Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Natives

Many of the common environmental impacts attributed exclusively to wild horses and burros such as trampling, soil compaction, trailing, denuding of vegetation, stream bank erosion, etc., are all evident and quite common in many natural and "native" ecosystems throughout the world.

Africa, which has also been prone to a great deal of drought conditions during its natural cycles exhibits all of these same impacts by the native wildlife to water sources, vegetation and soils. The attempts to single out wild equid populations as the only species that create these impacts is both prejudicial and inaccurate.

Some examples of native species in their native habitat have been included to help illustrate this point and as can be clearly seen, the "natives" are documented as severely impacting all phases of environmental health and ecosystem functions through soil compation, destruction of stream banks, soil erosion, water fouling, denuding of vegetation and heavy fecal matter within the area.

So the next time a wildlife biologist or "habitat expert" presents the arguments of why wild horses and burros must be completely eliminated from an area to protect the "native species", let them know just what the native species are capable of doing all by themselves.

Native elephant herd bathing in mud in Zimbabwe.

Elephant droppings.

Native Hippodamus in Tanzania

Native Gazelles at waterhole at Etosha National Park - Zambia

A large herd of native Cape Buffalo - Tanzania

Native Cape Buffalo - Kenya

Native Wildebeests and Zebras - Amboseli, Kenya

Native Zebras - Etosha National Park - Zambia

Native Zebras - Botswana

Text from Encylopedia Britannica
"Zebras live in small family groups consisting of a stallion and several mares with their foals. In Grevy's zebra the mares may form separate groups from the stallions. With plentiful food, small groups may coalesce into large herds, but th esmaller groups retain their identites. Zebras often form mixed herds with antelopes, such as wildebeests, which gain protection from predators by the alertness of the zebras. Herds may migrate long distances to find suitable grasses on which to feed.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Over the last few months, Australia has found itself in the news again through a series of articles that has exposed plans to shoot as many as 14,000 wild horses or brumbies, as they are called down under, in order to protect Australia's native species and habitat.

After reading the most recent release, “Kill All Wild Horses In Australian National Park: Environmentalists”, I was drawn to philosophical musings……

First, there seems to be an amazing amount of similarities in contradictions with this article as those so often seen in American print when it comes to wild horses, burros and habitat.

The National Parks Association of New South Wales (an environmental group not actually associated with running the Park) declares: “the ‘brumbies’ have caused havoc in the Kosciuszko National Park” and have called for total eradication of the population to protect the native species.

Later in the article, Andrew Cox, the official spokesperson for the group, is quoted as saying, “It is very undisturbed. It is a very intact ecosystem”. (1)

It is estimated that about 1,700 “feral horses” now roam the 1.67 million acre Park and projections of 7,000 wild horses in ten years time is cited as the reason to begin the eradication program now to protect rare species of plants and animals listed for the area that occur nowhere else in the world.

In report after report, study after study, region after region and country after country, it all reads the same - there is no home for a wild horse or donkey - for as we are told, somewhere in their history they stopped being a species and have merely become a breed.

There is no resource they do not threaten, no species they do not endanger, no ecosystem that can withstand their impacts and “environmentalists” repeatedly call for their complete removal to protect the natives.

With no habitat to call home, they are always cited as “feral” in any area they now occur and their 56 million years of functional evolutionary coexistence on this planet is causally swept aside by those who demand pristine ecosystems free of all traces of human influence by removing the “feral animals”.

So today I ponder......what is a feral horse or asses crime that could cause such relentless persecution?

Perhaps for too long they have been held captive by man and as a result, have become tainted by their mere acquaintance with us – never native, always feral, they have become unclean like mankind itself and those that seek their complete eradication long for a place they can go that is unspoiled by our heavy footprints, our wanton destruction, our ignorance and lack of respect for the Earth and all her children – the other natives “feral” horses and asses are no longer a part of because of too much time spent with us.

Perhaps those that lobby for their complete absence seek a place they can forget about what mankind has done, what we are doing, longing to return to a place of innocence that is pure and natural, to connect with this majestic and magnificent planet in all its splendor and glory, desperately trying to run away from the ever-expanding concrete hives we have paved Her with as they try to pretend - just for a moment - that all is well in the world.

And then trots by the “feral” horse….. a reminder of a species we enslaved and forced to help us build the very things that now enslave us.

Perhaps there is jealousy that the horses and donkeys can still live for free, easily making almost any area "home" without having to pay their debt to society like the humans, livestock, or hunted animals must do.

Or maybe it comes from resentment and the fact that the truest “feral”, non-native, exotic species on the planet is mankind itself, as there is no natural habitat for us - no place to call home - only what we fashion and forge through stripping these very ecosystems now held hostage by our insatiable needs.

Perhaps because man has so readily bonded with equines, it is easier for those who cry for their eradication to project their own subconscious shame and participation in the destruction of our earth on the “feral populations”, hoping that killing “brumbies” or donkey’s can somehow quell the demons of their inner landscapes they are too comfortable to confront.

For now, I am only left to wonder…

As the ground soaks up the blood of the "feral" horses shot at Kosciuszko, their screams of pain finally falling silent and their rotted bodies eventually fading into history, will those that walk the grounds breath in the fresh air and smile at how peaceful everything looks, never wondering how the bones they step on got there?

I also speculate on the purpose of, “Kill All Wild Horses In Australian National Park: Environmentalists”, as it provides an inflaming title designed to invoke passionate reactions, spark controversy and add fuel to the already raging debate as the media defines the battle lines of our opposition for us in a predictable pattern of oppo-same drama.

Divide and conquer - the “environmentalists” and the “sentimentalists” – crafted to cleave us from each other by obscuring the heart of the matter and what matters to both sides most, the preservation and protection of life! As we point our fingers at each other, we both become easy prey for the exploitative agendas of those who really pull the strings.

(1) According to SOS News, Andrew Cox, also a member of the Wilderness Society, was a major architect of the 2000 Guy Fawkes wild horse massacre that resulted in the deaths of over 6oo wild horses being shot and left to suffer as they died. Mr. Cox is cited as continuing to be very instrumental in the advocating of killing Australia's Brumbys and their total eradication.

Photo of the Cover of “Managing Vertebrate Pests – Feral Horses” by WR Dobbie, DMcK. Berman and ML Braysher available at

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pure Propaganda

In their most recent issue, Quarter Horse News and Linda Hussa have conveniently published an article of astounding misinformation - just in time to try and confuse Congress and give the anti-horse camp fabricated ammo to press for continued delays in passing permanent protections for America’s horses.

Click Here to read the article in full - “185 Wild Horses Dead” - as it tells a very different kind of story about BLMs fiasco and mismanagement of the Jackson Mountain wild horse removals and the problems facing American horses today.

Having personally participated every step of the way in the Jackson Mountain round up proposals, I know the distortions this article presents and have a few “facts” to offer Quarter Horse News that Ms. Hussa seemed unable to locate with her investigative techniques.

“185 Wild Horses Dead” recounts the story of Ron & Ginger Hopkins as they traveled to the Jackson Mountain area in August where Ron stated, “The basin was full of horses…hundreds of them…the trough was empty and there were horses standing in it! And all around it”. According to the article, the Hopkins encounter with hundreds of thin, dead and dying horses was dated August 12, 2007.

While the Hopkins are telling stories of dead and dying horses all around, at the same time in August BLM released their Final Environmental Assessment on the Jackson Mountain captures, which asked the legally required question (Appendix C): 1. Is this an emergency? To which the BLM responded, “No.”

Having personally researched the BLMs Preliminary EA to remove the Jackson Mountain wild horses, I submitted a 22 page “public comment” on June 25, 2007 that challenged the errors, omissions and dangers the EA was riddled with – all of which BLM ignored.

My research was done before BLM conducted their new population census in June, which discovered approximately 700 more wild horses roaming the range than BLM had a clue about. Having removed 661 wild horses in the Jackson Mountain area in February 2003, BLM did not report or notice any “excessive utilization” of forage by hundreds of more horses in the area for the last four years, even as recent as June when they released their Preliminary EA.

In April 2007 BLM released an EA for the Happy Creek grazing allotment to approve a 10-year grazing renewal located within the Jackson Mountain HMA. BLM did not report “excessive utilization” in this assessment either and while the rangeland may have indeed looked like a “atom bomb went off”, as reported by Ron Hopkins, BLM only reported horses were in excess of AML and that they may die off “in the winter” due to rangeland conditions if they weren’t removed.

Based on BLM reports of what the wild horses would have to endure during the helicopter round up because of the distance and terrain of the Jackson Mountain area, coupled with the well-documented drought, I lobbied hard for BLM to utilize water trapping methods to capture the Jackson Mountain wild horses instead of helicopters.

While it is now reported that hundreds of wild horses were refusing to move from dried out water sources as early as March and standing in troughs, BLM responded to the public concerns about this very issue with, "it was not feasible to capture horses with water trapping and that driving them by helicopter was in the best interest of the horses".

BLM also refused to consider using wranglers instead of the helicopters citing that the terrain was too hard on the wrangler’s horses (but apparently not on the wild horses starving, dehydrated and dying!) Even Ms. Hussa reported the Jackson Mountain area was very rough country but BLM choose to drive them anyway, didn't they?

The Quarter Horse News article reports Arlan Hiner, Assistant Renewable Resource Manager for BLMs Winnecmucca Field Office and authorizing officer who issued the final decision to remove the Jackson Mountain wild horses (merely reported as “field staff" in the article) as saying, "he drove out to the Jackson allotment…twice in June to monitor the water" and “Both times, there were horses standing in the troughs.”

On June 8, 2008, I sent an email to Nevada Wild Horse and Burro Lead, Susie Stokke with copies to Dean Bolstad of the National Program Office, Nevada State Director Ron Wenker and Battle Mountain Wild Horse & Burro Specialist Shawna Richardson, with an offer to organize and coordinate emergency water supplies as well as possibly paying livestock permittees to leave their wells on for the wild horses and wildlife due to drought.

On June 13, 2008, BLM Director Wenker essentially blew the offer off to help the wild horses by citing BLM didn’t see a need and stated, generally, BLM didn’t like to provide artificial water sources for wild horses (never mind that all livestock and big game are allowed these luxuries). Copies of Director Wenkers response to me were also sent to all Nevada Field Offices, including the Winnemucca Field Office that oversees the Jackson Mountain wild horses.

“185 Wild Horses Dead” quotes Nevada WH&B Lead Susie Stokke as saying, “It was a devasting thing to come home to after that and have the situation we had at Palomino Valley.” But that’s not what Ms. Stokke was saying to Investigative Reporter George Knapp just hours after the wild horse deaths were announced.

This article spews the propaganda that environmentalist launched a “vigorous campaign [to reduce livestock grazing] and…”permit after permit was cut, denied or bought up by conservancy groups”.

While this may apply somewhere else, this is certainly not the case for livestock allotments in and around the Jackson Mountain HMA, as they are all still grazed and BLM has authorized a minimum of 1,500 cattle run year round with 32,744 Animal Unit Months (AUMs) of forage reserved for livestock use and only a maximum of 2,604 AUMs for wild horses; plus BLM still issues Temporary Grazing Permits on top of these permanent authorizations whenever it's available.

Let’s not forget the 79 miles of fencing already in place with more planned, which exclude wild horses from all those “water systems [that] fell into disrepair…” as quoted by Dave Cattoor as he explained why there was no water for the wild horses despite the fact that no livestock allotments have been bought out or significantly reduced in the Jackson Mountain HMA.

This is the same man who has made a multimillion dollar living for three decades off his exclusive contracts to remove wild horses and burros from public lands. Mr. Cattoor, who is always spoken highly of by BLM for his "humane handling and experience in wild horses captures" certainly didn’t turn down the offer to drive the starving, dying Jackson Mountain wild horses with his helicopter over that “very rough terrain”.

Then Ms. Hussa REALLY throttles the propaganda pedal….

First, “185 Wild Horses Dead” provides several paragraphs of how the ranchers are struggling, how the public doesn’t understand, how all those predators that “wild horses don’t have” kill their cattle, (even though public funds are spent in predation programs to kill these same predators for the sole benefit of the ranchers), how caring for the 70,000 wild horses recently removed from public lands is taking money directly out of our children’s mouth to the tune of 1.8 billion (the price sure went up in this article!) and how the public is unfairly accusing and prosecuting ranchers (who regularly “water” at the government trough of hand outs with $34.8 billion dollars being paid out nationally between 2003-2005 in ranching and farming subsidies), and finishes it off with a grand flourish of accusations of BLM incompetence and lack of accountability for letting too many horses and burros roam free and hurting the ranchers because of it.

Obviously Ms. Hussa has never seen the ratio of wild horses and burros to livestock grazing on public lands or she could have never made that statement and still had any sense of decency!

Then it targets a “glut of horses” flooding the market due to American horses slaughter plants being closed (though they are still being sent across the Mexican and Canadian borders at phenomenal rates), which has resulted in driving the demand and prices down for all horses. It goes on to say that “public lands, parks and country roads are the depository of choice for unwanted horses and horses that people can no longer afford to feed. Newspapers from coast to coast are carrying stories about dumped horses

While it may be true that newspapers are carrying the stories about “dumped horses”, not one of their stories has proven to be true. Quarter Horse News obviously didn't check out the recently published report “Deleting The Fiction-Abandoned Horses” released on 12/23/07 where every single story printed by the main stream media about abandoned horses turned out to be false!!!

“185 Wild Horses Dead” also quotes Boyd Spratling, D.V.M., rancher and past president of the Nevada Cattleman’s Association as he states, “The BLM is being impeded by so-called advocacy groups from making proactive management decisions and implementing them”…”and until we can stop legal action by them, this situation falls squarely on their shoulders in my mind. The very people that are claiming to care the most about those horses are actually the ones driving the death nail in their coffins”.

First the article presents arguments that BLM is not being made accountable for their actions when it comes to livestock grazing but then turns around and states that wild horse advocates need to stop demanding accountability and just let BLM run the show.

Then it quotes Susie Stokke as saying the Wild Horse and Burro Program is one of the most litigated that BLM manages. Well I say - prove it! Where’s the numbers to justify this fabrication?

I have poured over at least 10 years of Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) and Federal Court cases and wild horse litigation is merely a trickle by advocates – it’s the ranchers and the big game specialists that are continually threatening lawsuits to push BLM to remove more wild horses, not wild horse advocates – wild horse advocates are generally just everyday, ordinary people too broke to pursue legal action against the taxpayer funded BLM lawyers and their countless appeals!

Wild horse advocates have also been completely stripped of their ability to challenge BLM through government sponsored avenues because BLM is continually using their Full Force and Effect clause that whisks the horses or burros away longggggg before any judge could even look at a protest!

Furthermore, nobody filed a legal appeal against the Jackson Mountain removals but there was a mountain of questions and concerns raised and submitted to BLM – concerns that turned out to be very legitimate but were totally ignored by the experts who now claim "mistakes were made" but offer more hollow assurances that they won't ever happen again. Really? So what has changed?

For the record, while wild horses were dying all over the range in August, Dr. Spratling was also serving on the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board as the representative for Veterinarian Medicine (a fact that is mysteriously absent in the article) Dr. Spratling was sent a personal email by me requesting advice and studies on the impacts to wild horses and burros through helicopter driving methods on July 27, 2007, a request that he and the entire Advisory Board completely ignored - among countless other requests and suggestions for better management for all rangeland users - including ranchers!

I can also testify that I have NEVER received a check or money for anything and have spent a small fortune of my own trying to get information and work with BLM with countless hours of sacrifice trying to find viable solutions and demand fiscal responsibility from a political quagmire that has spun totally out of control. And that applies equally to dozens of wild horse advocates I have communicated with over the course of the last 18 months – many of us get nothing but bills! The same cannot be said for those that can afford to pay for these well-timed propaganda pieces so far removed from the truth.

Maybe the only reason Ms. Hussa speculates on envelopes with checks going to wild horse advocates is, it was easier to imagine we would get one too after she put her own envelope in her pocket while hanging our horses out to dry with her lies…..

-Happy Creek -
Photo taken May 21, 2007

Happy Creek Grazing Allotment
Jackson Mountain Wild Horse HMA
Biological Assessment - August 2007

Click Here to view my public submission to BLM about the Jackson Mountain removals.
Click Here to read the Happy Creek Livestock Grazing Authorization EA.
Click Here to view a copy of the email offer of providing water for wild horses on the drought stricken range.
Click Here to read Director Wenkers response in full.
Click Here to watch Susie Stokke’s interview with George Knapp to see her reaction then to all the dead Jackson Mountain horses.
Click Here to check out this recently published report “Deleting The Fiction-Abandoned Horses” released on 12/23/07 published on Mary Nash's Horse Meat website.
Click Here to view the email sent to Dr. Spratling.
Click Here to view the questions that he failed to respond to in any manner!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The Bureau of Land Management Richfield Field Office in Utah is accepting public comments and input on a Draft Resource Management Plan until January 23, 2008 and it is highly recommended that you take a moment out to show your support for wild burro preservation!

A Resource Management Plan (RMP) or Land Use Plan (LUP) is the most complicated, extensive and powerful document the BLM publishes, averaging about 1,000 pages each, and presents various alternatives that the public can comment on to help decide what will be the priority values for the “planning area”. Once done, a process that often takes 2-3 years to complete, the RMP will become the guiding foundation and basis for all legal arguments, land use entitlements, and management of public resources over the next 10-30 years.

However, the public is given a very narrow window to participate - 90 days is the general allotment - and if you fail to provide input during the “Draft” period, you are then legally barred from challenging or questioning these plans again!

The Richfield Draft RMP is presenting an extreme range of choices, varying from making oil, gas and mining the top priorities to shutting down much of the area for environmental protection.

The BLM oversees a rare herd of wild pinto burros in the Canyonland Herd Management Area, one of only two burro herds in the entire state, and they are considering raising the “allowable management level” of the herd to a range of 120-200 wild burros in two of the Alternatives being considered.

The catch? The best Alternative for the Canyonland burros is also the one that has the strongest protection for all wildlife and their habitat – Threatened and Endangered Species, Special Status Species, Priority Species and yes, big game such as bighorn, elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and even bison – but the burros will be at the absolute bottom rung of the “priority ladder” unless we demand more protection for them than BLM is offering!

Over the years, this has become a very common ploy used by environmentalists and big game enthusiasts who pander to the publics desire to see public lands pristinely preserved - wild horses and burros are easily picked off once “other wildlife” is given the priority status for an area.

This is done through a myriad of ways; from fencing wild horses and burros out of water sources for exclusive use by more important species, by transferring critical land and water to agencies that aren’t legally required to preserve the herds, by declaring an area a special protected habitat called an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern" (ACEC), or by merely issuing “authoritative statements” supported by old and biased studies that claim wild horses and burros are causing “rangeland degradation” and threatening those species. (These studies are often written and funded by big game specialists who want wild horse and burro habitat to expand big game populations without causing conflict with local ranchers - of course, the general public has no expertise or authority to challenge their conclusions.)

To make matters worse, while the BLM constantly beats the “thriving ecological balance” drum as justification for constantly removing wild horses and burros, neither BLM, United States Fish & Wildlife Service (who oversees Threatened & Endangered Species), or State Wildlife Departments are required to report the populations of those species wild horses and burros are removed to “protect”.

For example, the Mexican Spotted Owl will be considered a top priority in the Alternative that will help the Canyonland wild burros the most; the owls will get a certain percentage of habitat declared an ACEC through this Alternative and this area will then be devoted almost exclusively for the owls protection in the Canyonland burros HMA. Once this is set into motion, if any agency declares the burros are causing the owls distress, the burros can then be reduced or permanently zeroed out for the owls protection.

Never mind that the last guesstimated count of the Mexican Spotted Owl was eleven years ago with an estimated population almost the equivalent of the ENTIRE wild burro population now remaining under BLMs “care” or that the owl has already been granted 8.6 million acres of protected habitat while wild burro habitat has been slashed again and again under this crafty strategy - merely 5.6 million is all that now remains.

This same strategy can be employed against the burros for any species protected under this Alternative’s “management plan” and it will include all big game species too! No current monitoring will be required, no reported populations of the species will be necessary - just “the word” issued from the experts and the burros can be instantly eliminated during the entire life of the RMP!

Because of this, it is imperative that the public demand detailed preservation plans be established now for the Canyonland wild burros and their HMA. This is the only chance the wild burros will have at legally establishing protections that will preserve them in the future!

If you’d like to help support the preservation of the Canyonland wild burros and their home range, Click Here to access an easy, copy-n-paste letter to send to BLM to let your voice be herd!

Comments must be submitted by
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Email your comments to:

Bureau of Land Management
Richfield Field Office RMP Comments
150 East 900 North - Richfield, Utah 84701
Phone: (435) 896-1500 - Fax: (435) 896-1550

Make sure you include your name and address and please remember all submissions and personal information may be made available in their entirety for public inspection.

To view the Plan, go to: :

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Letter To The Hopefuls

For too long, We the People, have been forced to look on as our representatives, officials and public servants have declared war on our Nation and our citizenry. Our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our civil liberties and our right to meaningfully petition our government against grievances being committed against us is blatantly being subverted.

At the inception of our Nation, great principles were laid for our foundation, igniting the Spirit of Truth in all people, that our Creator has endowed us with certain inalienable rights and among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Our forefathers understood through the tyranny they had overcome, that liberty is as essential to Life as life itself and this truth must be safeguarded and protected at all costs. The greatness of our Nation can only flourish if our essential liberties and the principles for which they stand are honored with firm commitments and unwavering hearts by those chosen to uphold and declare allegiance to them.

Throughout history, in every culture, humankind has recognized our bonds with our animal brethren and we have incorporated them both in our daily needs as well as weaving the qualities of their Spirit into the very fabric of our existence.

It was not coincidence that the American people and our Congress overwhelmingly and unanimously acknowledged our deep and abiding connections to the horse and burro and in 1971, we set about to honor those connections by lawfully mandating their right to freedom, preservation and protection through the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act.

There are many that also believe it is not coincidence that the attack on the Spirit of America as a Nation is entwined with the attack on these majestic icons and symbols of our freedom, chosen because they represented our own pioneering spirit, independence, and fierce need for liberty after millenniums of enslavement.

In the last few years, we have watched over seventy thousand of America’s wild horses and burros being cleansed from public lands while all protests have been ignored and our representatives fail to repeal the dishonorable and unethical “secret” amendment that slaughtered what little protection for them had still remained intact.

As we have watched our wild free-roaming horses and burros being stripped from our lands, we have watched our citizenry being stripped of even the most basic human rights, both justified through fabrications that cannot withstand the light of truth!

While these symbols of our freedom are being replaced by corporate livestock interests, we see how many of our representatives no longer represent us but seek instead to lay a new foundation for America; envisioning the populace as nothing more than a corporately owned resource such as these same cattle and sheep – human animals - to be exploited, manipulated, managed, herded and harvested for the benefit of the few.

Those lands, once dedicated for the preservation of the wild free-roaming horses and burros are also increasingly becoming the exclusive lands of the hunted and the hunter.

So too, as we attempt to exercise our inalienable rights; free speech, free ideas, independent thought and to protest against wrongs committed against us and the principles and laws of our Nation, we see how we are becoming the hunted, increasingly targeted by sharp shooters for an economic elite who have no allegiance to the people or to our Nation, only to the highest bidder in what has become the frenzied auctioning of America!!!

As a candidate that seeks to represent the United States, we urge you to recognize the inseparable connection between our legally declared national icons and their right to exist peacefully in freedom with the rights of the American people to live peacefully in freedom – not in the bonds of domestic enslavement cloaked in the rhetoric of security but in securing domestic tranquility born from a life lived in true liberty!!!

If you ask us to choose you as our leader, we ask that you choose to listen to the People! Not just those hand picked and carefully crafted experts that insulate you from the truth, those who have your ear and lobby with lies, but that you listen to our cries for justice - for justice has become a hollow illusion for a citizenry who has no means to purchase it.

We also ask that you choose to strongly affirm your commitment to our wild free-roaming horses and burros and the independent spirit they represent, that you will actively seek to preserve and protect the laws that once guaranteed their rights as you equally seek to preserve and protect our rights, for these are the heritage of our Nation and what once made America the Light of the World!

It is only through this strong affirmation that we will know you are worthy of honorably leading us into the future through your allegiance to our laws, our liberties, and our National sovereignty. Anything less at this critical juncture in America’s history is unacceptable!

Question To The Hopefuls:
In 1971, wild horses and burros were declared national icons and symbols of freedom. Yet over 70,000 have been stripped from public lands in the last few years with more being held in government containment pens than now roam free. The majority of those now remaining on public lands are little more than token herds with most being “managed for extinction”.

What will you do to investigate this travesty and restore the laws that guaranteed their protection and preservation for future generations?

Companion Literature
For supporting facts to help restore America's wild horses and burros.

"Talking Points - Wild Horses"
by American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign - Click Here

"Wild Horse & Burro Fact Sheet"
Compiled by American Herds Click Here

-The Candidates Package-
For Printable Versions - Click Here

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Event

The BLM Battle Mountain Field Office has signed the “Final Decision” papers on a wild horse round up that began today for the Nevada HMAs of South Shoshone and Roberts Mountain.

BLM sent the Preliminary EAs out last April and May because they were originally planning to remove them in July.

Yet in June, BLM announced that other more pressing “emergencies removals” such as the Jackson Mountain fiasco were necessary and they tentatively rescheduled the South Shoshone and Roberts Mountain removals for January 2008.

Despite knowing for over six months that these captures would most likely transpire now, BLM didn't have “time” to publish their Final Assessment for public review so skipped it and jumped straight into issuing the decision to remove them.

Since 1971, the South Shoshone HMA has never been gathered by the BLM – ever!

For over 36 years, the BLM has never had to remove wild horses from the area despite their continued assertions that “over populations of wild horses cause range deterioration” and removals are necessary every 3-4 years to protect the range or the horses and burros.

So WHY hasn’t the BLM had to remove wild horses from South Shoshone before?

The original plan was to gather South Shoshone and Bald Mountain as a “Complex” but BLM changed their mind in the Final Decision to only remove wild horses from South Shoshone. Here are some exact quotes from BLMs Preliminary EA, (Appendix B, pg. 72/73) that address this question.

The South Shoshone HMA population has never been reduced through a BLM wild horse gather. BMFO staff have not documented animals in poor condition or dying as a result of drought or harsh winters.”

“Both HMAs could have been influenced by illegal human activity. Anonymous reports have been received in past years of airplanes herding wild horses in the Bald Mountain and South Shoshone HMAs. It is possible that wild horses are being shot or killed by other human means, although carcasses have not been discovered. Over the years, field staff has located old skeletal remains of which cause of death was undeterminable. The Bald Mountain and South Shoshone HMAs are the only HMAs in the Shoshone-Eureka Planning area that exhibit a low or negative growth rate that cannot be explained by gather activities, fertility control or inherent movement patterns.”

“In 1980, dead wild horses were found in the Bald Mountain HMA and other nearby HMAs, which were determined to have been shot. In November 1980, 20 were located in Ox Corral Canyon, and in December, an additional 13 dead wild horses were located in the Bald Mountain HMA north of Corral Canyon. Between 1987-1989 over 500 wild horse carcasses were documented in Lander County. Investigators and veterinarians determined that the majority of animals had died from gun shot wounds. No less than 266 carcasses were discovered in Bald Mountain HMA, and 7 in South Shoshone HMA. Other HMAs involved included Augusta, Callaghan, and New Pass/Ravenswood.”

“Though several individuals were indicted for wild horse deaths in Lander and other Nevada counties, the cases were eventually dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Nonetheless, a significant number of wild horses were killed, which influenced the population sizes during that time. Today, groupings of wild horse skeletal remains are still discovered in both South Shoshone and Bald Mountain HMAs. As recently as winter 2000, 12 wild horse skeletons were located in close proximity of one another north of Corral Canyon in the Bald Mountain HMA. The grouping of the skeletons of apparently younger animals caused reason for suspicion; however, the carcasses were too decomposed to determine the cause of death. There have also been at least two anonymous reports received between 1990-1999 of small fixed wing aircraft pushing or herding wild horses. In one case, gunshots were heard, but follow-up investigation produced no findings of illegal activity.”

In the preliminary paperwork, BLM was considering micro chipping and branding the wild horses released back into the range after the round ups as well as conducting a “Trapsite Adoption” in this same area, an event that would allow the wild horses to be loaded straight into trailers from the gather pens without ever having to go to a BLM facility first.

BLM responded to public concerns about “adopting wild horses” through this kind of event in an area rampant with documented wild horse deaths and murders by completely ignoring their own recounted history of the South Shoshone HMA and assuring the public there was nothing wrong with this idea. After all, they did a Trapsite Adoption in 2001 and 2005 too!

BLM failed to mention in their Final Decision if the Trapsite Adoptions had been approved or not but obviously they had since here is the link announcing the “Trapsite Adoption Event” scheduled for Sunday 1/13 and Sunday and Monday 1/20 and 1/21. There is no mention in the Final Decision if the wild horses will be micro chipped or not.

If you’d like to know how to adopt a horse at the Trapsite, here are the requirements as provided by BLM in the South Shoshone HMA, Appendix A, pg. 55:

Applications for adoption would be accepted by the BMFO until the day of the planned event. BMFO would evaluate applications received by potential adopters, and determine qualification to adopt. Adopters that do not submit applications by the event date would not have first priority for selection of animals. A public or viewing day may be scheduled the day before or the day of the event. The event type (first-come, first-served, competitive or lottery) would be based upon the interest received from potential adopters.”

In other words, just show up on the Event Day without BLM ever having an opportunity to make sure you have the adequate and required facilities to qualify you for loading them into your trucks, and your only “penalty” will be you will not be eligible for the “first-come, first-serve” adoption option but can still obtain wild horses by competitive bid or lottery. Of course they will do a compliance check later.


For the record, BLM stated the Trapsite Adoption Event would only be scheduled if there were sufficient public interest. They received two public comments during the spring assessments but of course, potential adopters were probably ringing the phone off the hook.

For more information contact:
Shawna Richardson
Battle Mountain Field Office
50 Bastian RoadBattle Mountain NV 89820
Phone: 775-635-4181
Cell: 775-635-9642

Photo of South Shoshone wild horses April 2007 and taken from the cover page of Shoshone Complex Wild Horse Gather, Environmental Assessment #NV062-EA07-104 for Bald Mountain and South Shoshone Herd Management Areas.
Final Decision on South Shoshone Gather Plan can be accessed at:
Final Decision for Roberts Mountain Gather Plan can be accessed at:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Authorized To Destroy

(Also see “Getting Burned” posted 11/01/07)

According to BLMs final reports, 27 wild horses either died during the capture operations or were shot by BLMs contractor under their euthanasia authority during the recent removals in the New Pass/Ravenswood and Augusta Mountain Herd Management Areas conducted this last November in Nevada.

Despite this, Battle Mountain Wild Horse & Burro Specialist Shawna Richardson expressed the same bubbling optimism that is becoming a trademark of those involved in Nevada’s wild horse and burro program by stating, “I am very pleased with the overall outcome, as well as how the gather progressed and how the numbers etc., came out.”

A total of three horses died during the capture operations - all causes of death cited as “unknown”:

a) On November 8, an old bay stud refused the trap and was roped. Once roped, the horse collapsed and died. Cause unknown, heart failure suspected. BLM personnel did not observe any adverse actions by the crew that would have led to the horse’s death.

b) On the same day, a 3-4 month old bay foal was unable to keep up with the herd when being brought to the trap. After the adults were trapped, the crew went to retrieve the foal on horseback. It was walked to the trap where it collapsed, seizured and died after being administered electrolyte and a foal supplement. The crew stated that the foal may have been sickly, mentally impaired, or an orphan. The pilot stated that the foal kept tilting its head from side to side abnormally during the gather.

c) On November 10, a foal died after being roped in the wings of the trap. The foal had lagged behind the herd when brought to the trap. One of the crew attempted to rope the foal as it ran into the mouth of the wings. At the same time, the foal collapsed. The foal’s legs were tied to keep the foal on the ground briefly as another group of horses was brought to the trap, and was found to be dead minutes later.

The other 24 wild horses were shot by the contractor, Cattoor Livestock Round Ups, 13 of which were destroyed exclusively because BLM stated they were exhibiting a body condition score of 2 (on a scale of 1-10) and were incapable of maintaining this body condition in its “present environment” – most of those destroyed were over 20 years old with four of the mares estimated at being 30 years or older.

While other wild horses shot were also cited as exhibiting these body conditions, other physical deformities were also given as reasons for the euthanasia's including swayback, clubfoot, blindness, being crippled and an eye infection in a foal that failed to respond to treatement.

BLM states that after being destroyed, the Augusta Mountain wild horses, who had the highest number of cited Class 2 body conditions, were buried on private property - so if anyone would like to verify that these horses were indeed shot on the range versus loaded up in a slaughter truck, it will require a search warrant to access the burial site. The New Pass/Ravenswood wild horses were left on the range to decompose naturally.

In BLMs Closeout Report for the New Pass/Ravenswood HMA, BLM reported that, “The horses brought to traps 1 & 2 during the first 3 days of the gather were the thinnest captured. Most mares were on the lower end of condition class 4 (moderately thin), with a few near class 3 (thin).”

The final Close Out Report for the Augusta Mountain HMA, where the greatest number of wild horses were put down due to low body class condition, has yet to be issued.

In the “Emergency" Environmental Assessment BLM sent out, they stated many wild horses in the area were thin and exhibiting signs of stress due to the prolonged drought. The above photo above was taken on 11/09/07 at the capture site of these same wild horses.

This is a photo of wild horses removed in from an emergency gather conducted in the Montezuma Peak Complex HMAs in 1996. Instead of being euthanized as these recent horses were, they were transported to the New Pass Ravenswood HMA instead.

Until 1998, Congress forbid BLM to destroy wild horses and burros on the range, even though euthanasia was authorized in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act. Then the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board stepped in and recommended reinstating this authority and BLM has been authorizing their destruction via national annual memos ever since.

The authority to destroy the New Pass/Ravenswood and Augusta Mountain wild horses was cited by Nevada’s Wild Horse and Burro Lead, Susie Stokke under a memo whose authority expired on 9/30/07 with no new memo yet being issued. When this was noted, BLM was quick to point out that their authority was already granted within the Act and BLMs policies.

So now we find BLM assuring us that destroying our horses and burros has always been the case and it would appear that the motion by the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board to recommended reinstating BLMs Euthanasia Authority, as well as the annual memos that authorize their destruction, were merely an unnecessary waste of time and paper.

A total of 692 wild horses were removed: 464 wild horses from the New Pass/Ravenswood HMA and 228 from Augusta Mountain HMA. BLM guesstimates between 208-268 wild horses remain in the New Pass/Ravenswood HMA and 178-192 in Augusta Mountain HMA.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Utah Vernal Draft RMP


Comments MUST be in by:
January 3, 2008
4:30 PM MST
Email to: Kelly Buckner
The BLM Utah Vernal Field Office is accepting public input regarding an Amendment to their Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement that includes three areas for wild horse use, which has a variety of Alternatives on how they are proposing to manage the area.

A Resource Management Plan is the most important document you can comment on as this is the place that BLM sets up the land use plans for the next 10-20 years. The more specific your comments, the better for the wild horses and burros and their preservation.

Provided below is a sample comment that you can also copy and paste or mix and match with your own comments to use as your submission. This will make it so easy that it would actually be hard NOT to comment and the wild horse herds desperately need a high volume of public comments and supporters if they are to be conserved!

Show your support for the continued preservation of Utah’s wild horses and their habitat by taking a moment out to add your voice and letting BLM know you care!

Sample Comment

Dear Ms. Buckner:

I would like my comments submitted into the public record regarding BLMs Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the Vernal Planning Area.

I would like to support Alternative C for the preservation and management of the wild horse herds in the Bonanza Herd Management Area, the Hill Creek Herd Management Area and the Winter Ridge Herd Area, which will be designated an HMA with Alternative C.

However, I would like the following changes to be incorporated:

Designate all acreage that was identified in 1971 as the original Herd Areas acres declared by Congress to be withdrawn for wild horse conservation and preservation to be managed under Herd Management Area (HMA) status. Also, please provide mitigation measures that compensate for acreage previously removed from wild horse use and its adverse impact to viable populations as well as prohibiting any further land exchanges, transfers or disposals within the already reduced Herd Management Areas.

I would like BLM to adhere to their own regulations regarding wild horse management and preservation. This includes considering wild horses comparable to other rangeland users in land use plans, completely closing Herd Management Areas to livestock grazing if necessary to preserve wild horses or their habitat and setting an Appropriate Management Level with a minimum range of 150-350 adults per Herd Management Area, as the most current and best available science has determined that a minimum of 150 adults is required to assure strong, self-sustaining genetically viable herds.

Alternative C, though the best Alternative being offered for wild horses, still provides very little to them in comparison with other resource allocations. The current plan is to allocate 106,196 AUMs of forage to Wildlife, 77,294 AUMs to Livestock, but only 3,960 AUMs to Wild Horses for all three proposed HMAs. This proposed resource allocation is not comparable with other rangeland users and does not support viable herds despite forage being available.

I strongly oppose the periodic introductions of other horses to maintain herd characteristics and genetic viability as this is a mitigation measure BLM is using to counteract poor management and the establishment of inappropriate management levels of non self-sustaining wild horse herds, preferring instead to allocate the habitat requirements necessary for their survival in an inequitable manner; specifically to livestock and big game at the expense of the wild horses.

If wild horse Appropriate Management Levels were established at the recommended range of 150-350 adults, the maximum amount of forage for wild horse use in all three HMAs would still fall far, far below livestock and big game allocations, merely 12,600 AUMs; 800% less than wildlife and 600% less than livestock grazing at the current proposed levels of use.

I would also like to strongly urge a decrease in the amount of acreage being considered for prescribed burns and fire management within the Herd Management Areas. The increase in wild horse populations to the recommended Appropriate Managed Level of 150-350 per HMA will reduce flammable vegetation and allow more natural and native plant communities to flourish. Burned areas are more susceptible to invasive plant species and cause short-term unecessary hardships to wild horse herds and wildlife species already suffering from critical habitat loss due to urbanization and man made impacts.

While I applaud BLM for the proposed water developments of guzzlers, reservoirs, construction of wells and additional pipelines, please officially incorporate no restrictions to all water sources for wild horse herds within the HMAs and that BLM establishes water allocations that are sufficient to support the recommended AMLs of 150-350 even in drought conditions.

I would also like to request the currently proposed 129 miles of fencing be reduced as this disrupts their free-roaming behavior and creates adverse impacts to wildlife species as well as any fencing that disrupts known migratory routes must have mitigating measures that provide alternative access to maintain these migratory routes and their free-roaming behavior.

Thank you for your consideration.

Your Name & Address

Please be aware that all information submitted to BLM may become publicly available even if you request that it remain private. This includes your personal identifying information such as your address and phone number as well as any comments submitted into the public record.