Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stop Horse Slaughter PSA


Is a TRO in BLM’s Future?

Horseback Magazine

Is a TRO in BLM’s Future?
By Steven Long
Photo by Terry Fitch
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Activists have been scratching their heads as the federal Bureau of Land Management sweeps America’s wild horses from the Western landscape. Why? Because the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act clearly set aside plenty of room for them almost 40 years ago and the agency appears to be in violation of federal law.
The first paragraph of the law is clear cut.
“It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”
Helicopter induced stampedes, multiple brands, killing, and capture of the horses are prohibited, yet all happen on BLM gathers - violations that happen now weekly by the thousands.
Yet BLM consistently says there is no room for the animals as it administers almost 260 million acres of largely vacant land and leases whole chunks of wild horse acreage set aside by Congress for wild horses to ranchers for grazing, land that could be returned to Mustang habitat under the law.
Moreover, the agency consistently has sloppy bookkeeping in its wild horse and burro program that appears to be often blatantly misleading yet ignored by congressional oversight.
What has prompted furious head scratching by wild horse lovers is the vexing question of why a smart lawyer on their side hasn’t marched into federal court with a request for a temporary restraining order tucked in his briefcase to stop the so called BLM “gathers.”
Such an injunction could bring the roundups to a screeching halt.
A case in point is the landmark injunction issued by Texas Judge William Wayne Justice who died recently. By his order, the state’s prison system was changed from the “Boss Hog” era to the state of the art correctional system we see today in the Lone Star State. The injunction held for 30 years.
On the surface, such an action against BLM appears clear cut. The 1971 law is written in plain language and to a layman, the BLM is in blatant violation of it.
National organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States who have the wherewithal to file such a lawsuit have been woefully absent in the fight, animal welfare advocates say.
They point to the recent roundup in Montana’s Pryor Mountains where the iconic stallion Cloud and his herd were captured, some mares sterilized, and broken up. They claim the Pryor Mountain horses are no longer genetically viable as a herd.
HSUS was nowhere to be seen during the Labor Day week controversy.
The Pryor horses horses are a recognized breed in the official Horse Breeds Standards Guide, If the activists claims are correct, a federal agency has wiped out a recognized breed of horse by making its only herd genetically bankrupt.
Activists aren’t the only interested parties with an itch. Even lawyers with a specialty in animal activism are scratching their heads at why nobody has sought an injunction.
“I'm not sure either,” said one attorney who declined to be identified. “It would have seemed the best course a couple of years ago instead of all this piecemeal litigation, but there is a belief among, I guess, most of the lawyers who do this that it is better to challenge each BLM action, keep on top of them that way, because we can't stop the gathers or BLM's role.”
And large scale litigation is expensive and no lawyer willing to work on a huge landmark case for free has come forward.
“I see a basis for a suit,” the lawyer told Horseback Online “If you know of any attorneys who are respected in Washington and licensed to practice in federal court, send them my way.”

Stop the Roundups of America's Wild Horses & Burros


An immediate moratorium on all but emergency roundups is called for in this resolution. Please sign to help protect our remaining wild horses and burros on our western public lands. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

R.O.A.M. Act a Part & Parcel of Salazoo Plan

Wild Horse (and Burro) Warriors

Read them together, the Salazoo Plan and the ROAM Act, and See how nicely it all ties in together. I am left wondering which came first, the "chicken" Pickin/Salazoo Plan or the "egg" of the ROAM Act? I am leaning towards believing that, because of the Pickins Plan Offer, that the Salazoo Plan came first and that the ROAM Act was designed to fit around it. How convienent for them that the FIRST thing the ROAM Act calls for is a removal of the statutory protections of the wild ones on their historic rangelands! Isnt that what the BLM has always wanted? The ROAM Act is designed NOT to the benefit of our WFH&B, no, NOT AT ALL, but soley to the benefit of the BLM! They will NOT have to maintain the WFH&B on their historic ranges (the BLM can have its land back!) but can place the wild equines anywhere they want under anybodies care, custody and control and sterilize them all at the same time to boot, and the beauty of it all for the BLM is that it wont cost them a dime of their regular expenditures!! The ROAM Act will create "new monies" for them to disburse for the creation of the Salazoos..What a sweet deal for the BLM, they get rid of the WFH&B off of their historic lands, shove them into "zoo-like" settings, sterilize them all and the taxpayers get to foot the $90M bill!

From American Herds Blogspot;

Salazar Sez's
The Thriving National Ecological Balance:
A Comparative Analysis of Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros
In Relation to Habitat, Wildlife and Livestock Populations”
by C.R. MacDonald, October, 2009

Recently, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Sez’s, “There’s just no room for wild horses and burros out West anymore”.

With the drought taking its toll on Western rangelands, wildlife struggling to survive, and out of control reproduction rates and populations of wild horses and burros constantly threatening fragile arid habitats, Salazar Sez’s, "The time has come to sterilize most of what is left, both on and off the range, and ship America’s Mustangs & Burros to private sanctuaries far removed from their native ranges on public lands".

Salazar Sez’s, “Let us not look behind the scenes at how we got here but only look ahead at this new solution for the Wild Horse & Burro Program”, a solution many are already coining the final one.

Never mind the fact that for two decades, the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly issued reports stating the obvious; BLM cannot provide evidence that removing wild horses and burros improves rangeland health and that the entire concept of excess is based on “informal decisions made by BLM Field Managers” – no data required.

Salazar Sez’s, “Who needs BLM to finally publish their long-awaited acreage report before they hustle more wild horses and burros off the range to multi-million dollar private sanctuaries instead?”

And, “Why bother publishing the new policy manual BLM has been writing (for 40 years now!) to establish guidelines on how BLM should go about determining what is appropriate use for wild horses and burros?” After all, BLM would just ignore it anyway like so much else - so why create a legal precedent before shipping most of them to privately owned sanctuaries?

Salazar Sez’s, “Who needs a Congressional investigation into what the Department of the Interior has done to get us to this point?” Despite the DOI’s abysmal reputation for ethic violations, never mind that now, Salazar’s here and those days are behind us!

Salazar Sez’s, “We don’t need an independent count of what’s in the holding pens” – despite the fact that nobody has ever seen all these “excess” horses causing such financial distress. And Salazar doesn’t seem too interested in looking into an independent census of what’s still remaining on the range because, as Salazar Sez’s, “We are going to create a new home for them now anyway!”

Despite nearly a decade of mass cleansings, which has swept the majority of our herds from their ranges, Salazar Sez’s, “Danger! Danger! Excessive wild horses and burros must go now!” and as a result, BLM has scheduled the removals of over 12,000 more wild horses and burros this year based solely on those ‘informal manager decisions’ – even though Salazar’s own home state of Colorado has reported their 292,000 elk have been “over population objectives for the last 20 years” (1) – what’s a decade or two when it comes to elk.

Before following what Salazar Sez’s – because this is not a game and we are not children anymore - let’s take a serious look at what “excess” wild horses and burros on public lands means to Secretary Salazar and BLM before we blindly follow the newest Judas horse just released before the public.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Horse slaughter: Home stretch for thoroughbreds

WYNT News Channel 13, Albany New York

The home stretch for thoroughbreds is a good place to be when they are on the track, but once their racing days are done it can be a very different story.

The arrest of local breeder Ernie Paragallo this year led us to do a little digging and what we found may surprise you

Thoroughbreds in their prime are fit, well cared for and treated like celebrities, but by the young age of six or seven, many go from being revered to being rejected and they end up at the biggest public horse auction east of the Mississippi -- the so-called killer sale in New Holland, Pennsylvania.

According to rescue groups attending the auctions, every Monday an average of 250 horses pass through the sale.

Up to 40 percent are purchased by so-called kill buyers and taken to slaughter so their meat can be sold for human consumption in Europe and Asia.

As for the slaughter itself -- it's not a pretty process.

More Information: Horse Slaughter Legislation Tracker

"Well, the horses are slaughtered using what they call a captive bolt. This bolt is designed by law to use one hit between the eyes to stun the horse and render it unconscious, that's what's supposed to happen," says Susan Hamlin, New York State Legislative Director of the Equine Welfare Alliance.

"Many of them are not unconscious, many of them are just unable to move momentarily and many of them wake up fully awake, fully able to feel pain, fully aware of what's going on as they're hung upside down and their throats, the carotid artery, is cut to bleed out on the floor," adds Hamlin.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, 20 perecnt of the thoroughbreds born in the United States end up this way -- even some of the greats.

Ferdinand, the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner, was unable to perform as a stud. So he was slaughtered in Japan in 2002.

Slaughter is also a reality for some of the horses you see racing at Saratoga.

"Unfortunately it is and we're working hard to stop that," said thoroughbred owner John Hendrickson of Marylou Whitney Stables.

"We had one that was a half-brother to Birdstone, named Cviano, and somebody from a rescue operation called us and said, 'Do you know this horse had fallen through the claiming ranks and is about to be slaughtered, and we said we'll buy it and we'll pay you double," adds Hendrickson.

Trainer Nick Zito and his wife Kim got a similar call. A rescue group found their former horse, Little Cliff, on his way to slaughter.

"It was kind of a miracle too because he could have wound up ... and that would have been a catastrophe cause a lot of people knew his name," said Zito.

But why should we care? We slaughter chickens and cattle for food. Why are horses different?

"We don't sell horse meat in the grocery stores here in the United States. They're not in our food chain," says Kim Zito.

"It's never been in our food chain, ever. I'm talking about even in the Depression days or even when people stood on line, you know, ever. It's just something that we don't do," according to Nick Zito.

There is a movement to stop the slaughter, but it's not meeting with much success in Washington.

More on that in tomorrow's report.

EWA Press Release: Citizens call for immediate moratorium on wild horse round-ups

Equine Welfare Alliance

October 28, 2009

John Holland
540 268-5693

Shelley Sawhook
American Horse Defense Fund
866 956-2433

Citizens call for immediate moratorium on wild horse round-ups
CHICAGO, (EWA) – The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA), an umbrella organization comprising over 60 member organizations, announced today it is joining the growing chorus calling for an immediate moratorium on the gathering of wild horses and burros by all government agencies. Already calling for a moratorium are The Cloud Foundation, The Animal Law Coalition and noted expert, wildlife ecologist, Craig Downer and Mustang author Deanne Stillman.
On October 7, Ken Salazar, head of the Department of Interior (DOI) and Bob Abbey, head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), publicly admitted the deficiencies in the current management of the Wild Horse and Burro Program in announcing the development of a new plan. “The Salazar plan would simply throw the herds off of their historical Western lands set aside for them in the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act and put them into long term holding facilities which it renames “refuges” explains EWA’s Vicki Tobin.
In an August letter to Bob Abbey, Congressmen Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) outlined the deficiencies in the current program over the past several years. To date, none of the deficiencies have been corrected and until range studies can be completed, there is no scientific evidence justifying the removal of wild horses and burros from the land. Following a GAO report in 2008 that found that the BLM did not have adequate funding to support the estimated 37,000 horses they had in holding pens, Congress generously increased their budget.
Instead of using the funding for its intended purpose, the BLM has intensified round-ups and has zeroed out many herds while leaving the remaining herds genetically unviable as a result of reduced numbers and mares that were given birth control. The increased round-ups are coming at time when there are more wild horses in holding pens than on the open range at a cost of millions of dollars to tax payers. “The huge number of horses being gathered is effectively guaranteeing a new and worse budget crisis in the immediate future” says EWA’s John Holland.
As long suspected by many, the DOI/BLM is on a course to exterminate America’s wild horses and burros. Cameron Bryce, a BLM ecologist was quoted in a recent follow up to George Knapp’s KLAS-TV investigative report, Stampede to Oblivion as stating “Wild horses do not belong in western ecosystems," and that "The 1971 Horse and Burro Act was based on emotions, not science."
In a comparative analysis of free-roaming wild horses and burros in relation to habitat, wildlife and livestock populations, wild horses and burros populations pale in comparison. In most cases, the wild horses and burros are being removed in record numbers with no scientific evidence justifying the need for these removals. According to the BLM schedule, another 12,000 wild horses and burros are targeted for removal in 2010.

The cries of Americans to their elected officials, the White House and the DOI/BLM remain unanswered. Removing horses without scientific justification is in violation of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act. The 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act is a law and Americans are demanding that instead of ignoring the law, the BLM enforce it. An immediate moratorium on round-ups must be issued until the range studies are completed and the discrepancies are resolved.


I am so tired of hearing................

We keep hearing that the wild horses cost the taxpayers so much money. Below, according to the BLM itself, "Revenues generated from public lands make BLM one of the top revenue-generating agencies in the Federal government."

So what is the real truth?

BLM Website

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was established in 1946 through the consolidation of the 1850's Actual Cadastral Survey Status Map from the General Land OfficeGeneral Land Office (created in 1812) and the U.S. Grazing Service (formed in 1934). The functions of the BLM are also addressed in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). (For more details, please see BLM and Its Predecessors ). To see a comprehensive list of legislation that BLM operates under, click here . And, to see  videos describing the early history of BLM, click on "Fractured Land Patterns."
The BLM is responsible for carrying out a variety of programs for the management and conservation, of resources on 256 million surface acres, as well as 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate, These public lands make up about 13 percent of the total land surface of the United States and more than 40 percent of all land managed by the Federal government. To see how BLM is organized, click here

Most of the public lands are located in the Western United States, including Alaska, and are characterized predominantly by extensive grassland, forest, high mountain, arctic tundra, and desert landscapes. The BLM manages multiple resources and uses, including energy and minerals; timber; forage; recreation; wild horse and burro herds; fish and wildlife habitat; wilderness areas; and archaeological, paleontological, and historical sites. Click here for a medium size map (1288 x 760) of BLM-managed lands and click here for a large size map (4168 x 2460). 
In addition to its minerals management responsibilities noted above, the BLM administers mineral leasing and oversees mineral operations on Federal mineral estate underlying other state, private, or Federally-administered land, and manages most mineral operations on Indian lands. 

The public lands provide significant economic benefits to the Nation and to states and counties where these lands are located. Revenues generated from public lands make BLM one of the top revenue-generating agencies in the Federal government. In 2007, for instance, BLM’s onshore mineral leasing activities will generate an estimated $4.5 billion in receipts from royalties, bonuses, and rentals that are collected by the Minerals Management Service. Approximately half of these revenues will be returned to the States where the mineral leasing occurred.
The Bureau administers about 57 million acres of commercial forests and woodlands through the Management of Lands and Resources and the Oregon and California Grant Lands appropriations. Timber receipts (including salvage) are estimated to be $55.4 million in fiscal year 2007, compared to estimated receipts of $33 million in Fiscal Year 2006 and actual receipts of $13.5 million in Fiscal Year 2005. 
Under its multiple-use management mandate, the Bureau administers more than 18,000 grazing permits and leases and nearly 13 million authorized livestock animal unit months on 160 million acres of public rangeland. BLM manages rangelands and facilities for 57,000 wild horses and burros. The 256 million acres of public land administered by the BLM includes over 117,000 miles of fisheries habitat. 
The Bureau has an active program of soil and watershed management on 175 million acres in the lower 48 states and 86 million acres in Alaska. Practices such as revegetation, protective fencing, and water development are designed to conserve, enhance public land, including soil and watershed resources.   The BLM is also responsible for fire protection on public lands and on all Interior Department in Alaska, as well as for wildfire management on the public lands on the public lands in Alaska and the Western States.
The job of balancing this mix of resources and uses grows more complex each year, as the West’s population growth creates new pressures and heightens existing management challenges. With over 68.3 million people living in the region today, the West continues to be the fastest-growing area in the nation. This growth — and the urbanization that accompanies it — places new demands on BLM-managed land. 
Working with its partners at the local, state, and national levels, the BLM will meet its mission of sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Wild horse population riding off into the sunset – Presentation Thursday at Ignite: Tucson

Tucson Citizen

Wild horses may not be dragging anyone away – they are too busy being slaughtered and harassed, advocates say. They are also pretty tangled up in a debate about their fate.
Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photo Ryn Gargulinski
While more than a million mustangs used to prance around our plains less than a century ago, the number has dwindled to fewer than 40,000. Some put the estimates at 37,000 or so, while Jody Blaylcock, lifelong horse owner and equine advocate, says it’s even lower.
“There are only 15,000 horses left in the wild in the United States (despite false and misleading numbers being circulated by the Bureau of Land Management),” she wrote in an e-mail.
Two camps are clearly drawn in the wild horse debate.
One side consists of animal advocates, like Blaylock and organizations such as the Cloud Foundation, who say wild horses should continue to roam free in the West.
The other side, which supports a recent proposal put forth by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, wants the horses moved East and Midwest where they say the population can be better cared for and controlled.
What is Salazar’s plan?
The $96 million proposal is to buy two ranches and contract with five other private ranches to house the wild horse population, according to a report in USA Today. No locations were given for any of the ranches.
Salazar supporters say wild horses will do better in this controlled environment where they won’t conflict with cattle and don’t have the threat of starving to death.
This plan, although expensive, is also supposed to save money in the long run, as keeping horses out in the West is costing a pretty penny. Or several million of them.
This year’s horse program’s price tag has been estimated at $50 million, most of which goes for food, care and moving many of the horses from the 29 million acres of federal land to private accommodations in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Kansas, the USA Today report said.
The report also quotes BLM spokesman Tom Gorey saying the wild horses should be neutered so no more than 17,500 are in the breeding population and the overall herd size should be dwindled to down 26,600.
Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Those opposing the plan have already seen the havoc wreaked by BLM, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Late this summer, using helicopters, (BLM) rounded up most of the herd, 146 horses, but then let 89 go, keeping 57 to auction off,” Jonathan Storm wrote in his piece: What Menaces the Mustangs.
“Strong lobbying from ranchers, who want the federal land for their 3.2 million sheep and cattle, keeps pressure on the puny population of mustangs,” he said. His article was a review of the TV show Challenge of the Stallions, which featured wild mustang Cloud, for whom the Cloud Foundation was formed.
Animal advocates also fear what fate awaits the remaining horses.
“If the BLM gets its way the remainder will soon all be shipped to Mexico (where they are being slaughtered in the most horrific ways imaginable) or broken apart into genetically unviable herds as per Ken Salazar’s recent plan,” Blaylock said. “The ROAM act (S-1579) is before the house right now, and if passed would reinstate the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, offering some protection to those animals who are left.”
What is the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act?
I’ll let the Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, which mentions wild horses on public lands are outnumbered by cattle 200 to 1, answer that one:
In 1971, more letters poured into Congress over the threat to our nation’s wild horses than over any issue in U.S. history, except for the Vietnam War. And so Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, declaring that “wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) were appointed to implement the Act. Most herd areas are under BLM jurisdiction.
Fast-forward thirty years: in 2001, after decades of failed herd management policies, the BLM obtained a 50% increase in annual budget to $29 million for implementation of an aggressive removal campaign; in 2004, the 1971 Act was surreptitiously amended, without so much as a hearing or opportunity for public review, opening the door to the sale of thousands of wild horses to slaughter for human consumption abroad.
The entire fiasco is yet another example of man versus nature, with nature losing no matter which way you turn.
Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Learn more:
Jody Blaylock, who is speaking out for horses on her own behalf, is also a member of the Pima County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, which is its search and rescue group; the Tucson Saddle Club; and the American Quarter Horse Association. She grew up in a cattle ranch in western Oklahoma and has owned horses her entire life, including the three she now owns.
Blaylock will be giving a presentation as part of Ignite: Tucson
What: Wild horse presentation as part of Ignite: Tucson
Where: The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St.
When: Thursday, Oct. 29 – Doors open 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.
How much: $5
wb-logolilWhat do you think?
Are wild horses worth preserving or are they simply bothersome?
Are you sick of wildlife getting killed off or do you like how man can rule with annihilation?

Reports Reveal More Deaths and Sloppy Record Keeping by BLM as Groups Call for Investigation

Horseback Magazine

By Steven Long, (Horseback) - In the sometimes bewildering world of the federal Bureau of Land management, things get confusing – even confounded annoying.
Such was the case when Horseback Magazine began to investigate the deaths of 11 horses we found on a comprehensive report released by the Washington office on fatalities during the agency’s wild horse “gathers” since the beginning of last year.
The report stated the horses died in July, 2009, at a place called Conant Creek, Wyoming when 349 animals were captured by the agency. In fact, officials in charge of the area say that yes, they did have a gather but statistics for what BLM terms the North Lander Complex, which includes Conant Creek, are vastly different from what Washington released..
According to North Lander records released Wednesday, 17 horses died, not the 11 Washington reported. Of the 17 dead equines, seven were foals. Besides the dead at Conant Creek, Washington reported that two horses died at Muskrat Basin, and one died at Rock Creek Mountain, while none died at Dishpan Butte. The North Lander report didn’t reveal locations. However, the Washington report only totals 14 horses when those locations are included.
As disturbing as the deaths are, an equally distressing statistic released in the North Lander records was revealed.
Herds captured from July 6, to July 21, at Conant Creek, Dishpan Butte, Rock Creek Mountain, and Muskrat Basis were all but wiped out. According to the records, the pre-capture herd size was 1,175 horses. After BLM wranglers did their work, only 365 horses were left to roam the vast area. The remainder was trucked to BLM holding facilities.
Critics have charged that the BLM captures of wild horses are so all consuming they are leaving the herds genetically bankrupt. Moreover, the agency administers anti-fertility drugs to many of the remaining horses after a capture leavening mares unable to breed for years after, if ever.
And rumors are persistent the BLM is making a concentrated attempt to wipe out wild horses to provide grazing land for western ranchers, a claim the BLM denies.
To add to the confusion sowed by BLM, reports have now surfaced that 11 horses did die in a July gather in Idaho.
In a detailed letter to Horseback Magazine David Rosenkrance, field manager of the Challis, Idaho, field office spelled out how the horses ended their lives in a helicopter assisted roundup there. Yet the report released by Washington acknowledged only 1 death this year at Challis when 366 wild horses were captured there, a direct conflict with the 11 admitted to in Rosenkrance’ letter.
Activist groups including the Animal Law Coalition, The Cloud Foundation, and the Equine Welfare Alliance have all called for an immediate moratorium on further roundups by the BLM pending Congressional hearings.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former Colorado rancher, has thrown his full support behind the roundups and proposed seven holding facilities for wild horses in the Midwest and East which would serve as tourist attractions spotlighting this remnant of the old west – the wild horse.
Increasingly, according to a report in the Wednesday USA Today, the public is saying no.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Commentary: Love, Loss and Lessons of the Wild Horses

Straight from the Horse’s Heart

October 26, 2009 R.T. Fitch 
by R.T. Fitch, author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart
Image, Cloud's grandson captured by the BLM, never to be free again.
Image, Cloud's grandson captured by the BLM - (Photo by Terry Fitch)
I have sat at this computer and tried to put into words my feelings after viewing Ginger Kathrens‘ third installment of the “Cloud” series on PBS last night.  It’s not coming easy as there are a variety of emotions at play.
I’ve come to realize that I have not nor can not shake the feeling of helplessness and pain I felt as we stood next to Ginger, Makendra, Ben, Ann, Pam, Carol and other wild horse advocates and watched the Cattoor helicopter torture and torment Cloud and his family on Labor Day, September 7th, 2009.  We had done everything that we could think to do to stop the BLM assault, but all to no avail.  We had begged and pleaded with news agencies and politicians to get the word out and maybe someone, somewhere would pull the plug.  Perhaps even the new President might show some compassion, but all our cries fell upon deaf ears and as we sat, day after day, watching the helicopter drive the horses out of the mountains in 95+ degree heat, our hearts sank.
I watched Ginger’s presentation which delved deeply into the family ties and instincts that both drive and bond a wild horse band together, only knowing that Cloud’s family was, now, ripped to pieces by the BLM.  Not only did he lose family members, but his mares were pumped full of chemical contraceptives so that they will not bear foals for him for many years, it could be the end of his blood line.
I watched the documentary and took note of how hard Cloud tried to keep his family together, over the years, only to be fully aware that his children and grandchildren would be stripped from his herd to be sold at auction, never again to live free of fences and human meddling.
It was difficult to appreciate the fantastic and spectacular cinematography skill of Ginger Kathrens as my eyes were clouded by tears and the images often where nothing more than moving, colored blurs as I fought to maintain my composure.
So much lost, nothing to gain and I could garner no joy by watching Cloud on the TV knowing that in the future, our current past, he would be abused, maligned and mismanaged into oblivion by the very same government agency that is bound by law to protect him.  There is no justice.
I recall Cloud’s bravery as he would not follow the straight and narrow path that the abusive helicopter sought.  I will never forget him stopping well in front of the trap’s gate and turning to face his enemy, the helicopter.  Forever carved into mind is the image of Cloud turning and trotting with head held high into his awaiting prison cell; pride and supremacy ran from every pore of his body.  And I will never forget him trying to stay near the pens, once released, as he did not want to leave without all of his family…I will forever remember  his courage, dignity and his family bond.
How is it that a horse, a wild one at that, can act and live with more dignity and grace than the so-called leaders of our political juggernaut, I shall never know?


Editor’s note: (from R.T. Fitch) The Documentary is fantastic, insightful and thought-provoking.  The feelings, expressed here, are driven by the misguided actions of the BLM and do not reflect upon the quality or intent of the PBS documentary.  It is important for the plight of the wild horse to be out in front of the American people and Cloud puts the face on that issue.

A Call for a Congressional Investigation

Animal Law

helicopter running down wild horses© by Laura Allen, Executive Director, Animal Law Coalition
It's time for a public Congressional hearing and investigation of BLM's management of America's wild horses and burros including the new plan recently announced by DOI and BLM.
In the meantime and pending decisions about the course of the wild horse and burro program, there should be a moratorium on gathers.
On October 7, 2009 Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced a new 3 part plan for managing America's wild horses and burros in the future. But, other than a press release and a letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the specifics of the plan have not been made public. As Mr. Abbey said in the press conference held on Oct. 7, 2009, there are "thousands" of wild horse and burro enthusiasts who care about the fate of these animals. There are also innumerable experts and citizens concerned about BLM's management of these American icons.
There should be a public hearing and investigation held by Congress regarding BLM's management of America's wild horses and burros particularly before yet another plan essentially approved only by BLM and DOI is put in place. There should be a moratorium on all gathers until Congress has completed public hearings and an investigation and reached a decision about the appropriate management of these animals consistent with the laws that protect them. These are after all America's wild horses and burros.
The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA) directs BLM to manage America's wild horses and burros to "maintain free roaming behavior".  All management activities by law are to be at the "minimal feasible level". Under WFRHBA America's wild horses and burros are entitled to humane treatment and to remain free from "capture, ...harassment, or death".
helicopter running down wild horsesBut, instead, the BLM largely manages these animals by running them down with helicopters and gathering or removing them from public lands to holding facilities, separating families, injuring and even killing horses in the process. A terrifying ordeal that leaves wild horses and burros in holding pens where few are adopted, many are sold for slaughter and still more languish, their spirits and bodies broken. The operation of holding facilities will consume about 70% of the total 2009 budget for these animals.  
Surely, that is contrary, to say the least, to the directive of the WFRHBA. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer found in her August 5, 2009 opinion: "It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild-free roaming horses and burros to manage them, Congress intended to permit the animals' custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that congress sought to protect from being removed from the wild." Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Inc. v. Salazar, No. 06-1609 (D.D.C 2009)
Mr. Salazar insists that "arid western lands and watersheds" can't support the few wild horses that remain "without significant damage to the environment" and "degrading public lands".  These are reasons typically stated by BLM in its environmental assessments and environmental impact statements to support removals of wild horses and burros from herd areas. And, just as typically, there are no specifics to support these claims. For more examples....
Indeed, Mr. Salazar and BLM do not mention the thousands of cattle grazing and drinking and fouling water on these lands, BLM's land sales, development, increasing recreational use, and mining as well diversion of water from herd areas. Wildlife ecologists say if public lands are "degraded", something that is disputed, these factors are far more to blame. In fact, citizens living in the areas where there are wild horses and burros, including small ranchers, contradict BLM's assessments the range is "degraded" or lacks sufficient water for these few remaining animals. 
Note that in 1990 BLM claimed the range was the best it had been in the last century. Yet, since then, there has been an increase in the numbers of wild horses and burros removed from the range. There is also no question BLM has routinely renewed grazing permits, finding the range satisfactory for grazing cattle and at the same time, issue environmental assessments that claim the very same range cannot support the few wild horses and burros that remain. BLM has also relied on outdated or what can only be called completely false assessments in its apparent zeal to justify removal of wild horses and burros. 
Shouldn't Congress at least have a hearing or investigate whether BLM's claims are true? Shouldn't Congress consider whether BLM should even continue as the manager of the wild horses and burros program? An agency that has turned the WFRHBA on its head and instead of managing to maintain free roaming behavior, does so by removing and penning wild horses and burros. 
It is also questionable whether BLM really has the authority, as it claims, to manage America's wild horses and burros in all respects pursuant to a multiple use concept. Though WFRHBA mentions "multiple-use relationship" in connection with specified ranges, it is very clear that the directive is to manage these animals otherwise only to "maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands" and "protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit such lands, particularly endangered wildlife species".
wild horsesIn effect, WFRHBA authorizes only limited interference with wild horses and burros in herd areas where they were living in 1971. Nothing about removing wild horses and burros from herd areas where they lived in 1971 to allow multiple use such as cattle grazing, recreation for off road vehicles, mining or development. Also, protecting the ecological balance of all wildlife has never meant rounding up and removing whole species. Especially when there is a law that explicitly protects their right to exist in historic herd areas.
Even designated ranges managed under a multiple use concept are to be "devoted principally" to wild horses and burros. The wild horses and burros on these lands are not to be eliminated for cattle or mining or recreation or even secondary to these other uses.  
Despite the limited authority to interfere with wild horses and burros under WFRHBA, the BLM has decided, however, the multiple public use concept applies to all herd areas as well as ranges. BLM even issued a regulation that effectively rewrites WFRHBA to say the "objectives of these regulations are management of wild horses and burros as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands under the principle of multiple use". 43 CFR § 4700.0-2 Yet, the WFRHBA says only that wild horses and burros "are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands". 16 U.S.C. §1331.
The BLM has also authorized itself to divide herd areas into "herd management areas", something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros' access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas. This is done without thought about the horses' seasonal migration patterns or available resources. The BLM then removes wild horses and burros from the artificially created "herd management areas" on the basis there is insufficient forage, water or habitat! BLM also targets them for removal if they cross the artificial boundaries into their original herd areas.
While BLM has authorized itself to create divide herd areas into Herd Management Areas, its own regulations provide that "management of wild horses and burros shall be undertaken with the objective of limiting the animals' distribution to herd areas, 43 C.F.R. § 4710.4."Herd area" is defined by regulation as "the geographic area identified as having been used by a herd as its habitat in 1971," 43 C.F.R. §4710.4.
Another example of BLM's erosion of the WFRHBA protections is the rewording of the WFRHBA mandate "[a]ll management activities shall be at the minimal feasible level". BLM's regulation says "[m]anagement shall be at the minimum level necessary to attain the objectives identified in approved land use plans and herd management area plans." 43 CFR 4710.4, 16 U.S.C. §1333. Two very different laws. So if a land use plan authorizes a land giveaway or increased recreation or mining, " a minimum level" can mean round up and removal, according to the BLM.
The Federal Land Policy Management Act requires management of public lands under concepts of multiple use and sustained yield. 43 U.S.C. §§ 1701, et seq.  But the multiple use concept does not trump the WFRHBA protections for wild horses.  In fact, the statute makes clear that the protections under WFRHBA take precedence. FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1732 (a) Yet, despite this, BLM has issued a regulation that provides "[w]ild horses and burros shall be considered comparably with other resource values in the formulation of land use plans." 43 C.F.R. §4700.0-6(b).
The BLM's land use plans make clear that contrary to WFRHBA, it does not decide to remove wild horses and burros only to maintain a "thriving natural ecological balance to the range, and protect the range from the deterioration associated with overpopulation". Nor are the protected wild horse ranges "devoted principally" to the use of wild horses and burros. Instead, the BLM clearly embraces the multiple use concept for all lands designated for wild horses and burros.  Indeed, the plan seems to be to eliminate or zero out the wild horses and burros in favor of increased development and recreational use, mining, and cattle.
Surely, BLM's fast and loose interpretation of the WFRHBA is more than sufficient for Congress to take a look, hold a public hearing and investigate before America's icon is lost forever.
wild horses in NVIt should be noted that BLM has also virtually ignored the directive in the WFRHBA to "maintain a current inventory of wild free-roaming horses and burros on given areas of the public lands". 16 U.S.C. §1333(b). According to WFRHBA, the inventory is critical in determining appropriate management levels or AML and whether there is indeed an overpopulation or excess horses and burros. Yet, BLM has gathered and removed thousands of horses without the important information necessary to determine if the removal is legal. It's time to take a look, an independent census and standardize AML determinations.
It is important for Congress to open up for public review the work of an agency that has operated largely in secret, offering the public generally pre-determined courses of action, making a joke out of the public comment process. It is also time BLM or whatever agency that is put in charge of the wild horses and burros took seriously the WFRHBA mandate requiring consultation not with special interests but also a range of independent experts recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, the states and those with  "scientific expertise and special knowledge of wild horse and burro protection...[and] wildlife management". 16 U.S.C. §1333(b).
Congress should hold public hearings and investigate Secretary Salazar's plan in particular. There are innumerable experts outside of the BLM who should have an opportunity to weigh in on how BLM continues to manage America's wild horses and burros.
Secretary Salazar delivered the following 3 part proposal to Sen. Reid: 1. BLM will work with non-profits and the "thousands" of wild horse enthusiasts to create sanctuaries and preserves in the Midwest or east. In fact, BLM appears to have already decided on sever preserves. It is not known who is involved in these transactions or how BLM decided on these preserves. Surely, the public is entitled to know how this happened. Mr. Salazar says tourism would be encouraged and could provide a source of revenue.  But the mandate of the WFRHBA is to avoid such zoo-like settings for these American icons. The idea, the law, in fact, is that these animals are to remain free to roam on the public lands where they were living in 1971 when the Act went into effect.
2.  Mr. Salazar will designate more ranges for wild horses. He cited the Pryor Mountain herd, recently rounded up and decimated, as an example of a range under BLM protection.
wild horses3.  This is one of the most troubling aspects of Mr. Salazar and Mr. Abbey's plan. They say BLM will work to restore the "sustainability" of herds and public lands. BLM will continue to round up and remove horses but step up "fertility control", monitor sex ratios, and introduce non-reproducing herds.  More like BLM will work toward the extinction of herds.  The obvious concern is how a herd that is non-reproducing or sterilized can remain self-sustaining, genetically viable, as mandated by law. There are serious questions here about BLM's determination of sex ratios. These proposals will have a very negative effect on herds and herd behavior. This plan euphemistically referred to as "restoring sustainability" during the press conference, is, in fact, the opposite, a plan to exterminate the wild horses and burros and in doing so, create great chaos and suffering in the herds. In effect, this plan raises real concerns about compliance with WFRHBA's mandate that BLM should manage these animals to maintain "free-roaming behavior" and a "thriving natural ecological balance" in herd areas.
There are also growing concerns about the effectiveness and use of the contraceptive, PZP, particularly in view of its effect on herd behavior and dangerous side effects such as out of season foals.
These plans likely stem from BLM's secret discussions that began in July, 2008 about ways to eliminate wild horses through unlimited slaughter, killing, manipulation of sex ratios, sterilization of mares, creation of gelding herds and the like. It is telling that here there is no promise in this plan to stop the slaughter of these wild animals or killing of healthy animals. There is no promise to stop the round ups, the decimation of herds, the brutal treatment of America's wild horses and burros in holding facilities.
During its discussions in the past year BLM considered ways to keep the public away from round ups and the killing of healthy horses and burros and planned to brand protests as "eco-terrorism".  This was all to be done in secret. If Congress does not hold a hearing, investigate this plan and this agency, BLM will have succeeded.
The wild horses and burros can be saved. There has to be a better way to manage these animals other than by hiring criminals to run them down with helicopters and penning some for life and sending others to slaughter. The WFRHBA requires them to be protected in their herd areas where they were living in 1971. And that is what the BLM should do. 
Find and contact your U.S. senators here and urge them to hold a hearing or investigate BLM's management of America's wild horses and burros and tell the BLM to stop rounding up and killing or removing our wild horses and burros or selling them for slaughter and return them to the lands where they were living in 1971. 
Go here to write your U.S. representative and urge him or her to do the same! 

Cloud Foundation Updates


Stop the roundups Petition

October 26, 2009 
by thecloudfoundation
STOP THE ROUNDUPS- Petition. This is only a small step, please continue with letter writing and calling– if you have media contacts interested, Ginger Kathrens is available for interviews.

KOWS Radio show now online

October 27, 2009 

by thecloudfoundation

For those who would like to listen to Craig Downer, Shelly Sawhook, Elyse Garnder and others who were guests on KOWS 107.3 FM Sonoma County, CA- Arnold Levine’s radio program on 10/23- fear not! Here it is. Direct link here. The radio show website is
Thank you all and stay tuned for a follow-up interview with Ginger Kathrens.

USA Today: Wild horse debate gallops on

Horses graze at the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Montana, the USA's first public wild horse range.

Horses graze at the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Montana, the USA's first public wild horse range.

By Matt Dillon, Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, via AP

Wild horse debate gallops on

LOS ANGELES — The Obama administration's first try at resolving the debate over the wild horses of the West has not gone over well with some.

Animal rights groups say that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's proposal to relocate thousands of mustangs to preserves in the East and Midwest would compound years of federal mismanagement of the horses.

They want the 37,000 horses now roaming federal lands in the West to remain despite the risk of starvation and conflicts with cattle. In response to Salazar's proposal, they reiterated their stand during the Bush administration: let the mustangs run loose on millions of acres of federal land where beef cattle are raised.

"Why are we, a cowboy nation, destroying the horse we rode in on?" asks Deanne Stillman, author of Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West. "We may be heading toward the point where we only have wild horses in zoos."

Tom Gorey, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, the agency that manages the rangelands, said the federal government is aware "of the heritage and symbolic importance of these horses." Even so, the bureau says, the cost of keeping the horses at a sustainable population is far too much.

"We're protecting horses, rangelands and the taxpayer," Gorey said.

The wild horse population, which ranges largely in Nevada, keeps growing, as does the cost to the bureau to maintain them. This year alone, the cost of the horse program will be an estimated $50 million, the bureau says.

Much of that money goes to care for and feed 32,000 horses rounded up and taken off 29 million acres of federal land. The Bureau of Land Management says the land cannot sustain such a large horse population.

Taxpayers currently pay to let the horses live out their lives at 11 private pastures and corrals in Oklahoma, Kansas and South Dakota. The horses can be adopted, but few are.

Gorey said the agency needs to reduce the wild herd size to 26,600 horses and to neuter enough horses so the breeding population drops to 17,500.

Salazar's plan is to spend $96 million buying and configuring two ranches and contracting with five private ranches. The properties and what states they would be in have not been identified.

Horse advocates such as Stillman accuse the bureau of consistently favoring ranchers with low grazing fees and say this latest proposal is in keeping with that policy.

"We have almost 300 million acres of public land in the West, and they (the horses) are going to come East. ... That's ridiculous," says Chris Heyde, lobbyist for the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington.

The bureau denies favoring cattle ranchers.

"We don't remove horses so we can put cattle on the range," Gorey says. "We're not trying to make room for more cattle grazing."

Some cattle ranchers like the solution offered by Salazar, himself a former rancher.

Dan Gralian, who manages a large grazing range out of Battle Mountain, Nev., and is president of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association, calls the plan "a great thing, taking this icon of America back to where it originally came from, the East."

He says wild horses and burros are in the West because they were brought there by pioneers, cattle barons and prospectors. He disputes the contention of horse advocates that the horse is indigenous to the West.

"We were here first — that's the bottom line," Gralian says, referring to cattle ranchers.

Fencing in and sterilizing horses violates a 1971 law that protected the West's wild horses and set aside land for them to roam free, says Ginger Kathrens, a filmmaker who has done documentaries on the mustangs.

"We'd like to see our wild horses staying free roaming on public lands we already own," she says. "If we return some of the holding horses to the land, we think that would be a better solution than sticking them on tourist attractions in Ohio."

Makendra Silverman, associate director of the Cloud Foundation, agrees.

"It's a bad idea because the nation deserves and wild horses deserve to live on their rangelands in the West, on public lands," she said.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CJ (Potlucky) Gone too soon....

Americans Against Horse Slaughter Updates

It is with heavy hearts that we inform you that our friend CJ has lost her battle with cancer. She is now pain free and at peace with her beloved pets as they make the journey across the Bridge together………..

God saw you were getting tired,
And a cure was not to be,
So he put his arms around you
And whispered, “Come to me.”

With tearful eyes we watched you,
And saw you pass away.
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.

With love and admiration for a life well lived, a life filled with kindness and caring, we wish God Speed to our dear friend, CJ.

Shelley and Deb

(And Barb)

What is BLM Hiding?

Horseback Magazine

Contractor Denies Horseback Request for Access to BLM Gather

Photos by Terry and RT Fitch
HOUSTON, (HORSEBACK) - Horseback Magazine requested access an upcoming Wyoming BLM roundup, even offering a signed release by our observer and photographer if they were permitted to watch the operation up close from beginning to end alongside the BLM contractor's pilot and wranglers..
The contractor, Sue Cattoor responded to the request that was forwarded by the government agency to her company. Request denied.
Today we met with Roy Packer, the Lander, Wyoming BLM Wild
Horse and Burro Specialist and Melanie Gilbert, the Rawling, Wyoming BLM
Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at Baroil, Wyoming near Muddy Gap to do
the required Pre Work and finalize the plans for the Red Desert Wild Horse
Gather.  As always we discussed the interested public that had contacted
either the BLM or us as the contractor.  There are several people that
plan to attend the roundup.  Roy also said you were interested in
attending.  He said the BLM will be contacting you but because we kind of
know each other I told them I was going to email you also.  We set up our
holding facility and temporary trap today and plan to start gathering on
Green Mountain tomorrow if the weather is agreeable.  It was very windy
today.  This Red Desert Complex consists of five different HMA's (Herd
Management Areas).  Green Mountain with approximately 398 wild horses -
Crooks Mountain with approximately 70 wild horses - Antelope Hills with
approximately 141 wild horse - Lost Creek - with approximately 260 wild
horses and Stewart Creek with approximately 300 wild horses.  The BLM will
pick out mares and studs to release back on the range and the mares will
be given contraceptives.  The numbers to be released will depend on how
many we capture.  The goal is to get each area down to the lower end of
AML (appropriate management level) so the herds will not have to be
gathered again for several years.  The AML range for the entire complex is
480 to 724.  We are the contractor assigned to gather these areas and we
will be using a helicopter.  You are most welcome to come out and watch
and take pictures.  We always try to find a place for any visitors where
they can observe and take pictures but still not cause stress for the wild
horses or put our wranglers in any danger.  No one but our employees are
ever allowed to ride in the helicopter.  Our insurance does not allow for
any other passengers.  And no visitor is allowed to be horseback during a
roundup.  We have saddle horses at the gather site but the wranglers only
use them to bring in a foal or other horse that drops back from the band
and that is very seldom.  There will be an APHIS on site everyday and a
contract vet on call.  But you need to come out and spend some time and
see what we do as a contractor and what the BLM does.  The BLM is not
trying to climate the wild horses in the west.  Their job is to manage and
protect these wild horses and each and every wild horse specialist is
doing their job to the best of their ability.  And I am very proud of our
organization.  We have sometimes a very unpopular job but we have
wranglers who really care about all animals, horses, and wild horses.  We
do the job as humanely as possible and we have lot of things we do to do
this.  You need to come see for yourself.  I read with interest your
report on our death loss.  You make it sound like we are being very cruel
and lots of animals die or are injured.  We are working with wild animals
and things can happen but the 1% death loss includes every animals on
every gather.  Even the ones humanely destroyed to relieve their
I think that number is very low compared to other wild life captures or
problably even cattle and horse ranches.  Let me know if you need any other information. Sue Cattoor