working on, not perpetuating this every 3 year pattern of roundup, removal, then warehouse our wild horses.  The Field Manager of the Rock Springs BLM Field Office has been quoted as saying: “For all intents and purposes, we consider the Checkerboard private.”  But it is NOT private.  In fact, over half of the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas are public land, that belongs to us, the citizens of the United States of America, not the Rock Springs Grazing Association.

Great Divide Basin Family

This time, the BLM wants to remove 1029 wild horses: 584 removed from Salt Wells Creek, 210 removed from Adobe Town, and 235 removed from Great Divide Basin.

They are not even calculating their numbers from an actual aerial census – they are making these numbers up.  Every year, the BLM conducts and aerial census in late April, but now they are just “projecting” the numbers.

Read the rest of this article and find out how YOU can comment HERE.

Judge tells BLM that horse roundup plan needs more review

Wyoming Wild Horses at Rick ~ photo courtesy of Carol Walker

Good going on this one, Friends of Animals.

Source:  Gillettenewsrecord.com

Horse roundup plan needs more review

CHEYENNE — A federal judge in Cheyenne has ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to re-evaluate plans for a wild horse roundup in central Wyoming.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal told the BLM on Monday to reconsider how the roundup would affect wild horses with traits inherited from horses used by Spanish explorers and settlers hundreds of years ago.

The BLM planned to round up more than 2,000 wild horses from an area one-third the size of Yellowstone National Park.  The agency says wild horses have overpopulated the area.

Read the rest of the article here.