Wednesday, December 30, 2009


BLM Photo - 2004 Warm Springs HMA Wild Horse Round Up

In January 2008, when the BLM Winnemucca Field Office approved the new grazing proposal for the Soldier Meadows Allotment, Western Watersheds Project filed an appeal and took BLM to court to challenge that decision.

As a result, extensive testimony from BLM personnel has been given about the Soldier Meadows Allotment and is now part of the public record, some of which included testimony from Glenna Eckel, BLMs Winnemucca Wild Horse & Burro Specialist on May 13th, 2009.

Ms. Eckel testified, under oath, in a court of law, about impacts from wild horses on the range in areas of the Calico Complex that she had been monitoring for the last six years. Below are some of the highlights of this testimony. To view the complete transcript, Click Here.

Page 818
Line 20, Answer from Eckel; “I’ve been assigned the Warm Springs Canyon Herd Management Area and the Calico Mountains Herd Management Area for the last six years. I have only been assigned to the Black Rock Range West for the last year.”

Page 796
Line 18, Answer from Eckel; “Well, I guess, honestly, I’m surprised that the number of horses that are out there, based on my monitoring data that I’ve done the last couple of years, that the monitoring data hasn’t shown a higher utilization than what I’ve read. So I guess what I am thinking is that I’m not sure it would change my conclusion.”

Line 24. Question; “Increasing the horses five times would not change your conclusion; is that right?”

Page 797
Line 1, Answer from Eckel; “Well, I think, again it boils down to that competition. And what I have seen, again based on the monitoring data, is that I would have expected different monitoring data than what I’ve collected, based on those numbers.”

Page 809
Line 22, Question; “Okay. I believe, in your testimony, you made a statement that you were surprised at the number of horses that were out there, that the monitoring data hasn’t shown higher utilizations than what you read?”

Page 810
Line 1, Answer from Eckel; “Correct”.

Line 2, Question; “Could you just elaborate a little bit more on what you meant by that?”

Line 4-16, Answer from Eckel; “Sure. I guess what I mean is, given the March ’08 census and the numbers we counted, I didn’t have that knowledge prior to March ’08. So the monitoring that I did and since the last gather, which was in 2004-2005, I was under the impression that we were at AML, those population estimates that we looked at earlier.”

And what surprises me is that now, knowing that we had – I can’t remember what you gave it, a certain percentage over. But there’s significantly more animals out there than what we thought were, so I would have expected the monitoring data to show higher levels of use than what I collected. And I guess I’m learning it’s a big country, animals move”.

Page 814
Line 18-21, Question; “What were the implications, in your mind, of the monitoring data that you collected? In other words, once you gathered it, what were your – perhaps “conclusions” is a better word.

Line 25, Answer from Eckel; “And at the time, again, like after the gather, I assumed that we were close to those population estimates of being under AML, and so the monitoring data was meeting management objectives that we had identified. And again, I was thinking we had a smaller population than I learned then in 2008.” (emphasis added).

To summarize, Glenna Eckle stated that, despite wild horse populations being five times over BLMs “established AMLs” in the areas she was monitoring in the Calico Complex, BLMs “monitoring objectives were being met”, that this significantly larger population was NOT evident in their forage consumption, that she had no idea they were so far over AML until they flew over the area and counted the horses, and that based on what she had seen, she was really surprised about what she was finding on the range regarding wild horse impacts.

To understand the full legal implication of what Glenna is saying here, it is also important to understand what the courts have already told BLM in the past about the legal criteria they must use to determine what is “excess” before they have any authority to remove wild horses and burros from the range.

“The test as to appropriate wild horse population levels is whether such levels will achieve and maintain a thriving ecological balance on the public lands. Nowhere in the law or regulations is the BLM required to maintain any specific number of animals or to maintain populations in the number of animals existing at any particular time Dahl v. Clark, supra, at 595. A determination that removal is warranted must be based on research and analysis, and on monitoring programs, which include studies of grazing utilization, trends in range conditions, actual use, and climactic factors". Michael Blake, supra: Animal Protection Institute of America 109 IBLA 112, 120 (1989); see Craig C. Downer, 111 IBLA 339 (1989)

The Calico Complex Environmental Assessments never mentioned Glenna’s testimony or what she found about “monitoring objectives being met” with five times the wild horses than BLM knew were out there before they counted them.

Instead, BLM buried the evidence and used old decisions to perpetuate the “Appropriate Management Levels” of wild horses in the area, some of which were set as far back as 1982.

So now, wild horses are galloping in the snow, down steep terrain, through rocky, icy, slippery paths on private land and being hauled to BLMs newly built Northern Nevada wild horse holding facility, not the publicly open Palomino Valley Facility, but a facility so new, BLM doesn’t even have a protocol established for public access yet.

There’s been a lot of speculation flying around the Internet the last few days about “why” the Calico Complex wild horses are being shipped to this facility instead of the publicly accessible Palomino Valley.

One source familiar with the Calico wild horses stated they were prone to strangles. This is being confirmed from another source that stated they have been communicating with BLM's John Neil, the man in charge of both the Palomino Valley Holding Facility as well as the newest one the Calico Complex wild horses are being shipped to. According to this source, John Neil stated, "Some of the horses coming in off the Calico Mountain Complex, particularly from the Warm Springs area, have contagious upper respiratory issues. As a result they are all being transported to BLM's new contract holding facility in Fallon."

According to a January 31, 2006 article in LA Weekly, Mustang author Deanne Stillman stated, “...46 wild horses at the BLM corral in Susanville, California, have died of strangles, an upper respiratory infection that can kick in after a horse is stressed — or after, for instance, being run too hard during a helicopter roundup.”

In Animal Welfare Institutes “Managing for Extinction”, a publication regarding critical issues found in BLMs management of the Wild Horse & Burro Program that continue to stay unresolved, it appears the issue of strangles is not isolated to just the Calico wild horses, as AWI has also reported:

In the fall of 2006, the Palomino Valley, NV and Litchfield, CA holding facilities suffered from outbreaks of strangles, a highly infectious and serious respiratory disease. During the past two years, practically every BLM facility has experienced similar disease outbreaks, leading to the confirmed deaths of scores of animals…..”

While BLM points to wild horses being “prone to strangles” as the reason for their isolation and why it is important to keep them far from the public eye, (and we can only wonder why BLM would want to expose approximately 2,500 wild horses to each other that are now at risk of catching strangles from their new exposure to each other), perhaps BLM should begin to reconsider their decisions to manage wild horses by running them in the winter, in the snow, like they did to Jewel, the beautiful wild pregnant mare run down during a BLM round up in 2007.

Was Jewel prone to strangles too?

No, she did not survive…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shepherd-ing The Future

They brought him in from Wyoming, where he oversaw BLM’s second largest wild horse operation in the West. He is the “lead” contraceptive guy, the “lead” guy in new census studies on the Adobe Town/Salt Wells Horses, and now has been brought in as the “Lead” Wild Horse & Burro manager for Nevada.

He was on the Team Conference Calls between July and September of 2008, after BLM announced they might euthanize tens of thousands of horses as he and others plotted “what to do”, which was finalized in the Draft Alternative Management Options Report (October 2008), so graphicly summarized by this recent Animal Law Coalition article by Laura Allen in, “BLMs Final Solution for the Wild Horses & Burros” and Equine Welfare Alliance's, “BLM Slaughter Conspiracy” by Valerie James Patton and John Holland.

Now he is outlining the future of our mustangs and burros with strategies supporting the Salazoos and feedlots masquerading as “preserves”, the long-awaited “private sanctuaries” where wild horses are turned into livestock - complete with interpretive centers describing how they use to be “wild” - with the added bonus of the public losing their rights to be involved in their management, preservation or protection (try filing a Freedom of Information Act request on a private company).

Finally, BLM will no longer have to answer to anybody about “where” the horses and burros are going any more....

He is Alan Shepherd and this could be the finest hour of his BLM career.

As Wild Horse & Burro Lead of Nevada, he now gets to rub elbows with “who’s who” in the state that holds the largest free-roaming herds still left on public lands.

He is BLMs lead guy to be called in by Nevada Senator Harry Reid if feedback is necessary on the wild horse and burro situation, who coincidentally, as Senate Majority Leader holds the keys to R.O.A.M and Congressional Hearings on their bungled management.

He is in line to discuss the wild horse and burro issues with former Nevada BLM Director Robert Abbey and now National BLM Director, who set in motion many of the wild horse and burro plans we are seeing come to fruition today.

He can hold private conversations with the folks at the Wild Horse & Burro Program's National Office sitting across the hall, which include ex-Nevada State Wild Horse & Burro Lead, Susie “Sunshine” Stokke, now in charge of writing BLMs Handbook on Wild Horse & Burro Management throughout the West.

Or he can get feedback from guys like Elko County Commissioner and rancher Demar Dahl, who submitted statements in 1998 to a Congressional Subcommittee Hearing about what to do with the wild horse problem who also had the gonads to turn around and tell a room full of advocates last month at the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board Meeting what a great guy he is, how much he loves wild horses and everything he’s done for them.

Based on Mr. Dahl’s comments last month, apparently he has changed his opinion since the last time he was called in to support “the team”, as back in 1998, this is some of what he had to say;

We need I think to recognize that the horse is a resource. All of us love Bambi and all of us love deer, we all recognize that a deer herd has to be managed and we manage them and we control their numbers. And how do we do it? We eat them. The horse is a resource, there are horses that are good for companionship, good for pleasure riding, good for working cattle, good for jumping. There are some horses that I can tell you, and I have known horses all my life and I love good horses, but there are a lot of horses that are just to be eaten and that is their best use. And there are plenty of people and plenty of pets in this world that are willing to utilize that resource. And I think that common sense should dictate that we give the BLM sale authority and allow that to happen.”

Mr. Dahl also threw in the suggestion of, “I think that if we were to remove all of the wild horses from the ranges but establish horse reserves where people, as John Carpenter talked about, could come and visit and see the horses, but keep all of the horses off of the other areas, I think that would be a step in the right direction.”

But for now, it looks like Alan has set his sites for rubbing elbows with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar by drawing up a pretty, bullet point paper about the “future” of our mustangs and burros titled, “Nevada Wild Horse & Burro Strategy Update – NV Tri-RAC” that seems intent on totaling supporting and doing whatever it takes to move Secretary Salazar's plans forward.

As I read what Mr. Shepherd was outlining, I wanted to ask him how he knows the current population in Nevada is 21,000 wild horses and burros or that 31 HMAs are above AML (165%), when part of the outlined strategy is to “increase accuracy of populations”.

Or why BLM believes they need to reduce reproduction rates when they are having trouble figuring out how many horses are really on the range to begin with.

But since Alan arrived in Nevada, he hasn’t responded to a single question I've posed or email sent. As a result, I’d also like to ask Mr. Shepherd what “develop a public participation and outreach strategy” means, but since he doesn’t respond to my current efforts of “public participation”, it doesn’t look like the chances are very high I’ll get an answer on this question either. Maybe this is a precursor to BLMs new vision for public involvement...

According to Alan’s Plan, “Discussions are ongoing with KEY Congressman and Committees”. Apparently, the rest of Congress hasn’t been invited to the elbow rubbing sessions or else fail to hold the “keys” to the solutions BLM is looking for.

I also thought the comment made by Eileen O’Conner with respect to the "BLMs Final Solution" article referenced above was very revealing too, about how Congress was now identified as a “stakeholder” in public resource management, as the definition of a stakeholder is usually reserved for private interests, not public.

Alan outlines how BLM is busy drafting a new Wild Horse & Burro Management Plan that must be submitted to Congress by September 30, 2010. Its primary focus is on what to do with all the wild horses and burros BLM has captured while simultaneously focusing on the need to improve all their deficiencies in monitoring, census methods, and lack of personnel that caused them to be removed in the first place. But nobody trying to ram these new proposals through wants to bring these issues to the table, do they?

Mr. Shepherd ends his strategic outline with a painted pony running free on the range and titles it, “Questions?”

Yeah, I have a lot of questions.
When are you guys going to start really answering them?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What's Left?

As the united call to stop BLMs unchecked assault on the American mustang & burro continues to gain momentum, with over 180 organizations and celebrities now supporting a moratorium to halt any further removals until key issues can be resolved, here’s one more reason to demand a “cease and desist” until a full scale investigation can be conducted on the Wild Horse & Burro Program to determine what’s really left out on the range.

Since 2001, BLM has reported removing over 80,000 wild horses and burros at an average of 10,000 animals per year. Despite these aggressive efforts, they continue to report little to no impact has been made on reining in their “excess” populations, a nebulous term BLM continues to define and an even more elusive goal they never seem able to achieve.

According to BLM, their target is a maximum national population goal of 26,578 wild horses and burros, a target that BLM has cut by over 2,000 animals just in the last five years, and BLM intends on spending approximately $32 million dollars to remove over 12,000 animals this year to reach it.

In the spring of 2009, BLM reported over 37,000 wild horses and burros still roamed free on public lands throughout the West but if you look at the numbers, serious questions arise as to the validity of these claims.

For example, in 2002, BLM removed 12,029 wild horses and burros equating to 31% of those reported on the range; despite this high percentage, BLM reported it only reduced the national totals by a mere 1,600 animals. In 2003, BLM removed over 10,000 more (26%) but still the removals seemingly made no impact as BLM now reported national totals declined by only 51 animals.

In July 2008, an independent analysis examined BLMs statistics and found a very different scenario than what BLM continued to report regarding the number of animals still remaining on the range published in, “America’s Mustangs and Burros: What’s Left, The High Cost of Miscalculating and Will They Survive?”

Using the same methods BLM uses to manage the Wild Horse & Burro Program, an alternative population emerged that concluded, as of February 28, 2008, BLM had already removed between 11,000 to 14,000 more animals than necessary to achieve their national population goals.

Still, the round ups continued….

Today, American Herds presents the updated numbers of what may be all that’s really left of America’s free-roaming herds as of September 30, 2009, now hovering between 22,000 to 26,000 less than BLM continues to publicly report.

In addition to graphically illustrating the annual population declines, at least 52 Herd Management Areas have been found to have extreme jumps in annual population reports that were key in supporting BLMs national “excess” with 25 of these occurring between 2007/2008 and 16 between 2008/2009. To learn more, Click Here.

Until Congress demands an independent count of the populations BLM has been reporting, both on and off the range, the evidence continues to mount that “What’s Left?” has reached critical levels of concern.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Unified Call for Moratorium

Photo courtesty of Wild Horse Spirit, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

A Unified Call for an
Immediate Moratorium on
Wild Horse & Burro Roundups

On November 18, 2009, The Cloud Foundation, Equine Welfare Alliance and 120 Organizations, celebrities and scientists in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa signed onto the following letter sent to the President, Congress and the Department of the Interior to rein in the Bureau of Land Management today.

American Herds supports this moratorium and strongly urges everyone who cares about truly humane and appropriate management for America's mustangs and burros to add their voices to this unified call by sending THIS LETTER to your legislators and asking for their support!

Also, the Cloud Foundation is asking individuals to sign this PETITION. The goal is 12,043 signatures representing the number of wild horses and burros targeted for removal this year.

A Unified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on
Wild Horse & Burro Roundups
And a humane, fiscally responsible plan
for preserving and protecting the iconic,
free-roaming wild horses and burros
of the American West.

President Obama, Members of Congress and the Department of the Interior:

We, the undersigned, request major changes to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program. This must begin with an immediate moratorium on all roundups. While we agree that the program is in dire need of reform, and we applaud your Administration's commitment to avoid BLM’s suggested mass-killing of horses, the plan outlined in October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar raises numerous concerns. These include:

*Perpetuating the flawed assumption that wild horses and burros are overpopulating their Western ranges. In reality, the BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wild horses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands.

*Continuing the mass removal of wild horses and burros from their rightful Western ranges: The BLM intends to spend over $30 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros. This stockpiling of horses continues even as an astounding 32,000 are already being held in government holding facilities at enormous taxpayer expense.

*Scapegoating wild horses and burros for range deterioration even though they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing our public lands. Far greater damage is caused by privately-owned livestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.

*Moving wild horses and burros east off their Western homelands to “sanctuaries” in the east and Midwest at an initial cost of $96 million creates significant health concerns if animals adapted to western landscapes are managed on wet ground and rich grasses.

*Removing tens of thousands of horses and burros from their legally-designated Western ranges and moving them into government-run facilities subverts the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act, which mandated that horses be preserved “where presently found.” A 2009 DC district court case held that “Congress did not authorize BLM to “manage” the wild horses and burros by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term care as non-wild free-roaming animals off the public lands.”

We appreciate your Administration's recognition of the horses’ value as an ecotourism resource. However, the display of captive, non-reproducing herds in eastern pastures renders them little more than zoo exhibits, further discounting the contribution to our history and the future of the American West.

We believe that workable solutions to create a healthy “multiple use” of public rangelands, protect the ecological balance of all wildlife, and preserve America's wild horses and burros in their rightful, legally protected home can be achieved. We are calling on the Obama Administration to reform the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Management Program.

We ask that you reverse the current course and
immediately take the following actions:

1) Place a moratorium on all roundups until accurate and independent assessments of population numbers and range conditions are made available and a final, long-term solution is formalized.

2) Restore protections included in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Update existing laws that protect wild horses by reopening certain public lands to the mustangs and burros, thus decreasing the number in captivity. Return healthy wild horses and burros in holding to all available acres of public land designated primarily for their use in 1971. If these lands are not available, equivalent and appropriate western public lands should be added in their place.

3) Support federal grazing permit buybacks. Reduce livestock grazing and reanalyze appropriate management levels for herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining, genetically-viable herds to exist in the west.

4) Conduct Congressional hearings regarding the mismanagement of our wild herds and further investigate the inability of BLM to correct the shortcomings of the program as audited by the Government Accountability Office’s 1990, 1991 and 2008 reports.

Supported by the undersigned on November 16, 2009

To add your voice to the Unified List of supporters calling for an immediate moratorium, please complete this FORM and email to:

For further information and photos please contact:

Makendra Silverman
The Cloud Foundation
719.633.4933 ~ Office
719.351.8187 ~ Cell

Ginger Kathrens
Volunteer Executive Director
The Cloud Foundation

John Holland
Equine Welfare Alliance

The Undersigned Hereby Unite As One Voice Calling For An
Immediate Moratorium On Wild Horse & Burro Round-Ups

Autonomous Makana Ndlambe Horse & Livestock Association, South Africa

Adapting Gaits, Inc.

Alex Brown Racing

American Horse Defense Fund

Americans Against Horse Slaughter

Americans Against Horse Slaughter in Arizona

Andean Tapir Fund

Angel's Gate Hospice & Rehabilitation Home for Animals

Animal Healing Connection

Animal Health and Safety Associates/Pixie Projects

Animal Iridology Center

Animal Law Coalition

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Animals' Angels

Beauty's Haven Farm & Equine Rescue, Inc.

Brad Woodard, Reporter

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

Castleton Ranch Horse Rescue, Inc.

Chantal Westermann, former ABC reporter

The Cloud Foundation

Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition

The Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy Program

Cornwalls Voice for Animals

Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and author

Senator Dave Wanzenried, Montana

Deanne Stillman, Author of Mustang

DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary

Ed Harris & Family


Equine Advocates

Equine Protection Network

Equine Rescue and Protection Humane Society of the US, Inc.

Equine Welfare Alliance

For the Love of Jenny Animal Rescue

For the Love of the Horse

Force of the Horse© LLC.

Friends of A Legacy

Front Range Equine Rescue

George Wuerthner, ecologist

Glen Glasscock (long distance rider, world record holder)

The Golden Carrot

Gray Dapple Thoroughbred Assistance Program

Greater Houston Horse Council

Gypsy Heart Horse Rescue

Habitat for Horses, Inc.

Hacienda de los Milagros, Inc.

The Healing Journey Rescue

Helping Hearts Equine Rescue, Inc.

Hidden Creek Friesians

Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund

Home At Last Equine Rescue and Sanctuary

Honeysuckle Farms

Hope Ryden, congressional advisor on 1971 Act, Author America's Last Wild Horses

Horse Play

Horse Rescue, Relief and Retirement Fund, Inc.

Horseback Magazine

Humanion Films

Illinois Equine Humane Center, NFP

In Defense of Animals

Joe Camp, filmmaker, author The Soul of A Horse

Jouney's End Ranch Animal Sanctuary

KBR World of Wild Horses and Burros

Lacy J. Dalton, singer/songwriter

Laura Leigh, Illustrator/writer

Least Resistance Training Concepts (LRTC)

Let 'em Run

Lifesavers, Inc.

Live and Let Live Farm Rescue

Madeleine's Mustangs – Madeleine Pickens

Manes and Tails Organization

Maria Daines, Singer/Songwriter

Mary Ann Kennedy, Singer/Songwriter

MidAtlantic Horse Rescue
Mustang Spirit

Mylestone Equine Rescue

Native American Church of Ghost Dancers

Natural Horse Magazine

Natural Horse Talk

Old Friends Equine, A Kentucky Thoroughbred Retirement Facility

Paul Sorvino, Actor

Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, TX

Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Quarter-Acre Rescue Ranch & Equine Advocacy Center

Rainbow Meadows Rescue and Retirement, Inc.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary Mestengo

The Rescue Friends

Sacred Heart Equine Rescue

Santiburi Farm

Saving America's Mustangs

Saving Horses, Inc.

Saving Our American Wild Horse

Second Chance Ranch

Silent Voices Equine Rescue

South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Spirit Riders Foundation

Spoiled Acres Rescue Inc

Spring Farm CARES Animal Sanctuary

Star Lit Stables

Summer Haven Rescue

Sustainable Obtainable Solutions

Terri Farley, author of The Phantom Stallion Series

Tranquility Farm

Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue


Wayne McCrory, Wildlife Biologist and Conservationist

Wendie Malick, Actress

Valhalla Wilderness Society

WFL Endangered Stream Live

Whispering Winds Equine Rescue

Wild Burro Rescue and Preservation Project

Wild For Life Foundation

Wild Hoofbeats

Wild Horse Observers Association

Wild Horse Preservation League

Wild Horse Spirit

Wild Horse War Room

Wildhorses In Need

Win Animal Rights

WindDancer Foundation, Inc.

Winecup/Gamble Ranch

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crunching Calico

Editors Note 1/05/09: A lot of articles are now stating that BLM increased livestock authorizations for the Calico Complex by 300%. This is incorrect. There are several livestock allotments that affect the Herd Management Areas that comprise the Calico Complex. The analysis given in this article was for one grazing allotment only, the Soldier Meadows Allotment. Furthermore, the 300% increase applied to the Idaho Canyon pasture as described by the fence that was needed to increase livestock from 300 to 800, as well as to other pastures used in the allotment throughout the year, but did not apply throughout the entire allotment at all times of the year due to BLMs grazing rotation systems. Hope this clears up any confusion that has resulted.

Our story begins in the summer of 2008, when BLM tells everyone they are too broke to feed all the wild horses they captured, which in turn caused a financial crisis that might require the government to save them from the government - by shooting them all dead! (Or finally getting the authority to sell them all for slaughter via “Instant Title”)

So everyone panics, Madeleine Pickens arrives to save the day and Restore Our American Mustangs (R.O.A.M.) is born, a legislative attempt to fix the problems BLM tells everyone managing wild horses and burros cause.

As the months go by, we listen to arguments about the “spiraling out of control costs” of holding these now captured American icons and how it will continue to escalate to even greater unsustainable levels. We also hear how stopping the round ups will jeopardize the entire Western ecosystems because of their still burgeoning numbers and how native wildlife will plummet if ten thousand “excess” animals, half of which aren’t even a year old, are left on the range.

As we watch Madeleine Picken’s Plan fall apart (because it wasn’t enough to have access to a million acres of land for dirt cheap, her extra stipulation of wanting $500 p/horse per year pretty much kills the deal), BLM launches an “experimental” Program limited to only the slaughter belt states where they give mustangs away and cut the new owner a $500 check after a year.

Then the Picken’s Plan to try and help the captured ones morphs into The Salazoo Plan to create zoo’s of domestic horses while simultaneously planning to cut the free-roaming populations supposedly still left on the range to BLM’s 1971 “guesstimate” of 17,500, despite the Interior Board of Land of Appeals (IBLA) ruling years ago that BLM cannot manage for arbitrary and/or historical numbers but must manage them within the carrying capacity of the land in order to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance. Apparently, Secretary Salazar doesn’t read IBLA’s decisions either and we all know BLM has rarely used anything but arbitrary numbers to determine “excess” anyway, so why rock the boat?

So with little actually resolved, Congress gives BLM an unprecedented budget to keep the Program afloat so they won’t have to kill all those wild horses in holding - but they don’t ask too many questions or stipulate what BLM can do with the money.

BLM returns the favor by issuing a massive Fiscal Year 2010 Round Up Schedule to remove over 12,000 more wild horses and burros at the cost of $32 million dollars, which is pretty much all the extra money above and beyond the cost of warehousing all those mustangs they already removed; despite still having no concrete plans on where to put them or how they are going to feed them.

And so we come to the Calico Complex, a collection of Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in Northern Nevada that include the Calico, Black Rock Range East and West, Granite Range and Warm Springs Canyon HMAs slated for removals next month.

In BLM's recent Environmental Assessment (EA) where they justify why they need to remove wild horses again, BLM re-affirms the wild horse and burro “allowable management levels” (AMLs) set back in 1993/94 are still totally appropriate today, despite admitting that not one of these HMAs has ever been assessed for conformance with their own Standards of Rangeland Health.

Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the drought. BLM shows us photos of a few drought stricken springs and beat up mud holes to prove how urgent it is that wild horses must go!

The last time these herds were gathered was in 2004-2005 when BLM removed 1,623 horses, gave 239 mares PZP and told the public they left an estimated 575 (though they actually only released 410 - the rest were just estimates). Yet, lo and behold, BLM explains there are now 3,055 wild horses in the area, numbers so preposterous even BLM admits they are “unrealistic” (or is it the 3,095 wild horses they cite later?)

BLM goes on to explain these 3,095 wild horses is based on “current modeling, estimates, and survey results projected using historic growth rates”, projections that apparently found zero effect from the 239 PZP’d mares of 2004-2005, (because who needs actual monitoring when you have computer modeling!)

Since 1979, BLM reported they have removed 9,148 wild horses and released 1,884 from the Calico Complex areas. Does anyone else find it strange that within five years, wild horse populations somehow climbed to populations equaling approximately a third of the total of every wild horse BLM has every removed from here since 1971?

In what appears to be BLMs newest “cut-n-paste mantra” to explain away yet another population explosion, BLM explains this is most likely merely a result of them being really lousy at counting wild horses and/or hundreds and hundreds of wild horses moved outside the HMA "boundaries” when the choppers arrived in 2004-2005 - but after the choppers left, the mustangs snuck back inside the HMAs. A simple explanation really - so simple even a child could understand.

One long time Nevada wild horse advocate had this to say about BLM's Calico Complex numbers, “I’m sorry guys but I have to laugh at this proposal, there AREN’T that many horses out there, in fact that is probably half the states populations. Unless they do something sneaky and gather from other areas and claim they are from Calico. Good luck finding that many horses!”

Hmm, now there’s a thought - dumping off previously gathered wild horses back out on to the range to "prove" an overpopulation. Maybe that's why BLM can say with confidence they were "outside the HMA boundaries" - they just don't have to disclose how far outside is! Wonder how many times the government could charge the taxpayers for doing THAT?

While we ponder that possibility, let’s look at a few things BLM neglected to mention about what’s been going on in the Calico Complex area that we can prove….

In January, 2008, BLM’s Arlan Hiner (yes, the same guy who oversaw the Jackson Mountain wild horse fiasco that resulted in 185 wild horse deaths) signed the final decision for the Soldier Meadows Livestock Allotment, which coincidentally effects the Calico Mts. (29%), Black Rock Range West (100%) and Warm Springs Canyon (100%) Herd Management Areas (HMAs)

The decision authorized a “range improvement” that turned out to be a fourth fence in Idaho Canyon - even though BLM admitted this fence might entrap wild horses and cause them to die if the gate wasn’t opened before the winter snows arrived.

The fence was needed because BLM authorized an increase from the old 300 head of cattle to 800 head with an eventual goal of running a 1,000 throughout the allotment. If that weren’t enough, BLM also stated that every single Animal Unit Month (AUM) of forage on record would also be available for Temporary Non-Renewable cattle grazing as well. Of course, only if BLM determined this extra forage was suddenly available.

When BLM wrote the environmental assessments for the Soldier Meadows allotment, they only analyzed the effects of running all those cattle at 30% utilization level, stating this was necessary to maintain enough forage for wild horses. But even at this utilization level, BLM acknowledged increasing the head of cattle from 300 to 800 was going to potentially cause “exploitative competition for limited habitat components, especially during periods of severe winters or drought”. Yes, the same drought that just happens to occur in Nevada one out of three years.

BLM admitted there had been livestock trespassing throughout the area since 1998 but never answered if and when this had been remedied. They only measured stubble height on three springs despite citing over 150 were in the area, acknowledged this new grazing authorization might cause them to have to erect new fences to protect water sources but stated this would be decided on a “case by case basis” and in yet another coincidence, the new proposal included a change in grazing rotations that would lock wild horses out of the best pasture with the most abundant water during the driest time of the year.

When it came to wild horses populations, BLM stated there was “little evidence of [wild horse] utilizations” and that, “Given the relative few numbers of horses/burros, their impact on upland vegetation during the critical growing period will be minimal. This conclusion is supported by the fact that several upland monitoring sites established in the Warm Springs HMA are no longer monitored because very little or no use by wild horses/burros was documented at these sites.”

So in January 2008, when BLM is analyzing a grazing proposal, they tell the public that wild horse populations are so minimal they aren’t even bothering to monitor them anymore. Yet merely two months after authorizing every leaf and blade of grass in the area can potentially go to the over 300% increase in cattle they just authorized, BLM reports they have completed a new aerial census in March 2008, which suddenly finds wild horse populations have skyrocketed.

Records from the BLMs Wild Horse and Burro National Program Office reported the following population estimates for the Calico Complex’s HMAs:

If that isn't enough, what BLM does next is even more amazing!

Though BLM's entire analysis for the Soldier Meadows grazing allotment was done for a 30% utilization level, when they issue the Final Decision, they suddenly authorized a 50% utilization level instead. Guess they weren’t too worried about what the wild horses would need to eat anymore and here’s my guess why.

If this whole livestock thing weren’t messy enough, at the Obama administration's behest, Secretary Salazar and Senator Reid have mandated BLM begin a “fast track” to getting all manner of energy development rammed through on public lands.

Enter the Ruby Pipeline, a $3 billion dollar project that will span Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah and runs smack dab through the middle of the Calico Complex (not to mention the just rounded up Beaty’s Butte HMA in Oregon as well as skirting Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge).

On September 14, 2009, Ruby Pipeline, LLC. responded to a request by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding issues surrounding the pipeline. On page 30 of 40, the Energy Commission asked Ruby to, “Discuss Ruby’s approach to preventing problematic right-of-way reclamation due to wild horses and burros grazing, and provide a summary of discussions with the BLM addressing this issue.”

Ruby’s response was, “Ruby will work with the BLM to minimize wild horse and burro grazing along the restored ROW for three years. Possible management actions would be to provide water sources away from the ROW, include low palatable plant species in the seed mix such as sagebrush, temporary fencing with gaps, and/or reduce wild horse populations following BLM policy in appropriate management areas.” BLM wild horse and burrow resource specialists were consulted in developing this management approach.”

So BLM needs to “minimize grazing” along the Right-of-Way (ROW) for three years and may plant food horses and burros hate to eat in order to do it and/or “reduce wild horse and burro populations” to accommodate it. And if you are wondering just what the heck they are talking about during that vague reference to the “possible management actions to provide water sources away from the ROW”, word on the street is, the Ruby Pipeline is going to blow right through and permanently impair at least one of the major summer water sources wild horses have been relegated too (from all those closed fences for exclusive livestock grazing in the pastures).

Map of Ruby Natural Gas Pipeline ROW

To view BLMs Preliminary Environmental Assessment of the
Calico Complex wild horse removals, Click Here.

BLM is accepting public comments for the
Calico Complex Herd Management Areas through:

~Thursday, November 12, 2009, 4:30 P.M. pst ~

Jerome Fox
Bureau of Land Management
Winnemucca District Office
5100 E. Winnemucca Blvd.
Winnemucca, NV 89445
Phone: (775) 623-1500
Fax: (775) 623-1503

Be sure to include the EA# DOI-BLM-NV-W030-2010-0001-EA in your title.

Please be aware that submitting information for this proposal, including personally identifying information such as your name and contact information may become part of the public record. While you may request that BLM withhold this information, they may not be able to guarantee privacy in all instances.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Salazar Sez's

The Thriving Natural Ecological Balance:
A Comparative Analysis of Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros
In Relation to Habitat, Wildlife and Livestock Populations”

by C.R. MacDonald, October, 2009

Recently, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Sez’s, “There’s just no room for wild horses and burros out West anymore”.

With the drought taking its toll on Western rangelands, wildlife struggling to survive, and out of control reproduction rates and populations of wild horses and burros constantly threatening fragile arid habitats, Salazar Sez’s, "The time has come to sterilize most of what is left, both on and off the range, and ship America’s Mustangs & Burros to private sanctuaries far removed from their native ranges on public lands".

Salazar Sez’s, “Let us not look behind the scenes at how we got here but only look ahead at this new solution for the Wild Horse & Burro Program”, a solution many are already coining the final one.

Never mind the fact that for two decades, the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly issued reports stating the obvious; BLM cannot provide evidence that removing wild horses and burros improves rangeland health and that the entire concept of excess is based on “informal decisions made by BLM Field Managers” – no data required.

Salazar Sez’s, “Who needs BLM to finally publish their long-awaited acreage report before they hustle more wild horses and burros off the range to multi-million dollar private sanctuaries instead?

And, “Why bother publishing the new policy manual BLM has been writing (for 40 years now!) to establish guidelines on how BLM should go about determining what is appropriate use for wild horses and burros?” After all, BLM would just ignore it anyway like so much else - so why create a legal precedent before shipping most of them to privately owned sanctuaries?

Salazar Sez’s, “Who needs a Congressional investigation into what the Department of the Interior has done to get us to this point?” Despite the DOI’s abysmal reputation for ethic violations, never mind that now, Salazar’s here and those days are behind us!

Salazar Sez’s, “We don’t need an independent count of what’s in the holding pens” – despite the fact that nobody has ever seen all these “excess” horses causing such financial distress. And Salazar doesn’t seem too interested in looking into an independent census of what’s still remaining on the range because, as Salazar Sez’s, “We are going to create a new home for them now anyway!”

Despite nearly a decade of mass cleansings, which has swept the majority of our herds from their ranges, Salazar Sez’s, “Danger! Danger! Excessive wild horses and burros must go now!” and as a result, BLM has scheduled the removals of over 12,000 more wild horses and burros this year based solely on those ‘informal manager decisions’ – even though Salazar’s own home state of Colorado has reported their 292,000 elk have been “over population objectives for the last 20 years” (1) – what’s a decade or two when it comes to elk.

Before following what Salazar Sez’s – because this is not a game and we are not children anymore - let’s take a serious look at what “excess” wild horses and burros on public lands means to Secretary Salazar and BLM before we blindly follow the newest Judas horse just released before the public.

Click on the link above, "The Thriving Natuaral Ecological Balance", to review the full collection of State by State analysis of wild horses and burros populations compared to “everything else”, forage allocations of livestock, and available habitat on federally managed lands.

(1) Taken from "Elk Management in 5 Western States: (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah)".

Saturday, October 3, 2009

BLMs National Wild Horse Adoption Day

Editors Note: BLM's response has now been posted at the bottom. With respect to their response on the freezebrands, I have taken the liberty to include a rebuttal from someone very familiar with freezebrands directly under BLMs answer. Notice too that while BLM stated no wild horses or burros ever left their facilities without being freezemarked, George Knapp's interview with the manager of a Northern NV overflow facility publicly stated otherwise...."

On Saturday, September 26, 2009, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) launched its first annual National Wild Horse Adoption Day with the stated goal of hoping to adopt a total of 1,000 animals during the nationwide event.

Significant funding was awarded to BLM in order to organize, promote and coordinate efforts, both within the National Wild Horse & Burro Program itself as well as through joint efforts with humane animal advocacy groups in hopes of achieving this goal.

A logo was developed, multiple press releases were issued over several months leading up to the event, a National Wild Horse Adoption Day website was established for the sole purpose of promoting and providing information at, and on September 22, 2009, Congresswoman Dina Titus spoke on the House floor supporting House Resolution 688, which she introduced to support National Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Day on a permanent basis.

Despite large funding for the project, months of preparation, Congressional support and over 30,000 wild horses and burros currently in the adoption pipeline or holding facilities, only about 400 horses were reported as adopted nationwide as a result of all these efforts.

While the “less than hoped for” National Wild Horse Adoption Day results seem to bear out BLMs repeated citations over the last few years that annual declines in adoptions are merely due to a “soft adoption market”, the following facts may reflect significant factors contributing to this reported decline and the lack of success BLM had in reaching their publicly touted adoption goals.

*BLMs Utah’s Wild Horse & Burro website hadn’t been updated since May and contained no reference to the National Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Day at all.

*The National Wild Horse Adoption website referenced above offered a comment section to the public. The few comments found were almost exclusively about the lack of information on where the adoptions would be held. BLM later updated this information but it is not known if this was helpful “after the fact”.

*Of the 24 adoption sites listed on this website participating in the September 26th event specifically, only 8 were organizations independent of BLM. Of the 16 remaining BLM sites, 12 of these were standard holding and/or processing facilities.

*On BLMs own website, which advertised the National Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Day’s nationwide events, there were 19 participating sites listed, none of which presented any photos or information about available wild horses and burros. Additionally, there were no listings for any participating independent partnership organizations nor references or links to the National Wild Horse Adoption Day website established for this specific purpose.

*On BLMs Internet Adoption “On Line Gallery”, which conducts public bidding on showcased animals, only three facilities were found to be participating; Gunnison-UT showcased eight wild horses, Mantle Ranch-WY had four and Burns-OR had twenty-eight for a total of 40 horses.

*With respect to BLMs online “Facility Photos”, the following wild horses and/or burros were found at each site respectively.

Burns, OR:
1 non-descript photo of wild horses on the range and 159 wild horses, many of which had been recently removed less than a month before the event.

Canyon City, CO:
1 non-descript photo of wild horses on the range and 1 wild horse

Delta, UT:
2 wild horses

Ewing, IL:
2 wild horses

Gulfport, MS:
2 non-descript photos of captured wild horses

Gunnison, UT:
2 wild horses

Litchfield, CA:
3 wild horses

Palomino Valley, NV:
5 wild horses

Paul’s Valley, OK:
8 wild burro photos known to have been posted for over a year.

Ridgecrest, CA:
7 wild horses

Rock Springs, WY:
1 non-descript photo of wild horses on the range

Salt Lake City, UT:
2 Non-Descript Photos of Horses in Facility Pens and 7 Wild Horses

Lorton, VA:
4 Non-Descript Group Photos

Additional information that may have relevance includes:

*A volunteer for California based Wild Burro Rescue arrived at the Ridgecrest Processing Facility at 11:30 a.m. to view the available wild horses and/or burros. However, BLM locked the gates and closed the facility down to all public access at 12:00 p.m. The volunteer left without ever getting to view the animals available for adoption but did discover nylon ropes in alfalfa laying around one of the pens, a potentially deadly substance to equine intestinal tracks if ingested.

Photos of ropes in wild burro feed found
at BLM Ridgecrest Facility 9/26/09

*Ann Marini, an attendee of the Lorton, VA September 26th adoption event has publicly stated via affidavit that, “more than fifty wild horses and burros were on site and available for adoption. Of these, twenty-six wild horses and burros were reported as adopted on site and eight by internet adoptions.”

Ms. Marini also stated that she “looked at every single wild horse and burro being offered throughout the grounds and found 3-5 wild horses and 1 burro without freezebrands on their necks”.

A freezebrand is required by law in order to distinguish a wild free-roaming horse or burro from their domestic counterparts as a defensive measure to help ensure they are not sent unwittingly to slaughter. The following photo of an unbranded wild burro was taken at the Lorton, VA Adoption event on September 26,2009.

Photo of a non-freeze branded wild burro available found at Lorton, VA Adoption
Courtesty of Ann Marini

Despite months to prepare and thousands of potentially adoptable wild horses and burros currently clogging the adoption pipeline at reportedly record levels, based solely on wild horse and burro availability demonstrated throughout BLMs own internet adoption webpages; with only one exception, BLMs internet adoption choices were amazingly “empty”.

Perhaps this unbranded burro and the 3-5 additional reported unbranded wild horses can tell us why.

A call was placed to BLMs Marketing Director, Sally Spencer in order to allow BLM a chance to respond to questions about the National Adoption Event. Ms. Spencer's response is still pending....

On a final note, the photo provided at the top of this post was found on BLMs National Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Day website and as can be clearly seen, it was an official BLM sanctioned flyer.

Notice that wild burros weren't even included in the National Wild Horse Day promotion?

BLM'S RESPONSE: 10/06/09

Q. My first question was, how much money was awarded to BLM to promote, organize and coordinate National Wild Horse Adoption Day?

The BLM was not awarded funding for the National Wild Horse Adoption Day. The BLM did provide funding from its budget in the amount of $287,000 to the steering committee of the National Wild Horse Adoption Day.

Jerry Reynoldson, Wild Horses 4 Ever, came up with the idea of a National Wild Horse Adoption Day that ideally would get advocacy groups and others who care about horses to rally together and help the BLM find homes for the animals. A steering committee consisting of the Human Society of the United States, American Horse Protection Association, Mustang Heritage Foundation, Wild Horses 4 Ever, and the BLM was formed. Groups that were interested in participating were able to get funding from the steering committee for their events. There were only a handful of groups that were able to participate and find homes for the horses with the majority of events being BLM events. While the goal to adopt 1,000 horses was not met, over 425 animals were adopted because of National Wild Horse Adoption Day efforts and public awareness of the adoption program was increased. If people are able to open their home and their heart to a horse, they should consider adopting a mustang.

Q. Why were there so few wild horses and burros available online? For example, Pauls Valley, OK still has burro photos posted on it from over a year ago. Why didn't BLM try to update any of these considering all the animals reportedly stressing the adoption/holding system?

A. Some of our States are able to spend more time keeping the photos of animals available for adoption posted and updated on the website. I agree that we need to make better use of the Internet by posting more photos of animals available for adoption.

Q. Also, someone attending the Lorton, VA adoption reported that 3-5 wild horses and one burro had been transported to the event but failed to have any freezebrands on their necks.

A. All wild horses and burros that are removed from the range are freezemarked. All animals at the Lorton, VA event had freezemarks. Sometimes it is difficult to see the freezemark unless the neck is shaved.

Anonymous Rebuttal: "Sally Spencer's full of shit about shaving the horses neck to detect a brand. You can't feel or see a freezebrand unless the hair is there. The reason you can detect a freezebrand on dark colored horses, is because the hair grows back white. If they would have shaved the horses necks, the brands wouldn't be visible at all unless the brand had just been freshly done, and had it been freshly done, there would have been large patch of skin visible with no hair at all, and certainly no need to shave the neck again to see the brand."

Q. Is that common? Do you have any idea why WH&Bs are being shipped across country without freezebrands?

A. As stated above: All wild horses and burros that are removed from the range are freezemarked.

Q. Finally, I found a flyer that looked like a template that was used for various adoptions to promote National Wild Horse Adoption Day. A copy of this can be found at the start of the article. I noticed that BLM failed to include burros and wanted to know why.

A. We are able to find good homes for all burros that are removed from the range. Nearly all animlas in our holding facilities are horses, and therefore the National Wild Horse Adoption Day steering committee wanted to stress that there is a need to adopt horses. There were a few events that had burros available for adoption.

Q. If there is anything else you would like to address or add, please do!

A. I feel that the inaugural National Wild Horse Adoption Day was a success. Both the House and the Senate passed Resolutions for National Wild Horse Adoption Day. Also, there were over 425 animals that found good homes in Adoption Day events.

Please feel free to post my responses on your website.

Sally Spencer
Wild Horse & Burro Program
Office: 202-912-7265
Cell: 202-641-6106
Fax: 202-653-9084

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Of Borders & Brands

After yesterday’s National Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Day affording the opportunity for so many of our mustangs and burros to be loaded up to head out across the country to their new homes - as well as concerns about BLMs new trial program being exclusively conducted in the slaughterbelt hubs of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas billed as, “$500 Wild Horse Adoption Incentive Program”, which gives our wild ones away for free then cuts the new owners a $500.00 check after one year (with compliance checks historically being as low as 5% nationally) – understanding BLM’s branding system may be an important tool in helping the public to protect America’s mustangs and burros.

Posted below are a variety of photos taken from BLMs holding facilities to help illustrate the different kinds of brands BLM uses to identify wild horses, because as it turns out, it’s not just a simple freezebrand mark on the neck anymore. There are different brands that identify “For Sale” horses, Long-Term Holding Horses, Fertility Control Mares being held at facilities that may or may not be returned to the range at a later date (?) and with the new slew of BLM management proposals recently approving adding geldings to the free-roaming herds – with new brands for those as well – advocates need to begin to understand what they are looking at.

In addition to the photos, a variety of advocates have been posing questions to BLM officials regarding “what” these brands mean. Posted below the photos are various answers received from officials. Apparently, BLM personnel needs to get on the same page and understand what they are looking at as well as some of these responses presented contradictory information. Now all we have to do is figure out which one is telling the truth!

This post is designed to be a work in progress. If you have additional brand photos you would like to add, please contact Valerie James Patton at

American Herds would also like to encourage everyone to add your own stories or experiences regarding BLM brands, adoptions, sales, etc. in the comment section in order to help advocates have a working database of what is going in the BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Program.

-Official BLM Feedback on Brands-

How it began….

After receiving many of the above photos, Wild Horse & Burro and anti-slaughter advocate Valerie James Patton began inquiring as to the nature of these brands. On Thursday, September 24, 2009, she contacted Timothy Green of Nevada’s Palomino Valley Holding Facility by phone to question Mr. Green regarding the meaning of these brands. Based on his responses, she sent out the following information later that day with a request to cross-post widely.

From: Valerie James Patton
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:16 PM

I've attached 5 pictures that were taken September 6th, 2009. 4 of these pictures are from Snow's BLM facility, and 1 was taken at the Palomino Valley BLM facility. The picture of the brand # 5634 was taken at Palomino Valley, and all others were taken at Snow's.

Some of the brands on these horses are very unusual, and while I've known that the 4 digit rump brands are for horses destined for long term holding facilities given to horses that are considered unadoptable, I've never seen horses branded with the AB before. Some of these horses are branded only with the AB, some are branded with AB and the 4 digits, and some are the 4 digits only. The 4 digit rump brands match the last 4 digits of the freeze brand on the neck.

I called Snow's facility yesterday, and the woman who called me back this morning, stated she had no idea what the brands were, but these were brands BLM is using on the horses.

I contacted Palomino Valley just a while ago, and spoke to the person in charge of brands, Timothy Green, and he said that the AB is branded on mares that have been injected with PZP. Some that do not have the 4 digits are returned to the range, and others that have the AB and the 4 digits, were mares that had been previously gathered and injected with PZP, returned to the range, then regathered and branded with the 4 digits to show that they were now sale authority or horses headed to long term holding.

He said that horses between 5 & 10 years old, were sale authority horses, and any horse past the age of 10 were intended for long term holding, and would not be available for sale or adoption.I asked him about the extended U on the neck brand, which used to be the sale authority brand, and he wasn't aware of the brand. I have seen pictures of the brand, and I have a letter from Dean Bolstad of BLM, that states the U is branded on sale authority horses only.

I was also previously told that the 4 digit rump brand was not branded on sale authority horses, but only branded on horses intended for long term holding that would not ever be for sale or adoption, but according to Mr. Green, BLM changes the way they do the branding often, and this must have been one of the changes.

There's been quite a bit of concern about horses leaving the long term facilities for slaughter, and knowing what these brands look like will help track them.

I sent a couple of these pictures to a few people the other day, and one person who attends both auctions and feedlots, has written back and said they have seen horses with the AB before, but couldn't remember where.

I do have several more of these pictures, and they will be up on the American Herds blogspot in the next couple of days, along with any more information about the brands that I can find out about. If anyone else would like to see more of these pictures, let me know.

So I'm sending these pictures out to everyone because I doubt that if anyone was to see these brands on these horses, they would be able to recognize that these were BLM horses. I hope that rescues and anyone that attends auctions, feedlots, or sees horses in the export pens along the borders will be able to recognize that these are BLM horses, so please crosspost this information and those of you with websites, please post these pictures to help get the word out.

Thank you!

In response to Ms. Pattons request to cross-post this information, other advocates sent additional requests for information to various BLM officials about these brands as well.

1. From BLMs National Public Affairs Specialist Tom Gorey

This was the reply received from BLMs Public Affairs Specialist Tom Gorey on Friday, September 25, 2009. BLMs official responses are posted in capitol letters and highlighted in bold.

I've attached 5 pictures that were taken September 6th, 2009. 4 of these pictures are from Snow's BLM facility, and 1 was taken at the Palomino Valley BLM facility. The picture of the brand # 5634 was taken at Palomino Valley, and all others were taken at Snow's.

Some of the brands on these horses are very unusual, and while I've known that the 4 digit rump brands are for horses destined for long term holding [YES] facilities given to horses that are considered unadoptable, I've never seen horses branded with the AB before. Some of these horses are branded only with the AB, some are branded with AB and the 4 digits, and some are the 4 digits only. The 4 digit rump brands match the last 4 digits of the freeze brand on the neck.

I called Snow's facility yesterday, and the woman who called me back this morning, stated she had no idea what the brands were, but these were brands BLM is using on the horses.

I contacted Palomino Valley just a while ago, and spoke to the person in charge of brands, Timothy Green, and he said that the AB is branded on mares that have been injected with PZP. [TRUE] Some that do not have the 4 digits are returned to the range, and others that have the AB and the 4 digits, were mares that had been previously gathered and injected with PZP, returned to the range, then regathered and branded with the 4 digits to show that they were now sale authority [NO] or horses headed to long term holding. [YES, HEADED TO LONG-TERM HOLDING]

He said that horses between 5 & 10 years old, were sale authority horses [NO, ONLY THOSE OVER 10 AND THOSE PASSED OVER FOR ADOPTION AT LEAST THREE TIMES], and any horse past the age of 10 were intended for long term holding, and would not be available for sale or adoption. [NO, THEY ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE OR ADOPTION]

I asked him about the extended U on the neck brand, which used to be the sale authority brand, (Embedded image moved to file: pic12292.jpg) [THE BIG U IS THE ONLY BRAND THAT DESIGNATES SALE AUTHORITY] and he wasn't aware of the brand. I have seen pictures of the brand, and I have a letter from Dean Bolstad of BLM, that states the U is branded on sale authority horses only.

I was also previously told that the 4 digit rump brand was not branded on sale authority horses, [NO, THEY CAN BE BOTH SALE AUTHORITY AND LONG-TERM HOLDING] but only branded on horses intended for long term holding that would not ever be for sale or adoption, but according to Mr. Green, BLM changes the way they do the branding often, and this must have been one of the changes.

There's been quite a bit of concern about horses leaving the long term facilities for slaughter, [A CONSPIRACY THEORY THAT IS FALSE] and knowing what these brands look like will help track them.

I sent a couple of these pictures to a few people the other day, and one person who attends both auctions and feedlots, has written back and said they have seen horses with the AB before, but couldn't remember where.

I do have several more of these pictures, and they will be up on the American Herds blogspot in the next couple of days, along with any more information about the brands that I can find out about. If anyone else would like to see more of these pictures, let me know.

So I'm sending these pictures out to everyone because I doubt that if anyone was to see these brands on these horses, they would be able to recognize that these were BLM horses. I hope that rescues and anyone that attends auctions, feedlots, or sees horses in the export pens along the borders will be able to recognize that these are BLM horses, so please crosspost this information and those of you with websites, please post these pictures to help get the word out.

2. From Palomino Valley Brand Manager Timothy Green
Second Response

On Friday, September 25, 2009, the day after talking with Ms. Patton, Timothy Green contacted her by phone to apologize and correct some of the information he had given to her the day before. Pasted below is his email reply in its entirety.

From: Timothy Green
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 2:22 p.m.

When the mustangs are gathered they are usually put into three different categories.

The first category is adoptable which is mare with foal, weaners, yearlings, and 2 to 4 year old horses. Their freezemark is a "U" followed by 8 marks that indicate their age (first 2 marks), series (second two marks) and the horse number (the last four marks) which are the actualnumber or tag number for the horse.

The second category is the 5 to 10 year old horses which are marked with the freezemark on the neck and a 4 digit number on the left hip. These horses may or may not have a large U on the hip.

The third category is the 11 years and older which has the regular freezemark on the neck and a large U fright after it. It would look something like this - regular size u followed by eight symbols and that followed by a big U.The hip mark indicates that the horse is 5 or older and when this is followed by a large U it is identified as being a sale authority horse (11 and older).

There are always exceptions to this and the one that stands out is in the 5 to 10 year olds that, even going to a long term holding facility, may be adoptable so they will be given just the standard neck brand.

You may also see some mares that have a a large AB on their hip. This is to identify the mare as having been injected with PZP for birth control. These mares may have been captured in 2001, given PZP and then released back to the herd. When a new gather is done at a later date 2009, thissame mare may be gathered again, only this time she will be brought into the facility for processing.

I hope that I have explained the freezemarks better that over the phone,

If not please let me know.

Thank you for your patience,
Timothy Green Contact Representative/Adoption Clerk
National Wild Horse and Burro Center Palomino Valley
office (775)475-2222
fax (775)475-2053

3. From Utah Wild Horse & Burro Lead Gus Warr

From: Gus War
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 11:15 a.m.

You just caught me before I head out the door for the National Adoption day tomorrow. We have 4 events going on here in Utah and will hopefully find good homes for as many animals as possible.

Here is a summary of the brand (or freezemark) confusion:

Each animal that is removed from public land is given an "alpha angle freezemark" that consists of the "U" and 8 angles. This is the mark that most folks are familiar with. All animals adopted or sold have this freezemark.

Any "Sale" animals have a "U" (when I say, "U" - this is actually a square u with two bars off the side. It's a government registered mark that is nationally in all state brand books) near the freeze mark. Below is some specific information on this.

All new sale eligible animals removed from the range will be marked with the standard alpha angle animal identification freeze mark applied to the left side of the neck.

In addition to the standard identification freeze mark, all sale eligible animals will be freezemarked with a 3-inch (Embedded image moved to file: pic25721.jpg) symbol on the left side of the neck to distinguish between animals that are sold and those adopted. The new mark should be placed immediately to the right, adjacent to and on the same level as the identification freezemark.

This may not be possible in a few situations and alternative placement locations inorder of preference are first, below the identification freeze mark and second above.Four digit hip numbers will not be applied to sale eligible animals unless they are going to be shipped to long-term holding.

The fertility control mares in the photos are usually not removed from the range. However, "unforeseen circumstances" may warrant their removal (ie: wildfire, lack of available forage or water, etc.).

The below paragraph is our current policy.

Wild horse mares treated with PZP will be maintained in their Herd Management Area (HMA) a minimum of three-years following treatment.

In the vast majority of cases, the released mares will never be gathered sooner than the mandatory three-year holding period.

In those rare instances when, due to unforeseen circumstances, a treated mare(s) is removed, they will be maintained either in a BLM facility or contracted Long Term Holding Facility until expiration of the three-year holding period.

All treated mares in population-based treatments will be freeze-marked on the hip for identification purposes.

A two-letter freeze mark assigned by NPO will be applied to the left hip of each treated mare in Population Based Trials.

The two letters represent -- the first letter is the year of the fertility control trial (ie: A), and the second letter is the trial area (ie: B); thus you have an AB on the hip. Our National program office keep the data on these assignment of which two digit lettering is applied at what locations.

Hope this helps!

Wild Horse & Burro Specialist
Utah Program Lead
BLM-Utah State Office (UT-933)
440 W. 200 S., Suite 500
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101-1345
[Mail: P.O. Box 45155, Salt Lake City, Utah 84145-0155]

-Additional Responses & Information from BLM Officials Include-

4. From National WH&B Lead Dean Bolstad
BLMs responses are in italics.

From: Dean Bolstad
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 7:49 a.m.

See the following answers to your questions.

1. WHY are 2 year olds setting in long term holding facilities?

The horses in the internet adoption picture that you called my attention to were born at a Long Term Holding facility as a result of pregnant mares that were placed in long term holding after capture.These horses in the picture were born during the spring of 2006, removed from the long term holding facility for weaning during the fall of 2006, and placed in short term holding where they have been waiting adoption. They are currently about 21 months old.

2. Why were they taken OUT of long term holding facilities? Has there been a sufficient amount of adoptions that BLM can start bringing long-term horses out and offer them another chance?

They were removed from long term holding as weanlings at about 7 months of age for two reasons. 1) The stud colts can not be allowed to stay with the mares as they would begin to breed if they weren't removed. 2) Weanlings are the most adoptable age group of horses.

3. It also got me does BLM distinguish a long term horse or burro from any other? Do you do a different signature on the freezebrands? It is my understanding that some horses are immediately identified to be shipped to long term holding facilities (age obviously the key factor). This is correct, yes? Does BLM mark them right there during processing for long term holding after the gathers? What/how do they do it? Does BLM have a way of identifying what a "For Sale" horse is that is different from others and if so, what is it?

Most horses five and older are shipped to long term holding because there is little adoption demand. Depending on available space at short term holding corrals, some three and four year olds have been shipped to long term holding. The BLM marks almost all horses bound for long term holding with a four number left hip mark that correlates with the last four numbers of the animal's freezemark. Some three and four year olds shipped to long term holding have not been hip marked because we thought there might be an opportunity to adopt them. About ten, two year olds have been sent to long term holding that have deformities that are not life threatening, but that render them unappealing to most adopters.We have not sent any burros to long term holding.All sale eligible horses that are 11 years old and older are marked with a three inch "U" freezemark immediately to the right of their traditional BLM freezemark.

I hope this answers your questions.

Dean Bolstad
Wild Horse/Burro Operations Lead
Reno National Program Office (Washington Office)
(775) 861-6611

5. From California WH&B Lead Amy Dumas
This following email exhange has only been copied for its relevant portions regarding the subject of brands, sanctuary’s and horses being sold.

From: Amy Dumas
Sent: 7/16/08 9:31:55 AM

Thank you for your inquiry. All horses that are sent to long term holding are freezebranded on their hip with their last four identification numbers. It allows them to be identified from a distance. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Sent: 7/16/08 2:15 PM

Thank you so much for your answer Amy.

I was under the impression that a long term holding facility meant that the horse could not be sold, am I wrong?

I only have part of the paperwork on this horse who's ID number is 95213955 but at the top of her paperwork is a number that is hand written, it is 5581 but the number 5578 is marked out, could this mean she had a foal also?

Much of her paperwork is missing or lost but in research I know she came from CA and was sent to KS, then sold. How can I find out who she was sold to or where this person was from and if she had a foal if the foal was sold with her? I need to understand her history in order to figure out how to bond with her in the best way for her.

Any help you can provide is appreciated.

From: Amy Dumas
Sent: 7/17/2008 9:22:48 AM

This mare was gathered in July 2001 from the Twin Peaks HMA in northeastern California. After being prepared, she was shipped to a sanctuary location and then sold 4 years later. Horses can be sold from sanctuary, but it does not occur frequently, and it usually has to be at least 30 animals.

Regarding the numbers on top of the page, I am not sure what those mean. It could have meant she had a foal, but the foal would have been weaned prior to her shipping to sanctuary. I am guessing someone's notes on other horses of interest or someone at the facility matching her with a foal. But again, they would have waited to ship her until the foal was weaned.

Under the provisions of the Privacy Act, I am not permitted to tell you who purchased her. If you have any other questions, let me know.

Amy Dumas Program Manager,
Wild Horse and Burro Bureau of Land Management
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento, CA 95825
916-978-4678 office
916-978-4657 fax