Monday, December 21, 2015

BLM to use Infrared to Count Wild Burros ahead of Stampede & Roundup

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: Multiple

“They blend into the background and they don’t run. They’ll just stand there and look at you…”

“I am sorry; maybe it is too early in the morning or perhaps I have not finished off enough coffee but the article, below, confuses the living daylights out of me.  It appears at first glance that the U.S. Geological Survey‘s science center in Colorado wants to do a five year study on the wild donkeys burros of the Sinbad herd inUtah.  And before the study is fully underway the BLM is going to swoop in, stampede the poor little guys and roundup and remove over 50% of the estimated Sinbad herd population.  Isn’t that ass-backwards or is it just me?  We all have known for years that the BLM cannot count nor cipher correctly so it is probably just more smoke and mirrors to further decimate the last, few wild burros that exist on this continent.  The BLM most assuredly speaks with a forked tongue…and I am not buying the hype!!!” ~ R.T.

BLM's method of "humanely" rounding up wild burros
BLM’s method of “humanely” rounding up wild burros

Federal wildlife officials are planning to use infrared equipment to count the number of wild burros in an elusive eastern Utah herd ahead of a round-up next spring that’s part of a new in-depth study of the animals.
The Bureau of Land Management is using the equipment to sense the animals’ body heat because they tend to scatter and blend into the landscape, making them tough to count, the Deseret News reported.
“It’s cutting edge. We will be able to identify burros based off their heat signature,” said Gus Warr, wild horse and burro specialist for the BLM in Utah. “Burros are tough to identify and count because the jacks go off by themselves and the jennies and foals stick together. They blend into the background and they don’t run. They’ll just stand there and look at you.”
After the wild donkeys in the Sinbad herd are counted in January, the BLM plans to round them up and remove some because the herd has grown too large for the drought-parched land near Green River to support.
They’re looking to round up about 200 wild burros and remove about 130 of them from the range in March to get the herd closer to a sustainable 60 animals.
Wild burro captured by BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Wild burro captured by BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The removal is also part of a larger effort to study the Sinbad herd, which is one of just two wild burro populations in the state. Relatively little is known about the animals that roam a nearly 100,000-acre range of tough terrain in the San Rafael Swell area about 200 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Federal officials have done roundups of the Sinbad herd three times in the last two decades: in 1996, 2001 and 2008.
“There’s surprisingly been very little research done over the years,” Warr said. “This is a huge opportunity for us because there is not much data out there. This will provide us with better management tools.”
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey’s science center in Colorado are doing a five-year study looking at the dynamics of the herd, including factors like habitat, mortality, movements and survival rate by age.
“This is ground zero because you have to know how many of them are out there if you are going to manage them,” Warr said.
The research is an outgrowth of a 2013 report from the National Academy of Sciences criticizing the BLM for not using a more scientific approach to managing wild horses and burros on public lands.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

How the Federal Budget Package Protects Animals

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by  ~ASPCA President and CEO, as published on Huffington Post Blog

Horse Slaughter: To be clear, this is still a short-term and incomplete solution…

"Harley" (Ginerous Legacy) Saved from slaughter by Habitat for Horses and adopted by author R.T. Fitch and his wife Terry. Photo by Terry Fitch
“Harley” (Ginerous Legacy) Saved from slaughter by Habitat for Horses and adopted by author R.T. Fitch and his wife Terry. Photo by Terry Fitch
The massive, 2,000-page federal spending omnibus package President Obama signed today represents months of negotiations by the House and Senate. And while some of the loudest and largest passengers on that omnibus include defense spending, tax reform, and homeland security, a number of critical animal causes fortunately found seats as well.
Their inclusion wasn’t a sure thing, but in a process known for deep political compromises, it’s gratifying to see legislators not compromising animal welfare – particularly the protection of American horses and farm animals used in federal research for political gain.
First, the law will continue preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities, effectively prohibiting such facilities on U.S. soil in the coming fiscal year.
To be clear, this is still a short-term and incomplete solution. It requires annual approval, and does not address the problem of horses being shipped to other countries for slaughter, a cruel process that can also endanger human health. This is why we encourage passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2015, which would protect American horses from slaughter anywhere, permanently.
The federal spending measure also requires the USDA to improve animal welfare policies at federally-run agricultural facilities including the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) – a Nebraska facility where animals were subjected to horrible abuse and torture to help meat producers discover more effective ways to make money.
Combined with improved policies at the USDA, this spending measure will hold USMARC and other federal animal research facilities to the basic standards, inspections, and reporting requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.
Other included measures will help protect wild horses from slaughter and ensure proper oversight and enforcement of laws cracking down on puppy mills and ending horse soring.
Considering how these humane proposals were in doubt as recently as this week, it’s tempting to think that we – and these victimized animals – dodged a bullet, but it should never have come to that. Ensuring animals are not tortured for industry profit is not simply a good idea; it’s an imperative that represents some of our most basic values and obligations as Americans and as human beings.
Today, our leaders stepped up for those values. Making sure they do the same moving forward may depend on how loudly we – the people they represent – stand up and speak out. Please consider the many ways you can be a voice for stronger legal protections for animals.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why is the BLM killing wild horses?

Straight from the Horse's Heart

By Jack Ferm as published on The Independent ~ A Voice for Utah

Horses are not part of America’s food chain!

The Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency tasked with protecting our heritage, including wild horses known colloquially as “mustangs.” These majestic animals have freely roamed North America since the Spanish reintroduced them to our continent in the early 1500s. But things have changed, and now a question has been raised: Is the BLM killing wild horses?
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
There is no thrill like watching a herd of these imposing animals run free as I myself have witnessed. They are intelligent and resourceful animals that have a matriarchal society, and they look to their leader like she was somehow elected by the herd themselves to lead them.
During World War I, more then a million of these animals had been conscripted for military combat with many more hunted and killed for sport or for dog food.
Finally, after years of abuse The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed by President Nixon on Dec. 15, 1971, but even this law is not making a difference for these animals.
Now we have to ask why is the BLM not doing its job. Why is the BLM killing wild horses?
In the dichotomy of federal law, the BLM can use motorized vehicles to capture wild horses, but by law the BLM is not allowed to kill them (either directly or indirectly); whereas Fish and Wildlife Service can kill horses but can’t use motorized vehicles to capture them.
Yet the government wants these animals gone and has turned a blind eye to their knowingly being sold to slaughterhouses where their meat is often sold in Europe or Asia.  For instance, these nine countries—Mexico, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Poland and China—actually consider horse meat a delicacy. Yuck, to me it’s like eating a friend!
Animals that are slaughtered in these slaughterhouses are conscious and shakingwhile they suffer excruciating pain as they lay dying.
Our wild horses are now going to slaughterhouses where their throats are cut like the way chickens are slaughtered. And the BLM is fully aware of their slaughter: In fact, they knowingly aid and abet this unlawful treatment of these very intelligent animals.
BLM chasing protected mustangs from the air ~ photo by Terry Fitch
BLM chasing protected mustangs from the air ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Recent evidence has established the BLM’s complicity in the illegal sale of these free-roaming animals after capturing them by helicopter herding. The BLM appears to knowingly have sold 1,794, if not more, federally-protected wild horses between 2009 and 2012 to a Colorado rancher, Tom Davis, who then sold them for slaughter. The BLM is tasked with following the horses sold to insure they are sold to good homes and are not slaughtered. Yet 1,794 wild mustangs managed to slip through the cracks? Indeed, these majestic animals were deliberately sold into painful deaths.
However, as the agents of this rogue agency broke federal law, like most agencies during this regime, no charges will be filed against anyone … as usual.
Why is our government allowing these wild horses to be rounded up and sold to slaughterhouses? The answer isn’t a pretty one: oil and gas leases, and who controls them as well as livestock grazing. There are 63,000 federal onshore oil and gas wells under BLM management. Those and cattle and sheep ranchers take preference over wild horses. In this case, it isn’t just the money but also the power and control of BLM resources; horses don’t have a lobby or money, so they come up short!
My experience with mustangs has been limited, but I can tell readers that I have witnessed their intellect watching me repair a gate. One actually came over to me and watched everything I was doing like he was studying for a college exam. He was probably “reverse engineering” it so he could go out on an adventure after I left.
These horses even have an understanding of human suffering, acting aspsychotherapy assistants for returning military personnel. Studies have shown that they are a good resource in helping returning military personnel deal with post traumatic stress disorder. They are very relaxing animals to be around, and they elevate your mood.
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

The Wild Horse Act in 1971 placed these horses and burros under federal protection. The BLM was mandated to protect the remaining herds. Instead, it has been an ongoing obstacle to their survival. The BLM from the very beginning lied about the number of wild horses roaming free, which allowed the BLM to remove thousands from the ranges. They have been chased and scared half to death by helicopters, sprayed with buckshot, run down with motorized vehicles, run off cliffs, gunned down at full gallop, shot in corralled bloodbaths, and buried in mass graves to eliminate them.
All of this happened under the “watchful” eye of the BLM staff, headed by Ken Salazar, a cattle rancher. Salazar was appointed to head the Department of the Interior in 2009 by Barack Obama.
Horses are not part of America’s food chain!
During Ken Salazar’s reign as head of the Department of Interior, more than 35,000wild horses have been rounded up and placed in pens. We now actually have more wild mustangs in pens then roaming free as they were meant to be.
The current Secretary of the Interior in Barack Obama’s administration is former REI CEO and former Mobil Oil executive Sally Jewell of Washington. She was confirmed by the Senate on April 10, 2013.
Hmm … first a cattle rancher, then an oil executive … does any of this make you go “hmm?”
To get a full understanding of the beauty and intelligence of mustangs, watch the movie “Hidalgo.” It is a biographical Western based on the legend of American distance rider Frank Hopkins and his mustang, Hidalgo. In the last few minutes are viewed hundreds of mustangs running free, as they should.
Consider that our heritage is under a current state of flux: we are always mindful of changing times and attitudes toward our world. In the end, the old remains, and the new is but an extension of the past, and we are part of only a sliver of a moment in time.