Wednesday, October 22, 2014

REPORT ON TOUR OF BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT INDIAN LAKES SHORT TERM HOLDING FACILITY

American Wild Horse Peservation

Story By Terri Farley     
Photos by Cat Kindsfather
Fallon, NV (October 17, 2014)….Following two years of locked gates and secrecy, the public was finally allowed to tour Bureau of Land Management’s Indian Lakes Road Short-Term Holding Facility in Fallon, Nevada. This facility is also sometimes referred to as "Broken Arrow," the name of the company of the contractor, Troy Adams, who operates the facility. 







The two 2-hour tours were conducted on October 17 by John Neill who has returned as Operations Manager of Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Facility after two years in Nevada BLM’s Carson City office.
“We’ll have another tour in spring and at least two tours per year.” Neill added, “The public has a right to see these horses.”  
Mustangs at Indian Lakes once lived throughout the West and their conformation and coloring reflect a variety of adaptations.  Pintos, palominos, grullas, creams, buckskins, sorrels, bays and blacks are built like Quarter Horses, Arabs, Morgans and draft-crosses. 
All of these horses are available for adoption or sale, and Neill agrees that public awareness of individual horses and their histories raises the number of adoptions. That’s one reason tours recommenced.
Adoptions aren’t handled at Indian Lakes. Wild horses or burros can be chosen there, but the animals are transferred to an adoption facility – like Palomino Valley – for processing and pickup.
Although Indian Lakes is considered a short-term facility, some of the horses who came there in 2010, or were born there, already wear hip numbers that indicate they will be transferred to long term pastures in the Midwest.
The numbers
Indian Lakes is designed to hold 2,850 equines. Corrals contain 2,712 wild horses and 21 burros according to BLM’s September 30, 2014 tally. The count provided by BLM is approximate, however, because foals born in most BLM facilities are not officially counted until they are weaned and freeze-branded at about 6 months old.
The 320-acre facility has 36 holding pens each measuring 70,000 square feet, each designed to hold about 100 horses.
Seventy-five per cent of Indian Lakes horses are mares, but a recent transfer of 400 mustangs from the shuttered Gunnison Prison program included geldings as well.
Indian Lakes is an “overflow facility” for Palomino Valley Wild Horse Adoption Center.  This means that wild horses living at Palomino are moved to Indian Lakes when horses from recent round-ups such as those just completed in Wyoming and Oregon are shipped to Palomino Valley to be dewormed, blood-tested, freeze-marked, gelded, and vaccinated.
The Past: Has Anything Changed?
Since the facility was closed to the public on May 28, 2010, visitors have only been allowed to view horses from seats on a truck-towed “wagon,” which made observation wild horse health difficult for visitors. It is most likely that the BLM locked the gates back then to stop the close-up documentation of wild horse injuries that resulted in public outrage.
Contractor Troy Adams’ Indian Lakes Road facility has improved since its hurried construction in last 2009.  Built to contain thousands of mustangs captured during the disastrous 2010 Calico Range roundup, it was more suited to feedlot cattle than range wild horses. Consequently, the facility was the scene of hundreds of wild horse deaths that resulted from round-up injuries, accident, shock, neglect, spontaneous abortion and lack of dietary and veterinary care.
Today, feed troughs are more suited to horses and, Neill says, an automated bale feeder makes it easier to customize hay mixtures for different equine populations. Vet care is still handled by Dr. Rich Sanford, but sub-contractor Lahontan Valley Veterinary Clinic does weekly vet inspections and care at Palomino Valley. In addition, BLM staff, not contractors, does most hands-on work, such as hoof care, with wild horses.
Hoof care is done 1-2 days per week, every week, Neill said, and indicated it’s an unending job.  Pointing to one corral, he added,   “You’ll notice some of the Utah horses came here with long feet.”
When a visitor asked if young horses’ tails had been docked, Neill said no. He explained that youngsters chew each other’s tails – not tugging once or twice in play, but daily. 
Even an “improved” prison is still prison.
Deprived of family and freedom, Indian Lakes’ inmates suffer the trauma and boredom of other prisoners.  The difference from other prisons, of course, is that these horses were innocent by-standers to the range vandalization for which they were jailed.

Terri Farley is a well-known author of books for young adults, including the popular Phantom Stallion series, which has sold over two million copies worldwide, as well as many non-fiction magazine articles. She is also a northern Nevada resident and dedicated wild horse advocate who recently joined AWHPC in its successful efforts to intervene in a lawsuitfiled by ranchers seeking the removal of thousands of wild horses from public lands in Nevada and the sale for slaughter of the nearly 50,000 wild horses warehoused in BLM holding facilities. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Happy Ending in Adobe Town

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
I had the best news today.
On Friday I got an email from Terry Fitch, Co-Founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  Someone had written to the WHFF tip section of the website.  It was Brad Langley, working south of Rock Springs in Wyoming’s Red Desert.  He had found an orphan foal, with no horses around for miles and nowhere in sight, and he did not know who to call or what to do.  He said that the foal ran after his truck.  He gave directions and GPS coordinates, and the foal was near the Eversole Ranch, where the harrowing last days of the Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town roundup took place.  I  immediately emailed him that he needed to contact Jay D’Ewart, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, and gave him Jay’s cell phone number so he would have the best chance of catching him immediately.  We did not know how long the foal could hold out without its mother.
FullSizeRender
(Before – all alone)
I thought on Saturday all was well until I received another email from Brad, that the number was disconnected.  Of course BLM offices are closed on the weekend but I emailed and called the office number for Jay, and tried texting him.  The text seemed to go through so I reported back to Terry and Brad that I would let them know if I heard anything, and they said the same.  Brad had gone into the same area with his wife that day trying to find the foal again, with no luck, and sent directions again.
I really was thinking that it was unlikely that the foal would make it through the weekend, but to my utter delight I got a message from Jay D’Ewart this afternoon. Apparently wranglers went out on horseback Friday to find the foal with no luck, buton Saturday, Marvin, who works in the oil and gas fields found the foal and took him home.
FullSizeRender (2)
(Foal napping)
Apparently he and his wife Tiffaney have filed papers at Rock Springs BLM to foster the foal, and he spent the weekend in their subdivision – he seems quite at home there!  He has been drinking milk replacer right out of a bucket, and the vet said he was 1 month old.  They will be moving him to a new corral soon, and are thinking of a name.  They said he will have a very good home.
IMG_0334
(Foal in the kitchen)
It is wonderful to hear about a happy ending for one of the Adobe Town horses in the aftermath of the roundup.

Friday, October 17, 2014

BLM Ely Nevada District to Round Up Wild Horses




Straight from the Horse's Heart

Unedited Press Release from the BLM

Release Date: 10/16/14

BLM Ely District to Gather Wild Horses







Triple B Horses – BLM


ELY – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ely District is scheduled in early November 2014 to begin gathering and removing approximately 120 excess wild horses from in and around the Triple B and Silver King Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in eastern Nevada. Details will be posted on the district website athttp://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC as they become available. The helicopter gathers are necessary to prevent further damage to private property and provide for public and animal safety.


The District will remove about 70 excess wild horses from the Triple B HMA, located about 30 miles northwest of Ely, that are damaging private property, and harassing and breeding domestic stock resulting in landowner complaints. Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Triple B HMA is 215-250 wild horses. The current population is 1,311 wild horses.


The District will remove up to 50 excess wild horses from in and around the Silver King HMA. The horses to be gathered are located about 120 miles south of Ely. They are a safety concern on U.S. Highway 93 and are damaging private property, resulting in property owner complaints. AML for the Silver King HMA is 60-128 wild horses. The current population is 452 wild horses.


BLM attempts to keep wild horses away from private property and the highway, including trapping and relocating animals to other portions of the HMAs, have been unsuccessful.


The BLM will utilize the services of gather contractor Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., of Nephi, Utah, which uses a helicopter to locate and herd wild horses toward a set of corrals to be gathered. The pilot is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse that is trained to guide the horses into the corral. The use of helicopters, which is authorized by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, has proven to be a safe, effective and practical means by which to gather excess wild horses with minimal anxiety or hardship on the animals.


Wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., where they will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals. Wild horses for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.


A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established at (775) 861-6700. A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and schedules. The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at:http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC.


Public lands within the HMAs will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions, and the BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. The BLM has established protocols for visitors to ensure the safety of the horses, the public, and BLM and contract staff. The protocols are available at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC under Observation Opportunities.


Gather activities in and outside the Triple B HMA were analyzed in the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley HMA Gather Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA), signed in May 2011 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1tgdHc6. Gather activities in and around the Silver King HMA were analyzed in the Ely District Public Safety and Nuisance Gather EA signed in August 2014 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1lx856K.


For more information, contact Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist, at (775) 289-1842 or chanefel@blm.gov.


Silver King Highway Nuisance Wild Horse Gather


Triple B Nuisance Wild Horse Gather




Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Part II

Straight from the Horse's Heart


Eyewitness account by photographer Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Farewell Wild Horses of Wyoming

Day 24
Carol WalkerI am getting ready to drive out to Bitter Creek Road so I can get led out to the observation site for the 24th and hopefully last day of the Checkerboard Roundup in Wyoming. The Cattoors and the BLM hope to capture more than 100 wild horses today from Salt Wells Creek.
We are here again in Adobe Town, on public land, 3 miles from the trap site which is out of sight behind a hill. There is a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case on the subject of BLM restrictions of public observations of roundups, which states:
“To provide this First Amendment protection, the Supreme Court has long recognized a qualified right of access for the press and public to observe government activities.”
Even though we ask for a better, closer spot to view the roundup, we are told that this is the location that the contractor has selected.
Shortly after we arrived at the observation site 3 miles from the trap Shelley Gregory the public information specialist spotted a group of 20 horses coming down the hill and a few minutes later we spotted the helicopter. Then we can see more and more groups of horses converging. They are so small this far away they look like ants and all we can distinguish is lighter colored horses from the darker probably grey or appy. We finally count about 50 horses streaming in lines and standing out against the huge cloud of dust. As they go into the trap the dust billows wildly. The two helicopters immediately head right back out. Suddenly a gorgeous grulla stallion runs right in front of us heading away from the trap. We hope he runs and never stops. Then about 30 more horses are brought in by both helicopters in another cloud of dust.
Linda and I are the only observers on Day 24. A white pickup comes roaring up the hill and a tall, big woman leaps out and starts yelling at Linda, and gets right in her face, looming over her. She said I demand that you give me your name and address and phone numbers, how dare you tell me where I can be on my private land, and you have to tell me who made the phone call to the Cattoors. She started insisting that someone from yesterday had called the Cattoors and said she was too close and told the Cattoors to make her move. In the meantime I was getting alarmed and frightened so I called to Shelley Gregory, the Public Information Specialist who accompanies up to the observation site and she rushed over and so did the BLM ranger. They got between her and us, thankfully, and I was never so grateful in my life to have the ranger there. Both Linda and I said we did not make any such phone call, but she did not believe either of us.
Then she started ranting about “you people” who have all this money and do this lawsuit, and she has lost all this money having to remove cattle from her land because of the horses, and that RSGA had to do something about these inbred horses, running all over her land, they are just feral ranch horses, no Spanish blood, worthless, and her family has been there for 100 years long before the horses were there, which really is not true of course. The horses have been here hundreds of years before her family began welfare ranching in this location.
The horses are most certainly not inbred in this herd, which used to be one of the largest remaining wild horses herds. The numbers exceeded the minimum number, 150 adults, of wild horses necessary to sustain genetic viability. And Gus Cothran, the leading geneticist on our wild horses has been genetically testing the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creeks Herds for many years, and they have a high percentage of Spanish blood. she was ranting on and on I said you won, why are you yelling at us? They are taking all the horses. She said they can never get all the horses, they are still there. Luckily Shelley diffused the situation and took her aside and talked to her. The rancher asked where we were from and Linda said Colorado, asked for our names and towns and I said none of your business. Her mother, a small lady with white hair came out and told us that a stallion had taken the saddle pad right off of her daughter’s horse one time.
I said why don’t you just leave and she said this is public land you cannot make me leave and proceeded to stay up there for another hour and a half, probably just to annoy me. She had had a much better viewing spot than we did earlier before she came to harass us. She asked me what I was doing because I was typing on my phone as she was yelling at Linda, and asked if I were blogging about her and I said yes, and then she started ranting again about all the lies I was spreading about her. As she is muttering you better hope that your car doesn’t break down out here I know that I would rather walk the 20+ miles back to the highway than ask her for help.
Just before they left, she told me she wanted me to not post any pictures of her ranch on Facebook, would I not do that – I told her I don’t care about her ranch, I am here for the horses. She stomped off and drove away, and we were very relieved that she left.
I think it is a shame that she is the only representative of RSGA that anyone has been able to talk to. The four journalists who have been here during the roundup have all said that RSGA has been unwilling to give them an interview.
Helicopters brought in two more groups one of about 16 and another of 6 bringing the total for today to about 95. The helicopter was chasing a lone horse back and forth, back and forth, he stopped and went to meet another horse and possibly a foal. Then the helicopter peeled off possibly to refuel. We heard they are just going to possibly be bringing one more small group. We hope we are allowed to go see the horses in temporary holding once they are done.
I am now waiting to go into the temporary holding facility to see the over 100 horses that brought into the trap today from Salt Wells Creek near the Eversole Ranch. The last horse brought in today had the helicopter right over him for about an hour. He looked bewildered and slowed to a stop and a walk. We asked what they were doing and found out he was a young sorrel yearling and they were bringing a rider on horseback to catch him and put him in a trailer, which they finally did. The wrangler caught him and trotted and cantered with him to the trailer and he got in with the saddle horse and was taken to temporary holding.
As we were packing up to leave the observation point this morning after the helicopters finished for the day we were really surprised to hear and so were our BLM escorts to hear that this might NOT in fact be the last day of the roundup. Apparently there may be some more horses needing to be removed from the Checkerboard area even though the number removed is close to 1200 wild horses. We were told that because the number so far exceeded their estimates they were having a conference call with Washington D.C. this afternoon and that they might be rounding up more horses tomorrow. After what happened this morning with the woman from Eversole Ranch I think it is highly likely that she has been aggressively complaining that they did not catch every single horse on both her private and public leased land. This is speculation on my part, of course.
When we went into the temporary holding area in Salt Wells Creek this afternoon, we asked Sue Cattoor about what had actually happened with the rancher from Eversole and what had actually happened was she was parked too close to the path of the horses being driven on by the helicopters and Dave Cattoor called her and asked her to move. It had absolutely nothing to with us or any other member of the public observing the roundup at this trap site. The new location she moved to was still at least a mile closer than we were allowed to go.
At the temporary holding corrals late this afternoon I learned that they captured 129 horses today bringing the total to 1217 wild horses removed from their families and their homes. If they do capture 30-40 tomorrow on the really last day of the roundup they will have over 1250.
We did see the sorrel colt that had to be roped and put in the trailer – I had thought he was a yearling because he was so far away as it turns out he was a little foal too little to be weaned. He was happily reunited with his mother. There was a death today, in the morning, a weanling foal broke his neck when being sorted out for transport. The horses in the pens that we saw looked good and the big bay roan stallion was still king of the stallion corral.
Day 25
Linda and I left even though we knew they would be rounding up horses on this last day – neither of us wanted to go through another confrontation at the observation site with the angry rancher. Although the BLM ranger prevented us from being punched or even shot, he did not prevent the bullying and intimidation.
47 more wild horses are removed and the roundup is finally concluded. Of course the BLM has to have the last word, and posts on their Wyoming Facebook page that it is OUR fault that they removed 1263 instead of 800 wild horses in this roundup:
“Appeals and motions delayed removal operations, allowing more wild horses to move across the fluid boundary from solid block public lands into the checkerboard in preparation for winter and in search of water; thus, the population estimate for the checkerboard was surpassed by the number of wild horses actually removed.”
The truth is, we sought an emergency injunction to stop the roundup from occurring so that our case might be heard on its merits BEFORE the horses were rounded up and removed, because if we had won, none of these horses would have been removed. We lost the temporary injunction and the roundup went on. Our case has still not been heard, and the horses are being shipped or are already in Rock Springs and Canon City short term holding facilities.
I am sick, physically sick, and sick in heart and soul about what is happening to those horses right now. We will not hear about the rest of the deaths and injuries that will occur in transport and at the short term holding facilities. We will not hear about the final fate that can happen when the BLM sells the older horses under the Sale Authority Act, when they most likely will end up at slaughter. We may hear about the approximately 4% that get adopted.
To rub more salt in the wound, the BLM posted on Facebook these close up photos of these beautiful horses running into the trap, photos that they took close to the trap, an area none of the public were allowed to go into. The images I took that are in this post were taken at the public observation point with the longest lens available. The horses are simply dots.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup, Part I

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Eyewitness Account by photographer Carol Walker – Director of Field Documentation at Wild Horse Freedom Federation
“Carol Walker has been back out in the desert, along with others, witnessing the total destruction of Wyoming’s wild horse families and their freedom.  It’s a tough thing to witness and even tougher when the BLM and their contractor make it all but impossible to photograph.  This is done so that when horses are killed, and there were many, there will be no photographs taken which would/could verify and document the cruelty rained down upon these helpless creatures.  Today Carol gives us the beginning of the end with a scheduled closeout article, tomorrow.  ‘Thank you for being there for us and the horses, Carol.  We appreciate your dedication and compassion.'” ~ R.T.

Destruction in the Desert

Day 23
We are out waiting for the trap to be set up near Sand Butte and Pine Butte across from the Eversole Ranch in Salt Wells Creek and unfortunately last week I saw the most gorgeous families with many very colorful Appaloosas which I have not seen anywhere else in the wild. They are expecting to get 200 wild horses here and said it is the last trap site of the roundup.
We are at least 3 miles from the trap site in Salt Wells Creek and the Cattoors selected this site obviously to keep us as far away as possible. I would NOT call this access. We have to use binoculars to see the wings of the trap and we cannot see the trap itself at all. The horses are so far away that they look like ants, and the best way we can find them is when there is a huge cloud of dust from the helicopters. The wind is howling and Ginger and I set up our cameras between two cars to provide a wind block.
We have watched several large groups coming in some with 20-25 horses and since we are facing directly into the sun it is hard to tell the colors of horses beyond grey, palomino and dark. The horses look like little ants as they approach the trap because it is so very far away, if it were not for the blowing clouds of dust we would not be able to see the horses at all. The two helicopters work together squeezing them into the trap. We see one stallion escape. There is a huge group ofPronghorn Antelope, maybe 200 who are also running from the helicopters. We have seen about 75 horses captured in the last hour and a half. My eyes are straining to make out the horses in the dust and wind.
The helicopters have finished chasing the horses for today, they are done by 11;30 which is early, because the horses were in relatively large groups, unlike the horses in Great Divide Basin. We pack up our gear and are heading to temporary holding pens to see the horses once they have gotten food and water.
We waited for 2 hours to go see the 76 horses that had been captured today in the temporary corrals. There were some gorgeous stallions, most notably a very proud bay roan who was clearly the dominant one in the pen, and a lovely pinto stallion with a mostly white body, dark bay sculpted head, and a brown shield on his chest. He was hanging back away from the other stallions. The horses were very quiet, and they all looked very tired, they had run a long way today. There was a group of weanlings who had been separated just a couple of hours ago from their mothers. The littlest one was running around crying for his mother. He looked to be about 3 months old. Some of the horses are whinnying for their families and it is a heartbreaking sound.
The adult horses will be shipped to Canon City tomorrow and the weanlings, yearlings and two year olds will be shipped to the Axtell Burro facility in Utah since they are running out of room.
The total removed so far is 1088 and there is at least one more day to go. The original number of horses that were to be removed was 800 – 950, but that amount was exceeded days ago. When I ask why so many more, the BLM tells me they are mandated by the Consent Decree to remove all wild horses from the Checkerboard Area. That is actually not true, they are mandated to remove all wild horses from private land, but that is how they are interpreting the ruling, it is impossible to separate the horses which are on public land from the horses on private land in the Checkerboard Area, so their solution is just to remove all of them.

Click here for the most beautiful photos!

More images by Carol Walker

Monday, October 6, 2014

This Land Not Really Ours

Straight from the Horse's Heart

By SHERMAN FREDERICK as published in the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
“With the BLM and Forest Service out of control and playing God as they mismanage our wild equines into oblivion, this OpEd sincerely struck home and indicates that it is not just wild horse and burro advocates who are taking note of these out of control federal agencies.  We all need to turn up the volume and insist that a Congressional Investigation is launched in an effort to clean house on these self-anointed bureaus.  They bring to mind regimes that we fought against in WWII and now they are us; a very sad state of affairs.” ~ R.T.

BLM Security at Twin Peaks 2010 wild horse and burro stampede to guard against 2 female advocates and one male ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
BLM Security at Twin Peaks 2010 wild horse and burro stampede to guard against 2 female advocates and one male ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
“This land is your land, this land is my land” goes the freedom anthem of the last century written by Woody Guthrie.
It’s an idea worth embracing again, because somewhere along the line, the federal bureaucracies entrusted with public lands have morphed into entities that treat folks like a problem, not a constituency.
Consider the U.S. Forest Service’s new rules for shooting pictures in a wilderness area. They illustrate how contemptuously wrong-headed government can become.
If a reporter wants to do a story in a wilderness area, the reporter must first get a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. That can cost up to $1,500. If a reporter is caught without a permit, he or she faces fines up to $1,000.
This is a stunningly stupid rule. Last month, the U.S. Forest Service sought to clarify and defend the rule, saying despite how the rules are written, the news media and documentary filmmakers, as well as most hikers shooting pictures in a wilderness area, would probably not be subject to the rule.
Probably? How reassuring.
The Oregonian newspaper was one of the first to decry the situation, pointing out that, “Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.”
Almost any person trekking through a wilderness area who dares to shoot videos with an iPhone and then blogs it or tweets it or posts it to Facebook could be fined by the federal government $1,000 for each violation.
The Forest Service says that is not the “intent” of the rules, which were based on the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protects wilderness areas from being exposed for commercial gain.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But, of course, there are no roads in wilderness areas, so we can only go by what the U.S. Forest does, not what it says.
As the Oregonian points out, in 2010, the Forest Service “refused to allow an Idaho Public Television crew into a wilderness area to film student conservation workers.” It was not until the governor of the state intervened that the crew was allowed in.
So, while the Forest Service talks like it’s drafting the Magna Carta, what it actually does resembles more the Sheriff of Nottingham. And the Forest Service is not the only one.
Whatever you might think of Cliven Bundy and his feud with the Bureau of Land Management, the display of the BLM’s ugly tactics against this Nevada rancher should alarm good people.
Who knew the BLM had become so militarized? And after the standoff in Mesquite ended, the BLM stonewalled reporters and to this day has not been called into public account for its misjudgments, which almost ended in bloodshed over a few illegally grazing cows.
The reason the BLM gets a pass on this episode is because Bundy turned out to be such an unsympathetic character. It’s too bad, because the critical issue here is the BLM…(CONTINUED)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

NEVADA RANCHERS SUFFER FROM SELF-DELUDED DROUGHT DENIAL

Straight from the Horse's Heart

“The Blogosphere is still roiling over the New York Time’s article, written by Dave Philipps, dissing wild equines and cozening up to federally subsidized welfare ranchers who feel they are ‘entitled’ to turn a profit with their private cows on yourpublic lands. I penned my thoughts on the subject, yesterday, and strongly encourage you to contact the Senior Editor at the NYTs and share your disdain by writing to senioreditor@nytimes.com
But we are NOT off the subject of whining welfare ranchers yet as we would like to share a Press Release from PEER.org that puts into the perspective the ranchers riding across the country to make their point that they have a right to destroy your public lands and to take the wild equines down with it all.  They feel they are above the law and unethical does not even begin to describe their ways.  Thanks to PEER for keeping the heat on this spoiled adult brats!!!  It’s a rare day, indeed, when you see me on the same side of the fence with a BLM Manager but in this case, I agree wholeheartedly, read on and see why.  Keep the faith, my friends.” ~ R.T.

Photo: WWP. Grazing damage on the Argenta allotment, July 2014.
Washington, DC — A U.S. Bureau of Land Management District Manager from Nevada targeted by angry Nevada ranchers was more than justified in removing cattle from drought-stricken public rangeland, according to data released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Tomorrow, protesting ranchers start a “Cowboy Express” ride to Washington demanding removal of BLM Battle Mountain District Manager Douglas Furtado as an “abusive federal employee” even as conservation groups urge that Furtado be commended not condemned for his actions.
Like much of the West, Nevada has been in the grips of persistent drought, with nearly 90% of the state under “severe to exceptional” drought for three consecutive years. This, in turn, causes greater conflict over dwindling water and forage. Not surprisingly, Nevada has also become Ground Zero for rising tensions on range management as illustrated by this spring’s armed standoff with renegade rancher Cliven Bundy who has been illegally grazing his cattle in southern Nevada for more than a decade.
“We all know about climate deniers, but this is the first we’ve heard of drought deniers,” stated PEER Advocacy Director Kirsten Stade, pointing out that much of Furtado’s Battle Mountain District has been among the hardest hit by drought in Nevada. “If we are to believe the ranchers, an extreme, multiyear, regionwide drought has magically spared only their allotments.”
In July, Battle Mountain District Manager Furtado ordered livestock removed from parched range on the sprawling 332,000-acre Argenta allotment in northern Nevada after conditions fell below thresholds that ranchers and BLM had previously agreed would trigger removal. The ranchers contend that Furtado’s actions were arbitrary but an analysis of Geographic Information Systems and BLM data reveal range in terrible ecological shape:
  • Nearly every Battle Mountain allotment evaluated failed range health standards for wildlife and water quality, largely due to livestock grazing;
  • Half of the Argenta Allotment, and roughly 30% of the Battle Mountain District is habitat for sage grouse, a species being reviewed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. BLM has been directed to protect the species’ habitat but 90% of assessed sage grouse habitat was in Battle Mountain allotments failing standards due to livestock; and
  • Fence line contrasts visible in satellite imagery show that public lands in the checkerboarded allotment are far more heavily grazed than private lands, suggesting that ranchers are more protective of their own lands than they are of publicly-owned range.
“Doug Furtado should be praised, not pilloried, for doing his job,” Stade added, noting a letter of support sent today from PEER and Western Watersheds Project urging that BLM as an agency to do more to stand up for its employees when they attempt to protect public resources. “The Cowboy Express is actually a cynical attempt to use iconic imagery to mask selfish abuse of public lands. If ranchers will not be responsible stewards then conscientious land managers have to make hard decisions, as Doug Furtado has done.”
Western Watersheds Project intervened in the Argenta case when ranchers initially refused to remove their cattle despite their previous agreement. Even after an order from an Interior Department administrative law judge affirmed the BLM’s authority to remove the livestock, as many as 100 cattle remain on the Argenta allotment to this day.
“The rancher resistance to drought protections in Battle Mountain is aimed at preventing effective protection of public lands and sage-grouse habitats across the West,” said Katie Fite, Western Watersheds Project’s Biodiversity Director. “It is meant to intimidate other federal agency managers so that they turn a blind eye to habitat degradation.”
The records for all roughly 20,000 BLM allotments across the West, many of which show similar overgrazed conditions, will be displayed next month in a new PEER website documenting longstanding and serious ecological impacts caused byongoing livestock overgrazing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Day 11: The Carnage Continues

Straight from the Horse's Heart


Eye-Witness Report by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“The rider throws a loop and catches the foal, who bucks when he feels the rope then as it grows taut he is thrown to the ground…”

We are about 20 miles in from I80 on County Road 19 and about 1/2 mile from the trap which is on public land for a change. We can see the trap from here the back of it anyway but not the approach to it, that is on the other side of the ridge from us. They caught 105 horses here yesterday so just expect to get stragglers today. This area is so remote there is no cell service.
It is a beautiful day, we can see the mountains clearly, and we spotted a small band of horses just across the ridge, peacefully grazing , with no idea what fate awaits them. One helicopter flew over starting the search for horses.
Soon I hear a helicopter in the distance, behind the ridge that hides the trap. He goes back and forth several times, leading me to believe that he is having trouble getting the group he is driving into the trap. Suddenly, a lone black stallion pops up over the hill. Apparently he escaped the group, and he runs over the hill ignoring the helicopter, in the direction of the small group we saw on the hill.
Then finally the helicopter pushes the group behind the hill into the trap – I see many horses running to the panels, and then being moved into the adjoining pen with lots of dust. I see some greys but mostly bay, black and chestnut, typical for horses from Great Divide Basin.
Meanwhile the other helicopter is following another group that cuts across the hill right in front of us. We see a beautiful grey stallion bringing up the rear, and one foal in the middle. They disappear over a ridge, going away from the trap. I am thinking we will most likely see them again, and we do a few minutes later and they have gained more horses behind them. They are in dramatic silhouette, lots of dust boiling up and two foals now. They head down the hill toward us but the helicopter stops them, heading them the long way around the ridge to the trap, out of sight.
About an hour later we see another group head up a ridge with a sorrel stallion in front and a white mare moving more slowly than the rest of the group. Then we suddenly see a sorrel foal all by itself, come over the hill pursued by the helicopter. At first he is running, but slows to a trot then a walk, and seems bewildered. He stops and I notice that a rider is heading down the hill toward him. When he sees the horse and rider he starts running toward them. Clearly he wants to be with another horse and not stay all alone! The rider throws a loop and catches the foal, who bucks when he feels the rope then as it grows taut he is thrown to the ground, he gets up and goes along with the horse and rider very quietly all the way to the trap.
We are told that the roundup is over for the day, and they are loading the captured horses onto 3 small trailers and one large one and as the trailers drive down the road I see their faces in the trailer – they have no idea what awaits them at the end of their journey.