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


Terri Farley said...

Right after the June Wild Horse Advisory Board meeting in Sacramento, I started contacting the national coordinators, volunteering to do anything for the adoption day--sign PHANTOM STALLION books anywhere within a day's drive of Reno, post adoption day news on my websites, give sets of autographed books to anyone who adopted a horse or burro. So, maybe they weren't great ideas, but when I finally got a response, two weeks before the event, I and was told my offers came too late.
I posted information on my blog and in my newsletter anyway and two of my readers were finalists (one won) in the "name the mascot" logo horse. Not saying they weren't great names, but it does make me wonder how much other publicity was done.

Anonymous said...

This shows an adoption to occur in Iowa on October 16th (?). Also you can click on a tab (for the facilities) and go to each for photos of adoption horses.

I am not from BLM

Anonymous said...

This is from an email I got from Lisa Reid, public Affairs Specialist, BLM,, regarding adoptable horses at the Delta Facility.This correspondence was dated 7-16-09:

"Thank you for your concern for the horses at the Delta facility. Just some
background information, there were 358 horses gathered in November from the
Sulphur Herd Management Area (HMA). Fifty were returned to the HMA. The
first of January the horses were prepared for the January 24th adoption.
After the Jan adoption we waited for some nice days when it wasn't snowing
and the mud was shallow to take photos for the Mar INET adoption.I'm not
sure where you are located but the conditions in Millard County during the
winter months are muddy at best (please note the snow in the background of
the photos). The horses are wild and we do understand that, with that said
we take every precaution necessary to ensure their safety and the safety of
the handlers. These horses had been at the facility for 4 months before we
started taking photos of them. . ." "We have adopted 180 total, 50 of which were adopted from the internet and were taken at thesame time as the photos currently posted. Again, thank you for your concern, and we will continue to do our best in presenting the best photos
of the horses that are offered via the internet.

Should you have any more questions or concerns, please feel to contact me."

I had written to her about my concern on the muddy dirty condition of the adoption fotos. At that time there were lots and lots of horses (July 2009) at the Delta facility, and several foals, etc. and young horses.

Anonymous said...

This is about the Delta Facility from the website of BLM (

The Delta Wild Horse and Burro Facility serves as a preparation center for wild horses and burros gathered in Utah and also as a overflow holding facility for animals from the Salt Lake Regional Wild Horse and Burro Center, and National Wild Horse and Burro Center in Palomino Valley, NV. The facility was built in 1974 as the primary holding facility for wild horses and burros gathered in Utah and as an overnight stop for animals being shipped to the facilities in the east.

the second link is a map of the facility & photos of it.

Unknown said...

I can't say I'm real surprised by the failure of their marketing of this event, but it does kind of make me wonder, if this was all the marketing they were going to do, where all the money went. Unless they were overpaying to a ridiculous degree, a logo and a website shouldn't have cost that much, and the adoption events ought to be a regular part of the budget. Not to mention that the website didn't have much on it -- not when they announced its opening, and not later on, either. I had hoped when they made that website live that it would be a real central point for ALL the information you could possibly want about adoptions, but it really didn't amount to much. IMO, it's just another tool for the BLM to be able to justify euthanasia by saying that even a big push for adoptions won't work.

RockyMnt Ryder said...

It doesnt take a rocket scientist to see that the BLM only wants to just be there they dont care about the horses only the millions in tax payer dollars they say they spend on the horses thats why they have empoyees that oh um ya get caught shooting the wild horses in Wyoming and the hire known fellons wow I know some prisoners want to hire them to BLM ya know the apple doesnt fall to far from the tree here and BLM you can take that however you want your all bad And Abbey yer the worst. The adoptions wouldnt need to happen if the BLM would stop stealing the set aside range land that was for the wild life anyway I will be the person waving good bye when the BLM is disbanded and the wild horse program taken away!!!!

Anonymous said...


Just read you blog and the BLM staff response to your questions. She stated that both resolutions for the national adoption day passed. That is inaccurate. The senate bill never got out of committee, (see below from The house only passed on 9/22, four days before the national event.

You might want to link the blog to these youtube I uploaded from the event. Also, John Holland went to the adoption event in Virginia, and asked Congressman Grijalva about his impression of the event.

John Holland talks about Virginia adoption event

All episodes of Mustangs on the Hill on

Item 2 of 3

Title: A resolution expressing support for the goals and ideals of the first annual National Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Day taking place on September 26, 2009.
Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (introduced 7/22/2009) Cosponsors (2)
Related Bills: H.RES.688, S.RES.283
Latest Major Action: 7/22/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. (text of measure as introduced: CR S7891)

Items 1 through 3 of 3
1. H.RES.688 : Expressing support for the goals and ideals of the first annual National Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Day taking place on September 26, 2009.
Sponsor: Rep Titus, Dina [NV-3] (introduced 7/28/2009) Cosponsors (2)
Committees: House Natural Resources
Latest Major Action: 9/22/2009 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On motion to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution Agreed to by voice vote.