Thursday, June 30, 2011

Street Talk: The Psychologist County Commissioner

Street Talk: The Psychologist County Commissioner: "After comments made about wild horses to the LA Times, Commissioner Tom Collins must be a psychologist. Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp takes a look."

Tea Party Darling Noem: Hats and Rabbits: Noem’s claims unsurprising but unsubstantiated

Tuesday's Horse

Special to Tuesday’s Horse
Written by CAROLYN M. BETTS, PhD Economics
Carolyn M Betts PhD
Carolyn M Betts PhD
The press release circulated by Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD) “GAO Confirms Problems With Horse Processing Restrictions” makes two claims based on the GAO report. The elimination of domestic slaughter plants has (a) reduced domestic horse auction prices and (b) increased rates of domestic equine abandonment and neglect. Her claims are unsurprising, since the GAO report itself argues that both are true; yet neither can be substantiated based on the GAO’s own data and analysis.
The thrust of the GAO’s “theory” relating the cessation of domestic slaughter to horse prices, neglect and abandonment is as follows.
The cessation of US horse slaughter has resulted in higher costs of live horse transportation to slaughter plants, now located further away in Canada and Mexico. This has reduced profit margins of slaughter buyers in the US, and caused them to demand fewer horses for slaughter at auction at any price – it has shifted down the slaughter demand for auction horses.
This in turn has reduced average auction prices for slaughter horses and auction house commissions, which are partly proportionate to prices. The contraction in prices and commissions has caused closures of “low end” horse auctions nationwide since 2007. And these price effects and closures have reduced the rewards and opportunities available for owners wishing to discard their horses, causing them to neglect and abandon their animals instead.
To test this theory, at the very least one would need to (a) isolate the demand driven impact of the plant closures for auction prices of horses bound for slaughter, (b) isolate the effect of reduced demand and prices for sale volumes and auction closures, and (c) establish, quantitatively, a connection between reduced slaughter sale rewards and opportunities for owners, and increased abandonment and neglect.
Sadly, the GAO’s analysis accomplishes none of these things.
The GAO’s econometric model of equilibrium auction prices at three sales in the US is neither designed nor specified in a way such that the impact for prices of increased transport costs for slaughter buyers can be isolated from a myriad of other factors that shift demand and supply over time. A theory that recreational horse buyers had deserted auctions in favor of freely available “for sale” listings on Craig’s List since 2007 would account for the GAO’s econometric estimates of price effects as well as a theory that plant closures mattered.
Further, the GAO not only fails to conduct an analysis of sale volumes at auction, but also presents no data whatsoever on either auction closures or declining sales. Assuming such data exist, however, they also would be consistent with a myriad of alternative factors, including viral growth in free internet horse marketing options for cash-strapped owners.
But most devastating for the GAO’s “theory” is its failure to establish any credible link of auction price and availability with rates of abandonment and neglect.
A natural consequence of a decline in slaughter demand for auction horses that reduces prices by more than any other relevant factor (e.g. “the economy”), as the GAO argues on the basis of its econometric results, would be a decline in the number of horses slaughtered. And, a decline in the number of horses slaughtered would certainly suggest that some owners had effectively lost the “auction to slaughter” option for disposing of their horse.
Yet, the closure of U.S. slaughter plants has been associated with no significant change in the number of U.S. horses slaughtered annually.
As the GAO reports, federal trade and production data show the same number of US horses – approximately 138,000 – were slaughtered in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 2006 prior to the closure of the U.S. slaughter plants as were slaughtered in Canada and Mexico in 2010 following those closures. Even smoothing year to year fluctuations, and eliminating the transition year 2007, the number of U.S. horses slaughtered in the three years 2004 through 2006 prior to the closures was 346,835 – or an annual average of 115,612 – which is negligibly different from the number slaughtered in the three years 2008 through 2010 after the closures which was 346,520 – an annual average of 115,506.
There is, by definition, no correlation between something that stays roughly constant over time – the number of horses slaughtered – and something that the GAO claims has gone up significantly over the same time period – the number of horses abandoned and neglected. In the absence of an observable correlation, it is nothing short of heroic for the GAO to assume a causal relation from a proximate constant to a variable that it argues has increased.
This assumes, of course, that the very limited state and local data and the “anecdotes” (the GAO’s language, not mine) carefully recorded and analyzed from a small sample of 17 state veterinarians on neglect and abandonment utilized in the GAO study are to be taken seriously. If so, a more plausible explanation for any increase in neglected and abandoned horses is that it derives from increased economic hardship; reassuringly, for the data driven theorist, the GAO does at least assert that there is a positive correlation between them.
Caroline M. Betts received her Ph.D. from University of British Columbia. She is currently an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California Prof. Betts teaches in International Macroeconomics, International Finance and Macroeconomic Theory. Her current research interests are real exchange rates and relative prices, tradability of goods, market segmentation, pricing-to-market, patterns of trade and specialization, debt default and depression.

  • Rep. Kristi Noem Press Release PR_Kristi_Noem_GAO_Cessation_Horse_Slaughter_23Jun11 Pdf 1 p.

  • GAO Report re Cessation of Domestic Horse Slaughter GAO_Report_Cessation_Horse_Slaughter_June_2011 Pdf 68 pp.

  • Is It Bad Enough for YOU? wild horses 2


    Humane Observer: Elyse Gardner

     Medicine Hat Mustang from Twin Peaks Trapped in Michigan Needs to Come Home
    ABOVE and LEFT PHOTOS: TWIN PEAKS MEDICINE HAT:  This horse is over 10 years old and in (CORRECTION) his prime.  He is cut up from the roundup — either from the chute, loading into the trailer, or during the trailer ride itself.  These two photos were taken a day after he was driven in by helicopter.

    He has multiple cuts and bruises, but look at his graceful curves and lines, his elegant beauty and self carriage.  You can feel the life in him, and his robust vigor and health are evident.

    BELOW:  Can you believe this is the same horse 10 months later?  This horse I call White Magic Mist is now languishing in a Michigan pen and facing possible shipping to Florida.  Note the protruding hipbone.
    So this is White Magic Mist 10 months later.  Let's bring (CORRECTION) him  home.
               29 "sale authority" Twin Peaks wild horses began their serious decline in health CLICK HERE to read MORE.

    Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

    American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

    Help American Horses - Domestic & Wild!

    On June 9, 2011, Senators Landrieu (D-LA) and Graham (R-SC) introduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to end the cruel slaughter of American horses for human consumption and their transport over the border for that purpose. Every year, approximately 100,000 American horses are crammed onto trailers and shipped across U.S. borders into Canada and Mexico, where they are brutally slaughtered, and then shipped overseas to end up on dinner plates in Europe and Asia.
    A June 2011 Government Accountability Office (GA0) report highlights the need for this legislation by confirming that the across-the-border transport and slaughter of American horses is largely unregulated. Read an excellent analysis of the implications of this report here.

    Commercial slaughter is a threat to all American horses . . . both domestic and wild. So please be a voice for the horses today!
    Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Senator, urging co-sponsorship of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. They need to hear from you! Your Senators' telephone numbers will appear at the bottom of the sample letter below.
    Then, use the form below to send a follow-up note. Please be sure to add your words as well, so your senator knows how important this issue is to you.
    In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.
    Please enter your zip/postal code:
    Note: Your Senators' Offices may ask you to choose a topic area for your email. We suggest "Agriculture" for this action.

    Click HERE for more info.

    Wild Horse Advocates Combine Legal Might to Protect National Icons

    Straight from the Horse's Heart

    Press Release from the Wild Horse Freedom Federation

    Recognized Advocates Launch Wild Horse Freedom Federation

    HOUSTON, (WHFF) – Noted equine author and wild horse advocate R.T. Fitch and his wife, award winning wild horse photographer Terry, have combined their legal forces with journalist/videographer Laura Leigh to form a unified wild horse legal advocate organization whose mission is to “place people between wild horses and extinction”.
    Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered non-profit organization, 501c3 pending, that brings together a consortium of major animal welfare organizations, as both plaintiffs and advisors, for the sole purpose of legally challenging the federal, state and local governmental agencies who’s inappropriate agendas include harassing, capturing and removing wild horses and burros from U.S. public lands.
    While the Fitch’s legal actions, personally funded with assistance from Front Range Equine Rescue, the ASPCA and private donations, bring forth the issue of bad data utilized to zero out wild horse herds, Ms. Leigh’s filings, supported entirely by public donations and assistance from Wild Horse Education, address the issue of First Amendment rights and appropriate access.  Both can claim incremental victories as all of their cases are ongoing and in the spotlight of the global equine advocacy community.
    Yet now these actions sit within one umbrella organization.
    “Our mission is simple”, states R.T. Fitch president and co-founder of WHFF, “we are now working together to find the chink in the armor of the government agencies that hold themselves above the law and reproach of the American people and then concentrate on this weakness.  We are not a horse rescue, sanctuary or anything of the sort, but instead a consortium of equine welfare organizations and private citizens who feel that our last recourse in stopping this Wild Horse Harvesting Machine is in the courts of the United States Judicial System.”
    “We have always been totally aligned and on parallel paths,” explained Laura Leigh VP of WHFF, “but now we will pull our legal pursuits together. This will unify the advocate community structure with more effective communication toward accountability to law and the American public.”
    Equine photographer Terry Fitch adds, “We just need this nonsense to stop.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the government’s facts and numbers are skewed against the wild horses and burros.  There needs to be a moratorium on these useless and costly wild horse stampedes while we take the time to accurately account for how many wild horses and burros are still left free roaming on their designated public lands.”
    Wild Horse Freedom Federation’s current list of plaintiffs include the ASPCA, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, the Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue, Habitat for Horses and private citizens Dr. Don and Toni Moore and journalist Laura Leigh.
    Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with 501c3 status pending.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Escape Magazine: Where the Wild Horses Are | Flathead Beacon

    Escape Magazine: Where the Wild Horses Are | Flathead Beacon

    Absolutely beautiful pictures!

    Oppose Massive CA-NV Roundup; Urge Your Senators to Co-Sponsor Bill to Ban Horse Slaughter

    American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

    Please Oppose Massive Roundup on California-Nevada Border
    More Than 1,000 Horses Targeted For Removal in Phase 1 of BLM Tri-State Roundup Plan

    The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is gearing up to remove more than 2,000 wild horses living on public lands in the border area of California, Nevada, and Oregon. The first phase of this massive capture and removal operation is scheduled to take place in the High Rock Complex in the Fall of 2011 under the jurisdiction of the BLM's Surprise Field Office in California. The High Rock Complex roundup will permanently remove an estimated 1,094 wild horses living in this 584 square-mile public lands area.
    Please take quick action to urge the BLM to cancel plans to remove horses and instead choose the more humane and cost-effective "Alternative C," outlined in the Environmental Assessment, which returns all horses to the range and treats female horses with the PZP fertility control vaccine.

    Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor New Legislation to Protect American Horses from Slaughter in the U.S. and Abroad GAO Report on Horse Slaughter Highlights the Need for New Legislation

    Please take easy action below to ask you Senators to co-sponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011. The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will end the slaughter of American horses here and, most urgently, will stop these horses from being exported abroad for slaughter. Over 100,000 American horses -- both domestic and wild -- are annually shipped to Canada and Mexico for commercial slaughter to supply foreign horsemeat markets. The transport of the horses and the horse slaughter plants themselves are unregulated by the USDA, resulting in horrendous conditions and enormous suffering.


    AWHPC Founding Sponsor      Advocacy Sponsor


    The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Supported by a coalition of over 40 organizations, its grassroots campaign seeks:

        * A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review;
        * Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on those rangelands designated for them;
        * Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions of dollars annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling wild horses in government holding facilities.


    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Senator Kirk Introduces Bill to End Inhumane Transport of Horses Via Double Deck Trailers

    Senator Kirk Introduces Bill to End Inhumane Transport of Horses Via Double Deck Trailers

    Another Win in Saving Colorado Wild Horse Herd from BLM Eradication

    Straight from the Horse's Heart

    Press Release from the Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Front Range Equine Rescue
    Court Allows Wild Horse Group’s Challenge To BLM’s Zero Out Policy
    A federal court rejected the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) request to dismiss or limit a suit brought by a consortium of wild horse advocacy groups and concerned citizens to save the West Douglas wild horse herd.  Although the BLM withdrew their 2010 plans to decimate this northwest Colorado wild horse herd early in 2011, the advocacy groups have remained vigilant in their stance to have the Court decide whether BLM has the legal authority to zero out a herd.  By her ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed that Plaintiffs could proceed with this claim and stated,
    “the Bureau of Land Management’s 2005 West Douglas Herd Amendment to the White River Resource Management Plan violates the Wild Horses Act because it restates the decision by the BLM to eradicate the “West Douglas herd” of wild horses. The 2005 Amendment directed the BLM to eliminate the herd “at the earliest practicable date” and BLM’s recent withdrawal of its decision to gather the herd in 2011 does not effect any change to the allegedly improper decision to eliminate the herd as soon as practicable.”
    The battle over the West Douglas herd is nearly two decades old, and only through the efforts of concerned citizens and organizations have the horses been saved from the BLM’s desire to remove them all from their homelands.  In 2009, concerned citizens and organizations won the first case in the United States against BLM’s practices of eliminating wild horse herds when Judge Collyer set aside BLM’s 2008 roundup plans.  In 2010 advocates again sued the BLM and the BLM withdrew its plans to decimate the herd.
    “The court agreed that we have the right to challenge the decision to zero out the herd, originally made in the 2005 Amendment, despite the fact that the BLM has decided not to perform a round up and removal in 2010.”  explained Bruce Wagman of Schiff Hardin LLP, legal lead for the groups.  “BLM has been trying to avoid the issue with self-serving tactics, but the court found the BLM’s decision to hold off on this year’s gather ‘does not effect any change to the allegedly improper decision to eliminate the herd as soon as practicable.’  This is of course exactly what we argued.”
    Co-counsel Valerie Stanley stated, “For years BLM has issued cookie cutter Environmental Assessments (EA) that purport to elicit public opinion on whether wild horses and burros should be removed from the public lands, all the time knowing that they set these eradication decisions in stone years previously. BLM has finally been called on their game plan to decimate the Nation’s wild horses and burros.”
    “We have made a commitment to not only the wild horses but to the American public,” commented R.T. Fitch, President of the funding organization Wild Horse Freedom Federation, “that we are in this battle for the long haul and will stand firm on the letter of the law until the BLM relents and agrees to follow it’s mandates.”
    Hilary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue added, “While the fight to preserve wild horses is far from over, this ‘win’ provides hope that justice can prevail in the courts for America’s mustangs.”
    Plaintiffs in this action include, Habitat for Horses, Front Range Equine Rescue, The Cloud Foundation, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Dr. Don Moore, Toni Moore and Barbara Flores who are collectively supported by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

    Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with 501c3 status pending.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands.
    Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) is a 501c3 non-profit organization working to prevent the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education.

    This Can't Be Happening

    Killing the Old West: The BLM's Strange Way of 'Protecting' America's Wild Horses

    You learn many interesting things traveling on public lands following the wild horse issue in the American West.
    You learn that after standing in sub-zero temperatures, attempting to document winter roundups, that returning to the relative warmth of your parked vehicle can make your glasses crack. You learn that chemical toe warmers are good as wrist, neck and “slip into your coveralls attach to your underwear” warmers as well. You learn that rattlesnakes don’t always rattle.   Read MORE...

    New Mexico Feedlot Sends Hundreds of Horses across Boarder to Slaughter

    Straight from the Horse's Heart

    Story supplied by Animal’s Angels

    Dennis Chavez Ships 400 Horses a Month to Slaughter

    Upon arrival at the Southwest Livestock auction premises, investigators noted that there were approx. 500 horses in the pen area. Several trucks and empty single & double deck trailers were parked in front of the pen area. A sign next to the driveway advertised the auctions weekly cattle and horse sale, held every Saturday at noon. Several of the horses in the pen area had auction tags still attached to them. Some of the horses were thin. According to owner/shipper papers recently obtained via Freedom of Information Act Request, Chavez ships close to 400 horses every month to slaughter in Mexico. Records also indicate that many of the horses in his shipments end up at the municipal slaughter plant in Juarez, which is not approved by the European Union and still uses the Puntilla knife.
    Dennis Chavez has lost his DOT certification due to numerous violations.  He has also had numerous violations with USDA/APHIS.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    GAO Study Wastes Time and Tax Dollars

    Animal Welfare Institute

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Washington, D.C. -- After almost two years and tens of thousands of tax dollars, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its report, HORSE WELFARE:  Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter with two conflicting conclusions: restore horse slaughter or ban horse slaughter. Really?
    The GAO was given the responsibility of assessing horse welfare from 2007 forward following the closure of the last three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants in the U.S. However, and vital to understanding horse welfare, the GAO was not asked to consider the impact slaughter had on America’s horses while plants were operating in the U.S. or what it would be like for the horses if restored. In the end, one of two contradictory recommendations was to ban slaughter in the U.S. and the export of horses for the same purposes (what the Animal Welfare Institute has said for years).
    In addition to this being the best alternative for the horses, this will also virtually eliminate any regulatory burden whatsoever to the USDA. In this time of economic strife, it is ludicrous to expend taxpayer dollars to benefit a few foreign investors (whether the plants are located in the U.S. or abroad). The only way to stop the abuse inflicted on American horses by the slaughter industry is for Congress to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, banning horse slaughter domestically and prohibiting the export of horses to Mexico and Canada.
    To offer the option of restoring horse slaughter in the U.S. as the other recommendation ignores the cruelty inflicted on American horses’ right under the nose of grossly underfunded and highly inadequate USDA inspection capabilities. There is ample documentation from the USDA, private investigations and the first hand observations by AWI staff, substantiating the inhumane treatment of horses at plants when they were operating in the U.S., and there is documentation of the inhumane treatment of horses at plants that are operating outside the U.S. First and foremost, it should be acknowledged that slaughter is not a form of humane euthanasia as claimed by horse slaughter advocates. Second, though the report touched on neglect and abuse of horses, all this does is introduce a separate horse welfare issue with no substantiated relevance to slaughter. Everyone agrees that neglect and abuse of horses is horrendous, however, it is happening irrespective of the horse slaughter issue and needs to be addressed - as the separate welfare issue it is.
    The Animal Welfare Institute urges Congress to swiftly pass the S. 1176, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). To do otherwise will only perpetuate animal abuse.
    Media Contact:
    Chris Heyde, (202) 446-2142,

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    YOU HAVE 4 CHOICES, and The First 3 Don’t Count.

    The Persian Horse's Blog

    Dedicated to the Horses who have Shed their Blood, Lost their Freedom, and Given their Lives for BLM.

    The Government Accountability Office has issued its report, GAO 11-228, on action needed to address unintended consequences of the 2007 closing of domestic slaughter facilities. A principal recommendation: “Congress may wish to consider instituting an explicit ban on the domestic slaughter of horses and export of U.S. horses intended for slaughter in foreign countries.”
    • SUPPORT LAWS REQUIRING HUMANE TRANSPORT TO SLAUGHTER IN OTHER COUNTRIES…..Does that make sense to “Humanely” Transport Horses to be Tortured and Murdered?  Oxymoron.
    S. 1176:   American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 is a  bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.
    CLICK ON THIS LINK, Click on YOUR STATE, Find YOUR SENATORS,  AND ASK THEM TO PLEASE CO-SPONSOR SENATE BILL S. 1176.   Please Call, Fax and Email.  There are currently only 17 CO-SPONSORS of S. 1176.   Contact YOUR SENATORS  immediately and ask them to please  CO-SPONSOR S. 1176. 
    CLICK ON THIS LINKSenate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.   Please  find the committee member from YOUR State,  and Call, Fax and Email him,  asking him to “report” the bill, S-1176,  favorably  to the Senate  as a whole allowing it to receive consideration by the full body and move forward.
    Committees are like “mini Congresses”. Most bills begin by being considered by one or several congressional committees which may “report” the bill favorably or unfavorably to the Senate or House as a whole allowing it to receive consideration by the full body and move forward, or may fail to consider a bill at all preventing the bill from moving forward. Most bills never receive any committee consideration and are never reported out. House bills start in House committees and enter Senate committees only after being passed by the House and received by the Senate, and similarly for Senate bills.
    Information on committee proceedings is notoriously opaque: committees vary in what information they make public and often do not provide basic public information such as the results of votes electronically or in an understandable format. Furthermore, if your Member of Congress does not sit on any committee relevant to this bill, you generally have no opportunity to voice your opinion on the bill while the bill is receiving its most important consideration.