Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BLM Solicits Sterilization of Wild Horses

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by Debbie Coffey, Director of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Family Lost...The BLM, with Dean Bolstad as the Program Office Point of Contact (POC), continues to waste tax dollars on experimentation on wild horses & burros, which is a clear violation of the Wild Free Roaming Horse & Burro Act of 1971.  The BLM is NOT protecting wild horses when it uses them for experimentation (under the guise of “research”).
This is going to be done ON THE RANGE.  They will trap the wild horses & burros and do the experimentation IN THE FIELD.  The BLM is creating NON-REPRODUCING HERDS, which leads to EXTINCTION.  Most wild horse & burro herds are ALREADY NON-VIABLE.
The BLM has been gelding for a long time.  They already have the methods.  They already have chemical and surgical ways to sterilize/use contraception.
The BLM is doing this experimentation while they continue ongoing bait-trapping and helicopter roundups, without accountability or public access.
The BLM is using the word “RESEARCH” as a coverup.  Notice the solicitation below is open-ended (there are no time or number limitations).  So how many wild horses and burros, and what herds, will be subjected as part of this experimentation?  It could be all of them.
For a Proposed Financial Assistance Agreement (AA)
1. Title and Description:
A. Proposed Name or Title of Project/Program:
B. Description of Project/Program.
This Request for Information invites research project ideas aimed at refining techniques and establishing protocols for the permanent sterilization or contraception of either male or female wild horses and/or burros in the field. While these projects would be conducted in a controlled environment, the final goal of this work would be to apply the refined sterilization or contraception techniques to free-roaming animals on the range, so please keep that environment in mind when presenting ideas. Any sterilization or contraceptive method, including surgical, chemical, pharmaceutical, or mechanical (such as IUDs) approaches, will be considered (with the exception of surgical castration).
We are particularly interested in the following components of a potential protocol:
1. The logistics of the full procedure as applied in wild horses and burros: a) pre-operative procedures, b) restraint techniques required, c) sedation and anesthesia protocols, d) the method of sterilization or contraception, e) post-operative care required, f) recovery time and follow-up
2. Animal welfare and practitioner safety considerations (due to the wild nature of these animals on the range)
3. Expected efficacy and duration of sterilization or contraception
4. Anticipated effects on the health of mares or jennies: What are the limitations that the stage of gestation may place on the procedure? Can the procedure be conducted on pregnant mares? Will the procedure cause miscarriage in pregnant mares?
5. Projected approximate cost of the refined procedure per animal as applied in the field
6. Approximate total budget required to implement the research project idea
C. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number and title?
15.229 Wild Horse and Burro Resource Management
2. Legislative Authority that authorizes BLM to enter into this AA:
A. Specific legislative authority for this project/program?
Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, Public Law 92-195, as amended, Section 1336 and Section 1333.b.2.iv.B
B. How does the legislative authority apply?
The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act of 1971 specifies the following:
§ 1333(b)(1). Powers and duties of Secretary
(1) The Secretary shall maintain a current inventory of wild free-roaming horses and burros on given areas of the public lands. The purpose of such inventory shall be to: make determinations as to whether and where an overpopulation exists and whether action should be taken to remove excess animals; determine appropriate management levels of wild free-roaming horses and burros on these areas of the public lands; and determine whether appropriate management levels should be achieved by the removal or destruction of excess animals, or other options (such as sterilization, or natural controls on population levels).
3. Principal Purpose:
A. What is the principal purpose of this proposed project/program, what is the support or stimulation, i.e., how does the public benefit from this project?
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program protects, manages, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands. Development of effective population growth suppression methods for wild horses and burros is vital to effectively managing herd population growth rates as an alternative to gathering and removing animals from BLM lands. There are currently no contraceptive techniques that are highly effective, long lasting, easily and safely administered, delivered only once during the lifetime of the horse, practical, and affordable for use across all BLM Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
B. Identify the BLM Performance Measure(s) and number that apply to this project/program ( If a measure is not identified to accurately describe your project, please select the one that comes closest and expand on that.
Mission Area 1.0 – Resource Protection
GOAL 3 – Protect Cultural and Natural Heritage Resources.
Intermediate Outcome: Improve the condition of cultural and natural heritage resources.
1.3.15 – Wild Horse and Burro Management Areas: Cumulative number of herd management areas (HMAs) achieving appropriate management levels (Bureau measure).
4. Funding:
A. Estimate the total Federal funding amount to be provided to the recipient during the term of the agreement.
Since this is a Request for Information, no funding is associated with this announcement.
B. Is there a requirement for matching funds for this project/program? If yes, what amount?
C. If project is being done as a Single Source you will need to estimate the total commitment by the recipient(s) during the term of the agreement if known. Recipient commitments could be in the form of cash expenditures for supplies or services, the value of contributed services, etc. Also, estimate third party commitments
D. Estimate the number of awards to recipients/cooperators/partners for this project/program.
5. Involvement:
A. Describe the nature of the relationship between the recipient and BLM during performance of the agreement if known. Will the BLM be substantially involved? For example, will the BLM have management responsibility, issue directions to the recipient regarding the timing of work to be done, or otherwise exercise control over the project?
Wild horses and burros could be made available for future research. Studies could be conducted at select BLM holding facilities (boarding and feed costs would be covered by the holding facility), or at other locations approved by BLM.
To ensure consideration, responses must be received by December 1, 2013 and must be submitted electronically to
Responses to this RFI are voluntary and may be submitted anonymously; please do not include any personally identifiable or other information that you do not wish to make public. Proprietary, classified, confidential or sensitive information should not be included in your response.
A Request for Proposals based on the information provided through this RFI may be released in FY14 dependent on available funding.
B. Who will be the BLM program office point of contact (POC) before and after award?
Dean Bolstad
Senior Advisor, Division of Wild Horses and Burros
Room 2134 LM
20 M Street, S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
Telephone: 202-912-7297; email:
6. Single Source:
Is the proposed agreement directed to one entity only? Place an X in the appropriate block below.
If yes, which of the following criteria apply for justifying award without competition is applicable?
A. Unsolicited proposal – The proposed award is the result of an unsolicited assistance application which represents a unique or innovative idea, method or approach which is not the subject of current or planned contract or assistance award, but which is deemed advantageous to the program objective.
B. Continuation – The activity to be funded is necessary to the satisfactory completion of, or is a continuation of an activity presently being funded, and for which competition would have a significant adverse effect on the continuity or completion of the activity.
C. Legislative intent – The language in the applicable authorizing legislation or legislative history clearly indicates Congress’ intent to restrict award to a particular recipient or purpose.
D. Unique Qualifications – The applicant is uniquely qualified to performed the activity based upon a variety of demonstrable factors such as location, property ownership, voluntary support capacity, cost-sharing ability, if applicable, technical expertise, or other such unique qualifications;
E. Emergencies – Program/award where there is insufficient time available (due to a compelling and unusual urgency, or substantial danger to health or safety) for adequate competitive procedures to be followed.
7. If using Single Source provide the name(s) of potential eligible recipients.
8. Provide justification criteria for noncompetitive federal assistance.
9. Approval:
Program Officer Signature: Date: 09/16/2013 .
Program Officer Name: Dean Bolstad . Title: Senior Advisor
Supervisory Signature: Title: Wild Horse and Burro Division Chief
Based on the findings in the Statement of Programmatic Involvement, there is:
1. Legislative authority to enter into an assistance agreement;
2. There is a public purpose of support or stimulation;
3. BLM is transferring something of value;
4. BLM’s involvement is substantial; and
5. There is justification for a noncompetitive award because:
6. Determination and Certification:
Based upon the above findings, I have determined that a cooperative agreement is the appropriate instrument that most accurately reflects the nature of the proposed relationship between the Bureau of Land Management and a recipient.
I hereby certify that the above project/program will be announced as a RFA (synopsis and full announcement) in and will follow the procedures as required in the Department of the Interior Manual 505 DM 2, Grants Administration, Procurement Contracts, Grant Agreements and Cooperative Agreements and BLM Instruction Memorandum No. 2006-151, Assistance Agreements.
Requested/Approved By:
Grants Management Officer
Approved/Concurrence By:
Procurement Analyst/Chief of the Contracting Office
7. Washington Office (WO-850) Approval:
Approved By:
(If Required)
Procurement Analyst (WO-850)
8. Solicitor Review: If your project is complex in nature and you would like the Solicitor review, have them sign after the Washington Office Approval. Delete if no review sought.
Reviewed By:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The War on Wild Horses of the West Continues

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: by Leslie Macmillan as published in Esquire
Celebrities are fighting it, deals are being brokered, and two proposals are sitting in Congress to end it. So why are horses still being slaughtered in droves?
Photo by Sam Minkler Navajo activist Leland Grass (right) confronts horse buyer Jeanne Collom
Photo by Sam Minkler
Navajo activist Leland Grass (right) confronts horse buyer Jeanne Collom
BLACK MESA, Ariz. — The West is on the verge of a wild horse crisis, according to the Feds. An estimated 33,000 roam freely on public lands and even more on tribal lands. Under a 1971 law, the Bureau of Land Management is supposed to protect these horses and control their numbers so that they don’t ravage grasslands or die of starvation.
But critics of horse roundups contend they are a profit-driven enterprise sanctioned by the federal government and driven by business interests like cattle ranching and extractive industries that want to clear land for development.
“The only way to get at those resources is to get rid of the horses,” said Navajo activist Leland Grass. He has been trying to stop roundups of horses, which are often bound for Mexican slaughterhouses, on the Navajo reservation.
Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly recently made national news, saying he had reversed his position on horse slaughtering and ordered a moratorium of the roundup of horses on the reservation. Actor Robert Redford and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who have formed a foundation to protect wild animals in the West, brokered a deal with the nation’s largest Indian tribe to find humane alternatives.
“It’s a big lie,” said Jeanne Collom, a horse buyer who said roundups are still taking place on the reservation, and she has been buying them.
This was confirmed by Erny Zah, director of communications for the Navajo Nation, who said roundups will continue until an agreement is signed between Richardson’s group and the tribe.
On a late September afternoon, the scene at one roundup on the reservation was chaotic as teens chased horses on ATVs and dirt bikes into corrals. Collom said she buys horses for just $20 a head.
“The population is growing and the range is shrinking,” said Elmer Phillips, the head ranger for the Navajo Nation. “What comes along on the range nowadays is a different kind of creature: most of these horses are inbred and under 700 pounds.”
But critics say the data the policy is based on comes from an environmental impact study commissioned by Peabody Energy in 2008 as part of the permitting process to expand a coal mine it operates on Navajo land. The coal mine fuels the Navajo Generating Station power plant, which is majority owned by the U.S. Interior Department. Interior oversees the BLM, the agency responsible for managing wild horses, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which issues grazing permits on the reservation and contracts with horse buyers, including “kill buyers,” who buy horses bound for slaughterhouses.
Asked whether that study informed the horse policy, Zah said, “It’s definitely part of it.”
Peabody Coal did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Many of the horses rounded up that day were not feral, but owned by Navajos who either lacked a grazing permit or exceeded the maximum allowable number of two horses per permit. Collom said rather than going through government red tape to purchase horses, she tries to buy directly from owners coming to claim their animals. “That’s why I hang around the corrals,” she said.
At one point, three women came to claim horses they say were taken from their property, and an angry scene ensued. “These are performance horses, not Rez horses,” one of the owners shouted.
Head ranger Phillips ordered journalists there not to document the event, telling me and photographer Sam Minkler, who is Navajo, “I will escort you off the reservation.”
As we’ve previously reported, the Obama administration has included a proposal in its 2014 budget that would effectively ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption by preventing money from being spent on inspection of slaughtering facilities. In the next few months, a legal fight to block the opening of horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Missouri will reach its final stages.
Meanwhile, Grass and his grassroots group Nohooká Diné sent a resolution to legislators in Washington, DC urging them to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, currently pending before Congress. Protecting horses on Navajo land is important, Grass said, but a national bill is critical to ensure there is no incentive for horses to be taken from our lands or elsewhere for slaughter.
Horses hold an important place in Navajo cosmology. Leaving the roundup, Grass pulled his truck off the dirt road and cut the engine. A couple of the horses glanced over, swished their tails. “Look at them,” he said. “Their mane is the thunder and their eyes are the stars. They possess the same fundamental right to life as we, the five-fingered ones, do.”

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reward Offered in Shooting Deaths of Central Oregon Wild Horses

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, The U.S Forest Service, Crook County Sheriff

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting this month of six wild horses in the Big Prairie Summit region of the Ochoco National Forest in Crook County, Ore.
600_wild_horses_090819The Case: The U.S. Forest Service gives the following account:  On or about Oct. 13, hunters discovered two wild horses who had been shot and killed in the Big Prairie Summit region in the eastern portion of the Ochoco National Forest in central Oregon. They also found a third horse, a juvenile, badly injured from gunshot wounds. The third horse was euthanized. On Oct. 18, Forest Service investigators combed the scene and found three more horses shot and killed.
The HSUS reward offer of $5,000 is in addition to $2,000 being offered by the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, a nonprofit group established to protect and preserve the wild horses of central Oregon.
The shooting deaths of six wild horses in the spring of 2011 remain unsolved, despite an outstanding $4,000 reward offer.
Animal Cruelty: Getting the serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community in cases involving allegations of cruelty to animals is an essential step in protecting the community. The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented. Studies show a correlation between animal cruelty and all manner of other crimes, from narcotics and firearms violations to battery and sexual assault.
“Wild horses roaming free on our public lands are a national treasure to be cherished and protected,” said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “Shooting these majestic creatures is not only an act of depraved cruelty, but also a serious criminal offense. We applaud the U.S. Forest Service and the Crook County Sheriff for taking these crimes seriously, and for their dedication in working to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The Investigators: The U.S. Forest Service and Crook County Sheriff are investigating. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Capt. Dan Smith, U.S. Forest Service, (541)383-5798; or the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, (541)447-6398.
Resources: The HSUS Animal Cruelty Campaign raises public awareness and educates communities about the connection between animal cruelty and human violence while providing a variety of resources to law enforcement agencies, social work professionals, educators, legislators and families. The HSUS offers rewards in animal cruelty cases across the country and works to strengthen laws against animal cruelty. To see information on statistics, trends, laws and animal cruelty categories, go

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Update: NM Butcher Continues to Loose Ground in Horse Slaughter Fight

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)
Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)
“We had a good week in our New Mexicolitigation to stop horse slaughter:
First, the Court rejected the Defendant-Intervenors’ motion to strike statements from our merits brief related to the environmental havoc caused by the last three horse slaughterhouses to operate in the U.S. The Court can now consider this evidence in its final ruling.
Second, the Court rejected Valley Meat’s motion to strike statements from our merit brief about Valley Meat’s history of environmental violations.
Third, the Court denied USDA’s attempts to pretend that it considered the environmental havoc caused by the last three horse slaughterhouses to operate in the U.S. before issuing the recent grants of inspection.
Finally, the Court denied Rains Natural Meat’s motion for a security bond.”

Advocate Alert: Devil’s Garden Wild Horses – Is This What It Sounds Like?

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Guest Commentary by Grandma Greg

USFS will KILL all horses over the age of 10?

devilsgarden4If I understand correctly, no wild horses captured in the USFS Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory over the age of ten will get out alive? If so, this is a GIGANTIC change in procedure by our government agencies to dispose of (kill) all wild horses that they capture over the age of ten (sale authority).
The most important and frightening question is:
Is this the plan for ALL wild horses and burros over the age of ten captured by our government agencies in the future?
This is horrendous.
After reading the Devil’s Garden wild horse roundup decision (Modoc National Forest – NE corner of California) I emailed their office with questions about their decision.  Below are the questions in italics and the USFS official response to the questions, received from Kimberly Anderson of the USFS that strongly implies that all wild horses above the age of ten captured on or near the Devils Garden Wild Horse Territory will be disposed of (killed).
More information:  Per the USFS data, there are approximately 132 wild horses over the age of nine on this WHT – i.e. subject to their disposal/euthanasia plan and a total of about 788 wild horses scheduled to be removed.  This capture is scheduled to start immediately.
I hope with all my heart that my interpretation is wrong … but I am afraid that you and I see the writing on the wall.  Read below, contact their office and decide for yourself.
From: ”Anderson, Kimberly H -FS”
Cc: ”Anderson, Kimberly H -FS” ; “”
Hi  – here are the responses to your questions that I asked out lead expert to prepare.   Kimberly
“I read on page two of the FONSI “Disposition of older animals that are gathered will be consistent with law, regulations and policy.”
Please explain to me:
1) what age is considered “old animals” 
Animals that are over 10 are generally regarded as older animals.
2) what the process will be used (on the range or at trap sites or other)
Disposition of older animals will be as stated above, consistent with law regulations and policy.  This may include, but would not be limited to, turning them back out to the range, adoption, placement in long-term facilities, or euthanization. 
3) what method will be used (gun shot or lethal dose or other)
Should animals be euthanized, the manner of euthanasia would  be in the most humane manner possible.  In a field setting, they may be euthanized through the use of  firearms or drugs administered by  a veterinarian.  In a holding facility setting, euthanasia would generally occur through the use of drugs administered by a veterinarian.  
4) how the carcasses will be disposed of  
Carcasses would be disposed of in accordance with state law.  When possible animal remains would be picked up by a rendering company.  In a field type situation, animals carcasses would be disposed of away from roads, water sources and drainages.  Under no circumstances would carcasses be sold.
5) who will determine the “old” age of these animals and any other relevant information regarding this decision. 
As is always the case, the  ages of animals would be determined by USFS or BLM personnel, or veterinarians assigned to a gather or holding facility.
Kimberly H. Anderson
Forest Supervisor
Modoc National Forest
800 West 12th Street
Alturas, CA 96101
Voice: 530-233-8700
Fax: 530-233-8719
Cell: 530-708-0065

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Media War on Wild Horses and Burros Continues

Straight from the Horse's Heart

An unabashed OpEd (rant?) by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“We ain’t as stupid as they think we are!!!”

BLM's public version of America's Wild Horse
BLM’s public version of America’s Wild Horse
I let it go a month ago; you could Google “Wild Horse” and multiple hits would come up from dozens of publications talking about the Wild Horse Apocalypse where grass crazed unwanted wild horses were multiplying faster than cockroaches and are trampling public lands into oblivion.  Give me a break.
The onslaught was so outlandish and over the top I simply let it go and refused to give it any credence as it was obviously motivated by grazing interests who have bought into their own crazed propaganda. “Wild horse herds double in size every four years.”  Do the math, dumb ass, every mare, foal, colt and stallion would have to drop a baby to bring that around.
Now, October 2013, the attack has returned with the added twist of sending our wild horses off to slaughter because the Buereau of Land Management (BLM) is creating a false emergency by continuing to strip our public lands of federally protected wild horses so that they can warehouse them on private land with their buddies to the tune of $500 bucks per horse per year.  Even though the BLM cannot cipher correctly they DO admit that they have more horses warehoused and in concentration camps with their buds than are now free on the range.  (50,000 allegedly in private concentration camps with about 25,000 left on the range in unviable herds, thank you very much BLM rocket scientists.)
This has always been the goal, the motivation and the ‘out’ for this federal grazing company; kill the horses and if you Google “wild horse” today you will find articles in PBS, DVM and even Al Jazeerapromoting the slaughter of our wild horses in an effort to solve “the problem”.  The BLM has some unusual bedfellows but when you operate outside of the law and work against the American public who pays your wages I guess it just drives one to loose their moral compass and listen only to the dark side.  I, for one, am sick of it.
I don’t want to hint to conspiracy nor will I strategize online as the federal losers that we fund visit here, daily, but I will say that it is time to fight fire with fire.
Turn up the volume, get the truth out there and bury these lies and outright propaganda with the facts, the science and the conviction that all we red-blooded Americans share…Pass the S.A.F.E. Act!!!!
We have been bullied for the last several weeks by elected thugs in Washington D.C. and those we will deal with come election day but now that the Federal parasites at the BLM are back to work it is time to share, extol, inform others of the fact that our Federal government is working very, very hard (in collusion) to manage our wild equines into permanent extinction.
I, for one, will not stand idly by nor will I go quietly into the night.
We WILL set the truth free and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Keep the faith.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wild Horse Tragedy in South Dakota

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: By John Christopher Fine as published in the Epoch Times

“The storm passed and we were left with the gruesome task of picking up dead horses.”

Medicine-Hat-3-676x450The baby horse stuck its hoof up in the air as if to say ‘I am not going to step in that mud.’ The little filly was born to a mare in the Catnip herd in Lantry, South Dakota. Its mother was attentive; an aunt gathered near when movement of other horses threatened the baby. Perfect in every way, the little horse had a white body, autumn haze brown shield over her left eye, dainty yet perfectly formed white legs with little pearl colored hooves. A shield formed part of her chest.
“Not one in 700 births is a medicine hat. Indian warriors believed that to ride such a horse in combat made them invulnerable to injury or death,” Karen Sussman said. We sat in a mud-spattered four-wheel drive truck looking at the little horse and its mother from a deeply rutted road. The storm passed and we were left with the gruesome task of picking up dead horses.
Large numbers of domestic cattle also tragically died. The same storm ended neighboring ranchers’ hopes to do better than break even this year. To finally turn a profit so they could make home and equipment mortgage payments next month when their cattle were shipped. This was not an aged dying where death is sad but expected. Not the occasional death from winter snows. This record storm killed thousands of animals.
An October blizzard swept down over western South Dakota. Nothing like it ever happened before. Not this early. “Look at the trees. The leaves are still green. It was 86 degrees two weeks ago. It was so hot I thought about putting the air conditioner on in the house. I said no, I’m not going to put an air conditioner on in late September,” this grandmother of 5 said. Karen is president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB).
The equine conservancy was started in 1960 by friends of Velma Johnston to support her work. Velma was more popularly known as Wild Horse Annie. The moniker started as a derisive term coined by enemies of her struggle to save wild and free roaming horses and burros. It was Wild Horse Annie’s mustering children from around the U.S. and around the world that caused Congress to pass protective legislation affording wild horses a modicum of protection from abject slaughter and cruel roundups by aircraft with gunners shooting into terrorized herds.
Karen now holds the reins to ISPMB. The non-profit organization maintains four distinct herds and many special care horses on a ranch in Lantry, SD. It’s a hard place to find. So far off the beaten tourist path that few are willing to make the 2 ½ hour drive from Rapid City to visit. The organization is totally subsistent on private donations. Its budget was pushed to the limit when last year’s western drought saw corn and sunflower crops reduced to 25% of normal yields and hay crops fail.
“In January 2012, I was paying $65 per ton for hay. By February it went to $90 a ton. I thought then, ‘How dare you ask that high a price.’ The hay farmers saw the drought coming. By March hay was still $90 a ton but the locals decided not to sell any more. I was on the phone every day trying to find hay. I bought hay for $100 a bale. It amounted to $175 a ton. By June and July I was able to buy hay in Timber Lake for $100 a bale. By August I had to buy hay from Canada for $100 a ton, Shipping was $3,000 a truckload. A truck can haul about 30 bales that weigh around 1,200 pounds each. I got all the hay from Canada until June 2013. My first six truckloads cost me the price of the hay plus $3,100 each truck for shipping. It was $210 to $220 a ton,” Karen said. The freight was exorbitant since there were no back hauls where truckers could make money on the return trip carrying freight.
“I’m worn out. I can’t do that again.” This sturdy pioneer spirit declared, exhausted. It was said in momentary desperation. We were sitting in the truck, after the blizzard passed, checking on the little medicine hat foal and her mother. “That other little baby with his mother looks good. I was worried about it as well.” There was nothing else to be said or done except drive into a deeply rutted, muddy lane to where the tractor was parked.
Jules Uses Many nearly lost his knee length rubber boot in mud as he tried to pull a foal’s body into the tractor’s loader. Two days after the blizzard began warm weather was melting the snow. The melt caused floods in the pastures. Deep mud was everywhere. Jules, a Cheyenne River Sioux tribal member, never saw anything like this before either.
“It’s like the massacre at Wounded Knee,” he said. He spit smokeless tobacco. Its sharp taste seemed to help him through the difficult day. Traditional tribal members consider wild horses sacred. They are part of their culture. Horses changed a way of life from dog people to a horse culture. These last four herds, including the rare Gila herd of Spanish mustangs, kept in family bands on the ranch in Lantry, are the few that have not been rounded up every year.
Government agencies conduct roundups of wild horses on public lands. The terrorized horses are then pushed into holding pens, sorted and separated from their families by government officials. The objective of these bureaucrats is to rid wild horses from public lands.
The loss of one ISPMB mustang is tragic. Each death takes with it the history and tradition of the first peoples of this land as well as the cowboy tradition born when vaqueros of old Mexico tamed Spanish mustangs.
The loss figures were staggering. Each tractor load took three to four foals and yearlings to the place where they were to be buried. The road to the south range was now deeply rutted. The track was so muddy it was all Jules and Karen could do to keep the tractor on the path and make it up a steep hill.
The cargo was grim. In the 14 years Karen has been conducting research on these wild herds nothing like this ever happened before. Karen’s observations reveal that, unmolested, wild horses in family groups and bands, with their band stallions, hold breeding in check. When left to nature wild horses do not over-reproduce as U.S, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) bureaucrats have been telling the U.S. Congress. Rounded up and sorted horses with only certain types and ages released again into the wild behave differently than natural wild horse herds. The BLM conducts routine roundups, part of a program to eliminate wild horses on public lands in favor of cattle leases, hunting interests as well as oil and gas exploitation.
None of this seemed very urgent at the moment. There was no hay. Karen was on her cell phone getting promises of delivery. The current price plus shipping was still very high. While summer 2013 saw plentiful harvest because of ample rainfall, ranchers were stockpiling hay as reserves for their cattle in case 2014 proved to be another drought year.
“How are my babies doing?” Karen asked Jules. She inquired about foals and horses we were able to rescue and bring into sheds. During the freezing cold their legs were massaged. Blankets were placed around them. As they recovered we tried to get them on their feet. A few of the rescued died despite brave efforts to keep them alive during the freezing nights of the blizzard. The ones that made it were doing well, a saving grace.
It was warm again. Hot almost. I took off my stocking hat, shed my coat then got rid of pants and sweater. They say you have to dress in layers in South Dakota with good reason. I finally changed back into my T-shirt and shorts. Funny looking dude in that outfit with high rubber boots. The deep muck was everywhere. Snow was melting fast. Lower pastures were already under three feet of water.
“My little medicine hat is dead…” Karen told us the next morning, “…and the tractor broke down.” While the burdens and reality of the previous two days had not yet set in, as clean up work and continual care for the herds and babies had to be done, this new tragedy struck. The beautiful little baby medicine hat succumbed…(CONTINUED)

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