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!


Anonymous said...

2-27-2008 Thanks for the well stated article. I like "possibly paying livestock permittees to leave their wells on for the wild horses and wildlife due to drought." These so-called professed “good stewards of the land” is a joke. They won’t provide water despite this offer! It is a blatant setup to get rid of America’s WHB. Taxpayers paid for these wells and the water belongs to the public. These welfare ranchers derive much delight along with BLM in letting WHB die from thirst just to get their greedy way. The massive fencing for private livestock management on public lands are paid by taxpayers as subsidies (AKA welfare ranching) to ranchers and are preventing the full movement of the WHB on their legal HMA/HA. It only confirms an ongoing vindictiveness that "we'll show you" mentality that BLM is not doing their job and WHB are the problem. Keep in mind that BLM officials are from a livestock background and are biased toward the ranchers. BLM are facilitators for the public land ranchers to take over management of WHB (straight to auction for a profit, if not already happening), as they did prior to 1971 when WHB were nearly eradicated.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Preserve The Herds said...

The following comment was posted on 8/17/08 by an Anonymous reader. Because it had personally identifying information contained it it, it was temporarily deleted until permission could be obtained from the original sender.

Mr. Pierce has granted permission for this email to be posted as it was originally submitted but the recipients name has now been deleted.

While it is important that information is shared regarding serious issues, such as what this email addresses, please act responsibly and don't post personal information about someone without their knowledge or permission. Thanks!

Here you go.

From: Loren Pierce []
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 10:59 AM

I want to address this very serious concern with you concerning the actions and inappropriate behavior of a member of the Bureau of Land Management in Carson City, Nevada.

Yesterday, August 16, 2008 my wife, three year old daughter and I went to the Reno Wild Horse and Burro Show. While attending the show we decided to register with the BLM so that we could adopt if we found that special horse. At the registration desk inside the livestock event center, on the desk of the BLM was a sign that clearly stated “Silent Auction, Bids close at 12:00”. This rule was not adhered too and created a very nasty situation due to rules being broken and re-written by Ms. Susie Stokke and she deemed fit.

During the actual reading of the bids, the woman from the Mustang Heritage Foundation would ask others if they wanted to make a higher bid on a horse. While some horses did not have bidders at all,
I agree that asking for a bid at that time for those horses was appropriate, however; it was well after the 12:00 P.M. cutoff and they (Susie Stokke and The Mustang Heritage Foundation) were asking people for higher bids, even on the horses that bidders had already bid on prior to the 12:00 p.m. deadline. When the horse came up that I had placed a bid on, again, they asked for a higher bid. Another bidder had attempted to out bid me and I objected, referring them to the rules posted on the desk. Susie Stokke spoke up and said “Sir, We make the rules here you don’t”. Susie Stokke and I got into an argument over the situation and the other bidder withdrew her bid. I went into the event center and double checked the sign on the desk that confirmed that Ms. Stokke and the Foundation was not abiding by the rules of bidding as they were posted. I returned to the bidding area to get my horse and to correct Ms. Stokke on the rules that were clearly posted at the BLM exhibit inside the Reno Livestock and Events Center.

Susie Stokke then realized who I was “Past Vice-President of the NWHA” and became very rude. During our paperwork process I was standing in line like everyone else waiting my turn, when I got to Susie Stokie at her spot at the processing desk she completely ignored me. As I stood in front of her for nearly 5 minutes with my three year old daughter by my side waiting for her to get my paperwork; people standing behind me in line were offered helped first and Susie never offered me any assistance. I then asked her “Am I just standing breathing the air for my health” at that time she stated “You need to go to the back of the line sir, I can’t find your paperwork” (sarcastically). I argued with her and told her that “I was not going anywhere and that she didn’t even look for my paperwork”. (Ms. Stokke didn’t even know the number of the horse I was bidding on so how could she not find my paperwork)? Ms. Stokke then stood up and told me again to go to the back of the line in a threatening manner (standing up, puffing out her chest, and telling everyone that I was causing a disturbance) when in fact it was her that was creating the hostile situation.

I asked her “and if I don’t” and she then stated: “I will have my guys take care of you”. I asked her “is that a threat?” at which point a very tall man (Boddie) sitting at the table approached me and told me to leave. I felt very threatened. I then got out of line and demanded a refund of my money for the horse. Susie refused to give me my money back and was very rude, loud and threatening. I got back in line and told my wife that I have been humiliated by Susie Stokke and that we were going to see our lawyer and sue. Susie then demanded that I leave and take my family with me. Again I refused. Susie then got up from the table and left.

Once Susie was out of the mix everything went smooth and the other people who were involved offered their apologies for the situation. I am filing a police report on Monday morning with the Reno PD for assault. As Susie threatened me and then had a much larger man approach me. At that point I felt harm would come to either me or my family. My family was completely humiliated and embarrassed by this situation and the behavior of Susie Stokie and the Bureau of Land Management at this event. If my conduct was so disturbing why didn’t she call security? Why didn’t she just move me through the process to get me out of there? Was she simply grandstanding and purposely trying to embarrass and humiliate me and my family as Wild Horse Advocates and former members of the NWHA?

I have obtained witness contact information, including some that may be a shock to Ms. Stokke and the BLM. These witnesses heard firsthand the conversations in their entirety and who did not believe she acted appropriately.

I am demanding Ms. Stokke’s resignation. A police report will be filed against Ms. Stokke for assault, and terroristic threatening. Due to our address and it’s very close proximity to BLM lands, we must now fear for our safety every time we see a BLM vehicle near our property because of the threat made by Ms. Susie Stokke. I will pursue this matter civilly due to Ms. Stokke’s infliction of emotional distress, humiliation, and threats on my three year old daughter, my wife and myself.

A copy of this letter has been delivered to George Knapp of KLAS TV in Las Vegas and a copy will be sent to your office via Certified Mail and to the office of the Secretary of the Interior and US Senator Harry Reid.

Private Citizens should not have to be intimidated, humiliated, threatened, coerced, and embarrassed by members of your department or any other member of the United States Government or agents acting on its behalf.

Loren “Jay” Pierce
Past Vice President, NWHA

Cc: Department of Interior
Dirk Kempthorne
Senator Harry Reid
Senator John Ensign
George Knapp
Reno Police Department (as attachment)