April 2012 Highlights

WILD HORSES AND BURROS STANDING AT THE STEPS OF THE SUPREME COURT?

Leigh and others at the Calico Complex Roundup 2012 (Mike Lorden) (Note from Laura: This is much better than we have recently had, yet a far cry from what we had before we released images)

Note from Leslie Peeples, Co-Director

WILD HORSES AND BURROS AT THE STEPS OF THE SUPREME COURT

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has had 40 years to come up with an acceptable strategy for “humanely” managing wild horses and has not done so.  The simplest issue in the program, for most people to grasp, is the need for humane care.  All horse people know that what they have seen over the years in photos and video is not “humane”.

The agency has not wanted us to see foals with their feet falling off, broken legs, broken necks, sick horses, animals hotshotted repeatedly, horses drug on the ground by a rope around their necks, stuck in panels and gates or driven to exhaustion by a helicopter. What we cannot see we cannot act on.

Due to Wild Horse Education’s (WHE) court cases, we will we be able to document the animals themselves. With the new access to information we will also be able to expose everything else that needs to be exposed to cfeate real change for fair and euitable management of wild horses and burros.

Legal issues can be complicated to understand but for anyone who cares about America’s wild horses and burros, or our constitutional rights, it is imperatve to realize the impact that WHE court cases are having toward positive changes and what those changes are and may become.

Our attorney Gordon Cowan once said, “The fastest way to create change is to make the guilty party operate in a fish bowl”.  This allows the public to “see” the truth and act on it, creating change.

The public has been blocked from truly seeing and knowing what is happening to America’s wild horses and burros.  From planning, to the range information, through the roundups and all the way to the animals end destinations, much has been hidden.  WHE brought the “1st Amendment” suit to open the doors to the information to create change and it now has far reaching implications for transparency.

To help understand this complicated process we offer you this analogy; example once there was a child of color that was blocked from going to a “white” school.  The case was taken to the local district court and denied. The case was then appealed in the Circuit Court and denied.  The case then moved up to the highest court, the Supreme Court, where the judges ruled it was unconitutional to block her from the “white” school.  They sent the case back to the local district court with strict instructions for the judge.  Now the district court rules it is unconstitutional and the young lady is allowed to go to the school.  Setting this “case law” means that from that moment forward no child of color will ever be blocked from any school anywhere in America.

On Tuesday, April 24th, a mandate came from the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco that has now become “case law” and can only be challenged in the Supreme Court.  This “case law” will be used for years to come in challenges of our government by the people.  Should BLM Appeal their denial the Supreme Court, wild horses and burros may walk up the steps to the highest Court in the Nation.

The case is now going back to the district court with instructions to “hear” all the information (in it’s entirety) and rule on where our first amendment constitutional rights have been violated.  This is “the” win that will open all the doors and give us the right to any and all information surrounding any animal that exists.  This case is about the horse itself. All the doors, every record of horse sales, all range surveys and the information regarding herd boundary lines, water information, planning information, all horses in holding and the roundups will be opened.  We just need this win.

In the past, the public was only allowed the address in district court, what pertained to one roundup at a time.  By the time the court ruled the roundup was often over and the case was considered “moot”.

What the 9th circuit judges said was “She needs to be able to see what you are doing because when the roundup is over, she can’t ask the horse what happened, unless he is Mr. Ed”.  The judges also ruled that since roundups are perpetual and inevitable, the issue is not “mute”.  They also ruled that these extended records of decision  keep the doors open to address specific issues involved. As an example if the Agency creates a decision, and the length of the decision stands for ten years, we can legally challenge it for the full ten years (not just the length of the roundup).

This ruling, now, gives everyone the right to challenge BLM on any and all activities that we believe are unlawful pertaining to wild horses and burros.  This is progress.  This is the “fish bowl”

This has also re-opened the door to the “humane case” that WHE will be “pushing” forward, it is now also not “moot”, as the 9th circuit said, BLM will be rounding up horses.  This case is now back in the district court of Judge McKibben in Reno, Nevada. We may well have a decision prior to roundups resuming in July.

This “humane“ case has been the heat that caused BLM to begin the process of a Comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan (CAWP) and new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).  If we keep the heat on, we may soon have an implemented and truly humane standard of handling and managing wild horses and burros regardless of the court outcome.

The court cases, the documentation and the public’s outrage have the BLM working on more positive changes than has happened in 40 years since protection was mandated; including alternative gather methods, adoption and sales issues, WH&B employee training, contractual adjustments, and helicopter policy.

At the April 24th WH&B Advisory meeting in Reno, Dean Bolstad, BLM’s WH&B Management Specialist said the BLM would begin training for and implementation of the CAWP in July of 2012.  When questioned by Laura Leigh he did not want to commit to that date stating it was a “goal”.  We must turn these words (CAWP) into humane actions that are implemented and turn “goals” from words to action on the ground.

This is where “you” come in.  The work, the actions, the successes have occurred because of the documentation and litigation of Laura Leigh and WHE, but it has only been possible because of your support.  Each and every one of you has played a part; from the little girl who sold cupcakes, to the kid who raided her piggy bank and asked her mom to send $5 Dollars, the woman who made a quilt to sell, the folks who gave up their latte money and donated it, it all was made possible by small donations, a true grassroots movement of the people.  Most folks don’t have a lot but have sent $5, $10, or $20 dollars and they had to sacrifice something to do it.

For all of you, we want you to see and understand the changes you have and are creating.  We want you to see the difference your sacrifices are making.  We are on the verge of real change and this is no time to take a break.

We are dead in the water without your help and right now, we are dead in the water.  Let’s keep this train on the tracks.  Please donate what you can at this crucial time.  Thank you all for making these changes possible for the horses, as it is always and forever “ABOUT THE HORSES AND BURROS”.

Love to you all.  May Karma return your kindness.

Wild Horse Education Co-Director,

Leslie Peeples

BLM REHEARING DENIED

Public Land closure 2010 Owyhee

Ninth Circuit upholds Wild Horse “win”

On Monday, April 16, 2012, the Ninth Circuit denied the Bureau of Land Management’s  (BLM) petition for rehearing in the ongoing saga to gain access to the Agencies handling of wild horses.

The original Appeal began with a notice filed on February 14, 2011 by attorney Gordon Cowan on behalf ofWild Horse Education founder Laura Leigh.

On February 14, 2012, exactly one year later, the Ninth Circuit published an opinion in Leigh’s favor.

As James Madison wrote in 1822, “a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.”’9 WRITINGS OF JAMES MADISON 103 (G. Hunt ed. 1910)”

The Ninth Circuit added language to the Opinion after BLM made a petition for rehearing. The additional language notes that the Agency is not only held to the mandate to remove excess horses insuring that another roundup would occur, but that the Record of Decision on file for the “Silver King” roundup allows horses to be removed through 2013. The Amended opinion also states “With this amendment, the panel has voted to deny the petition for rehearing. Subsequent petitions for rehearing or rehearing en banc may not be filed.”

In another matter involving the lack of a Humane Care Standard before the federal District Court Leigh filed a Motion based on the decision granted in the Ninth Circuit. The BLM asked that the decision to deny relief stand as they were asking for a rehearing in the Ninth.

Today Leigh filed a Supplemental Brief to the “Humane Care” case.  The newly filed Brief notes that the Record of Decision for the “Triple B” gather, associated with the case, allows for removals through 2014. It also restates that according to BLM’s own calculations the scheduled original scheduled operation was never completed. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) granted to Leigh in August of last year, after a hearing in Federal District Court in Reno by Honorable District Court Judge Howard McKibben stopped the Triple B roundup due to inappropriate conduct at the roundup.

“Maybe after two years of trying to get to a conversation that actually deals with the issues at hand,” said Leigh “We have finally gotten there.”

Leigh has attempted to initiate dialogue with the BLM on the implementation of a Humane Care Standard. To date the Agency has not responded.

~~

Both cases, and the documentation required to carry them forward, are supported by Wild Horse Education.

ONE YEAR AGO… WILD HORSE EDUCATION AND THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Repost from Art and Horses: This post was from one year ago as Wild Horse Education began the Appeal in the Ninth Circuit. That Appeal resulted in a “win” that will bring the issue actually into dialogue in the US Court system. That battle moves forward and needs your support. These issues that Wild Horse Education is addressing at this time (Transparency and Humane Care Standards) have been a convoluted battle. Each case that we bring has resulted in a “win” that gains traction for the conversation to arise to a new level based on the credibility of each case brings.

This has not been easy nor has it been simple. Infrastructure is built on an “as needed” basis. Documentation is often filed using intermittent internet, failing equipment and cases are brought on more “will” than funding.

Just reflecting today on the road. The twists and turns of the past and best way to address the obstacles of the future.

Let’s go back one year ago….

4/15/2011

The battle to see our horses continues, as horses continue to die behind closed doors

Wild Horse Education is continuing the legal battle for transparency against the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Because the public is continually denied consistent access to roundups and holding facilities that house the American public’s wild horses, taken from public land with public funds, this action is gaining increasing importance.

On February 14, 2011 Plaintiff Laura Leigh filed for permission to appeal her First Amendment Rights case against the BLM to the Ninth Circuit Court. Her plea was based on the fact that there had been no ruling by the Federal Court in Reno to her request for Emergency Injunctive Relief in a case she had filed five months previous. Her request cited that “no action” in a case requiring emergency relief was an essential denial of her motion.

Judge Larry Hicks of the Federal District Court in Reno has now denied Leigh’s motion as “moot.” However in his ruling he does allow written testimony to stand in the record that had been objected to by the BLM.

“Basically this is good news,” said Leigh “What the Judge has now given me is an opportunity to present this case without first going through the process of gaining the Court’s permission. He has also ruled that the entire record of the case remains intact and that is vital to demonstrate the repetitive behavior that has precedent in higher Courts as not moot.”

Leigh has spent the last year observing more roundups than any government personnel and bringing the public daily reports. The suit she brought earlier last year, to the same Court over closure of public land and a roundup during the heat of summer for the Owyhee Herd Management Area, bore fruit for public observers. That suit found that closure of public land was a prior restraint to First Amendment Rights, creating the beginning of a daily observation platform for the public.

“The current suit is NOT about observing a single roundup,” Leigh stated “The emergency relief requested extends to the repetitive battle for observation. We have a right to know how our money is spent in the hands-on management of our horses throughout the process. From roundup through holding and their ultimate disposition, wherever that may be, it is our right to see it.”

This winter horses from the Eagle Complex joined those named in Leigh’s suit from the Silver King Herd Management Area behind the locked doors of the BLM Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) facility in Fallon Nevada. Horses continue to die and suffer disease out of sight of public scrutiny. Horses in that facility continue to die at an alarming rate as indicated in the weekly reports.

Last spring the BLM closed the doors of the facility, which had previously offered weekly public tours, because of the intensity of public outrage. In an email from Dean Bolstad, of the Nevada state office in Reno to his superiors, dated May 25 of last year he writes: “The impact of stopping the tours pales in comparison to the impact to our employees and BLM’s image.”

Is this a reason to deny the public basic rights guaranteed in the Constitution? Or is this a reason to “clean up your act?”

The full Appeal is expected to be filed by Leigh and her attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno soon.

The legal efforts are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered non-profit in the state of Nevada.

Laura Leigh
1/31/2011

Personal Note: This suit has been a tremendous effort. You can ask anyone that has travelled with me how many hours I spend researching and crafting documents. Researching and collecting evidence and data in the field daily. The “concept of law” in this country is a complex process and the learning curve is steep.

Yet historically the evidence points to the fact that documentation and exposure changed practices that occured in the past. Documentation is creating a broader base of exposure throughout the world for what America is doing to it’s own symbol of Freedom.

We need to push this program into the light. The closed door facilities need to open. Meaningful observation MUST be allowed at roundups and facilities.

But I need your help. Support this action that benefits YOUR right to know.

~~

Repost from April 29, 2011

Temporary holding

First Amendment suit heads for the Ninth Circuit

Wild Horse Education is continuing the legal battle for transparency against the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Plaintiff Laura Leigh has filed her notice of Appeal April 28, 2011 for the lawsuit that battles for transparency of the “hands-on” care of wild horses and burros.

“The current suit is NOT about observing a single roundup,” Leigh stated “The emergency relief requested extends to the repetitive battle for observation. We have a right to know how our money is spent in the hands-on management of our horses throughout the process. From roundup through holding and their ultimate disposition, wherever that may be, it is our right to know.”

On February 14, 2011 Plaintiff Laura Leigh filed for permission to appeal her First Amendment Rights case against the BLM to the Ninth Circuit Court. Her plea was based on the fact that there had been no ruling by the Federal Court in Reno to her request for Emergency Injunctive Relief in a case she had filed five months previous. Her request cited that “no action” in a case requiring emergency relief was an essential denial of her motion.

Judge Larry Hicks of the Federal District Court in Reno has now denied Leigh’s motion as “moot.” However in his ruling he does allow written testimony to stand in the record that had been objected to by the BLM.

“Basically this is good news,” said Leigh “What the Judge has now given me is an opportunity to present this case without first going through the process of gaining the Court’s permission. He has also ruled that the entire record of the case remains intact and that is vital to demonstrate the repetitive behavior that has precedent in higher Courts as not moot.”

The Appeal process has now began and the full brief will be filed shortly.

Leigh has spent the last year observing more roundups than any government personnel and bringing the public daily reports. The suit she brought earlier in the year, to the same Court over closure of public land and a roundup during the heat of summer for the Owyhee Herd Management Area, bore fruit for public observers. That suit found that closure of public land was a prior restraint to First Amendment Rights, creating the beginning of a daily observation platform for the public.

The doors to the Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) facility were closed due to public outrage over images they saw.

“If the public is outraged by conduct,” Leigh said “it is an opportunity to clean up your act, not close the doors. That’s like a child that refuses to clean their room and instead locks their door.”

The full Brief is expected to be filed by Leigh and her attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno soon.

The legal efforts are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered non-profit in the state of Nevada.

Website: http://WildHorseEducation.org

Free Book: http://wildhorseeducation101.wordpress.com/

Video of Eagle Roundup and denial of access to Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw8iX7LO8g0

Article published by Deb Coffey on the Indian Lakes facility contract in PPJ gazette: http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/blm%E2%80%99s-sweet-deal-paid-for-with-your-tax-dollars-of-course/#more-16184

L

Hope dying of hoof slough (Indian Lakes/Broken Arrow)

Heart and Soul… the wild ones will not be forgotten.

HUMANE CARE SUIT AGAINST BLM TREATMENT OF WILD HORSES CONTINUES

Not foal? BLM DOES roundup during foaling season

This week photojournalist Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education filed another Brief in the ongoing fight to get BLM (Bureau of Land Management) to create a meaningful standard of care for the wild horses and burros that Congress mandated them to protect. In the 40 years that the Wild Horse and Burro program has existed under the BLM no standard of care has been created with disastrous consequence.

This action began with the Court granting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in August of 2011 against the Agency. This action came after Leigh’s lens captured conduct that included lack of water, dragging animals by the neck, hotshot use and a helicopter apparently coming in contact with an exhausted animal.

The conduct was later admitted to by the agency in an investigation called the “Triple B Team Review.”

The new filing by Leigh’s Reno attorney, Gordon Cowan, came after asking the Court permission to move the action forward. Permission was granted based on precedent set in another case brought by Wild Horse Education and Cowan.

The government attorney’s are fighting Leigh’s Motion. The argument is based simply on the assertion that they are fighting her Ninth Circuit, First Amendment, win that set the precedent.

In the current brief Cowan rights “ The ruling in Leigh v. Salazar, 668 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2012) stands as precedence unless or until the appellate court reverses itself. “

Nowhere in the government’s argument against Leigh do they address her assertions. According to BLM math, they will be required to do another operation at Triple B in the very near future. They do not argue her assertion that the care standard is needed. They do not argue her assertion that the offending conduct occurred.

“This is typical of the legal strategy employed by the agency,” said Leigh “They never address the real issue at hand only create assertions that the issues can not be addressed.”

Leigh, through her attorney, has attempted to initiate conversations to rectify the issues. To date BLM has refused to engage.

~~

Wild Horse Education is a Nevada non-profit supporting documentation and distribution of information for sensible change for America’s wild horses and burros. To support the legal challenges and continued documentation visit: WildHorseEducation.org

Links of interest:

http://wildhorseeducation.org

The entire BLM Triple B Team Review is no longer available online but an Analysis of the report, including extensive quotes, can be read here: http://wildhorseeducation.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/analysis_blm_revtb_2011_whe1.pdf

Youtubes of interest:

Horse hit with helicopter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObXB0Wq3nRE

Animals rounded up in sub-zero temperatures with causalities in holding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw8iX7LO8g0

Year in review, 2011, montage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8hKxK1-GbU

PUBLIC CONFIDENCE LACKING IN BLM WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM

Misinformation and name calling are not paving a road to progress

In recent years public concern over the government’s management of wild horses and burros on public land has skyrocketed.

In 1971 President Nixon signed into law the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act .The Act was intended to curtail “mustanging.” Mustanging was an unregulated brutal practice engaged in by many ranchers and private individuals to eliminate wild horses and profit from it by selling them into the fertilizer and dog food markets. This practice led Congress to declare these animals “fast disappearing from the American landscape” and in need of protection from “capture, branding, harassment and death,” and handed the honor of protecting and preserving them over to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

BLM regulations and policy state that wild horses and burros shall be managed as viable, self-sustaining populations of healthy animals in “balance” with other multiple uses and the productive capacity of their habitat (CFR 4700.0-6). Self-sustaining refers to the process whereby established populations are able to persist and successfully produce viable offspring which shall, in turn, produce viable offspring, and so on over the long term.

Stone Cabin Roundup, February 2012

After 40 years of BLM mismanagement the “wild horse program” has reached a crisis state. This crisis not only encompasses their management practices, but public confidence in the agencies ability to represent the truth. One of the spin tactics seems to be to portray public opinion as not credible and to disregard the publics legitimate and real concerns.

In a recent article responding to the public outcry, regarding the appointment of a second very pro-horse slaughter member to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, BLM DC Public Relations head Tom Gorey said “the activists are resorting to dishonest scare tactics to help push their anti-management agenda by any means possible. Their apocalypse-now, sky-is-falling rhetoric is flagrantly dishonest and is clearly aimed at preventing the BLM from gathering horses from overpopulated herds on the range.”

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Wild-horse-allies-BLM-panel-stacked-against-them-3306325.php

“This kind of argument by Gorey is intended to diminish the credibility of questioning their actions through spin instead of addressing very valid issues.” said Leslie Peeples of Wild Horse Education, “the public calling for balance on the Wild Horse and Burro advisory Board is not dishonest, but what is dishonest is the quote ‘anti-management agenda’ and ‘over populated herds.’  Advocates simply want ‘fair and balanced management’ where wild horses and burros are considered ‘comparably’ with other users of public land.  BLM’s claim that they are over populated is in fact fabricated by their methods of considering all other users of the land first and then allotting the left over crumbs to wild horses and Burros. The BLM calls this (AML) Appropriate Management Levels and a ‘natural ecological balance.’ Then dismiss concerns instead of address them.”

Here is why the BLM is getting such a strong response from the public about this Advisory board appointment. Over the last year there has been a small contingent pressing hard for resuming horse slaughter in the U.S. and they have publicly stated that wild horses should be processed for human consumption. The newest appointee to the BLM advisory board Callie Hendrickson, appointed to the position of General Public Advocate, has indicated she is in favor of unlimited sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros.

BLM storage facility in Fallon, 2012

Currently the BLM style of “feral livestock” management has an increasing number of concerned tax-payers asking the government that represents them the following valid questions:

1.     With more wild horses in expensive government holding facilities than in the wild, why hasn’t BLM come up with a more creative “on the range” management strategy? Why, after 40 years, is viability of wild populations not studied, migratory patterns are unknown and inaccurate boundary lines remain unchanged?

2.     If BLM’s “official stance” is that no wild horses will go to slaughter, and knowing the public would be outraged, why would they appoint two pro-slaughter members to the Advisory Board when they have yet to appoint any member representing the wild horse advocate community at large? Why does BLM continue to appoint members to the board who are clearly anti-wild horse?

3.     Why in 40 years is there still no clear and defined humane care standard for management and handling of wild horses and burros? Almost every state in the nation has a humane standard for domestic animals and even slaughter bound animals have laws and standards in place regarding their care.

4.     Why are so many extractive projects being fast-tracked into the areas where horses are legally allowed to live without consideration of the impact on them, or compensating the animals with additional space to exist?

5.     Why are all other interests on public land defined as “viable uses” when the simple definition of what makes wild horse and burro populations “viable” for the long term is an unknown and is not taken in to account?

6.     Where is the “balance” in BLM’s “natural ecological balance” statement or why is there such an “unbalanced” policy in the allocations given wild horses and burros as compared to other uses of public lands? And how can the public have any confidence that there is “balance” when BLM spends only 1% of the budget planning for herd management?

7.     Why are the BLM’s total on the range population numbers the same, 38,000, year after year, and how can the public have confidence that BLM’s numbers are accurate when they spend only 1% of the budget on “estimating” the populations of the animals with no “independent” oversight.

8.     Why is the agency fighting transparency at tax-payer expense, in the Courts, instead of simply fixing the problems in the program so that they can be transparent to the tax-paying public? Why if there is nothing to hide, are many of BLM wild horse and burro holding facilities off limits to public view and the public held at such a great distance from viewing roundups?

9.  Why do government employees that work for the Wild Horse and Burro program refer to these animals as feral livestock? The entire program, and everyone employed within the program, exists by an Act of Congress that declares these animals “wild and integral.”

10. Why is the American taxpayer still paying over 125 million a year to support the grazing industry and approximately 3 million privately owned livestock, while some 30,000 (by BLM estimates) wild horses and burros are the scape goats blamed for creating the range damage and must be removed, again at taxpayer expense?

11. What is the BLM justification for not addressing that over 50% of our wild herds below genetic viability for long-term survival?

12. How does the BLM get away with receiving thousands of public comments, simply calling that “public involvement” and continuing business as usual effectively blocking true public input and participation?

Listed above are just a dozen of the valid questions a concerned public wants answers to.

Horses being removed in sub-zero temperatures

The public concern becomes magnified when BLM employees are quoted in the press making blatantly false and pro-slaughter statements in defending the agencies failing adoption program.  BLM Specialist Chad Hunter said, “With the slaughter houses all shut down, there isn’t an outlet for unwanted horses.” http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20120407/OUTDOORS01/204070324/Wild-Horses-Utah-BLM?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage

“Here we have another government employee supposedly in a knowledgeable position spouting anti-horse propaganda. Horse slaughter is a reality faced by horses and horse owners in the US daily,” stated Laura Leigh, Founder of Wild Horse Education “Horse slaughter is a foreign export business, any horse owner could sell their horse into the slaughter pipeline today, it is still an option. The BLM adoption program is not a priority. And besides, how do they expect the public to want to adopt a wild horse if the agency can’t even demonstrate wild horses and burros are worth developing a human care standard for?”

“The lack of public confidence in the Wild Horse and Burro Program is not a product of any ‘activist anti-management strategy,” said Leigh “ It’s the Agencies inability to engage the public in credible transparent dialogue.”

In 1971 an Act was passed by Congress to protect these animals as an American Heritage Species. It is long overdue that the agency address the public’s legitimate concerns.

It is time for an honest conversation, transparency, humane policy and truly “balanced” management.”

On April 23-24 in Reno, Nevada the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. Public comments will be accepted on Tuesday in person, registered by 10 am. If you cannot make the meeting you may submit written comments to: Bureau of Land Management, National Wild Horse and Burro Program, WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada, 89502-7147.  Comments may also be e-mailed to the BLM at wildhorse@blm.gov  .

http://WildHorseEducation.org

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/march/NR_03_19_2012.html

BLM INDIAN LAKES (BROKEN ARROW) “TOUR”

Reprint from Horseback Magazine

Doors open to BLM storage facility in Fallon, 2012

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a “public tour” at the Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) short-term holding facility in Fallon. Unlike other short-term facilities this facility is “off-limits” to the public except for a couple of days a year.

After the Calico Roundup of 2009/2010 the BLM ceased public tours claiming that the facility was privately contracted and they did not have to open the doors to public scrutiny. Investigation into the closure of the facility did reveal the contract did have weekly public tours as part of the signed, completed contract. The real reason the facility was closed was revealed in email records of the written request to close the facility as “damage being done to the reputation” of BLM staff.

Images published after the weekly tours revealed serious issues at the facility. Each week images portrayed injuries, design flaws and even a foal that was born at the facility that apparently starved to death.

copyright Laura Leigh

8 month old colt whose feet literally began to fall off after Calico Roundup 2/2010

Throughout the winter of 2010/2011 the facility was utilized as intake for animals from various roundups including the Eagle HMA in Ely Nevada.

The Eagle roundup was particularly brutal. Temperatures, as operations began in the morning, went as low as 12 degrees below zero. Freezing fog was often present at dawn. A young horse was seen to stumble three times as its family was driven to the trap.

That horse was sent to Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow). After following the truck from the range to the facility access was denied to observe the horse at Broken Arrow. Inquiries to the BLM insisted that the animal was fine yet that week 4 horses of a similar age died of injury and others of respiratory distress.

After Calico the entire time the facility was used for intake of horses from the range the facility remained off-limits to view.

After Litigation was filed in an attempt to gain access to report to the public about the hands-on care and disposition of animals the BLM offered a public tour last summer. The tour this year was done in the same fashion.

The public was “checked in and briefed.” John Neil (manager of Palomino Valley Center and BLM manager of Indian Lakes) and Heather Emmons (BLM public affairs) were the personnel that were in the cab of the pick up truck that pulled the wagon that held the public.

The members of the public in attendance were varied. Two journalists, two advocates, a family that came to “see the wild horses” and a young girl participating in the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s youth challenge (she had her father and two friends with her. (An additional story will be filed on this young girl’s story).

Horses from roundups from the last two years and three different states are stored at the facility. Animals from the 2009/2010 Calico roundup were present. Also at the facility were animals from Triple B, Owyhee, Callaghan, Eagle, Silver King, Twin Peaks and several other HMA’s. Many of these animals have been housed at this facility for over two years. As the facility is off-limits to public view there are no adoptions.

During the tour Neil did inform the public that the facility will no longer be used as intake for animals taken from the range. This does not represent a policy and could change if space is required. Palomino Valley Center in Sparks will be used for intake and after a few months animals will be sent to Indian Lakes as an overflow facility. This option allows the public a couple of brief months to see animals after they come off the range toward generating interest in the sagging adoption program.

The facility held approximately 2,500 animals. The majority of animals appeared in good weight and coat.

Horses needing a trim

Hoof care is done in a rotational fashion. Serious overgrowth in the row that was next on the schedule was noted. As the public is severely restricted access there is no way to know if this is a “one time” occurrence or status quo.

Hospital pens were off limits just as they were during the two tour days offered last year.

BLM staff was pleasant and frequently interacted with the public.

If you want to attend the public tour BLM is offering another opportunity on April 27.

From the BLM website:

April 27 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The tours can each accommodate up to 30 people and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can sign up to attend and get driving directions to the facility by calling the BLM at (775) 475-2222. There will be 2 tours per day offered for 1 ½ hours each: one at 11 a.m. and one at 12:30 p.m. Each tour can hold a maximum of 15 people.

Babies being born at the facility by mares from various roundups

 Where’s the Trap? (Mike Lorden) Leigh and others at the Calico Complex Roundup 2012

Wild Horse Education’s Ninth Circuit Press Access win challenged by BLM

(Reno) On Friday the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) filed a Motion for Reconsideration in the Ninth Circuit case challenging access to Wild Horses and information surrounding the care of animals. The Motion addresses the win for Press Freedom granted by the Court on February 14 in the access case brought by Laura Leigh, journalist for Horseback Magazine and founder of Wild Horse Education.

The Ninth Circuit Court in granting Leigh’s Appeal recognized that roundups will occur as a matter of course. BLM had argued that the issue was “moot” because the roundup had ended. The Ninth Circuit ruled the issue was not moot because the Agency is mandated under the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act to remove excess animals (excess as defined by BLM) and that the animals will continue to reproduce. This created a win for journalists and the public attempting to gain meaningful access to the actions of their government.

Lawyers for the BLM write in their request to the Court, “that the mere possibility of agency action does not present a live controversy.”

“The BLM repeatedly asserts that populations double in size every four years, yet many areas are currently facing roundups every 2-3 years” said Leslie Peeples Co-Director of Wild Horse Education “it is a fact that they will do another roundup, not a possibility. We know it and the BLM knows it.”

Lawyers representing the BLM go on to write: “If the panel (Ninth Circuit) does not amend its opinion, future litigants will undoubtedly cite the opinion for the proposition that a possibility of agency action is sufficient to support a motion for a preliminary injunction.”

“The decision by the Ninth was a decision based on the valid issue of access to the actions of government, plain and simple,” says Leigh “For over two years the contentious struggle for meaningful access to our horses has been a constant reality while attending almost non stop removals of our horses. Both the struggle for access and the roundups are not possibilities but certainties.”

Perhaps this fight is more about the possibility that this case law will be used in future cases to negate a “mootness” argument? Turning the mootness strategy moot.

Links:

Case supported by Wild Horse Education

http://WildHorseEducation.org

Link to BLM Request for Reconsideration: http://wildhorseeducation.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/dkt51rehrgreqbygovt.pdf

The below link was sent to Ms. Leigh right before a hearing in 2010 on a case that has now become the “Ninth Circuit win.”

blm-security-and-a-wild-horse-advocate-desert-encounter

BLM Security and a Wild Horse Advocate – Desert Encounter
by: AllHorsesPost