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

Congress demands wild horse and burro plan from BLM

By Charlie Booher as published on Wildlife.org

“The status quo still isn’t working for our wild horses and burros, the ecology on the range, or the American taxpayers”

BLM attacking wild horses – photo by Carol Walker

When Congress passed the omnibus appropriations bill last month, legislators included a mandate for the Bureau of Land Management to provide a new wild horse and burro management plan. The mandate was joined by a $5.55 million cut to the program.

The statements accompanying the appropriations bill for 2019 said the House and Senate committees that oversee the Interior Department, including the BLM, were “extremely disappointed” in the agency’s failure to produce a comprehensive plan that was originally requested in the FY17 spending package. Legislators said they wanted a plan “to address the fast-rising costs of the Wild Horse and Burro program and overpopulation of wild horses and burros on the range,” and asserted that continued “failure to address these problems is irresponsible and will result in irreparable damage to the landscape and the welfare of the animals protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act” of 1971.

Congress requested a plan from the BLM that:

  1. reduces the complexity and cost of contracting policies and procedures;
  2. eliminates unnecessary environmental reviews;
  3. simplifies and expands the use of partnerships and cooperative agreements;
  4. identifies statutory and regulatory barriers to implementing the plan; and
  5. has the goal of reducing costs while improving the health and welfare of wild horses and burros, and the range.

The statement directs the BLM to provide the plan within 30 days of enactment of the act, but it is still unclear if the deadline will be met. Until the BLM provides a comprehensive plan and corresponding legislative proposals, legislators said the appropriations committees will “maintain the existing prohibitions and reduce the resources available for the program.”

The BLM is working on the “final stages of developing a plan to Congress” describing “several management options aimed at putting the Wild Horse and Burro Program back on a sustainable and fiscally responsible track,” Amber Cargile, BLM’s acting national spokeswoman, told E&E News.

This strong statement expresses Congress’ continued frustration with the growth of wild horse and burro populations, the cost of sustaining current management practices and the political challenges facing the program. The administration’s recent budget proposals have also expressed a need for policy and management changes.

The House Appropriations Committee made changes to wild horse and burro management in its FY18 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill in an attempt to improve the program’s outcomes, but this bill never made it to the Senate.\

“The status quo still isn’t working for our wild horses and burros, the ecology on the range, or the American taxpayers” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-California, chairman of the House appropriations subpanel on interior department spending told the Associated Press.

As of March 2017, the BLM estimated more than 73,000 wild horses and burros existed across 27 million acres of federal herd management areas in 10 western states. More than 45,000 additional horses and burros are held in off-range corrals and pastures. This is 90,000 more animals than the agency’s established population objective, known as the Appropriate Management Level, of less than 27,000. AML is set in land use management plans based on the health of the rangelands, and in balance with other uses on the range including wildlife and livestock grazing. When populations exceed this level, the ecologically feral species negatively impact the rangelands.

In 2016, The Wildlife Society testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing, expressing the need for more active management of wild horse and burro populations. The National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board has also expressed frustrations with the program and made strong recommendations to change the current management paradigm at its previous meetings.

http://wildlife.org/congress-demands-wild-horse-and-burro-plan-from-blm/

US Court Overturns Round-Up of Wild Horses in Oregon

as published on USNews.com

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law by conducting an emergency round-up of wild horses in eastern Oregon because the agency did not fully consider the impact of its actions.

Steens HMA wild horse family ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law by rounding up wild horses in eastern Oregon without fully considering the impact of its actions, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon’s ruling could mean that some of the horses will be returned to the Three Fingers Management Area in Malheur County, the Capital Press reported. The judge is expected to rule separately on what to do in light of the violation.

The nonprofit group Friends of Animals sued after the BLM gathered up the horses following a 2016 wildfire that made water and forage scarce. The agency had planned to gather up 50 horses before the blaze, but instead decided to do an “emergency gather” of 150 horses because the fire had burned up so much available grassland and made water scarce.

Friends of Animals alleged the emergency action “went far beyond what was necessary to control the immediate impacts” of the fire without a proper review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

Instead of permanently removing the horses, BLM could have relocated the horses, used fencing to keep them out of fire-damaged areas or provided extra water sources, the group argued.

The BLM should have conducted a new analysis of the environmental impact after the fire and not relied on its earlier analysis, Simon said.

Lucinda Bach, attorney for the government in this case, said she couldn’t comment on the ruling.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney from Friends of Animals for comment.

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

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.

Wild-Horse Overpopulation Is a Lie

Letter to the Editor of Mesquite Local News

BLM’s Big Lie: The “overpopulation” of wild horses is a concocted “crisis”. The government doesn’t have a wild-horse problem — wild horses have a government problem.


Arbitrary management level (AML):  The maximum number of wild horses that BLM declares the Western range can sustain — 26,715 — is a political construct.  Per 49,349 square miles of wild-horse habitat, the upper bound of the AML establishes a maximum stocking density of 1 wild horse per 2 square miles!  However, BLM manages down to the low bound of the AML — 16,310.  That creates a stocking density of 1 wild horse per 3 square miles!

Sparsely populated, widely dispersed:  Many herds are restricted even more severely.  Here are stocking densities to which BLM restricts herds in Nevada.

1 wild horse per  3,102  acres  — 5    square miles  —  Antelope Complex

1 wild horse per  3,566  acres  — 5½ square miles  —  Triple B Complex

1 wild horse per  6,606  acres  — 10  square miles  —  Eagle herd

1 wild horse per  9,591  acres  — 15  square miles  —  Silver King herd

Contrast with livestock density:  BLM allows 1 cow-with-calf pair (or 5 sheep) per 76 acres, which means 8 cow-calf pairs (or 40 sheep) per square mile.  Further, within dedicated wild-horse habitats, livestock are awarded most of the grazing slots (AUMs).  Examples from Nevada:

94% of AUMs to livestock — Triple B Complex

96% of AUMs to livestock — Antelope Complex

Normative annual herd-growth = at most, 5%:  Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) found the average birth rate among wild-horse herds to be about 20%; but 50% of foals perish.  The population-gain from surviving foals (10%) minus a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5%) equals a normative herd-growth rate of 5%.

Fraudulent figures on the range:  BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, we find BLM reporting one-year increases that are beyond what is biologically possible.  Some examples from Nevada:

260%  —     52 times the norm — Shawave Mountains

293%  —     59 times the norm — Diamond Hills South

418%  —     84 times the norm — Black Rock Range East *

*  BLM claimed the Black Rock Range East’s population grew from 88 horses to 456 horses in one year, an increase of 368.  If so, to overcome foal-mortality (50%) and adult-mortality (at least 5%), that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 17 foals.

Fraudulent figures off the range:  A comprehensive report was recently issued following a 5-year investigation by Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  It revealed that BLM has been publishing fictitious figures regarding the number of wild horses removed from the range and now supposedly boarded in private pastures.  BLM is paying, but where are the horses?  http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/white-paper/

No to birth control, no to euthanasia, no to slaughter:  The population-explosion exists only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets.

Marybeth  Devlin