Scientists Agree: It’s Time To End The War On Wildlife

By Collette Adkins, Contributor as published on The Huffington Post

“Wild horses and burros survived centuries in perfect balance and harmony without the intervention of humans.  The removal of natural predators upsets the natural balance and the crisis rolls downhill initiating even more violent intervention by humans.  If we, as humans, would step back and cease attempting to manage something that does not require to be controlled the world would be a much better place to live for humans and animals alike.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.


“Today’s predator control is widespread in the American West…”

coyote-crueltyKilling large predators to reduce livestock conflicts or benefit game populations has long been thought to be ineffective — and devastating for ecosystems — and a growing body of scientific literature criticizing the widespread practice is confirming those fears.

Most recently, this month, the Journal of Mammalogy — a highly respected international scientific journal and flagship publication for the American Society of Mammalogists — published a special collection of articles criticizing lethal control of predators such as wolves and grizzlies.

Today’s predator control is widespread in the American West and has its origins in barbaric 20th century, government-sponsored predator eradication programs. Those utilized poisons and bounties to drive grizzly bears and wolves to the brink of extinction.

Thanks to the protection of the Endangered Species Act — which has saved more than 99 percent of the plants and animals under its protection and put hundreds on the road to recovery — the grizzly bear and wolf have begun to recover. But as these large carnivores expand their population size and range, people have once again called for lethal control to address livestock depredations and inflate game populations.

In states where gray wolves have lost their federal protections, such as Idaho, state managers dead set on killing the predators established aggressive hunting seasons and lethal depredation controls. After the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing Yellowstone grizzly bears from the list of federally protected species, states like Montana moved quickly to establish hunting seasons.

Then there’s the coyote, a predator lacking protection at state or federal levels and a primary target of predator control programs across the U.S. Tens of thousands of these resilient predators are killed each year by a highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services.

The numbers of predators killed by Wildlife Services is staggering. The latest kill report shows Wildlife Services in fiscal year 2015 killed more than 3.2 million animals, including 68,905 coyotes (plus an unknown number of pups in 492 destroyed dens), 385 gray wolves, 284 mountain lions, 731 bobcats and 3,437 foxes.

This level of human-caused mammalian predator mortality is damaging native ecosystems and biodiversity. The lead article in the Journal of Mammalogy’s special feature on lethal control — “Carnivore conservation: shifting the paradigm from control to coexistence” — summarizes studies on the essential role of apex predators like wolves and grizzlies and mesopredators like coyotes and foxes in maintaining ecosystem function. A well-known example is how wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone created a trophic cascade that enriched riparian songbird communities.

Given the ecological importance of wolves and other predators, scientists are calling for implementation of nonlethal methods to prevent livestock depredations.

The authors of “Adaptive use of nonlethal strategies for minimizing wolf-sheep conflict in Idaho” in the special feature document a seven-year pilot project in prime Idaho wolf habitat, highlighting the adaptive use of a suite of nonlethal deterrents to protect sheep. Those nonlethal methods reduced sheep depredation by more than three times the reductions seen on sheep allotments in Idaho that used lethal control.

Another study featured, “Cattle mortality on a predator friendly station in central Australia,” found that ending lethal control may in itself — even without implementing nonlethal methods — reduce livestock losses by simply enabling the predator’s social structure to stabilize.

Not only are aggressive lethal controls ineffective, they have actually been found to increase livestock losses, as was found among gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. Scientists demonstrated similar results from aggressive lethal control of cougars, which replaces adult males with immigrating adolescent males that are more likely to depredate. Other studies show that lethal control of wolves may be merely shifting depredation from cattle to sheep because coyotes replace the wolves and target smaller livestock.

As for predator control to benefit game populations, a meta-analysis of 113 predator removal experiments found that the intended beneficiary prey population actually declined in 54 of them.

In addition to the ecological and wildlife policy concerns with lethal control of predators, public acceptance of lethal predator control methods appears to be declining. While the public supports the need for livestock producers to protect their animals, foot or leghold traps, snares and poisons are viewed by the majority of the public to be so inhumane their use should not be allowed.

With all the issues surrounding lethal predator control, one would hope livestock producers would have help in implementing nonlethal alternatives. Yet very few states have any permanent programs to protect livestock from depredations using nonlethal methods comparable to the federal Wildlife Services lethal control program.

With scientific evidence against carnivore controls mounting, it is time to finally stop the cruel, senseless killing and start utilizing smart, nonlethal methods that actually work, benefiting both livestock and these majestic wild animals.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scientists-agree-its-time-to-end-the-war-on-wildlife_us_58a77e73e4b026a89a7a2b08

Utah Wild Horses Lose Bid for Freedom in Federal Court

story by as published in Courthouse News

Friends of Animals fail to convince Federal Judge…”

i-said-noWASHINGTON (CN) – An animal-rights group lost their court battle to block the U.S. government from removing hundreds of wild horses from Utah’s Cedar Mountains.

The Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency tasked with managing public lands, performs roundups periodically across the country to keep the wild horse population from deteriorating the rangeland.

Though the bureau counted 800 horses in the Cedar Mountain herd in March 2016, an aerial survey this past December showed that the herd had increased to approximately 960.

The bureau proposed a plan to round up 600 from the herd, permanently remove no more than 300 of them, and return the rest to the wild after treating them with a contraceptive vaccine called PZP, or porcine zona pellucid.

On Feb. 7, a day before the scheduled roundup, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington rejected a demand by Friends of Animals for an injunction.

Friends of Animals had accused the bureau of violating the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to conduct a new environmental assessment, something the group said the agency was required to do because it would gather more horses this time than it did nine years ago.

Cooper notes in the 23-page ruling, however, that the bureau’s proposal seeks to permanently remove 150 fewer wild horses than it did in 2008, making the overall number of horses affected about the same this time around.

That renders a new environmental assessment unnecessary, Cooper determined.

Friends of Animals also wanted the bureau to review recent studies on possible adverse side effects of PZP on horse health and birthing cycles.

In rejecting this move, Cooper said federal agencies are not required to consider every study that crosses their desks, unless it shows a significant impact on the quality of the human environment the agency had not previously considered.

Here, Cooper found the bureau in compliance.

“BLM considered the studies offered by plaintiff in its comments and determined that they did not significantly change BLM’s prior analysis,” the ruling states.

“The bureau found studies on consecutive years of PZP treatment, for example, irrelevant to the proposed action because Cedar Mountain mares are treated in four to five-year intervals, not in consecutive years or breeding cycles,” the ruling continues (emphasis original).

Cooper also found that the BLM had already considered older studies with findings similar to those Friends of Animals wanted the agency to review.

“Given these reasoned determinations, the Court concludes that the BLM most likely acted within its informed discretion in refusing to find that the ‘new information’ offered by Plaintiff warranted additional environmental analysis,” the ruling states.

In opting not to grant an injunction to the group, Cooper called its claim that PZP has long-term and adverse health consequences on the horses “unsubstantiated by scientific literature.”

“Plaintiff points only to the declaration of its photographer-member to support it,” the ruling states.

Cooper additionally shot down the advocacy group’s claim that the BLM failed to consider range conditions and herd size in making its determination to remove wild horses to maintain an ecological balance.

As the bureau said in its final decision, which the ruling quotes, the “gather is necessary to remove excess wild horses and to reduce the population in order to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance between wild horses and other multiple uses as required under [the Wild Horses Act].” (Emphasis original.)

The logic underpinning that “appears simple and sound,” Cooper found.

On whether the BLM should be required to make a determination of excess before claiming the authority to treat young mares with PZP, Cooper found the bureau to be in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.

“It is likely that BLM properly determined that there were excess horses in the Cedar Mountain HMA,” the ruling states, abbreviating herd management area. “And its decision to remove or otherwise manage that excess population does not appear to be in violation of the Wild Horses Act.”

https://courthousenews.com/feds-avert-challenge-to-roundup-of-wild-horses/

NM Senate Committee Passes Horse as Livestock Bill

Dianne L Stallings , Ruidoso News

“Wild Horse Advocates fear new provisions could lead to the elimination of wild herds…”

Members of the wild herd rounded up last year were photographed crossing at their designated point on the highway leading into Alto and Ruidoso.(Photo: Courtesy/Melissa Babcock)

Members of the wild herd rounded up last year were photographed crossing at their designated point on the highway leading into Alto and Ruidoso.(Photo: Courtesy/Melissa Babcock)

Local advocates for wild horse herds in New Mexico piled into a bus at 3:30 a.m. Thursday and headed to Santa Fe to voice their views on an amended version of a state senate bill they feared would lead to the elimination of wild horse herds that roam the Alto area north of Ruidoso.

Despite the efforts of advocates, they reported that members of the Senate Conservation Committee passed the bill in less than five minutes. A series of hearings led to modifications of the original bill submitted by State Sen. Pat Woods, a Republican from Quay County, that eliminates the classification of domesticated horse.

While under the amended version horses still would be lumped into the broad definition for livestock that fall under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Livestock Board, specific exceptions were included for Spanish colonial horses and for a “wild horse” defined as an “unclaimed horse without obvious brands or other evidence of private ownership that is determined by the board to originate from public land or federal land or to be part of or descended from a herd that lives on or originates from public land; but does not include horses that are subject to the jurisdiction of the federal government pursuant to the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.”

Public land does not include federal land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service or state trust land.

Under the amended version, a wild horse captured on private land in New Mexico at the discretion of the livestock board “shall be” humanely captured and relocated to state public land or to a public or private horse preserve; adopted by a qualified person (for an adoption fee); or humanely euthanized provided the option is the last resort when the horse is determined by a licensed veterinarian to be crippled or otherwise unhealthy or cannot be relocated to a public or private wild horse preserve or adopted.

A new section throws in another wrinkle for the future of “wild horses” such as the herds in Alto. That section in the amended bill provides when requested by the board to determine the viability of a specific New Mexico wild horse herd on the range they occupy, the range improvement task force of New Mexico State University will evaluate the range conditions to determine the number of wild horses that the range can support while maintaining its ecological health.

The task force will report the results of the evaluation to the board. “If required, the board may cause control of the New Mexico wild horse herd population through the use of birth control and may cause excess horses to be humanely captured” and relocated, adopted or euthanized…(CONTINUED)

http://www.ruidosonews.com/story/news/local/2017/02/09/senate-committee-passes-horse-livestock-bill/97712106/

300 Former Wild Horses in South Dakota Need Homes as Deadline Looms

Source: ISPMB/Emergency Adoption Mission

“The ‘Hallelujah Horses’ Need Your Help!”

Volunteers are scrambling to find homes for hundreds of wild horses in South Dakota that were spared a possible trip to the slaughterhouse but are now suffering through a harsh winter.

The horses, some of them blind, were once kept at a troubled South Dakota sanctuary. Now a small group of volunteers from across the country is working 10 hours a day to feed and care for animals, using rented plows to carve paths through 15-foot snowdrifts. In a nearby hotel room, other volunteers are sorting through adoption applications and networking through social media, desperately trying to find homes for the horses before they are forced to leave the property next month.

“We are working to get the whole herd out of the 15-foot snow. Some are blind and are walking out right over the fences. It’s really hard to work with so many horses with so many problems,” said Elaine Nash, director of horse rescue organization Fleet of Angels, who is spearheading the operation. “Every time we get over one hurdle there’s another one waiting for us.”

Some 500 horses have already been placed in sanctuaries and ranches across the country, from Arizona and Oregon to California and Minnesota. But the effort near Lantry, in northern South Dakota, isn’t done.

The remaining 300 wild horses could be more difficult to sell or have adopted, Nash said. Nearly 200 are stallions that need gelding before anyone will want them. Dozens are old and have health problems. Others are blind from what Nash suspects was toxic farm runoff in their drinking pond.

But Nash was grateful for the response so far to the neglected herd. Many of the less desirable horses have already found homes, and Nash is hopeful that most will be out of South Dakota by their deadline.

When Nash first spread the word in October, This Old Horse rescue in Hastings, Minnesota, agreed to take two older mares.

They wound up taking seven stallions, all blind, instead.

“I don’t know how it happened,” joked Nancy Turner, board president of This Old Horse. “Elaine is really good at convincing people.”

Turner said it’s not easy. The horses are wild, after all, and need special handling and transportation. Most have never been inside a barn or trailer.

“But part of it for me is that these aren’t poor needy horses,” Turner said. “They are magnificent. I thought that we could celebrate them rather than see them as poor things that should probably be put down.”

More than 800 horses were impounded in October at the nonprofit International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros after a state veterinarian found they were being neglected and a former ranch employee said they were being starved to death. All but 20 were eventually surrendered by their owner.

By mid-December, a third of the horses had been adopted or sold while the other 550 or so were being held as collateral by county officials seeking reimbursement for the cost of caring for the horses. When it didn’t come, the counties started planning to auction off the rest to recoup the cost, making animal rights groups fear many of the horses would be brought to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

Fleet of Angels and other animal rights groups raised the $78,000 still owed to the counties and stopped the auction. They then assumed the costs and responsibility of caring for the horses

The group is now gathering, microchipping, collecting blood samples and trimming the feet of the remaining horses and gelding the stallions. Meanwhile, they still need financial support to feed and care for a herd burning through $1,000 in hay each day.

Nash said horses won’t be euthanized unless they have broken bones or serious conditions — even horses that might be difficult to adopt.

“We know that someone will come forward and give them good homes. People care about these horses and about making this mission a success,” she said.

Note: “200 stallions” was the total number of the stallions out of the total 810.  Also, about 95% of the horses look great after receiving $150,000 worth of hay since mid-October.

UW, BLM to Begin Controversial and Inhumane Wild Horse Movement Study

Source: UWYO.edu

“From the destruction of wild horse’s genitals to the installation of dangerous collars the rogue federal agency, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), continues to enlist the aide of America’s institutions of higher learning to be partners in their crimes.” ~ R.T.

It works on cows

“It works on cows, duuuuuhhhh!”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the University of Wyoming are beginning a study to learn more about wild horse seasonal use and movements in the Adobe Town herd management area (HMA).

The study will begin with a bait-trap gather and radio collaring of up to 30 wild mares during February. No wild horses will be removed during this nonhelicopter gather.

UW scientists Derek Scasta and Jeff Beck, both in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, are heading the research. Jake Hennig, a Ph.D. student in the department, also will participate. They will use the information gleaned from the radio collars to learn more about how wild horses interact with their environment. Specifically, the researchers will study migration patterns and herd movements in the HMA. The BLM says it will use the study results to ensure wild horse herds continue to thrive on healthy rangelands.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture has provided $120,000 to start the research. The BLM also has contributed funding.

Bait-trapping involves setting up temporary corrals within the HMA to attract wild horses safely into the corral. When a certain number of horses has entered the pen, the gate to the corral is closed. Once the horses are gathered, trained personnel will load and transport selected mares to the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility. After the horses arrive at the facility, staff from the U.S. Geological Survey will place collars with GPS tracking devices on the horses. The horses will then be returned to the HMA.

The 20-30 mares that BLM will select to wear GPS collars will be 5 years old or older. All other wild horses gathered will be immediately released shortly after the selected mares are sorted and held for collaring. All mares will be released at or near the same location where they were gathered. The selected contractors are in the process of identifying trap site locations and will begin the bait-trapping process soon.

Corrals could be set up in stages over a period of days to allow the horses to grow accustomed to the enclosures. About three to five trap sites are required to distribute radio-collared mares throughout the entire HMA. Bait-trapping is an effective method for capturing small numbers of selected horses.

The number of people in the trap area will be limited to key personnel to ensure a successful and safe gather for the horses.

Public viewing opportunities will be limited. Public viewing is always allowed at the wild horse holding facility overlook in Rock Springs, where the mares will be taken to be collared. Public viewing also will be allowed at the release sites of the collared mares. The BLM will keep a list of people who would like to attend the releasing of the collared mares and notify them at least one day before the releases. Media and interested public can view and photograph the mares being released with the GPS collars. To add your name to the list for public viewing, contact BLM Public Affairs Officer Tony Brown at (307) 352-0215.

The BLM’s Rawlins Field Office released the decision record and finding of no significant impact for the Adobe Town HMA Wild Horse Movements and Habitat Selection Research Gather Environmental Assessment Nov. 9, 2016. The decision was to allow enough wild horses to be gathered by bait trapping, so up to 30 selected mares could be outfitted with GPS collars. The BLM will use two separate contractors to conduct the bait-trapping operations.

Click (HERE) to view BLM Press Release

Utah Rep. Withdraws Public Land Sale Bill After Massive Public Outcry

as published on The Idaho Statesman

“A Clear Victory for Native Wild Horses and Burros…”

keepitpublicUtah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz said he will withdraw a bill ordering the Interior Secretary to sell or dispose of more than 3.3 million acres of public land.

Chaffetz had just reintroduced the bill when his office and Instagram account were flooded with protests from angry hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“I am withdrawing HR 621,” Chaffetz tweeted late Wednesday. “I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands.”

H.R. 621 was based on a 20-year-old report that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt ordered to see what among the possibly disposable Bureau of Land Management land was available for sale or trade to complete the Everglades Restoration effort.

The 1997 report clearly showed that many of the parcels spread out across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming had impediments to sale, including high disposal costs, critical natural or cultural resources, wildlife habitat, mineral claims, leases and hazardous conditions.

When he rolled out the bill earlier this week, Chaffetz said the land serves “no purpose for taxpayers.” His bill also would open the door to sales of other lands.

But he changed his tune Wednesday…

Wild Horses Deserve a Better Film than ‘Unbranded’

by Libby Blanchard as published on High Country News

“I found the documentary disturbing. Scenes of negligence towards the mustangs abound…”

Unbranded CrueltyA few nights ago, I downloaded the acclaimed 2015 film Unbranded. This crowd-funded film, made by Fin and Fur Productions from Bozeman, Montana, depicts the journey of four young men who ride mustangs from the Mexican border up to Canada, traveling through some of the most beautiful public lands in the American West.

Unbranded is marketed as a celebration of the American mustang, both wild and under saddle. It was featured at the Banff Mountain Film and Telluride Mountainfilm festivals, and continues to be promoted widely. Last year, it was a top download on iTunes and gained over 150,000 likes on Facebook. Outside Magazine and the Los Angeles Times gave it glowing reviews.

But I found the documentary disturbing. Scenes of negligence towards the mustangs abound. A dog drives a horse to jump a barbed wire fence. The horse’s hind leg gets ensnarled in the wire, and the animal struggles to pull free while the boys watch.

Another scene shows a horse limping from a torn muscle in its hindquarters, the after-effect of setting him loose to graze with his halter on. Any real horseman knows that a horse can easily catch its hoof in the webbing of a halter negligently left on, resulting in severe and potentially permanent injuries.

But the most egregious scene is when the boys force their horses up dangerous terrain. Someone notes that the route is a bad idea, but no one has the maturity or leadership to turn back. After struggling up the steep mountain face, one horse — unable to gain purchase in the loose, unstable footing — kneels down in exhaustion. When the boys provoke it back onto its feet, the mustang struggles for a foothold. Unable to find purchase, it tumbles off the mountainside, rolling through the air down a significant drop before crashing onto flatter ground.

At this point, I turned off the film, disgusted. When I finished it later, I discovered — unsurprisingly, given the negligence and ignorance throughout — that one of the horses dies. This fatal injury, likely a cervical spine fracture, is never explained. Instead, the death is romanticized by these self-identified cowboys, who say it is “satisfying to know that he died in the wild where he belonged, not in a holding pen.” Yet there’s little moral high ground for the cowboys to stand on: A horse was fatally injured under their care, a circumstance that is neither common nor acceptable on a horse-packing trip.

The film’s storyline is also troubling. A veterinarian and various Bureau of Land Management officials talk about how hard it is to protect public lands from overgrazing while still conserving the mustang as an American icon. The solution: moving “surplus” mustangs from the range to federally run holding pens to prevent further degradation of the land and starvation of the horses. Yet the filmmakers make only a slight attempt to explore the contentious political context of too many mustangs roaming the public land. The title, Unbranded, by the way, makes little sense as the BLM freeze-brands every horse that it rounds up for adoption or life in a holding pen.

The only comprehensive thread woven through the documentary is the account of four fame-seeking boys who disregard the welfare of their horses to inflate their own egos. Instead of being exalted, the American mustang is treated as a cheap, easily replaceable commodity available for irresponsible use.

While some reviewers have criticized the choices of the protagonists, virtually all conclude that the film is redeemable because of its cinematography. Unbranded does depict sweeping vistas, but this doesn’t excuse the behavior of the people we’re watching. As Aristotle observed, when storytelling goes bad, spectacle is substituted for substance. Richly painted sunsets and the drama of needlessly frightened, panicking horses become ends in themselves.

As wrong as it was for these young men to treat their mustangs neglectfully, it is also unfortunate for the public to accept this behavior. To celebrate this documentary at film festivals, to mount no outcry about it in over a year, is to condone behavior that is neither common nor acceptable. Those of us who love the West and its mustangs should stay away from this documentary.

Welfare Ranching Grazing Fee Drops in 2017, Further Undervaluing Public Lands

Source: The Wildlife News

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,”

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

Welfare Cows eat more of your wallet and Wild Horse & Burro Habitat

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The public lands management agencies announced the grazing fee for federal allotments today, which the federal government has decreased to a mere $1.87 per cow and her calf (or 5 sheep) per month, known as an Animal Unit Month, or AUM.

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Our public lands are a national treasure that should be protected for future generations with responsible stewardship. It makes no sense to rent them to ranchers for below-market prices to prop up a dying industry that degrades soil productivity, water, wildlife habitat, and the health of the land.”

Two hundred and twenty million acres of public lands in the West are used for private livestock industry profits through the management of approximately 22,000 grazing permits. The low fee leaves the federal program at an overwhelming deficit. This year’s fee is a a decrease of 11 percent from last year’s fee of $2.11 per AUM far less than the average cost for private lands grazing leases.  The fee is calculated using a decades-old formula that takes into account the price of fuel and the price of beef, and this year’s fee falls far below the level of $2.31 per AUM that was charged in 1980. Additionally, the fee doesn’t cover the cost to taxpayers of range infrastructure, erosion control, vegetation manipulation, and government predator killing – all indirect subsidies that expand the program’s total deficit.

“The subsidy to public lands livestock grazers just got bigger,” Molvar said. “It’s a totally unjustified handout that persists for purely political reasons, with little or no benefit to Americans.”

South Dakota Reaches Settlement Transferring Control of 520 ISPMB at-risk Horses to Fleet of Angels; Public’s Help Needed in Massive Rescue Operation

Source: Fleet of Angels

“The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history…”

SD Horses South Dakota state’s attorneys have reached a settlement agreement with the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros that will transfer full control of 520 horses to Fleet of Angels, an equine welfare-related not for profit organization. After 810 horses were originally impounded on Oct. 11, 2016 by the court in Ziebach and Dewey Counties, a Fleet of Angels emergency event team- in a heroic effort headed by Palomino Armstrong facilitated the adoptions of over 270 horses that were transported from the ISPMB location in SD to new homes by Christmas, in spite of multiple challenging circumstances including blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and logistical limitations.

The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history by allowing the wild horses to be placed in safe homes rather than sold at auction, where they could have fallen into the hands of kill buyers who would transport them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

State’s attorneys in Ziebach and Dewey Counties on Jan. 5 filed a motion requesting that the management and placement of the horses be turned over to a suitable caretaker. Fleet of Angels, an organization that provides emergency assistance and transportation to at-risk equines in the United States and Canada, was asked by SD state’s attorneys to assume that role. Fleet of Angels has received a large number of applications for the 520 horses included in the settlement agreement.  The horses will be placed in approved homes, sanctuaries and rescues as soon as transportation can be arranged.  The organization’s goal is to have every horse in its new home within 60 days, after most of them are moved to a facility in Colorado that will offer a better climate, safer and better loading options, and more suitable conditions for the effort.

Fleet of Angels’ executive director Elaine Nash, who is spearheading the effort said, “After almost four months of working nearly around the clock to get these horses out of an extremely cold and inhospitable environment, it’s nice to now have the freedom to relocate them to a much more suitable adoption hub. We are preparing to relocate the horses to a facility where each horse can be properly vetted and readied for their adopters. or one of the participating Fleet of Angels transporters to pick them up and take them to safe, new homes.  When we say ‘Teamwork works’, we mean it!  Without the efforts of the many concerned people who are helping with this mission in a variety of ways, a massive emergency rescue like this could never be possible.”

Return to Freedom, an organization known nationally for its work with wild horses, has also played a vital role in providing solutions that averted an auction scheduled for Dec. 20, when where many of the horses likely would have been lost to the slaughter pipeline.

“RTF will continue to partner with Fleet of Angels and other Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members and partners to do what we can to facilitate the responsible placement of stallions, bonded horses and whole herds when possible,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

The Humane Society of the United States, the Griffin-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation, and another national equine welfare organization generously contributed toward a fund to cover what the counties expended in feeding and caring of the horses since October, when state and local authorities impounded the 810 ISPMB wild horses following a finding of neglect. Their contributions made it possible to prevent the horses from going to auction.

The health of the wild horses varies. While some are in good condition, many are underweight.  Some also suffer from blindness or vision impairment.

Fleet of Angels and its partners, Return to Freedom and the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members need the public’s support to pay for veterinary and farrier care, feed and transportation. Feed costs alone are $40,000 per month. That and other expenses will continue to mount — making donations absolutely critical to successfully getting these horses adopted to new homes.

The Fleet of Angels team has nicknamed the 520 horses that will be heading to new homes, ‘The Hallelujah Horses’.

For more background information, please click here [link to previous press release]

How the public can help

Feed and Care Fund: The public can support the wild horses while adoptions continue by donating to a fund created to for feed, veterinary care, and all other costs related the lifesaving mission for the ISPMP horses by donating to the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance.

Adopt:  Over 200 people have applied to adopt two or more of these special horses. However, Fleet of Angels and partners are hoping to get more of the horses adopted in family bands, larger groups and herds.  Anyone who is interested in adopting some of these horses in larger bonded groups please contact: Fleet of Angels at HoldYourHorses@aol.com or on the ISPMB Horses / Emergency Adoption Mission page on Facebook.

Transport:  (Update: 1-28-2017) To reduce travel distances for some of the horses and to reduce costs for adopters, all previously approved adopters who live in northern states, and transporters who cover that part of the country are encouraged to connect ASAP to make arrangements to have horses picked up from their current SD location before all the herds are moved to the new adoption hub in Colorado.  All other adopters are welcome to start working toward having their horses transported from western Colorado soon.  The exact location of the new adoption hub will be provided within a few days.

All approved adopters seeking discount transportation through Fleet of Angels can submit a Request for Transport Quotes at http://www.FleetOfAngels.org,  so transporters in their areas can reach out to them.  Adopters are also encouraged to use FOA’s Map of Angels and Directory, as well as the org’s networking page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FleetOfAngels/  to make their transport needs known to FOA transporters.

http://www.fleetofangels.org/

Update on ISPMB Wild Horse Hearing

By Elaine Nash

16195789_10212724812901777_3398401177923305476_nThe hearing regarding final resolution to the ISPMB case- which was first scheduled for January 27 and then changed to January 26 and 27, has now been canceled. The State Attorney decided to make a deal with ISPMB, allowing them to keep some of the horses- from 12-30, we’re told. The terms will be official by the close of business today, we’re told Fleet of Angels and our partner organizations didn’t participate in the deal making, and had no voice in the negotiations. We will release an official statement as soon as we receive our copy of the new court order, so that we’ll be providing the most accurate information possible. In the meantime, the final points of the deal are being worked out between ISPMB attorneys and State Attorney. Anything said by others in the press or on social media right now is based on speculation.

We’re preparing to pick up the rest of the horses and relocate them to a new, much more appropriate adoption hub. That’s our big news, really, and we’re eager to share the details ASAP!

Although this new deal comes as a surprise to us, we are pleased that by the end of this mission, we will have been able to save approximately 96% of the ISPMB horses. Think about that- 96% of the horses will be leaving ISPMB very soon. With YOUR help, we’ll keep them fed and cared for while we work to get them to their new adoptive homes!