CRAZY Week! Slaughter Auction, Roundups, Courtroom Drama!

Again a hasty blog post…. WHAT AN INSANE WEEK!

Photo of the unbranded after the first sorting at the Livestock Exchange 8/17

Photo of the unbranded after the first sorting at the Livestock Exchange 8/17

Dominating the wild horse and burro world this last week was the auction of wild horses at the Fallon Livestock Exchange. Originally intended to be over 700 horses, the rapidly changing situation saw the Forest Service (kinda sorta) drop out of an agreement with tribal authorities. However, somehow, that agreement still allowed unbranded horses to be removed off of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the area of the Little Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA), which is adjacent to tribal lands.

The first court action filed against this insanity of jurisdictional games was an amended complaint in the ongoing suit against BLM by Wild Horse Education (WHE) President Laura Leigh. This case concerns inappropriate and inadequate determination of excess horses in the Owyhee Complex by BLM. Because the current group of horses was unbranded and was coming from BLM land, and because of the ongoing active legal case regarding inappropriate determination, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was filed by WHE against BLM. The Judge found that there was no “action” to enjoin BLM.

Yet later that same day (Friday) after an intense hearing in the first matter, a TRO was granted in a second legal case filed by a coalition (AWHPC, TCF, WWP and WHE) against the Forest Service. At around 7 pm the TRO to block the sale of the unbranded horses came through. HERE>>>

Branded colt safe

Branded colt safe

The next day, Saturday August 17, was the date of the  auction of the branded horses. After the owner of the Livestaock Exchange was served with the TRO and the flared tempers finally subsided, Laura of WHE and Deniz and Suzanne of AWHPC were allowed to inspect pens of horses headed for auction. Earlier that day staff from the livestock exchange allegedly sorted out the unbranded, but nearly 60 more unbranded horses were subsequently discovered by Laura, Deniz and Suzanne. The auction finally occurred. Two killbuyers were in attendance as well as rescues and private buyers. Over 100 of the branded went to rescues. Yet one of the groups had nowhere to put their horses and WHE volunteer Jessica Gardner offered a home she had just purchased and moved in to a few days prior to the auction.

Very tired and sore youngster in the parking lot the day after the auction

Very tired and sore youngster in the parking lot the day after the auction

The next day (August 18) unbranded horses were sorted into pens and placed in the parking lot of the livestock exchange. Leigh went and observed the horses documented as unbranded in order to present the information to the court for upcoming hearings. The horses showed wounds, inflicted by the roundup,  that were beginning to heal  and many of the horses were literally laying in the sand of the parking lot showing the fatigue of the week of roundup and sorting in the feedlot atmosphere of the auction yard.

The beginning of the week (August 19) was no less intense with preparation of the auction legal action in addition to preparation of thee other legal actions that WHE had hearings on all scheduled for the same day: Wednesday August 21st. (Laura Leigh of WHE also began radiation treatment for breast cancer at the beginning of this week). The BLM roundup at Fish Lake was postponed during this time and WHE had observers out in the field gaining documentation for upcoming actions.

Owyhee 2012

Owyhee 2012

On Wednesday August 21 in federal district court in Reno four motions were heard on wild horses. Update posted on our website the day of court: 

Preliminary Injunction on Owyhee Complex Complaint filed in January 
BLM (in spite of recent plans to remove horses from the Complex) has told the court there is no need for a Preliminary Injunction as they will not be removing wild horses for at least 2-3 years in the Complex.
WHE contends that BLM is known to “change plans” and if funding and space in holding becomes available they will take horses. WHE action
Written ruling on Preliminary Injunction later today.
 
Temporary Restraining Order on Snowstorm (Owyhee Complex) filed earlier this month after BLM set traps in Snowstorm
BLM has cancelled the Snowstorm bait trap…
therefore Motion denied
 
Amended Complaint
Judge pointed out some administrative tasks and we must refile. Will do so asap with court changes incorporated. (WHE action)
 
parking lot in Fallon

parking lot in Fallon

Hearing at 1:30 on the horses in Fallon. The hearing produced a denial of the Restraining Order and Tribal Authorities are free to sell horses

Forest Service created an agreement, horses came off tribal and BLM land, and the tribes took them. Convoluted process and no place to hang a Judgement. (coalition action)
(Please note that at 3:47 am the next morning attorney Gordon Cowan filed the WHE Owyhee Motion with changes. To date we have not heard from the court on the Preliminary Injunction for the Owyhee Complex and a ruling is pending on the amended complaint. WHE also filed a motion in the ongoing Triple B action and still has the Appeal to file in the Ninth Circuit on the First Amendment suit).
The court ruled that although there was initially an agreement with Forest Service, the Forest Service dropped their agreement and no horses came off Forest Service land. The court further ruled that the ownership of the horses was determined to be that of the tribes even though horses did come off BLM land. The TRO was lifted.
after TRO sort

after TRO sort

The next few days was an exercise in “interesting.” We are not going to get into the time consuming dramatics that seemed to pop up hourly… but want to lend a “rule of thumb” about rescuing at auction; only bid on what you can pay for and will be able to feed and house for a minimum of one month if you plan on rehoming. If you can not buy now… unfortunately there will be another auction and another and another.
At this time all unbranded are in the care of various organizations; Return to Freedom, Liberty for Horses, HorsePower, Saving America’s Mustangs and Ellie Price. HorsePower, Liberty for Horses and Return to Freedom are screening potential adopters.
As for claims made to the press by “Arlo,” representing the tribes on this matter, that somehow this was an act of benevolence allowing tribal horses to go to auction instead of direct sale so the public could bid and own a tribal horse… this response must be made: Instead of sending horses to a kill auction and driving prices up for rescues beyond that of “kill price” you could have placed an ad for the public to adopt the horses… created an event on tribal land to promote the goods and services of the people of the tribe… and truly offered the public an opportunity to purchase a horse instead.
parking lot in fallon

parking lot in fallon

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Horse Tripping happens in Nevada!

Horse Tripping happens in Nevada!

Other news: The horse tripping ban in Clark county was upheld after considerable effort. The bill passed this session in the Nevada State Legislature was a sell out. Exactly what WHE predicted would happen did occur, in spite of reassurances from those that pushed us to drop our opposition to the bill. This bill will need to be revisited.

Fish Lake Roundup

Fish Lake Roundup

The BLM roundup at Fish Lake ended. A total of 122 horses were captured (target 150) and the operation was terminated as horses in the immediate area of concern had been removed. A stud that was a favorite of local residents was captured and released.

The roundup at Gold Mountain has begun in an effort to zero out a small population existing in the HMA. Wild horses in the area are compromised and operations are moving slowly with only three horses captured the first day. The area has an existing Appropriate Management Level (AML) for burros, and is much better habitat for burros, yet currently no burros exist in the area. WHE assessment at link>>>
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BLM’s summer roundup schedule is almost over. We are awaiting the announcement of the new schedule.
Of note: Silver King (in Litigation), Caliente, and Snowstorm Roundups (Owyhee, in litigation) were cancelled. TRiple B (Maverick/Medicine) added public observation after litigation was filed.
New schedule should be posted soon.
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On September 28th horses from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park will go for auction. The horses are considered feral by the park and are not protected under the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burros Act. Article here: http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/event/article/id/70659/
Details about the Sept. 28 auction of park horses and associated events in Wishek, N.D., can be found at Wishek Livestock Sales, http://www.wisheklivestock.com.
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Filly available for adoption at PVC (taken 8/24/2013)

Filly available for adoption at PVC (taken 8/24/2013)

More news soon from Wild Horse Education. We are devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for wild horses and burros. Please consider making a donation to assist us in our work.

As a note horses are available for adoption at Palomino Valley Center (PVC) North of Reno. Many of these horses are young and have been in the facility for more than a year. Please adopt a wild horse!

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8 thoughts on “CRAZY Week! Slaughter Auction, Roundups, Courtroom Drama!

  1. It seems to me the latest ploy by the BLM is just to declare horses feral, and so therefore “not my problem”; between them and the US Forest Service, they are turning their back on our mustangs and burros BUT still collecting their paychecks from us, the good ole American taxpayer! Thanks again for all you are doing Laura Leigh and Gordon Cowan; were it not for you I cannot bear to think about where these innocent souls would be!

  2. What just happened with the unmarked horses near Owyhee Complex does appear to be a new tactic and it looks like it is being repeated elsewhere. I’m going to guess it was cooked up by the Tribal Authority, BLM and the Forest Service as the back door way to send BLM horses to slaughter and clear horses off the land to make way for fracking, mining, pipelines and cattle. There are many people in the tribes who are not happy that the Tribal Authorities are selling these horses to slaughter terror. What a mess. And the only way out of it is to change the system. The best way at present to do that is the court system, as BLM is deaf to public outcry. It was great to see cooperation between advocate groups in the legal arena. It would be nice, however, if other groups would start giving credit where credit is due to Wild Horse Education, Laura Leigh, and Gordon Cowan. Laura and Gordon have been incredible warriors for the wild horses and burros and should be supported in every way possible by the wild horse and burro advocates and advocate organizations.

  3. Heart breaking, there is no other word. The BLM like so many other “federal agencies” needs to be re-vamped and soon.

  4. I would like to add my support for Laura Leigh and people like her who are so dedicated and selfless and are truly making a difference. Laura has her own personal battle she is fighting and yet she puts herself second. There is truly always a battle between good and evil – always has and always will be – but I am convinced that good prevails ultimately. It takes a lot of effort, a village, to make change happen. I pray every day that people will stand up to the greed that is making our horses and burros helpless victims. It appears celebrities are getting involved and I hope this whole horse slaughter, the BLM going after the wild horses, and all the other cruel and inhumane activities are made to cease. Legally fighting appears the way to go and public support and awareness will really help the battle. If we all unite and post, sign petitions, donate, show support, email, generate awareness, anything possible – hopefully there will be enough noise to make those in charge wake up and notice the growing momentum of support for our horses. Also – we are the voters and the tax payers and I say, sue the pants off those that are using our tax dollars to harm the horses we are out to protect.

  5. I do hope that the horses will soon get the protection the law officially gave them decades ago and that all the involved BLM staff will get fired for its gruesome actions.
    But I also hope that the mindless fracking will stop, that people will stop shooting wolves and bears just for the pleasure of killing. I wish that all farm animals will get protection from the horried conditions they live and die in. I wish for a more humane society, towards all animals and amongst people.
    But all this will never happen if we wait for governments to change things. We, the people, have to fight for a better world.

  6. I hope everyone making comments has signed petitions to REPEAL THE BURNS AMENDMENT!!!!!!!!!! And if you did it last month, do it again. I printed a flyer…I think it was from the Return to Freedom website…but may have been another website, taped it to the inside of my back car window, so I advertise this wherever I go. If the weather’s good, I tape an open envelope that has strips of paper with a few facts and websites, on the outside of my back window next to the flyer. On the envelope I’ve written, “Take One For the Horses”. Every time I go to the grocery, people have taken a couple of these.

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