Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hey Bob Abbey, This One’s for YOU!

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Original post by Cindy MacDonald of American Herds

The Iron Curtain

Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar with Director of BLM Bob Abbey

Hey Bob, I thought about titling this post to you. I thought you might want to know. At first, I toyed with Dear Bob or Dear Director Abbey or something that would speak directly from one interested stakeholder to your ears, but as you can see decided against such a simple framing for the massive subject I wanted to tackle.

See Bob, I’ve been a little busy examining your Program statistics again, combing through BLMs FY2011 Budget Justification report to Congress and making a few graphs of my own.

I spent a month working with some great gals, Carla Bowers and Leslie Peeples, in trying to figure out ways to summarize one, giant oozing festering mess – something BLM and their support team are markedly proficient in coating with Teflon©.

It’s an alternative perspective on the Wild Horse & Burro Program that uses almost exclusively the BLMs own publications and numbers to make its case to Congress about why you need to be cut off from any more money until some real answers are coughed up or you are allowed to pedal your sugar coated solutions based on a foundation of non-credible data and lies. If you haven’t already seen it, you can check the “Report to Congress: Refuting FY2011 Budget Justifications and Request to Defund Roundups and Removals Through Appropriations For FY2011 and FY2012″ here.

So as you might imagine Bob, I was a little busy when Sue Wallis & Co.’s Slaughter Summit agenda came out announcing you and other key BLM personnel and associates were invited guest speakers.

I also wasn’t able to pay too much attention to your national public response now posted on the front page of BLMs website explaining why you have tentatively accepted the invitation because you are so “fair and balanced” as to meet with such diverse stakeholders – that now include a high dollar conference comprised of the Who’s Who of the horse slaughter industry.

After all, while BLM will post every letter of support, agreement and enthusiastic applause for BLMs actions by any group or agency who often has glaringly apparent conflicts-of-interest with wild horses and burros on public lands, “our” public website stays curiously silent, some would say almost censored, of any voice, argument or document that challenges or refutes what the BLM does.

Which reminds me, will the BLM be posting our report on the Wild Horse & Burro website too so everyone can see what some of the “other” issues are because you are so “fair and balanced” towards all diverse stakeholders?

So now I’ve finally made a little time to see what you’ve been up to and I’ve have a few questions for you Director Abbey.

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to you and a whole list of key BLM employees expressing my concerns about a BLM Press Release for the Callaghan/New Pass/Ravenswood roundup.

Here is the portion of the Press Release I take issue with,

“NDOA brand inspectors must verify the animals are wild horses and burros as defined by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Once verified, the brand inspector will provide the BLM a certificate to transport the animals”.

See, this is kind of a problem because it’s deceptive and reminiscent of one of the oldest tricks in BLMs sending-wild-horses-to-slaughter books. You remember, how BLM had been conspiring with state agriculture agency’s or turning their heads so brand inspectors could send tens of thousands of wild horses to meat packing plants by citing state jurisdiction over federal law during the first years after the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act?

You do remember that, don’t you? It’s in your own statistics. How almost 70,000 horses counted as roaming free on the range were “privately claimed” between 1971 and 1980. You know, those “non-wild” horses who were carted off to slaughter due to new found private status, thanks to state brand inspectors working in “close coordination” with BLM personnel.

So, I’m sure you remember this as well, how a big legal battle developed and the courts had to decide who was actually responsible for making the determination of what qualified as a wild horse/burro. And the courts said it was you Bob, the authorized agent of the Secretary, who had jurisdiction and ultimate responsibility to make that determination. If the state brand inspectors couldn’t verify the animals were privately owned, they fit the definition of a wild free-roaming horse and burro and were entitled to protection under federal law.

Remember, I sent you those links to the federal court cases, American Horse Protection Institute v. US DOI (1977) and Sheridan v. Andrus (1979) that clearly outlined how state agriculture agencies jurisdiction only extended to verifying animals did not have brands, bills of sale or sufficient evidence to establish private ownership.

See, it appears that BLM and Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDoA) recently pulled this jurisdictional shell game last June with respect to the Toana “wild” a.k.a. the Pilot Valley “feral/estray” horses as each agency batted the ball back and forth until a “compromise” was reached. Finally, NDoA “verified” for BLM how those horses were not “wild” in the most suspicious manner possible in order to sell them at state livestock auction – but I’ll explain how that happened a little later in this post.

Well anyway Bob, you didn’t bother to reply, much less address my concerns. In fact, neither did BLM Wild Horse and Burro Chief Don Glenn, BLM Nevada State Director Ron Wenker, Nevada Wild Horse and Burro Lead Alan Shepherd or Tony Lesperance of Nevada Department of Agriculture.

However, I did get a phone call from the local field office promising to get back with me about my concerns but we ended up playing phone tag for so long that BLM re-issued the same statement again in the Clan Alpine round up press release; I guess I should consider that BLMs response.

After all, BLM needs NDoA to issue a certificate of transport, right? Except I can find no such authority in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) requiring BLM to verify the status of a wild horse/burro with NDoA or needing NDoA to issue BLM a certificate to transport them.

Given the historical abuses that have occured with state brand inspectors and how Congressional testimony during the passage of the Act clearly expressed grave concern about the lax and sometimes conflicted interest states had with respect to the livestock industry, I find it curious that neither you nor your authorized agents charged with protecting wild horses and burros nor NDoA itself didn’t feel this was important enough to respond to, couldn’t be bothered to provide the NRS provisions supporting your newest press release statements about NDoA’s power, or didn’t feel the need to share any cooperative agreements granting NDoA this sort of jurisdiction over federally protected animals.

Which leads me to the Slaughter Summit you will be speaking at – but I have to confess, I’m kind of confused. See, I thought the BLM was charged with protecting wild horses and burros from that kind of crowd, commercial exploitation and all. It’s all the BLM ever says, “We don’t sell horses for slaughter”, so I’m a little confused why there’s a veritable cornucopia of BLM’ers listed on the Horse Slaughter Industry’s Summit agenda.

By the way Bob, you do know that American horsemeat is tainted and dangerous for human consumption but these people promote their own pocketbook at the expense of those who eat it anyway, don’t you? Could it be that is why you think the BLM and the horse slaughter industry is a perfect match? Do you think Sue & Co might be interested in acquiring mustang meat free of the drugs given to domestic equine?

Tell me something, Bob. Before you decided to tentatively accept an invitation to Ms. Wallis’s shindig, did you ask her why she came out of nowhere and has made the commercial exploitation and slaughter of wild horses one of her number one goals in all she publishes, says and does?

So this leads me to my next question. When BLM conducted the free and public forum in Denver last summer to discuss “management solutions”, Sue was there and never missed an opportunity to bring up wild horse slaughter as a humane and fiscally responsible alternative to BLMs primary management tool of roundups and removals. Except in the public forum, BLM’s MC poo-pooed Ms. Wallis and told her this kind of solution was neither appropriate nor on the table for discussion (pardon my pun).

Yet here we sit just six months later and while you couldn’t bother to make a guest appearance at the “free” public dog and pony show packed with “diverse stakeholders” interested in the Wild Horse & Burro Program, now Bob, you are going to personally speak at Sue’s Slaughter Summit. What’s that about? So what makes her and her cohorts so special and above the public arena? The privacy from prying public eyes? The fact that what you say will be “off the record”? Are you getting a fee for your attendance on top of your taxpayer funded salary that legitimizes your “expertise”? Or is this highly controversial and clear conflict of interest sales pitch going to allow you to meet “key” contacts over salsa in order to coordinate better with Secretary Salazar’s “new direction”?

So just to try and summarize how this works (and please feel free to set me straight if I have something wrong):

If I attend a public forum on discussing wild horse and burro management, BLM will tell those trying to bring horse slaughter to the table that it’s not appropriate and will not be allowed. But if I want to be part of the Slaughter Summit to hear what you have to say, to hear what other BLM and BLM affiliates recommend, I’m going to have to cough up $300-400.00 dollars to hear a discussion that BLM refused to allow in the “public arena” nor did you feel was worthy enough to attend.

And after I write my check to United Horseman in order to attend your presentation, it will be deposited in an account that will be used for the lobbying and promotion of commercial exploitation and slaughter of wild horses and burros.

So tell me Bob, how is the presence of BLM employees and affiliates as public representatives not considered indirectly contributing money for the promotion of commercial exploitation and slaughter of wild horses and burros or a serious breach of the public trust?

Which leads me to my next line of questioning. I have heard BLM say that if advocates have evidence of BLM selling horses for slaughter, come forward with the proof.

With no access to long term holding facilities, limited access to short term facilities, armed guard access to roundups, humane observers limited to a handful at a time on hand picked days, closely guarded or set back at a half a mile or more away, (by the way Bob, what are we spending to protect you from us and our camera’s these last few years – I couldn’t find that in the budget info), blanket closure of public lands, refusal to disclose gather locations in advance, and discussions in the 2008 Team Conference Calls about how to block access by the media, the citizenry and Congress through secret locations and sealing the deal by justifying such secrecy from those attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of horses and burros by labeling them potential eco-terrorists, with all that going for you Bob, when exactly do you think the public will be able to “get proof” from behind the BLM’s Iron Curtain?

One a side note, this also leads me to ponder; Bob, are you and other BLM personnel and affiliates worried about your safety at the Slaughter Summit? After all, there will definitely be people in attendance who do not support the BLM’s “humane treatment “ of wild horses and burros via non-slaughter, do not believe wild horses and burros have any place as integral components of the public lands and who feel the BLM is failing to be fiscally responsible. Will you and other BLM affiliates be shadowed by armed escorts to protect you from them like the BLM does to the general citizenry who advocate for lawful, transparent and humane treatment of wild horses and burros?

But back to that “proof” thing of the BLM selling wild horses for slaughter. Let me start by saying, as soon as the BLM starts letting advocates follow the wild horses and burros from the roundup pens through transport and from short term to long term holding, maybe we will have a chance. But then again, the BLM seems pretty adamant about not letting the public in to anything but the most carefully controlled slices of “management” they have yet to privatize and even much of that, advocates are having to fight tooth and nail to get.

Since you called advocates out on the issue of proving the BLMs selling wild horses to slaughter, I have to confess – you are right. I don’t have photos from start to finish showing BLM gathering horses, transporting or selling them to killer buyers with follow up shots of killer buyers transporting them and making the trek to Mexico or Canada with their carcasses finally hanging from a meat hook. Is that the kind of proof you mean, Bob?

Read the conclusion of this outstanding article by clicking (HERE)

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