Wild Horse Hater Ryan “Dinkie” Zinke refers to himself as a geologist: That’s a job he’s never held

Feel Good Sunday: Benny the Therapy Donkey visits UT Law School

as published on The Statesman.com

“Leave it to the women of Wild Horse Freedom Federation to lead the way and shout volumes for the voiceless wild horses and burros.  Be it Debbie Coffey and her massive research and legal eagle stuff, Carol Walker out in the field documenting the beauty that is our wild equines, Terry Fitch behind the scenes keeping the books straight and donors informed to this week with our Director of Legal Affairs Dawn Reveley (also a law professor at the University of Texas) and our Director of Wild Burro Affairs, Marjorie Farabee…making news and ensuring that people, in this case law students, are getting the message.  Thanks to all of you for who you are and for what you do.  I am so privileged to call you my friends.” ~ R.T.


Click on Image to view video

Is the Government Destroying the American West Ecosystem by Favoring Cattle Over Wild Horses?

by as published on OneGreenPlanet.org

“Wild horses play a crucial role in keeping the ecosystem of the west balanced…”

Welfare Cattle herded into Antelope Complex as wild horses are being rounded up ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Imagine walking through a trail alongside the golden grasses of an open prairie in the Western United States when all of the sudden you are stopped frozen by the sound of a thunderous noise of hooves approaching from a distance. As you listen closely, you hear whinnying and soon, the herd is within your sight. With their power, grace, and majesty, horses can aesthetically make any landscape appear beautiful.

But horses also have a much greater purpose, as they help to physically maintain and benefit the health of prairie ecosystems. Millions of horses once roamed free in the Wild West. Unfortunately, by the time the first federal wild free-roaming horse protection law was enacted in 1959, the mustang population had already been drastically reduced. This law only prohibited hunting horses with the help of motor vehicles.

While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now the primary authority that manages wild horse populations. However, the BLM favors cattle interests over that of the wild horse which has lead to the steady decline of the wild horse population. Wild horses play a crucial role in keeping the ecosystem of the west balanced.

Managing Horse Populations to Benefit Cattle

In certain locations, natural horse predators, such as wolves, are now scarce and as a result, the BLM is “concerned” with regulating horse populations to avoid competition with land for domestic cattle. To manage the horses, the bureau issues roundups of wild horses to transfer them to a captive lifestyle. Their methods are often considered inhumane. For example, in 2014, the BLM poorly planned a roundup of approximately 800 horses from private and public lands. Ten died in the process, including four foals and the horses all experienced immense stress and discomfort (not to mention they lost one of the most valued ideals of America – freedom). Approximately 270,000 horses have been removed from U.S. land since 1971.

Furthermore, supply has exceeded demand for selling captured horses for an adoption fee of $125 and most horses end up at auction where they can be purchased for any use the buyer the wishes … sadly most of the time this means they are sold to slaughter for meat.

In order to validate their actions, the BLM has claimed that horses are overpopulating, while destroying critical habitat. Where is this evidence? Nobody knows … We do, however, have ecological evidence of how horses benefit their environment.

Horses Versus Cattle: Benefits of Horses for the Environment

While the BLM is concerned with avoiding grazing competition between wild horses and domestic cattle, there seems to be lack of attention toward addressing the impacts cattle are having on the environment. The ratio of cattle to wild horses on public lands is fifty to one. Wild horses are critical architects of the western ecosystem, so rather than wasting tax dollars funding roundups, if the BLM is really concerned with protecting public lands they should instead focus on protecting horses.

To illustrate the benefits of the presence of the wild horse, let’s look at comparison to how horses affect their ecosystem versus cattle.

1. Maintaining Grass 

While cattle do not have upper teeth and use their tongues to wrap around grass to pull it from the roots, horses only graze the tops of grass blades, allowing grasses to regrow in a healthier state.

2. Improving Soil Quality

Unlike cattle, horses are not ruminants and therefore, do not have four sections of their stomach. This means that their waste contains more nutrients. When horses defecate, they give back to the land through enhancing soil quality. Cattle operations often cause water pollution due to waste containing hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, ammonia, and pathogens. Many animals depend on horse manure to help maintain soil moisture to prevent brush fires.

3. Use of Water Resources

While cattle enjoy chilling out by water sources, horses are respectful of their ecosystem. Instead of causing erosion and scaring away species diversity (like cattle do), horses tend to drink and move on, leaving minimal impact on stream habitats.

4. Grazing Habits

Since horses are travelers and cattle prefer to just hang out, horses do not exhaust grazing areas like cattle do. Horses are also picky about what they eat and avoid consuming pretty flowers, allowing wild flowers to survive. If a horse consumes seeds, they can still germinate after being passed and thus, horses act as important sources of dispersal for plant species.

5. Lending a Hand to Other Species

In cold climates, many animals will follow the path of horses in order to find access to food and water. The powerful hooves of a horse have the ability to break through ice, making streams once again potable for other animals. Furthermore, horses can make their way to grasses through deep snow, allowing other animals to also graze where horses have been.

Grazing cattle, on the other hand, pose a threat to 14 percent of endangered animal species and 33 percent of plant species as they encroach further into their territory.

Stop Roundups to Save Horses

Cattle are given priority over land because ranchers pay a tax to the BLM for every head of cattle they graze on public lands. The myth that the wild horse poses too much competition to cattle is a simple lie used to justify their systematic removal. It would not be far off to say that cows have become an invasive species in the West, leading to the downfall of keystone species who help to keep the native ecosystem healthy.

Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

as published on KUER.org

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory…”

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke‘s repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.

Say there’s a spring with lots of rain and the grass is long and lush into June. A rancher might want to let his cows graze on those lands longer than in a dry year. Right now, the rancher probably can’t do that. But in test projects in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado that’s changing.

“We get so tied up in rigid format and regulation, that we just couldn’t respond like we needed to,” said Ken Crane, a field manager with the BLM in Burley, Idaho. “It would frustrate everybody.”

Crane says flexibility is especially important after wildfires, when cows may need to be moved around.

But some environmental groups are skeptical.

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory,” said Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project.

The BLM is working with 11 ranchers across the West to pilot the program.

http://kuer.org/post/ranchers-get-more-grazing-flexibility-new-program#stream/0

Update: A Special Pray for Easter to my Friends

by Marjorie Farabee of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Re-post from 2016

“Fellow equine advocates, I received this note, below, from Marjorie yesterday and wanted to share it as it is so very timely in so many ways.  But being that it was personal I sought out Marjorie’s approval and just received said thumbs up, today.  With all of the evil that stalks not only our wild equines but we Americans, even our faiths, worldwide this message is just as potent today as it was yesterday.  Thank you Marjorie and bless you for “keeping the faith”. ~ R.T.


palm-sundayToday of all days, I am struck by the hypocrisy of people who want the wild burros gone from their rightful lands. On this day, Christ’s resurrection, I am reminded of the humbleness of the donkey, and his designation in the Bible as the animal that represents peace. On this day, I think of the Bible stories that tell of the many roles played by the humble, peaceful donkey in Christ’s life and times. Throughout the Bible and also other religious texts, the donkey plays a major role. In the desert there could be no greater partner than the donkey who can survive four days without water and acted as a water diviner when allowed to follow their instincts. The donkeys carried goods and people great distances while needing little to survive. Even now, scientists are tracking donkey fossils to determine the spread of human civilization around the globe for they were always the chosen beast of burden carrying goods afar in trade.

Yes, we owe much to the donkey. Yet, the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly. On the day Jesus was born a small donkey stood vigilant over the cradle of Jesus, and Balaam was warned by a donkey given speech to not betray the Jews. Then, on Palm Sunday the donkey rode into Jerusalem with Jesus aboard in a semblance of peace and servitude. Yet, now, everyday we read of violent acts committed against this kind animal. Jesus and God loved the donkey, yet today the wild donkeys are violently treated by hunters and game managers who call them pests and vermin. These same people would most likely identify themselves as Christian without seeing the hypocrisy of their actions toward their own religion as they ask to remove donkeys by whatever means possible. They ask to issue hunting permits, and issue roundup orders. They ask to send these sublime animals given as a gift to all of us, to slaughter. It hurts my heart.

On this day of resurrection my hope is that the donkey will rise again as a creature who is appreciated and understood in the way that he is by God. I pray that the humble donkey will at last find his way to represent to the world what is good in all of us. At long last, my hope is for a resurrection of the altruistic side of humankind and hope that the greedy can find it in their hearts to provide a small parcel of the planet where the sweet donkeys can be safe with their families, wild and unharassed by violence. I think that on this day of resurrection, Jesus looks down on his kingdom and weeps for the donkey he so loves being harmed by humans he gave his life to save. There is a real sadness to his tears for all of us. ~ Marjorie Farabee

Marjorie Farabee

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Director of Wild Burro Affairs
Equine Manager Todd Mission Ranch
9977 County Road 302 
Plantersville, TX 77363

We Bought the Ponies Some Time, So Whats Next?

OpEd by Susan Wagner, President of Equine Advocates

“It’s not over until it is OVER!”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Now that the new spending bill has passed with the language we needed to temporarily protect America’s wild and domestic equines, where do we go from here?

Thanks to the friends horses have on The Hill, especially our champion, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico who led the charge to protect them, as well as the passion and persistence of so many of you who took the time to call and send faxes to your lawmakers, the status quo, at least for now, has been maintained.

a. Horse meat inspectors will remain defunded so that horse slaughterhouses cannot open and operate in this country.

b. Wild horses and burros will not lose the minimal amount of protection they still have so that the ones being held captive in BLM holding facilities will not be executed and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will not be able to authorize their sale “without limitation,” which means slaughter.

That was all good.

However, in order to move forward, we need:

1. A Federal Ban on Horse Slaughter with Strong Language for Enforcement and Stiff Penalties.

– It is doubtful that a stand-alone animal bill will ever pass this Congress. In fact, the closest this country ever came to passing a federal bill banning horse slaughter was in 2006 with the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act which passed in the House but was blocked in the Senate. The good that did result from that bill even though it did not become law, was the addition of language defunding horse meat inspectors to our federal spending bills as a way to prevent horse slaughterhouses from reopening here. That language does not prevent live equines from being shipped over our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter, but at least the numbers of horse going over are down to an estimated 100,000 annually. That’s still way too many, but if slaughter plants were to reopen here, those numbers would balloon to 250,000-350,000 a year because indiscriminate and over-breeding would explode, just as was the case in the 1980’s and 1990’s when horse slaughterhouses still operated here. The last one closed its doors in 2007 and at least the defund language has kept horse slaughter from returning to U.S. soil. When President Obama was still in office, several attempts were made to attach language banning horse slaughter to other federal bills, but none got to the floor for a vote. We hope that powerful lawmakers who care will try that again. Otherwise we will be right back to where we were all over again fighting to add language to defund horse meat inspectors to the next federal spending bill and have to repeat this process all over again and hope it doesn’t go the other way.

2. A Complete Change in the Current Policy for Wild Horses and Burros With a Return to the Provisions Passed in the “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burrs Act of 1971.”

– Wild horse and burro issues are at a standstill and there is no hope for any real progress unless we have an interior Secretary who is interested in working to protect and preserve them. Clearly, Ryan Zinke is not. In fact, he is driving them to extinction, as has been the case with several of his predecessors. What we need is an end to the round-ups, an end to deliberately destroying the viability of the herds by stockpiling more and more captured animals in BLM holding facilities. The ones still in captivity need to be returned to the range. Right now, unless we have allies on our side who control money – meaning that they have the attention of lawmakers because they are powerful and part of business and industry equal to those on the other side in ranching, (the Cattlemen) and fossil fuels, hunting interests, etc., we will get nowhere. What we do have is 80% of the American People who are in favor of protecting and preserving these animals, but the different proposed plans by which to achieve that goal never seem gain any traction, especially when “welfare ranchers” believe they are entitled to use, ruin and deplete the range lands for their own greed and profit. These are not small family ranchers. No, these are the big, factory industrialized businesses that deal with millions of head of cattle and do not care if our wild horses and burros are destroyed, along with other native species.

…So where do we go from here? Think about it.
There’s a lot of work to be done.

Wildlife Disservice

Story by the Humane Society

“The USDA Wildlife Services’ inefficient and inhumane wildlife damage management program…”

Wildlife Services, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has waged war on our nation’s wildlife for more than a century. From 2004 to 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available), Wildlife Services killed nearly 34 million bears, bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, wolves and many other wild animals in the name of protecting crops, farm animals, private property and even other species such as rare birds and prey species favored by hunters. Unintended targets—even endangered species and pets—are also killed

Inhumane lethal control

Wildlife Services’ killing methods include shooting from helicopters and airplanes, trapping and snaring, poisoning and denning (killing pups in or at their dens). M-44s are spring-loaded devices that propel sodium cyanide pellets into an animal’s mouth when she tugs the baited device. When the pellet mixes with moisture, it turns into deadly hydrogen cyanide gas that causes asphyxiation, usually within two minutes.

Coyotes ingest another lethal poison, Compound 1080, from special collars placed on sheep and goats. Death lasts five to 14 hours. Victims suffer convulsions and ultimately die from cardiac failure or respiratory arrest.

Lethal control should be a last resort, such as in cases where specific problem animals have been identified and cannot be deterred from killing farm animals. But Wildlife Services traditionally has shown a preference for killing even in situations where prevention and nonlethal measures could be effectively used. These include domestic guard animals, increased human husbandry, birthing in sheds or barns rather than outside and preventing animals from accessing sites of concern…Click (HERE) to read more.

http://m.humanesociety.org/issues/lethal_wildlife_management/facts/usda-wildlife-services-inefficient-and-inhumane.html

Feel Good Sunday: Video ~ Why We Live With Horses

“Warning: Ensure that you do NOT have a mouthful of liquid, or food, when you watch the antics of these equine comedians.  I am certain that anyone who is, or was,  a guardian of a horse or donkey will find several comical behaviors here that you have personally experienced with your four legged children.  Smile, giggle and enjoy your day.  May God Bless all of you who give those who cannot speak a voice.  You are very, very spacial, indeed.” ~ R.T.


Ryan “Dinky” Zinke Wins 2017 Rubber Dodo Award

Press Release from The Center for Biological Diversity

“Dinky Zinke is a Dodo Dud!”

“Dinky” Zinke

TUCSON, Ariz.— Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the winner of the Center for Biological Diversity’s 2017 Rubber Dodo award. The statue is awarded each year to the person or group who has most aggressively sought to destroy America’s natural heritage or drive endangered species extinct.

“Ryan Zinke seems to wake up every day wondering how he can tear apart America’s public lands, ramp up oil and gas development and put endangered species on a fast track to extinction,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director.

Zinke and President Trump announced massive cuts to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. Days later his Interior Department opened bids for the largest oil lease-sale ever offered in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve — potentially turning over more than 10 million acres of prime wilderness and wildlife habitat to oil development.

Zinke’s Interior Department also proposed vastly ramping up offshore drilling in the Arctic, the Gulf of Mexico and along the West Coast and East Coast. If the plan is enacted, it could lead to more than 5,000 oil spills and contribute 49.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide pollution, the equivalent of the emissions from 10.6 billion cars driven for a year.

He overturned President Obama’s moratorium on federal coal leasing and wants to open three marine monuments to industrial commercial fishing: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic; Pacific Remote Islands; and Rose Atoll in the South Pacific.

Zinke’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this fall tried to roll back an Obama-era ban on trophy elephant imports from Zimbabwe; he has denied protections to species like the Pacific walrus.

“Zinke’s an extension of Trump’s greed, callousness and corporate cronyism,” Suckling said. “It’s hard to imagine anyone else who has done more this year to drive our environment straight into the ditch, along with the future of America’s wildlife and public lands.”

Zinke won the Rubber Dodo award after an online contest where tens of thousands of people were asked to choose between him, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Sonny Perdue, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Previous Rubber Dodo award winners include Rep. Rob Bishop (2016), Monsanto (2015), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (2014), the Koch brothers (2013), climate denier Senator James Inhofe (2012), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2011), former BP CEO Tony Hayward (2010), massive land speculator Michael Winer (2009), Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007).

Background on the Dodo
In 1598 Dutch sailors landing on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius discovered a flightless, 3-foot-tall, extraordinarily friendly bird. Its original scientific name was Didus ineptus. (Contemporary scientists use the less defamatory Raphus cucullatus.) To the rest of the world, it’s the dodo — possibly the most famous extinct species on Earth after the dinosaurs. It evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly, becoming a land-based consumer of fruits, nuts and berries. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of humans or the menagerie of animals accompanying them to Mauritius.

Its trusting nature led to its rapid extinction. By 1681 the dodo had vanished, hunted and outcompeted by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques and pigs. Humans logged its forest cover while pigs uprooted and ate much of the understory vegetation.

The origin of the name dodo is unclear. It likely came from the Dutch word dodoor, meaning “sluggard,” the Portuguese word doudo, meaning “fool” or “crazy,” or the Dutch word dodaars meaning “plump-arse” (that nation’s name for the little grebe).

The dodo’s reputation as a foolish, ungainly bird derives in part from its friendly naiveté and the very plump captives that were taken on tour across Europe. The animal’s reputation was cemented with the 1865 publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Based on skeleton reconstructions and the discovery of early drawings, scientists now believe that the dodo was a much sleeker animal than commonly portrayed. The rotund European exhibitions were likely produced by overfeeding captive birds.

Zinke Proclaims Sportsmen ‘Greatest Conservationists’ Before Signing Big Game Habitat Order

Written by Joseph Witham as published on The St George News

“…revising wild horse and burro-appropriate management levels or removing horses and burros from winter range or migration corridors if they degrade habitat…”

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan “Dinky” Zinke helps tag a mule deer near Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 9, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Interior Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — While in Utah Friday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke helped tag mule deer near Salt Lake City before appearing at a hunting expo to sign a secretarial order intended to improve big game habitat in the Western U.S.

While tagging the deer, Zinke said he noted that a recently developed neighborhood nearby likely supplanted habitat that would have previously supported a herd of 300 deer.

In recognition of the impact growing human populations in the West have on big game migration, Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3362, designed to improve habitat quality and Western winter range and migration corridors ​for antelope, elk and mule deer.

The order also calls for greater collaboration among federal management agencies, states, private landowners and scientists to develop guidelines to help ensure healthy big game populations.

Joined by Utah Division of Wildlife Director Mike Fowlks and Mule Deer Foundation President Miles Moretti, Zinke signed the order before a gathered crowd at the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City.

At the conference, Zinke said management plans like the ones in the order are made possible from the billions in revenue generated by hunters and fishers buying tackle, ammunition and other gear.

“There is no greater conservationist than our sportsman,” he said.

“American hunters are the backbone of big game conservation efforts,” Zinke said, “and now working with state and private landowners, the department will leverage its land management and scientific expertise to both study the migration habits of wildlife as well as identify ways to improve the habitat.”

Zinke said a collaborative approach is necessary to implement the habitat protection and improvement goals of the order, given the migration patterns of big game species that cross over thousands of miles on all types of land.

In Southern Utah, mule deer travel up to 110 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park into the Arizona strip area. They cross state, private, tribal, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service land. Part of the order’s goal is to address challenges encountered along the pathways of these migratory routes.

Specifically, the order proposes development of an action plan with the following goals:

  • Restoring degraded winter range and migration corridors by removing encroaching trees from sagebrush ecosystems, rehabilitating areas damaged by fire and treating invasive vegetation.
  • Revising wild horse and burro-appropriate management levels or removing horses and burros from winter range or migration corridors if they degrade habitat.
  • Working with private landowners and state highway departments to achieve permissive fencing measures, including working with ranchers to modify fencing.
  • Avoiding or minimizing development in the most crucial winter range or migration corridors during sensitive seasons.
  • Working with states on sagebrush restoration.

The order prioritizes public land management in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming​.​

“I’m not an advocate for ever selling or transferring public lands, but I am an advocate for management,” Zinke said, adding that the order emphasizes input from individual states.

The Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group, acknowledged that it’s important to plan for wildlife migration but noted that Zinke has inflicted major damage to lands by supporting the oil industry and recommending reductions to national monuments, the Associated Press reported.

“We won’t allow the secretary and his staff to greenwash this abysmal record with meager policy crumbs,” group Deputy Director Greg Zimmerman said in a statement.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, blasted the decision as nothing more than “bureaucratic window dressing” to cover up damage Zinke has done to the habitat.

“If Secretary Zinke were serious about increasing America’s wildlife populations, he would stand by Western governors’ protections for sagebrush country, restore public input on drilling decisions, and stand up for America’s national monuments and wildlife refuges instead of selling them out,” the organization said in a statement.

Zinke said environmental groups that criticize his monument recommendation are using “nefarious” and “false” claims. He said “every inch” of the lands stripped from the monuments are still protected under other designations.

Associated Press reporter Brady McCombs contributed to this report.

http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2018/02/09/jcw-zinke-proclaims-sportsmen-greatest-conservationists-before-signing-big-game-habitat-order/#.Wn59zIJG3OQ