Friday, August 29, 2014

Judge Sides with BLM’s Quest to Destroy Last of Wyoming’s Wild Horses & Burros

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: Mulitple

Dispite Evidence that BLM Violated Environmental Laws the Deadly Roundup Will Proceed

BLM Captives; Freedom Lost ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
BLM Captives; Freedom Lost ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A federal judge has denied a well aruged request from wild horse and burro advocates to block the federal government’s plan to round up  800 wild horses in Wyoming and virtually “zeroing-out” several very significant herds.
Judge Nancy Freudenthal in Cheyenne on Thursday denied the group’s request for an injunction. The groups responded by filing an appeal with a federal appeals court in Denver.
The groups are challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plans to remove horses from the Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas in southern Wyoming areas starting next month.
The groups claim the federal agency failed to follow environmental laws in planning the action.
The state of Wyoming has inappropriatly intervened in the lawsuit, saying wild horses must not be allowed to damage the lands or conflict with private property rights, even though private cattle and sheep outnumber the horses over 100 to 1.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Who is the contractor for BLM’s Scott City, KS “Emergency Short Term Holding facility?”

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by Debbie Coffey, V.P., Wild Horse Freedom Federation                 Copyright 2014                    All Rights Reserved.

75 wild mares died in a very short amount of time at BLM’s emergency short term holding facility in Scott City, Kansas.

12LTH1_26_of_161_ (1)
Mares look at the public on a BLM tour of Long Term Holding pastures in Kansas. (photo by Carol Walker)
The BLM awarded the contract for an emergency short term holding facility to Phil Jennings, who has the contract for the BLM’s Pauls Valley facility in Oklahoma.  Jennings has had contracts with BLM since 2005 for Pauls Valley, and the obligation amounts seemed to be mostly in about the $100,000 to $300,000 range.
The BLM Scott City, KS emergency short term holding facility contract was signed 6/4/2014, and the obligation amount is $2,030,000. Yep, that’s a jump to over $2 million dollars.
But Jennings is in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.  That’s about a 400 mile drive to Scott City, Kansas.  It seems Jennings may have LEASED the feedlot run by Beef Belt, LLC in Scott City, KS.  So, in essence, BLM’s contractor hired a subcontractor.
(Does that seem to make Jennings a very well paid middleman?)
If a contractor leases a feedlot from what is in essence a subcontractor, then the subcontractor has no direct contract with instructions and obligations to the BLM, does it?  Did any BLM personnel give written instructions and obligations to Beef Belt, LLC, which was formed in 10/1/13 (just 9 months prior to getting this windfall of business)?  Or.was it only after 70 horses died, that the BLM finally seemed to get concerned or involved, and give instructions about the feed?
“The manager of the corral, Steven Landgraf, one of the owners of Lakin Feed Yard, which specializes in corrals just like the one in Scott County, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the staff at the corral.
“We did our best to take care of them.  It is not like we did not do our job,” Landgraf said.  “As animals get older, they die.  The animals that have died have all been between 19 and 20 years old.  It is a fact of life; how do you say this without being cruel?”
Landgraf explained further that the organization has cows and buffaloes that die there frequently.
“It is normal to have 4 percent or 5 percent of deaths with cattle, so this does not really count as out of the ordinary,” he said. “There were 1,490 of them that came in, and, if these few died, it shouldn’t be such a big deal.”
(He also added “I have a cow herd. When the cattle get to be this old, we sell them so they can be turned into hamburger.”)
Well, Mr. Landgraf, you may not have noticed yet, but this is a REALLY BIG DEAL to the American public.
And about all the buffalo and cattle that Mr. Landgraf mentioned that died on the feedlot, doesn’t it make you wonder about the condition of the soil and any possible toxins?  Did the BLM even do any soil tests or an Environmental Assessment for this feedlotbefore putting wild horses on it?
The article also included quotes from Paul McGuire, BLM’s public affairs specialist.  It stated “According to McGuire, it is part of the contractual arrangement that if there are deaths on these private holdings, they must be reported immediately.”
But how long after the deaths was it before the BLM notified the public?  The BLM buried this vague “notification” in their “From the Public” page on the Wild Horse & Burro Program website:
Question: Does the BLM ever move animals from a long-term pasture to another holding facility? If so, why? (July 2014)
Answer: Yes, BLM moves animals from long-term pastures to other facilities if the long-term pasture can no longer accommodate the animals. Examples of when this would occur include:  
1.  If a contractor sells the ranch and the new owner does not want to manage for wild    horses.
2. If a contractor has lands recovering from drought and wants to remove grazing animals or decrease their numbers to aid in drought recovery.
3. If market conditions change in the livestock sector such that the contractor identifies a more lucrative use for the land.
Depending on the capacity of the facility needing to relocate animals, the number of animals being relocated can range from a few hundred to a few thousand head.
The majority of animals that have not been adopted are held on long-term pastures. Long-term pastures provide a free-roaming environment for the animals and it costs less for the taxpayer to house animals on long-term pastures than at short-term holding facilities. With long-term and short-term facilities nearly filled to capacity, the BLM is currently seeking new short-term and long-term holding facilities.”
Uh, this didn’t mention that even one wild mare died at Scott City, did it?  And how many of you comb the From the Public” page on the BLM’s WH & B website on a daily basis?
Finally, on 8/15/14, the BLM posted a news release on their “News & Information” page of the WH & B Program website.
The BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program website  “From the Public” page is also where the BLM seems to have buried the last “update” on the ongoing investigation into Spur Livestock selling wild horses to kill buyer Joe Simon by stating:
Question:  What is the BLM’s response to allegations regarding wild horse sales to a South Dakota long-term pasture contractor, known as Spur Livestock, in 2008?
Answer: The BLM cares deeply about the well-being of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range, and takes seriously all accusations of the slaughter of wild horses or burros.  These accusations have been forwarded to BLM Law Enforcement, which is investigating.  The BLM will share the findings of the investigation once it is complete.
And also, about the ongoing investigation of Tom Davis, prolific buyer of truckloads of wild horses that went who knows where:
Question:  What is the BLM’s reaction to allegations regarding horse sales to Tom Davis of Colorado, as reported by Pro Publica?
Answer: The BLM condemns any sale of wild horses for slaughter.  We care deeply about the well-being of wild horses, both on and off the range, and it has been (and remains) the policy of the BLM not to sell or send wild horses or burros to slaughter.  We take seriously all accusations of the slaughter of wild horses or burros.  The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of the Interior has initiated an investigation into the situation and will work in conjunction with the State of Colorado throughout its investigation.  We look forward to the results of that inquiry.  Anybody that is found to have violated the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act should be held accountable.
We’re still looking forward to results of this inquiry, too.  And we have been for a long time now.  May we all live into our 100’s, so we can finally find out the results.
Bottom line, if the BLM had left these wild horses on their (supposedly) “federally protected” Herd Management Areas where they belong, the wild horses, especially older, more vulnerable ones, wouldn’t be getting shipped all over the country, stressed out, and having to adjust to different feed.

Wild horses shot to death in Straight Creek area (known as Dingo) in Kentucky

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Wild horses at Dingo shot to death
by Joe P. Asher

Over two dozen wild horses that roam an area of Straight Creek known as Dingo are reportedly dead.

Dingo HorsesMarcella Chadwick, CEO of the Harlan County Humane Society, said a total of 28 horses had been discovered dead as of Friday afternoon.“People that live over there keep us informed as to what’s going on with the horses because we’re kind of over them (the horses) now,” said Chadwick. “They called me this morning and they’ve found mares and foals that have been shot and just left.  They’re dead.  It’s been probably two days ago when they were shot.”
Chadwick said the Humane Society is offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing the horses.  “We’re doing a $3,000 reward,” said Chadwick.  Chadwick said the reward will be paid upon conviction.  “They can’t just come and tell me, they’ve got to be willing to go to court,” said Chadwick.Chadwick said the horses appear to have been shot with a firearm powerful enough to go all the way through the animals.
“We fought tooth and nail to keep those horses from going to slaughter,” said Chadwick.A previous report states the horses were the center of a disagreement between the Harlan County Humane Society and Sequoia Energy over whether the horses would have to be moved from the Dingo area they have occupied for decades.“The only way we can stop this is if the public helps us,” said Chadwick. “It’s a cruel, sick thing for somebody to do.  Some of the horses were gut shot so it’s taken days for them to die, which is cruel and inhumane.  These horses aren’t bothering anybody, they’re up on top of a mountain. We need the public’s help.”Kentucky State Police Det. Craig Miller is investigating the report of the missing horses.  Miller said around 38 horses have been reported missing.
If anybody has any information about the incident, contact the Harlan County Humane Society at 606-573-0016 or any law enforcement agency.
Joe P. Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter #joe_hde

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eagle Pass Export Pens, TX 7/11/14

Animals' Angels

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 09:00
Investigation Category: 
Investigators arrived at the Eagle Pass Export Pens at 7:15 a.m., on July 11, 2014. Upon arrival, they noted Tres Trucking from Morton, TX and Larry Anderton from Corsicana, TX waiting to unload outside the closed pens. A yellow Charritos Auto Express with a canvas top trailer and an orange Transportes Villareal truck with a “homemade” ex-refrigerator trailer were already parked next to the pens.
The horses inside the Tres Trucking trailer appeared extremely overcrowded and a lot of kicking, fighting and biting were observed. A paint horse in the front compartment of the trailer had a severely swollen eye, likely as a result from fighting in transit. While investigators observed the trailer, a grey horse in the middle compartment started kicking the horse next to him with both hind legs, hitting the other horses’ side several times with full force.
At 7:40 a.m., both trucks entered the export facility and the Larry Anderton truck backed up to the loading ramp and parked. At 8:26 a.m., a Stanley Brothers truck from Hamburg, AR arrived and entered the pen area.
The Larry Anderton truck started to unload at 8:30 a.m. The Mexican veterinarian arrived shortly thereafter at 8:35 a.m. All horses walked off the Anderton trailer with no problems.
When the unloading of the Larry Anderton truck was completed at 8:43 a.m., the Tres Trucking trailer backed up to the loading ramp. By this time it had started to rain and the horses inside the Tres Trucking trailer were trying to lick the rain from the trailer sides, obviously very thirsty. All of the horses were able to walk off the trailer though several appeared weak and walked extremely slowly. Many of the horses still had auction tags attached in addition to the green USDA slaughter tags, indicating that they had been purchased and likely shipped straight from the auction.
The Stanley Brothers truck was the last to unload. The trailer appeared very crowded. Investigators were unable to see the unloading, since another truck blocked their view. However, apparently some of the horses had been rejected by the Mexican veterinarian since not all horses were unloaded from the truck. The truck left the export pens heading towards the Chula Vista pens. The Chula Vista pens are owned by local kill buyer Raul Benavides and are used as a “storage facility” for rejects. The rejected horses stay there until they have either recovered or died, or are returned with the original shipper after multiple unsuccessful attempts to export them.
Investigators followed a silver 1-ton pick-up with a dilapidated, open stock trailer as it left the TDA pens with 10 horses. The truck had Arkansas plates and all the horse had a red “X” painted on them, indicating that they were rejects. There was no DOT # on the truck, but it is likely that the truck is linked to the Stanley Brothers, since they are the only ones from Arkansas delivering to the Eagle Pass Export Pens. The trailer appeared very overloaded and the horses were struggling to maintain their footing. Some of them started biting each other and were hitting their heads on the low overhead metal pipes of the stock trailer. Investigators reported the vehicle to the Texas Department of Public Safety and returned to the TDA pens to observe the export of the horses that had been delivered that morning.
Upon arrival back at the TDA pens, investigators noted 4 Mexican transport trucks loaded with horses already parked and an additional truck still backed up to the loading ramp. One of the transport trucks was from the Jerez slaughter plant which is notable because this is the first time a truck from the Jerez slaughter plant has been observed at the Eagle Pass Export Pens. It should be further noted that this trucking company has already piled up 44 violations of US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations due to the fact that their drivers were not able to understand the English language & highway signs.
Two of the trailers observed were not suitable to transport animals at all, since they did not provide adequate ventilation and airflow.  
Investigators watched as another truck, Charritos Express, arrived at the pens already loaded with slaughter tagged horses. The trailer was very crowded and the horses were observed fighting. The horses were never unloaded, instead the truck joined the others heading to the border.
Investigators monitored the area until the six trucks left the TDA pens together and proceeded directly to border. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Did BLM ineptness kill another 57 wild horses that were shipped to Scott City, Kansas?

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Did BLM’s inept management of wild horses cause another 57 deaths? Does this “total” include the additional 13 mares that had to be euthanized? Why is the contractor only being informed of the proper feed AFTER so many horses died?

These were most likely the wild horses that the BLM recently shipped from Teterville Long Term Holding in Kansas to the feedlot-like facility Scott City, Kansas. 57 horses are a lot of horses to die in a short period of time. Another BLM “investigation?” There is very little accountability to the public. BLM’s Press Release is below this article. The BLM is having a one day tour for CREDENTIALED MEDIA, but apparently, nobody from any wild horse advocacy groups has been invited. We request an immediate public tour of this temporary short term holding facility. Tax dollars pay for this.


Mares look at the public on a BLM tour of Long Term Holding pastures in Kansas. (photo by Carol Walker)

BLM Investigated Wild Horse Deaths

SCOTT CITY, Kan.(WIBW)– The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is investigating the cause of death for 57 wild horses that had been transferred to a corral in Scott City.

The BLM manages over 49,000 wild horses and burros on range land and 47,000 in open pastures and corrals.

In March an contractor in Kansas notified the BLM would continue a contract for care, but for fewer animals.

On August 5th, the group that had received almost 1,500 mares notified the BLM that 57 of the transferred mares had died.

BLM personnel and a USDA Veterinarian began investigating the deaths and the facility.

Preliminary results indicate the deaths were due to the age of the animals and stress related to relocation and no infections or contagious diseases were involved.


Release Date: 08/15/14


Paul McGuire


BLM Investigates Wild Horse Deaths at Kansas Corral

Scott City, Kan.—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has launched an investigation into the cause of death for 57 wild horses that were recently transferred to a corral in Scott City, Kan. The BLM, which manages 49,200 wild horses and burros on the range and 47,300 in open pastures and corrals, strives to ensure that herd sizes on the range remain in a healthy balance with other public rangeland resources and uses and places a priority on the well-being of the animals in its care.After removal from the range, the BLM aims to place animals that are not adopted onto open pastures, often in the Midwest.

In March 2014, an open-pasture contractor in Kansas informed the BLM that he would renew his existing five-year contract but for a significantly reduced number of horses, requiring the BLM to remove about 1,900 animals (1,500 mares and 400 geldings) by June 1, 2014.

Due to concerns about the older age of many of the animals and the stress associated with being moved, the BLM worked to find an appropriate facility as close as possible to the open pasture. The BLM located an in-state facility that could accommodate the animals and began moving 1,493 mares to the Scott City corral.

The transfers were completed on June 22.On Aug. 5, the contractor informed the BLM that a number of the transferred mares died between June 22 and Aug. 5; as of Aug. 15, a total of 57 transferred mares had died.

On Aug. 12, a team of BLM personnel and a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service arrived on site. The team is investigating the situation; determining the causes of death; evaluating the facility, the corral feed and feeding practices; and taking actions to support the short- and long-term needs of the horses. After arrival, the team euthanized an additional 13 mares that were determined to have little to no chance for survival due to health issues.Preliminary findings from the team’s USDA large animal veterinarian indicate that the animals died as a result of their age combined with stress from the recent relocation, the shift from pasture to corral environment and the change from pasture feed to processed hay feed.

There is no indication of infectious or contagious diseases being the cause.“Our team is working closely with the corral operator to make adjustments to the care of the animals,” said USDA veterinarian Dr. Al Kane, who is on the investigation team. “The horses have been fed three times a day since the beginning. In addition to increasing the amount of feed being offered during feedings, we’ve worked with the onsite veterinarian and the operator to increase the energy density of the horses’ feed by increasing the ratio of alfalfa to grass in the hay mix. This helps support the horses’ nutritional needs during the transition from open-pasture to the corral environment,” he added.

Once the investigation is concluded, the team will complete a report that will be made publicly available.
Credentialed media are invited to attend a facility tour on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Interested members of the press should contact Paul McGuire at (405) 826-3036 for additional information and details.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Presidio Export Pens 7/7/14-7/9/14

Animals' Angels

Monday, July 7, 2014 - 08:45
Investigation Category: 
Investigators returned to the Presidio Export Pens on July 9, 2014.  Upon arrival at 9:00 a.m., they immediately noticed that all three pens already held horses, indicating that deliveries had taken place during the night before.
There was only one US truck at the pens which was parked empty next to the C4 pen entrance. The trucking company was C & L Trucking (DOT 1765925) based out of Tecumseh, OK. It should be noted that C & L Trucking has multiple transport violations and has exceeded the intervention threshold.
The investigators noticed that the old Ruben Brito pens had been completely demolished and that the business had moved to a new location across the street. The new pens have a small office building, aSenasica inspection station with a loading ramp in the front of the premises and an extensive pen area in the back.
All pens have a metal water trough and small metal roofs for shelter. However, the roofs are very small and do not provide enough shade for all of the horses in the pen area. A small amount of hay had been scattered along the fence line. The more dominant horses were observed guarding the hay and prohibiting access for all of the other horses.
The majority of the horses were in average condition, several were thin with ribs showing. A grey mare had a swollen, bleeding wound over her left eye, likely a transport injury.
The C4 pens appeared even more dilapidated than during AA’s investigation in 2013.  A great deal of trash was visible on the premises and large manure piles covered with bones were all around the pen area. The horses still had no shelter from the desert sun.
A very small amount of hay was visible in the front pens and a group of approximately 15 horses, of which several were quite thin, was gathered around it. However, ever since our complaints to law enforcement about the conditions at these pens, the majority of the horses are held all the way in the back of the premises far away from the public’s eye. The condition of these back pens as well as the existence of food, water or shelter is currently unknown.
At the Baeza pens, a group of 12 slaughter tagged horses was visible in the front pens. Several of them were very thin. The pens provided them some hay, but still no shelter had been installed. In a separate pen, a small group of mares & foals was visible.
There was no activity, so the investigators drove to the border to see if any trucks were already crossing. When they returned to the pens at 11:00am, the C & L truck had just left the Baeza pens with a load of “rejects.” (Horses that have been rejected by the Mexican veterinarian and therefore cannot be exported.)
Investigators followed the truck as he was heading north towards Marfa. The driver was speeding, at times driving as fast as 90 mph. When the truck had to slow down on a steep hill, investigators overtook the vehicle to film the horses inside the trailer. The driver reacted extremely angrily and tried to push the investigator’s car off the road.
In Marfa, the driver pulled over next to a gas station to get something to eat. The investigators were able to document the conditions of the horses inside the trailer. One of them had a horrific injury on his left hind leg. The lower leg was swollen to almost twice its regular size and an open, severely infected wound stretched all the way from his ankle to his knee. Flies were present on the exposed flesh. After documenting the injury, investigators immediately called local law enforcement. However, the police never arrived on the scene and the truck continued towards Oklahoma.
The investigators returned to Presidio to watch the export of horses to Mexico in the afternoon. By this time the temperature had reached 100 degrees. Back at the C4 export pens, a Mexican transport truck loaded with horses was parked in full sun. The red truck (Trucking Company: Moreno) was pulling a single deck, aluminum trailer with small air holes on both sides. However, the holes were quite small and not enough to guarantee sufficient air low inside the metal trailer and one can only imagine the temperatures inside.
One of the Mexican trucks was pulling a single deck trailer with completely closed, wooden sides, which makes it next to impossible to even tell that there are live animals inside the trailer and eliminates airflow significantly if not completely. The fact that the sides were closed completely is very concerning. How is the driver checking the horses during transit?
At 3:30 p.m., the trucks proceeded to the border crossing. To avoid the possibility of anyone looking inside the trailer, the trucks pulled all the way into the border check point. After a brief stop in the office to have their paperwork examined, the drivers returned to their vehicles and crossed into Mexico. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

No pain, no gain |

No pain, no gain |

Wild Horse Races at Rodeos

Straight from the Horse's Heart

By Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation             Copyright 2014                 All Rights Reserved.
Reading the article (below) that was in the Wyoming news, you might wonder how many “pastures” contain “wild horses” that have had “little, if any, contact with humans?”  It could very well be that only “unbroken” horses are used in these Wild Horse Races.  (But, should any horse be treated in the way they’re treated in Wild Horse Races?)
You might wonder if any of our wild horses, or their offspring, might in some instances have ever been used in any rodeo Wild Horse Races.  After the BLM sells wild horses in bulk sales (many horses, often by the truckload), it seems they don’t know where the horses go.  Some wild horse mares may have even been used to breed bucking stock.
It seems the BLM hasn’t kept track of the foals born to wild horses and burros.  Remember the “discrepancy” between Palomino Valley’s facility reports and rendering records for the same time period?  And BLM’s response was “We welcome the public’s interest in this matter and acknowledge that the horse mortality numbers being reported at BLM facilities are lower than the numbers invoiced by BLM-contracted rendering facilities that dispose of horse remains.  The discrepancy results from the reporting procedures currently used by the Bureau…”
So, in other words, there has been a lack of, or extremely lax , reporting procedures and accountability by BLM of the wild horse & burro foals.
Anyhow, back to the sources of “wild horses” used in Wild Horse Races.  Why would someone have “little, if any” contact with a horse in their care on their property?  Wouldn’t they have to drive out to feed the horse in the winter?  Wouldn’t a horse need a farrier?  Wouldn’t horses need vaccinations?  (Horses are now being vaccinated for West Nile Virus in Utah.)
There are Wild Horse Races in Montana.  There are Wild Horse Races in Arizona.
There are Wild Horse Races in Oklahoma.  Even Pioneer Woman wrote about these races).  And took some pictures, which were on her blog.  Apparently, her husband, Ladd Drummond, participated in a Wild Horse Race and got kicked.  Ouch.  (Ladd Drummond has a contract for a BLM long term holding facility.)
It seems there is even a Professional Wild Horse Racers Association (PWHRA).  There are even Wild Colt Races for kids 11 and younger to participate in.   Jason Smith is President of PWHRA.  Smith is also president of the National Tribal Horse Coalition, and has been lobbying for horse slaughter.
And, there are Wild Horse Races in Wyoming.  Before you read the article below, click HERE to see a video by SHARK of a Wild Horse Race in Cheyenne, WY.
We don’t know if these “wild horses” could in any instances be offspring of American wild horses, or if they are just “unbroken” horses, but this rodeo “sport” appears to be dangerous to the safety of any horses.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Casey: BLM Fails to Protect Horses, Burros from Heat

Straight from the Horse's Heart

“Our good friend, Ginger Casey, forwarded an article that she had written for us to share, here, at SFTHH.  The article, likewise, appeared in the Reno Gazette.  Ginger Casey is an Emmy-award winning journalist who began her career in Reno and we thank her for sharing with us.  Keep the faith!” ~ R.T.

“The irony is that in order to adopt one of the animals, you have to prove you have shelter from the elements available for them.”

Palomino Valley ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Palomino Valley ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
As the temperatures in the area began to climb north of 100 degrees last summer, the public began to petition the BLM to do something about the conditions at the Palomino Valley wild horse adoption facility north of Reno. Nearly two thousand horses andburros were languishing in triple-digit heat in huge, open, dirt pens with neither shade nor shelter.
The outcry, along with the temperatures, continued to climb until the facility announced it was going to start installing sprinklers for the horses. Praise, including mine, rolled in [RGJ, July 6, 2013]. Officials from Washington then flew to Reno to hold a community meeting to “brainstorm with the public” on solutions for providing the horses some relief. Horse advocates arrived from Nevada and beyond, armed with proposals. They brought offers for shade and documentation from several equine veterinarians that high heat and no shelter could be lethal to the animals. One former USDA veterinarian even warned the BLM that the conditions were calling for “emergency action” to ensure the safety of the horses and burros.
The officials arrived, made promises and flew back to Washington. Shortly afterward, advocates discovered there were only two common household sprinklers attached to a fence at Palomino Valley for the nearly 2,000 animals and that no more sprinklers would be forthcoming. No shade was forthcoming either. The horses and burros continued to be subjected to scorching heat, driving rain, wind and snow through the rest of the summer and winter. Had they been in the wild, they would have been seeking shelter under bushes and trees.
Half of the horses and burros are gone now, sent out to other facilities across the country. A shade “trial” is underway, with three temporary tarps, which cannot adequately provide protection for 900 animals. The two sprinklers that were installed are gone. Advocates who believed the promises now feel betrayed; those of us who applauded the initial news release regarding the sprinklers feel foolish.
The irony is that in order to adopt one of the animals, you have to prove you have shelter from the elements available for them. You are required to have a structure with a roof, able to block winds. Tarps are considered “unacceptable.”
Last year, the National Academy of Sciences issued a harsh report on the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. Even though the study — commissioned by the BLM — concluded the agency’s own management of the animals was a large part of the problem, the BLM is continuing to do business as usual while the number of horses and burros in holding continues to skyrocket, as does their carrying costs.
The situation has now reached crisis proportions. Some members of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, which is made up of mostly ranching, mining and hunting interests, have already suggested slaughtering the animals to control their numbers. The winds seem to be shifting against the horses and burros. And from this wind, there is no shelter.
Despite being federally protected, the management of America’s wild horses and burros is complicated and dominated by politics, priorities and special interests. But there is nothing complicated about temperatures over 100 degrees or those below freezing. This kind of weather kills. Given that half of the wild horses that are left live in Nevada, the BLM must find a way to provide these warehoused animals at least a minimum of shade and shelter. Anything less is just talk to a public grown weary of empty promises.