Monday, October 31, 2011

Q&A with Madeleine Pickens

Part 1: Q&A with Madeleine Pickens 

Madeleine Pickens answers questions from wild horse advocates at the Equine Welfare Conference in Alexandra, VA

Part 2: Q&A with Madeleine Pickens

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Department of Interior Kingpin Pulling “Fast-One” with Merger of BLM and OSM?

Straight from the Horse's Heart

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released the following statement regarding Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s order to combine the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) into the Bureau of Land Management WITHOUT Congressional Approval
Pres. Obama and Salazar
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released the following statement regarding Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s order to combine the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) into the Bureau of Land Management (BLM):
“I’m deeply concerned about this proposed unilateral action. If it were simply a consolidation of administrative functions, that is something I could support. According to Interior’s release, however, it appears that the proposed merger would be much more extensive and, I believe, would require amending the separate organic acts that established BLM and OSM.
“OSM was specifically established as a separate entity, reporting directly to the Interior Secretary, to protect its independence as a regulatory body. I want to make sure that’s protected. The proposed merger of BLM – the entity responsible for leasing – and OSM – the regulatory body – seems to fly in the face of the arguments DOI used to support establishing the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement as an independent entity to regulate offshore oil development, separate from BOEMRE, which handles offshore leasing.”
Murkowski is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Independent Panel Comes to Reno to Review BLM's Wild Horse Policy

My News 4 KRNV Reno. NV

Reno, Nev (KRNV & -- The Bureau of Land Management has hired an independent panel to review the nation's controversial policy of rounding up wild horses from public land. And the first meeting of this national panel was Thursday in Reno.In a state with the most wild horses in America, it'll always be controversial. How many wild horses do we have, are they truly overpopulated, and if so, how should we manage them?
And so the BLM has commissioned a non-governmental panel from the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue and provide the BLM with unbiased findings.
The problem, horse advocates say, is the panel won't be looking at what they call the BLM's favorable treatment of livestock interests on public land. And advocates say they don't trust the panel to be unbiased.
"We have concerns about the composition of the panel, a number of individuals have openly stated their anti-horse sentiment, and one of the panelists has met with the BLM director," said Deniz Bolbol of the American Wild Horse Preservationist Campaign.
But head panelist Dr. Guy Palmer of Washington State University, says the National Academy's 150-year record speaks for itself.
"I think it's a very natural response and concern, but I can assure individuals that the National Academy's process -- they do 300 reports a year -- is strictly adherent to policy that is unbiased and science-based," said Palmer.
The passion in this room for wild horses was evident... As one by one advocates asked the panel to advise the BLM on managing horses without the removals and sterilizations advocates believe to be harmful.
But also in this crowd, people who say the wild horses are too overpopulated.
"We need to manage based on science, not by emotion and public opinion," said Larry Johnson.
This is the first of several meetings by the National Academy of Sciences.
Horse advocates say the panel needs to add panelists who are equine experts and pro-mustang. Doctor Palmer says the panel will consider that, as the process continues.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Investigation Updates

Animals' Angels

Dear Friends,

It continues to be a very busy time here. Things are really happening and moving in a positive direction. Animals' Angels has been working multiple investigations on different issues in several parts of the country.

With documentation from multiple investigations we are able to show authorities and others that these are not one time events but regular occurrences-and completely unacceptable. As a result, authorities now have initiated their own investigations. We are also working with interested parties on implementation of important policy changes that will benefit animals. We will update you as soon as we are free to disclose details of any of these situations.

With December right around the corner, AA is finalizing plans for our annual fundraising event "Light the Sky" - and I hope you might have a photograph you would like to include in this year's event to celebrate or remember an animal or other loved one. I will send you more information in early November.

Thanks so much for your support,

Texas A & M fined for transport violations: Deluxe transport to slaughter but horse found dead

AA has gained information through a Freedom of information Act Request (FOIA) that powerfully underscores the cruelty of horse slaughter on U.S. soil. Under the most ideal conditions possible - including watering stops during single-deck transport, less packed conditions and multiple cameras with a team of monitors - a horse died in the bottom of a trailer during transport. The study adds to ever increasing evidence that demonstrates horse slaughter cannot be 'improved' into something that is humane.

Texas A &M Truck
Truck & trailer used for transport
The subject of the FOIA is a graduate program study orchestrated by Texas A&M University veterinary professor Dr. Ted H. Friend. The USDA paid for the study. A kill buyer was chosen and TX A&M transported his horses for free to the slaughter plant. The study was designed to 'improve' transport to slaughter by "relieving transport stress." Specifically, the study was to document the effect of providing water to horses in transport at 8 hour intervals.

In his statement, Dr. Friend said that 8 hours was, "the most frequent interval that we could reasonably expect truckers to stop to water horses." USDA regulations require checking all horses every six hours.

The researchers would also be taking blood samples to monitor stress levels in the horses. However, no blood sample was taken from the horse that later died.

Monte Clark of CO, a well known kill buyer, was the owner of the 26 horses. Texas A&M acted as shipper/transporter of the horses, moving them at no charge from Hudson, CO to Dallas Crown in Kaufman, TX.

Conditions were as ideal as possible. There had been several practice runs before the study began. A&M used a specially outfitted trailer with 12 video cameras, lighting and watering system.

There were 2 drivers instead of the usual 1 seen on most hauls, and 3 graduate students that followed the trailer to monitor the cameras and water the horses. The professor stated that "our densest compartment [of the trailer] could be increased by 60% and still be under what the USDA considers to be acceptable density."

Trailer Overview
Inside of trailer
As unlikely as it sounds, all involved stated that cameras and lighting in the trailer "malfunctioned" where the dead horse was, though the cameras in other parts of the trailer continued to work properly.

AA believes it is due the presence of a USDA APHIS inspector at the slaughter plant that documentation of the incident exists. He stated that he "overheard" a graduate student telling the plant manager a trailer with a dead horse had arrived. APHIS inspectors are responsible for enforcement of transport to slaughter regulations (9 CFR, Part 88).

In his affidavit it is the driver who most frankly describes the journey's start. He seems more in touch with the condition of horses as they were being loaded in CO than the 'experts', recalling,

"[S]ome horses had cuts above their eyes or cheeks. The horse that fell was one of our main concerns. He did not seem to be in too good of health. He was walking real slow and hair was fallen out. But [ the] owners son, if I am not mistaken said the horse would be alright for the trip....I may not know too much about horses, but I myself know when one is not in good health...."

Dead horse in trailerGraduate student 1 seemed far less concerned with any horses' welfare. In his affidavit he states Clark let him select additional horses from his "cripples pen", choosing the "healthiest soundest looking horses." However, as they began loading he sees the horse that would die in transport urinate, "the urine looked highly saturated with blood." The student said that later 'Monty' commented that the horse was "going to the right place." The student also states that after they arrived at Dallas Crown and found the dead horse, he told Chris the manager; "He did not seem surprised so I assumed this was a fairly common occurrence."

Student 1 ends his affidavit by saying, "Many of the horses transported to slaughter look pretty bad and this one [the horse that died] did not look any worse off than the majority. I know in the future we will not be transporting any horses that have blood in their urine."

A second graduate student gave an affidavit and also describes the pen of horses with "lower limb deformities". He remembers that the palomino gelding in question had "abnormally long, curly hair" and "appeared lethargic". However, neither of the graduate students in veterinary medicine hesitated when the decision was made to load this horse.

slaughter tag
Slaughter Tag
The trip took approx. 18 hours with one stop for watering the horses in Amarillo. Temperatures inside the trailer reached 97 degrees. Texas A & M was later fined $2,000 for failure to "at least once every six hours check on the physical conditions of all horses," and for incomplete owner/shipper certifications showing any prior conditions of the horse that arrived dead.

During the stop in Amarillo, the students monitoring the cameras stated they were having problems with the lighting system of the trailer and did not notice any horses down in the trailer.

According to the APHIS inspector's affidavit, he "did not ask if there was any [video] tape of the horses or the dead horse" received that day.  No explanation was provided. Nobody took blood samples from the dead horse.


A university study with watering stops, lower loading density and video camera monitoring, select horses, yet still a horse dies during transport - How bad is the reality of typical transport to slaughter with nothing that approaches such luxuries? These transports were planned for months, test runs were conducted at the university and graduate students in veterinary medicine were monitoring the horses' welfare en route.

Still this poor horse died a grim death. According to Monte Clark, the palomino was, "going to the right place." No doubt giving horses water is an improvement, but does it make horse slaughter humane? According to every bit of evidence Animals' Angels has gathered since 2006, the answer is unquestionably No.