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/

Wildlife Authorities Say Wild Horses Not Endangered: No Difference Between Wild And Domesticated Horses

By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times

“The Federal Trashing of Wild Equines Continues…”

Last year, two conservation groups filed a petition that calls to include the North American wild horse in the Endangered Species Act with the Friends of Animals and The Cloud Foundation arguing that over 40,000 of these wild horses are threatened to disappear on federal lands throughout 10 Western states.

The conservationists likewise argued that these mustangs are a distinct population with different physiological and behavioral characteristics from domesticated horses.

The petition says that the habitat of mustang has decreased by 40 percent since the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act was signed into law by then President Richard Nixon in 1971.

It argues what the Bureau of Land Management already rejected long ago that the wild horse is a native species for a temporary period of time then went extinct until Spanish explorers reintroduced the species to North America in 1500s.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, rejected the proposal on Wednesday after finding that the petition did not present sufficient evidence to support that wild horses are a distinct population segment. In a new 90-day finding that refuses to study the matter any further, the agency concluded that in essence, a horse is a horse.

The wildlife authority said that while behaviors between wild and domesticated animals belonging to the same species may vary, the petition was found to lack in significant information that could show the North American wild horse may be distinct from other horse populations as a result of behavioral difference.

 BLM, which continues to stand that the wild horses are not native, said that these horses were descended from domestic horses that were brought by the European explorers and others that escaped or were released from captivity in modern times. Friends of Animals said that it was disappointed with the finding of the agency.

“These horses are different, they are treated different under the law, they behave differently and there’s some evidence they are genetically different,” said Friends of Animals lawyer Jennifer Barnes, who added that they plan to look for more details before they would decide if they should file an emended petition to slow down BLM’s roundups of mustangs.

Some organizations such as the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and the Public Lands Council, however, were not amenable to listing the wild horses under the Endangered Species act.

Study: Livestock Grazing on Public Lands Cost Taxpayers $1 Billion Over Past Decade

Information supplied by The Center for Biological Diversity

BLM’s Welfare Ranching Bedfellows come with a huge price tag…

WASHINGTON— A new analysis  finds U.S. taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on a program that allows cows and sheep to graze on public land. Last year alone taxpayers lost $125 million in grazing subsidies on federal land. Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average rather than operate at a staggering loss, the analysis finds.

Click Image to Download Full Report

Click Image to Download Full Report

The study, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, comes as the Obama administration prepares Friday to announce grazing fees for the upcoming year on 229 million acres of publicly owned land, most of it in the West. The report was prepared by economists on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Public lands grazing has been a billion-dollar boondoggle over the past decade and hasn’t come close to paying for itself,” said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Livestock owners pay less to graze their animals on publically owned land in 2014 than they did in 1981. Today the monthly cost of allowing a cow and calf to graze on federal lands is about the equivalent of a can of dog food. This damaging and expensive grazing program has been broken for years and needs to be fixed. Taxpayers, and the land we all own, deserve better.”

The gap between federal grazing fees and non-irrigated private land rates has widened considerably, according to the study. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service grazing fees are $1.35 per month per animal unit (a cow and a calf), just 6.72 percent of what it would cost to graze livestock on private grazing lands. This is a marked decline from the federal fee being 23.79 percent of non-irrigated private rates when the federal fee first went into effect in 1981.

“The fees for grazing on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands needs to be seriously reevaluated,” said Christine Glaser, an economist with GreenFire Consulting and author of the report. “Over the past three decades the fee formula has clearly decoupled public grazing fees from the development of private, state and other federal agencies grazing fees. Bottom line, this formula shields public lands ranchers from grazing rate increases that every other livestock operator has to live with.”

There are about 800,000 livestock operators and cattle producers in the United States. Of those, fewer than 21,000 — or 2.7 percent of the nation’s total livestock operators — benefit from the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in the West.

“The Public Rangeland Improvement Act subsidizes a small segment of the livestock industry,” said the study’s co-author and former Interior Department economist Chuck Romaniello. “There needs to be a discussion as to what the appropriate level of that subsidy should be, including if there should be a subsidy at all.”

The federal subsidy of the grazing program goes beyond the direct costs and fees. There are vast indirect costs to grazing on federal lands, including the government killing of native carnivores perceived as threats to wildlife, wildfire suppression caused by invasive cheat grass facilitated by cattle grazing, and expenditure of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds from protecting other species threatened by livestock grazing. “The full cost of the federal grazing program is long overdue for a complete analysis,” the study said.

Biologists Criticize Science In BLM Plans To Help Sage Grouse

“Granted, this story is not about Wild Horses and Burros BUT it does speak to the BLM’s poor math, lack of science and inconstancy in properly managing any form of wildlife on our public lands.  It’s all the same and scientists are screaming at them to get their facts right, just as we have been doing for years.  Good read!” ~ R.T.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,”

Sage GrouseIn late 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered or threatened species.  In preparation for this decision, another federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management, is coordinating a set of plans aimed at protecting the bird and keeping it off the endangered species list.

A group of sage grouse scientists, however, say those plans lack sound science and fail to adequately protect the grouse.

In a Thursday conference call, Ken Rait, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Western Lands Initiative, said that wildlife biologists believe “there is significant discrepancy between science and the plans.”

In a June letter sent to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, a group of 15 wildlife scientists, 12 of them with doctoral degrees, outlined some of the problems they saw with the draft plans. (Final versions will be released in early 2015, so the BLM may still revise them.)

One problem with the plans, the scientists said, is that they lack consistency, “essentially creating 15 different management approaches to sage-grouse conservation within and across state boundaries.”

While some variations are necessary due to regional differences, the variability in the plans is not based in science, the biologists said. For example, one plan may require a certain buffer distances for oil and gas activity or surface disturbance from a priority conservation area or sage grouse breeding ground, and another plan would have a different requirement.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,” said Terry Riley, a wildlife biologist and director of conservation policy at the North American Grouse Partnership.

The other criticism the scientists laid out is that the conservation measures the BLM recommends are not supported by the best available science.

Matt Holloran, a principal and senior ecologist with Wyoming Wildlife Consultants, also criticized the BLM draft plans for failing to come up with a coordinated effort to manage invasive species like cheatgrass and medusahead, which, after wildfire, come in and take over important sagebrush habitat. In fact, in some of the plans, burning sagebrush was considered as a tool in wildlife managers toolboxes, which Holloran said was a bad idea.

“The science is pretty conclusive that fire should not be considered a management option,” he said…(CONTINUED)

Update: Sale of wild horses from Nevada wildlife refuge moves ahead

Source: by Scott Sonner as published at RGJ.com

““There’s simply no evidence any horses have gone to slaughter,”

by Terry FitchThe U.S. government can proceed with plans to sell more than 400 mustangs gathered at a national wildlife refuge to a private contractor that critics say has a history of reselling them for slaughter, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du refused to grant an emergency order blocking the sale because she said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tightened restrictions on the Mississippi contractor, which has been unable to account for the current whereabouts of more than half of the 262 horses it has purchased from the agency since 2010.

However, Du said she’ll give horse advocates another chance next week to prove why the horses from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge on the Nevada-Oregon line are of historical and cultural significance and deserve the same protection as those managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

She also set a hearing for Oct. 10 for advocates to argue why they think their First Amendment rights have been violated by restrictions the Fish and Wildlife Service has placed on public access to the holding facility where the animals have been stored since being rounded up earlier this month.

Du said advocates can file a new brief Monday, but she won’t in the meantime prevent the agency from moving forward with next week’s planned shipment of horses to contractors, including J&S Associates of Pelahatchie, Miss.

“The government can start that process,” Du said, adding that she believes agency officials have screened potential adopters and “have made reasonable efforts to prevent horses from going to slaughter.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a formal investigation of J&S Associates last year based on a complaint from one of the plaintiffs in the current case, California horse advocate Bonnie Kohleriter. But officials said the agency could not document any evidence horses were knowingly transferred to others for slaughter.

“There’s simply no evidence any horses have gone to slaughter,” Justice Department lawyer Travis Annatoyn told Du on Friday…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story at RGJ

Feds and Contractor Caught Conducting Covert Wild Horse Stampede

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch

Advocates Catch Feds and Dave Cattoor with their Pants Down

USFWS&BLM/Cattors covertly loading and shipping wild horses from Sheldon ~ Photo by Katie Fite

While law makers and the American public had their eyes concentrated on the much contested Silver King round up in Nevada the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) along with helicopter contractor David Cattoor where conducting an unpublished and unannounced secret wild horse gather at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (Sheldon).

Plaintiff in several suits against the BLM for lack of transparency and violation of First Amendment Rights, Laura Leigh , was tipped off that there was illicit activity taking place at Sheldon as many roads were closed due to a “wild horse gather”.

On September 22, 2010 Ms. Leigh discussed this situation with wild horse advocate Leslie Peeples, who was already on the road to visit another wild horse herd, and Ms. Peeples immediately changed plans and headed to Sheldon to investigate as no such “gather” was indicated in any public records.

On the morning of Sept. 23, 2010 Ms. Peeples phoned the Lakeview office of the USFWS and when asked if a wild horse gather was being conducted she was told, “yes”.

Cattoor Truck at Sheldon ~ Photo by Leslie Peeples

Ms. Peeples headed out to Sheldon on back roads when she encountered an oncoming semi-truck with a livestock trailer being towed behind it at a reasonable speed.  Ms. Peeples intended to ask the driver where the stampede was taking place so she pulled her car over to the side of the road and stepped out into her lane of traffic to flag the driver down for information.  Upon seeing this, according to filed court documents, the truck driver aimed for the center of the road, speeded up and missed running over Ms. Peoples by only inches.

“It is my opinion based on clear observations at the time that, had I not moved out of the way, the truck would have hit me,”  stated Ms. Peeples, “As it turns out, the truck which passed by me was loaded with, what I am informed and believe to be wild horses from the Sheldon gather.”

Same Truck at Twin Peaks ~ Photo by Terry Fitch

Photos verify that said truck was owned by BLM helicopter stampede contractor, David Cattoor.  One photo was taken by Ms. Peeples at Sheldon and the other by Terry Fitch at Twin Peaks.  They both match.

Subsequently, upon heading further up the road, Ms. Peeples was barred access to public lands and told that the stampede was not published because “We like to keep things low and quiet”.  Likewise when Ms. Peeples inquired about viewing the horses at the holding facility she was told that it was on private land and that she would not be allowed.

Upon departing Sheldon and with the resumption of cell service Ms. Peeples did make contact with the USFWS Lakeview Regional Office (Lakeview Office) and spoke with a Mr. Paul Steblien who confirmed that a wild horse roundup was taking place and that 400 horses would be stampeded.  Further information relayed by Mr. Steblien indicated that the horses would be transferred to the Dufferina Refuge Headquarters and that 250 of the captured horses would forever lose their freedom while 150 would be “vasectomized” and “ovarectomized” and returned to the refuge.  Mr. Steblien did agree to escort Ms. Peeples into the gather area the following day.

Ms. Peeples then headed to the Dufferina Headquarters to further search for information regarding this secret stampede.  Unfortunately no one was available at the office so she continued down the road to locate a place to take her dog for a walk.

Horse Bones near subversive burying pit near roundup wild horse holding facility ~ Photo by Leslie Peeples

Once outside of her car she began to notice skeletal horse remains scattered on the ground, as she began to investigate and walk further away from the road the bones became more numerous  until she came upon a freshly dug pit.  Nearby was what appeared to be another pit that was freshly covered with numerous bones scattered throughout the area.

“There were horse bones scattered everywhere. I photographed what I observed…”, Peeples said.

As she headed back to her car she heard horses whinnying.  She walked towards the direction of the calls and discovered a holding facility with approximately 250 horses confined.  There was no signage indicating area restrictions.  Likewise, she witnessed parked in the area what she believed was the same truck that tried to run her over, earlier.  There were no humans at the facility.

Chopper violating FAA Safety Regulations ~ Photo by Leslie Peeples

While walking back up the hill towards her car she could hear the roar of helicopter blades which as she proceeded and crested the hill she observed the helicopter hovering just a few dozen feet above the roof of her car.  Once her physical presence was reveled the chopper pilot aggressively turned the aircraft in her direction and hovered directly over her with little more than 30 feet of safe clearance.

“At this point the helicopter was so close I could see the pilot’s face and his facial features appeared angry”, said Peeples.

As the unsettled Ms. Peeples attempted to make her way to the car the aircraft continued his aggressive actions and orbited around her at an estimated distance of only 60 feet.  Even while in the car and attempting to drive away the chopper continued to harass her until she stopped and shot another picture which, then, caused the aircraft to depart the area.

Relentless helicopter attack againest taxpaying U.S. Citzen ~ Photo by Leslie Peeples

Ms. Peeples pulled over to gather her composure and exited her vehicle for some fresh air only to have the chopper return, again, to harass her.  Once more the camera proved to be an effective weapon in deterring the marauding helicopter.

The level of harassment did not let up as soon Ms. Peeples was accosted by a USFWS Ranger and the following day her “escort” was canceled due to her unexpected presence on public land the day before.

Ms. Peeples has and will submit to the court her video and photographic documentation of the events laid out in this brief article.

 

Bio-Diversity Group Sues BLM to Stop Controversial Ruby Pipeline

by R.T. Fitch

Suit Too Late for the Calico Wild Horses

HOUSTON (SFTHH) – The controversial $3 billion gas pipeline from Wyoming to Oregon faces yet another law suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity on Friday.  Once cited for the reason the BLM zeroed out a herd of almost 2,000 wild horses, with the death toll still ticking beyond 150 killed horses, the new suit alleges that the pipeline will cut across pristine land and harm endangered fish.

Two other environmental groups, Oregon Natural Desert Foundation and Western Watersheds Project recently abandoned their standing suits in favor of accepting $20 million from the pipeline owner, El Paso Corp.

The new suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco against both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species coordinator for the group stated;

“The Ruby Pipeline will cross more than 1,000 rivers and streams, harming species such as the Lahontan cutthroat trout, Warner Creek sucker, Lost River sucker and Colorado pike minnow.   More broadly, we don’t understand why they had to choose to put a new pipeline through some of the most pristine lands in the West,” he said. “Why couldn’t they use an existing pipeline route?”

Greenwald continued to add that if the constructions begin the Center for Biological Diversity is prepared to seek an injunction to stop the work until the issues stated are addressed.

The BLM project manager, Mark Mackiewicz said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had issued a notice to proceed on Friday, the same day that the suit was filed.

“I imagine by Monday you’ll have hundreds of people out there starting to work on this,” he said.

He said the BLM and Ruby Pipeline LLC, a subsidiary of El Paso Corp., worked hard to address environmental concerns.  Various sources indicate that  El Paso spokesman Richard Wheatley declined to comment.

The Ruby Pipeline will begin at Opal in western Wyoming and cross northern Utah and Nevada before ending at Malin, Ore., near the California state line. Work on the project would begin at seven locations along the pipeline route, simultaneously.

The 42-inch-diameter pipeline will be among North America’s largest, approaching the size of the 48-inch, 800-mile-long Trans Alaska oil pipeline.

Prior documentation indicates that El Paso expects that the Ruby Pipeline will become operational in March of 2011

The Legal Voice of the Amercian Equine

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Breaking News: Wild Horse Advocate Requests FBI Investigation

Press Release from the Cloud Foundation

Artist Laura Leigh with the captured Calico Horses - Photo by Elyse Gardner

Reno, NV (June 21, 2010)—Cindy MacDonald, research expert and American Herds blogger has filed a request for investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this afternoon to prevent the transport, adoption, and/or sale of non-excess Calico wild horses currently being held in BLM processing facilities. MacDonald is requesting an investigation into the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for attempting to dispose of the Calico wild horses prior to confirming that the recent removal operations left approximately 600-900 wild horses on the range as required by law.

From December 28, 2009 to February 7, 2010, BLM reported they removed 1922 wild horses from the Calico Complex in NW Nevada during the fatal winter roundup.

MacDonald contends that, “the BLM may have removed far too many Calico horses in a massive roundup last winter and failed to return, by BLM definition, ‘non-excess’ horses.” The BLM is required to leave at least 572 wild horses on the Calico range, the low level of their arbitrarily set “appropriate management level” (AML). Only horses above that level can be considered excess. Returning the horses would save at least $3 million dollars over the next ten years alone.

Early this month, wildlife ecologist Craig Downer carried out a flyover of the Calico Complex in a fixed-wing aircraft. Downer was able to find only 31 wild horses but noted 350 privately-owned cattle grazing on the Herd Management Areas (HMAs). Downer noted that “there was a reasonable spring green-up of the landscape and the open treeless character of the terrain permitted a high degree of horse detection”. An additional ground survey by Robert Bauer resulted in finding only 9 mustangs in Nevada’s Calico Complex region.

“Two recent independent observers report the Calico herds are gone,” states MacDonald, adding “there’s a vast difference between less than 50 and 600-900 wild horses. The public needs to be sure the BLM followed the law before those horses are shipped out.”

MacDonald points out that BLM is plagued with failures to properly count free-roaming wild horses and burros even though the agency attempts to develop new protocol to remedy these errors.

“While the BLM’s numbers rarely add up, the Calico fiasco is an extreme example of this from start to finish,” states MacDonald.

Responding to public comments during last Monday’s BLM Denver workshop, the BLM announced Friday they will partner with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an aerial census of NW Nevada and SE Oregon. The BLM refuses to bring along The Cloud Foundation’s ‘Herd-Watch’ project director, Laura Leigh, on their census flights—continuing to demonstrate their closed-door protocol. The Foundation supports transparency and wants advocates involved in counting horses.

The BLM’s policy for massive removals through roundups, followed with stockpiling mustangs in government-contracted holding pens and mid-east pastures is not sustainable and is costing American taxpayers some $40 million per year.

“In this day and age of government budget crises, to waste the lives of these mustangs at a cost of millions of dollars to the American taxpayers is unconscionable,” statesGinger Kathrens, Director of The Cloud Foundation and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. “We call on BLM to show an act of good faith. We ask they put an immediate moratorium on all roundups is until we can partner together to sort this all out.”

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BLM to Conduct Clandestine Wild Horse Population Survey

“The News as We See It” by R.T. Fitch ~ author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

If you want accurate numbers “Who Ya Gonna Call?” the BLM?  NOT!

Areas where alleged survey is to be conducted

The Bureau of Land Management reports that they will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to conduct an aerial population survey of native wild horses on nearly four million acres of public land located in northwest Nevada and southeast Oregon.

The survey is slated to begin on June 20 and will last up to eight days, using a fixed-wing aircraft versus the deadly helicopters that the BLM is known for.

The alleged goal of the project is a late effort to improve the quality and accuracy of wild horse population counts, this comes on the heels of the botched and mismanaged Calico complex round up where the BLM captured over 2,000+ horses, many dying in the process, and claimed to have left 600 on the range.  To date, observers have visualized less than 50 horses remaining while hundreds of privately owned cattle were observed destroying the public land.

“Past population surveys and management projects by BLM and the USFWS within the survey area have shown that animals may move between a number of BLM herd management areas and across the Sheldon and Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuges,” said BLM Nevada State Director Ron Wenker. “This joint effort will produce a base line count and distribution for the entire area as a whole. We are planning to return in the fall for a second survey, where we will see how and where the herds moved, and how that affects population counts within the individual areas.”

The flight will encompass herd management areas (HMAs) administered by the BLM Winnemucca District in Nevada; the BLM Lakeview and Burns District Offices in Oregon; the BLM Northern California District Office in California that manages some of the HMAs within Nevada, and the two wildlife refuges managed by USFWS.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which conducted research into improving BLM’s population counts, will assist with the population survey by modeling and analyzing the data collected on the flight and providing a population estimate with a supposed 95 percent confidence interval.  Accuracy will depend on the credentials, skill and honesty of the observer.

This survey methodology, called Simultaneous Double-Count with Sightability Bias Correction, uses two Federal employees to independently observe and record data on groups of individual horses.  There will be no independent or non-biased observers allowed due to “safety, risk and insurance reasons”.

The methodology incorporates peer-reviewed techniques that have been used for decades to estimate wildlife populations around the world but evidently the BLM has not thought to utilize this method until the news media noted their inability to count.

Although an accurate count of native wild horses needs to be taken it is doubtful that clean, accurate and honest numbers will be reported by the BLM.  Again, the alleged science and math will be massaged behind closed doors just as their operation and holding of the Calico herd is kept from public scrutiny.

If the BLM truly wished to show good faith, they would invite a trained, professional observer on this project and call an immediate halt to all round ups until an accurate census and management plan can be formulated.

But if things go as they always go with the BLM, a plane will fire up on an air field Sunday morning, two government employees with limited experience and knowledge will climb in and it will be a dark comedy of errors while they count rocks, cows, shrubs and shadows as wild horses.

At this rate, the horses will be gone in a year.

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Spin Doctors Hired for the Destruction of America’s Wild Horse and Burro Herds

Press Release from The Cloud Foundation

BLM uses MMS’s PR and Public Affairs agency to facilitate Salazar’s agenda at June 14th public workshop in Denver—protest on June 15th

R.T. Fitch, Elyse Gardner and Ginger Kathrens at Pryor Mt. Round-up

Denver, CO (June 14, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation has learned that the San Francisco based public relations and public affairs firm, Kearns and West, with ties to big energy and offices across the country, has been hired to push the Salazar Plan for Wild Horses and Burros through Congress in Fall 2010—despite public outrage. Kearns and West has expertise in crisis management as well as accomplishing policy and regulatory goals. Their clients range from Mineral Management Services (MMS) and PG&E to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Department of Interior (DOI) has enlisted the firm using the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (ECR) as the go between. Senior mediator of Kearns and West, J. Michael Harty will facilitate an unprecedented public workshop in Denver, Colorado at the Magnolia Hotel, 818 17th Street, on June 14th followed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Public Advisory Board Meeting on June 15th. Both days will be live-streamed and viewing available on www.thecloudfoundation.org. The public and members of Congress are encouraged to watch. The public will protest on June 15th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with a press conference at noon.

BLM’s recently announced and highly polished but unsubstantial, “Strategy Plan” as well as their association with PR firm Kearns and West, appears designed to manipulate the public and marginalize the opposition to the Salazar Plan for wild horses and burros. The plan calls for the purchase of Eastern and Midwestern “preserves” populated by sterilized wild horses, captured from their Western ranges.

“This is ALL about manipulating public opinion. And ramming ONE thing – Salazar’s Plan – through” states author R.T. Fitch.

The Kearns and West Salazar Plan Executive Summary states, ‘The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (‘Institute’) is assisting BLM in assessing stakeholder interests and developing an effective stakeholder engagement plan for the Strategy.’ Disturbingly, BLM often does not include the public as a stakeholder in their planning documents regarding the management of wild horses and burros.

“Who is the biggest stakeholder in the discussion of the public’s land and its wild horses if not the public?” asks Terri Farley, author of the Phantom Stallion series, adding “A public agency must represent the public and utilize taxpayer dollars responsibly—not spend excessively on another private contractor.”

According to their website, Kearns and West offers their clients (in this case the BLM) ‘A compelling credible, resonant case. True, high-impact support for your position.’ Advocates support a new direction that abandons the endless, expensive cycle of roundup, removal, and warehousing. BLM must adopt a far less expensive path that is kinder to the land and the wild horses legally living there, one that contains truly transparent solutions, not a slick, taxpayer-funded PR campaign.

“By hiring a high powered PR and Public Affairs firm, it seems that BLM is aiming to extinguish the opposition rather than solve the controversy over their management of our wild herds,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation. “The public by the thousands has shared their opposition to the Salazar Plan. I hope we can sit down at this public forum and seriously talk about a moratorium on roundups while we work to reinstate protections that are consistent with the intent of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act.

According to The Holmes Report, “Kearns & West recognizes the important value of collaborating both with our clients and their stakeholders. For more than 20 years, the firm has employed its unique brand of stakeholder-centric strategic communications and collaboration processes to design innovative, but pragmatic programs, achieving superior results for clients in the federal, state and local government, private and nonprofit sectors. Kearns & West works with tough issues and big ideas.”

Besides specializing in ‘accomplishing policy and regulatory goals’ Kearns and West also represents PG&E—a primary customer in the Ruby Pipeline natural gas project threatening public lands and five public herds with environmental devastation from Wyoming to Oregon. Kearns and West also represents Duke Energy, the Association of Western Governors and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, among others.

While Secretary Salazar vowed to restore the Interior Department’s ‘respect for scientific integrity’ he has failed to consider science, reason, or even the law when it comes to managing our wild herds. Kearns and West has been known to gather scientific experts and build a movement of common interest “stakeholders” to crush public outcry and true environmentalism. Wild horse advocates feel the Kearns and West prepared Salazar report for Congress will be biased in favor of big energy ties with DOI at the expense of federally protected wild horses who somehow are in the way of ‘The New Energy Frontier’.

“We hope Monday’s workshop will be a productive one rather than a demonstration of BLM’s inability to change,” concludes Kathrens.

Links of interest:

Interior Department Wild Horse Public Workshop, Livestream June 14, 8 a.m. -4 p.m. and Advisory Board Meeting June 15, 8 a.m. -5:00 p.m. http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/

Fact Sheet on Wild Herds & The Salazar Plan http://bit.ly/bfdX1y

Kearns and West http://bit.ly/deT894

CNN Report, Issues with Jane Valez-Mitchell, March 25th http://bit.ly/dvl7NE

Disappointment Valley… A Modern Day Western Trailer- excellent sample of interviews regarding the issues http://bit.ly/awFbwm

Rolling Stone: The Spill, The Scandal and the President. June 2010 http://bit.ly/d3Bjcm

Vanity Fair: A Solution to America’s Wild Horse Crisis? June 2010 http://bit.ly/a7Esyd

Wild Horses: Management or Stampede to Extinction? Reno Gazette Special http://bit.ly/stampede2ext

Ken Salazar’s “candy shop”: Denver Post Guest Commentary, June 2010 http://bit.ly/aNbLz9

‘Herd-Watch: Public Eyes for Public Horses’ http://bit.ly/9Wvh58

Roundup Schedule- updated May 2010 http://bit.ly/a0xcq7

Informative Blog: American Herds http://americanherds.blogspot.com/

Photos, video and interviews available from:

The Cloud Foundation  ~ makendra@thecloudfoundation.org

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 – 719-633-3842 www.thecloudfoundation.org

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