USDA’s Wildlife Services Sued Again: Enviro Orgs Ask Court to Halt Wildlife-Killing Program in Idaho

Story by Dan Zukowsk as published on EnviroNews.TV

“Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ‘ Welfare’ Ranchers…”

(EnviroNews Nature) — Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2017, aimed at stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from killing Idaho’s wild animals. The USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program killed more than 280,000 mammals and birds in Idaho during 2016. The animals axed include 3,860 coyotes and 72 gray wolves, along with cougars, black bears, feral dogs and more than 273,000 European starlings.

Plaintiffs in the suit include the Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) and Predator Defense. The suit alleges that the USDA has never prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Most people in Idaho would be shocked to learn how many animals Wildlife Services already kills in our state,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Senior Attorney at the Center. “Now this reckless agency wants to slaughter even more of our black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, ravens, and other wildlife using nightmarish methods like poisons and aerial gunning, without even studying the environmental consequences. Such a lackadaisical approach to wildlife management is not permitted by the law.”

Wildlife Services, an arm of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is described on the agency’s website as a program to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources and to reduce threats to human health and safety.” APHIS received $1.1 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2017.

Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ranchers. The program was the subject of a 2016 exposé in Harper’s Magazine. In a related interview with National Geographic, the author, Christopher Ketcham said, “Since its founding in 1885, Wildlife Services has served one purpose—to clean up the American West for the ranching industry, so they wouldn’t have to deal with predators or other animals they deemed pests.”

EnviroNews has previously reported that, nationwide, WS slaughtered 2.7 million wild animals in 2016. “Wildlife Services is stuck in the barbarism of the 19th century, before the full value of predators in ecosystems was understood,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.

The USDA’s obscure, century-old wildlife-killing program traps and poisons these great many animals. It swoops in to shoot them from the air using both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Both neck and foot snares are used — methods considered inhumane by many prominent animal rights advocates. It kills coyotes with controversial M-44 cyanide bombs.

In what might be called “collateral damage,” reports of pets being killed are not uncommon. In March, 2017, a cyanide bomb left by Wildlife Services in Pocatello, Idaho killed a dog and poisoned its owner, a 14-year old boy. Between 1985 and 1993, 21 people in Arizona were injured by M-44s. A Utah man was left permanently injured and unable to work after being poisoned by one of the dangerous devices.

“It isn’t just wildlife that is directly harmed by the killing programs,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, in the press release. “These lethal weapons pose a risk to recreational users of public lands, their pets and the ‘nontarget’ species that die by the hundreds every year.”..”CONTINUED

http://www.environews.tv/051217-usdas-wildlife-services-sued-enviro-orgs-ask-court-halt-wildlife-killing-idaho/

HOURS LEFT TO STOP CONGRESS FROM AUTHORIZING BACKDOOR KILLING OF WILD HORSES & BURROS

Source: American Wild Horse Campaign

Stallion of Antelope Valley HMA ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Over the weekend, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees restored language to the 2017 Omnibus spending bill that opens the back door to killing potentially thousands of wild horses and burros. The language amends the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act by stripping them of their federal protections and transferring them to state and local governments ostensibly for use as “work animals.”

With no limit to the numbers transferred and no definition of “work animal,” the language provides a vehicle for delivering thousands, and potentially tens of thousands of wild horses and burros, into the hands of government agencies that actively push for mass roundups and slaughter of these national icons. The Section 116 language can be found on page 804 of this link.

Congress did include prohibitions on commercial slaughter and some restrictions on “euthanasia,” signalling their intent to prevent the destruction of healthy wild horses and burros. However, the restrictions are not enforceable, there is no penalty for violating them, and the many ambiguities and loopholes leave the language open to abuse.  Especially troubling is a provision to allow the killing of “advanced age” animals, a term that is undefined and could result in the destruction of thousands of healthy middle- to older-aged horses and burros.

While defeating this language at this late stage is going to be difficult, the spending bill only funds the government for the next five months. So taking a strong stand now will set the stage for fixing this problem when Section 116 expires on September 30, 2017. 

What You Must Do NOW!

1. Please immediately call these numbers and voice your objections to the committees that approved this devastating last-minute addition to the spending bill. If you don’t reach them this afternoon, please try again in the morning!

** Please remember: the best way to help the horses is to be polite! **

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Chair, Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
DC office: (202) 224-6665
AK office: (907) 271-3735

Sen. Tom Udall, Ranking Member, Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
DC office:(202) 224-6621
NM office:(505) 346-6791

Rep. Ken Calvert, Chair, House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
DC office: (202) 225-1986
CA office: (951) 277-0042

Rep. Betty McCollum, Ranking Member, House Interior Appropriations Committee
DC office: (202) 225-6631
MN office: (651) 224-9191

Here’s what you need to say: I am very upset that Congress has included language in Section 116 of the Omnibus spending bill that will strip up to 50,000 wild horses and burros of federal protections that were passed unanimously by Congress and have been in place for nearly 50 years. Unfortunately, restrictions put in place to prevent the killing of healthy horses and burros are not sufficient to protect these animals, and thousands that currently enjoy federal protection could be killed, or worse, enter the slaughter pipeline.  I urge your office to remove this destructive language from the Omnibus, and if unable, then it must be removed when this spending bill expires later this year.”

Click (HERE) to help further by sending an email

https://act.americanwildhorsecampaign.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=24755

Drugging wild horses is not sound wildlife policy

The drug PZP can be administered by darts (pictured) or through a hand-delivered jab stick. (Photo by Phil Taylor, E & E Reporter)

Source: Elkodaily.com

Commentary by Michael Ray Harris  (Michael Ray Harris is the director of the Wildlife Law Program for the animal advocacy organization Friends of Animals. He is located in Colorado.)

There is a lot of talk going on regarding whether the fertility drug porcine zona pellucida (PZP) is a magic bullet to control what some believe is an overpopulation of wild horses in the West. Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign claim that PZP is a safe and effective way to “responsibly manage” the horses. As such there is a huge push to get state and federal wildlife officials to dart as many wild mares as possible with the drug this year.

The assertion that the use of PZP does not “harm” the horses is, however, scientifically questionable. While scientists associated with the Humane Society have researched the efficacy of the drug on controlling fertility, these pro-PZP researchers have ignored research on the negative effects the drug can cause the horse.

Independent research shows that PZP — which is derived from pig ovaries and is registered as a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency — can have lasting adverse effects on wild horses. According to Dr. Cassandra Nuñez, PZP is associated with ovulation failure and can alter the birthing cycle of wild horses, resulting in birth out of season where the foal can die for lack of available food.

Dr. Nuñez also found that PZP has significant consequences on social behavior of wild horses. Normally bands of wild horses are very stable, and mares will stay with males for much, if not all, of their lives. However, when mares have been treated with PZP and cannot get pregnant, they may leave their bands. This creates instability in the bands and effects the health of the group members. The instability caused by PZP causes increased mortality, and can cause the parasite load of animals in the group to go up because of increased stress.

Thus, the fundamental problem with PZP, from an animal activist’s perspective, is that the drug can deprive the horses of what the renowned American philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum has called “species-specific, basic capabilities:” life, bodily health, bodily integrity, play, sense/imagination/thought, emotion, affiliation, and control over one’s environment.

What is ignored by the pro-PZP community is that wild horses darted with PZP to inhibit their ability to naturally reproduce aren’t really, well, “wild” anymore. “Wild,” means “living in a state of nature” as opposed to being “tamed or domesticated” to be more useful to humans. Accordingly, opposition to PZP is based on an ethical belief that wild animals should be free of human manipulation.

Read the rest if this commentary HERE.

Read the EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet HERE.

Range Riders-a false solution for predator-livestock conflicts

By as published on Wildlife News

“…these conservation groups conveniently ignore and fail to inform their membership and media of the multiple ways that livestock production harms wildlife, and ecosystems, no doubt while receiving big donations for their silence. They are, thus, directly culpable for helping to continue the livestock hegemony and destruction of our public lands.”

Private Cattle being herded onto public land at Antelope AS wild horses are being stampeded away ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Tom Sawyer would be proud of the “progressive” livestock producers who “love” predators.  These ranchers are continuously held up as a “win-win demonstrations” by collaborating so-called conservation groups who promote these operations as examples of how wildlife and ranching can co-exist.

You know the names, in part, because there are so few of them around the West that the same operations are continuously written up in the media and promoted by conservation groups-Malpai Borderlands group in Arizona and New Mexico, Lava Lake Land and Livestock Company in Idaho, JBarL in Montana’s Centennial Valley, and the Tom Miner Association adjacent to Yellowstone National Park.

The problem is that all these feel-good examples have two problems.

One they are the exceptions, not the rule. In all cases, they are livestock operations owned by wealthy individuals or those who have some connection to wealth. As a result, they can implement management practices that cannot be scaled up across the landscape. The Malpai had the support of the late Drum Hadley, Anheuser-Busch beer heir. Lava Lakes is owned by Brian and Kathleen Bean, who live in San Francisco where Brian is an investment banker. The B Bar Ranch in Tom Miner Basin is owned by Mary Ann Mott of Mott Applesauce fame. And the JBarL is owned by Peggy Dulany, heir to the Rockefeller fortune.

The sad thing about all these ranching operations is that the owners are wealthy enough that they don’t need to run livestock at all—likely it is a tax write off.  Indeed, if they were truly interested in helping wildlife instead of promoting the cowboy myth, they would volunteer to retire their public lands grazing allotments and contribute their vast fortunes towards retiring other grazing allotments.

Some of their holdings are substantial—the Bean’s Lava Lakes ranching operation includes 24,000 acres of private lands and controls over 900,000 acres of public lands allotments. Imagine if they retired their grazing allotments instead of running vast herds of sheep on them.

Instead, these “progressive” ranching operations are fawned upon by conservation organizations and receive numerous accolades and promotions of their livestock products (higher priced “grass fed beef and/or lamb). This includes groups like NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Montana Audubon, and the Nature Conservancy, among others.

All the while these conservation groups conveniently ignore and fail to inform their membership and media of the multiple ways that livestock production harms wildlife, and ecosystems, no doubt while receiving big donations for their silence. They are, thus, directly culpable for helping to continue the livestock hegemony and destruction of our public lands.

It would analogous to the American Cancer Society promoting filtered cigarettes arguing that they were slightly healthier than unfiltered smokes, and failing to acknowledge that cigarette smoking was a major cause of cancer.

To give an example of this collusion between ranchers and so-called conservation groups, I recently received an email about a “Range Rider” program at the Anderson Ranch in Tom Miner Basin (link here https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=e8f5b5d8e3&view=att&th=15b71e2eda289a5f&attid=0.1&disp=safe&realattid=f_j1jblcbx0&zw).

For a mere $600 you can ride a horse around in the mountains, and for dinner eat grass fed beef of animals you helped to keep out of the mouth of a wolf or grizzly.

You will learn how to harass predators like grizzlies and wolves so the ranchers can continue to run livestock on our public lands with a minimum of losses from predators.

In addition, there is the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get knowing that, according to the ranch website, range riders help the ranch document predator losses so they can obtain more money from the state predator reimbursement program (again why do wealthy people need our tax dollars to maintain their ranching operations).

The people who fall for this gimmick no doubt believe they are saving predators. That is the message that supporting national organizations like NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife try to put forth.  Want to save wolves—come help harass public wildlife so that ranchers won’t kill them.

Unfortunately, the Anderson Ranch and supporting so called wildlife groups are perpetuating wildlife conflicts, not ultimately eliminating them.

Keep in mind that cattle and/or sheep grazing on public lands are consuming forage that would feed elk and other native wildlife which is the food base for native predators. Funny how TNC, GYC, DOW and NRDC and other groups never mention this as a cost of public lands livestock operations.

The mere presence of livestock socially displaces native wildlife like elk which avoid areas actively being grazed by domestic animals. And therefore, are pushed into less suitable habitat. Again, this harms the natural prey of predators like wolves and grizzlies. Again, no mention of this by the collaborating groups.

Nor do these so-called wildlife groups point out that you as a range rider are there to harass predators so someone’s private livestock (like the Anderson Ranch) can profit from public lands, while native predators like wolves and grizzlies are displaced from their natural habitat.

These groups also don’t mention the collateral damage from livestock. The spread of weeds. The soil compaction. The pollution of waterways from manure. The destruction of biocrusts. The spread of disease from domestic animals to wildlife. The trampling of riparian areas. The fences that block wildlife migration. The hay fields that require irrigation which drains our rivers and destroys aquatic ecosystems.

And I have yet to see any of these groups drawing the connection between livestock methane production and global warming.

Indeed, I would venture to bet that these so-called “wildlife friendly” ranch operations have these impacts—which overall are far worse for the ecological health of our public lands than the loss of an occasional wolf or bear—regrettable as that may be…(CONTINUED)

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2017/04/17/range-riders-a-false-solution-for-predator-livestock-conflicts/

The Bureau of Land Management is scrubbing their trail on the internet

After NBC News wrote about the Bureau of Land Management featuring a photo of a coal bed at the top of their website, the BLM changed it… to now feature this photo of an oil & gas pipeline.

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation                                                                    All Rights Reserved.          Copyright 2017

The Bureau of Land Management is scrubbing most of its links off of the internet, and in doing so, erasing much of its history from public view.

Many of the blm.gov links that are still remaining on the internet at this point say “page not found,” or the links are no longer cached.

The BLM also suddenly removed state and district websites.  Instead, you will now find “landing pages” that direct you to only one main Bureau of Land Management website.  (You can look at the new BLM website HERE.)

I called a BLM Public Affairs Specialist to ask some questions about the defunct websites and links.  This person said in the past there were about 90,000 pages (and then a bit later stated that it could possibly be only about 60,000 pages) of BLM content on the internet, but that all of these pages couldn’t be maintained or updated, and weren’t centralized.  This person said the BLM’s prior content management system was outdated.

Most importantly, this person also said there were now standards to reduce the amount (of pages/content).

Who made the decision to even have a standard to reduce content available to the public on the internet?  During this website transition, who is making the decisions, and on what basis, of what data to migrate, or not to migrate, to the new BLM website?  These decisions cherry pick what information will be available to the public in the future.

Make no mistake, this “reducing the amount” of content on the internet is erasing many of this agency’s past actions, activities, and government documentation.  Many of these links had historical value.  For example, the BLM activities of BLM employees Sally Spencer and Lili Thomas over the years are now gone.  These types of links on the internet didn’t need to be “maintained” or “updated.”  They were historical in nature.

In the past, in doing a google search for Sally Spencer (a longtime BLM employee, and the Marketing Specialist famous for selling so many wild horses and burros to kill buyer Tom Davis), she was included on many, many BLM government links.  I went to the BLM’s new website and searched “Sally Spencer,” and only 3 items appeared.  When I searched “Lili Thomas” (another longtime BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program employee who oversaw the BLM’s Long Term Holding facilities for wild horses for many years), only 4 items appeared.  And when I searched “John Neill” (a longtime Palomino Valley Center manager), all that came up was “No results found.”

These individuals are BLM personnel who have been central in management issues in the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program, as evidenced by FOIA documentation garnered by the late Dr. Patricia Haight of The Conquistador Program.

Even when I searched the new BLM website for “Dean Bolstad” (the Division Chief of the Wild Horse & Burro Program) only 2 items appeared.

(Although, luckily, thanks to In Defense of Animals, you can still go online and see this youtube video of Lili Thomas saying “working with wild horses is not a pretty sight” at a public meeting.)

What I can’t understand is, if the new content management system is bigger and better, why couldn’t the new content management system have contained all of the old data along with new data?  If this agency were truly transparent, they would add data, not reduce data, available to the public on the internet.

At first the Bureau of Land Management only removed the Directories for District offices and Field Offices, making it difficult, for example, to find out who was the Wild Horse & Burro Specialist, Hydrologist, Range Management Specialist or other personnel in any particular district or field office or to find an email address or telephone number for them.  BLM personnel frequently transfer to other offices and states, so it was already hard enough to try to keep up with who was where.  But now the public really doesn’t have a clue who is doing what or where.

You used to be able to go to the home pages of BLM state and district websites, and get a quick overview of not only roundup plans for wild horses & burros, but mining expansion plans, oil & gas lease sale plans, and other uses of our public lands in that area, all in one place.

Now, the BLM has divided these by topics or by “regions,” on their new website.   Under the “region” of Nevada (we call them states here in the U.S.A.), there isn’t a box for wild horses & burros (only oil and gas leasing, greater sage grouse, Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Information Access Center, Nevada Resource Advisory Councils & Federal Register Notices).

By scattering information all over this one “centralized” website, the BLM has made it much harder for the public to put together the pieces of information for a clear picture about the multiple uses of our public lands in any one area.

The Program Data page for the Wild Horse & Burro Program is HERE.  When I clicked on the box for Historical Program Data and Public Lands Statistics, I noticed something was missing that used to be available to the public.  It was the column on Adoptions by Locations & Date.  Information from the years 2009-2015 were previously available.

The biggest reason this data was important is because it let the public know the dates of adoption events (including internet adoptions), the locations of the events, the number of the wild horses and burros offered for adoption (until Fiscal Year 2014) and the number of wild horses and burros that were actually adopted at each event.

The BLM likely stopped reporting the number of horses & burros offered at adoption events in Fiscal Year 2014 because it didn’t want the public to know how many horses & burros were racking up “strikes” by not being adopted.  When a wild horse or burro isn’t adopted after 3 events and gets 3 “strikes” it can be sold without restriction (to slaughter), no matter how young it is.  Even this seemingly small reduction of data indicated a lack of transparency by this agency.

Another reason this data is important to the public is because it let the public see what areas of the country adopt the most (and the least) wild horses & burros.

While the new BLM website contains a lot of information, it seems we have lost much more information that was once available on the internet, but was not migrated to the new BLM website.  For example, the BLM News Release on its promised investigation into the deaths of wild horses at the Scott City feedlot is on the internet, but as of today, is not one of the 63 News Releases available to the public on the BLM’s new website.

We will never know how much, or what, the BLM has removed from the internet.  The BLM’s scrubbing of their trail on the internet has not only erased part of the history of this government agency, it is censorship, and it is the equivalent of a modern day book burning.

SEE EXAMPLES REFERENCED ABOVE HERE.

Get real, John Ruhs

  John Ruhs, BLM Nevada State Director

                   

    Yosemite Sam, Ruhs’ doppelganger

Dadgummit!  After John Ruhs, Nevada’s BLM State Director, said that he wanted to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County last summer (supposedly in response to the continued lies blaming wild horses and burros for the “deterioration of drought-stricken rangeland”), we’re noting that many mines that will use billions of gallons of water are now on the verge of expanding in Nevada.

Ruhs recently spoke at the Elko Convention Center, and stated that “We are pretty proud of the fact that this last year we have worked with the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and NDOW to provide some public opportunities to talk about sage grouse land use amendments and what they mean to the grazing program. A lot of work still needs to be done.”

The BLM ALWAYS works with the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association.  And the National Cattlemen’s Association.  Actually, the BLM works FOR them.  Notice that the focus of talking about sage grouse land use amendments is all about what they mean to the grazing program?

Ruhs also lamented that wild horse and burro issues dominate a large part of the Nevada BLM and Ruhs went on to talk about the difficulties in wild horse management.

Wild horse and burro issues dominate?  Like, bigger than all of the mines and outnumbering all of the livestock?

And talk about difficulties?  How about all those abandoned mines in Nevada, John?

And management?  There is only wild horse and burro “MISmanagement.”

Ruhs then said “We are somewhere in excess of 37,000 horses on the rangeland that is a big priority for us and it’s one of the things that I hope in the new administration that we will see some changes that will finally allow us to get some work done on the ground.”

We hope that the work that Ruhs is referring to getting done “on the ground” will include getting an accurate count of the wild horses and burros, rescinding some livestock overgrazing permits and making sure the extractive industries don’t use every last drop of water.

Why even bother to imply that the BLM “manages” anything, except impending environmental damage from the “multiple uses” that make a buck?  Don’t stash the truth, John.

Myths and Facts about Wild Horses and Burros

Stallion of Antelope Valley HMA ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

by Bonnie Kohleriter

MYTH 1   26,500 wild horses and burros are to be on our public lands in 10 states, as that number was on our public lands in 1971 when the Wild Horse and Burro Law was passed.  Wild horses and burros are in AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, and WY.

FACT 1  No census of numbers of wild horses and burros was done in 1971 when the Law was passed in December of that year.  The 1971 Law did not say the number of wild horses and burros that could be on our public lands.  26,500 is an arbitrary, non-evidenced based number.

MYTH 2  Wild horses and burros are on our public lands everywhere and they are destroying our public lands.

FACT 2  The BLM manages 245 M acres of our public lands.  About 3 M livestock are on 160 M acres, wildlife is everywhere, and wild horses and burros are limited to 29 M acres in areas called Herd Management Areas (HMAs).  Within the HMAs about 400,000 livestock that reside here as well are allocated 82% of the forage while the wild horses and burros are assigned 17%.  In 1971 the wild horses and burros were in Herd Areas (HAs), but the BLM said those areas were too difficult to manage so they drew circles within the HAs and called them HMAs.  Unbeknown to the animals where the boundaries are when they go into HA land, they are fodder to be removed without question.

MYTH 3  The BLM has 177 herd management areas (HMAs) for wild horses and burros giving the illusion horses and burros are in those areas.

FACT 3  The BLM has only 160 HMAs where wild horses and burros are now found.  The other areas don’t have any horses or burros in them, or are part of the military or forest service or are double counted.  The BLM had 339 HMAs initially, but little by little has zeroed them out.

MYTH 4  The BLM sets “Appropriate Management Levels” (AMLs) for the wild horses and burros in each area.  It sets a low number at which the animals should be and allows them to breed to a higher number after which it gathers, removes and reduces the animals to the low number again.  The overall low number is 17, 810 and the high number is 27,500.

FACT 4  “Appropriate” is inappropriate.  Allowing only 17,810 horses and burros in 160 areas in 10 western states is a species that is threatened or endangered.

MYTH 5  The BLM says it strives to have healthy horses on healthy rangelands.

FACT 5  Dr. Gus Cothran, the retained geneticist for the Wild Horse and Burro Program, says the following: Conservation geneticists maintain a minimum of 150-200 animals is needed in a herd with 50 effective breeding animals to have sufficient genetic variability for continued long term viability.  Of these herds, only 28 herds have 150-200+ horses allowed in them, and of these herds, only 3 herds have 150-200+ burros allowed in them.  In other words, 82% of the herds don’t have appropriate allowable numbers in them for continued health and viability.

MYTH 6  The herd members intermingle with the herd members in other herds so the individual numbers within a herd don’t matter.

FACT 6  Intermingling of the herds has not been scientifically researched and validated, and established by the BLM.

MYTH 7  Horses and burros can be imported from other herds to sustain genetic viability.

FACT 7  The 1971 Law says the horses are supposed to be “where found.”

MYTH 8  The BLM strives to have a “thriving, natural, ecological balance” on our public lands with a multiple use mandate.

FACT 8  The wild horses and burros are not a thriving species, the arbitrary numbers are not natural, and the numbers are not in balance, (27,000 vs. 400,000) in the ecological environment in which they are to be distributed.  The National Academy of Sciences addressed this Myth in 2013, in Chapter 7 of its report, Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program.

MYTH 9  The BLM asserted 67,000 wild horses and burros were on our public lands in 2016 and 47,000 were in off the range holding facilities.  The number of livestock within the 27 M acres needs to stay there as they feed the world.  The number of livestock have been reduced by 35% from 1971-2014.

FACT 9  Livestock within the HMAs provide less than ½ of 1% of the United States meat.  The number of livestock have been reduced due to overgrazing and drought.  Cow/calf size has increased by 1 ½, offsetting the reduction in number of allowable livestock.  Though ways of counting wild horses and burros have improved, counting continues to be a challenge.  Reducing the number of livestock only within the HMAs and increasing the number of allowable wild horses and burros has not been explored.  The Cattlemen’s Association and now the Gas, Oil, and Mining Industries are powerful competitors and lobbyists for our public lands on which the wild horses and burros depend.

MYTH 10  The BLM is mandated by the 1971 Law to manage, protect, and control the wild horses and burros on our public lands.

FACT 10  Look at the BLM’s budget.  The BLM, unlike wildlife and livestock groups, does ever so little to manage and protect the wild horses and burros on our public lands.  The BLM doesn’t tend to water, forage, or space (fence) issues.  The BLM’s focus is on control, hiring contractors to gather and remove animals, hiring contractors to house animals off the range in short-term corrals or in long-term pastures, hiring contractors to move animals around the country for adoptions, and hiring administrators to complete the paperwork.

The BLM does not engage in using fertility control treatment (PZP) as a way to keep the wild horses and burros on the range though volunteers stand ready to help.  Up to now only four small herds have used this control method but now five more larger herds  are involved in its use.  In 2013, 509 horses received PZP, in 2014, 384, and in 2015, 469, paltry numbers.  The BLM does not engage in promoting recreational tourism on the range which could and would bring in money and in which volunteers stand ready to help.  The BLM has considered sterilizing mares but the procedures are dangerous for the mares and foals and the BLM is researching geldings to be used in on the range horse and burro herds.

MYTH 11  The National Advisory Board of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and the horse advocates on the 9 Regional Advisory Councils are available to advise on what is best for the future of the wild horses and burros.

FACT 11  The advisory board members are people with livestock, wildlife and land interests, not with wild horse and burro interests.  They are cattlemen and livestock vets.  They are not horse and burro geneticists, equine vets, biologists and ecologists, recreational entrepreneurs, volunteer coordinators.

This is a broken program in need of change and a different direction.  This is a program that needs to focus on ways to retain wild horses and burros on our public lands in controlled but healthy numbers, and to focus on providing them with adequate water, forage, and space.

Wild horses evolved in the Americas.  They left during the Ice Age 10,000 years ago and were domesticated in Europe.  They were brought back to the Americas and were left to be wild again when automation was introduced.  They were used to settle our country and to fight our wars in WW1 and WW2.  Today, they are symbols of our past of the Wild Wild West.  They are symbols of our freedom. We as Americans are charged to be stewards of them.  They need to be managed and protected on our public lands,  controlled in genetically healthy numbers, and when those goals are met, in my opinion, then given fertility control treatment.

‘Horrific incident’: Family Speaks Out after Pet Dog Killed by ‘Cyanide Bomb’

By Shelbie Harris as published on The Idaho State Journal

“While at first glance this sad story might not appear to have much to do with wild horses and burros but it most certainly applies, with spades.  Some time ago, myself and fellow investigators from Wild Horse Freedom Federation were documenting BLM Contract long term holding facilities when we came across one contractor’s property, used to house former wild horses, with prominent signs indicating that like poison devices were in use on the very same property that captive wild horses were grazing.  To date, this finding haunts us as we continue to seek ways and means to stop the barbaric removal of protected wild horses and burros from their congressionaly approved, rightful range.” ~ R.T.


Signage on BLM contractor’s property housing former wild horses. (Click to Enlarge) ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

POCATELLO — As he walked his dog along the ridgeline of the hillside just south of his family’s home on West Buckskin Road, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield noticed what he thought was a sprinkler head protruding 6 inches from the ground.

Like many curious teenagers would, he bent down and touched the pipe, which erupted with a loud popping noise that knocked Canyon off his feet. A hissing sound ensued and Canyon noticed his clothing and face were covered with an orange, powdery substance. After quickly washing his face and clothes in a nearby patch of snow, he called for his dog, a 3-year-old Lab named Casey.

But Canyon’s best friend didn’t respond.

“He just stayed on the ground mumbling,” Canyon said. “I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him. … So, I called him again and got really scared. I sprinted toward him and landed on my knees and saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy and he was having a seizure.”

Within minutes, Casey was dead.

“My little brother is lying in bed crying next to me,” said Canyon’s sister, Madison Mansfield. “He spent yesterday in the emergency room after stumbling upon an unmarked cyanide bomb in the woods directly behind my home. He watched his best friend suffocate as sodium cyanide was deposited in his mouth.”

Canyon was taken to Portneuf Medical Center, where he was treated and released. But he must continue daily follow-up appointments to check toxicity levels.

On Thursday afternoon, Casey joined thousands of other non-targeted animals — both wild and domestic — that have been mistakenly killed by one of the most lethal tools at the disposal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — spring-loaded metal cylinders that are baited with scent that shoot sodium cyanide powder into the mouth or face of whatever or whoever touches them.

Known as M-44 devices, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) division of the USDA deploys these sodium cyanide capsules throughout the West to protect livestock from coyotes, wild dogs, and red and gray foxes.

M-44s are hollow metal tubes 5 to 7 inches long that are driven into the ground, loaded with 0.9 grams of sodium cyanide and coated with the smelliest bait possible…(CONTINUED)

http://www.idahostatejournal.com/outdoors/xtreme_idaho/horrific-incident-family-speaks-out-after-pet-dog-killed-by/article_93f3d07e-6ecb-5035-8d39-f27c791eb4b5.html

Can Utah’s Mike Noel Run the BLM, an Agency He Despises?

By | The Salt Lake Tribune

“The BLM manages some of the America’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes, landscapes that are integral to outdoor recreation, sportsmen, biodiversity, and native Americans’ and America’s high quality of life,”

As Utah state Rep. Mike Noel actively courts support for his bid to become the next director of the Bureau of Land Management, conservation and outdoor business interests are questioning the Kanab lawmaker’s ability to effectively run an agency he has relentlessly condemned since quitting it 20 years ago.

“The BLM manages some of the America’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes, landscapes that are integral to outdoor recreation, sportsmen, biodiversity, and native Americans’ and America’s high quality of life,” said Black Diamond Equipment founder Peter Metcalf. “We need a BLM leader aligned with this mission, one who recognizes the role these well-stewarded landscapes play in the vibrancy of one of America’s most important and sustainable economic sector.”

“Mike Noel,” Metcalf said, “is the opposite.”

The retired CEO joined 15 other Utah business leaders and conservationists in penning a letter to the Trump administration opposing Noel’s possible selection as BLM director.

An influential Republican, Noel has staked his political career on challenging federal land management and sparring with environmentalists and Salt Lake Democrats over limiting resource extraction to protect Utah’s striking red rock landscapes, wildlife, rivers and archaeological resources. Noel believes such limits do more to harm the land than protect it and suck the life out of rural communities that traditionally rely on access to forage, timber and minerals.

Noel did not respond to a request for comment.

Several Utah agencies and political leaders. meanwhile, have eagerly lined up behind his BLM candidacy.

The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration also sent a letter to the Trump transition team calling Noel an “excellent choice.” Most of SITLA’s 3.2 million acres are 640-acre islands scattered in a sea of federal lands. BLM policies complicate SITLA’s efforts to generate revenue off these isolated sections, according to the Nov. 18 letter signed by trust lands board Chairman James Lekas.

“We look forward to working with a Department of Interior led by people who can change the direction of public lands management back toward BLM’s traditional multiple use mandate,” Lekas wrote. “Rep. Noel would be a great addition to that team.”

If Noel has his druthers, the BLM would no longer exist as an agency, at least in Utah, where he is leading the state’s charge to seize title to 31 million acres of public land — most of it administered by BLM.

But worse from environmentalists’ perspective is Noel’s unwillingness to engage with stakeholders who disagree with his notion of “multiple use.”

In recent years, Noel has promoted the ideas that law enforcement on pubic lands should be overseen by county sheriffs; Utah should invest millions of dollars in a lawsuit to take title to the lands owned by all Americans; grazing and energy extraction are the best uses of places that others value for scenery and ancient American Indian artifacts; the state should cover legal costs of county commissioners who get in trouble standing up to federal authority on behalf of their constituents.

“Rep. Noel has also demonstrated his disregard for the thoughtfully and collaboratively crafted management plans of the Bureau he hopes to direct, instead throwing his support behind illegal protests on BLM land and the extraction companies that hope to expand their activities on public lands to the detriment of the protection and other uses of those lands,” states the conservationists’ letter, sent Wednesday by Alliance for a Better Utah to Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Secretary-designate Ryan Zinke. “His history strongly suggests that he will not be a good steward over these public lands that all Americans use and enjoy.”

Noel, who runs a ranch and the Kane County Water Conservancy District, worked as a realty specialist in BLM’s Kanab field office before leaving after the 1996 designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. A former colleague in the Kanab office contends Noel is the wrong person to lead BLM because of “his disdain for federal government management and his personal and biased agenda.”

“The next BLM director will need to ensure the BLM mission to provide enduring values and uses of those lands is sustained. Noel does not have that vision and is not that leader,” wrote Verlin Smith, now retired and living in Murray, in a letter to the editor.

Noel has since become a leading extremist in the movement to blunt conservation prerogatives on public lands, according to Metcalf, and in the process has earned a reputation as a dogmatic bully.

“This intransigent nature would hamper Rep. Noel in performing the duties that come with being BLM director, which include balancing all of the competing needs and uses that arise in managing our vast public lands,” the letter states.

http://www.sltrib.com/home/4858088-155/can-utahs-mike-noel-run-the

Hearing for Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior

Source:  U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Both Trump and Zinke say they oppose the transfer of federal land to states, but when it came to vote last week, Zinke voted to make it easier to do land transfers.  This would not be good for the wild horses and burros.

natresourceshearing_032615Congressman Ryan Zinke (Montana)

Tuesday, Jan. 17 2017
11:15 Pacific Time, 12:15 Mountain Time, 1:15 Central Time, 2:15 Eastern Time
366 Dirksen 02:15 PM

This notice is to advise you of a hearing before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 2:15 p.m. in Room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
 
The purpose of the hearing is to consider the nomination of the Honorable Ryan Zinke to be the Secretary of the Interior.
 
The hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website, and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing is complete. Witness testimony will be available on the website at the start of the hearing.