BLM Sets Hearing on Wild Horse Mismanagement

Story by the Idaho Mountain Express

The BLM is inviting the public to submit comments as part of a statewide hearing regarding motor vehicle and helicopter use in wild horse management operations on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 1-2 p.m. at its Challis Field Office.

The public hearing is being held to obtain information, views and suggestions about the BLM’s use of helicopters and motorized vehicles in managing wild horses in Idaho during the coming year (February 2018 to January 2019).

The Challis Field office is at 721 E. Main Ave., Suite 8 in Challis.

 Anyone unable to attend the hearing to submit comments can submit written statements to BLM_ID_WHB_MotorizedHearing@blm.gov. Comments should include address, phone number and e-mail.

BLM Set to Stampede and Remove 1,500 Wild Horses from their Rightful Range

Unedited propaganda as published in BLM Press Release

2018 Triple B Complex Wild Horse Gather

The gather will tenatively begin on January 23.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Purpose of Gather:

The purpose of the operation is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses, and to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands, consistent with the provisions of Section 1333(b) of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The BLM strives to be a good neighbor in the communities we serve, ensuring public safety is not at risk due to the overpopulation of wild horses and providing opportunities for economic growth with space for traditional uses.

Details of Gather:

The BLM plans to gather 1,500 wild horses and remove approximately 1,000 excess horses.  The BLM will release approximately 250 mares that will have been treated with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22 to slow the population growth rate of the animals remaining on public lands.  PZP-22 is a temporary fertility-control vaccine that can prevent pregnancy in wild horses for 1-2 years.  In addition, approximately 250 gathered stallions will be selected and returned back to the range.

Public Observation:

Members of the public are welcome to view the daily gather operations, provided that doing so does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff and observers, or disrupt gather operations.  The BLM will escort the public to gather observation sites located on public lands.  The BLM anticipates that viewing opportunities will begin on January 23, 2018, weather and logistics permitting.  Those wanting to view gather operations must notify Public Affairs Specialist, Greg Deimel at (775) 388-7078 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times

Participants must provide their own transportation, water and food.  The BLM recommends footwear and clothing suitable for harsh field conditions and a four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle.  Public restrooms will not be available onsite.

Background: 

The Triple B Complex is located in both the BLM Ely and Elko Districts and consists of the Triple B HMA (Ely), Maverick Medicine HMA (Elko), Antelope Valley HMA west of Hwy 93 (Elko), and Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory (Elko).  The gather may also take place in areas outside of those HMAs where wild horses have moved in search of food and water and are creating a public safety hazard by traveling regularly across Jiggs Road.

The current population estimate for the Triple B Complex is approximately 3,842 wild horses.  The cumulative Appropriate Management Level for all the Herd Management Areas within the targeted gather area is 472 – 884 wild horses.  AML is the level at which wild horse populations are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them and other mandated uses of those lands, including protecting ecological processes and habitat for wildlife and livestock.

The decision record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy can be accessed at the national NEPA register. For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 1-866-468-7826 or email wildhorse@blm.gov.

https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/gathers-and-removals/nevada/2018-Triple-B-Complex-wild-horse-gather

Will Trump put a ‘hired gun’ for ranchers in top BLM post?

by Tay Wiles as published on High Country News

The president is considering a BLM director who has continually fought the agency

Karen Budd-Falen

Nearly a year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the agency that manages 246 million acres and that is critical to the functioning of the American West still has no permanent leadership. In November, Brian Steed, the former chief of staff for Utah State Rep. Chris Stewart, R, became the third person in 11 months to temporarily take on the duties of Bureau of Land Management acting director. One potential pick for the director job is Karen Budd-Falen — a long-time antagonist of the bureau. In other administrations, her background would make her an unlikely pick. In the Trump administration, she’s a contender.

Budd-Falen is a polarizing figure in the West. She is one of the region’s preeminent property rights lawyers, known for representing ranchers in disputes with federal land agencies like the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.

By the time she was 32, in 1991, Newsweek had dubbed Budd-Falen the “hired gun of choice for ranchers facing court action from federal agencies.” That reputation has only grown; her supporters say she’ll bring positive change to the BLM to curb federal overreach fueled by environmentalists. “Karen will certainly take a look at multiple use from a different set of glasses than previously administrations have,” Utah Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Brent Tanner said. “One of the advantages of Karen … is she has based her career around the legal issues affecting livestock grazing on public lands.”

Critics say Budd-Falen is anathema to the stated mission of the BLM, which is to manage land for multiple uses, not just for ranching or the extractive industry. The attorney has long been a harsh critic of the agency she would lead. “Karen Budd-Falen has attacked the Bureau of Land Management over and over, and now she is trying to secure the top post,” said Land Tawney, director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “This tragic irony must not be ignored.”

It’s not just Budd-Falen’s apparent disposition to the mission of the BLM, critics say. Her history would follow her to the agency and could be an added challenge. “I think first and foremost she would have a significant perception challenge with public lands stakeholders,” said Bob Abbey, who served 34 years in state and federal government and was the BLM director from 2009 to 2012. “It will take her months to earn the respect and trust within the organization and among public lands stakeholders. … I don’t think she’s the right person for the job right now.”

Budd-Falen is a fifth-generation Wyoming resident, originally from Big Piney, population 521. Her family members have long been active in Western politics on the side of the Sagebrush Rebellion. Her father, Dan Budd, a rancher who served in the Wyoming legislature from 1981 to 1992, opposed the foundational 1976 Federal Land Policy Management Act, in part because it allowed the BLM to retain vast acreages instead of continuing to pass the land into private ownership, as had been the previous policy since the 19th century.

Budd-Falen earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wyoming. After law school, she worked as a lawyer at the Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, a non-profit founded in 1976 as part of a wave of conservative resistance to new environmental laws, such as FLPMA and the Endangered Species, Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. She served as a law clerk to the assistant solicitor for Water and Power and in the office for land and minerals, both at the Interior Department under former President Ronald Reagan. More recently, she was part of Trump’s Interior transition team. She now lives in Cheyenne and co-owns a law firm with her husband, Frank Falen, which focuses on property rights.

Federal land management

Budd-Falen has not publicly taken a stance on the conservative Western movement to transfer federal land to state control. But in November she spoke at a public event in Hamilton, Montana, that also featured a presentation from Republican State Sen. Jennifer Fielder. Fielder is the head of the American Lands Council, a non-profit whose mission is to transfer lands from the federal government to the states. (In an interview, Budd-Falen told High Country News she didn’t know that Fielder would be speaking at the event.) That appearance is one of many examples critics say explain her position on federal land management. “(Budd-Falen) may say she has no opinion on (land transfer) but her career has been spent propping up that ideology,” Greg Zimmerman, deputy director of the progressive nonprofit Center for Western Priorities, said.

For her part, Budd-Falen said she understands that the notion pushed by many land transfer advocates, that the federal government can’t legally administer land in the West, is not upheld by the courts. “Supreme Court rulings have very clearly said… the federal government can hold these federal lands,” she said. “Until you get the Supreme Court to change its mind, then that’s the current interpretation of the Constitution.” When asked if she agreed with that interpretation, Budd-Falen said she did. The Wyoming attorney also said it would be too costly for her home state to take on managing all of its federal lands. “I don’t think it’s feasible,” she said.

On the topic of national monuments, however, Budd-Falen has lauded Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for their 2017 review of designations over 100,000 acres. “I think there is enough land out there, and people are smart enough, that we can have multiple-use and still protect the land (without large monuments),” she told Fox News in May. At the Montana event in November, she criticized the Obama Administration’s monument designations: “If you read the Antiquities Act, it says you are to designate the smallest area possible to protect the artifact you are trying to protect. I looked at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, surely that’s not the smallest area possible to protect these things,” she said. As head of the BLM, Budd-Falen would oversee both monuments, which public lands advocates say were essential to protecting valuable scientific and cultural resources.

Property Rights

The importance of property rights is foundational to Budd-Falen’s worldview. In 2011, at a Constitutional Sheriffs panel event in Yreka, California, she said that all rights in the U.S. Constitution are “based on the right of ownership of private property.” This interpretation stems from an established school of thought in which property rights hold a supreme position in the Constitution, says Gregg Cawley, a professor of environmental politics at the University of Wyoming. In this view of the Constitution, Cawley says: “‘Property’ was a kind of short hand symbol for everything an individual needed to live their life as they wanted…. a ranch is ‘property’ in the sense of land but (that ranch) is also a means for the owners to secure their ‘rights’ to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”

This exalted view of property rights inspires Budd-Falen’s work in defense of ranchers. She has spent much of her career defending ranchers’ rights to water, easements, and grazing federal land. Early in her career, Budd-Falen took on a client who is now one of the West’s most notorious cattlemen, Cliven Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada, over a grazing rights dispute. Bundy is now known for leading an armed standoff against federal agents in 2014 over his illegally grazing cattle. Back in the early 1990s, he was just one of about a dozen southern Nevada ranchers Budd-Falen represented in court…(CONTINUED)

http://www.hcn.org/articles/public-lands-will-trump-put-karen-budd-falen-a-hired-gun-for-ranchers-in-top-blm-post?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

Horse Eating, Fringe Cult Leader Bumped from National News Show

“In my most humble opinion” by R.T. Fitch

Maybe Fox News Listened to the Voices of 80% of Americans

Vegan Poster Boy – Dave
‘Doink” Duquette. Infamous horse hating proponent for murdering and eating equine friends and family.

Longtime proponent of murdering (processing) companion and wild equines (horses and burros) for perverse human consumption, Dave “Doink” Duquette was abruptly removed from the broadcast schedule of Fox News Tucker Carlson show on Friday, December 29th.  A very sad moment for his horse hating lemmings but a moment of comic relief for the rest of the self-actualized human beings that inhabit this planet.

It appears that the mass objection to the appearance of this monosyllabic moron by normal, mainstream Americans may have been a force in Fox reconsidering the highlighting of a subject that is against the law in the United States and makes the skin crawl of even the hardiest soul.

Or…it might be that Tucker himself was on vacation and that he, personally, wants to chew on this horse hater and expose him for what he really is.

Either way, it has rekindled the compassionate soul of those who strive to build a better world for humans and equines alike.

“Mmmmm, this would be a nice cut”

I strongly recommend that motivated equine advocates continue to politely contact Tucker Carlson and Fox News and thank them for not allowing this dark lord of horse blood to spread his gore and untruths across the cable news wire.  In reality, it was actually an act of kindness to Doink himself as he does not have the sense to realize that the intent of the interview/debate was to make him look like the raving idiot that he is.  Unless he has received a crash course on verbal communication and removal of expletives from his vocabulary he would have crashed and burned within the first 10 seconds of the debate. (expletives = cussing, Dave)

Let’s hope that ole Doink crawls back into his hole with the rest of the weirdos that moan about trying to start an illegal business of killing and eating family and friends.  Disgusting, to say the least.

We are a strong voice, a just voice as we represent over 80% of Americans and ALL of the voiceless horse nation…the horse haters are simply a small and perverse, fringe group of emotional cripples.  May God have mercy on their twisted souls.

Breaking News: Infamous Horse Eater to Debate on Fox’s Tucker Carlson, TONIGHT

A Scary News Alert: in the most indignant opinion of R.T. Fitch

Update: POS was a no show but claims he was bumped until next week.  Let’s hope the producers realized him to be as dumb as a box of rocks and nixed his misguided moment of infamy.  https://rtfitchauthor.com/2017/12/30/horse-eating-fringe-cult-leader-bumped-from-national-news-show/#comment-205482

According to the poorly written press release, below, it appears that long time, washed-up alleged horse trainer and professed horse eater  Dave “Doink” Duquette has crawled out from underneath his slimy little rock to spew lies and deceit about how wonderful murdering and eating companion animals can be.


PROTECT THE HARVEST’S DAVE DUQUETTE TO GUEST
ON TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT SHOW
 
Hot equine debate – Friday night – Dec.29, at 8:00pm ET on Fox News
 
Brownsburg, IN. Dec. 28, 2017): Protect The Harvest’s equine expert Dave Duquette will
guest on the Tucker Carlson Tonight Show on Friday night, December 29, at 8:00pm ET. Dave
and Tucker will be talking about why Protect The Harvest (PTH), supports bringing back horse
processing in the United States.
 
Duquette explains on the show that horse processing is an essential part of many nations diets
and used to have a rich history in the United States. The return to horse processing in the US
would mean much higher welfare for horses.
 
Founded by Lucas Oil owner Forrest Lucas, PTH is a 501c3 non-profit formed in 2014 that
seeks to actively inform and communicate with the general public about issues regarding

agriculture, hunting, fishing, and animal ownership.


‘Merry Flippin Christmas to you too Doink.  Bet your mamma is proud of you…Lord knows your hometown is not.’

Dave “Doink” Duquette, alleged horse trainer and known horse eater ~ photo not taken by R.T. Fitch

Yup, according to the release and it has not been verified, Doink will be on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Show at 8 PM Eastern time, tonight, Dec. 29th.  Anyone with half a brain knows that Tucker is pretty handy at publicly making losers look as stupid as they really aspire to be so this may be Doink’s big chance to go on National TV so that his wife and children may never be able to show their faces in Walmart, again.

Doink has been working in the background ever since his equine blood engorged tick of a sidekick, Sue Wallis choked on her own lies several years ago and croaked; Karma made away with her bigot of a husband, too.  I guess there is some sort of mercy in the world that allows the likes of Doink to continue to walk among the living, perhaps it is pity for his young family that might, or might not, look to him for fiscal support.  Moral support and direction from this grade A wiener was lost long ago.

Left – “Doink” Duqquette – DUMB  Right – “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis – DEAD

So advocates, we only have  a few hours but let’s politely tweet, email and Facebook the facts to Mr. Tucker Carlson and give him a bit more fuel for a potential ass-chewing tonight.

You can tweet Tucker at: https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson

Contact on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/TuckerCarlsonTonight/?ref=br_rs

and: https://www.facebook.com/tuckercarlsonFOX/

 

We don’t need the likes of Duquette soiling a season meant to bring cheer and hope…enough is enough.

Videos: Celebrated Comedic Equine Welfare Christmas Videos Reloaded

John Holland, president of the Equine Welfare Alliance and covert owner of Howling Ridge Film and Fertilizer Co., has been entertaining us with equine holiday videos over the years.  But once again this year we are going to be forced to sit back and enjoy the works of years gone by as John, like many others, has been up to his eyeballs in important issues and is making great strides forward for the horses and the donkeys in the real fight on the all too real battlefield; that fight has held precedence over the production of yet another annual Christmas video, as well it should.  Keep up the good works, John and EWA, we are all on the same page and fully support your efforts.  Have a very Merry and Jolly Christmas!” ~ R.T.

Appalachian Christmas Tail (2006)

Christmas Spirit (2006)

A Christmas Legend (2007)

It’s a Wonderful Life (2008)

How the Grinch Stole Equus (2009)

The Christmas List (2010)

All John’s videos can be viewed at the EWA Video Page

Wild Horses and Burros: Twas the Night before Christmas

by Vicki Tobin and R.T. Fitch, Illustration by Kerry Kelly of the Houston Chronicle

“First published on Christmas Day in 2009; the evil characters may have changed but the message still rings true to this very day.  The roundups must stop so that we can appropriately care for and manage, if needed, our national treasures on their rightful range.  At Wild Horse Freedom Federation we offer the gift of our continued fight in support of the Wild Horses and Burros to live free with their families on their promised public land.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fight!” ~ R.T.

Twas the night before Christmas…

artwork by Kerry Kelly ~ Houston Chronicle

Twas the night before Christmas on our public land
not a Mustang was stirring, knowing what was at hand.
They huddled in fear hoping someone would care,
in hopes that the advocates soon would be there.

The foals hid in cover while Mom stood her ground
while stallions and bachelors, made sure Steed wasn’t around.
With Zinke lurking and Nedd so close by
the bands must stay quiet and not blink an eye.

When out on the range there arose such a clatter
The Mustangs all knew, what was the matter.
They ran to take cover, on wings they did fly
For surely they knew, that many would die.

The visions of million$ caused Cattoor a big grin
While Bolstad and Spencer high-fived a big win
More horses removed by ignoring the law
Hold on to your hats and stand back in awe.

The chopper did glisten on new fallen snow
Sealing the fate of the horses below.
When all of a sudden, the bands all stood still
And watched as the chopper came over the hill.

They stood in amazement, can it really be true
The advocates appeared right out of the blue
The horses retreated, not believing their eyes
For surely this is another, BLM guise.

Then leading the charge, lively and quick
were Kathy and Holland and Fitch with a stick
More rapid than lightening, Coffey followed in tow
with Simone close behind, directing which way they go.

Now Ginger and Paula and Ann times two,
Oh Marjorie and Dawn and Julie it’s you.
Now Vicki and Jerry and Susan and Daryl
with cameras in hand come Terry and Carol.

Down the hill they descended toward the horses with care
and watched as the chopper, fled into the air
The advocates came with injunction in hand
the decree shouted out, not on our public lands!

Enough is enough the judge did declare
the horses were saved by the breadth of a hair.
‘Our work here’s not done,’ the advocates cried
‘the choppers still flying, other herds could be spied’

It’s back to D.C. with a permanent plan
to ensure all the horses could live on their land.
So love was delivered to the horses with pride
but the warriors must leave so that no more would die.

They climbed up the hill and turned back to the band
who all now had gathered on what was their land.
‘We carry you with us,’ R.T. did say
‘as we go to the White House to show them your way.’

The horses all bowed with a sign of approval
as they all now knew that there was no removal.
They neighed and they nickered to the spirit above
‘Thanks for sending the people who give us their love.’

original artwork by Kerry Kelly of the Houston Chronicle

Wild Horse & Burro Updated 12 Days of Christmas

Reprint from 2009 by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/president Wild Horse Freedom Federation

(Characters have changed, content/intent same this year as yesteryear)

Through the Eyes of the Wild Ones

(to be sung to the tune of “The 12 days of Christmas”)

On the first day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
One rogue Federal agency.

On the second day of Christmas,
  Ryan Zinke gave to me
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the third day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Seven slaughter setups,
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Eight covert round-ups,
Seven slaughter setups,
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Nine laws a-breaking,
Eight covert round-ups,
Seven slaughter setups,
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Ten ranges barren,
Nine laws a-breaking,
Eight cover round-ups,
Seven slaughter setups,
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Eleven States now ruined,
Ten ranges barren,
Nine laws a-breaking,
Eight covert round-ups,
Seven slaughter setups,
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
Ryan Zinke gave to me
Twelve million heartbreaks,
Eleven States now ruined,
Ten ranges barren,
Nine laws a-breaking,
Eight covert round-ups,
Seven slaughter setups,
Six agents lying,
Five bogus dates,
Four zeroed herds,
Three covert bait traps,
Two convict pilots,
And one rogue Federal agency.

Let’s Pray for a NEW version, Next Year!!!

The Advocate, the Guard and the Force of the Horse at Christmas

“I annually drag this excerpt out from our book, and this blog’s namesake, Straight from the Horse’s Heart  as it is one of my favorites…and I have never known why it has a special place in my heart…until now. 

In re-reading it I finally have realized that I wrote this short story about myself, me, I am truly both characters, Christmas present and Christmas past.  The revelation was somewhat shocking but this story is not fiction, it is my very essence and my being.

Again, I hope you enjoy as it is as relevant today as it was almost 10 years ago when I wrote it.  I am an open book to those I love.

Keep the faith my friends, the innocent lives of thousands are in our hands and hearts” ~ R.T.


A Christmas Story for the Wild Ones

Reprint from December 11, 2010:

He checked the time again.  Not an easy maneuver as he had to take his right glove off, shove up the left cuff of his parka, peel back the wrist band of his left glove and then hit the back-light button on his Casio $19.99 special.  (written prior to the iWatch)  Only bought the stupid thing because of the digital thermometer feature it offered and now he wished it didn’t have it as it chilled his insides just looking at the numbers, 33 degrees inside the protection of his parka.

The shivering cold almost kept him from observing the time, 2148 hrs; he thought that was what it said eons ago.  If it weren’t for the seconds blinking and counting down he would have sworn that the watch had frozen and no longer worked.  He tapped the crystal just for good measure and recoiled a bit as the tip of his index finger reverberated with pain from the simple move.  Almost frost bitten he readjusted his left sleeve and hurriedly put his right glove back on.

‘Rotten cold’ he thought; brought back memories of sleeping in ditches in Afghanistan in the dead of winter, thoughts he could have lived without.

He stomped the ground, gave himself a big bear hug and began walking towards the compound’s gate.

‘Maybe walking will generate some heat, besides, I wonder what that stranger is up to on top of the ridge.  Better check the gate to make sure everything is secure.’

His feet crunched on the thin layer of snow that blanked the darkened world.  One solitary utility light blazed above the cramped trailer office but with the snow it was bright enough to see down the drive to the compound’s gate some 75 yards away.  The drive was bordered on both sides by holding pens with extra tall fencing.  They were deathly quiet tonight but that would change in a few days when the “gather” started.

He picked up his pace towards the gate as he was anxious to put the glare of the light behind him so that he could see better in the dark.  Earlier in the evening he had seen headlights crest the hill to the north and head towards the compound.  The two lights slowed just a few hundred yards from the gate and then blinked out.  He could tell that the vehicle was a diesel as he could hear the rumble of the beast idling and smell the fuel but now all was silent.  He hadn’t seen it depart and knowing that someone or something was lurking in the dark, watching, unnerved him.

He shivered as he walked, not so much from the cold but from the deadly memories that overtook him.  In his mind images of darkness, glinting movement and the flash of a mortar rocket blast exploded in his head.  He shook himself, again, in a successful effort to bring himself back to the reality of the moment and found himself sweating in the cold.  He just could not shake Afghanistan from his life, not that he wasn’t trying.  He was now home with his wife, she wanted to start a family, his father wanted him to take over the family business and the VA had helped him find this job with the Bureau of Land Management but the gun on his hip and acting as a guard still conjured up demons that were best left in the dark.

He reached the gate and came to a stop.  All was quiet, he hadn’t realized how noisy the snow had been as it crunched under his boots but now while standing still he could hear absolutely nothing, except his own heart beating, nothing else.

Then he heard a sound, a click or a crack like someone stepping on a stick.  Instinctively, he dropped to a squat, pulled out his side arm and aimed in the direction of the sound.  It all happened so fast, so smooth, so finely orchestrated that he actually startled himself in his reaction more than from hearing the sound.

“Whoa now”, came a deep voice from beyond the gate, “I don’t think you will be needing any firearms, tonight”.

He slowly stood and lowered his hand gun but continued to stare into the darkness from where the voice had emerged.

“Who are you and what are you doing?” he demanded.

“My name is of no importance and I am simply observing, thinking, pondering and maybe even praying.” the voice replied.

“This is Federal property and you have no business being here, particularly at this time of night.”

There came a small chuckle from the darkness, “I beg to differ. This Federal land is public land and I am the public.  Secondly, I am not crossing any fence line nor am I within your compound so as I see it, I am out of your jurisdiction.”

“Fair enough,” the guard replied as he deftly holstered his fire arm on his right and reached for a holster on his left.

“I said no fire arms”, charged the voice with and obvious elevation in intensity.

“No gun, just a light” and with a smart click a beam of searing light tore across the cold Nevada night and lit up the snow covered desert.

His aim was good and true and if it had been a gun, instead of a torch, the stranger would have been shot dead through the heart as he was centered directly in the focused light beam.

The stranger quickly put one gloved hand up to shield his eyes.

“Alright already, kill the theater lights you are ruining my night vision”, the stranger exclaimed, “A little bit of a warning would have been nice.”

The guard’s trained eyes quickly accessed the stranger; relatively trim, tall, worn boots, jeans, parka, rancher gloves, scarf, black Tom Mix style hat with a colorful Indian beaded headband, glasses glinted from under the brim, white beard, a shock of white hair visible from behind the neck and a large thermos mug in the right hand.  His brain registered; ‘Minimal threat’.

He lowered the light so that it illuminated the snowy ground half way between them and in the diffused light from below they were both cast into a curious world of unnatural shadows.

The stranger had been leaning against the outside of the large hinge post for the galvanized gate.  He had straightened up when the light nearly blinded him so now he walked forward and stood directly opposite the guard at the center of the gate.

“What’s you name?” the guard asked with an edge in his tone.

The stranger took a sip from his covered mug, sighed and in so doing let out of cloud of steam.  He paused for a moment as if carefully considering his answer before he replied.

“My name is not important, but it is important for you know that I am an advocate, an advocate for the Wild Horses and Burros.  I am here to witness the atrocity that is about to befall this herd that deserves to be left alone.”

“So in a nutshell you are a nut case.”  the guard scoffed.  He was warned about these types, in fact that was why he was here, on Christmas Eve, to ensure that these horse hugging, weirdo liberals did not do any property damage to the horse holding compound.  He had been told by BLM management that they had creditable evidence that the gather was going to be disrupted by civil disobedience which could include property damage, protests, 4-wheelers, you name it.  These crazies were Eco-terrorists and as a decorated veteran, he was the perfect man to protect his country’s property.  Not that he bought all the hype but he sure could use the time and a half for Christmas Eve and the double time that he would receive once the clock clicked over to midnight.  He was trying to start a new life with a wife that he had not seen in two years and the added money would help to make her smile.  But on the other side of the coin, he had not been with her on Christmas since they were married  a little over two short years ago, before his deployment.  That thought stung his heart and he struggled to bring himself back to the moment.  He fought the urge to look at his watch again.

“If that’s what you want to call me, nutcase will work as I have been called worse.” the stranger countered, “In reality the horses call me Grey Mane so if you need a name you can call me G.M. for short.”

“Sure, so G.M. what’s your business here, in the middle of the night?”

“Just watching and listening”, the advocate mused.  “You know, one of the bands of wild horses is just over that ridge to the west, only about half a mile from where you are standing.  It’s a bright and thriving group.  Ten family members in all including the stallion, mares and foals.  I was sitting up there observing their serenity in the moonlight, thinking about how they only have a few hours left to live, to live free as a family, to live on the land that the U.S. Congress gave them before your agency will meanly drive them into a trap and rip their family apart and shatter their freedom forever.  That’s what I was doing.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the guard.  He was beginning to fidget a bit as the stranger’s words seemed to drill down to his soul and he did not know why but it made him very uncomfortable.  The confidence and sincerity in which the stranger spoke was extremely unnerving.

“Do you mean you do not know?”

“I don’t have a clue about what you are saying, besides you still have not answered my question.”

“How long have you worked for the BLM?”

“That’s not important nor is it any of your business, just tell me why you are here.”

“No problem there, I am here to witness for the horses.  I will log, photograph, document and note everything that occurs.  I will be a presence of compassion and resistance for all that is happening.  Perhaps I will stand alone as I do now or maybe I will be joined by others.  It doesn’t matter as long as someone is here.  So if you really don’t know what’s afoot, here, I gauge your employment to be under 90 days.”

That last observation caught the guard unprepared, so much so that he almost dropped the light as the stranger was spot on.  He hadn’t been back from the war more than 90 days and had only collected three pay checks from his new job.  He would hit 60 days after the first of the year, next week.

With a bit of a quiver in his voice the guard continued:

“That’s all nonsense, what the BLM is doing is good management.  If they did not capture all of these horses they would starve to death and die.  This is an act of humanity and a proper response from our government.  You can’t just leave all these horses out here to fend for themselves, they need proper care.”

There was an extended pause from the stranger, he lowered his head, put his right hand to his chin then looked straight ahead at the guard;

“I ask for the right to revise my earlier estimate, 60 days or less, that’s the amount of time that you have been exposed to the BLM, right?.”

“What the hell are you talking about, man?” snapped the guard.  Clear desperation could be heard in his voice and seen in his stance.

“No worries; let me ask you a question.  What are you doing for the next couple of hours?”  the stranger asked and through the low lighting a smile could be detected between the white beard and mustache.

“Guarding this place from the likes of you, I reckon.”  The guard answered but even though he was flustered the tone of the stranger had a calming and settling effect upon his jangled nerves. ‘How did he know’, he mused.

“How about a hot, maybe warm, cup of coffee?” the advocate asked.

“Not out of the same mug I hope.”

The stranger smiled, again, “No I have a full thermos.  Now I am going to reach into may parka very slowly for the thermos so don’t draw your gun.”, there was a bit of a giggle in his voice.

The advocate pulled out from under his coat a personal sized, stainless steel thermos and handed it across the gate to the guard.

“You don’t have any poison mixed in there do you?”

“Depends upon what your definition of poison is.  If you consider Bailey’s Irish Cream to be poison then consider that laced coffee to be extremely dangerous.  Otherwise, it might just warm up your innards.”

They both laughed a little and it became obvious that the chill between them was beginning to melt by a degree or two.

The guard poured a copious amount of hot coffee into the top of the thermos and went to hand it back to the advocate who quickly waved him off.

“No, that’s for you, my coffee mug’s meter is still pegged at full. Now, back to our discussion about horses, let me give you a little bit of background.  A little conversation will warm up my facial muscles while that coffee warms you up from the inside out.”

The advocate stepped forward, leaned on the gate and began to speak in low and gentle tones.  He took the guard back to Mustang Annie and the unanimous passage of the ROAM act which guaranteed the wild horses a place to live.  He told of the gradual erosion of the law perpetuated by the guard’s employer.  He talked of the grazing leases, of private cattle out numbering wild horses 400 to 1.  He pulled out his iPhone and showed pictures of fat, plump and happy wild horses.  He showed movies of the horror and brutality of helicopter driven gathers, the PZP, the injunctions and the failure of the BLM to follow the law and listen to the people.  He told him of the lies, of BLM Management speaking to the world of how transparent and open the BLM would be while horses were found shot to death as a secret gather was taking place.  He explained that the BLM’s former Director, Bob Abbey, spoke at a horse slaughter summit.  The guard learned that the hundreds of horses that would be pulled from his area would be the end of the herd, the end of hundreds of years of free life, the destruction of one of the most unique wild communities in the United States.

And the guard learned that the advocate was not very different from the likes of himself.  His late night mentor was a veteran of earlier conflicts, he had a life, a job, a family and aspirations just as the guard did.  But the advocate also had convictions and the drive to stand up for what he felt to be right and for that the guard respected him as he knew the value of conviction and duty.  He understood it well.

The spell of the advocate’s stories was broken by the electronic buzzing from the guard’s watch.

“What’s that?” the advocate asked.

“My alarm, I set it to notify me when I went into double time.”

“So it’s midnight?”

“Yup, midnight it is.”

“Then I would like to wish you a heartfelt Merry Christmas, my friend.”  said the advocate as he extended a gloved hand over the gate.

The guard quickly clasp his hand in his and used his left hand to grab the advocates wrist, they heartily pumped each others arms up and down.

Reluctantly they released the other’s hand and stared across the gate in a clumsy silence when a sound to the west caught both of their attention.  They spun around to look up at the ridge.

While they had talked the full moon had begun to rise and was now just cresting the top of the ridge and as they looked for the sound that had interrupted their respite the lone silhouette of a wild horse arose over the ridge and stood clearly against the light of the moon.

They both stared as the magnificent figure gazed down upon them as the wind danced through it’s mane and tail.  While they were held transfixed; small, miniature ice crystals began to fall and lent a twinkling surreal atmosphere to the scene.  The tiny flakes came not from the clouds but from mountain tops far away, carried by the wind to fall upon their vision.

Far to the right of moon and over the horse a star pulsated and twinkled like a beacon and without any forewarning the shadow horse disappeared leaving only the sound of falling stones and a brief whirlwind of snow.  It was gone.

Neither of the men knew how long they had stood there until the guard broke the silence without mentioning what had just happened.

“You going back to town, tonight?”

It took the advocate a moment to answer as he turned to the guard  who was still looking up the ridge at the moon.

“Yes, I want to catch a few winks at the motel and be back here by first light.  Want to ensure that no chopper takes of early.  I know the date is a few days away but time, date, month, year; it all means nothing to your employer.”

“Not my employer, not anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Gun, badge and ID card are being left on the desk in the trailer.  If you will give me a ride I will pick up my backpack and hitch a lift with you back to town.  Don’t live too far from the motel.”

“Well certainly, but what about your job?”

“That’s just it; it’s a job and not my life.  As an American I cannot work for nor represent something that is so foul and corrupt.  I am a veteran and this agency shames me.”

“But what will your wife and family say?”

“Hopefully; Merry Christmas.  I will finally give my father the answer he has been waiting for, taking over the family feed store that he has wanted me to do for years.  And my wife, I will have Christmas dinner with her tomorrow, something I have not done since we were married in a rush prior to my deployment to Afghanistan.  That will be two Christmas presents in one.”

“I should think so”, smiled the advocate.

“But there is one more to give, to give to the horses.”  added the guard.  “I would like to come out here with you in the morning to help you watch and to listen to what you have to say.  I would like to witness for the horses if you would have me.”

The advocate slowly leaned over, set his now empty mug in the snow and reached across the gate, “It would be an honor, my friend, and absolute honor”, and the two men embraced each other across the cold, galvanized gate yet they only felt a burning warmth from within.

“I’ll go drop off my vitals and get my bag, it will only take a second.” said the guard as he spun around and started to walk away.

“Hey”, called the advocate, “Aren’t you the least bit worried about leaving this place unguarded.” there was a touch of laughter in his voice.

“Not if the terrorists are a bunch of Bailey’s drinking thugs like you.” laughed the guard as his shadow grew longer with each step towards the trailer.  “Just hold on.”

The advocate smiled to himself and stomped his feet to get the blood flowing back through his near frozen toes.

He stood there for a moment and allowed his spirit to bask in the warm afterglow of recent events.

He turned, again, to look up the ridge where the horse had stood only moments before.  In that short lapse of time the moon had moved higher in the sky dragging the shining star with it but there was no hint of the horse.

He looked at the star, listened to the wind and noted that the star was brighter and more active in it’s pulsing than it was earlier.  As he gazed upwards it came to him that another birth was being celebrated this clear, cold Christmas morning.  The impact of that realization pushed a warm tear from his eye, down his ruddy cheek and into his beard.

His internal realization manifested itself onto his lips in the form of a big smile and he whispered as much to the Spirit as he did to himself.

“Thank you for the goodness that was born this day and for a new birth, a new beginning for another kind and gentle spirit.  Thank you for an additional voice for the horses, another guardian of their spirit.  Thank you for the new advocate.”

The wind answered with a swirl of snow, a twinkle of a star and the call of a wild horse many miles away.

He sighed and with a frozen tear upon his cheek, nodded in return.

Along With Wild Horses, Burros Are At Risk Of Extermination, Too!

As a charter member of The Alliance to Save Wild Horses & Burros, Wild Horse Freedom Federation joins The Cloud Foundation and In Defense of Animals in highlighting the understated danger that Wild Burros face from both Federal and State agencies hell-bent on exterminating the Burro from it’s rightful range.