Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Basically, the "easy math" used to estimate next year's wild horse and burro numbers is as follows: Take this year's number, subtract the number removed and add back in the number of births. Say, there are 33,000 wild horses left on the range and the BLM removes 10,000 of them. That would leave 23,000 horses. Then you add back in 6600 horses (20% increase in population) and the number you get would be 29,600 left on the range. Of course, even that lazy math doesn't jive with the BLM's reported numbers year over year but that would be a simple way to calculate the number remaining. However, it could be wrong and of the course of several years, it could add up to a significant number. Here's why I have bothered to write this today:
If the wild horse population increases by 20% every year (per the BLM) then you have to say the actual birth rate is a little higher to account for deaths. So, let's say 30% pregnancy rate. Who knows? I hate to start out the hypothesis with shaky math, but since we are depending on the BLM for our head count, well, we're already screwed.
So, 33,000 wild horses at the beginning of February of this year. Accepted on faith since there is no proof and the BLM isn't going to provide the data that they supposedly collect on a yearly basis to make their population count. And we also accept the BLM's word that the population increases by 20% every year.
Generally, sixty percent of wild horse populations are mares so that means 19,800 mares in a population of 33,000 wild horses. To get a population increase of 6,600, then 33% of those mares have to have live foals. Actually, the percentage of mares to foals gathered seems to be a little less from what I've seen, but since some at the BLM don't think that data is for public consumption, then who knows for sure?
So, if the BLM rounds up 11,000 horses during the year, you could assume that 6600 of those rounded up (60%) would be mares. Since the BLM gathers at different times of the year, it's also possible to assume that 33% of the gathered mares are pregnant, 33% have foals and 34% have no foals at the time of the gathers.
The ones that are pregnant is where my hypothesis gets tricky. I might wake up in the middle of the night and decide that I'm off base, but here goes.
If these mares are pregnant when rounded up, then that means the BLM could be removing up to 1,980 horses more than the official number (assuming these mares would have had foals if left in the wild and then go on to have their foals in captivity). The fact that the BLM can say with a straight face that there was no change in the wild horse population from FY 2010 to FY 2011 with no justification is even more astounding because of the above hypothesis.
LIke I said, I might erase this in the middle of the night if I think of something else that would impact the numbers. The gather and removals are clearly not a simple numbers game. If my thoughts here are correct, then surely someone at the BLM has already thought this out and understands how misleading the roundup numbers really are. And how about those yet-to-be-born foals are accounted for in LTH,? Well I know there are people thinking about that.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
They just won't (or can't) admit it made contact and they sure don't seem to be asking the pilot why he got so close when clearly it wasn't needed. They are simply trying to avoid allowing advocates that "gotcha" moment.
He did say they were talking with all their contractors about humane issues and trying to improve the treatment of horses and, yes, even talking to their pilots and telling them to remain safe distances from the horses. I hope what Abbey says about humane treatment is getting filtered down the chain but it doesn't seem like it. I'm dismayed this pilot keeps flying even though his tactics have been the subject of several "committees". I am then told that pilot has brought many horses in safely. Well, yes but the same issues keep occurring with this pilot and have for well over a year. If he is so tired at the end of the day that he just wants to go home, maybe they should find another pilot?
Asked him about foal count and why some roundups are not giving out the daily breakdown on studs, mares and foals. I mentioned that when we can get data, it seems to confirm population growth in the 20% range... but without that data its hard for anyone that doesn't have boots on the ground to know if that is true.
Also asked him why, if the population growth is 20% how, after removing 12,000 horses in FY2010, the BLM numbers of horses on the range barely budged from 2010 to 2011? He admits he doesn't know, his area is Nevada but that he also would wonder why and that it certainly would be helpful to have an explanation that would account for no reduction in population, year over year. despite so many removals. I told him I emailed DC several times and called Gorey as well on this issue but no one has bothered to respond or explain. We both agreed better information and access to information would reduce tensions. Gorey should explain this. There are no telephoto excuses to hide behind on this one. It needs an explanation.
Why barbed wire so close to the trap site that one foal got caught in it and had to be euthanized? He didn't know anything about it so I will send him the gather and vet report for that day. I'd like to know just how close that barbed wire was to the trap site. Anyone remember Freedom? He had to break through barbed wire as well right after vaulting over the panels at the Calico gather. Seems the barbed wire is continuous hazard that needs to be better addressed by the BLM pre roundup. He says they do take down barbed wire, just that's there's lots of it. The Disappointment Valley roundup video comes to mind and the folded arms, defensive posture of the BLM employees in it while being told there were barbed wire hazards on the route.
Many questions, no answers. That pilot is still flying and gathers are being closed.
It was interesting to read the account of one woman last week who, on her blog about the CO roundup, said the BLM employees felt they were targets. How ironic that some feel they are being persecuted. Human nature, I guess. How much of human psychology are we taking into affect when we constantly criticize them? Does it really matter all that much since giving the BLM a group hug sure won't stop the roundups?
Friday, September 16, 2011
Senator John Boozman (R. - AR)
1 Russell Courtyard
Washington, D.C. 20510
RE: BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program
Dear Senator Boozman:
Andrew Cohen of the Atlantic recently wrote four articles on the BLM's initial decision of record for a late summer roundup in Wyoming's Little Colorado and White Mountain (HMA) herd management areas. (Cohen's 4th Article here:)
I have enclosed three of Mr. Cohen's articles for you as they intelligently and thoughtfully reflect the point of view I have been trying to convey to your aide, Zachary Hartman, regarding my concerns about the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro program. The BLM has, bit by bit and rather grudgingly, rescinded the most disturbing parts of its determination due to massive public outrage, announcing its final determination in early August. To show you how punitive and arbitrary the decision initially seemed, I have also included pictures of the area, taken in late May of this year, showing a range in excellent condition and horses in good health. (Carol Walker photographs)
As you know, the Congress voted to fully fund this program for 2011 in spite of over 70,000 letters and comments from the American public to Congress objecting to the BLM's massive roundups and treatment of the wild horses. Equally as troubling is the BLM's complete removal (zeroing out) of wild horses and burros from over 19 million acres since the 1971 law was enacted with more herds scheduled to be zeroed out by the end of this fiscal year.
In the most recent article, Mr. Cohen states: " As I have written before, it's not just what the BLM is doing to these wild horses that disturbs a great many people. It is the way in which the deed is being done. Consistently backing ranching interests over horse advocacy groups, annually squeezing the horses out of more and more public land, the BLM nonetheless wants to maintain the public pretense that it is an honest broker when it comes to the fate of the horses -- that its officials are doing what they can, within the narrow confines of federal law, to protect and manage the herds. But this is a false pretense. Literally and figuratively these days, America's wild horses are on the run; suitable for marketing but otherwise harassed by their human stewards."
In addition, the BLM's Environmental Assessments (EA's) blithely state that a gas or oil well pad has no significant environmental impact, but one horse per square mile is too many on most of our public lands. If the grading, excavation, drilling, and attendant truck traffic and noise along with the chemical pollution of nearly a quarter of a million barrels of water needed to fracture the earth has no significant environmental impact then how can we take any of the BLM's EA's seriously?
Please take a moment to look over the enclosed articles. Most Americans find the behavior of the BLM in violation of the 1971 WHPA. I hope you do as well.
"But, when asked when the last time changes were made in response to public comments, Haug and other BLM officials were unable to provide an answer."
SUSANVILLE, CA (Mynews4.com & KRNV)- The BLM is required to hold an annual public comment meeting on the use of aircraft and motor vehicles during roundups. According to BLM, the purpose is to hear what the public has to say and make changes if needed. The public however, feels differently.
“Mustangs deserve respect,” said Tina Brodrick of Reno. Brodrick drove an hour and a half to tell the BLM how she opposed any forceful kind of gathering.
Tina was one of three women who stood up and spoke. Barbara White lives in Susanville and believes it was an unfair place to have the meeting. “I have an issue with you having the meeting so far away,” she said.” White said having only four people show up is not a good enough representation from the public for a once a year meeting.
But northern California District Manager Nancy Haug says the BLM felt this was a good location. “Susanville is fairly central to the northern California district,” said Haug.
Other wild horse and burro advocates told News 4 prior to the meeting it was not just the time and location that prevented them from attending, but the fact that they do not feel as if their comments go towards any change.
Haug says the comments go to the BLM’s national office. “If something comes out we can make a change,” said Haug.
But, when asked when the last time changes were made in response to public comments, Haug and other BLM officials were unable to provide an answer.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal grand jury is charging two Utah men with multiple counts of fraud in an alleged scheme to buy dozens of wild horses at discounted rates and sell them to commercial processors in Mexico.
Charges filed Wednesday in federal court in Salt Lake City say the men bought 64 wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management between February and August. The men claimed the wild horses would be used for breeding, which qualified them for lower purchase prices.
The two men are each charged with four counts of wire fraud, two counts of false statements and one count of aiding or abetting.
BLM officials became suspicious and alerted federal authorities, who intercepted a truck from Utah in August carrying 47 of the horses to the Mexican border.
Monday, September 12, 2011
These are my recollections and not everything is in the exact order, but close enough.
As a preface to the actual phone call, I must have called the number for Mr. Bybee (that was on the scoping letter) at least eight times and by the time I actually talked to (not with, but to Mr. Bybee,) I was a little frustrated with the difficulty of what should have been a simple phone call. On my eighth attempt at calling him, I finally spoke to an employee who said the voice mail system was broken and that unless someone was sitting at their desk and picked up the phone, you could not leave a message with the broken system. She promised to leave him a message on his desk. The next morning when he returned my call, right off the bat I complained about difficulty of getting in touch with him. It probably set the defensive tone of the conversation. (I might have gotten more information from him if I hadn't started the conversation with a complaint.) He apologized for the voice mail system being broken and told him I knew it wasn't his fault but just made contacting him ever so difficult.
The first question I asked him was,
Me: "Who built the fence?"
Answer: The Forest Service.
Me: "How much did it cost?"
Answer: I have no idea.
Me: "Who is it that wants the horses off that particular piece of land?"
Answer: Sheep Groups (Big Horn) and the Plains Resource Council. ( I should have asked more about these groups, such as how many people in the org, why that particular land is so important to them and why their opinions matter more than the hundreds of wild horse advocates, but didn't.
Me: "Did the BLM speak to the Forest Service about keeping the land for the use of the horses?"
Answer: All that's going to be done has been done.
Me: "But, did the BLM actually talk to the Forest Service?"
Answer: (He repeats) All that's going to be done has been done.
Me: The herd population is stable so why was there a need for another roundup with a stable population?
Answer: We are supposed to "manage" the horses.
Me: Bob Abbey has said that use of PZP was one way to avoid continued removals and warehousing of these horses and if the population was stable and could be managed with birth control, why not go that route?
Answer: The PZP probably isn't the only reason the herd population is stable.
I did ask him who set the AML and he said he did and then said something about how these things are done and I should read about them (NCRS report) and that I was accusing him of setting arbitrary numbers, etc. etc.
Me: I'm not trying to criticize, I just don't understand why there is a need for another roundup with the whole range not being utilized, a stable population and Mr. Abbey's comments that birth control would help reduce the need for further roundups.
Me: what about the water guzzlers?
Answer: Horses are not using them as much as we like.
Me: If the population is stable and the horse are using the water guzzlers and moving to other parts of the range, would there a need for another roundup?
Answer: This is only the scoping letter and nothing has been decided.
Me: "Since when does the BLM NOT do what is in the scoping letter inspire of all the protests and comments of advocates? Almost always the BLM does exactly what the scoping letter suggests, if not worse."
No real answer from him …
Me: "Can't you try harder to get the horses to move to different parts of the range by enticing them to use the water guzzlers so to reduce any deterioration of the range?"
Answer: "Well, it might help." (They are clearly not invested in doing more to get the horses to spread out across the range.)
Me: Has the range deteriorated from two years ago?
Answer: Not much change.
I then asked them to reconsider any decision to roundup and remove. That with a stable population and birth control, there should be no need to remove horses.
He was non committal.
A conversation, that was over before it began, was really over now.
If the BLM ever applied enough PZP to get stable populations, would it even matter or would the WH&B specialist continue the old cycle of roundups and removals even though the BLM director is on record saying that maintaining stable populations should reduce the need for further roundups? Maybe Abbey just hasn't made himself clear. What is clear is that the WH&B staff hasn't gotten the message.
Friday, September 9, 2011
(Except at least one horse was still alive)
September 8th, 2011 under Top Stories
By EMILY JO CURETON
PRESIDIO – This summer C4 Cattle Inc. illegally dumped 46 horse carcasses in and along a creek bed in Presidio, according to a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) report released this week. The investigation began in May after the agency received yet another round of complaints about animal bodies in the creek, situated in a residential area on the eastern edge of the border community.
The Burlington-based livestock company leases the Alvarado Pens in Presidio and uses them as a way station for horses headed to Mexico for slaughter. According to the report, C4 did not maintain mortality records for the animals or properly dispose of carcasses at an authorized solid waste facility, such as the City of Presidio Landfill, located half a mile from the pens.
Instead, the bodies were dragged with a tractor and dumped in Cibolo Creek, on private property owned by the Bass family of Tuscon.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
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Date: 2011-09-07, 9:36AM EDT
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By Steven Long, Photo Courtesy Ray Field,
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – What began as a pen full of slaughter bound horses in the sun bleached town of Presideo, Texas has now dwindled to 24 from 26 seized by the county sheriff and housed in in Marfa, the county seat.
The horses will soon be on their way to a refuge. They will be removed from the sheriff’s custody Tuesday.
Since their seizure, the man who allegedly brought them to the Rio Grande border town to sell for their meat, Trent Saulters, has been arrested on outstanding warrants from Johnson, County charged with theft of livestock as well as theft by check, and is now free on bond.
The horses have been released to the custody of Rachel Waller Rondeaux of nearby Alpine. They will be kept in quarantine at her 400 acre Firelight South ranch and cared fir by her personal veterinarian.
Rondeaux made the announcement on Facebook late Labor Day afternoon saying, “WE DID IT!!! The West Tex 25 are coming here to the ranch for rehab and rehoming later on. Sadly, our little guy Ying lost his battle last night, bjut his passing graced us with custody. Thank you everyone. I need trailers and panels by tomorrow.
The horses had been scheduled for a sheriff’s auction set for September 14, 2011.
“We lost one last night, and today I was given custody,” Rondeaux told Horseback Online. “I have been out there almost every day.”
“I donated hay, and have been doing all I can. The horses that are in the worst shape were like that already. They just went downhill fast.”
All of the horses either have strangles, or have been exposed to strangles.
Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez has been under fire since the controversy at the slaughter pens began because of horses severely injured, dying, and dumped in a flash flood prone creek dead or dying. He has filed no charges on any of the alleged infractions.
Catastrophic neglect at the Presidio slaughter pens was discovered by Ray Field of the Wild Horse Foundation during a flyover when he saw horses dead on the ground.
“I have gotten to know him and see him every day,” she said. “He wanted the best for the horses.”
The situation remains under investigation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. There may be federal involvement as well because of misuse or falsification of Coggins papers, a federal crime.
Rondeaux told Horseback she will welcome donations for the horse’s care.
“I have a list and will set up an acct tomorrow at the feed store or people can donate directly to us and receive a tax deduction letter
Horseback readers can donate through Paypal.com to firstname.lastname@example.org
“This is a very happy start here,” she said. “I hope folks will help us as we will adopt them out later to approved homes under an adoption agreement.”
It is presumed that all of the prison horses sold to Saulter at a Huntsville livestock auction went to slaughter.
These numbers are provided for public use by non government groups and as such may change at any time. They ring through to the capital switchboard where you can ask for the legislators by name.