Monday, August 31, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Famous Wild Horse Herd Granted Two-Day Reprieve from Massive Roundup

From the Cloud Foundation


Famous Wild Horse Herd Granted Two-Day Reprieve from Massive Roundup

For Immediate Release

BILLINGS, MONTANA- August 31, 2009: The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses, perhaps best known from the popular Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies PBS Nature series, have two more days of freedom before an unprecedented round up could begin. The Pryors roundup has been delayed for two days to allow Judge Sullivan of the Federal District Court to hear the case brought against the BLM by The Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue.

The Bureau of Land Management, responsible for managing wild horses on public lands in the United States, plans to round up all the horses in Montana’s only remaining wild herd and remove 70 horses plus four or more foals. This will leave a non-viable herd of only 120 horses according to respected equine geneticist, Gus Cothran, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University. The Pryor Mountain wild horses are a unique Spanish herd renowned for their primitive markings, historical connections, and spectacular habitat.

BLM is dispatching National Wild Horse and Burro Program staff for this round up, perhaps because they expect trouble from humane advocates who are currently being prevented from observing this roundup. “Never before in my experience have plans been so vague and operations so secret in the Pryors,” says Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.” The BLM will be closing down roads to the mountain top where the majority of the herd spends their days grazing peacefully in their subalpine meadows. Young foals, only days old will be driven by helicopters and are in serious danger of being hurt or killed. Billings BLM Field Manager Jim Sparks told one advocate that they would expect a loss of 2% or six horses as a result of this operation.

The BLM has always had signs posted at the entrances to the horse range that tell the public to ‘report violations of harassment, death or removals.’ “Why are they above the law?” Asks Crow Tribe Historian and Elder, Howard Boggess. “Everything that is against the law for me they are planning to do to these horses. This is a very sad thing as far as I’m concerned. The horses have lived here for over 200 years. Even under the harassment of the BLM they’ve survived since 1971.”

The BLM claims that it is necessary to remove 70 horses in order to “maintain a thriving ecological balance.” However, the range is still green in late August following three years of above average precipitation after a multi-year drought. The horses are fat, preparing to go into winter. “Why are they removing nearly half the horses after the drought is over? I’ve told them [the BLM] if you take these 70 horses you’ve destroyed the bloodline, the gene pool will no longer be there,” continues Boggess. “Their whole goal is to get rid of the horses.”

“What they are proposing to do is criminal— people locally and all across the Nation worked so hard to save these horses from eradication in 1968,” explains Kathrens. “This range was specially designated for wild horses, the first of its kind in the nation. This is their refuge and it is about to be invaded.”

The BLM plans to remove 17 horses over ten years old and by BLM’s Standard Operating Procedures, “old, sick or lame horses shall be destroyed.” “When they take out the old horses they remove the ones that know the way to the water, the good grass, the way around the canyon - they’re taking out all of the knowledge of the herd,” Boggess explains. “It is really sad to sit there and look at the horses and think that in the next ten days they’ll be taken off this range and they’ll never see it again.”

This case is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, September 2nd, and thousands of people around the United States and the world await the decision of Judge Sullivan which will decide the fate of the unique and beloved Pryor Wild Horse Herd.

For more information contact:

The Cloud Foundation

Valerie Kennedy


photos available upon request

Wild horse roundup postponed

From Billings Gazette

A roundup of about 190 wild horses in the Pryor Mountains that was supposed to begin today has been delayed until Thursday.

According to Mary Apple, a Bureau of Land Management spokesperson in Billings, the roundup was postponed to allow the Department of Justice time to respond to a lawsuit and request for injunction filed Friday by wild horse advocates in U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan's court in Washington, D.C.

A temporary closure of the wild horse range to the public that began today and is scheduled to last 10 days is still in effect, Apple said.

Out of the 190 horses that are gathered, 70 will be put up for adoption at the BLM's facilities at Britton Springs, Wyo., just south of the horse range. The other 120 horses will be released back to the range.

The roundup is an attempt to thin the herd because BLM's analysis of the range's condition has show there are too many horses for the habitat to support. Some of the mares would receive a contraceptive vaccine while corralled to reduce the number of births.

Wild horse advocates contend that thinning the herd by 70 horses threatens the genetic viability of the animals which contain a bloodline that dates back to the first horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. They also say the horse range is in good condition following two years of above-average moisture.

Posted in Montana on Monday, August 31, 2009 10:30 am Updated: 4:41 pm.

Info on BLM and CLOUD

--The BLM has STILL failed to report Fiscal Year 2009 Herd Statistics and populations. They are almost two months late. When questioned last month as to "Where are they?", WH&B National Lead Dean Bolstad responded they would be out in a "few weeks". As of today, no publication. Furthermore, all prior records that USED TO BE on their website from FY04 thru FY08 have disappeared... Indicates to me they want no more scrutiny of "their numbers"...

Skyline Uranium Corp

Montana Uranium Project in Pryor Mountains:

The uranium mines in the Pryor Mountains of Carbon County, Montana

produced uranium for many years. Skyline's mining claims cover most of

the Pryor Mountains Mining District, approximately 1,400 acres in all. No

less than five previously productive mines are included: Dandy, Marie,

Old Glory, Sandra and Swamp Frog Mines. The uranium bearing mineral, in

each case, is found in tyuyamunite associated with some fluorite in cave

fill of an upper horizon of the Madison limestone formation. This is

similar to the collapse breccia formations which host uranium

mineralization in the Colorado Plateau of Northern Arizona. The company

is considering a program of airborne geophysical surveys to locate

additional blind breccia pipes. This type of survey has recently been

used successfully in Arizona.

Obama Wasting Tax Dollars to Butcher Horses
by Enkel
Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 09:54:01 AM PDT

Ken Salizar and newly appointed BLM Head Bob Abbey are scheduled to begin litterally throwing tax dollars away on Tuesday, September first in an attempt to capture 70 horses from a 1.5 million acre range in Nevada. Their most likely fate, to be given away (or sold at $10 each) to horse traders who will haul them to the slaughter houses of Mexico for a ten fold profit.

In 1971, the Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act was enacted to stop "Mustangers" who rounded up wild horses (essentially stealing them from public lands) to haul them to slaughter. Today, BLM are the mustangers and they're funded by public tax dollars. It wasn't long before ranchers were "adopting" BLM rounded up horses in droves, throwing them onto vacant acreage for the one year waiting period until BLM handed over their title, then selling those that lived to slaughter.

By 1988, "a federal district court judge in Nevada, ordered the BLM to withhold title from any adopter who expressed an intent to exploit the horses—i.e., sell them for slaughter or as bucking stock in rodeos. The BLM had admitted to him that on some occasions it knew before granting title that the adopters intended to slaughter the animals." (reference)

The Free-Roaming WIld Horse and Burro Act imposes a $2000 fine and 1 year improsonment for any person who "processes or permits to be processed into commercial products the remains of a wild free-roaming horse or burro." Over the years, thousands of wild horses have been captured at tax payer expense and basically given away (some even delivered at taxpayer expense) to horse traders who sent them to slaughter, yet none have been prosecuted.

Since 1971, billions of tax payer dollars have been spent clearing ALL wild horses from over 111 horse management areas (over 19 million acres) to make way for beef farmers who lease the land at only a fraction of what is spend by tax payers to maintain it. The entire state of New Mexico is down from and estimated 6,000 horses in 1974 to 400 horses roaming 76,000 acres. Yet, the BLM target is to reduce that to just 100 horses, half the number experts estimate are required to maintain viability (due to inbreeding).

Those horses cleared from the land that are not sold or given away are put into holding areas. Today, BLM is using tax payer money to maintain 30,000 horses in holding pens at a cost in excess of $20 million per year. Many of these horses in holding are maintained on private property by individuals who receive $500 per year to keep the horses. In 2006, in an effort to reduce the number of horses in holding, the BLM sent a letter to 15,000 ranchers who lease public lands (at well below market rate) asking them to take the horses.

So to put it simply, the BLM is spending tax payer dollars to capture horses in order to clear them from the land that they rent to ranchers at well below market cost, then offer those same ranchers $500 per year to keep the same horses on the very same land. In this scenario, the ranchers get what they want (cheap grazing land for cattle) AND get $500/head/year to keep the same horses they asked the BLM to clear in the first place. OR, they can "adopt" them at $10/head (or even free) and sell them to slaughter at $150 - $200 each. And WE the tax payer are footing the bill for all of this.

The logical solution would be to charge the ranchers full market value for the leased land and to return at least half of the 19 million acres of habitat back to PUBLIC use (instead of private rancher use). That would provide more than 600 acres per horse in holding. Then use the additional funding to initiate a herd fertility managment program.

It really isn't rocket science to manage herds (if you aren't catering to influential beef ranchers). It's time for the Federal Government to get out of the Mustanger business, get out of housing and slaughtering wild horses at tax payer expense, for the benifit of a select few who are profiting from the system.

On Tuesday, yet another group of horses are scheduled to be rounded up. This one is on Obama's watch. Yes, he has a lot on his plate, but at a time when his administration is looking to trim wasteful spending, this is a no brainer. This herd has been documented for nearly a decade by Emmy winning PBS videographer Ginger Kathrens. You can find more information about the planned round up at The Cloud Foundation website.

Late last year we saw a last minute stopping of the sale of oil leases because of public out cry.

It would be a nice miracle if the public would also rally to tell the White House that we don't want to fund Mustangers any longer. There ARE viable CHEAPER solutions out there that don't involve a thinly veiled program to pay to send these horses to slaughter houses.

White House Comment (Complaint) Line
Phone: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-9000
Fax: 202-456-2461

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar
Phone: 202-208-3100

BLM Director Bob Abbey
Call: 202-208-3801
Fax: 202-208-5242

Read BLM's Wild Horse Elimination Plan Angers Ecologist for a detailed description of how this current round up is being sold based on false information.

BLM a Top Revenue Earner for the Gov't But No $$$ for Wild Horses

From the BLMs website;

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.

August 31, 2009...3:46am08
AN EVIL IN THE SEASON: The Cattleman’s Welfare System Begins

by T.H. Watkins

The current system of federal subsidies to the western cattle industry was born out of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era. The 1934 Taylor Grazing Act was intended to rescue, as well as to regulate, desperate stock growers. It entrenched local ranchers’ control over federal lands management; granted permits erroneously regarded by many as akin to a property right; and established a system of cheap grazing fees. Today, most public lands grazed by livestock remain in an ecologically unsatisfactory condition.

Whether you think of it as a little mom-and-pop cow-calf operation barely carving out a sustainable living or as a corporate monster raising cows for feedlots the size of Rhode Island, the western cattle industry has been riding the backs of taxpayers for nearly seventy years. At issue is the fee that the government of the United States charges ranchers to graze animals on federal grasslands, a fee so low compared with real market values that it amounts to a subsidy–one that is such a travesty, even economic conservatives can join with extreme environmentalists to agree it should be ended.

State-owned lands southwest of Tucson, Arizona. In the drier regions of the West, Dust Bowl–like landscapes are not some distant memory, but part of the current reality of livestock-grazed lands.

That subsidy is the gift of a history born in hard times, the hardest hard times that the West so far has ever suffered. The economic desolation of the Great Depression combined with a largely human-caused environmental disaster to inspire the cattle industry to give up its fondly held delusions of rugged individualism–just long enough to plead with the New Deal government for help. The New Dealers obliged, only to have their noblest hopes seized by the industry, which cheerfully transformed the government’s well-meaning program into an engine of convenience. For the rest of the century, the livestock industry was assured it would receive federal benefits with a minimum of federal control–at a cost to the land we still do not know how to measure fully.

The Great Depression was at its deepest ebb: nearly 13 million people were out of work. Adding to the general misery, a terrible drought began in the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1930, and in 1931 the drought shifted westward. In the spring of that year, it was the upper Midwest that began to suffer; over the next three years the misery spread south and west into every state between the Front Range of the Rockies and the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. There was a brief respite for some states in 1932, but between June of 1933 and May of 1934 the plains states experienced the lowest rainfall on record, while from the Flathead Range in Montana to the San Juans in southern Colorado, winter snowfall in the Rockies ranged from one-third to one-half of normal–and in New Mexico the Sangre de Cristos received little more than a dusting.

With drought came heat, more heat than millions had ever experienced, even in the plains, where the most ordinary summer could be a torment. Everywhere in the agricultural checkerboard of the heartland, crops not already eaten by grasshoppers shriveled under the withering blight of the sun, and livestock grew skeletal and frantic with thirst and hunger, in some places “dropping dead in their tracks from the heat.” Journalist Meridel Le Sueur took an exploratory bus trip across Minnesota and into North Dakota, “trying not to look at the ribs of the horses and the cows, but you got so you couldn’t see anything but ribs, like beached hulks on the prairie, the bones rising out of the skin. You began to see the thin farmer under his rags and his wife as lean as his cows.”

On September 9, 1934, reporter Lorena Hickok reported from eastern Wyoming to Harry Hopkins, head of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in Washington, D.C.: “I saw range that looked as though it had been gone over with a safety razor.”

There was an “evil in this season,” wrote James Agee in Fortune, the words accompanying a numbingly effective portfolio of drought photographs by Margaret Bourke-White. It was a time when much of the Northern Hemisphere was “little better than a turning hearth, glowing before the white continuous blast of the sun.”

Then there was the wind, as much a part of the geography of the plains as the buffalo grass through which it rippled. In a drought, the wind became an enemy collaborating with sun and heat to test the limits of human patience. “A high wind is an awful thing,” Le Sueur wrote in describing what she experienced in 1934. “It wears you down, it nags at you day after day, it sounds like an invisible army, it fills you with terror as something invisible does.”

It was not just the wind itself that scraped at the nerves in this evil season but the burden it carried, the direct consequence of generations of disregard for what the land could and could not be expected to do. It was a lesson that should have been learned long before, of course, as early as 1864, when in Man and Nature, George Perkins Marsh had cited the nations of antiquity to demonstrate how entire empires cFould disintegrate once their land had been abused beyond redemption. In this country, Marsh’s warnings had been validated during the ecologically ruinous 1880s. Out on the High Plains, millions of cattle, half-starved because the western range had been packed with animals and brutally overgrazed for years, perished during the winter of 1886-1887 in what was called the “Big Die-Up.” When the spring winds swept the land clean of snow, carcasses dotted a landscape that Theodore Roosevelt, anticipating Lorena Hickok, described as “a mere barren waste; not a green thing could be seen; the dead grass eaten off till the country looked as if it had been shaved by a razor.”

In the 1930s, millions of acres on the Great Plains that had not fully recovered from the abuses of the 1880s still lay open to livestock use and intensive agriculture–and it was on these lands that much of the land-wrecking boom of the World War I years had just played out. The temptation had been considerable. As the terrible engine of war had begun grinding across the European landscape in August 1914, all but obliterating the ability of the warring nations to feed themselves, the demand for American-grown food had swollen to unprecedented levels. Henry C. Wallace, editor of Wallace’s Farmer (and father of Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of agriculture), declared that the United States had a “moral responsibility to feed the hungry people of the world.” Farmers and ranchers cheerfully accepted the obligation, planting and harvesting more and more bushels of wheat and other grains, raising and shipping ever-increasing numbers of cattle and other livestock, while prices for all agricultural products rose in an exhilarating demonstration of the principles of supply and demand. When the United States entered the war in April 1917, setting up a Food Administration for War that put in place artificially high price supports to encourage even more production, farmers and ranchers could be forgiven for believing that it was impossible to lose money.

At the war’s end, as a recovering Europe clamored for food, the levels of prices and production remained high well into 1920, even after the government removed its price supports. Then European demands for relatively expensive American food suddenly began to decline as cheaper wheat from Australia and Canada, and cheap beef and other meat products from Argentina and elsewhere, came in on suddenly submarine-free shipping lanes. An anti-inflation Federal Reserve announced an end to the easy credit of the war years. Prices sank every bit as dramatically as they had risen, the slide continuing throughout the rest of the decade, while farmers and ranchers desperately stepped up production, hoping to make up in volume for steadily declining prices.

By the 1930s, then, much of the western land had been broken and exposed by repeated plowing, leached of its nutrients by constant planting and replanting, grazed down to the dirt by cattle and sheep, its topsoil skinned off in sheets or gullied by water erosion during wet years. And it was on these lands that the sun had been doing some of its most devastating work during the drought years.

So now the wind: it came down on all that exposed and crippled land; scooped up hundreds of millions of tons of it as dust, then boiled it all up into choking clouds that rolled across entire states and at least twice–in May 1934 and March 1935–sailed so high into the jet stream that airborne earth from the Great Plains darkened eastern cities in the daytime and dusted the decks of transatlantic liners. However dramatic, the jet stream storms of 1934 and 1935 gave the East the barest taste of what had become a commonplace misery in the plains states. On March 15, 1935, after portions of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas already had experienced two weeks of intermittent dust storms, a big one swept down from southeastern Colorado and for the next several days shut much of Kansas down in a gloom of dust. That storm had no sooner abated when another piled across the southern plains from Oklahoma on March 24, this one destroying half the wheat crop in Kansas before sweeping up into Nebraska and killing virtually all of that state’s wheat. Then came the sudden “black blizzard” of April 14, which concentrated most of its terrific energy in Kansas, stranding hundreds of travelers, burying and killing one child, and lasting so long that its gale-force winds (in some storms they reached 60 or 70 miles an hour) and light-obliterating dust inspired apocalyptic terror among many, particularly when they were accompanied by a drop in temperatures of nearly 50 degrees in a matter of hours. “This is ultimate darkness,” one victim wrote in a daily log. “So must come the end of the world.”

Severely eroded land, Coronado National Forest, Arizona.

“By the middle of last August,” the October 1934 issue of Fortune declared, “a good third of our part of the continent was one wide crisp. The great map in the Washington office of Relief Administrator Harry Hopkins showed 1,400 counties in twenty-two states, of which 1,100 were counted as harmed beyond all help.”

“I have been so moved by the distressing effects of a widespread drouth,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked in a speech delivered while on a cross-country train tour in August 1934, “and at the same time so strengthened in my belief that science and cooperation can do much from now on to undo the mistakes that men have made in the past and to aid the good forces of nature and the good impulses of men instead of fighting against them.”

Generally speaking, the New Dealers would discover that it proved easier to harness the tools of science to aid the good forces of nature than to invoke the spirit of cooperation and build on the good impulses of human beings–whom Roosevelt and his people would find (then as always) maddeningly unpredictable and not easily squeezed into sociopolitical molds. Take the western cattle industry. For more than sixty years, cattlemen and the politicians who serviced their needs and parroted their philosophies had resisted any sort of federal control over what could and could not be done on the public grazing lands of the West, save for those laws–such as the Desert Land Act of 1877, the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909, or the Stock Raising Homestead Act of 1914–that either had been designed to service the cattle industry’s desires or could be manipulated easily to its advantage. Armed with protestations of “frontier independence,” however conditional, and driven by the fear, however exaggerated, that government action might seriously weaken its hegemony, the cattle industry at first refused to have anything to do with the New Deal’s relief programs. But not for long.

More than half the public grasslands of the West were overgrazed and eroded by the end of 1933. Further, it was becoming clear that the rapidly spreading drought was going to inflict terrible losses on cattle from the Mississippi River Valley to the Rocky Mountains, and as far west as Arizona. There was, the Department of Agriculture estimated, a surplus of anywhere from 8 to 10 million head of cattle alone, and by December 1933 the industry was ready to adjust its position with regard to government help. “Traditionally independent though he be, whether he likes it or not,” warned F. E. Mollin, secretary of the American National Livestock Association, “the cattleman today is very much in the ‘new deal,’ entirely unable to cope single-handedly.”

What the cattlemen wanted, and what the government ultimately gave them in the Jones-Connally Farm Relief Act of 1934, including an appropriation of $200 million in drought relief money, was a simple purchase program that would reduce the number of existing animals without interfering with any cattleman’s desire to keep his cows popping out more calves.

The program began on a fairly modest scale in the last week of May 1934–with the planned purchase of 50,000 animals per week in 121 counties in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The payment schedule was a complicated, two-part system that gave the seller anywhere from one to fourteen dollars a head as an outright purchase price, in addition to anywhere from three to six dollars a head as a relief “benefit.” The two figures, each dependent on the age and condition of the animal being sold, could not add up to more than twenty dollars. Those cattle too diseased or emaciated to be useful as food were shot at the point of purchase and buried in pits; the rest were shipped off to the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation for slaughter and distribution as relief food.

A maximum of twenty dollars a head was not as much as cattlemen might have liked, but it was a good deal better than nothing, a conclusion many found inescapable as the drought burned its way across the plains with increasing ferocity. By the end of the summer, the Drought Relief Service had received so many demands for help that the government expanded its relief territory all the way to Texas and began to purchase cattle with extravagant fervor, particularly after Congress obliged by appropriating another $500 million for general drought relief. Soon, nearly 600,000 cattle were being shot or shipped every week. Goats and sheep were added to the list, and before long thousands of those animals also became government issue.

Too many animals, some Department of Agriculture officials began to worry, and at the end of August it was announced that the program would cease when the total number of purchased cattle reached 7.3 million, after which relief efforts would concentrate on helping to feed and care for remaining herds. This plan did not sit well with the industry. “It would be doubtful economy,” the American Cattle Producer editorialized, “to do a good job of buying seven million cattle and then quit just when the program could be properly rounded out with a little more time and money.” In November, after the industry had turned the full force of its political artillery on the Roosevelt administration, the government rethought the situation and agreed to buy another 1.5 million cattle before shutting the program down entirely at the end of January 1935, when even the cattle industry had to admit that it was no longer needed. So many cattle had been killed that market prices were on the rise, soon surpassing the twenty-dollar maximum per head provided by the law.

While arguably necessary to keep the cattle industry from being annihilated by the drought, the cattle purchase program–even though it reduced the number of grazing animals significantly for a while–would have done nothing to help the land itself if the livestock industry had been left to return to the unchained habits of the past, as many conservation-minded folk feared it would do. Among those people was Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes, who in October 1934 declared that “an evil that is the twin of the destruction of our forests is the destruction of the public range through over-grazing. Herds of sheep and cattle, totaling more heads than the range can reasonably support, literally stand about hungrily waiting for a venturesome blade of grass to stick its head through the soil.”

By the time the secretary had come up with this cunning image, he had, he hoped, gone a long way toward helping to ensure that such overgrazing could finally be brought under control. The instrument of this hope was the Taylor Grazing Act, legislation largely contrived by Senator Edward S. Taylor of Colorado, a man who had spent most of his public life rejecting the notion that the livestock industry or any other aspect of western life should be subject to any sort of federal interference. But the drought years had changed his thinking, he said. Saving the land was a job “too big and interwoven for even the states to handle with satisfactory co-ordination. On the western slope of Colorado and in nearby states I saw waste, competition, over-use, and abuse of valuable range lands and watersheds eating into the very heart of western economy. . . . Erosion, yes, even human erosion, had taken root. The livestock industry . . . was headed for self-strangulation.”

Taylor introduced the first version of his legislation early in 1933, but since one of its provisions would have given the states veto power over federal regulations, Ickes testified against it, and the bill died in committee. The second version, introduced in 1934, did not include the offensive stipulation, and Ickes supported it vigorously. The bill called for 173 million acres of vacant and otherwise unappropriated public domain lands outside Alaska to be withdrawn from entry by any existing land laws. Eighty million acres of these lands were to be divided up into grazing districts that also would include national forest grazing lands. Those individuals “within or near a district who are landowners engaged in the livestock business, bona fide occupants or settlers, or owners of water or water rights” would be allowed to graze animals on these district lands under a ten-year permit system that stipulated the number of animals permitted on the land (subject to revision in any given year at the discretion of the secretary of the interior). For the first time, stockmen would be required to pay for this privilege–five cents per cow per month and one cent per sheep per month. Half the money would go back to the states for redistribution in the affected counties, while one-fourth would be reserved for range improvements. The program would be managed by a Division of Grazing in the Interior Department, and on the local level by district managers selected from the local population, with the aid and counsel of local advisory boards consisting of seven cattlemen and seven sheepmen appointed by the holders of grazing permits in the region, with a Division of Grazing employee appointed by the Interior Department.

As the bill came up for hearings, many livestock organizations waded in against it. A. A. Jones, head of the Arizona Wool Growers Association, went so far as to testify that “there isn’t any such thing in the Southwest as overgrazing.” Opposition among livestock interests was not unanimous, however, with stockman Farrington Carpenter of northwest Colorado speaking for many others when he said the bill was the industry’s “only chance against being completely wiped out of existence.” Indeed, some of the most significant objections to Taylor’s bill came not from the livestock industry but from Chief Forester Ferdinand A. Silcox and Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace, both of whom complained that the bill gave far too much power to local stockmen and issued a specific warning against one particular amendment offered successfully by Nevada senator Pat McCarran. This stipulated that no grazing permit could be denied if doing so would “impair the value of the livestock unit of the permittee, if such unit is pledged as security for any bona fide loan.”

The amendment had been revised to provide that no “permittee complying with the rules and regulations laid down by the Secretary of the Interior” would be denied any permit. Still, Silcox worried that the stipulation remained loose enough to be open to interpretation. As in the earlier legislation that Ickes had opposed, the chief feared that the clause would give these permits the status of private property “which the Secretary could neither diminish, restrict, nor impair.” In passing along Silcox’s comments that the bill-as presented to the president for his signature–was a bad idea, Wallace added: “An empire of 173 million acres should not be disposed of in language of doubtful meaning. It should be conserved by a law expressed in direct, specific, and unequivocal terms. This is not a measure of that kind.”

Nevertheless, it was the only measure likely to get through a Congress whose public land committees were occupied almost entirely by western congressmen and senators, most of whom were supported by the livestock industry. It also was a measure that Roosevelt wanted, however imperfect it might have been. On June 28, 1934, he signed it. On November 24, he issued an executive order withdrawing the first 80 million acres (an additional withdrawal of 62 million acres would be made in December 1935), while Ickes appointed bill proponent and stockman Farrington Carpenter head of the Division of Grazing. “In more ways than one,” Ickes told an assembly of stockmen in Denver on February 12, 1935, “the Taylor Grazing Law is not merely a regulatory measure to upbuild and maintain the public range and to control its use in the interest of the stockmen of the nation. It is a Magna Charta upon which the prosperity, well-being, and happiness of large sections of this great western country of ours will in the future depend.”

Ickes believed it, and so it might have been in a perfect world. But in the long run, the worries of Silcox and Wallace proved closer to the mark. The Division of Grazing (later renamed the U.S. Grazing Service) did erect some useful guidelines for the future management of the public grazing lands that especially foresightful ranchers were happy to follow, and this redounded to the benefit of some land in some areas. But Silcox was right about the permit system. The grazing permits were regarded as property, and any attempts to revoke or reduce them were viewed as assaults on private property rights. Not that the managers of most grazing districts were inclined to do anything of the sort. They were local people who had to answer to their neighbors for their actions, and even if they disagreed with the advice offered by the industry-weighted boards looking over their shoulders, few were brave enough to contradict it. On most of the grazing lands of the West, short-term profit (or the dream of it) continued to come at the expense of long-range protection, a condition that would prevail even when the Grazing Service was wedded to the General Land Office to create the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1946. Nearly sixty years after passage of the Taylor Grazing Act, a study undertaken by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation could estimate that no less than 100 million acres of BLM grazing land were still in “unsatisfactory” condition.

Nor have the welfare traditions of the cattle industry been seriously tampered with in the decades since the New Deal (as have Aid to Dependent Children and other New Deal programs for the deserving poor, most of which are now left to the tender mercies of the individual states). Today, it costs only $1.35 per AUM (animal unit month–the amount of forage required by a cow-calf pair for a month) to graze cows on federal land; in some areas, this is as little as one-tenth the cost of doing the same on private lands. Grazing private cows on public land–the industry piously insists against all logic–is a right, not a privilege, and any restriction on that freewheeling tradition strikes at the heart of the West. And its politicians still rise up to defend that curious position with the passion of acolytes in some obscure religion, exerting so much muscle that the Department of the Interior fairly trembles when men like Senator Conrad Burns of Montana come to call.

It probably would be too much to say that Bernard DeVoto’s famous outburst in “The West Against Itself” in Harper’s magazine-”Cattlemen and sheepmen, I repeat, want to shovel most of the West into its rivers”-holds true today with the same force it did when he wrote it in 1947, but there is still validation for his conclusion. The fulfillment of “the great dream of the West, mature economic development and local ownership and control,” he wrote,

envisions the establishment of an economy on the natural resources of the West, developed and integrated to produce a steady, sustained, permanent yield. While the West moves to build that kind of an economy, a part of the West is simultaneously moving to destroy the natural resources forever. That paradox is absolutely true to the Western mind and spirit. But the future of the West hinges on whether it can defend itself against itself.

T. H. Watkins, editor of Wilderness magazine from 1982 to 1997, was the Wallace Stegner Distinguished Professor of Western American Studies at Montana State University at the time of his death in 2000. A prolific writer and esteemed American historian, his books include The Redrock Chronicles (2000) and Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold L. Ickes, 1874-1952 (1990

References available in printed version of article. (this is from 2008 but the comments on the post are current)

Inside PBS Blog
Insights into PBS programming and personalities

When you hear about how new technologies allow people to connect, share and unite for a common cause, the topic is usually politics.

But perhaps one of the more powerful examples of this phenomenon is about. . .a horse.

But what a horse it is.

Cloud is a magnificent pale palomino stallion, part of a herd of wild horses living in the remote Pryor Mountains of Montana. Cloud's life has been chronicled since his birth in 1995 by filmmaker Ginger Kathrens.

Two documentaries, Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies and Cloud's Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns, have appeared on the PBS program Nature. The programs are produced by PBS station Thirteen/WNET and Ginger's Taurus Productions.

Ginger's immersive, deeply respectful relationship with the wild horses has been compared to the groundbreaking work primatologist Jane Goodall has done with chimpanzees in Africa. Ginger's work with the horses has opened the world's eyes to these remarkable animals and their fragile ecological and political status. The documentaries have spawned a movement to protect and preserve not only Cloud's herd, but the other wild horses that live in the remote landscapes of the American west.

Online, a crowd of viewers, animal lovers, resource management professionals and activists have gathered in Cloud's name.

Representing one of many personal, emotional responses is this comment from Linda L-C after viewing the second Cloud documentary: "I watched the PBS episode. . .and have NOT been able to get it out of my mind!....What does it matter WHO is watching the horses - when all told, it's a lovely story which I know, for some reason, I'll take with me to my dying days.

Passions also run hot.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is considering "relocating" [some believe destroying or killing] wild horses, fearing that if left in their current environments they will go extinct. This has outraged many viewers.
Wrote Patti Brown in a blog comment on Cloud:

"I watched that movie! I cannot believe BLM would want to even consider destroying Cloud and his herd. This group have horses with names and they mean something to us. I am totally opposed to the destruction of this group of horses. Now, we are always trying to preserve animals from extinction, but why are we allowing part of our heritage to be destroyed? Isn't there some sort of government land these beautiful creatures can roam on..freely? Are humans taking over that space and destroying the horses' space? This is truly sad! We, human beings, are selfish and ignorant; this is unbelievable!"

To be fair, the issues of wild animal management are complex. Still, people are organizing online to help protect and other wild horses. The message board are filled with references to websites where people can sign petitions, learn more or join advocacy groups. One, a non-profit group called The Cloud Foundation, has been established by Ginger Kathrens herself.

As for Cloud, the imperiled star himself? Kathrens maintains a blog with updates about both the horse and the newest production. Which is scheduled for broadcast on Nature in 2009.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

NATURE | Cloud's Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns

Watch on Youtube

We are all one -

Watch on Youtube

From Native American Church of Ghost Dancers

Dogs Maul Miniature Horses

From KPHO Channel 5 Phoenix

Owner Discovered 'Massacre' On Friday
Jeff Butera

POSTED: 9:27 pm MST August 29, 2009

PHOENIX -- Two miniature horses were killed and a third horse was injured Friday morning during an attack at a North Phoenix ranch located just off Carefree Highway.

Arizona Game and Fish believe dogs attacked the horses, killing “Braveheart” and “Velcro,” a pair of miniature horses that were less than a half-year old.

A four-year-old horse named “Little Bit” survived the attack but has teeth marks all over its body.

JoAnne Souza owns the ranch along with her husband. She also owns two of the three horses involved in the attack. She came out to the pen to feed the horses Friday morning and saw what happened.

“It looked like a massacre over here,” Souza remembers. “I went screaming back (in the house) to my husband in hysterics and told him the horses had been hurt.”

Arizona Game and Fish officials determined dogs were likely the attackers after looking at footprints and seeing where the horses were attacked on their body.

Souza is not sure whether the dogs were strays or whether they may belong to somebody who lets them roam free.

She has added a camera to the pen. Now she can watch and listen to what is happening while she is inside the house, and can run out if she thinks another attack is taking place.

Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

BLM Lands in Pryor Mountains Closed to Public from Aug. 31 through Sept. 10


Release Date: 08/27/09
Contacts: Greg Albright 406-896-5260

BLM Lands in Pryor Mountains Closed to Public from Aug. 31 through Sept. 10

BLM lands in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range will be closed to public access from August 31 through September 10 to help ensure the safety of the public, contractors, and government employees during wild horse gather operations. The closure will also help protect the welfare of wild and domestic horses.
Once gather operations are concluded in specific areas, those portions of the range will be reopened. The temporary closure may be lifted prior to September 10 if gather operations are completed before that date. Areas temporarily closed to public access will be posted at main entry points with signs and/or barricades. With the exception of the adoption activities, the Britton Springs site north of Lovell, Wyo., and the adjacent area will remain temporarily closed through October 1. However, a viewing area for members of the public or media will be available near Britton Springs.

Helicopters will be used during the gather operation. Approximately 190 wild horses will be gathered from the wild horse range and lands outside the range in the Custer National Forest. Before horses are released, the sex ratio of the herd will be evened and some mares will be treated with a fertility control vaccine.
Most of the horses, about 120 head, will be released back to the range. The remainder will be available for adoption at Britton Springs on September 26. Once gathering operations have been completed, the BLM will announce times the public may view the horses at the Britton Springs site prior to their release or adoption.

In a herd management area plan completed in 2009, the BLM determined that the appropriate management level on the range is 90-120 wild horses (excluding the current year’s foal crop). This is the population (or appropriate management level) that would achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on the range.

The wild horse range is located in the southeastern portion of Carbon County, Montana, and the northern portion of Big Horn County, Wyoming.
For more information, contact Jim Sparks, Billings Field Manager, at 406-896-5013.

The BLM manages more land - 256 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.


Billings Field Office 5001 Southgate Drive Billings, MT 59101

Thursday, August 27, 2009

BLM Rushes Forward with Roundup of World Famous Wild Horse Herd Before Senate Can Act

From the Cloud Foundation

LOVELL, WY- August 28, 2009: In response to the destructive removal planned for America’s most famous wild horse herd, the Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue have filed a lawsuit and a request for an injunction in Federal Court in Washington, DC. The Pryor Herd gained worldwide fame largely due to the popular PBS NATURE Documentaries about the Pryor Stallion, Cloud. The appellants’ aim is to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from rounding up all the horses in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and removing 70. This roundup, unprecedented in size and scope, is slated to begin September 1, 2009 according to the recently released BLM Decision Record. This would be the largest removal in the 32-year history of this specially designated wild horse range. The helicopter drive-trapping operation would be shrouded in a cloak of secrecy as BLM proposes to close the entire public lands area to humane observers and the general public except “on a case by case basis”.

Advocates in this case argue that the removal of 70 horses will leave this unique and historical herd genetically non-viable and unable to sustain themselves into the future. According to noted equine geneticist, Gus Cothran, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University, “… a census population of 150-200 is required to achieve the minimum effective population size…. The [Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd] has been one of the most important and visible herds within the BLM Wild Horse Program and it is important that it stays viable.”

BLM is circumventing Congress’ wishes that wild horses be protected in the American West. The House just passed the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) act and the Senate will review this bill (now S.1579) when they return from recess in September. “Is BLM just trying to do as much irrevocable damage to America's wild horses as fast as they can before the Senate can act?” asks Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation.

“Right now there are twelve entire herds being eliminated from 1.4 million acres in Eastern Nevada because these lands are suddenly not appropriate for wild horses,” Kathrens continues. “However, no action has been made to reduce cattle grazing in these areas.” There are no grazing permits in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and reasons for holding an unprecedented removal this year are not clear. The range and adjacent lands are in excellent condition following three years of drought-breaking precipitation.

Cloud and the wild horses of Montana’s Pryor Mountains are world famous but fame and an outcry from the American public does not seem to impact BLM plans. There are currently only 190 wild horses (one year and older) living in the spectacular Pryor Mountains. In order to remove 70 the BLM must take older horses who could be sold directly to killer buyers or destroyed on the spot according to their codes of federal regulation.

The Pryor Mountain wild horses are descendants of the Lewis and Clark horses who were stolen by the Crow Indians in the early 1800's. George Reed, Secretary of Cultural Education for the Crow Tribe Executive Branch, wrote in 2006: “We advocate preserving our heritage, culture and language, and these Pryor wild horses are part of our culture.” Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Tribal Leaders will gather in response to the BLM’s destructive actions on Saturday, August 29th. This ride “Honoring Freedom: The Ride to Save America’s Wild Horses” will start in the lowlands and culminate in ceremonies at the Dryhead Overlook atop the mountain.

BLM Director Bob Abbey has had his office reroute calls to the BLM hotline due to the number of complaints he’s received on this issue. “Nothing has changed for the wild horses with this new administration” Kathrens says, “except it has gotten worse”.

For More Information contact:

The Cloud Foundation


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Equine Destiny

Click HERE and watch the trailer for a new exciting film.

Equine Destiny is a documentary exposing the mounting issues facing this country's equines. Throughout history, these animals have faced problems of abandonment and neglect. Today, these problems have reached a level that is unacceptable by our society.

In 2007, already growing factors contributing to the mistreatment and wrongful deaths of America's horses were hit by a new force; the downturn in our economy. Thousands of horse owners around the country have been forced to part with their beloved companions without knowing their animals will be okay; sending them into the cold reality of starvation, disease, and slaughter for human consumption. There are no simple answers to these problems, but an immediate need for greater understanding to create positive and tangible solutions.
The destiny of America's equines lies in our hands.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Government Accused of Land Grab in Fight Over Rangeland in the West

U.S. NEWS and World Report


August 24, 2009 02:09 PM ET | Bonnie Erbe

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

And you thought the Wild West lost its punch at the turn of the 19th century. Well, think again. There are still wars going on over land and water, much as they did in the late 1800s. Only this time, it's not cowboy vs. cowboy, it's people vs. big government.

Supporters of wild horses on federal lands in the West say the Bureau of Land Management is doing its best to round up the herds and send them to the slaughterhouses. These wars used to rage over the range and competition with ranchers. But now, supporters say, there's another enemy: development.

The ranchers and the BLM like to blame "rangeland degradation" (over-grazing) on the wild horses, only they never mention that the privately owned cows that graze these same lands by govt permit outnumber the wild horses 200 to 1!! Nor do they mention the fact that these lands are permitted for other uses that also contribute to rangeland degradation like ATV / ORV use or big game that outnumber the wild horses 3 to 1. However, as it turns out more recently, it is not really about "rangeland degradation" anymore,....its about "land-swapping," special interest, development and "community building." Even the BLM is starting to admit that now, could they not? It's getting so obvious these days.

This fight goes beyond animal lovers. It should also be extended to Americans who love open space, the great outdoors, and preservation of this nation's western history. Overdevelopment used to be limited to the two coasts. Now all the land in between is being bought up and paved over. It should be sacrilegious to consider doing so to federally owned lands. The Wild Horse Warriors blog referenced above has suggestions for how you can express your thoughts to the BLM.

Press release CHDC in Canada issued jointly with EWA

August 25, 2009

Westbank, B.C.


Contacts: Sinikka Crosland

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

John Holland
Equine Welfare Alliance

Horse Groups Call on CFIA for Answers on EU Equine Food Safety Requirements

CHICAGO, (EWA), WESTBANK, B.C. (CHDC) - Today, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) and Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) are asking the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to respond regarding a European Commission requirements letter dated 17 April, 2009 from Paola Testori Coggi, deputy director-general of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection.

The letter notified affected "third" countries of requirements for equines (horses, donkeys and cross-breds) intended for food production, including the identification of horses intended for food production, a system of identity verification, a prohibition on the use of anabolic steroids and other prohibited drugs, and a minimum 6-month withdrawal period for veterinary medicinal products. The letter stipulates immediate steps required to implement a food safety program for countries supplying horse meat to the European Union.

To date, the CHDC and the EWA have not received a response to their inquiry letter previously sent to Dr. Claude Boissonneault of the CFIA's Red Meat Species Program. Also, the CFIA has yet to make public the news of this pivotal mandate that affects the entire multi-billion dollar horse industry, including horse racing, performance show horses, breeders, rodeo, and all horse owners.

In addition, countries affected must have submitted an Action Plan by this date, yet there has been no indication this has been done. "It is incredible that the CFIA has yet to inform Canadians and Americans alike, about this far-reaching program that will impact the entire horse industry", says Sinikka Crosland of the CHDC. "There are thousands of horses going to slaughter every week in Canada, from both Canada and the U.S. There is presently no tracking or passport system for horses, and many are routinely given a wide range of performance enhancing drugs throughout their lives", added John Holland of EWA. "We see a huge potential for horse welfare concerns, as horses will be held for more than 6 months at transfer stations, without basic care provided and they will not be allowed to administer worming or pain medications to these horses", explained Ms. Crosland.

Due to the immediate obligations affecting the entire horse community, the CHDC, the EWA and their affiliates request that the CFIA respond without delay, and communicate to all horse groups and people affected. Citizens are urged to write to the CFIA, asking for details about this critically important program.

The CHDC is a collective of people and groups working to protect equines from slaughter for human consumption, as well as the export of live horses to other countries for the same purpose.

The EWA is an umbrella organization representing equine welfare organizations, equine rescues and individuals involved in a grass roots effort dedicated to ending the slaughter of American horses.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The clock is ticking for the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains

From Straight from the Horse's Heart

by R.T. Fitch

Since the fateful day of September 11th, 2001 early autumn has had the propensity to give Americans the jitters and this year will be no different. There is the feeling of impending doom surrounding us, an unsettling sensation of upcoming loss and the smell of future deaths lay heavy in the air; something, again, is about to rip our American hearts out in the early days of September. But this time, we can do something about it.

On September 1st, 2009 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to launch a full scale aerial attack on one of our most famous and iconic treasures of the American west, the small wild horse herd tucked away in the Pryor Mountains of Montana known as “Cloud’s Herd”.
$37 Million To Pen Up Excess Wild Horses

The BLM has not found it necessary to harass and decimate this herd, as they have done so often elsewhere, in over 15 years. Why now? Particularly considering the fact that they plan on taking so many horses that the herd will no longer be genetically viable and will surely die out.

The method of capture that the BLM uses is an aerial assault of helicopters that terrorize the horses and drives them into corrals at full speed. This panicked stampede, down the steep mountain sides, may be for tens and tens of miles and always results in injury or death for the foals while many more horses are brutalized or killed running into the chute. There is no excuse for any of this.

We have embedded, below, a video of this herd shot recently by an amateur cinematographer who lives near the Pryor Mountains in Montana. Sandy Church is the founder of the Rimrock Humane Society in Roundup, MT and her video montage shows just how special and serene the Pryor Mountains and their inhabitants are.

“I look at this video with tears in my eyes knowing what’s coming” Sandy says.

“Those little foals; so trusting of us, know that we will not harm them and in just a few weeks all of that will be broken, gone forever as they probably will not even be able to survive.”
Watch on Youtube.

“I love the Pryor Mountains”, she continued, “I always thought that this is what heaven must be like with all the splendor and beauty, but now, it will be nothing more than a killing field and the soul of this magical place will be shattered forever, it just so very, very sad.”

Call Secretary Salazar of the Department of Interior at 202-208-7351 and ask him to stop this senseless round-up. Email him at and ask the same. The only way that we can stop this is if we ALL stand up and say that we have had enough and we simply will not stand for this, anymore. Make a difference, spread the word by telling your family, friends and business associates, we have to save what is rightfully ours, the symbol of our past and the vision of our future. Our wild horses live on public land and belong to the American public. We have the legal right to say “No” to these assaults. It’s time for the bureaucrats to follow the will of the American people.

Please make the call.

For additional information go to:

Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife

United States in Error About Wild Western Horses

Bureau of Land Management on Rampage to Destroy Famous Wild Horse Herd

URGENT: BLM still plans to destroy Cloud’s Herd

BLM found guilty of violating Federal Law in Wild Horse case

US House passes legislation to protect burros and wild horses

The Cloud Foundation

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Need for Steed

From Syracuse New Times

The Need for Steed PDF Print E-mail

Velma Johnston, who later became known as “Wild Horse Annie,” began a campaign in the 1950s to protect wild horses in the West. For decades, ranchers had been cruelly rounding up wild horses to sell commercially. Wild Horse Annie brought attention to this issue and helped to bring about the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This bill has brought about the protection and management of wild horses and burros in the western United States.

A horse with no name: The wild horse and burro adoption often includes animals like these, photographed in 2008 in Montana.

There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses and burros in more than 10 Western states. Because these animals do not have any natural predators, they are reproducing like rabbits. The land cannot sustain such a large number of grazing animals, not to mention the additional problems brought about by droughts, forest fires and human encroachment.

As a result, the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed the Adopt-A-Wild Horse & Burro Program in 1973. Each year, thousands of horses and burros are taken from the rangelands and are adopted by individuals who are willing to take care of them. In this way, the bureau is able to prevent the wild horses from overpopulating the range. This year’s adoption takes place Saturday, Aug. 22, at Cornell University in Ithaca.

“The point of the Adopt-a-Mustang program is that we have too many horses out on the public rangeland,” said Emily Watson, public affairs assistant for the BLM. “If there are too many horses, they end up starving or dying of thirst.”

Last year, the BLM dedicated approximately $27 million to the management of these wild horses and burros. Unfortunately, the recession and rising fuel and feed costs have slowed the rate at which the horses and burros are being adopted. “At one time, we were adopting 3,000 to 4,000 horses a year,” noted William Davenport of BLM Public Affairs. “With the economy down and the price of hay and feed, folks literally can't afford to adopt.”

Even though the financial burden of housing and maintaining a wild horse may be intimidating, the rewards of owning such an animal are many. “These animals are great and they are certainly an attribute to the herd, if you have more than one horse,” said Davenport.

Horses that have been adopted through this program have been trained to successfully compete in dressage and show jumping and they make excellent endurance and trail animals. “The domestic horses are bred for long legs,” continued Davenport. “Since these horses are wild, they are built to survive. They are thick-boned and thick-muscled, which makes them excellent endurance horses.”

No prior ownership of horses or burros is required to adopt; however, it is important to keep in mind the qualities that a wild animal possesses. “Adopters must be willing to devote the time to gentling the animal,” Davenport cautioned. “You have to remember that horses in the wild are prey animals, and they will see humans as a predator. When you put them in a corral, you take away their flight opportunity. You must develop a bond of trust with the animal. After that, they'll do whatever you want.”

Stacy Gutheinz, who lives in Durhamville, near Oneida, adopted Cowboy last December. “He's different from any domestic horse you could ever have,” she said. “But once they bond with you, it's like an inseparable bond. They'll do anything for you. It's completely worth it.”

Potential adopters must prove they are capable of taking care of the steeds. Individuals must care for an animal for one year before they receive a certificate of ownership from the federal government. Adopters must have an adequate corral (at least 20-by-20 feet, and fenced 6 feet high), shelter and a step-up trailer to transport the animal.

“The most important thing is to have a lot of time. That's the key,” said Terry Lewis, chief of the Office of External Affairs for the Bureau of Land Management. “Don't rush it and don't get discouraged. There is a network of people who have adopted in the past who are willing to give advice to people who are thinking about adopting.”

Locally, a wild horse and burro adoption will take place at the Oxley Equestrian Center at Cornell University, 220 Pine Tree Road, Ithaca. The horses will arrive in the morning on Friday, Aug. 21, and will be available for preview from 2 to 7 p.m. Adoptions will take place on Saturday, Aug. 22, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The maximum price of adopting a horse is $125. “Buddy” horses may be adopted for $25. There will be approximately 60 horses at this adoption. Mares, geldings, colts and possibly some yearlings will be available. Adoption is first-come, first-served. Call (866) 4MUSTANGS or visit for more information. Call Emily Watson at (703) 440-1714 to be put in contact with a previous adopter.

Everyone is welcome to attend, even if it is just to see the horses. “Folks should just come out and bring their children, even if they aren't going to adopt,” said Davenport. “People need to understand that these horses are an American icon. This is how the country was founded, on the back of the horse. It is important that future generations understand that.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

OUR Sheldon Horses… How did this happen?

OUR Sheldon Horses… How did this happen?
Laura Leigh

Contribute to the Sheldon Horse Emergency Fund

Recently I became interested in the issues faced by Wild Horses in our country. I did some digging and what I discovered disturbed me so much that I took a trip to Nevada to see “with my own eyes.” The legislative nightmare surrounding these horses leaves you with a very real sense of how voiceless they have become. And how difficult it is, due to special interests, to get a logical response from those in authority.

As a horse-rescue person I am familiar with the adage “Maybe you can’t change the whole world, but you can change one whole world.” So I started to look at the possibility of adopting a wild horse.

As with all “breeds” there exist differences in bloodlines. This statement rings true for wild horses as well. Some have more “Spanish blood,” some a greater human manipulation in their histories. Each herd is then shaped by the natural environment and challenges of each. I fell in love with the Sheldon.

The horses at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge exist in primarily three horse herd groups. Traits general of the horses in the herds of Sheldon are 15+ hand size, bays, sorrels, and white facial and leg markings. It is also widely claimed, by those that have known these horses in their own lives, that they have “good minds.” The groups appear to rarely mix so each group also has specific characteristics.

The horses called the Catnip/Round Mountain herd seem to be a bit flashy. Some sorrels with flaxen manes and tails, overo pinto sorrels, palominos, some buckskins. Fish Creek herd horses are larger bays and dark brown horses, some tobiano pintos. Those of the Badger herd appear Thoroughbred/quarter horse, sorrels, chestnuts, and bays.

So I began to see if I could find a horse from the Fish Creek herd that needed a home. Not an easy task I discovered. Sheldon is not part of the BLM, the agency most of us think of when we think “wild horse.” The horses that exist within the boundaries of the refuge do not have the consideration, however mismanaged, that the BLM offers. The wild horses at Sheldon are considered nothing more than an invasive species!

Sheldon wild horses are the product of an evolutionary genetic pool that consists of original wild horses, ranch horses, and cavalry remounts. In the early part of the 20th century ranchers turned their saddle horses loose on the range.

During World War I, ranchers such as Harry Wilson went into business with the federal government raising horses for the Army. Wilson provided Standardbred mares acquired from the Miller and Lux ranches and the government furnished Thoroughbred studs.

Over 1,700 head of Wilson horses ran from High Rock Canyon north to the Oregon border, including all of the present day Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge." (From "MUSTANG COUNTRY”)

Sheldon Wildlife Refuge was created in 1931, to provide habitat for wildlife and is under the jurisdiction of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. At that time horses were believed to be a feral invasive species, and management law plans are still based on that assumption.

From the 40’s- the 60’s our federal government leased land to cattle companies operating on and around Sheldon.

In 1971 something truly remarkable happened. In response to public pressure, both houses of Congress unanimously passed a bill. Congress' intent clearly was to protect and preserve America's free-roaming horse herds and proscribe methods by which the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture were to manage those herds.

§ 1331. Congressional findings and declaration of policy

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming 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. 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.

During the 70's and 80's, ranchers in the vicinity of Sheldon gathered horses, keeping the ones they wanted for saddle horses, and turning the remainder loose.

How it came about that the legal protections afforded most of America's free-roaming horses failed to include the herds at Sheldon is still unclear to me. Apparently Congress assumed that free-roaming horses and burros were found on BLM and US Forest Service lands, and somehow did not specifically include US Fish and Wildlife Service lands and the National Parks Service lands in the 1971 Act. I have tried to find any legal documents that actually describe the issues of standing and legal responsibilities over these horses and no clear explanations or documents have come to light.

Like all good “soccer moms” I turned to the World Wide Web. This is what I found.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages Sheldon NWR. The USFWS is different from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The mission of the NWR system is to administer lands and waters for the conservation and restoration of fish, wildlife, plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of the American people.

So how that translates into a reality that provides the horses at Sheldon no protection under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 that supposedly expressed the overwhelming wishes of the American people is unclear to me.

However the defined mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service appears not to include practical and humane management of free-roaming horses and burros, and therefore the Service can argue that the intent of Congress doesn't apply to them.

As a result these horses cannot be placed through the BLM's Adopt-a-Horse program. A situation has been created where an agency without the appropriate infrastructure to manage, gather and place horses and burros through qualified adoptions, or even hold them until they can be suitably placed is tasked with this responsibility without adequate support or management criteria. Thus another bureaucracy has been created where our tax dollars are "well spent."

So I went back to the web to find a place to adopt a Sheldon horse. A quick search provided the following list:

Forever Free Mustangs
Sisters, OR
(541) 923-6124 (this phone number was out of service when we tried to call them in mid-June, 2006)

Carr’s Wild Horse and Burro Center
4844 Couts-Carr Rd
Cross Plains, Tennessee 37049
(615) 654-2180
(615) 654-4655 fax

Gary Graham
W. Highway 6
Las Lunas, New Mexico 87031
(505) 565-8457
(505) 859-0690 cell

Brian Day
Refuge Manager
Sheldon NWR

Again all of this info is easily found on the internet. What I found turned my stomach.

First I discovered the process Sheldon uses to find suitable homes for horses and burros that the agency rounds up.

It all starts by making it impossible for rescues and individuals to directly adopt small numbers of the Sheldon horses directly from Sheldon. Sheldon allows only groups of horses to go to three supposedly screened agencies. The US Fish and Wildlife Service pay these "agents" $300 per horse to take them by the truckload! Is your head spinning yet?

To me it appears that these agreements are basically Federal contracts for services totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also I can’t find any process for selecting agents or contractors that involves any public bidding process. But that becomes a simple “sidenote” to what I found next.

I called Brian Day four times in the last week asking how to adopt a horse. My calls go direct to voicemail and I have yet to receive a call back. It’s summer time; maybe he’s on vacation?

Carr’s response seemed to be for real. I was given a date and a dialogue was actually begun about an adoption.

I located some information posted regarding Forever Free.

In conversations with potential adopters, Flora stated that FFM had placed 680 Sheldon horses last year, but when asked by Mr. Holland to confirm the number of horses and the timing, she became vague. When asked if FFM received $300 per horse, she responded "not for all of them". When asked for specifics, she became increasingly defensive. She stated that they had been careful to get them good homes and to make sure they did not go to slaughter. In conversations with others, Flora indicated they placed yet another "load" in January of this year and expected the next load in June. The timing of the gathers would indicate that FFM was able to place large numbers of horses within months or even weeks of their arrival. More tellingly, Forever Free Mustangs has admitted that approximately 40 of the horses they originally adopted were found in a slaughter pen and had to be "bought back.”*

How can Forever Free place so many horses, so fast? In the rest of the world it just doesn’t work that way.

Then I looked into Gary Graham.

Apparently encouraged by the incredible efficiency of the Forever Free Mustangs adoption process, Brian Day, Sheldon Fish and Wild Life Service Refuge Manager, sent a letter to potential adopters in May announcing the new policy of funneling all horses through agents. The letter states "I have made it abundantly clear to all of them that the worst thing that could happen to this program is to have horses end up in a slaughter facility." In the letter he announced that they had found a third agent and that a thorough screening had shown this man to be of the highest integrity. The new agent's name was Gary Graham and his address was later given as 440 W. Highway 6, Los Lunas, New Mexico. A background check on Graham returned only the address and telephone number given by USF&W, but the address was a different matter.

The Graham address is virtually a Grand Central Station of horse slaughter. It is well known to the purchasing agents of the BelTex slaughter house in Texas. A summary check of their records showed that one Bill Owen used the same address when he delivered dozens of loads of horses to slaughter even as the Steffans were having such remarkable success finding "local adopters".

But the slaughter connection to Gary Graham's address does not end there. A physical check of the location revealed that it is the home of the Southwest Stock Yard run by one Dennis Chavez. Dennis Chavez was also busy delivering horses to BelTex during the period of FFM's adoption success, but using the address 24 Dallies Road, an address that is virtually the same property as that of Gary Graham and Bill Owen! And as if this were not enough, it is the address used by one Leon Spain when he delivered slaughter horses to the Dallas Crown slaughter plant in Kaufman, Texas.*

*This information comes directly from documents posted in 2006 by a special research group: Susan Pohlman, Valerie James-Patton and John Holland signed many of these documents.

This information was gathered in 2006! This is not a “new” situation. These horses have virtually no protections. They leave the Refuge unbranded, unidentifiable. How many have crossed our borders and into a slaughter plant by an industry that appears to be completely subsidized by tax dollars, and supported by an agency (Sheldon NWR) that does not have the ability to cope with wild horses with a standard that at least is attempted by the BLM!

The 2006 Gather

In June of 2006 the Sheldon NWR ordered a gather of wild horses. They had their specially screened contractors ready to take horses and the contractors would receive $300.00 a head for each horse they removed from the gather. The public was assured that gathers are safe and not done during foaling season. Yet extreme measures were taken to attempt to hide all activity from the public. Police were hired, gates were installed and a two-mile distance was then established for the public. Cattoor the company that flies the helicopters took to the air. I will add more info about the Cattoor contract later.

The FWS announced that the gather was done safely. It made a claim that all the foals had arrived with their mothers. FWS reported one injury involving a lip.

Reports began to come in of the various deceptions. Those listening to radio transmissions during the gather heard talk of a horse that broke a leg and was shot. A ground search began that turned up dead and injured foals. Mares in the gather pens aborted.

Sheldon NWR was notified of the slaughterhouse connection with Gary Graham. Out of the horses gathered Graham was still given 62, along with his $300.00 of taxpayer money per horse. Are you outraged yet?

If you would like to see pictures and statements from eyewitnesses go to this website.

Warning the pictures are not suitable for younger people.

July 2009, Challis, ID

A gather has taken place just recently in Idaho. A repeat process plays out of more terror, death and needless cruelty. Of particular interest is the absolute harassment of a single horse. The pilot flies so close that the horse can actually kick at the helicopter. This is your tax money at work.

Pictures at Challis, July 2009:

Gather planned at Sheldon, soon

As I made my inquiries to find my horse I was told horses would be available soon. Further inquiry has led me to the belief that a gather will take place within the next couple of weeks.

So I attempted to try to find ANY reason why this type of operation should be approved and funded buy my government. I found the EA (Environmental Assessment), I tried to compare to data from past gathers. The April 08 Final EA for Sheldon NWR is the document that will be used to base the “interim” gather policy until a final plan is drawn. Within the pages of the document I found inconsistencies in language. I found data only collected in house used within the actual document. Only within the public comments section are any real questions raised. Questions that are simply negated by a reiteration of the data in the document, no debate. However the most outlandish of the sources for data used to support the current protocol for gathers comes from Cattoor.

The data that appears within the Sheldon EA to support helicopter use as “safe,” during a gather, is produced from Sue Cattoor. Sue Cattoor owns Cattoor livestock. Cattoor livestock holds a “no bid” contract with the BLM to do the gathers. A “no bid” contract is one that is awarded without accepting other bids from other contractors. This contract over its term has netted Cattoor over 18 million taxpayer dollars. In any other process of law her statements would be viewed as biased due to self-interest and not considered as an objective recommendation as her statements would go directly to the survival of her contract! Even if her statements held validity it would not be appropriate that they be used as the sole source for any decision, in any process, that results in her receiving more of your taxpayer dollars.

The data used to justify the gathers themselves are no less suspect. I can find conflicting environmental data easily on the net, but none within the EA. I can find no truly impartial source within Sheldon's document.

From looking at this process there is in truth no viable, impartial, environmental reason for these gathers to take place at all. The data appears to be constructed primarily to justify and perpetuate a business venture: one that began without the planning or resources to ever attain any real functional and sustainable ecological balance. It correlates with no protocol adopted on a national level, provides no infrastructure within the Sheldon NWR to handle the issue, and offers no protection for the horses. What it does do is make me ask more questions.

From my point of view this is a clear cut example of the need for current legislation sitting now in the Senate to finally create a national standard that was intended in 1971.
S. 1579 actually is that doorway to begin the process of fixing the problems in a very tangible way, for all of OUR wild horses.

I am asking more questions. I am finding more answers. I will share them with you soon.

The answers aren't going to be found at Sheldon.

Laura Leigh
A concerned horse owner and artist

Current Action status:
There is a movement happening now to raise these questions and others on a legal level to begin to protect the horses at Sheldon and our national herd. The umbrella issues are beginning to take shape with actions surrounding S.1579. But as national attention and resources are drawn into the larger issues, the horses continue to be exploited. The gather at Challis July 09, the one planned for the well-known “Cloud’s herd” in the Pryor Mountains (BLM), and the almost voiceless band at Sheldon NWR.
There may be a gather at Sheldon NWR within the next two weeks.

There is a chance that a legal effort made now can stall or stop the prospective gather. A strategy is currently in play.

Lacy Dalton from Let ‘em Run has stepped forward to be the focal point for a group effort supported by AOWHA, WIN, and many other concerned citizens.

Donations are needed in the event legal action is required to prevent another Sheldon Horse roundup.

Contribute to the Sheldon Horse Emergency Fund

The Let 'Em Run Foundation will act as the “bank” for the Sheldon legal effort. They want to make it clear to all the donors:

NOTE: Your contribution may or may not be needed. If you are so kind as to donate to this effort, you will receive an email advising you that your credit card donation was processed or canceled, depending on if we are or are not required to obtain legal assistance.Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sign Petition to Save Cloud's Herd

Sign Petition to Save Cloud's Herd
We need 5,000 signatures - please share this petition with friends!
The round up of Cloud's herd is scheduled for September 1st and 70 horses plus foals could lose their freedom and their families. Many of those removed would be horses in Cloud's age group- even his 18 year old mother could be targeted for removal! This unnecessary removal must be stopped. Please sign this petition which will be sent to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey. Please click here to sign the petition- it only takes a moment!
Cloud's mother and her 2007 colt- both in danger of being removed
Cloud's mother and her 2007 colt- both are in danger of being removed
photo: Living Images by Carol Walker

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Our mailing address is:
The Cloud Foundation 107 South 7th St Colorado Springs, CO 80905

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Copyright (C) 2008 The Cloud Foundation All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PRESS RELEASE Bureau of Land Management on Rampage to Destroy Famous Wild Horse Herd

From: The Cloud Foundation

For Immediate Release August 10, 2009
Cloud and the wild horses of Montana’s Pryor Mountains are world famous but fame it appears is not going to protect the herd from a drastic government round up planned to begin September 1st in their spectacular wilderness home.

There are currently only 190 wild horses (one year and older) living in the Pryor Mountains. The BLM plans to remove 70 of them, plus foals. According to the foremost equine geneticist, Dr. Gus Cothran, 150-200 adult horses are needed in the herd to ensure their genetic diversity, which is vital to their long term survival.

These 70 horses would be placed in jeopardy. Any horses over 10 years of age can be bought directly by killer buyers and transported over the Northern border to Canadian slaughterhouses or south into Mexico. Younger horses not adopted would be put into government holding with 33,000 others that the BLM has removed from the wild and has proposed killing because they can no longer afford to feed them.

BLM cites poor range condition as the reason to remove the horses but abundant snow and rain for the past two and a half years has produced wonderful range conditions according to all who have visited Cloud and his herd. The Agency is not listening to anyone. They want this herd gutted. Nearly all the mares returned to the range would be given an experimental two-year infertility drug, PZP-22.

This helicopter round up is just one among many that the BLM is trying to complete, before the Obama Administration can catch up with what is going on.

The Pryor Mountain wild horses are descendents of the Lewis and Clark horses who were stolen by the Crow Indians in the early 1800's. They can be traced further back to the horses brought over with the Spanish Conquistadors in 1500 making them the most Spanish of all wild horse herds in North America.

Please contact The Cloud Foundation for more information.,, 719-633-3842

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Senate Companion Introduced for ROAM Act - S 1579

Senator Robert Byrd is the sponsor.

Here is the info from Thomas.

Title: A bill to amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to improve the management and long-term health of wild free-roaming horses and burros, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Byrd, Robert C. [WV] (introduced 8/5/2009) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Embargo on Breeding? Tough Talk in Ireland on Tackling Equine ...

From: The Jurga Report: Horse Health Headlines

August 10 aricle BLOG AAHS
Billy Twomey and Je T'Aime Flamenco in the Aga Khan Cup yesterday in Dublin (Horse Sport Ireland photo)

What's wrong with this picture? One of the world's great horse events is going on right now. In Ireland, the Royal Dublin Horse Show is hosting not only the greatest show jumpers in the world, but dozens of classes for more than a thousand local horses, riders and hunts, and $1 Million in prize money.

Flowers bloom, immaculately-turned out children sit on perfect ponies. It is the great showcase of Irish horse civilization. Cleaned up, brushed off, and well, yes, he is for sale...

How big is this show? The class results are published in the newspapers just as we would read the football scores.

But this year, there's a cloud over the sun that shines on Dublin. I've just read the address by Jimmy Cahill, director of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He has warned of an unprecedented crisis in abandoned and underfed horses in Ireland, with a much worse toll to be taken as winter approaches.

Reading his words echoes all we here in America are dealing with: overcrowded rescue farms, underfunded charities, poor hay crops, and an overabundance of young horses that don't seem to be finding their way to training and good homes.

“The Dublin SPCA has rescued over 100 horses so far this year in Dublin alone,” Mr Cahill said. ”Thirty-one have had to be euthanized as they were beyond saving and the situation is set to deteriorate in the coming months."

Cahill blames the "Celtic Tiger" boom years of prosperity in Ireland, when everyone could afford a horse, or thought they could. And everyone with a mare bred her.

But while in America we debate about horse slaughter as an answer (what was the question again?), in Ireland Cahill simply and eloquently has called on equine welfare and sport agencies to support him in an outright embargo on horse breeding.

That's right. Just turn off the tap. Stop adding horses to the bloated population. Stabilize what's already on the ground.

“It is imperative that no more horses are bred in this country until all of those currently in existence have been rescued and rehomed," he said.

“Until we as a nation can take responsibility for the animals in suffering around the country, we should not be allowing for further unlicensed breeding,” Cahill concluded. He also mentioned Ireland's excellent reputation in the world for its standard of equine care and welfare, and the need to preserve the high regard in which Irish horses and horsemanship are held.

posted by Fran Jurga @ Saturday, August 08, 2009