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Oct 20, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Read
Location: United States


What do the U.S. Government and British Petroleum have in common?  Well, aside from bureaucratic B.S. and a whole lot more money than we could ever dream of… they also seem to have a complete lack of concern for the sanctity of life.  BP and the Bureau of Land Management are the culprits behind the round up and destruction of entire herds of Wild Horses.

 
When I first heard about this, my first question was, Why?  What would the Government have to gain by eliminating wild mustangs?  The answer is disturbing and predictable.  Money money money money.

It seems that officials regard these majestic creatures to be pests…. invasive species that have no business taking up space on hallowed U.S. ground that could be used for more native species such as cattle.  You know, the mighty Herefords that once roamed free across the American landscape.  Do you sense my sarcasm? Hope so.

Officials from the BLM say that these horses must be rounded up because they are destroying the land where they roam, eating up all of the grass.  They say it is in the best interest of the horse, who would otherwise die for lack of food and water.  So they’re heroes, you see?  And after the horses, who in some cases numbered only about 1,500 to a million square acres of land, are removed, guess what often takes their place?  You got it, animals that do nothing BUT graze and use resources… cattle.

This is all the more sickening when one realizes that horses are NOT an invasive species.  They are native to North America.  Those in charge of their removal claim that horses came here with Spanish Conquistadors and that they do not belong here.  Not so.  North America is the birthplace of the horse and only after they were transported around the world did they become popular in Spain and other parts of Europe.  And after the majority of our native horses were gone, Europeans brought them back.  But this is their home.  More so than it is a native home to most of us, keep that in mind.

At one time, in the not so distant past, our Government agreed with that notion.  As the population of wild horses began to dwindle a few decades ago, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.  This act states:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

It is tragic to see that a government capable of showing so much compassion, has now turned its back on these creatures without whom life as we know it would be dramatically different.  Horses have transported our goods and ourselves, enabled us to communicate from one end of the Country via the Pony Express,  tilled our fields, and bore our burdens.  Shame, shame, shame on those who would see them destroyed.

So, what becomes of the horses after they are rounded up? Well, let’s take the prime example of the Calico Roundup in Nevada.   In the interest of fairness, here is the website provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management with regard to the Calico Roundup.

Calico Mountains Complex Wild Horse Gather

The wild horses that were “gathered” during this ordeal, were forced to run miles upon miles to their designated holding facility on sharp volcanic rock in the middle of winter.  BLM claimed that the winter snow would “cushion” hooves, but the reality is that the winter conditions made the trek far more deadly.  Lawyers fighting such roundups claim that the use of helicopters to roundup horses should be ruled as inhumane, because they cause such violent trauma to the terrified beasts.

During the roundup itself, 39 horses died of trauma or injury.  Once they reached the holding facility, the death toll kept rising.  Claims of poor living conditions and cramped quarters have been levied against the “caretakers”.   Investigative Reporter George Knapp says that some horses died after the rough terrain they were forced to gallop across actually caused hoofs to fall off.  As of March of 2010, 77 horses had died inside the Fallon facility where they were being held.

The following video contains footage captured by Laura Leigh, of Wild Horse Education to the Broken Arrow holding facility in Fallon, NV

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSqHQX4Q-Mw

“We are the Bureau of Land Management — not the Bureau of Wildlife, not the Bureau of Horses, not the Bureau of Cows. It’s the land,” said BLM District Manager Gene Seidlitz.

There was also the sad incident of an 8 month old colt who had to be euthanized.  Apparently its hoofs fell off after galloping over the rough terrain.  A vet who examined it said that it was the result of  “hoof trauma”.

Some other reports worth checking out:

Wild Horse Observer Attacked by BLM Helicopter
 http://arkansas-aahsbloggingupdates.blogspot.com/2010/10/blms-intimidation-is-real-and-dangerous.html

Wild horse roundup gathers nationwide protests
 
http://www.examiner.com/article/wild-horse-roundup-gathers-nationwide-protests

Pace of wild horse deaths accelerates at BLM holding facility
 
http://www.examiner.com/article/pace-of-wild-horse-deaths-accelerates-at-blm-holding-facility

The Bureau of Land Management’s Calico Hills wild horse roundup last winter proved to be among the bloodiest mustang operation in memory.  More than 100 horses died, some at the roundup site, most at the Broken Arrow holding facility. In addition, dozens of pregnant mares spontaneously aborted their young.

With little to no justification for the roundups, it is difficult to figure out why they would continue, especially in the light of all of the negative press the BLM has received, not to mention a request by a Federal Judge to stop.  Could it really be all about grazing room for cattle?  Or is there something more sinister going on?

Enter the Usual Suspects.

 
THE RUBY PIPELINE

The daunting project that is The Ruby Pipeline will transport natural gas from Wyoming to Oregon.  It just so happens that the line runs right through the heart of five separate wild horse herd areas.  The 700 mile pipe will also require a highway to be build parallel to the line.  The horses are in the way.  Turns out… one of the largest users of the pipeline will be BP.  And now you know the real story.

A new roundup that was taking place over the summer was suspended.  According to the New York Times:

The Bureau of Land Management has suspended a wild-horse roundup after seven animals died of dehydration. The agency says two groups were herded by helicopter to holding pens in northern Elko County on Saturday. The agency says extra water was provided and veterinarians treated dehydrated animals. But on Sunday, four horses were found dead in the pens and several others showed signs of colic and brain swelling. Seven horses eventually died.

George Knapp and Mark Allin from Above Top Secret did an expose about this very topic on ATS.com.   I highly recommend checking it out below.

The Mustang Conspiracy:  Sex, Lies, and BP

I could not upload the two videos on here, so please click on the link below (or copy/paste into your browser) and scroll to the bottom of the page in order to view them.  THESE VIDEOS  EXPOSES THE BLM FOR WHAT IT IS DOING TO OUR WILD HORSES - THE CONSPIRACY TO ERADICATE THEM

Part 1
The Mustang Conspiracy - Part One  DESTROY THEM ALL

http://extraordinaryintelligence.com/the-mustang-conspiracy-a-wild-horse-holocaust/

Part 2
The Mustang Conspiracy - Part Two - BP INVOLVEMENT 

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Posted: Oct 20, 2013 4:08pm
Sep 25, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States

Photo by Carla Bowers © 2012
Comments Due by Friday, September 27, 201
3

The wild horse herd of the Massacre Lakes Herd Management Area, one of California's few remaining wild horse populations, has not been touched by man or helicopter since 1988. As such, the herd is valuable for scientific research, as well deserving of its fair share of forage and water, on lands designated by Congress as "principally but not exclusively for their welfare."

Yet, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Surprise Field Office, in Cedarville, CA, is planning to wipe out most of this unique wild horse herd in favor of livestock grazing. The BLM is seeking public comments on an Environmental Assessment (DA) for a plan to set both the Allowable Management Levels (AMLs) for wild horses and grazing levels for privately-owned livestock on the public lands in the HMA. The BLM’s Proposed Action is to lower the wild horse herd of approximately 160-180 animals down to an unsustainable 25 & set the AML at 25-45 while allowing up to the annual equivalent of 141 cow/calf pairs to continue grazing. If the BLM has its way, livestock will be allocated three to six times more forage than wild horses in this HMA!

Now is the time to tell the BLM that California’s Massacre Lakes wild horses must be protected for future generations by setting an AML that sustains a genetically viable, diverse herd. This herd must not be destroyed at the behest of a single rancher who grazes livestock on our public lands at rock-bottom fees. Public lands livestock grazing is a privilege not a right, while protection of wild horses is mandated by federal law!

PLEASE  TAKE ACTION NOW  - CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.  THANK YOU FOR HELPING!


http://act.wildhorsepreservation.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15398








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Posted: Sep 25, 2013 11:48am
Sep 18, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States


                  How to Save America’s Wild Horses
                                              by Joe Camp

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195) as written outlines everything the wild horses and burros need. There’s very little wrong with the law. It’s just that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is ignoring the law, actually violating the very law they are charged with enforcing.

Per the law the BLM’s powers to maintain and control the population of wild horses is severely restricted. As Federal Judge Rosemary M. Conyers stated in her ruling against the BLM in the Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition case.

“It is a federal crime to remove a wild free-roaming horse or burro from public lands, convert a wild free-roaming horse or burro to private use, or kill or harass a wild free-roaming horse or burro. Congress delegated to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior jurisdiction over all wild free-roaming horses and burros ‘for the purpose of management and protection in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.’ The Act further provides that “[i]t is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.  It further provides that “[t]he Secretary shall manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands” and that “[a]ll management activities shall be at the minimal feasible level . . . in order to protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit such lands, particularly endangered wildlife species.”

The Judge goes on to say, “BLM’s authority to “manage” wild free-roaming horses and burros is expressly made subject to “the provisions of this chapter[,]” 16 U.S.C. § 1333(a), including the provision that “[i]t is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture . . . .” Id. § 1331. It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild freeroaming horses and burros to “manage” them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild.”

To read her entire ruling:
http://www.thesoulofahorse.com/PDF Files/JudgeCollyerAugust5-2009Opinion.pdf

The BLM appealed the ruling and then abandoned the appeal when they realized that if they lost at the appellate level the ruling would become legal precedent that could be used against them over and over again in other court actions.

The problem then is that most of the lawyers and advocates – for reasons I cannot explain – have not been battling the BLM’s violations of the law on the legal merits, often preferring to wage non-explicit emotional law and  'poor horse' rhetoric.  If all the litigating organizations would fight on the merits of the law , as the three mentioned below have done, it would, over time, give the BLM so many losses that they’d have no choice but to comply or give up their control (or better yet have it stripped away from them). Consider the following un-amended language of the 1971 law and what each means (any underlines or bolds are mine):

“It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this,  they are to be considered in the area where presently found as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” Defined as… ” the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial limits, and which is devoted principally but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare…”

With no legal basis, 95% of the land that by law was to be “devoted principally” to the welfare of the wild horses and burros was leased to for-profit cattle and sheep ranchers. To the tune of 150 cattle and sheep to one horse or burro. That is illegal. For-profit cattle outnumber wild horses and burros approximately 150 to 1 on land that by law is to be devoted principally to the wild horses and burros.

And that’s after the amount of land that was originally designated by congress to be devoted 'principally' to the wild horses and burros was arbitrarily reduced by the BLM by approximately 36%. Which also is illegal.

The land on which the horses and burros were to reside, according to the law, was to be “designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance.” Impossible with over a million cattle and sheep on the same land. Which is reason #2 why the cattle and sheep are illegal. Millions of cattle in no way help to achieve or belong in any natural ecological balance.

Worse yet, in some instances water rights on land designated by law to be devoted principally to the wild horses and burros were also leased to ranchers who then fenced in the water sources to keep the horses and burros out, cutting off their water supply. Then the BLM uses the fact that the horses have no water supply as their reason to round up the horses and remove them to government holding pens.

George Knapp, a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS Channel 8 in Las Vegas recently wrote:

“BLM will never stop the roundups on its own. Never. The only time it has been thwarted is when citizens have gone to federal court to fight it, and those victories are few and far between. Unless BLM is lassoed, hog-tied and forced to change, there is no chance in hell the prevailing anti-mustang sentiment in the bureau will ever do things differently.”

And the only way to lasso, hog-tie, and force the BLM to change is with the law. The courts. And to do that, lawyers are needed who can donate time to lawsuits against the BLM.  If you’re a lawyer, please consider this. I believe it’s the only ultimate way to save what’s left of the horses in the wild. The only way to finally bring the BLM to its knees. If you’re just a lover of horses or a concerned citizen and know some lawyers, please tell them about it. And maybe donate some money to organizations that are taking on the BLM and winning to help pay for lawyers who cannot afford to donate their time. The ultimate solution, in my humble opinion, lies there. In hammering the BLM in the courts with facts and law so hard and so often that they lose enough to be forced by the courts to buy back cattle grazing rights on public lands that were designated for the horses in the 1971 Law. And to return the horses to those lands they were granted. And to allow the cougars, bears, and wolves and other wildlife to restructure the natural ecological balance required by the law.

Organizations taking on the BLM in the courts and winning are: Ginger Kathren’s The Cloud FoundationLaura Leigh’s Wild Horse Education, and Suzanne Roy’s Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, all of whom have taken on the BLM in the courts using the BLM’s blatant disregard for the 1971 law… and won! We need more of that. And we need to make a frontal assault on the illegality of leasing grazing rights on land that congress designated to be for the wild horses and burros. But, again, it takes lawyers, and money. So please! Join the frontal assault.

It’s a long and winding road, but it can happen.

Proper enforcement of the law would effect the ultimate solution to the problem while drastically reducing the budgets of both federal agencies charged with implementing the protection of wild horses and burros. Enforce the law and you’ll save the horses and cut costs.

Enforcement of the law as written would give the horses and burros the land Congress intended them to have and there would be little need for “management” or management expenses beyond observation. And perhaps some serious research on how the horse is genetically designed to live, eat, travel, etc.

Joe Camp

- See more at: http://thesoulofahorse.com/blog/how-to-save-americas-wild-horses/#sthash.GOXRumTL.jFCzp76k.dpuf

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Posted: Sep 18, 2013 2:02pm
Sep 18, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Read
Location: Nevada, United States

 on SEPTEMBER 13, 2013

(Reno, NV) Legal action has been filed against Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) today in federal district court. The suit makes two claims: Sheldon NWR fails to follow policy to protect horses removed from the range from entering the slaughter pipeline, and Sheldon violates the First Amendment by failing to provide the public meaningful access to horses.

Sheldon has stated in documents governing removals, as well as to the public, that they provide protections for the horses from being sent to slaughter and follow up on placements facilitated by their carefully chosen adoption agents. Only after a member of the public, co-Plaintiff Bonnie Kohleriter, gathered information that Sheldon horses were still being sent to kill buyers did Sheldon investigate. Even after an investigation, done by Brian Day manager of Sheldon and John Kasbohm the program Director, showed considerable risk to Sheldon horses, the contract was renewed with this same offending adoption agent, J&S Associates. Sheldon NWR plans to send as many as 252 horses, at a cost of more than a quarter of a million taxpayer dollars, back to J&S Associates of Mississippi, in early October.

Horses residing in Sheldon are primarily descendants of cavalry remounts that served our country as late as the World Wars. Sheldon NWR plans to remove all the horses from the Refuge in the next two years claiming they are incompatible with the mission of the refuge. Even though a herd of long-horned cattle is protected at Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, part of the same refuge system as Sheldon, the historic value of these horses that inhabited the land prior to the founding of Sheldon, whose ancestors valiantly served our country, is not recognized as worth preserving.

“I can not believe that Sheldon refuses to ensure safe placement of our war horses,” stated co-Plaintiff Kohleriter “these may very well be the last of the Sheldon horses that the American public will ever see. I do not understand why we can not do all we can to give them a chance after they leave the range.”

Laura Leigh, co-Plaintiff and founder of Wild Horse Education has been following and fighting for protections for the Sheldon horses for over a decade. In 2009 she filed litigation that addressed Sheldon’s failure to protect horses from slaughter as they stated in their policy documents. In 2010 she was reassured by the Refuge that they had chosen a new contractor and would follow up to ensure compliance.

Instead of being transparent  about what they are doing, the Refuge has done all they can to hide their actions. In 2010 they removed horses without giving public notice and from 2010-2012 failed to provide any observation of removals at all. Earlier in 2013 the Refuge removed the burros that inhabited the area without so much as a press release. This year an observation opportunity for the horse removal was afforded to the public only after Wild Horse Education attorney Gordon Cowan wrote a letter on behalf of Plaintiffs.

“Observation opportunities at Sheldon are minimal,” stated Leigh “no meaningful observation to assess condition of animals has been provided at the trap site. No observation at all to document individual animals and their condition has been provided at holding. With all of the secrecy at Sheldon I shudder to think of the fate of the majority of the 400 horses coming off the range this year. The last horse from Sheldon may well disappear without any ability to document the treatment and well being of the horse. It is an American disgrace.”

A Temporary Restraining Order will be sought to stop the transport of horses from the range and to demand that documentation opportunities be afforded to document all horses in holding prior to them leaving the Refuge.

“There are many options that could be taken including slowing removals to allow appropriate placement,” stated Leigh “Right now the foaling rate at the Refuge is less than 5% due to permanent sterilization techniques used in the past. It is a shame that the only option Sheldon wants to explore is remove horses now without any sincere concern to the consequence. We will continue to explore all options to create an acceptable solution however it became clear that we had no option but to file litigation.”

~~~

WildHorseEducation.org is a Nevada non-profit devoted to gaining protection for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.

Links of interest:

Roundup photos from Sheldon: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/09/10/sheldon-roundup-begins/

Wild Horse Education Website: http://wildhorseeducation.org

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Posted: Sep 18, 2013 12:24pm
Sep 18, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Write E-Mail
Location: Wyoming, United States


Help save our wild horses. They are our National Heritage.  Please e-mail, write or fax your comments to the BLM.  


Comments for the Bureau of Land Management public scoping period to address wild horse and burro management are due Sept. 27. The wild horse and burro analysis is part of the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan, though it addresses wild horse herding areas close to Rawlins, such as the Great Divide Basin Herd Management Area.

Serena Baker, public affairs specialist for the BLM High Desert District, said two records of decision will be released in 2016 — one for Rock Springs and one for Rawlins.

In 2011, the Rock Springs Grazing Association filed a lawsuit against the BLM to get the BLM to remove all wild horses from private land within the “checkerboard” pattern of mixed land ownership. To settle the lawsuit, on April 3 this year the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming approved a consent decree, which outlines specific wild horse management analyses the BLM must perform.

The four herd areas affected by the analysis will be the Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town Complex, Great Divide Basin and White Mountain, according to the consent decree. There are 610-800 horses in Adobe Town, 205-300 in White Mountain, 250-365 in Salt Wells Creek and 415-600 in Great Divide Basin, said Ben Smith, wild horse specialist, who attended an open house meeting about the analysis on Thursday.

The consent decree states that the BLM analyze three of the four herd areas and change their designations from herd management area to simply herd area, which means the BLM would not manage any wild horse herds on that land, Smith said.

The White Mountain herd would be managed as a non-reproducing herd, which means the BLM would spay or geld every horse in the herd, Smith said. Other horses that were also spayed or gelded would be rotated into the herd as the number of horses began to dwindle.

Though the BLM has agreed to remove wild horses from the checkerboard private land areas, the consent decree only dictates that the BLM perform an analysis on the herd management areas.

Comments may be emailed to RockSpringsRMP_WY@blm.gov (include “Wild Horse Scoping” in the subject line), faxed to (307) 352-0329, or mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Rock Springs Field Office, Wild Horse Scoping, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, WY 82901.


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Posted: Sep 18, 2013 9:22am
Sep 18, 2013
Focus: Endangered Species
Action Request: Read
Location: Wyoming, United States


I listed this focus as "Endangered Species" because if we do not stop this, there will be no wild horses left.  These horses are part of our American Heritage and need to be protected!  Time to STOP subsidizing "welfare" ranchers on our public lands!  They make MILLIONS off our tax dollars and now demand we use even MORE of our tax dollars for the BLM to remove OUR wild horses!  THIS MUST STOP!!!


Western ranchers frequently enjoy vast discounts on public grazing fees. So why are they so angry about sharing space with America's beloved wild horses?

As Wyoming swelters under the summer heat, as the ash and dust from its forest fires spread out across the Western states, as a sustained drought deepens the fissures in its barren expanses of scrub and rock, the battle over the fate of thousands of its wild horses has just exploded anew in court. Here is a nasty bit of litigation worth watching for many different reasons, not the least of which is that may help more people better understand the magnitude of the economic and political forces which are currently arrayed against the federally-protected American mustang.

The short version is a familiar one. Area ranchers, who never wanted the horses around to begin with, now want the herds gone completely from a vast "checkerboard" patch of public and private land in southwestern Wyoming, in and around Sweetwater County, near Rock Springs. They allege that the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management has "utterly failed" to limit the number of wild horses which roam these million-acre (or two-million acre) ranges. We have a legal right to declare we want no horses on these land, the ranchers claim, and it's now time we exercised that right.

Advocates of the wild horses, who have intervened in the case, argue that the ranchers have no such legal right to push the BLM into removing more wild horses than they already have from Wyoming's public and private lands. These tribunes say that federal officials-- led by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar himself, a longtime Colorado rancher-- have aggressively reduced Wyoming's herds, often at great peril to the horses and always at significant expense to taxpayers, who pay for both the roundups and the massive holding facilities where tens of thousands of wild horses now are corralled.

And the feds? As usual, the government is caught betwixt and between. The BLM evidently cannot remove Wyoming's wild horses fast enough to satisfy the ranchers. And it clearly cannot keep enough of the herds near Sweetwater County to satisfy the horse advocates. Indeed, one of the most disappointing aspects of the flurry of briefs that have been filed in Rock Springs Grazing Association v. Salazar is the faux indignation offered by federal officials in defense of their herd management policies -- as if they didn't know why this lawsuit came about the way it did.

THE PRELUDE

Even the lead-up to the litigation has dark meaning here. The lawsuit seems to have been driven from within. In early 2010, Interior Department Assistant Secretary Sylvia Baca, the former oil company executive, candidly told the ranchers that they would have to sue her own agency to vindicate their claimed right to get rid of the horses. This is the same Sylvia Baca, a BP veteran, whose subsequent work for the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has worried environmentalists and others concerned about the oil and gas industry's influence on the agency required by law to oversee it.

The parties appear to disagree on precisely what Baca said, however, and there even is some room between versions offered by the ranchers. Last year, when the lawsuit first was filed, the Grazing Association wrote in its complaint that Baca, then working for Interior on wild horse issues, "attributed the [BLM's] failure to comply [with horse removal requirements] with external influences on the Department and Congress, and the lack of funding due to the need to contract for sanctuaries. The Assistant Secretary stated that litigation would be necessary to secure additional funding for wild horse gathers."

In their opening brief, however, the ranchers have toned it down a bit. They write: "The Deputy Assistant Secretary advised RSGA that DOI policies and priorities made it difficult to offer a solution short of litigation." Whatever the exact words, Baca's advice to the ranchers represented an appalling lack of neutrality about the Interior Department's political and legal mission (which is, in part, to avoid encouraging private parties to sue). More than that, it represented an overt act of hostility toward the federal government Baca still serves. Neither the feds nor the horse advocates mentioned it in their briefs.

THE RANCHERS

The lawsuit began last year but it took a while to heat up. At the end of May, the Rock Springs Grazing Association filed a motion asking a federal trial judge to enter an order forcing the BLM to remove all of the horses in the Checkerboard, an interconnecting pattern of public and private land that dates back to the days of the Pacific Railways Act of 1864. Not only is such removal required by federal statute, the ranchers argue, the feds still are bound by the terms of a 1981 federal district court order which had settled an earlier generation of litigation over the area's wild horses.

The first half of the Grazing Association's opening brief is interesting, and particularly candid for a court document, because it highlight the two strains of thought and belief that seem to animate the ranchers' dislike for the wild horses and their human advocates. The anger and frustration the ranchers feel toward the federal government practically shoots itself off the pages. And so does the impression that the ranchers never truly accepted the letter or the spirit of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the Nixon-era federal law that first tried to protect the horses from humans.

The Grazing Association argues that the Wild Horse Act requires federal officials to remove wild horses from private land. Since the ranchers can't by law build fences separating their land from public land, the Grazing Association says the horses must go for the sake of land conservation. The ranchers contend that because they have reduced grazing of their own livestock" during the current drought it is "outrageous" that the BLM has performed only "token gathers" of wild horses. The tone of the entire brief is contemptuous-- and why not? The ranchers seek to hold the feds in
 civil contempt.

THE FEDS

One month after the ranchers filed their motion, the feds responded. The government's brief is dry and spare and focuses a great deal upon civil procedure, administrative law and Washington's version of events surrounding that 1981 court order. Indeed, there is a long history of conflict here between the ranchers and the feds, decades of promises and suspicions, of negotiation and disappointment. All of it is, at least in part, a result of the legislative compromises built into the original statute-- as well as new economic forces unleashed by subsequent amendments like this dubious one in 2004.

The feds say that the Wild Horse Act does not require them to remove wild horses from private land any faster than is "practicable" (to use the pragmatically bureaucratic word contained in the Bureau's own regulations). And they argue that the Grazing Association now is precluded from relying upon the 1981 court order to force the wild horses out any quicker than they already have been forced out by massive roundups In 2011 alone, the feds note in their brief, they removed more than 3,000 wild horses from the five "herd management areas" that are of concern to the Grazing Association.

Here's how the feds end their opening brief:

For over a century, [Rock Springs Grazing Association] has benefited from utilizing public lands, and before RSGA secured its interest in these lands, wild horses were present. After 30 years of formal management and agreement, RSGA has changed its mind as to whether this unique land pattern [the Checkerboard] can support wild horses and grazing. RSGA is free to change its mind under the Wild Horses Act, but the speed at which BLM complies with the request to remove these horses from RSGA's land must take into account the prior history and unique land management issues presented on the Checkerboard.

THE ADVOCATES

The advocates for the wild horses pick up where the feds leave off and come to what clearly is the most politically compelling component to this dispute. It's not just the order-of-magnitude difference between the small number of wild horses now grazing in the Checkerboard  and the huge number of private livestock grazing there. It's not just about the language of the Wild Horse Act. It's about a form of social and economic compact the ranchers fail or refuse to recognize. If the Grazing Association wants to play on public land, the horse advocates argue, they should at least pay for it:

While RGSA is complaining about a hundred extra wild horses on two million acres of land-- half of which are publicly owned-- RGSA is permitted to have the year-round equivalent of tens of thousands of private livestock grazing on these same lands for its own economic benefit at taxpayer expense enough though, despite RGSA's statement to the contrary, this livestock is competing for the same forage that is needed by the wild horses that are statutorily required to be protected (emphasis in original).

One of the issues worth focusing upon here and now, the advocates say, is the extent to which the private and corporate beneficiaries of "welfare ranching" now seek to further dictate the terms of their sweetheart deals with the federal government. Among other things, "welfare ranching" describes the process by which public grazing rights are given to ranchers at ridiculously low fees, a sort of secret subsidy that reportedly costs the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Shouldn't the ranchers have to give something in return for the economic benefit they get from the low fees?

In 1982, ranchers were charged $1.82 per AUM (animal unit months, a standard industry measurement). In 1992, the cost was $1.92 per AUM. By 2002, the cost was lowered to $1.42. Today, and since 2007, the cost has been $1.35. This is "the lowest fee that can be charged," dryly notes the 2012 Congressional Research Service report chronicling these figures. (See below). It's no wonder that Anadarko, the corporate oil, gas and land giant with major investment in this part of Wyoming, has also entered the litigation as an intervenor. As with every other story involving law and politics, no matter how far away from Washington, the quickest way to figure out what's going on is to follow the money.

THE RATES

Finally, to illustrate the extent to which the federal government subsidizes ranching, here is a passage from a Congressional Research Service report, dated June 19, 2012, and titled "Grazing Fees: Overview and Issues."

The BLM and FS are charging a grazing fee of $1.35 per AUM through February 28, 2013. This is the lowest fee that can be charged. It is generally lower than fees charged for grazing on other federal lands as well as on state and private lands. A 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that other federal agencies charged $0.29 to $112.50 per AUM in 2004. While the BLM and FS use a formula to set the grazing fee (see "The Fee Formula" below), most agencies charge a fee based on competitive methods or a market price for forage. Some seek to recover the costs of their grazing programs. ...

State and private landowners generally seek market value for grazing; in 2004, state fees ranged from $1.35 to $80 per AUM and private fees ranged from $8 to $23 per AUM. In 2010, state grazing fees continued to show wide variation, ranging from $2.28 per AUM for Arizona to $65-$150 per AUM for Texas. Moreover, some states do not base fees on AUMs, but rather have fees that are variable, are set by auction, are based on acreage of grazing, or are tied to the rate for grazing on private lands. The average monthly lease rate for grazing on private lands in 11 western states in 2011 was $16.80 per head.

BLM and the FS typically spend far more managing their grazing programs than they collect in grazing fees. For example, the GAO determined that in FY2004, the agencies spent about $132.5 million on grazing management, comprised of $58.3 million for the BLM and $74.2 million for the FS. These figures include expenditures for direct costs, such as managing permits, as well as indirect costs, such as personnel. The agencies collected $17.5 million, comprised of $11.8 million in BLM receipts and $5.7 million in FS receipts.

For FY2009, BLM has estimated appropriations for grazing management at $49.3 million, while receipts were $11.9 million. The FS has estimated FY2009 appropriations for grazing management at $72.1 million, with receipts estimated at $5.2 million. Receipts for both agencies have been relatively low in recent years, apparently because western drought has contributed to reduced livestock grazing and the grazing fee was set at the minimum level for 2007-2011.

Other estimates of the cost of livestock grazing on federal lands are much higher. For instance, a 2002 study by the Center for Biological Diversity estimated the federal cost of an array of BLM, FS, and other agency programs that benefit grazing or compensate for impacts of grazing at roughly $500 million annually. Together with the nonfederal cost, the total cost of livestock grazing could be as high as $1 billion annually, according to the study.

Grazing fees have been contentious since their introduction. Generally, livestock producers who use federal lands want to keep fees low. They assert that federal fees are not comparable to fees for leasing private rangelands, because public lands often are less productive; must be shared with other public users; and often lack water, fencing, or other amenities, thereby increasing operating costs. They fear that fee increases may force many small and medium-sized ranchers out of business.

Conservation groups generally assert that low fees contribute to overgrazing and deteriorated range conditions. Critics assert that low fees subsidize ranchers and contribute to budget shortfalls because federal fees are lower than private grazing land lease rates and do not cover the costs of range management. They further contend that, because part of the collected fees is used for range improvements, higher fees could enhance the productive potential and environmental quality of federal rangelands.

 

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Posted: Sep 18, 2013 7:52am
Sep 17, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Read
Location: Wyoming, United States
BLM ANNOUNCES MEETINGS ON MASSIVE REMOVALS OF WYOMING WILD HORSES

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (Sept. 6, 2013) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced public meetings to be held in Rock Springs (Sept. 11) and Rawlins, WY (Sept. 12) to discuss removing all wild horses from the private and public lands of the Wyomingcheckerboard.

"Press releases issued by the BLM have been confusing to say the least," says Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.  Press releases dated August 16th and 27th state that BLM agreed to remove all wild horses from the Rock Spring Grazing Association's (RSGA) private lands. However, the Federal Register Announcement clearly states the scoping notice is to consider the environmental effects of revising the Resource Management Plans (RMP's) for the Rock Springs and Rawlins Field offices by considering managing the Salt Wells Creek (572 horses), the Great Divide Basin (439 horses) herds for zero wild horses, changing the Adobe Town (433 horses) herd’s Appropriate Management Level (AML) to 225 horses, and managing the White Mountain (205 horses) herd as a non-reproducing herd: eliminating 46% of the wild horses in Wyoming.

Under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the BLM must consider:

  • Environmental impacts;
  • Any adverse environmental impacts should the proposal be implemented;
  • The reasonable alternatives;
  • The relationship between local short-term uses of man's environment enhancement of long-term productivity;
  • Irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources involved in the proposed action should it be implemented.

The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandates, “The Secretary shall manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands.

"The removal of horses from three herd’s and the sterilization of horses in White Mountain will cause irreversible damage to the ongoing survival of wild horse herds in southern Wyoming, will adversely impact tourism, and will reduce the value of public lands by the loss of these symbols of freedom," explains Kathrens. "This action violates the Wild Horse & Burro Act. If the BLM removes these horses, it not only violates the multiple use mandate for public lands but it would be managing the lands for the benefit of the Rock Springs Grazing Association, for monetary gain, instead of according to the original intent of Congress in creating the Act."

Scoping meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions with BLM specialists and view maps and posters detailing the RMP revision process. Written comments may be submitted until Sept. 27. 

"It is our hope that there will be enough public outcry against this outrageous atrocity, that the BLM will consider a more positive approach involving on-the-range management as opposed to massive removals,” states Kathrens.

Meeting Location and times:

Sept. 11, 4-7 PM                                                         Sept. 12, 4-7 PM

Rock Springs, WY                                                      Rawlins, WY

Rock Springs Field Office                                          Rawlins Field Office

280 Highway 191 N.                                                  1300 N. Third St.

Rock Springs, WY                                                      Rawlins, WY

For those unable to attend the meetings submit comments:

Email comments to to= RockSpringsRMP_WY@blm.gov&;su=Wild%20Horse%20Scoping"> RockSpringsRMP_WY@blm.gov 

(please include “Wild Horse Scoping” in the subject line),

Fax (307) 352-0329

Mail: Bureau of Land Management

Rock Springs Field Office

Wild Horse Scoping

280 Highway 191 North

Rock Springs, WY 82901. 

# # #

Media Contacts:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation

 843-592-0720

paula@thecloudfoundation.org

Links:

Federal Court Sanctions Gov’t Plans to Eliminate Wild Free-Roaming Horses from Wyoming Checkerboard

BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins Open Scoping on Wild Horse and Burro Management

BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins Schedule Public Meetings and Extend Scoping on Wild Horse Management

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.

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Posted: Sep 17, 2013 9:11pm
Sep 17, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

Few images evoke the romantic spirit of the West like a herd of wild horses galloping under a cloudless sky.

But this romance is a heartbreaker.

More wild horses are being held in captivity at taxpayer expense than can be found in the wild.

This was not the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. It assigned the Bureau of Land Management the job of managing the animals on public lands.

Ever since, disagreements about how many chewing mouths the range could support have been intense. Public-land ranchers resent the competition for forage these wild animals represent.

Critics of how the BLM manages the horses and burros have long argued that the program was more about rounding up and removing animals than allowing them to roam free. The BLM has argued that allowing the horses and burros to remain on lands where there are no natural predators would lead to population explosions and result in starvation scenarios the public would not tolerate.

Taxpayers put up plenty for a program that pleases few.

The budget for the BLM program ballooned from $20 million in 2000 to $75 million in 2012. The primary cost is to hold the animals, and the feds say they are running out of space. Some animals are adopted, but demand does not keep up with the supply of captured horses and burros.

The BLM estimates 40,605 wild horses and burros roam BLM land in 10 Western states, or 14,000 more than are compatible with other uses of the land, such as public-land ranching. More than 49,000 animals are held in captivity.

A report released by the National Academy of Sciences in June points out that removing horses is an ineffective means of population control because the animals that remain reproduce faster.

Birth-control measures — including a plan to round up, surgically spay and return the animals to the wild — have also been met with criticism by horse advocates. But the National Academy report recommends increased use of a fertility-control vaccine.

The BLM is in a tough spot. It needs guidance and hard science to improve this program to accomplish the law’s goal of preserving wild horses and burros.

In June, Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva, long a champion of the horses, and 29 other House members sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell demanding a review of the program. His office says there has been no response.

The BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will hold a three-day meeting in Virginia beginning next Monday to discuss the National Academy report and “issues relating to the management, protection and control” of wild horses and burros.

Comments can be sent by e-mail to wildhorse@blm.gov. Put Advisory Board Comment in the subject line.

Keeping wild horses and burros on public land requires a cool, well-informed look at the facts, as well as a leavening of compassion and respect for the heritage of the West.

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Posted: Sep 17, 2013 9:05pm
Sep 16, 2013
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Read
Location: Nevada, United States

The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began to implement its ill-conceived plan to eliminate all wild horses and burros in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada. 

The first of two large-scale roundups began on Monday, September 9, 2013 -- due to the poor observation, accurate number of horses captured are unknown. The following approximate numbers were provided by the Service:

Day 1, Monday: 60 wild horses were captured (trap site #1: observers were kept 1 to 1.5 miles away from the trap site; no observation of horses in holding was allowed)

Day 2, Tuesday: 100 wild horses were captured (trap site #1: no observers present)

Day 3, Wednesday: 60 horses were captured (trap site #2: observers were kept at least 1/4 mile away from the trap site; no observation of horses in holding was allowed)

Day 4, Thursday: 60 horses were captured (trap site #2: no observers present)

Day 5, Friday: 30 horses were captured (trap site #2: no observers present)

The roundup continues today, Saturday, September 14, 2013.

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Posted: Sep 16, 2013 8:45pm
Aug 11, 2007
Well, we fought the good fight, but greed and corruption has won.  Our only hope is to keep signing our petition to never widen Rte One through the Magurrewock Wetlands.  In court, MDOT's attorney stated they NEVER would.  We shall see. 
Due to construction, etc., Canadian Geese and bald eagles are absent from nesting grounds this year.  So Sad!
If you have not already signed petition, please do so now. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/925517279
My thanks to all of you for your support.
Judy
Here is the press release from Friends of Magurrewock.
 

August 6, 2007

 
Final Statement from Friends of Magurrewock and our decision to drop our lawsuit against the US Army Corps of Engineers and the construction of a 3rd international bridge in Calais. 


Maine DOT’s selection of Calais as the site for building a badly needed 3rd international bridge in the Calais-Baileyville area and the actual building of a bridge there was and is a destructive, self serving and moronic act. It was an act steeped in greed, stupidity, lies, and deceit. It was an act founded and led by MDOT a member of that scourge on our society: “the good old boy network” that network of power hungry bureaucrats and politicians along with well connected greedy businessmen. A network that supposedly operating within the law imposes its self serving will and desire over the will of the general public at the expense of the taxpayers all for their personal gain. After personally, along with others, having wasted four years of my life dealing with the treacherous and mafia-like, "good old boys,"  I write this one last epistle. Hopefully others will do the same.

 

The single most important document prepared for use by MDOT to determine the selection of this 3rd bridge location is a Draft Environmental assessment (DEA) dated Dec. 2001. This lengthy document was ordered by MDOT and others and paid for by the taxpayers. Its purpose was to follow the selection process from beginning to end in governing and determining the 3rd bridge site. The purpose for building this 3rd bridge is set forth on Page I-5 of this (DEA) and reads as follows: (1) to relieve traffic congestion at the Ferry Point Crossing while providing for the safe and efficient movement of current and future traffic, goods and services. (2) To provide a GSA owned inspection facility that would facilitate the efficient inspection and processing of vehicles and people at the border crossing. (3) To create a gateway between Maine and the Canadian Atlantic Provinces as part of an overall east-west transportation corridor.

 

With regard to the east-west transportation corridor/highway, Pg. I-6 of the DEA states: (4) the strategy for this section of Maine’s east-west link has four parts. The first part includes the construction a new international border crossing in the Calais-St. Stephen Area within the next five years. 

 

With regard to Routes 1 and 9 from Calais to Baileyville through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Pg. I-7 of the DEA states the following: (5)  Route 9 has been designated as part of the East-West Highway in Maine. The purpose of the East-West Highway is to designate a primary link between the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and the Midwestern United States. (6) Route 9 is the primary east-west highway through downeast Maine and is part of the National Highway System connecting the region with Interstate 95 at Bangor. The purpose of the National Highway System is to provide an interconnected system, of principal arterial routes which would serve major population centers, international border crossings, ports, airports, public transportation facilities, and other intermodal transportation facilities and other major destinations; meet national defense requirements; and serve interstate and interregional travel.

Bound by and with this Draft Environmental Assessment in hand MDOT selected Calais as the site for this 3rd bridge and proceeded to apply for and receive permits from every

agency from whom a permit was required. Not in one permit application did MDOT ever include or mention the fact that building a 3rd bridge in Calais would result in the future widening of the narrow 2-lane Route 1-9 from Calais to Baileyville through the Moosehorn NWR. By eliminating this future widening from their permit applications MDOT deviously and deceitfully was able to circumvent the environmental laws and requirements of thoroughly examining practical alternatives and the secondary impacts and cumulative effects that building a 3rd bridge in Calais would have on the Magurrewock Wetlands and the Moosehorn NWR.  

Throughout the permitting process and to the present, MDOT continues to make the following moronic statements with a straight face. (1) We have no short, intermediate or long term plans to widen the 2-lane Route 1-9 through the Moosehorn NWR. (2) Building a 3rd international bridge in Calais will not increase traffic through the Moosehorn NWR. 

Other than the greedy money and power hungry good old boys out there with something to gain with a third bridge in Calais, can anyone of common sense and average intelligence imagine the 2-lane Route 1-9 as it passes through the Moosehorn NWR today serving the purposes as set forth in the Draft Environmental Assessment on pages I-6 and I-7 as recited above in paragraphs numbered 1 through 6? In your wildest dreams could anyone imagine the present 2-lane Route 1-9 through the Moosehorn NWR meeting national defense requirements, serving ports and airports and serving major population centers?  The proponents of a third bridge in Calais apparently believe this as well as does a Federal Court Judge. Does any of this tell you where America is heading and why? 

For the past four years Friends of Magurrewock, with the facts and truth on our side has been confronted with an artful and deceitful plot led by Maine DOT. Because of the lies, deceit and hypocrisy involved from top to bottom and finally as the result of the Federal Courts recent loathsome and environmentally disastrous decision of allowing Maine DOT to continue building a 3rd bridge in Calais laying the groundwork for approving the dishonest permit given to MDOT by the US Army Corps of Engineers allowing the construction of a 3rd bridge in Calais FOM has made the decision to drop our lawsuit filed against the US Army Corps of Engineers. We will leave the cowardly Federal Court Judge, the deceitful MDOT and the water downed  political and shameful Corps of Engineers to explain one day how in 2007 a 3rd international bridge in Calais and a 2-lane highway through the Moosehorn NWR meets National Defense Requirements and has the ability to serve ports, airports and major population centers.

 

From beginning to end the process of selecting Calais as the site for building this 3rd bridge and the process of obtaining permits to build a bridge in Calais was a shameful farce a fraud and a sham. Friends of Magurrewock never had a chance. Many told us this years ago but we never believed that all of America had been polluted by the good old boy network. We were wrong and now even Washington County, Maine has gone down the proverbial tube.  Wake up Maine and America before it’s too late if it isn’t already.

 

Friends of Magurrewock

  

William L. Szirbik, Sr. President

 

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Posted: Aug 11, 2007 11:19am

 

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Judith E.
, 1, 2 children
Calais, ME, USA
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