October 2012 Highlights

INVESTIGATION INTO HORSES GOING TO KILLBUYER

There is an investigation confirmed, but no new information.

young horse in holding tag number one digit off from a horse sold to Tom Davis

EXAMINER:http://www.examiner.com/article/blm-sales-of-wild-horses-to-killbuyer-being-investigated?cid=db_articles

Ed Roberson, assistant director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), said today at a meeting of the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board that an investigation is being conducted into the sales by the agency to a known killbuyer are being investigated.

“I can confirm right now that the inspector general of the Department of Interior is investigating,” said Roberson. Roberson declined further comment on the matter to KSL in Utah.

On September 28th journalist Dave Philipps broke the story on his investigation inProPublica. The investigation revealed BLM sold a Colorado killbuyer named Tom Davis at least 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009, for $10.00 each. The government then paid shipping costs to deliver horses to Davis.

“When you or I can’t go to a long-term facility and adopt a horse but you could buy a truckload, sight unseen for $10.00 you have to ask yourself seriously who does that?” said Lisa LeBlanc volunteer for Wild Horse Education (WHE) an advocate group that assisted in the investigation,”and a red flag does not go up for BLM when they sell someone almost two-thoudsand horses? Not likely.”

Currently BLM claims it does not sell to killbuyers, carefully screens those that purchase and has them sign a written agreement that the horses should not be sold for slaughter.

In 2004 Senator Conrad Burns added a rider to an omnibus spending bill right before Thanksgiving recess. Many Senators did not know the rider making the sale of wild horses to slaughter legal was added to the document they signed.

Since that time public outrage has BLM claiming that it does not sell to slaughter. Congress added a stipulation to the budget that they would use no funding to ship horses to slaughter.

Why BLM sold Davis as many horses as they did and ask no questions remains a mystery. Why the agency used tax-payer dollars to ship horses to Davis is a mystery.

When will this investigation provide the answers? “No comment” from BLM at this time

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WILD HORSE EDUCATION CONTINUES COURT ACTIONS AGAINST BLM

Triple B video (still) that gained TRO in August of 2011(Leigh)

 

WHE (Reno) This week Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE) filed more documents in federal court against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Documents filed this week continue the action that has become known as the “Humane Care” case, and encompass actions taken against conduct demonstrated at the Triple B and Jackson Mountain herd management area (HMA) wild horse roundups executed by the agency.

Included in the record of this action are successfully gaining a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in both HMA’s and a continuing Injunctive Order in Triple B.

The Triple B (Ely/Elko) TRO came after Leigh’s camera captured several instances of inappropriate conduct condoned by BLM at roundup operations in August of 2011. Documentation provided to the court went so far as to demonstrate a helicopter pilot coming in contact with an exhausted animal. The court granted Leigh’s motion after the agency denied any wrong doing.

Jackson Mountain, tiny foal in trap (2012)

In June of 2012 Leigh and her attorney amended the complaint to include conduct observed at the Jackson Mountain operation in the Winnemucca district. At this roundup BLM used helicopters to stampede foals during the prohibited foaling season. The agency attempted to use an emergency situation in the Southeastern part of the HMA to justify an operation in the extreme heat  and during foaling season throughout the entire HMA. The Court granted Leigh’s motion disallowing the operation to move North, but continue in the southern portion.

The Court granted Leigh a continuing Injunction against helicopter use in the Triple B area in June of 2012. The Injunction was granted based on the standard set in another case against the agency that won on Appeal in the Ninth Circuit that contended that the issues were not moot in the area as the conduct would continue when the BLM went back to remove what they deem “excess” in the near future.

Documents filed by the Government continue to assert that Leigh’s case is about the Administrative process of justifying removals. Leigh again must assert that her cases are about the process of execution of operations.

Leigh asks that during Discovery she be provided with the following information:

  1. Operational review documents or daily briefings completed during roundup operations at Triple B and Jackson Mountain;
  2. The post-gather review completed by the BLM district for Triple B and Jackson, and sent to the state;
  3. All documents associated with the special “Triple B Review Team” generated after the Hon. Howard McKibben issued the TRO against the Triple B roundup.

After the Court granted Leigh’s TRO in the Triple B instance the BLM created a “Review Team” that found that the conduct alleged in the court action did indeed occur and created a section of recommendations for policy.

To date no humane care handling standard and protocol for violation has been formally adopted by the agency.

Antelope Valley October 2012 (Leigh)

“Just this month I saw the identical conduct in the same district, with the same contractor, as Triple B,” said Leigh “to my sensibilities the need for a clearly defined standard has been proven beyond a doubt. When do we begin to define this behavior as intentional abuse? There is no more room for any excuse not to declare and enforce a humane care policy.”

Leigh also has another case currently active against the agency for access to the horses and burros in the system. That case has become known as the First Amendment case  (Silver King) and has a status conference hearing set for October 29.

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The documentation and legal actions are supported entirely by public donations to Wild Horse Education.http://wildhorseeducation.org

BROKEN ARROW TOUR 10/19/2012

Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) BLM “closed door” facility in Fallon, Nevada. 10/19/2012

The BLM gave a tour of their closed door facility in Fallon Nevada on 10/19/2012.

Wild horses and burros currently warehoused at what BLM refers to as an “overflow facility” come from:
Owyhee, Little Humbolt, Rock Creek, Maverick-Medicine, Antelope, Antelope Valley,Goshute, Spruce-Pequop, BLack Rock East and West, McGee (burros), Granite, Calico, Warm Springs, Tobin, Pine Nut, Lahontan, Augusta, Garfield,Eagle, Triple B, South Shoshone, New Pass-Ravenswood, Bald Mountain, Callaghan, Rocky Hills and Silver King.

From BLM handout: The Indian Lakes Road Short-Term facility in Fallon, Nevada, is privately owned and operated. About a one and one-half hour drive from Reno, the Indian Lakes facility is BLM’s newest contracted short-term holding facility. Although it is used at times as a preparation facility, it primarily serves as an overflow facility to Palomino Valley Center (PVC), located outside REno. Most f the animals are first prepped at PVC and are available for adoption for several months prior to being shipped to the Indian Lakes Road Facility.

There are many horses at that facility that were truly never available for adoption. Many were born at the facility. Those horses are now at an age where they look like “full adults.” Last year they were long-yearlings. Those horses never had a chance.

2-3 year olds are being prepped and sent to “long-term” holding.

This facility does not even maintain a virtual inventory for adoption on the internet.

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A bit of history on the facility.

In 2009 the Broken Arrow began to take in horses during  the Calico roundup. The facility was still under construction, had no chute to treat or process horses, no wind breaks even in the hospital pens and took in close to two-thousand animals.

At that time there was active litigation concerning the roundup. During that period BLM offered weekly tours of the facility.

The images that reached the public created a real public relations nightmare for the agency.

As soon as the litigation ended, so did the tours.

Quote from an email sent by Dean Bolstad of the BLM requesting that tours end: “I am not sensationalizing this as I have experienced all of this first hand after conducting the last nine Indian Lakes Sunday tours and being the person that most call and email. John Neill’s and our veterinarian’s reputability is seriously being compromised by the fall out from the Indian Lakes tours.”

note: These exact issues (among others) are the subjects of the Access case that is still active by Wild Horse Education. Images such as those in the video below are those that BLM

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After the facility closed to the public it was not an “overflow facility.”

Horses went into Broken Arrow direct from the range (BLM began referencing this facility as “Indian Lakes” after the closure). During 2010 and 2011 many horses went direct to Broken Arrow.

Respiratory illness ran rampant in the facility during winter roundups where horses were run in sub-zero temperatures. All requests to observe, track or document the horses in the facility were refused.

SHORT HISTORY: “HUMANE CARE CASE”

Triple B video still that gained TRO in August of 2011(Leigh)

There is a lot of confusion as to the timeline of the “Humane case, Triple B” so we have included this here to clarify.

IMAGES THAT HAVE SHOCKED THE PUBLIC ABOUT HOW OUR WILD HORSES AND BURROS ARE TREATED HAVE SURFACED TIME AND AGAIN IN THE HISTORY OF THE WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM. SO WHY ARE THINGS DIFFERENT NOW?

“I have tried to explain to people that it is not just the photo’s and videos,” said Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education “It is that this time those images made the courtroom of a Federal Judge that truly paid close attention to our documentation and the excuses made for such conduct by BLM. I am not the first one to capture an animal being hit by a helicopter, but this is the first time BLM had to answer to someone that has the power to enjoin the agency, the Judge”

At the Antelope Complex roundup the conduct that was documented included images that included inappropriate pilot conduct, lathered animals, overcrowding of alleys, etc. The BLM would not address the conduct. The local Sheriff was contacted. As the infractions occurred on Federal land, under the authority of the Federal government, the local authority passed the “investigation” over to the Federal government that turned it back to the BLM to investigate.

Antelope Complex on Super Bowl Sunday of 2011 (Leigh)

Ms. Leigh and others were interviewed by BLM. BLM had Ms. Leigh’s photos but wanted her raw files. She refused to turn over the chip as the images were readily available and she felt the questions were leading to a justification process, not a solution to repetitive conduct.

The BLM in house investigation cleared the personnel and contractor of any inappropriate conduct. Several groups continued to pressure the Sheriff. The Sheriff said it was not his jurisdiction. Documentation was taken to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and sent to Congress. Nothing happened.

At the very next operation in the same district, same personnel, same contractor the same conduct was repeated. This roundup took place at the Triple B Complex. Ms. Leigh took her documentation, that included a helicopter apparently hitting a horse with it’s skids, into Federal District Court in Reno.

In August of 2011, the Honorable Judge Howard McKibben granted Ms. Leigh a TRO to pilot conduct and referenced the agencies justification a “blame the horse affront.” The Judge said he did not appreciate the agency simply denying what he could see with his own eyes. The agency then created the “Triple B Review Team.” The “team” then created a report that actually admitted to the conduct alleged in the suit and created a series of recommendations.

No policy for humane handling has come forward from the agency.

Leigh’s case moved forward and gained an Injunction to the conduct cited in the TRO this last June 2012. Identical conduct was documented yet again this month at Antelope.

The case moves forward.

Antelope Valley October 2012 (Leigh)

FALL/WINTER NEWSLETTER

Our “newsletter” is “hot off the press!”

Technical issues created a delay and the final version can not be edited. Oh well, that is life on the road and dealing with inadequate tools but we get the job done.

Hope you enjoy our newsletter!

Click the picture to go to the downloadable pdf!

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The above information is supplied so that the public has access to basic information for discussion purposes. It does not imply endorsement of any of the above methods.

UPDATES: HUMANE CARE, WILD HORSES AND THE SLAUGHTER PIPELINE

This is a fast update page on several active issues.

Nevada’s wild horses 2012

Humane Care letter writing:

First many of you that wrote to BLM about the Humane care issue are getting a “canned response” letter. The letter from BLM directs you to BLM’s National page on CAWP, “Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program.” Many roundups since the Triple B TRO, and furthering Injunction that were Ordered by the Court, have an “Appendix” added to EA’s or Records of Decision that basically says that “humane handling is priority and the COR makes all the calls doing their best to care for wild horses.” Simply put that is what we have always had and it clearly is not working.

If you get one of those letters we urge you to write back (to whomever sent you the response) with a few questions:

Dear BLM,

Will CAWP give a clearly defined policy that outlines specific protocols for humane handling or will CAWP leave specifics to the discretion of BLM IC and COR personnel? Will CAWP give temperature and distance limits for driving animals? Will CAWP prohibit hotshots on injured, old, young or pregnant animals? Will CAWP limit the number of times a helicopter can push horses toward a trap? Will CAWP limit the distance a helicopter must stay away from animals? Will CAWP require that if injured animals are in the trap that operations suspend until the animal is appropriately cared for? Will CAWP give any specific policy for violation of the guidelines?

Or will CAWP be the same discretionary practice that is currently occurring within the program that is clearly not working.

Thank you.

contact info

The original letter request can be found here with suggested recipients.

More on BLM and the slaughter pipeline

The article first published in ProPublica written by Dave Philipps is still making a stir in very credible, progressive news media. Here is a link to a Interview with Philipps by Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow: 

Please listen to the Interview. This man came out curious about public lands and the volatility of the wild horse issue. He is a journalist, not a wild horse advocate. Please listen to him all the way to the end. He is articulate and intelligent and by the end of the piece you can almost see the birth of an advocate in his eyes. (note: there are several people, even some advocates, that are unhappy with the release of this article, but I implore you to listen to the message. He does quote BLM numbers and other info but he says many of these things to keep the issue folded on the single area he investigated and (as most journalists) he may write on other issues as he investigates further.This journalist should be encouraged to stay on these issues. At every RAC, state and National meeting sale authority is a big topic of conversion with a push to implement all of it’s authorities, we need to raise our voices that this not acceptable, before policy changes again).

10/5/2012 VIDEO: ANTELOPE COMPLEX

Foal roped after being separated from family Antelope 2012

Written for Horseback online (additional notes in blue):

On Friday, October 5, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) concluded the Antelope Complex wild horse removal operation.

The agency justified the action by stating it was necessary to do a helicopter roundup to prevent animal condition from declining. The BLM said there was minimal forage growth and reduced water availability due to severe drought conditions. (animals that came in on 10/5 were in good condition with only one exception)

The BLM website says: Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Antelope HMA is 150-324 wild horses.  Prior to the gather, the population was 468 wild horses.  AML for the Antelope Valley HMA is 115-259 wild horses.  Prior to the gather, the population was 641 wild horses. (Please keep in mind the immense area that currently has record elk populations, 1.3 million acres)

The agency had clearance to remove 210 wild horses and “gather” for 10 days. 180 animals were reported removed during 4 days of operations.

Controversy swirled around the roundup operation. Heat on the agency is coming from the story that broke in ProPublica (by Dave Philipps) showing BLM’s connection to known killbuyers. Doubt about the validity of the operation as weather conditions have changed. Outrage came from the public as BLM has failed to adopt a standard for humane care.

The first day of operations saw two deaths. One death was caught on camera and the video released by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) showing a stallion break a leg. The other a mare that broke her neck during transport.

Images captured on camera day 4 showed chaotic operations. Witnessed by observers were bands repeatedly fractured, the pilot having difficulty getting horses to enter the trap and the helicopter coming into close proximity of animals. (BLM claims a chopper is used to “herd” animals. This operation was predatory).

Wild Horse Education (WHE) released images shortly after operations ended for the day. An hour later operations were called off with no explanation. The group has an active lawsuit against inhumane handling practices.

The area of removal is located in the vicinity of the proposed “eco-sanctuary” of Madeleine Pickens.

All horses have been shipped.

BLM captured 180 horses. Facilities report receiving 176 in shipments. Three deaths on the range, and one foal reported dead at Palomino Valley, account for the casualties so far.

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notes on video:

All images are loaded sequentially. Our equipment has been used hard and is difficult to operate. Condensed day into ten minutes for YouTube.

The objective is to “herd” or “drive” animals into the trap. This operation appears more like a chaotic, panic filled flight from a predator.

Please note that this is the same contractor, COR and district that currently has an Injunctive Order against pilot conduct at Triple B… and the Federal Court case is still active.

Please donate to keep us in the field and the Court actions going~ Thank you.

ANTELOPE 2012: A PICTURE

Antelope 2012

Notes from the road: Drove all night to make operation. Waiting to hear if operation is over. Allowed to take aprox 35 more.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. There are at least a thousand I want to type, many of them censored.

We are ridiculed for what we fight for. We are minimized. Our efforts get twisted and turned to serve the personal agendas of many.

But THIS kind of conduct is what we are fighting to stop. We are fighting to stop the conduct outlined in the Triple B review (you can access explanation to the right in pdf)

Our case is still active in Federal Court.

In order to fight it we need to be in the field as I have been given standing (and credibility has been recognized) in the Federal Court system.

WE need YOU to support this effort. PLEASE write your letter to the links in the Action alert on the homepage of the Blog. Please donate to legal and field fees if you can.

Passing out now….

UPDATE: BLM, WILD HORSES AND SLAUGHTER

BLM’s “closed door policy” at Indian Lakes in NV leaves only brief glimpses through the trees at captured wild horses except for brief public tours twice yearly

Article in Examiner by Leigh: 

Today on National Public Radio (NPR), State of Nevada, journalist Dave Philipps discussed his controversial article connecting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and their connection with a known kill buyer of horses.

note: You can listen to the interview on NPR online at this link: HERE

Dave Philipps, journalist, at the Stone Cabin roundup

Philipps’ article broke in ProPublica on Friday. His investigative piece caused a fervor among wild horse advocates, the public and many news venues including the Denver Post and NBC online.

The article states that in order to address issues of warehousing wild horses the agency: ”… did something it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler named Tom Davis who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head.”

In a statement made to the public by Joan Guilfoyle, BLM’s chief of the wild horse and burro program: “The mission is for wild free-roaming horses and burros to be a continuing living legacy of the American heritage.” She added that BLM sells horses only to those who have “pledged” to treat them humanely and not sell them for slaughter. “As a matter of fact, BLM prosecutes people who do that.”

Wild Horse Education (WHE), a wild horse advocate group, is asking the public to send letters requesting a full investigation into the practices of the BLM and sales they make of wild horses. A sample letter can be found on their website HERE.

“The advocate community knows about these issues but this issue is one that has been shrouded in a ‘shell game’ by BLM for years,” stated Leslie Peeples, co-director of WHE, “I have lost sleep every time I see BLM take our wild horses out of the public eye and simply claim they are doing ‘just fine’ while hiding information as well as the horses themselves.”

A “press-freedom” case by Wild Horse Education’s founder won a landmark Ninth Circuit decision last February. That case is still active in the federal court system with a hearing scheduled October 18.

Today the Editor of Horseback Magazine, Steven Long, published BLM’s response to Dave Philips article on the slaughter connection and wild horses.

Tom Gorey, BLM Public relations in Washington, DC, said: “No comment.”

Dave Philipps, author of the investigative piece sent Wild Horse Education public link to documents referenced in the article. The advocate group assisted Philips with his research.