On the Eve of the Checkerboard Roundup, An Old Adobe Town Friend is Found

SOURCE:  wildhoofbeats.com

Mica’s Dad, still wild and free

On the eve of the 2017 Checkerboard Roundup, an old Adobe Town Friend is Found

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In 2010 I was staying in Rawlins, Wyoming to observe the Adobe Town Roundup. The day before the roundup started, I had an encounter with a family of wild horses who would change my life forever.

A wild family through the sagebrush

“Sunrise Stallion”

Just before dawn, I saw a small family peeking out at me through the sagebrush – a grey mare, a pale palomino colt and two other youngsters. I turned and saw a sight that took my breath away – a majestic sorrel stallion with the early light falling on his reddish coat. He looked at me for a few seconds, then he and his family disappeared into the sagebrush.

Mica follows his father

Mica and his mother

Mica’s parents

The next day, after a long disheartening day of watching wild horses being herded into traps by a helicopter, then separated from their family and trucked off to a short term holding facility, I caught sight of the family I had seen the day before. This time, they appeared curious and circled me. The pale palomino colt followed his father, then moved over to his mother for security. The family was directly in the path of where the roundup was taking place, and I thought that it was such a sad shame that they would most likely be rounded up and separated forever.

They were rounded up along with over 2000 other wild horses in Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek. I heard that a stunning sorrel stallion had been released and was hopeful that it was him. The pale palomino colt was shipped to Canon City. I never found out what happened to the rest of the family.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

 

The Big Win in Wyoming

Source: Western Watersheds Project

Welfare Ranchers Get a Boot in the Butt!!!

Western Watersheds Project is not primarily known for its defense of the U.S. Constitution. We tend to focus on federal laws and policies relating to the environment and public lands. But now, thanks to a Tenth Circuit Court win and a successful but protracted battle in Wyoming, you can count us among the defenders of free speech!

It all started when Jonathan Ratner, our dedicated Wyoming Director, started gathering evidence of livestock-caused water pollution on public lands and submitting his data to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). His results of significant fecal coliform contamination were so threatening to the political establishment of the “Cowboy State” that rather than clean up the water, Wyoming ranchers started to seek ways to shut us up.

In 2014, anti-environmental attorney (and potential Trump pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management) Karen Budd-Falen and a group of ranchers claimed Jonathan must have trespassed on their private property in order to gather water quality samples from public lands grazing allotments. She wound up the loser. This frivolous lawsuit was resolved in 2016 through a settlement agreement that ultimately penalized the ranchers through their legal fees, and WWP agreeing to follow the same laws it always follows regarding private lands.

Then, in 2015, the Wyoming DEQ decided not to accept any of WWP’s data: “Any submission submitted by such organizations should not be accepted due to their inherent bias towards one of Wyoming’s leading economic industries.” If an organization cares about water quality and native fish habitat more than cows, the data be damned.

Also that year, the DEQ decided to change the rules about E.coli in 76 percent of the waterways in the state – effectively legalizing the extreme pollution levels that Jonathan had been documenting. The rule change, requested by the livestock industry, went into effect in February 2017 despite broad opposition by non-ranchers, recreational users, and federal land management agencies.

In addition to working against WWP and the public’s interest in healthy waterways, the Wyoming State Legislature decided to take special interests’ right to wreck the environment to another level by passing legislation making it illegal to cross “open land for the purpose of collecting resource data.” WWP and our allies were alarmed by the fact that the laws – dubbed “Jonathan’s Laws” by our staff – would seek specifically to punish people who intend to communicate data to the government; this is a restriction on free speech and targets a specific class of citizens (data collectors) in a way that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

After the Wyoming legislature modified the laws in 2016, Wyoming had our case in District Court dismissed. But WWP and our co-plaintiffs weren’t fooled by the tweaks in language, and we appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal and concluded that plain reading of the statute demonstrated that Wyoming was seeking to regulate an activity that occurred on public land and that resource data collection is within the definition of the creation of speech – protected under the First Amendment and essential to public participation in numerous federal environmental statutes. The case now goes back to district court.

Wyoming counties have also taken up the charge to block public access in public lands. In Lincoln County, for years the public used a county road to reach the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area on public lands. In 2013, the county sold a strip of land along the road to an Idaho rancher and subsequently made the private portion of the road impassable. According to emails revealed in litigation, this was done specifically to block WWP’s access to a long-troubled grazing allotment.

WWP is enormously grateful to our attorneys at Public Justice and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association and Natural Resource Defense Council for standing with us on this appeal. We’re also enormously proud of Jonathan Ratner’s work to expose and address the harmful impacts of public lands livestock grazing in the “Cowboy State.”

While we wait for this next round of litigation, we hope that Wyoming’s next move is simply to clean up its act and stop letting the livestock industry foul the state’s precious waters with impunity. 

https://www.westernwatersheds.org/

Keep calling Congress TODAY (Sept. 6th) – Our Wild Horses & Burros Need Your Help Now!

SOURCE:  Wildhoofbeats.com

Wild Horses Rounded up at the Checkerboard Roundup in 2014

Wild Horses Rounded up at the Checkerboard Roundup in 2014

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Congress is back in session and the 2018 Budget will be under consideration. Over 46,000 wild horses and burros currently in short term holding and long term holding plus over 46,000 right now still on public lands but deemed “excess” by the BLM are at risk of being killed or sent to slaughter.

Despite asserting the need to do this to save money, on 8/29 the BLM announced its decision to roundup and remove 1560 wild horses from the Checkerboard Area in Wyoming, a vast area of over 2.4 million acres. They will begin this removal on or after September 15 and will take 513 wild horses from Adobe Town, 725 from Salt Wells Creek and 322 from Great Divide Basin. These horses are doomed to be killed if the 2018 Budget passes as is.

Wild Family in Adobe Town

Wild Family in Adobe Town

Here is the Decision Record for the 2017 Checkerboard Roundup:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/74247/118694/144899/3.Decision_Record_8_29_17.pdf

We need your help NOW to stop the killing and slaughter of our wild horses and burros.

Please call your Senators and Representatives today and every day until the 2018 Budget is passed.

Find your Representatives here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Tell them I support the Titus-King-Polis Amendment to restore the prohibition on killing wild horses and burros

Tell them I support the Buchanon-Roybal-Allard-Royce-Blumenthal Amendment to prevent horse slaughter

Find your Senators here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Tell them I oppose any provision allowing BLM to kill wild horses and burros or sell them to someone who will

I oppose any attempt to remove sale restrictions on wild horses and burros

Checkerboard mare and foal

Checkerboard mare and foal

You can download this flyer here:

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/TellCongresstoSTOP.pdf

Wyoming BLM Fails to Analyze Climate Impacts of Oil and Gas, Yet Again

SOURCE:  climatewest.org

By

Last week, Guardians submitted comments on Interior Secretary Zinke’s and the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to hold two oil and gas lease sales in March of next year.

Instead of turning over a new leaf in 2018, the Wyoming BLM is planning to giveaway 125,000+ acres of public land for fracking in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (northwestern Wyoming) and 48,000+ acres in the High Plains District (eastern Wyoming).  Not surprisingly, based on the draft environmental analysis, Wyoming fails again to fully analyze the climate change impacts from the lease sales.

The Wyoming BLM continues to refuse to analyze the cumulative climate impacts even when the lease sales are occurring at the same time and in the same state (not to mention the 1 million plus acres leased in the West 2017).  And, Wyoming continually touts the benefits of oil and gas while failing to even attempt to look at the social costs of releasing more carbon into our atmosphere (a requirement that two courts recently re-affirmed).

Read the rest of this article HERE.

 

Wolves can be shot on sight in most of Wyoming after state takes over management

by as published at the Casper Star Tribune

Wyoming assumed management once again of wolves within its borders on Tuesday, and those apex predators wandering outside the northwest corner of the state can be shot on sight.

The Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., entered its final order in favor of Wyoming in a lawsuit that landed wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014. The court announced in early March that it had upheld the state’s plan but had not issued its final order.

Tuesday’s decision is what Wyoming wolf managers hope is the last legal battle in a roller-coaster legal process.

 “All indications are that this decision shows once again that Wyoming’s plan is a sound management plan,” said Brian Nesvik, chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s wildlife division. “They will remain in the hands of state management. For Wyoming this is, again, this is a time for us to celebrate. This is a good thing for Wyoming to be able to take on another wildlife resource.”

No changes were made to Wyoming’s wolf management plan from when the state oversaw the carnivores between 2012 and 2014, Nesvik said.

That means Wyoming will manage the 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation.

Wolves in 85 percent of the state are considered a predator and can be shot on sight, similar to coyotes. They are classified as a trophy animal in the northwest corner of the state and subject to fall hunting seasons. Those seasons have not yet been set, Nesvik said, adding that wolves in those areas cannot be hunted right now. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will set those seasons after a public comment period…(CONTINUED)

http://trib.com/lifestyles/recreation/wolves-can-be-shot-on-sight-in-most-of-wyoming/article_b22f00b2-cc8e-50d0-99eb-fd2b24f8608d.html

Please Comment to Protect Wyoming’s Wild Horses from the Devastating 2017 Checkerboard Roundup

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

Adobe Town Family

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Please Comment by April 4, 2017 on the Checkerboard 2017 Roundup

The BLM was unable to roundup wild horses from Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town and Great Divide Basin in 2016 because we won a lawsuit that prohibits the BLM from managing the wild horses in the Checkerboard using only Section 4 of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which allows them to remove wild horses from private lands.  Because the Checkerboard includes public lands, it is illegal to manage them as if they were privately owned by the ranchers demanding these roundups.  In order to legally roundup wild horses from the Checkerboard, the BLM must prove that the numbers are above Appropriate Management Level, or AML.  Now, they are not even conducting a census to prove this, instead they are “projecting” that the horses are over the high end of AML.

Roundups cause the destruction of hundreds of wild horse families, as well as injuries and death to the horses as they are chased by helicopters and flee in terror into traps.  These captured wild horses are chased into trailers and taken away from the only home they have ever had to end up spending the rest of their days languishing in holding corrals with no shelter.  Only a lucky few are adopted by members of the public and these do not always mean good homes – the return rate back to the BLM for adopted or purchased wild horses is over 50%.  Many many of these horses will end up at slaughter in Mexico.  There is no good reason to roundup and remove these horses from Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin.

I have been following and observing and photographing the wild horses in these three herd management areas for the last 13 years. These horses are uniquely suited to this sometime harsh high desert environment.  They are the last three largest herds in Wyoming, and they deserve to be preserved on our public lands.  Although the Checkerboard presents challenges to BLM management because of its pattern of public alternating with private lands, that is no reason to cave into petty demands from the Rock Springs Grazing Association, which is made up from less than 25 members.  These wild horses are valuable to us, the American public, and so every effort must be made to preserve them here where they were found at the time the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed.  These horses were here long before the Grazing Association, and now what needs to happen is land swaps to consolidate blocks of public land that the horses can continue to roam upon.  Managing the wild horses on the range, on our public lands where they can continue to roam free and making these necessary land swaps happen is what the BLM needs to be working on, not perpetuating this every 3 year pattern of roundup, removal, then warehouse our wild horses.  The Field Manager of the Rock Springs BLM Field Office has been quoted as saying: “For all intents and purposes, we consider the Checkerboard private.”  But it is NOT private.  In fact, over half of the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas are public land, that belongs to us, the citizens of the United States of America, not the Rock Springs Grazing Association.

Great Divide Basin Family

This time, the BLM wants to remove 1029 wild horses: 584 removed from Salt Wells Creek, 210 removed from Adobe Town, and 235 removed from Great Divide Basin.

They are not even calculating their numbers from an actual aerial census – they are making these numbers up.  Every year, the BLM conducts and aerial census in late April, but now they are just “projecting” the numbers.

Read the rest of this article and find out how YOU can comment HERE.

Judge tells BLM that horse roundup plan needs more review

Wyoming Wild Horses at Rick ~ photo courtesy of Carol Walker

Good going on this one, Friends of Animals.

Source:  Gillettenewsrecord.com

Horse roundup plan needs more review

CHEYENNE — A federal judge in Cheyenne has ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to re-evaluate plans for a wild horse roundup in central Wyoming.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal told the BLM on Monday to reconsider how the roundup would affect wild horses with traits inherited from horses used by Spanish explorers and settlers hundreds of years ago.

The BLM planned to round up more than 2,000 wild horses from an area one-third the size of Yellowstone National Park.  The agency says wild horses have overpopulated the area.

Read the rest of the article here.

BLM Wants Earlier Wyoming Wild Horse Rip-Off

Source: Multiple – (Unedited)

“Welfare Ranchers want DIBS over Wildlife on Public Lands…”

(2014) BLM destroying the last of Wyoming’s Wild Horses for the benefit of Welfare Ranchers ~ photo taken by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management official says he’d like to round up excess wild horses from an area southeast of Riverton later this year.

The roundup had been planned next year but BLM Lander Field Office Manager Rick Vander Voet tells Fremont County commissioners the horse population is way above desired numbers.

BLM officials want to maintain a population on the low end of between 480 and 720 horses.

The BLM estimates more than 1,000 wild horses currently inhabit the area. Horse advocates advocate keeping large numbers of wild horses on the range but ranchers say wild horses can damage grazing lands and compete with cattle for forage.

BLM Seeks Public Comment on Plan to Rip More than 1,000 Wild Horses Out Of Wyoming

“This is Your Chance to be a Voice for the Horses…”

Destruction of Wyoming’s Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Bureau of Land Management offices in Rock Springs and Rawlins are launching a 30-day public scoping period prior to preparing an environmental assessment on proposed deadly wild horse stampedes in the Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town, and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas.

The war on Wyoming’s last remaining wild horses is allegedly scheduled to begin in the fall of 2017.

Written comments should be received by April 4, and should be e-mailed to blm_wy_adobetown_saltwells_hma@blm.gov. (Please include “2017 AML Gather” in the subject line).

Mailed or hand-delivered comments can be made during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time) at: BLM Rock Springs Field Office, 2017 AML Gather, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, WY 82901.

To verbally express your disdain, please contact the BLM at 307-352-0256.

For more details on how the BLM plans to destroy wild horse families and strip them of their freedom visit (HERE)

BLM Set to Wage War on Wyoming’s Wild Horses, AGAIN!

Sources: Multiple

“Using poor science and bad numbers the BLM continues to ensure that the wild horses of Wyoming will have no families, freedom or future.  Unedited, propaganda article posted below. (Herds do not double in size every four years – Fake News)” ~ R.T.

Adobe Town ~ photo by Carol Walker

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo.  — The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to remove about 1,000 wild horses from three herd management areas, including Adobe Town, in southwest Wyoming in order to meet population level objectives.

Kimberlee Foster, field manager for the Rock Springs BLM field office, said there are too many horses on the land, and rules require them to remove horses when they are above management levels.

Foster said the gathered horses will go to the Rock Springs Holding Facility where they will be put up for adoption.

The BLM plans to remove 210 horses from Adobe Town, 584 from Salt Wells Creek and 235 from Great Divide Basin.

There are many reasons the BLM must carefully maintain certain population ranges for wild horses in Wyoming. For one, there are no natural predators for horses in the state and equines can be prodigious breeders.

“Typically a herd management area can double in size every four or five years,” Foster told the Rawlins Daily Times (http://bit.ly/2mayVKA ).

If wild horse populations become too large, the natural forage on the land won’t be able to support them.

Herd management is based around the usage of the land, Foster said, as well as the amount of available forage for the animals. Additionally, the BLM has agreed to act to reduce herd sizes should population levels reach a certain point.

The BLM is accepting public comment until April 4 on its horse roundup plan.