Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Allegations, Hearsay and What the F*%k?

It started the day after the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board's Reno Meeting held on November 17, 2008 as an Anonymous phone call spilled through the airwaves into the ears of the International Fund 4 Horses. Prone to receiving a wide variety of odd, unverifiable and even crank correspondence, there was little that could be done with the Anonymous "tip" besides being highly disturbed.

Contacting media outlets about it's ominous warnings only brought a general consensus that it was most likely a prank by wild horse enemies delighting in the potential of a wild goose chase (excuse me, wild horse chase) and causing unsubstantiated panic to encourage more BLM adored propaganda of hysterical rants from the wild horse community.

The hastily scribbled notes from the Anonymous caller read:

*WATCH ALL HOLDING FACILITIES* as early as next weekend, but especially around Thanksgiving. The BLM have been fudging the numbers on what horses are where and how many.

The Plan: 200-300 geldings are being moved about 40 at a time to Mexico for slaughter; 400-500 mares moved, then killed and buried at various facilities. Ditches for the bodies are being dug right now out in the desert, near an airbase so would be difficult for civilians to get out there. Will drive them to the spot, shoot them, then bulldoze them into the ditches and cover them up.

Pulling off such a dastardly deed around Thanksgiving would be nothing new as it was the day before the Congressional Thanksgiving break the Burns Amendment was slipped in and the timing of the "tip" smacked of historical irony. It also bode well for covert activities, as most people would be busy with holiday festivities, family and friends.

Mass execution of wild horses and burying them in ditches would also be nothing new as this now famous photograph uncovered by investigator Gail Snider of American Horse Protection Association clearly shows one of the rare pieces of evidence ever publicly released illustrating what BLM was caught doing to wild horses AFTER they became federally protected!

As for the geldings, after reading Valerie James Patton's report last year regarding the suspected illegal exports of only geldings through a "non-slaughter" loophole in the law found in the USDA's Santa Teresa's Livestock Export reports, shipments that totaled thousands of geldings a year beginning just a few months after BLM re-wrote their new sales authority contract and resumed selling wild horses for as little as $10 each, the Anonymous Tipsters suggestion that geldings would be trucked off to Mexico for slaughter had potential too.

Fresh off the plane from the Advisory Board's meeting and still feeling warm and fuzzy from BLMs feel-good assurances that our captured wild herds would be safe a while longer, the Anonymous Tip hit me like a ton of bricks with its wake up call! Trust BLM?

The words from Deputy Director Bisson at the Las Vegas Wild Horse and Burro Summit came floating back; "We will not gather any more wild horses due to budgetary constraints with just a few exceptions personally approved by me, even in Wyoming where we risk lawsuits if we don't". Though not an exact quote, it was something to that effect.

Yet my new notes taken at the Advisory Board just five weeks later had jotted down Director Bisson explaining to the Advisory Board how BLM hoped to gather approximately 5,000 wild horses and burros in Fiscal Year 2009. The BLM reported removing 5,200 last year when they hadn't promised a major halt to the removals....

Reflecting on the 3,000 pieces of hard won evidence flushed down the toilet in the Del Rio Grand Jury Investigation in 1996, evidence gathered by highly trained and skilled law enforcement officers showing BLM knowingly sent wild horses to slaughter in a variety of complicated schemes and much of it implicating BLM personnel as personally participating in the easy money of free horse meat, the chances of an Anonymous Tip, which was completely impossible to verify, wasn't going to go very far, was it?

One month later on December 19th, 2008 between 10 p.m. and 8:30 a.m., 200 geldings and 100 mares plus their foals disappeared from BLMs Palomino Valley Holding Facilities (PVC). According to a local wild horse advocate (who's identity is being kept anonymous here for obvious reasons), most of these were identified as wild horses that arrived last summer from the Nevada Wild Horse Range (aka Nellis) and North Stillwater gathers.

These wild horses were well known by the observer due to the length of time they were held at PVC and a little less than three weeks before they disappeared, these same wild horses had been extensively photographed over the course of an entire afternoon.

According to their report, despite being held captive for six months, which gave BLM more than enough time to geld all the stallions, many still failed to have BLM's trademark freezebrand on their necks and some were even devoid of the telling rope collars with their dangling metal ID's.

Due to the weekend and then the holidays, no one was available to answer questions about where the 300 wild horses plus the foals had gone in the middle of the night...

On December 30, 2008, 200 more mares disappeared from PVC and when someone finally answered the phone a few days later, they explained the horses were taken to Fallen, NV, where a feedlot and slaughter auction yard doubles as a BLM "overflow" facility. According to Tim, PVC's current manager, once wild horses are shipped there, they are no longer available for adoption or for public inspection as it is a private facility.

Meet Gary Snow Livestock and Grain, Inc., who's been contracting with BLM for years to hold wild horses at the cost of $3.21 per day(1), billed in two-week cycles and who picked up almost $2.4 million dollars for his wild horse and burro "control services" in Fiscal Year 2007 and almost another $1.5 million for just the first two quarters of Fiscal Year 2008. All in all, Gary's place has netted almost $13 million dollars from BLM since the year 2000. (2)

It's kind of interesting to look at BLMs posted Short Term Holding Facility statistics (granted, they are only valid as of November 3, 2008), which show many of their facilities are well below capacity while Gary's place is chuck full of those $3.21 per day wild horses. Click Here to view while you can as BLM will undoubtedly be updating these numbers soon.

Not to say there is anything suspicious about BLM funneling wild horses and burros to a private overflow facility that specializes in selling animals to slaughter or the fact that Google Maps show closer views of the nearby Fallen Air Force Base than they do of Snow's.

There's probably nothing wrong with the fact that BLM is currently offering foals on their Internet Adoption site from Snows because there mothers were most likely shipped to all the long-term holding facilities BLM can't afford to pay for. I'm quite sure that would be the official reason given if BLM is ever questioned about it.

After all, though no wild horses have yet to arrive at PVC, BLM is merely making room for the 1,400 - 1,500 more about to come through the door due to the Callaghan Complex wild horse round ups still underway in central Nevada.

And I'm sure it was just an oversight by BLM that many of those same wild horses now blocked from public inspection failed to be freezebranded or come with a necktag as Gary and Co. sorted through who goes to the long term holding facilities once they arrived.

Of course, Gary's sterling reputation is much brighter after a few years have passed since the December 2001 publication of "Snow Job, Corruption, Collusion and Insider Deals with the Bureau of Land Management"(3), which reported on some of Gary's deals with local ranchers (such as Bud Johns from the now zeroed out Silver Peak HMA/Livestock allotment due to lack of forage).

Apparently in 2001, a stink was being raised about how Gary was circumventing legal grazing permits by running cattle through "unofficial" partnerships with known Sage Brush Rebel Ranchers Wayne Hage and Ben Colvin as their special applications to BLM for Temporary Non-Renewable Grazing Permits were then sold to Gary.

However, these days Gary doesn't need to sneak cattle into other permittees allotments anymore as BLM has rewarded him this year with authorizations to run livestock on the Arambell, Ruby Hill and Ralston allotments, which just so happen to coincide with the Fish Creek and Saulsbury Herd Management Areas.

Only the most paranoid of wild horse advocates (or those who have become jaded over the years) could possibly see a connection between having the right to run livestock trucks through Herd Management Areas by an operator that holds wild horses for the BLM in a facility the public can't access (and gets paid very well for it too!), which accepts wild horses that aren't freezebranded or identified in anyway that also just happens to be a livestock feedlot and slaughter auction yard. After all, if BLM doesn't see a conflict of interest with this set up, why should anyone else?

Today, things seem to be going pretty good for Gary of Gary Snow's Livestock and Grain as the BLM proposed to grant Gary authorization to run 600 head of cattle under yet another Temporary Non-Renewable Grazing Permit in the Ralston Allotment. To view BLM's and Gary's proposal, Click Here and don't forget to check the map on the back page.

For those of you who may be feeling bad about Ben Colvin being squeezed out of his own livestock operations on the Ralston allotment to accommodate Gary's cattle, no worries! In October, BLM proposed giving Colvin & Son a Temporary Non-Renewable Grazing permit for 1,400 head of cattle too! Click Here to view the whole proposal and here's the map of the area.

In case you are wondering what the horizontal lines are, that's the Saulsbury wild horse Herd Management Area BLM removed 233 wild horses in and around in February 2007 to maintain the thriving natural ecological balance(4).

As BLM continues to save our wild horses from starving to death on a drought stricken and decimated range, it's good to know "temporary forage" is still available for both Gary's and Colvin's cattle to the tune of 2,000 head at the bargain basement rate of $1.35 per month.

As for the Anonymous Tip, it will just have to be filed in that very thick folder of allegations within the Wild Horse and Burro Program that were never substantiated.


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(1) "Wild Horses Kept at Local Feedlot" by Christy Lattin, Lahontan Valley News, December 22, 2006. http://www.lahontanvalleynews.com/article/20061222/News/112220031
(2)Federal Contracts for Fallen Livestock Auction, Inc. available at FedSpending.org
2007 Report available at: http://www.fedspending.org/fpds/fpds.php?state=NV&parent_id=113761&sortby=u&detail=-1&datype=T&reptype=r&database=fpds&fiscal_year=2007&submit=GO
2008 Report available at: http://www.fedspending.org/fpds/fpds.php?state=NV&parent_id=113761&sortby=u&detail=-1&datype=T&reptype=r&database=fpds&fiscal_year=2008&submit=GO
All Contracts since 2000 available at: http://www.fedspending.org/fpds/fpds.php?state=NV&parent_id=113761&sortby=u&detail=-1&datype=T&reptype=r&database=fpds&fiscal_year=&submit=GO
(3)"Snow Job, Corruption, Collusion, and Insider Deals with the Bureau of Land Management", December 12, 2001 available at:
(4) Stone Cabin Complex Post-Gather Report, February 2007.

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