July 2011 Highlights

Triple B_ Day 4From Laura Leigh:

This is the last video that will be posted for a bit. Editing video takes an incredible amount of time. I will go back to archiving the video in case the documentation is required and posting still images. But I think this series of three days gives you an idea how frustrating this is. It will not give you a clear picture of the wear and tear on your vehicle, the damage done to your equipment or the toll it takes on your face.

Day 4 began at holding and the lame excuses about the medical treatment of these foals (that were now euthanized) set the tone. Sometimes my hands will shake from the stupidity. It is like being a teacher in Kindergarten… but the Kindergartners make the rules.

Yes, the tone of this report is terse. But being with this contractor every day but two during Antelope, and now watching this at Triple B, is like chewing on tin foil.

I am usually very patient and quiet. I do my observations and reports.This time I am trying very hard not to allow the frustration to drive me.

On another front there may be some good news soon, but that will have to wait for another day. So pray that sanity can begin to take root somewhere.

Day 4 brought with it frustration after frustration.

It began with the excuses about water and food, with no indication that anything would change. It continued with the absurd assertions about the injured foals.

At the trap the radio was again left so I could not hear anything until one time Heather Emmons left it loud enough that I could pick up a call. It was the pilot asking Alan Shepherd to glass a horse that could not keep up. I was given no further information as to the age or reason the horse could not keep up… and of course I was held to a position that did not allow me any observation.

The horses the pilot drove into the trap came in two groups.

Then 4 runners went out and the pilot. The pilot asked Shepherd the location and was told it should be “right under you.” It was apparently a bush.

I asked if I could go to the rise and look. I said that all eyes should be utilized. I was not granted permission, nor was it denied. I stayed behind the tape. It is my belief that this agency attempts to push the limits of control until we are tempted to break them… only to utilize the unreasonable restraints against us.

After almost an hour of no information, BLM personnel reading newspapers, I asked to go give my dog water and check on him. That permission was granted. I hung out in the vehicle with the dog, as it is much cooler there. I saw two runners beating it back to the trap so I went back to the observation area only to find out that the runners were coming back… not because they had found anything… but because the pilot was driving horses to the trap.

Shepherd had given the authorization for resources to abandon the search and begin operations. The other two runners also returned to the trap. I expressed my outrage in no uncertain terms. I informed personnel that I had called people from my vehicle and the public knew they had stopped looking. I informed them I was not leaving until the horse was located.

After the drive Heather was called down to speak with Alan.

Miraculously the horse that had now been missing for over an hour and a half had been found. It had “run back home” and hooked up with a stud. A trailer went down the road and in less than ten minutes came back… with a load that looked much like it did when it left.

As I am not permitted to travel the same road as the trailer it would take me about an hour longer to reach holding. I would not see this animal unload.

The animal was allegedly a 4 month old that was so deformed it couldn’t run correctly and was euthanized. The same animal that ran almost to the trap and back again… I can not confirm that there was an animal even picked up off that range.

Have you pulled out all your hair yet? Have you gritted your teeth so badly that you have broken molars? Have you bitten your lip so hard it bleeds? Have you vowed to god you will not allow this “spoiled child agency” to continue without challenge… no matter what it takes?

If you can help me with expenses please donate to http://wildhorseeducation.org   


From Laura Leigh:

When you are at a roundup what you don’t see is as important as what you do see. Realize that the PR folks sitting with you are very good at what they do, that’s why they are there. Conversation can be extremely pleasant but a real distraction if you can’t talk and work at the same time.

Conversation began the first day I was there about Director Abbey’s “new normal.” The “new normal” just means “get better at hiding.” So you have to be very sharp. I told Jeff “new normal” just means Abbey sends cuter memos.

At Antelope and Eagle I was often able to listen to radio transmissions that filled in the gaps… as I am held to positions that limit my ability to assess. This roundup I guess I would scare horses if I could hear what is happening.

If you see riders (runners) go off you know it is for a reason. Open your eyes and ears and try to figure it out. Often you will not know, nor will you ever be able to confirm what you are told.

This day, in spite of every effort to keep pilot performance hidden, I saw the same evidence of fractured bands I saw at Antelope.

A lone stallion came over the rise…. and in spite of assertions that observers scare horses…. this poor baby came up over the rise to address us several times in an attempt to figure out how to save his family. Seated observers do not scare wild horses.

Again please note what you don’t see. Gather reports will not tell you how many are treated for injury. Gather reports will not tell you how many were fractured from their families and left. Gather reports will not tell you an awful lot. But here is the link: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/ely_field_office/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/triple_b__maverick/gatreports.html

At the end of the “roundup portion” of this day it was vital that I add an extra 2 plus hours driving time to the already long day. The amount of driving you need to do at roundups in Eastern Nevada can be staggering. The roads can be rocky and filled with alkali dust that is like driving in baby powder. I have gotten several nose bleeds from the combination of dust and dry air.

You will see why  the extra time was absolutely needed in Triple B  day 3_Part 2, coming soon.

PLEASE if you can donate to help me stay out here you are the gas in my tank! http://WildHorseEducation.org


Burns district roundup is over.


Burns District Website: http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/whb/kiger_gather.php

Official written report available soon.

Edited to add some photos of horses arriving at the Burns facility



Stud Released at Kiger HMA

Kiger Roundup Completed

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Kiger roundup completed today with the release of 15 studs back to the range. Studs chosen for color and breeding potential were returned. Mares for release will be determined later.

The Kiger herd has historically been a successful “range breeding” operation for the BLM. Kiger horses have had an unheard of 100% adoption rate.

Yet the community and local offices work hard to promote them.

“Kiger” is the name of the Herd Management area. Yet you will here people say there are “Kigers” in South Steens or even in Twin Peaks. “Kiger” is more accurately described as a coloring and not a breed. However a very successful breed registry has been formed.

The horse used as a model for the Disney movie “Spirit: Wild Stallion of the Cimmaron,” was a Kiger and added to the popularity of the herd.

The criteria for selection to be returned to the range was “get the white out.” Any horse that had white on face or feet went to the Burns Corral in Oregon for the adoption program.

After reviewing photographs many of the released animals bore freezebrands. This indicates that they were released from a prior roundup, most likely for breeding potential.

Horses will be made available for adoption through the Burns Corral. A internet “book” of adoptable horses will be uploaded to the website this fall. The corral has horses there for adoption that are not “Kiger” that are worth consideration as well.

Two horses have been reported as casualties of this operation. A young horse found dead in holding and an older horse euthanized for a pre-existing condition.

~~support the field reports on our donate page

Kiger mare and foal pen, Burns corral


Kiger Day 1 (Leigh)

Prelimnary count 30

Four foals

More than 50% studs

Two choppers flew

One run

Gelding prior to release is OFF the table. No horses to be gelded.

More later… exhausted.Got one hour sleep last night.

Spent sunset at Sheldon. Update on Sheldon soon.

Video edited later…

nap time.

Kiger 2011 (Leigh)

Selected for release (Leigh)



Although horses were on the land we call the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge prior to the Refuge getting it’s designation, and before the passage of the Federal Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, they have no enforceable protections. These wild horses are fair game for slaughter.

In 2006 a roundup occurred on public land that rocked the wild horse advocate community. In the sweltering sun of June, during foaling season, bands were stampeded through the desert with disastrous consequence.

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife, USFWS) had their specially screened contractors poised and ready to take horses and the contractors would receive $300.00 a head for each horse they removed from the range. The public was assured that gathers are safe and not done during foaling season. Yet extreme measures were taken to attempt to hide all activity from the public. Police were hired, gates were installed and a two-mile distance was then established as a barrier to hide actions from the public. Cattoor, the company that flies the helicopters, took to the air.

USFWS announced that the roundup had gone off safely. They reported one injury involving a lip.

However reports began to come in from those in the field of the various deceptions. Those listening to radio transmissions during the gather heard talk of a horse that broke a leg and was shot. A ground search began that turned up dead and injured foals, some of them bound and left in the desert. Mares in the gather pens aborted.

The contractors were paid $300. per head as they removed truckloads of horses from the range. Two of the three contractors had slaughterhouse connections and the unbranded horses coming off of public land ended up in the kill pen.

This roundup became known as the “Sheldon Massacre.”

In 2009 I filed suit against the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Interior (Yes, they are under Dept. of Interior). In 2009 while the nations eyes were on the Pryor Mountains and the famed herd of the “Cloud” series by Ginger Kathrens, the horses from Sheldon disappeared again. The suit was based on the fact that contrary to the statements made by the Refuge horses from Sheldon had no protection when they left the range. USFWS is not mandated to manage horses and burros with the same “protections” granted in the Wild Free Roaming horse and burro act of 1971.The horses and burros leave with no freeze mark, microchip or any way to identify them as wild horses, with tragic consequence.

That suit was on the verge of becoming “moot” as Sheldon NWR signed an agreement with the Bureau of Land management to include Sheldon NWR in the “mega-complex” that included wild horse areas in three states. Grandiose statements were made by Winnemmucca BLM district manager Gene Seidlitz and Paul Steblien of Sheldon about actual management of “ wild herds across the landscape.” Those claims included studying migratory patterns and genetic viability.

I was to be included in range studies occurring at the Complex. Gene Seidlitz did an amazing rendition of the sidestep and the only documentation I received was the 2008 BLM in-house report on Assessment, Inventory and Management. That document is basically a self-study in the ineptness of and lack of data used within the Bureau’s management of public land. Useful, but not a “cooperative” toward data compilation.

The suit was dropped as it would have needed to be re-crafted and re-filed. The support for the suit was practically non-existent from the public as other more publicized actions were occurring. But in the process I made a friend. Attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno wrote off the rest of the bill and remained interested in the issue of wild herds and public land.

Last year, as I was returning from Twin Peaks to head to Reno to prepare documents for the First Amendment Lawsuit (BLM, Silver King) with attorney Cowan, I got a call from Katie Fite (Western Watersheds). She believed there might be a roundup occurring at Sheldon without public notice. Leslie Peeples, another “drive alone with your dog on public land gal.” I informed her of the situation as I could not go. Leslie went.

Her trip uncovered that indeed there was a roundup without public notice. Paul Steblien, now retired manager of Sheldon, confirmed that the action was taken in order to avoid public scrutiny. Her trip also uncovered photos of the “bone pit” at Sheldon. Bones were strewn about in what appeared to be a careless manner, “As if their deaths did not matter,” according to Peeples.

Bone trail to the pit (Leslie Peeples)

A few of the horses taken were fortunate and made their way to Carr’s of Tennessee, but the rest remain unaccounted for. How many were left vulnerable, and shipped, to slaughter?

No access was given to view the roundup.

It is going to happen again.

The Bureau of Land Management roundup schedule has a gap in it. During that gap the contractors, Cattoor, will be at Sheldon. It has been confirmed.

An Environmental Assessment for another winter roundup at Calico Tri-state Complex (new name for the “mega-plex”) is in draft form and open for public comment until July 18, 2011.

How is it possible that in an area where there claims to be “management across the landscape”  that a part of the agreed upon area is not subject to the same review? How is it that horses can be rounded up from one section of the Complex and the action not mentioned in the document the public is supposed to comment on? How can horses from one section of this Complex be rounded up and protected by the mandates of Congress and horses from another section leave the range with no real protection from slaughter under law?

How is this in anyway a managed “Complex” for horses and burros that they recognize historically cross the border? One day the horse is on one side of a Federal boundary and protected and the next day on the other side and vulnerable to slaughter?

Is “management across the landscape” just another way of saying “wipe out the landscape?” It would certainly seem so.

Will the EA for public comment on Calico be revised to reflect the removal of horses from the Northern section of the Complex? It has yet to be determined.

Will these agencies ever manage horses in an honest effort to maintain a genetically viable herd on public land? It has yet to be determined.

Will we be given public access to observe? It has yet to be determined.

But if a chopper flies at Sheldon, I’ll be there. Sheldon is very close to my heart. When I die I want to go to Sheldon, as long as there are horses left there.

These horses will not leave public land without the public knowing what happens to them again.

~~ Laura Leigh’s work is supported through http://WildHorseEducation.org

Band Stallion (Leigh)