Monday, August 20, 2012

The Shell Game?

In June, Wild Hoofbeats (and nearly 200 other interested people) travelled near El Dorado, Kansas to tour Bob Buford's Shadow 7 contract holding facility, the only LTH facility tour scheduled by the BLM for 2012.

Long Term Holding Tour in Kansas

The following is a quote from her blog:

"Paul McGuire from Oklahoma told me that only 1000-1500 horses were sold per year from long term holding, but when I had an opportunity to speak to Bob Buford myself, those figures seem low.  He told me had had just sent 200 to a couple of different states, and this last year had sent 1700 to Hutchison Correctional Facility. He told me that the mortality rate is about 3 – 4% and the horses can live to 25 or even 30, which is a good 5-10 more years than in the wild."

McGuire's comments got me to thinking. I spoke to Bea Ward earlier this year about horses being sold out of their long term holding facilities (see bottom of linked page for numbers sold 2009 - 2012) and what she told me doesn't jive with what McGuire is to have said. Ms. Ward told me that far fewer are sold yearly and also said that few had been sold since the LTH horses were found on Texas Kill buyer's truck heading southbound to Mexico for slaughter. Ms. Ward said sales were pretty much on pause at the time until Sally Spencer was able to re-write and toughen up their sales agreement so that incidents like this don't re-occur. Now a good number of these sales are sold to Extreme Mustang trainers but some go to a place in Colorado. I asked Bea for some more information on the Colorado buyer but she couldn't tell me more.  It all seemed like a dead end so I didn't do any more follow up.

However ...... 

Some of the discrepancy between the web site numbers and McGuire's numbers I can chalk up to McGuire probably "estimating", but between what he said and what Buford said clearly is cause for alarm, especially if you consider 1700 horses transferred out of one facility and extrapolate that to the nearly 20 other LTH facilities. I'm not saying all facilities transfer horses, but even if a few of them do, the logistics would be a nightmare. How do you ever account for the numbers being moved or where the horses finally end up because that is the real concern. Transfer them enough times and even the best software might not be able to keep track. Remember sales are not transfers, so though we have the sales numbers for the past few years, we don't know how many horses are transferred from LTH facility to LTH facility (or even why they are transferred).

Here is where I really start to have questions. Buford says he transferred 1700 horses to Hutchison (prison maintenance facility). Please note the numbers for Hutchison remain essentially unchanged throughout 2011 and into 2012 and that numbers is around 290 horses, give or take. 

Here is the current BLM facility report for June, 2012

(also here

The following links take you to facility reports for 2011. I have yet to learn how to make these documents larger in Photobucket but when I do will update this page. I don't have the facility report for December, 2010 to compare but don't know if it's all that important to this blog.

BLM facility report for July, 2011

BLM facility report for December, 2011

You see essentially the same number of horses in Hutchison currently as are in the previous facility reports for July and December, 2011 (less than 300 on all three reports) which I downloaded from the BLM site or were provided by BLM staff at my request. Please note that the capacity at Hutchison is 350 horses. Would it even be possible to move 1700 horses in and out in one year and have the number stay basically unchanged three consecutive facility reports?

So, was Buford misquoted? (Unlikely). Was he wrong about where he had sent the horses? That seems to be so since Hutchison didn't received anything like 1700 horses last year. Where did they go?

I will repost when I get a response on this from the BLM (right).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

7th annual conference on wildlife fertility control

Dan Baker, from the Department of Biomedical Sciences, CSU, will be presenting during this conference the first year efficacy rates from a fertility study of Gonacon on wild horses at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. First year efficacy rates were much lower than they expected. Results from years two and three not yet available.

Follow this link for registration and other information:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Horse Slaughter Applicant Gives Up After Being Fined $86,400 For Mountain of Dead Animals on Property

Note: August 31st: I just received all the information from Front Range's Lawyer, Mr. Bruce Wegman. The notice of fine is at the end of this blog entry. 

Reprinted from Front Range


Horse Slaughter Applicant Gives Up After Being Fined $86,400 For Mountain of Dead Animals on Property 
Roswell, New Mexico’s Valley Meat Company Cited by New Mexico Environmental Board’s Solid Waste Division for Years-Long Violations of State Law
Roswell, New Mexico, August 15 -- When the first applicant for an American horse slaughterhouse operation surfaced earlier this year, Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) immediately investigated in order to determine the nature of the applicant’s business.  FRER discovered that the applicant, Valley Meat Company, had a fifteen-foot high pile of dead cattle rotting on its property, creating a health hazard for the community and placing into serious question the operator’s ability to start up his new operation, slaughtering former American companion, work and competition horses for human consumption.  Pictures of the pile taken by both state and federal officials showed a horrific sight.  FRER determined that Valley Meat had been in violation of New Mexico law for years, specifically because its owners had been maintaining this massive public health and safety hazard on their property, without any proper or responsible abatement.  

Go here for rest of the Front Range report:

Below is a copy of the fine issued by the New Mexico Environment Department, Solid Waste Bureau.

Why do we even have to ask?

Below is part of a Horseback article on the status of Long Term Holding Pastures in Oklahoma which is in the middle of the area most impacted by the worst drought in decades.

BLM Will Not Move Captive Oklahoma Mustangs Despite New Dust Bowl Threat

By Steven Long
1935 WPA Dust Bowl Photo, Library of Congress
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Little has changed in the federal Bureau of Land Management’s handling of wild horses under its Wild Horse and Burro Program, this in spite of the worst drought affecting Midwestern states since the dust bowl of the 1930s. What’s more, nothing will change, despite a threat from nature that could put thousands of animals in jeopardy.
Asked by Horseback if the BLM was making any special arrangements to move wild horses held captive in giant pastures in Oklahoma and Kansas, national BLM spokesman Tom Gorey responded:
“Despite the current drought conditions in the Midwest, wild horses on long-term pastures continue to thrive,” he said. “If current weather conditions do not change, pasture contractors may have to begin supplemental feeding earlier than normal.  Therefore, these wild horses will have the advantage of having someone that can address their immediate needs.”

Private Wild Horse Sanctuary Fundraiser - Saturday August, 18th

Volunteers Alaina Welsh (from left), 17; Charissa Gurnea, 22; and Ashley Lawrence, 22, work with horses Friday at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown.
Volunteers Alaina Welsh (from left), 17; Charissa Gurnea, 22; and Ashley Lawrence, 22, work with horses Friday at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown.
Charissa Gurnea works with Wesley at Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown.
Charissa Gurnea works with Wesley at Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown.
SHINGLETOWN — Dianne Nelson likes to call it a "friendraiser."
The open house she's held annually at the Wild Horse Sanctuary for the past nine years happens again Saturday, and she's looking forward to meeting new people as well as seeing familiar faces.
It's also part benefit for the 300 or so wild mustangs and burros she shelters on her 5,000-acre spread.
Nelson planted 30 acres of hay this year to help offset higher prices for the 300 tons she purchases each year. She also cleared an additional 30 acres of brush to plant native grasses in the fall.
But for now, anyway, she's having a party. Highlights of Saturday's free event include docent-led walks to view the mustangs and burros up close and free horse rides for children 10 and younger.

(Please see above link for the rest of the article.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Anyone remember the Texas 25 saved from Presidio?

Here is information on the Texas 25, originally destined for slaughter but rejected by Mexican authorities and left to starve at the Presidio holding pens.

Those 25 were the lucky ones, as others in worse shape were dragged out into a dry wash and left to die.

Firelight South Ranch of Alpine, Texas knows of a few more in need. These are ranch horses turned out in the Big Bend, Texas area a few years ago, picked up, taken to auction, and now are in need of help. Mares and filly have been purchased by the rescue, but they are still in need of hay, vetting, etc. Please help if you can.

Here is their Facebook page:

and a link to chip-in for the current rescue effort. (8/28 - Goal was reached with the help of a generous donor).

Wild Horse Advocacy issue made easy by Laura Leigh

reprinted from Horseback Magazine:

Wild Horse Education Issues Challenge to Board Member Assertions

Photo by Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine
RENO, (Wild Horse Education) – On July 31, 2012 at the Nevada Department of Agriculture meeting Dr. Boyd Spratling requested an Agenda item. He has requested that the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDoA) create “letters” to various officials addressing the BLM Drought management plans (specific Item Battle Mountain).
Dr. Spratling is a member of the NDoA Board and also a member of the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.
Dr. Spratling did not discuss any specific to the Drought EA of the Agenda item in his presentation but created an overview statement that addresses removal of wild horses as the mitigating factor for drought.

Horses near the area of one of the water hauls in Fish Creek, June 2012
He failed to present any provision in the WFRH&B Act that is the legislation whose intent was to protect these animals as integral and to be managed as “wild” on public lands. He failed to address the real damage to the range being caused by over utilization by domestic livestock.
We ask that you take this opportunity to craft your own letter to representatives in Congress and those within the BLM/DOI structure. Suggestions of recipients are: Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Interior), Mike Poole (acting Director of the BLM), Amy Lueders (State Director, Nevada) as well as your Congressional representatives.
Suggested Recipients
Acting Director BLM: Mike Pool
Edwin Roberson BLM
Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
1849 C Street NW, Rm. 5644
Phone: 202-208-4896
Fax: 202-208-5010
BLM Nevada State Office,
State Director, Amy Lueders
same address:
Deputy State Director, Natural Resource, Land & Planning: Raul Morales
1340 Financial Blvd.,
Reno, NV 89502
Links of Interest:
Sample Letter:
August 4, 2012
Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Ken Salazar,
This correspondence addresses the current drought issues in the state of Nevada with particular emphasis on the Battle Mountain District.  The necessity to craft this letter has come after attending the Nevada Department of Agriculture meeting on the 31st day of July this year, 2012.
During the meeting of the Nevada Department of Agriculture Dr. Boyd Spratling presented a recommendation letter to be sent to you from the Board. At no time in his presentation did he address any site-specific (current) information. At no time during his presentation did he recognize the need to evaluate good business practices involving the overgrazing (documented) by domestic livestock on a public resource.
In light of the presentation and subsequent letter you will be receiving from the Nevada Department of Agriculture we offer the following:
First we would like to commend the Battle Mountain District for showing the forethought to create a drought plan prior to the necessity of action. Proactive management practices are sorely needed in public lands management and should be recognized when they occur.
Secondly the damage to the range by permitees that currently utilize many ranges, not only in the Battle Mountain District of BLM, must be assessed on a site-specific basis. Any permitee not protecting public resource through over grazing or causing over grazing through water hauling on public lands must be restricted. Voluntary compliance is always preferred, but if that compliance is not forthcoming formal restrictions must meet with National support.
Third the proactive actions need to be extended beyond the drought. Each use of the land causes an impact to other uses and users. As livestock permitees turn out their animals site specific monitoring of range health prior to, and post, use must be supported. Improper use of one allotment creates a greater impact to neighboring allotments as well other uses. Impacts to other uses as turnouts occur must also be monitored. Impacts to wild horse movement patterns also need to be monitored as these instances create artificial instances of wild horse impact as animals are forced into smaller and smaller areas by fence line closures and considerable numbers of domestic livestock.
In addition the current economic impact to private land grazing operations and those that must supplement feed (provide hay) is considerable. Many American farmers are taking advantage of foreign markets for their products and the price of hay has risen considerably. The current cost for a private enterprise has risen to approximately $10.00-$18.00 per cow/calf pair monthly. The American public is selling their grazing resource to private permitees at current costs from approximately $1.35-$2.00 for the same resource. Public permitees also do not pay a property tax for the grazing land they utilize. This imbalance is particularly unfair to the American public, as the resource is not being properly protected for future use. Consideration of a fee scale that more appropriately reflects current market rate, that perhaps has a built in scale that can reward those properly utilizing public resource, would be appropriate.
We implore you to recognize this crucial juncture in the Wild Horse and Burro Program. A failure to define clearly a viability of use standard for this mandated legal user, of a small portion of public land, has created a crisis. The Crisis not only exists in over burdened holding facilities but on the range itself.  At no time have these populations been managed as “wild and integral” as intended by Congress.
Before any more removals occur on public land a true viability standard must be created. Faulty boundary lines must be evaluated. Genetic viability to each herd must be understood and protected in a manner reflective of a wild population (a population able to reproduce itself, even with a stochastic event) must be defined as outlined by law. The resources required to sustain those populations must be protected prior to other uses being permitted.
The wild horses and burros, under law, have nowhere else to go. They must be protected within the boundaries that have been established until those boundaries are re-evaluated and corrected.
Other uses have considerable public resource to draw upon.
Attached is a site-specific report on an HMA in the Battle Mountain District. It clearly demonstrates that many areas have, and are, being over utilized by private interests creating artificial impact on a population of wild horses that are (under law) to be managed as wild and integral.
We urge you to support the proactive actions currently transpiring in the Battle Mountain District. We implore you to urge the District to continue to create proactive plans toward creating an actual equity of utilization and protection of public resource. True “multiple use” does not operate in derogation of other uses or users. It strives to understand the complexity of interaction that begins with complete and accurate conversation.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

N Landers Complex response to EA

Please excuse typos. Theses are my comments submitted to Scott Fleur regarding the proposed North Lander complex roundup and their preferred alternative which includes treatment of up to 60 mares with SpayVac and a removal to the low AML.

........, ...

August 7th, 2012

Scott Fleur
BLM Landers Office
1335 Main Street
Lander, Wyoming 82520

phone 307 332 8400
fax 307 332-8444

Dear Scott Fleur,

First of all, it's detailed document with the exception of the difficulty of finding some very important information. That is, nowhere in the document can I find the percentage of livestock utilization though the number of AUM's allotted to livestock is well over 40,000 (over 3,333 cattle on the Lander's complex HMA's every month of the year). (Appendix 6) 

I am always amazed at your agency's chutzpah when it comes to livestock. You simply don't seem capable of understanding that 40,000 AUM's allocated to livestock is NOT "evening out the use" as JoLynn Worley put it a few months ago. So, yes, you could consider at some point allocating more AUM's to wild horses and you certainly have the latitude to leave more than the minimum AML on the complex once the roundup is completed.

And like many advocates, I'm concerned about the SpayVac. I'm more than a little surprised its being considered for field use so soon since the Paul's Valley study started barely a year and a half ago and there are no published reports as of yet. (Or are there?)

I've also included quotes from BLM Press Releases and the BLM's own website that express reservations about using the vaccine until the results of the study become known.

Bureau of Land Management
Contacts: Paul McGuire (Oklahoma) (405-794-9624) Heather Emmons (Nevada) (775-384-7966) Tom Gorey (Washington, D.C.) (202-912-7420)
For release: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
"The goal is to see if SpayVac®, a novel formulation of a glycoprotein called porcine zona pellucida (PZP), will provide a longer-term effect than other PZP vaccines currently used by the BLM.  If the vaccine is found to reduce foaling in this controlled setting, it will be considered for use with free-roaming horses to help control population growth rates on the range."
"SpayVac™ is an experimental fertility control vaccine using PZP antigens. A single vaccination with SpayVac™ has maintained a high level of contraception throughout the 4-year Nevada estray horse study. There is no regulatory approval for the management or investigational use of SpayVac™ through EPA or FDA. There is no SpayVac™ available for investigational use and no one is currently making it. Data is not available that describes the impact of SpayVac™ on the behavior and physical health of the mares. SpayVac™ may have potential for use as an effective, longer-lasting fertility control agent in the future. It may also offer an alternative to spaying mares in the future. However, additional research over the next 5-10 years would be needed before it could be used on a population-management basis."
My question is this. What do you know about the Spay Vac vaccine that would cause you to hurry up and test it for field use? And why are you testing it in a relatively large area like the North Lander Complex when fertility control projects are better tested in smaller HMA's like the Pryor Mountains?
What seems to be "out there" in terms of information is that Spay Vac is effective on reproduction rates but that its effects are not reversible in all mammals. 
Because of those concerns, I would ask you to use the PZP-22 instead of the SpayVac until more information is known. I would also ask you, if you insist on using the SpayVac,  to release more than the low AML.
While I'm sympathetic to the need for fertility control, I object to the counting those 60 SpayVac experimental mares as part of the low AML especially and in case many of the mares have their reproductive ability severely compromised.
I was also shocked that you would consider an Alternative that would geld stallions and return them to the HMA. While glad that is not the preferred alternative, returning geldings to the HMA is not very efficacious in lowering birth rates as your chart indicates, and is a direct violation of the viable herds mandate. So is sterilizing mares. Please be careful that you don't do either of those to the North Landers complex horses.