Saturday, June 28, 2014

Do Wild Horses Need Endangered Species Protection?

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by  as publisched on Care2

“Sadly, the BLM has failed, and continues to fail, to uphold its duties and continues to remove and warehouse thousands upon thousands of wild horses.”

BLM's war on America's wild horses and burros ` photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
BLM’s war on America’s wild horses and burros ` photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Equine advocates are taking a new approach to get wild horses much-needed protection by petitioning the Department of the Interior to have horses who roam on federal public lands listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The petition was filed by Friends of Animals (FoA) and the Cloud Foundation over concerns that if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) doesn’t change the course its on soon, the agency will mismanage these American icons into extinction.
In 1971, Congress recognized the value of wild horses as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” who “contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.” It enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which was intended to protect wild horses from “capture, branding, harassment, or death.”
Sadly, the BLM has failed, and continues to fail, to uphold its duties and continues to remove and warehouse thousands upon thousands of wild horses. According to FoA, more than 200,000 horses have been driven off of public land since the Act was passed, while thousands more still face the threat of removal.
Wild horses have already disappeared from Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and things are getting ugly in other states, including Utah andNevada. Now there are believed to be fewer than 33,000 horses live on 26 million acres of BLM lands, while almost twice as many are in BLM holding facilities as the government continues to pointlessly spend millions of dollars every year on more gathers and holding costs.
Yet the agency still wants to reduce their numbers by another 30 percent and will continue to subject them to terrifying, incredibly inhumane and indiscriminate roundupswhere the young, old and pregnant are forced to run for their lives as they’re chased by helicopters.
FoA and the Cloud Foundation cite these excessive roundups and removals as a major threats to their populations, thanks mainly to private livestock grazing, in addition to habitat loss (they’ve already lost 22 million acres) and inadequate regulation.
Now concerns continue to be raised about how these threats will continue to hurt them and whether the small herds that are left in the wild will be able to survive, while further fears have been raised that the government will open the door to legally allow horses in holding to be sold for slaughter.
“The tragedy of horse roundups exists because the BLM appears devoted to turning arid western public lands into feedlots for cows and sheep to appease cattle producers,” said Priscilla Feral, president of FoA. “Friends of Animals finds this morally and ecologically reprehensible, as wild horses are driven off lands to leave the bulk of water, forage and space for two domestic animals owned by ranchers.”
Even though they’re legally protected, the BLM treats wild horses like an invasive species who have no right to the land, but scientific research based on fossil records and DNA evidence has proven that they did originate here. The belief that they’re a native species was also upheld last month by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals during a lawsuit that argued the BLM was breaking the law by rounding up too many horses.
“Misclassification of wild horses as a non-native species is politically, not scientifically driven,” said Ginger Kathrens, executive director of The Cloud Foundation. “Wild horses are severely endangered but without recognition of current scientific evidence of their native status, they could become extinct.”
Wild Horse Freedom Federation fully endorses the efforts of TCF and FoA

Click (HERE) to take ACTION NOW

Thursday, June 26, 2014

News from Animals' Angels

Animals' Angels

Animals' Angels Needs Your Help!
Animals' Angels
PO Box 1056 Westminster, MD 21158
June 26, 2014  
We need you! The animals need you!
Dear Friends & Supporters,

An urgent and time sensitive issue facing Animals' Angels forces us to make a heartfelt plea for your help. As many of you already know from our previous newsletter, our investigators are facing bogus trespass charges in court due to our tireless work at the Presidio Export Pens in Texas.

As we have documented so many times, the management of these pens, which are only a stone's throw away from the Mexican border, is simply deplorable and the horses kept there are held under truly atrocious conditions.  We have tried for years and years to get law enforcement to file cruelty charges against the pens, and despite ample evidence, nothing has ever been done to hold these violators accountable.


Animals' Angels has conducted six full investigations at the Presidio export pens since August of 2011. We have not witnessed a single positive change regarding the attitude or care shown towards slaughter-bound horses. Abuse, neglect, and indifference are such a common theme that they have become pattern. The landfill still receives an average of 40 dead horses a month and the horses in the Brito and C4 pens hardly ever have enough food, water or shelter. They are consistently crammed violently into trailers which are not suitable for transportation and are still left parked in the full sun for hours.

Downer horse inside trailer  

In fact, on our most recent investigation at Presidio last fall, our investigators witnessed a transport truck from the Presidio Pens waiting to cross at the border with two horses down and being trampled by the others who were packed into the trailer. Words can't describe and pictures can't show what these poor animals were going through -- to this day this horrific scene haunts us. The horses were desperately trying to get up, but there was simply no room. Within seconds, the hooves of the horses on top left bleeding cuts all over their bodies. Due to our quick action, this truck was turned away at the border and forced to return to the pens - which prevented these horses from dying a slow, gruesome death en route to the plant.


We followed the truck back to the pens and informed one of the pen workers about what happened, we wanted to be absolutely sure that these horses would be unloaded immediately and receive veterinary care.

truck turned around at border  

In retaliation, Ruben Brito, the manager of the pens, reported our investigators for trespassing -- an outrageous, false allegation that should have been seen by police for what it truly was: an intimidation tactic.  The police refused to listen to our investigators' side of the story. They were not interested in the fact that we were clearly not trespassing. They were not interested in the two horses that would have been trampled to death in transport were it not for our intervention at the border, a violation that should have fallen squarely on Ruben Brito. In fact, the police were not interested in anything we had to say. Investigators have repeatedly witnessed a personal and friendly relationship between pen owners and Presidio County law officers.  We can't help but wonder if this relationship is what allows the pens to operate above the law.  

We are determined to fight these charges but we need your help!  The legal expenses incurred contesting these ridiculous charges have taken much needed funds away from investigations. However, it is imperative that we are heard in court and that the actions of Ruben Brito and those of the police are brought out into the open. We need you now more than ever - the animals need you. We cannot allow these abuses to continue. 

Please stand with us against these grave injustices - please donate to our legal fund today!  

Yours truly,
Sonja Meadows 
  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Utah State Slaughter Veterinarian Resigns after Investigation

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: as published in Ogden, Utah’s

“he padded his pockets with work on the side and engaged in other questionable practices.”

“Hmmm, Utah State Slaughter Inspector AND a illegal Vet at Central Utah Correctional Facility’s Wild Horse Ranch?  Looks like a perfect storm for ushering wild horses out the back gate for slaughter across the border, to me.  Perhaps that angle should be looked into by the authorities, also.  Remember, it was King who pushed for domestic horse slaughter in Utah, Click (HERE).  Once a crook, always a crook” ~ R.T.
(P.S. from Debbie – It seems Bruce King was the veterinarian at Gunnison prison when many wild stallions were dying from the gelding process.  This information was given to the National Academy of Science.)

Dr Bruce KingOGDEN, — Utah’s chief state veterinarian and outspoken horse slaughter proponentDr. Bruce King, has resigned after an investigation into a former employee’s allegations he padded his pockets with work on the side and engaged in otherquestionable practices.
King, who oversaw meat packing, slaughter and livestock inspections statewide, has ended a 15-year tenure with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. His resignation took effect June 1.
Ex-employee Wyatt Frampton detailed his allegations in a letter to the governor’s office in late March, prompting a two-month investigation by state auditors, the Standard-Examiner of Ogden reported.
Among other things, King was accused of making at least $2,000 a month extra by landing a contract to provide veterinary services at the Central Utah Correctional Facility’s Wild Horse Ranch. His annual salary was $96,000 at the time.
He also was accused of essentially having a free car and free gas during his entire tenure with the department. He refused to move to Salt Lake City when he was appointed assistant state veterinarian in 2006 and when he was named state veterinarian in 2011, opting to commute with his state car and state credit card for fuel, Frampton said.
Phone calls to King’s home in Axtell near Gunnison weren’t immediately returned.
A bill signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert earlier this year forbids the state veterinarian from engaging in the private practice of veterinary medicine.
“They’re not supposed to be competing with people they oversee,” the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, told the Standard-Examiner…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment at the Daily Herald

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

U. of Kentucky warns of heat stress in horses, while BLM continues to dawdle “testing” shade options

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Yet another University has issued warnings about heat stress in horses.  Wild horses and burros have been kept in unnatural, feedlot conditions in sweltering in heat, but the BLM has “tested” only a few shade options at only one facility.  One of these didn’t even allow enough height for a wrangler on a horse.   
3910651_G  photo:
As Summer Begins, Equine Heat Stress Looms
With summer upon us, it’s a good time to start thinking about protecting horses from inevitable heat stress conditions.
“The combination of hot, muggy weather conditions prompts some real concern for humans, as well as livestock and pets,” said Tom Priddy, meteorologist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. “The livestock heat stress index is a combination of air temperature and humidity. That one-two punch makes it hazardous for people and animals. Dew point temperatures above 65°F lead officials to declare conditions dangerous for livestock.”
The Livestock Heat Stress Index helps producers know when heat stress could create a problem for their animals. Periods of heat stress call for livestock producers to be vigilant in making sure their animals are able to withstand the conditions.
Heat loss for all horses becomes difficult when temperatures exceed 90°F, so avoid exercising them during very hot periods. When humidity is high, even temperatures much lower than 90°F can pose problems. Horse owners can reduce heat stress by scheduling activities during the cooler part of the day and giving horses plenty of water. Transporting horses during the cooler hours of the morning or evening can help. To reduce the risk of dehydration and heat stress when traveling in hot weather, give horses access to water before, during, and after transportation.
Offer horses frequent drinks of water during work in hot weather. Allowing them to drink during work helps maintain water balance and relieves the urge to drink a lot of water after exercise. After a hard workout, water horses out gradually.
Even nonworking horses will double their water intake during hot weather, so be sure plenty of water is available to horses in pastures, paddocks, and stalls.
Lactating mares will have especially high water requirements because they are using water for milk production and heat loss.
Hot weather also will increase horses’ need for salt, which is lost during sweating. Heavy rains can “melt” salt blocks in pastures, so check salt licks periodically.
Visit the UK Ag Weather Center website at to keep up with current weather, forecasts, heat stress indices, and more.
Aimee Nielson is an agriculture communication specialist at the University of Kentucky.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Owners look for justice after horse attacked with knife

My Fox Phoenix 10

FOX 10 News |

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - A horse nearly died after being cut with a scalpel, just missing his jugular vein.

The innocent animal was almost killed on Wednesday night. 
The horse's owners say someone slipped in the backyard and sliced through their horse Jerry's neck.
The four-year-old show horse is recovering in his pen in a remote area of the Rio Verde Foothills. 

"He's like my baby and everybody knows that," said Jana McDowell. 

Jana McDowell says she went to check on her horse Wednesday night and found him bleeding. 

She says someone snuck in and sliced through Jerry's neck. 

"There was no ripped tissue, it looked like it had been sliced," said Jana McDowell. 

McDowell, a veterinarian herself, knew right away she needed to call an equine surgeon. 

After stitches, the horse should be OK, but McDowell says if the cut were any deeper, Jerry would have been dead. 

"It was six and half inches long, narrowly missed jugular vein which runs in the jugular furrow," said Jana McDowell. 

McDowell and her husband Jeff are trying to figure who would hurt their horse. 

"The problem we are running into, what's the motive? Who would be crazy enough to do something like this? We, of course, are living on pins and needles for fear it might happen again," said Jeff McDowell. 

"I am devastated still, but I can't imagine how I would have felt if I would have come out here and found him in a pool of blood dead," said Jana McDowell. 

The couple says they reported the attack to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. 

They also say neighbors saw a suspicious SUV in the area around Wednesday night that is described as a white or light colored older model Suburban. 

If you have any information you are urged to call MCSO. 

Sheriff Arpaio: (602) 876-1801


Contact Information:
Scottsdale Police Department
8401 E. Indian School Road
Scottsdale, AZ  85251


Field Report: Life and Death ~ Wild Horses and Burros of Twin Peaks

Straight from the Horse's Heart

“Our Field Reporters, Kathy Gregg and Jesica Johnston, have been back to Twin Peaks HMA on behalf of the wild equines while representing Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  Their report, below, is both beautiful and heart rending in the way in which it is presented.  Many thanks to our intrepid reporters and please spread the word as the last of our wild horses and burros need both your voice and your help.  Please click (HERE) to download report complete with photo gallery.  Keep the faith my friends!” ~ R.T.


Twin Peaks and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas Survey June 7th, 8th and 9th 2014
Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist B.A, M.S.,

Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher Photographs by Jesica Johnston
Twin Peaks June 2014
Two experienced wildlife observers searched for three days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California’s Twin Peaks and the Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs). We traveled approximately 138 miles over 3 days and 16 1⁄2 hours in the herd management areas. We drove slowly with many stops; some off-road hiking and almost constant searching with binoculars for signs of wild horses and wild burros. After 3 days, a total of only 12 wild horses and 20 wild burros were observed. Of those, 2 were horse foals and 1 was a burro foal. All observed horses and burros and range conditions appeared to be in excellent health with the exception of our discovery of one recently deceased wild horse.
During the survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls but for the majority of the survey a distance of more than a mile in all directions could be seen and often a distance of many miles were observable with binoculars. This allows us to estimate that approximately 18% of the Twin Peaks HMA and 21% of the Buckhorn HMA were observed as a rough approximation.  Even though time and mileage was documented and a map available, HMA boundaries are poorly marked thus some mileage and hours in the herd management areas is estimated.
What was most obvious is the notable absence of wild horses and burros on their legally authorized herd areas.
Map of Public Land Roads Traveled (Red)
Twin Peaks Roads Traveled
Saturday 06/07/2014
Twin Peaks Herd Management Area: 54 miles and 3 hours Sand Pass and Smoke Creek Roads
We saw over 54 miles of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area with diverse ecosystems; some with luscious streams and forage and trees and some with dry desert conditions and observed only 2 burros along Smoke Creek road and 17 burros near highway 395. We saw very few signs of any wild horses and burros in this area like trailing, tracks or manure until we reached the group living near highway 395. The Twin Peaks burros have a variety of colors; some have the mark of the cross on their backs and stripes on their legs and some have a fuzzier brown coat and some are black and some have a white muzzle and we even found one that was completely black. Although they are wild and cautious, they are very curious and attentively stand for photos.
Sunday 06/08/2014
We traveled a total of 66 miles and 9 hours on the Twin Peaks and Buckhorn HMAs.
Twin Peaks HMA: 26 miles 6 hours Rye Patch and Horne Ranch and a few off-shoot roads
Early summer is a wonderful time to visit this area and there are oceans of wildflowers blooming in Twin Peaks. One specifically that dominates the landscape in June is Mule’s Ears (Wyethia mollis) which are bright yellow sunflowers that cover the desert. It was the most spectacular display of this flower. Entire valleys and hillsides were blooming. Photos can hardly show the beauty we saw, but here are some photos. 
We saw two families of sage grouse hens and chicks on the east side of Observation Peak. These birds are currently nominated for the endangered species list and it is interesting to note that these were thriving in this area that was burned in 2012 and where domestic livestock have not grazed for the past two years.
While continually stopping and scanning the horizon with binoculars we saw no wild horses or burros until all of a sudden a big jack burro came trotting out of the juniper trees toward our vehicle and it seemed humorous that this burro gave the impression that he wanted us to be sure and not pass him by without spending some time with him – so of course we obliged. He was very curious and although we never got within 50 feet of him, he could be heard snorting – not aggressively, just in a communicative way. We saw this same burro a few years ago and had named him “Blink” since he seems to appear out of nowhere when you least expect it. He was very curious and seemed to appreciate our company as he watched us from the adjacent hillside as we ate our lunch.
Twin Peaks HMA and Buckhorn HMA: 40 miles 3 hours on the Buckhorn Byway Road
About 1500 domestic sheep were witnessed trespassing on our public HMA land. We also witnessed about 50 cattle in the off-limits to livestock burn area and there was even a new sign that said “Closed to Grazing”. The areas that burned during the Rush Fire of 2012 are off-limits to all domestic livestock – so these are trespass livestock and the livestock owners are in serious and willful federal violation of the rancher’s grazing permit but this appears to be “forgiven” by the BLM and casually ignored by the livestock permittees. Last summer at least ten individual cases of livestock trespass were documented on Twin Peaks and Buckhorn HMAs and these were reported to both the Eagle Lake and Surprise BLM Field Offices, but obviously it is still occurring in great numbers.
We saw one magnificent copper-colored buckskin wild horse casually grazing alone in a meadow. We had not seen him before but he will certainly be recognized if we see him in the future and he will not be easily forgotten. He was stunning. The wild horses and burros in these herd management areas are in excellent condition with shining coats, healthy weight, bright eyes and curious minds.
Monday 06/09/2014
Twin Peaks HMA: 18 miles 4 1⁄2 hours Rye Patch Road
This day gave us the highest and the lowest sentiments of any of our many trips to any wild horse and burro area. After much searching, we finally spotted the white stallion “Magic” way up near the top of a hill with his mare “Hope” and another little family band we call the Spanish family. Magic is the son of the great Twin Peaks stallion BraveHeart, who was captured and died at the hands of BLM in 2010. Because BraveHeart’s son “magically” appeared the following year after the BLM roundup and he had somehow avoided being captured, the name “Magic” just seemed like the only name he should have. We sometimes give wild horses and burros “names”; not to humanize them but for identification purposes when we share stories with other wild horse and burro devotees.
The Spanish family’s two year old colt had been seen just a few weeks ago with this family, but was now missing.
We watched and photographed Magic and Hope and the Spanish stallion with his charcoal colored dapple mare Spring and their dark brown yearling and their new brown foal for a long time by quietly sitting down in the tall grass and flowers. This was the highlight of the entire trip!
Leaving these wild families to continue their grazing, we headed back down to the road and before long we spotted something very startling – a dead horse. After close examination, we identified the horse as Shiny. Shiny had been one of the wild stallions that we had the good fortune to see and get to know on our previous visits. He was a bay who got his name from his exceptionally gleaming coat and had been half of a bachelor band with his buddy Curley until just a few weeks ago when these two stallions had been found with two mares.
Shiny on the right and his bachelor buddy Curly on the left – photo Sept 10, 2011
Shiny had been dead for a few days, but his body showed no apparent signs of physical trauma. His time in the desert was over. We can appreciate and be grateful that he lived his life truly wild and free as Mother Nature intended.
Miscellaneous Observations
As noticed on many previous trips since the livestock have been taken out, the abundance of lush forage and the lack of any signs of animals trailing in the Rush Fire burn area were very notable. In past years, animal trailing (trails of animals through the grass) was very noticeable, but with the removal of most livestock in the burn area and with very few wild horses and burros remaining in these herd management areas the signs of trailing are missing. Other obvious clues to the number and location of animals in this area are the conspicuous lack of horse and burro tracks or manure.
Other wildlife we observed: coyote, golden eagle, crows/ravens, vultures, hawks, wild hare, pigmy rabbit, water birds and many song birds, an owl, small herds of prong-horn antelope and deer, ground squirrels, insects and sage grouse. We saw what looked like a beaver pond area and also some underground burrows – possibly marmot? The land is finally healing and the wildlife have returned to their habitat after the devastating fire of 2012.
We found both Pilgrim Lake and Burnt Lake and many reservoirs were dry. This is usually the case in the late summer but not this early in the year despite the fact that the area had some good rains late in the winter and spring. With generations of passed down knowledge, the wild horses and burros do have “hidden” springs that are still flowing in canyons. One favorite oasis of all wildlife is known Big Spring and it has fresh water and high thick grass abounds.
The natural forage of sage, bitterbrush and native grasses was in abundance but in many areas there were acres and acres of invasive cheat grass. In some areas where domestic livestock have grazed, the vegetation was destroyed – it was very obvious. In areas where there were no domestic livestock, we especially noticed that the native grasses showed an almost pristine appearance due to the fact that there are so few wild horses and burros and the domestic livestock has been removed for almost two years.
Although in a few spots we saw wild horse or burro manure and stud piles, indicating that there were wild horses or burros living in the area, in most of these wild horse and burro HMAs there was none, validating that the wild horse population is very minimal.
BLM’s latest wild horse and burro population estimate for this area was approximately 1,750 but numerous independent aerial and ground surveys indicate there are far fewer remaining.
So … where are our wild horses and burros?
We found them…
at the Litchfield California and Palomino Valley Nevada BLM holding facilities.
BLM’s Litchfield holding facility near Susanville, California appeared to be about half full with approximately 500 wild horses and burros still standing in this “feedlot” situation while literally just over the hill the legally designated wild horse and burro land is almost empty. BLM’s Palomino Valley holding facility near Reno, Nevada also appeared approximately half full with about 1,000 wild horses standing in their “feedlot” corrals. They have no shade from the blazing sun and no shelter from the freezing winter winds. Horses were even lying down and trying to cool themselves in a few small indentations in the moist soil where a little water had leaked out from the trough. These magnificent wild animals should be in their legal herd areas. The BLM’s management is unjust, illegal and inhumane.
Final Thoughts
Per the 1971 Congressional Act, the land is to be devoted principally, but not exclusively, to the wild horses and wild burro’s welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept of public lands. Definition of “principally” is first, highest, foremost in importance, rank, worth or degree, chief, mainly, largely, chiefly, especially, particularly, mostly, primarily, above all, predominantly, in the main, for the most part, first and foremost. There are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legally designated land. The American people are being misled by our government agencies that are mandated by Congressional Law to protect these animals. The wild horses and burros already have a place to live; and it is not in government corrals. These animals and this land do not belong to the government or BLM … the wild horses and burros and the lands belong to you and me.

Click (HERE) to download complete report WITH photos
Twin Peaks video: Twin Peaks 2011 Master’s Thesis by Jesica Johnston:
2012 Rush Fire Report: report-where-are-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros/
Twin Peaks May 2013 Report: notably-absent-from-california-herd-area-after-blm-roundup-and-fire/
Twin Peaks August 2013 Report: wild-burro-good-news-and-bad-news-from-twin-peaks-hma/
Twin Peaks Independent Aerial Survey Report: wild-horse-and-burro-aerial-population-survey/
Wild Horse Population Growth Research Report:
Twin Peaks October 2013 Report: have-all-the-wild-horses-and-burros-gone/