Thursday, January 22, 2015

Public comment sought on Pryor wild horse population control programs

Straight from the Horse;s Heart

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
BILLINGS – The Bureau of Land Management Billings Field Office is beginning a public comment period on an environmental assessment which analyzes the continued use of fertility control on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, the agency said in a press release Tuesday.
The agency is accepting public comment and is requesting any information, data or analysis pertinent to the environmental analysis for 30 days beginning Jan. 20, 2015. The environmental assessment is available for review by visiting the field office website at
Fertility control has been used to control the wild horse population since 2001. The current fertility control program began in 2011 and expires this year. A new proposal, based on the results from existing and previous treatments, is being developed.
“The Billings Field Office is excited to be on the cusp of nearly eliminating the need for wild horse removals due to the use of fertility control administered in the field,” said Billings Field Manager Jim Sparks.
The environmental assessment looks at two alternatives. The proposed action was developed based on results from the 2011-2015 fertility control using a vaccine. It is composed of a specific treatment prescription along with allowing for other management steps depending on changes in the wild horse herd.
The no action alternative is the continuation of existing fertility control treatment.
Comments can be emailed to by Feb. 18, 2015. Written comments may be mailed or hand delivered to James M. Sparks, Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101.
The BLM will issue a final decision at a later date.
The agency warned that including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment to be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask the agency in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, it cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
If you have questions or would like to request a hard copy of the EA, please contact Jared Bybee at the Billings Field Office at (406) 896.5223.

Monday, January 19, 2015

BLM selling wild horses & burros like used cars

Straight from the Horse's Heart

imageprint (2)
A mare/foal pair in the sale program because they were offered 3 times on the Internet adoption

by Grandma Gregg
Remember when we saw how the BLM was posting lots and lots of wild burros online in order to get them 3-strikes fast so they could sell them to Guatemala?   Recently, and now, the BLM is running our wild horses (and burros!) through the same way – like used cars – and are advertising them for sale on the internet.  (A few links and pics attached, but there are many more online – see the links – and a “new” internet adoption is starting in a few days.)
The BLM is doing this because they can’t use Tom Davis to dispose of horses anymore – so they’re now advertising them to get rid of them as fast as they can, and as I know from personal experience … all the buyer has to do is sign a paper that says they won’t send them to slaughter.  BUT the BLM will NEVER check on them and the buyer can then sell them that same day to another person and bye bye … off to slaughter.
Nobody EVER, EVER, EVER, checked on my wild horse, ACE, and I could have sold him that same day to a kill buyer.
The internet “adoption” has become a bargain “fire sale” clearance rack for our wild ones.  The BLM has to make space for the horses they’ll be rounding up in upcoming roundups.
?????????? in the sale program because he was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
Sex: Gelded Jack Age: 4 Years   Height (in hands): 12.2Necktag #: 4325   Date Captured: 11/01/10Color: Gray Captured: Born in a Holding Facility
#4325 – (Freezemark 10184325)
4 yr old Gray Gelded Jack. Born Nov 1, 2010 at CAF56 Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse & Burro Corrals.
This Gelded Jack is in the sale program because he was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption. If you are interested in purchasing FM 10184325 please contact Palomino Valley at (775) 475-2222 for the paper work.
Pickup location Palomino Valley Wild Horse & Burro Center Reno, NV
imageprint in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
Sex: Jenny Age: 3 Years   Height (in hands): 12.2Necktag #: 4584   Date Captured: 10/01/11Color: Brown   Captured: Outside an HMA
#4584 – (Freezemark 11184584) 3 yr old Brown Jenny. Gathered October 1, 2011 from Outside Herd Area in California.
This Jenny is in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption. If you are interested in purchasing Freezemark 11184584 please contact Palomino Valley at (775) 475-2222 for the paper work.
Pickup location Palomino Valley Wild Horse & Burro Center Reno, NV
?????????? in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
?????????? in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
imageprint in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
imageprint in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
imageprint (1) in the sale program because she was offered 3 times on the Internet adoption
and many more…

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Destruction of Our Wild Burro Herds Accelerates

Straight from the Horse's Heart

After being chased by a helicopter and roped and kicked by this wrangler who is paid with our tax money, this wild burro is then further abused by being pulled by the ears.  Photo by Carl Mrozek
After being chased by a helicopter and roped and kicked by this wrangler who is paid with our tax money, this wild burro is then further abused by being pulled by the ears.
Photo by Carl Mrozek

What will be the fate of our captured Wild Horses and Burros?  With the past evidence of our wild horses and burros “disappearing” under the supposed “protection” of BLM and with the past BLM record of roundup brutality … I am afraid to even think about it … but it is happening NOW … and the few Wild Burro Herds that remain on American soil will disappear forever unless the unwarranted roundups and removals are stopped.
In March of 1981, 648 American wild burros were secretly shot and killed under direction of the U.S. Navy at California’s China Lake Naval Weapons Center.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund – stepped in after they heard about the 1981 mass murder and were able to save some burros.  Then in 2011 China Lake NWC captured and removed more burros and the “word” was that they are doing it because the burros had  been seen eating the LAWN of the office!  Now, it appears that ALL burros from both the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station and the nearby Centennial Herd Management Area (not managed for burros) will be captured and removed in the immediately. $148,245 has already been allocated to Cattoor Livestock Inc. for the roundup, which is due to start on January 16 and continue through January 20.
CNN aired this shocking video of a BLM contractor knocking over a wild burro with the helicopter skids.  The footage was captured by film maker Carl Mrozek. Here is an example of how BLM “plays the game” (i.e. BLM’s deception to the public):
BLM states on their 2015 winter gather schedule that 20 burros will be captured from NE California’s Twin Peaks HMA but the actual legal (cx) document clearly states they plan to capture and remove from 90-110 of our wild burros!  This is another example of BLM’s deception to the public regarding what they say to us (the public) versus what they REALLY plan on doing.
At the 2013 BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting, Dr. Lori Eggert, University of Missouri, said that genetic diversity of burro populations are well below what you would see in healthy populations and that 12 burro HMAs have populations between 2 and 49 animals.  Those herds are far below the population numbers for genetically healthy herds.
According to a 2007 Wild Horse & Burro Capture Status Report obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by American Horse Defense Fund, 12% of the burros rounded up in March of 2007 were dead within six months of the gather.  That’s a far cry from the 1-2% BLM is so fond of sharing with the public.
The following account from an article in AMERICAN HERDS reveals a chilling insight into what happens behind the scenes, away from public scrutiny:
“An eyewitness exposed how yet another lone burro was run for miles via helicopter until it collapsed.  If this weren’t enough, contractors then proceeded to jump up and down on the helpless burros rib cage and belly, grabbed its ears and repeatedly slammed its head into the ground until, finally satisfied, walked away to leave the burro to die a long and agonizing death.”
America’s Federally Protected Wild Horses and Burros deserve better than this!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A New Year Message from John Holland

Equine Welfare Alliance (PDF)

Dear EWA member,

I like to take this opportunity each year to let you know what we think we can expect in the New Year. First, there is no doubt that 2014 was the year of the horse and there is a very real potential for 2015 to mark the end of the slaughter of US horses! The two big developments were, as you know, the inspections defunding and the EU ban on Mexican horse meat derived largely from US horses.
Inspections defunding

Last year at this time, we were facing the threat of up to four horse slaughter houses opening in the US, but I told you that it was not going to happen. I knew that to be true because Victoria McCullough and Joseph Abruzzo had kept us informed for months on the progress of the spending bill, but for obvious reasons we could not disclose anything until it was a done deal. We also told you that defunding would last through at least the 2015 budget, which it has.
An apology

In last year's message, I also said that I thought Blair Dunn (attorney for Valley Meats) knew that his client's dream of opening a horse slaughter house in New Mexico was fading fast and that some of the strange statements he had made in the press were merely posturing to position his client to sue for damages over being delayed.

Shortly thereafter Mr. Dunn sent me an email threatening to sue me for liable over that statement. I now realize that I was mistaken, and that Mr. Dunn was neither as knowledgeable nor as clever as I had assumed him to be and that my speculation that his posturing was a result of either quality was totally unfounded. I wish to take this opportunity to apologize for that error.

If there are any doubts that D'Allende Meats, the latest incarnation of Valley Meats, is destined to meet a similar fate, consider this. Even if inspections funding was to be restored, and even if they got a discharge permit, and even if the USDA gave them a grant of inspection (all unlikely in the near future), the USDA itself is not certified to inspect for the EU and they would have very limited market opportunities. Worse, the EU is now aware that the US has no system of traceability on drugs administered to horses and their ban on Mexican horse meat was as much about US horses as it was about Mexican slaughter.

The EU ban on Mexican horse meat

Finally, the EU has listened and taken action banning the import of US horse meat from Mexico, albeit a decade after first being contacted about serious food safety and humane issues.

While inspections funding and the lack of discharge permits kept the US plants from opening, the announcement from the EU that they would not accept horse meat from Mexico after 1/15/2015 has several impacts. It should drive down Mexican slaughter of our horses, and it is a fantastic card to play in the politics of Washington and elsewhere.

As we all know, Mexico has customers for its horse meat other than the EU. So we all wanted to know what percentage of their horse meat goes to non-EU countries. We are very fortunate to have great researchers who prefer to avoid the limelight. One obtained records of all horse meat sent by ship, and just recently the other was able to navigate the labyrinthine web sites of the Mexican government and obtain the totals for sea and air exports.

We found that only about 22% of their total recent exports have been going to non-EU countries. The largest is Russia with about 13.2% (When we had only the seaborne trade numbers, this number looked like about 6.6%). Interestingly, the next largest customer is Vietnam with 6.2%. This was a surprise and is almost identical to the percentage that France had been importing. Switzerland is next with about 5.3%.

There has been a lot of speculation about China, but they accounted for less than 1%, though Hong Kong was taking about 4%.

We expect that Mexico will be forced to drop its prices to attract more customers if they hope to make up their shortfall. We have found that Canadian plants like Natural Valley lost money for several years before throwing in the towel, so it may take a while to know what their new business model will look like. Meanwhile, we will track the exports and find ways to warn the remaining foreign consumers of what the EU/FVO found in their audits.

The next shoe to drop will be Canada. There is speculation that horse meat from Canada may also be banned, though there is a possibility that they will impose astrict 6 month quarantine. Quarantine would, however, not bring Canada up to the standards the EU places on its member country suppliers since some drugs (e.g. phenylbutazone) are banned from ever being given to a food animal. All of these measures will at the very least make the business much less profitable, and if anything less than a ban is imposed, we must expect the cheating that has been the rule with the EIDs (Equine Identification Documents) to continue.

Is the horse slaughter battle over?

No, we cannot assume that it is over, but with the strategic use of a powerful public relations firm to get the facts and the EU's decision into the media,this may well be the beginning of the end. Now is the best possible time for slaughter to end as I explained in my recent article in New Zealand Horse Talk magazine.

We will be watching the number of horses going to Mexico closely, as well as Mexico's exports of horse meat. We must also continue to work toward a federal law to remove equines from the food chain forever.
What can we expect from the pro-slaughter side?

We think that we can expect the pro-slaughter folks to go back to their play book of spreading stories about how the sky is falling without horse slaughter. When the US plants were closed in 2007, they started a campaign to publicize stories of abandonment and neglect.

In 2007 advocates undertook a major research project, fact checking every story in every state and found every article was either a complete fabrication or a mammoth distortion. We published a document called "Deleting the Fiction" (see also the full report) in which we documented what we found and the sources we used. I have to say, the Associated Press was the worst offender. Then as now, they seem totally unwilling to review or retract stories even when they are proven to be completely false. This tells us that we need to have powerful help with our media operations.

Most shockingly, the slaughter supporters even managed to get a deliberately distorted report out of the GAO that misrepresented data out of Colorado to supposedly prove that abuse had gone up 60% after the plants closed. So it would be a mistake to underestimate their reach.

Interestingly, the entire strategy of claiming severe unintended consequences backfired because it deals with equine welfare, not food safety, the issue of most concern to the EU. Even so, it has been their strategy for so long that they will likely continue to use it. We should all watch for these stories and check them out. If they are false, we need to have our PR machine respond quickly to get the facts into major news outlets.

I can say that 2015 promises to be an exciting year, and we intend to work harder than ever. The successes of the past year were not the exclusive work of one group or another. They were the result of all of us all working together. Keep up the great work.

And sadly we must go forward without one of the most effective legislators ever to champion animal welfare, Jim Moran. We all owe him a debt of gratitude and wish him the best in his retirement.

In closing, let me paraphrase what Chris Hedges said about fascists. We don't fight horse slaughter because we think we will win. We fight horse slaughter because it is horse slaughter. In the end we will win this fight because we will accept no other outcome.

Happy New Year,

John Holland, President  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Horse Lovers Ride Again After Fatal Barn Fire

Straight from the Horse's Heart

In the days after a fire in her barn killed 32 horses, Amber Bauman walked knee-deep in ashes and twisted metal, sifting through what remained of her old life.
Barn Fire
Amber Bauman, the owner of Valley View Acres stable, tries to move on and rebuild after a fire destroyed her barn and killed 32 horses trapped inside. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune)
She found her first childhood saddle, ruined by heat, water and soot. She uncovered brushes used to groom the coats of horses now gone. She felt compelled to salvage what she could, no matter how painful.
“Those are my horses,” she said tearfully. “I need to be in there. … That was my life.”
Flames raged through the barn at Valley View Acres near Woodstock on a chilly November evening. Only five of the 37 horses kept there escaped.
“We lost everything,” said Bauman, a substitute teacher who owns the farm with her husband, Tyson, who is deputy police chief in nearby Harvard.
The Baumans are working to resurrect their horse farm with an outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike. The family has leased a new barn at East Hillside Equine in Crystal Lake, where they are keeping their horses and give riding lessons. Complete strangers have donated horses and equipment to the Baumans and others who had horses boarded at Valley View before the fire.
In the weeks since the blaze, the couple have been trying to follow the first rule of horse riding: When you fall off, get back in the saddle again.
The second chance they are being given reflects a close-knit and supportive horse community. Those who stepped up to help said they feel the pain of horse owners who’ve lost their animals.
Cheryle Schultz, of Black Creek, Wis., met Bauman in 2011 at an equestrian event. She learned of the fire through Facebook and reached out to offer two of her own horses.
After spending some time with the horses in their stalls, brushing them, talking to them and watching them run in the pasture, Bauman chose two male youngsters named Diesel and Scooter.
Schultz said she offered Bauman the horses because she “can’t imagine the pain she felt.”
“All I could see is her going out to her barn every day and having no one there to love,” Schultz said. “Where do we go for therapy when something terrible happens, if not to the barn?”
The donated horses have been a welcome step toward what remains a slow recovery from the tragedy. The Nov. 22 fire began in the hayloft of the barn, for reasons that investigators have not determined. The Baumans were out that night, attending an end-of-the-year horse gala.
As is common in horse barns, the stable had no fire detection equipment. The couple’s 15-year-old son, Adam, saw the flames from the family’s home next door and rushed to the barn to try to get the horses out. But, as is typical horse behavior, most would not flee their stalls, his mother said, except for the five animals that escaped.
The Baumans lost 18 of their own horses and 14 owned by boarders.
Amber Bauman said she loved and knew each horse “intimately. … (I) knew every whinny.
“They all (had) their own personalities,” she said.
Among the horses that perished was Eve, which Bauman had bought when she was 10 year old for $82.73 — then her life savings. Eve was also the first horse her daughter Alexis rode, with Bauman carrying the child on her chest in a baby carrier when she was weeks old.
e got her name because she was purchased on a New Year’s Eve. So at the end of every year, Bauman made a point to ride her to celebrate the day she bought her.
But as this new year began, an 8-foot chain-link fence surrounded the charred remains of the stable.
Out in the pasture are mounds where the horses are buried. Visitors come daily to lay flowers, wreaths, apples and carrots there. Children who took riding lessons from Bauman hand-painted 32 rocks, each with the name of a horse, as a memorial to the animals that died in the fire.
Alexis Bauman, now 11, placed a love letter on one mound written to her horse Dusty: “I love you even though you bucked me,” it said.
Every day, Amber Bauman said, she receives phone calls and donations of money, saddles, bridles, blankets and other tack. Nearby schoolchildren raised $1,600 for Bauman, and a local veterinarian has donated equine medicines. But most endearing are the donations of horses.
In the past few weeks, Bauman said, she has had seven horses donated from as far as Connecticut and Florida.
Abbi Ferrigno, owner of Rabbit Hill Farm in Newtown, Conn., heard about the fire through a friend. Though she does not know the Baumans, she pledged two ponies — Bunny and Foxy — for Alexis.
“I just felt the kinship with Amber,” Ferrigno said. “I put myself in my mind in that place and I couldn’t imagine what it was like for her to have lost all those ponies and horses. … It’s every horseman’s worst nightmare.”
In the weeks after the fire, a barn in Marengo donated horses, and another barn in Prairie Grove let her use its space to provide rising lessons.
Most of Bauman’s boarders and clients have stuck with her. She has 97 students and typically teaches up to 200 lessons a week. During one recent lesson, she stood in the middle of the arena and called out instructions to three young riders as they trotted, slowed and jumped.
Kathy Hinz, of Crystal Lake, whose daughter lost her horse Lightning McQueenie in the fire, recently took a ride with Bauman to a farm in DePere, Wis., to accept a donated horse.
Hinz described the closeness of the families at Valley View Acres and the shared strength and determination to help rebuild the barn.
“Sometimes it is hard,” she said, “but we continue to remind each other that forward is the only option we have.”
Despite the difficulties, Bauman remained determined to rebuild.
“Our barn was like a family,” she said. “I need to have that family again.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Video Shows Tale of Horse’s Rescue From Florida Sinkhole

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: ABC News horse that had been put out to pasture had to be rescued when a sinkholeopened up in the Florida pasture, trapping him.
Nate, a 30-year-old horse, was stuck in the hole for about three hours last Friday before personnel from the fire department in Oxford, Florida, arrived to put straps and harnesses around him and hauled him out.
“He was in the ‘retirement pasture,’ and we believe the ground just collapsed underneath him,” Maryann Marsh, co-owner of TMMA Farms told ABC News. “He was lucky enough to almost be in a sitting position in the hole, which is why he didn’t break any legs.”
Marsh said she recruited a handful of neighbors to try to pull Nate free, but the effort failed, partly because the horse’s feet had fallen asleep. Marsh called the 9-1-1, which brought the help of the fire department. With the additional bodies and straps, Nate was yanked free.
Nate is one of three horses on the alpaca farm, including his “best friend” Hershey, a retired party pony, and more than 40 alpacas.
Marsh said Nate is doing “very well,” and just had a back swollen leg.
“[Hershey] was very concerned through the whole process,” Marsh said.