Friday, October 31, 2014

The BLM says NO photos allowed of Wyoming Checkerboard horses at Canon City wild horse adoption on November 7

Straight from the Horse's Heart

A beautiful family near Eversole Ranch days before being removed
by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
As many of you know, I have spent the past 10 years photographing the wild horses in Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin, and I also spent many days during the Wyoming Checkerboard Roundup witnessing and photographing from very far away as 1263 wild horses lost their freedom and their families from these three herd areas.
The public was prevented from any close views of the traps or the horses during the roundups, usually being kept from 2 – 3 miles from the trap, and even when were allowed to go to the temporary holding at the end of the day, we were kept well back and could barely see the horses through the plastic mesh.
My very distant view at the roundup
The mesh blocking the view of the horses at temporary holding pen
On one day, some of the mesh was down and I actually got a decent view of the mares.  On posting these photos I immediately had someone interested in adopting two of the mares in the photographs.
The mares through a gap in the fence at temporary holding pen
On returning home from the last day of the roundup, I immediately emailed the BLM at the Canon City, Colorado facility to request to attend the first adoption where the public would be allowed to see the horses removed during the Checkerboard Roundup.  I was very happy to hear that at least half of the horses removed had been sent to Canon City as I believe it is the best short term holding facility that the BLM has.  The employees are knowledgeable and care very much about the horses, and they take very good care of the horses.  They are also very good to work with regarding adoptions, and I found that out for myself when I adopted my mustang Mica.
I also requested to be allowed to photograph the horses so that I might be able to post photographs of the horses that are there and to help get as many of them adopted as possible, as I have many people waiting on those photographs from me.  I said that I was willing to give the BLM copies of all my photos to help them get these horses adopted.  I even mentioned that I was prepared to pay the commercial fee to be allowed to photograph there, since Canon City has special rules regarding photographing since it is at a prison.  I had been allowed to photograph in 2010 when I adopted my mustang Mica after the 2010 Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek roundups.
Mica and the other weanlings at Canon City in 2010
Since I am a professional photographer of horses, I am able to get high quality images that will put the horses in their best light.  I have a very large social media following and the images would go out widely.  Photos get people involved, get people interested, motivate them to take action.  If the BLM were really interested in getting these horses placed, I believe they would allow photographs of the horses to be taken.
Instead this is the email response that I received:
“In regards to your camera request for November 7, 2014, I have had numerous requests to bring in cameras to photograph the horses.  Per Department of Corrections Administrative Regulations, no cameras are allowed on grounds for security reasons.  We do make exceptions, but with so many requests for this adoption, it is not fair to the others to see some people with cameras when they were denied.
I think it is in the best interest for the BLM and CCi that we do not allow any cameras on 11/07/2014.”
Notice that nothing is said about the best interests of the horses.
And doesn’t it make sense that if so many people want to photograph these horses,  that no one be allowed to photograph them.
I truly believe that if the BLM could find a way, they would prevent me from photographing the horses in the wild as well.
Oh wait, if they remove all of them, then that is exactly what they will be doing.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Straight from the Horse's Heart

Report Compiled by:
Jesica Johnston, Environmental Scientist
Lisa LeBlanc, Environmental Researcher
Kathy Gregg, Environmental Researcher
Photographs by Jesica Johnston


Wild Burros
Wild horses and burros are different from their domestic cousins. Wild equines have to continually learn and adapt to the constantly changing environment directed by nature. During their lifetimes they will see life and death and must learn from their elders and trust their instincts and knowledge of their wild world in order to survive.
Three experienced wildlife observers searched for three days for wild horses and burros and other wildlife in Northern California-Nevada Twin Peaks, Coppersmith and Buckhorn Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas. These areas are managed for all American citizens by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and for the protection of our wild horses and burros. We traveled approximately 160 miles over 3 days and 13 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 18 wild horses and 26 wild burros were observed on the three herd management areas. Of those, we saw 1 burro yearling and no horse foals or yearlings. All observed horses and burros appeared to be in excellent health. What was most obvious in our three day journey was the notable absence of wild horses and burros on their legally authorized herd areas on public land. A few of our wild horses and burros were found…but very few and far between.
During our survey there were times that only a short distance could be seen due to canyon walls but for the majority of the assessment a distance of more than a mile in all directions could be seen and often a distance of many miles were observable with binoculars. Even though time and mileage was documented and a map available, herd management area boundaries are vaguely marked, so some mileage and hours in the herd management areas are rounded or estimated in our report.

Click (HERE) to Download and Read the Report in it’s Entirety

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Friday Fun on Tuesday

  Comic relief. Couldn't wait till Friday.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Good-bye Old Man

Wild Horse Education

We have written so much about the Sheldon Mustangs (just type Sheldon in the search bar) trying to inform you of the issues present at the refuge. We talked about the plans made to remove all horses and burros that started to be created five years ago (Sheldon is NOT a drought removal or a “for the good of the horses,” but simply because they do not fit in with what Sheldon says in their mission). We have tried repeatedly to get folks to recognize that Sheldon is not BLM but is managed by USFWS… but still under the Department of Interior. The history of Sheldon horses as “war horses” is well documented and we shared that with you. We have shown you the horses and told you where you could get one. We talked about our litigation (and there is more info on that to share later as more of the “story” is told). We wrote about the lack of accountability and tracking of horses that come out of Sheldon. Even court documents show that Sheldon horses admittedly went to slaughter. But what we have tried to stay away from is how this “feels.”
"Good-bye Old Man," a poster from World War I. Sheldon horses served in this war.
“Good-bye Old Man,” a poster from World War I. Sheldon horses served in this war.
That’s over.
note from Leigh: 
From all that I have witnessed over the years and all the opportunities that were given to USFWS, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, there is absolutely no respect in any way shape or form for a public that cares deeply and earnestly about our Mustangs and burros at Sheldon. This refuge is no “refuge.” It is managed with an attitude as if “any public that does not enter that refuge with a gun” is an intruder. I have watched this over and over again… in the very last moments… as the last of our war horses are sent most likely back into danger of slaughter and abuse… the “lines held firm.”
This is the last of the last. A first phase of the final removal was complete in August (note the Sheldon website gives you no daily stats or cumulative totals. At the trap you are also basically given no information). Sheldon is USFWS and there is no “adoption program” like the BLM has. The horses leave Sheldon unbranded (no visual identification, they are “microchipped”).
After litigation last year, Sheldon telling the Judge they changed their adoption contracts  to “help protect the horses,” and all the rest of the hub bub we had hoped this year might be different.
During the first phase we were going to take the old mares and foals, to help those that should not travel an option of staying in Nevada, and try to give this a “positive” outcome. Do you know where they are? They are still in the pens at Sheldon. The adoption contractor was basically told not to adopt to us. The intention of us taking in horses was so they would NOT travel to Texas and back to Nevada. Instead Sheldon insists that the tiny babies and old moms need to be hauled twice (if they even go to us). Essentially I was told “to keep my mouth shut” during that phase of things… hmmmm? What would you call that?
Because I wrote about “what happened” at Sheldon articles were written about me by a “hater” and the roundup contractor that were erroneous.
Horses have shipped from the first phase. One contractor in Utah received two loads of horses and miraculously found “good homes” for all of them in two weeks (I went through adoption stats in Utah for last year for BLM wild horses and found 22). Sounds like we have another J&S on our hands. The problem is that the Utah contractor is expected to get more horses from this group. We have seen no plan by Sheldon that will ensure horses do not go to slaughter or in any way be accounted for. Do you think Sheldon officials will go read micro chips on any horses over the next year to see if Sheldon horses are still alive?
Just want to hit a few points of “observation day”…
  • The day started with confirmation that Sheldon miscounted horses and I was right, there were only about 80 left.
  • I had a feeling Mark Amodei (R, NV) might go to Sheldon… when I asked if he had come I was told “I do not recall,” (I’m sorry if my Congressman called I would remember). I was told that not a single other person even filed out a permit to come and see the horses.
  • They were running at least two teams… one in the air and one roping from horseback.
  • On the way out I was not allowed to stop and photograph an old stallion, but a group of people with hunting tags were not an issue… just the woman with tears on her face… who was made to move and held for 20 minutes. Then when I was allowed to go back was “escorted” by a ranger as the hunters just drove on their merry way. The stallion had already moved on. As I left the range I was also followed by the ranger… I stopped to photograph three other horses I saw, threw up in my pretzel container, as the ranger stayed behind me. 
No other area I know has caused so much strife with the public, difficulties with the government agencies and so many wild horses repeatedly landing in danger… than Sheldon. No area I know of has had so little public action… just infighting, everywhere. Sheldon wild horses and burros are GONE… forever.
This is the last time for you to speak out for them. Sheldon Mustangs are being eradicated forever with tax payer money. “Adoption” contractors being paid with tax payer money. Will less than 30% of the horses removed in the last two years be accounted for? Did the American public pay for people to profit from the slaughter pipeline? Call your Congressmen today and tell them YOU want USFWS and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge held accountable for every wild horse and burro they removed from the range in the last two years. Tell them your “vote depends on it.” Say something like: USFWS needs to account for every horse and burro taken from Sheldon. The American public should not be footing the bill for people to profit from slaughter. We want proof (not fictitious paperwork) that the horses are safe. TELL your Congressman to say that the last 86 horses from Sheldon CAN NOT SHIP until ALL the horses are accounted for… those 86 horses ARE THE LAST OF THE SHELDON’s.
This video is intentionally edited to NOT be like most of our videos. This video has info in it but mostly what it “felt like.” It is narrated in first person with emotional content. I have NEVER left a range in tears. I am usually focused on “what can I do” or actually working on real plans to make changes or crafting litigation in my head if issues get out of hand. Just three days before Sheldon I sat in a room that contained Steve Ellis from the BLM (although it was mostly political pandering, I can not wait until the elections are over) and Congressman Amodei. Just two days before Sheldon I was at a RAC meeting where we did not receive one negative vote to an alternative to help keep horses on the range. The day before Sheldon I was at Broken Arrow that had not been open to the public in two years as we begin to address access issues in a “civilized” fashion.
Then the last observation at Sheldon… and it all changed…
Good-bye old man...
Good-bye old man…
Goodbye old man… ~~~
Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction of our wild horses and burros.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Help Save the 189 American Wild Burros from being sent to Guatemala

Straight from the Horse's Heart

News Flash from the Equine Welfare Alliance
Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
As many of you are aware, the BLM was going to send 189 burros to Guatemala after removing them from their homes. There is an effort underway to keep the Guatemala 189 burros in the US. At last count, only 25 remain without homes. We bring this to your attention because our president, John Holland, will be the proud owner of one of the burros. John has been heartbroken since he lost Selina (pictured above) so we are trying to help with the efforts in Selina’s memory.
For more information on adopting a burro and the BLM adoption paperwork, visit the facebook page here or contact Elaine Nash,   
Please share and help turn this into the Guatemala 0.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Letter to BLM’s Chief of Wild Horse & Burro Program & BLM’s failure to manage our wild herds on federal public lands

Straight from the Horse's Heart

We are publicly posting this letter that Grandma Gregg sent to Joan Guilfoyle, Neil Kornze, Ed Roberson and Sally Spencer:
Joan Guilfoyle, Division Chief
Division of Wild Horses and Burros
20 M Street, S.E.
Washington, DC
I strongly oppose the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plan to send 100 federally protected wild burros—at taxpayer expense—to Guatemala, where they would become working animals.  Once outside the U.S., the fates of the burros would be unknown – forever.
This idea flies in the face of the BLM’s legal mandate to care for and protect these cultural treasures here on U.S. soil.  It is not only cruel and a waste of resources—it also fails to address the ugly reality that led to this misguided schemethe BLM’s wholesale failure to manage our wild herds on federal public lands.
As for BLM’s Guatemala proposal:
First off,the Guatemalans will slaughter some (and eventually all) and I doubt they will give anyconcern about their slaughter methods but it won’t be humane.
Second, the burros are wild and although eventually could become pack animals with humane training and care, the typical and historically forceful methods to train equine that most people use in this and other countries is inhumane.
Third, I can tell you that nobody is ever going to check on the welfare of these burros – ever.  As a BLM adopter of two wild horses, BLM never checked on them until finally after two years; and then only because I pestered them about getting my ownership papers. In addition, they never checked on the wild stallion I bought – never. If anyone thinks that anyone is going to check on those in Guatemala … think again.  And even IF someone tried … how could they find a hundred burros that had been dispersed throughout the country?  They could not.
Fourth, by agreeing that it is acceptable to send our wild burros to another country we are setting a precedent that allows these American wild icons to be disposed of to another country and that is an unscrupulous precedent – if not illegal.  They are to be protected per the United States Congress.
Fifth, our burros do not belong to BLM or the government – they belong to the people of America and BLM has no right to sell our burros overseas to an unknown future.  They are not a livestock commodity.
Sixth, the most important issue is to again articulate to our government (BLM) that there are no excess wild horses and burros on their legally designated land that was (per law) given to them principally for their protection.  To agree to anything less than what is really true and legal and correct is a betrayal to the wild horses and burros and the American people who own these wild equine.
With about 50,000 wild horses and burros stockpiled in BLM holding facilities, clearly the BLM’s wild equine program needs a complete overhaul.  Rather than continuing to round up and remove horses and burros to holding facilities while instituting no legitimate on-range management plan, the BLM must first realize and admit that there are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their congressionally designated legal land.
The recent National Academy of Science (NAS) report on the Wild Horse and Burro Program determined that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has no evidence of excess wild horses and burros; because the BLM has failed to use scientifically sound methods to estimate the populations (NAS, 2013).
The NAS cited two chief criticisms of the Wild Horse and Burro Program: unsubstantiated population estimates in herd management areas (HMA), and management decisions that are not based in science (NAS, 2013).  Shipping our protected equines off to other countries is the very opposite of proper management.

* The photo above may not have been taken in Guatemala, but illustrates the point of how equines are mistreated in other countries.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


American Wild Horse Peservation

Story By Terri Farley     
Photos by Cat Kindsfather
Fallon, NV (October 17, 2014)….Following two years of locked gates and secrecy, the public was finally allowed to tour Bureau of Land Management’s Indian Lakes Road Short-Term Holding Facility in Fallon, Nevada. This facility is also sometimes referred to as "Broken Arrow," the name of the company of the contractor, Troy Adams, who operates the facility. 

The two 2-hour tours were conducted on October 17 by John Neill who has returned as Operations Manager of Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Facility after two years in Nevada BLM’s Carson City office.
“We’ll have another tour in spring and at least two tours per year.” Neill added, “The public has a right to see these horses.”  
Mustangs at Indian Lakes once lived throughout the West and their conformation and coloring reflect a variety of adaptations.  Pintos, palominos, grullas, creams, buckskins, sorrels, bays and blacks are built like Quarter Horses, Arabs, Morgans and draft-crosses. 
All of these horses are available for adoption or sale, and Neill agrees that public awareness of individual horses and their histories raises the number of adoptions. That’s one reason tours recommenced.
Adoptions aren’t handled at Indian Lakes. Wild horses or burros can be chosen there, but the animals are transferred to an adoption facility – like Palomino Valley – for processing and pickup.
Although Indian Lakes is considered a short-term facility, some of the horses who came there in 2010, or were born there, already wear hip numbers that indicate they will be transferred to long term pastures in the Midwest.
The numbers
Indian Lakes is designed to hold 2,850 equines. Corrals contain 2,712 wild horses and 21 burros according to BLM’s September 30, 2014 tally. The count provided by BLM is approximate, however, because foals born in most BLM facilities are not officially counted until they are weaned and freeze-branded at about 6 months old.
The 320-acre facility has 36 holding pens each measuring 70,000 square feet, each designed to hold about 100 horses.
Seventy-five per cent of Indian Lakes horses are mares, but a recent transfer of 400 mustangs from the shuttered Gunnison Prison program included geldings as well.
Indian Lakes is an “overflow facility” for Palomino Valley Wild Horse Adoption Center.  This means that wild horses living at Palomino are moved to Indian Lakes when horses from recent round-ups such as those just completed in Wyoming and Oregon are shipped to Palomino Valley to be dewormed, blood-tested, freeze-marked, gelded, and vaccinated.
The Past: Has Anything Changed?
Since the facility was closed to the public on May 28, 2010, visitors have only been allowed to view horses from seats on a truck-towed “wagon,” which made observation wild horse health difficult for visitors. It is most likely that the BLM locked the gates back then to stop the close-up documentation of wild horse injuries that resulted in public outrage.
Contractor Troy Adams’ Indian Lakes Road facility has improved since its hurried construction in last 2009.  Built to contain thousands of mustangs captured during the disastrous 2010 Calico Range roundup, it was more suited to feedlot cattle than range wild horses. Consequently, the facility was the scene of hundreds of wild horse deaths that resulted from round-up injuries, accident, shock, neglect, spontaneous abortion and lack of dietary and veterinary care.
Today, feed troughs are more suited to horses and, Neill says, an automated bale feeder makes it easier to customize hay mixtures for different equine populations. Vet care is still handled by Dr. Rich Sanford, but sub-contractor Lahontan Valley Veterinary Clinic does weekly vet inspections and care at Palomino Valley. In addition, BLM staff, not contractors, does most hands-on work, such as hoof care, with wild horses.
Hoof care is done 1-2 days per week, every week, Neill said, and indicated it’s an unending job.  Pointing to one corral, he added,   “You’ll notice some of the Utah horses came here with long feet.”
When a visitor asked if young horses’ tails had been docked, Neill said no. He explained that youngsters chew each other’s tails – not tugging once or twice in play, but daily. 
Even an “improved” prison is still prison.
Deprived of family and freedom, Indian Lakes’ inmates suffer the trauma and boredom of other prisoners.  The difference from other prisons, of course, is that these horses were innocent by-standers to the range vandalization for which they were jailed.

Terri Farley is a well-known author of books for young adults, including the popular Phantom Stallion series, which has sold over two million copies worldwide, as well as many non-fiction magazine articles. She is also a northern Nevada resident and dedicated wild horse advocate who recently joined AWHPC in its successful efforts to intervene in a lawsuitfiled by ranchers seeking the removal of thousands of wild horses from public lands in Nevada and the sale for slaughter of the nearly 50,000 wild horses warehoused in BLM holding facilities. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Happy Ending in Adobe Town

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
I had the best news today.
On Friday I got an email from Terry Fitch, Co-Founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  Someone had written to the WHFF tip section of the website.  It was Brad Langley, working south of Rock Springs in Wyoming’s Red Desert.  He had found an orphan foal, with no horses around for miles and nowhere in sight, and he did not know who to call or what to do.  He said that the foal ran after his truck.  He gave directions and GPS coordinates, and the foal was near the Eversole Ranch, where the harrowing last days of the Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town roundup took place.  I  immediately emailed him that he needed to contact Jay D’Ewart, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, and gave him Jay’s cell phone number so he would have the best chance of catching him immediately.  We did not know how long the foal could hold out without its mother.
(Before – all alone)
I thought on Saturday all was well until I received another email from Brad, that the number was disconnected.  Of course BLM offices are closed on the weekend but I emailed and called the office number for Jay, and tried texting him.  The text seemed to go through so I reported back to Terry and Brad that I would let them know if I heard anything, and they said the same.  Brad had gone into the same area with his wife that day trying to find the foal again, with no luck, and sent directions again.
I really was thinking that it was unlikely that the foal would make it through the weekend, but to my utter delight I got a message from Jay D’Ewart this afternoon. Apparently wranglers went out on horseback Friday to find the foal with no luck, buton Saturday, Marvin, who works in the oil and gas fields found the foal and took him home.
FullSizeRender (2)
(Foal napping)
Apparently he and his wife Tiffaney have filed papers at Rock Springs BLM to foster the foal, and he spent the weekend in their subdivision – he seems quite at home there!  He has been drinking milk replacer right out of a bucket, and the vet said he was 1 month old.  They will be moving him to a new corral soon, and are thinking of a name.  They said he will have a very good home.
(Foal in the kitchen)
It is wonderful to hear about a happy ending for one of the Adobe Town horses in the aftermath of the roundup.

Friday, October 17, 2014

BLM Ely Nevada District to Round Up Wild Horses

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Unedited Press Release from the BLM

Release Date: 10/16/14

BLM Ely District to Gather Wild Horses

Triple B Horses – BLM

ELY – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ely District is scheduled in early November 2014 to begin gathering and removing approximately 120 excess wild horses from in and around the Triple B and Silver King Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in eastern Nevada. Details will be posted on the district website at as they become available. The helicopter gathers are necessary to prevent further damage to private property and provide for public and animal safety.

The District will remove about 70 excess wild horses from the Triple B HMA, located about 30 miles northwest of Ely, that are damaging private property, and harassing and breeding domestic stock resulting in landowner complaints. Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Triple B HMA is 215-250 wild horses. The current population is 1,311 wild horses.

The District will remove up to 50 excess wild horses from in and around the Silver King HMA. The horses to be gathered are located about 120 miles south of Ely. They are a safety concern on U.S. Highway 93 and are damaging private property, resulting in property owner complaints. AML for the Silver King HMA is 60-128 wild horses. The current population is 452 wild horses.

BLM attempts to keep wild horses away from private property and the highway, including trapping and relocating animals to other portions of the HMAs, have been unsuccessful.

The BLM will utilize the services of gather contractor Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., of Nephi, Utah, which uses a helicopter to locate and herd wild horses toward a set of corrals to be gathered. The pilot is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse that is trained to guide the horses into the corral. The use of helicopters, which is authorized by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, has proven to be a safe, effective and practical means by which to gather excess wild horses with minimal anxiety or hardship on the animals.

Wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., where they will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals. Wild horses for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.

A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established at (775) 861-6700. A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and schedules. The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at:

Public lands within the HMAs will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions, and the BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. The BLM has established protocols for visitors to ensure the safety of the horses, the public, and BLM and contract staff. The protocols are available at: under Observation Opportunities.

Gather activities in and outside the Triple B HMA were analyzed in the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley HMA Gather Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA), signed in May 2011 and available at Gather activities in and around the Silver King HMA were analyzed in the Ely District Public Safety and Nuisance Gather EA signed in August 2014 and available at

For more information, contact Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist, at (775) 289-1842 or

Silver King Highway Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Triple B Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup Part II

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Eyewitness account by photographer Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Farewell Wild Horses of Wyoming

Day 24
Carol WalkerI am getting ready to drive out to Bitter Creek Road so I can get led out to the observation site for the 24th and hopefully last day of the Checkerboard Roundup in Wyoming. The Cattoors and the BLM hope to capture more than 100 wild horses today from Salt Wells Creek.
We are here again in Adobe Town, on public land, 3 miles from the trap site which is out of sight behind a hill. There is a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case on the subject of BLM restrictions of public observations of roundups, which states:
“To provide this First Amendment protection, the Supreme Court has long recognized a qualified right of access for the press and public to observe government activities.”
Even though we ask for a better, closer spot to view the roundup, we are told that this is the location that the contractor has selected.
Shortly after we arrived at the observation site 3 miles from the trap Shelley Gregory the public information specialist spotted a group of 20 horses coming down the hill and a few minutes later we spotted the helicopter. Then we can see more and more groups of horses converging. They are so small this far away they look like ants and all we can distinguish is lighter colored horses from the darker probably grey or appy. We finally count about 50 horses streaming in lines and standing out against the huge cloud of dust. As they go into the trap the dust billows wildly. The two helicopters immediately head right back out. Suddenly a gorgeous grulla stallion runs right in front of us heading away from the trap. We hope he runs and never stops. Then about 30 more horses are brought in by both helicopters in another cloud of dust.
Linda and I are the only observers on Day 24. A white pickup comes roaring up the hill and a tall, big woman leaps out and starts yelling at Linda, and gets right in her face, looming over her. She said I demand that you give me your name and address and phone numbers, how dare you tell me where I can be on my private land, and you have to tell me who made the phone call to the Cattoors. She started insisting that someone from yesterday had called the Cattoors and said she was too close and told the Cattoors to make her move. In the meantime I was getting alarmed and frightened so I called to Shelley Gregory, the Public Information Specialist who accompanies up to the observation site and she rushed over and so did the BLM ranger. They got between her and us, thankfully, and I was never so grateful in my life to have the ranger there. Both Linda and I said we did not make any such phone call, but she did not believe either of us.
Then she started ranting about “you people” who have all this money and do this lawsuit, and she has lost all this money having to remove cattle from her land because of the horses, and that RSGA had to do something about these inbred horses, running all over her land, they are just feral ranch horses, no Spanish blood, worthless, and her family has been there for 100 years long before the horses were there, which really is not true of course. The horses have been here hundreds of years before her family began welfare ranching in this location.
The horses are most certainly not inbred in this herd, which used to be one of the largest remaining wild horses herds. The numbers exceeded the minimum number, 150 adults, of wild horses necessary to sustain genetic viability. And Gus Cothran, the leading geneticist on our wild horses has been genetically testing the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creeks Herds for many years, and they have a high percentage of Spanish blood. she was ranting on and on I said you won, why are you yelling at us? They are taking all the horses. She said they can never get all the horses, they are still there. Luckily Shelley diffused the situation and took her aside and talked to her. The rancher asked where we were from and Linda said Colorado, asked for our names and towns and I said none of your business. Her mother, a small lady with white hair came out and told us that a stallion had taken the saddle pad right off of her daughter’s horse one time.
I said why don’t you just leave and she said this is public land you cannot make me leave and proceeded to stay up there for another hour and a half, probably just to annoy me. She had had a much better viewing spot than we did earlier before she came to harass us. She asked me what I was doing because I was typing on my phone as she was yelling at Linda, and asked if I were blogging about her and I said yes, and then she started ranting again about all the lies I was spreading about her. As she is muttering you better hope that your car doesn’t break down out here I know that I would rather walk the 20+ miles back to the highway than ask her for help.
Just before they left, she told me she wanted me to not post any pictures of her ranch on Facebook, would I not do that – I told her I don’t care about her ranch, I am here for the horses. She stomped off and drove away, and we were very relieved that she left.
I think it is a shame that she is the only representative of RSGA that anyone has been able to talk to. The four journalists who have been here during the roundup have all said that RSGA has been unwilling to give them an interview.
Helicopters brought in two more groups one of about 16 and another of 6 bringing the total for today to about 95. The helicopter was chasing a lone horse back and forth, back and forth, he stopped and went to meet another horse and possibly a foal. Then the helicopter peeled off possibly to refuel. We heard they are just going to possibly be bringing one more small group. We hope we are allowed to go see the horses in temporary holding once they are done.
I am now waiting to go into the temporary holding facility to see the over 100 horses that brought into the trap today from Salt Wells Creek near the Eversole Ranch. The last horse brought in today had the helicopter right over him for about an hour. He looked bewildered and slowed to a stop and a walk. We asked what they were doing and found out he was a young sorrel yearling and they were bringing a rider on horseback to catch him and put him in a trailer, which they finally did. The wrangler caught him and trotted and cantered with him to the trailer and he got in with the saddle horse and was taken to temporary holding.
As we were packing up to leave the observation point this morning after the helicopters finished for the day we were really surprised to hear and so were our BLM escorts to hear that this might NOT in fact be the last day of the roundup. Apparently there may be some more horses needing to be removed from the Checkerboard area even though the number removed is close to 1200 wild horses. We were told that because the number so far exceeded their estimates they were having a conference call with Washington D.C. this afternoon and that they might be rounding up more horses tomorrow. After what happened this morning with the woman from Eversole Ranch I think it is highly likely that she has been aggressively complaining that they did not catch every single horse on both her private and public leased land. This is speculation on my part, of course.
When we went into the temporary holding area in Salt Wells Creek this afternoon, we asked Sue Cattoor about what had actually happened with the rancher from Eversole and what had actually happened was she was parked too close to the path of the horses being driven on by the helicopters and Dave Cattoor called her and asked her to move. It had absolutely nothing to with us or any other member of the public observing the roundup at this trap site. The new location she moved to was still at least a mile closer than we were allowed to go.
At the temporary holding corrals late this afternoon I learned that they captured 129 horses today bringing the total to 1217 wild horses removed from their families and their homes. If they do capture 30-40 tomorrow on the really last day of the roundup they will have over 1250.
We did see the sorrel colt that had to be roped and put in the trailer – I had thought he was a yearling because he was so far away as it turns out he was a little foal too little to be weaned. He was happily reunited with his mother. There was a death today, in the morning, a weanling foal broke his neck when being sorted out for transport. The horses in the pens that we saw looked good and the big bay roan stallion was still king of the stallion corral.
Day 25
Linda and I left even though we knew they would be rounding up horses on this last day – neither of us wanted to go through another confrontation at the observation site with the angry rancher. Although the BLM ranger prevented us from being punched or even shot, he did not prevent the bullying and intimidation.
47 more wild horses are removed and the roundup is finally concluded. Of course the BLM has to have the last word, and posts on their Wyoming Facebook page that it is OUR fault that they removed 1263 instead of 800 wild horses in this roundup:
“Appeals and motions delayed removal operations, allowing more wild horses to move across the fluid boundary from solid block public lands into the checkerboard in preparation for winter and in search of water; thus, the population estimate for the checkerboard was surpassed by the number of wild horses actually removed.”
The truth is, we sought an emergency injunction to stop the roundup from occurring so that our case might be heard on its merits BEFORE the horses were rounded up and removed, because if we had won, none of these horses would have been removed. We lost the temporary injunction and the roundup went on. Our case has still not been heard, and the horses are being shipped or are already in Rock Springs and Canon City short term holding facilities.
I am sick, physically sick, and sick in heart and soul about what is happening to those horses right now. We will not hear about the rest of the deaths and injuries that will occur in transport and at the short term holding facilities. We will not hear about the final fate that can happen when the BLM sells the older horses under the Sale Authority Act, when they most likely will end up at slaughter. We may hear about the approximately 4% that get adopted.
To rub more salt in the wound, the BLM posted on Facebook these close up photos of these beautiful horses running into the trap, photos that they took close to the trap, an area none of the public were allowed to go into. The images I took that are in this post were taken at the public observation point with the longest lens available. The horses are simply dots.