Posts tagged ‘blm’

August 6, 2011

Federal Probe Raises Questions About 47 Siezed BLM Horses Going Out of Holding Pens to Alleged Slaughter Ring


Horseback Magazine

By Steven Long, Chute Photo by Laura Leigh, Chase Photo by Terry Fitch
released August 6, 2011

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The secretive federal Bureau of Land Management has long kept the doors of the giant taxpayer funded pastures where thousands of wild horses are warehoused, well, closed.

But while the doors were closed to press and public, they may have been wide open to a well known Utah killer buyer who was caught hauling 47 older wild horses allegedly to slaughter in Mexico or Canada. The investigation includes BLM enforcement agents, the FBI, several state agencies, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in possibly two or more states.

Multiple individuals are targets of the probe. Department of Transportation registration for a cattle truck shown in video by Salt Lake television station KSL was traced by respected animal welfare investigators Animals Angels to Willard, Utah based DK Ranches owned by alleged killer buyer Dennis Kunz.

“There have been suspicions of BLM involvement in the trafficking of wild horse to slaughter since the early 1990s when a formal Grand Jury probe was instigated” said documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens whose three PBS ”Nature” specials on an iconic horse named Cloud have captivated millions.  “The Cloud Foundation has been asking for full public access to all facilities where mustangs are being warehoused for years.”

Kathrens remembers the earlier probe well, but believes chicanery from higher up brought the investigation to a halt.

“Before the first witness could testify in the hearing in a Del Rio, Texas courtroom, the plug was pulled and the investigation findings were never released,” Kathrens told Horseback Online.  “Implicated in the investigation are people still employed by the BLM. In fact one employee with the Wild Horse and Burro Program is in charge of the facilities for the Agency. I have no idea whether there is a any link to these same employees or not.”

“Wild Horse and Burro advocates have always fostered a nagging suspicion that our national icons were being shuttled out the back door of long term holding to slaughter, and this incident validates that fear,” said longtime wild horse advocate and author R.T. Fitch, president of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

“But the larger question is why did the BLM intervene and what makes this incident different from the possible hundreds before it, something doesn’t add up,” he said.

Tom Gorey, Chief Washington spokesman for the BLM, was unavailable for comment Saturday. It is unknown if anybody has been charged in the alleged BLM slaughter ring, or if any agency employees are suspects.

Jerry Finch is the founder and driving force of Habitat for Horses, a Hitchcock based rescue that has handled some of the most difficult seizures in recent history.

“For the BLM to suddenly be concerned about America’s horses going to slaughter is laughable,” he told Horseback Magazine late Saturday.  ”Since former Senator Burns gave them the out to dump horse by the truckload, s, they have been disappearing by the hundreds, if not by the thousands. That this truckload was stopped means that someone broke the silence of corruption and squealed.”

Since Horseback Magazine began investigations into practices of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, unconfirmed reports have repeatedly reached the magazine claiming the sighting of 18 wheel cattle trucks hauling horses from BLM facilities in the dead of night. The agency has steadfastly denied horses are being taken from pastures and sent to slaughter. However, BLM branded horses are sometimes spotted in USDA holding pastures and at slaughterhouses carrying the BLM brand.

“The BLM refuses to give the public an accurate accounting of the horses they have captured or to allow anyone but their own to see these supposed holding areas except on a very limited basis. Why? What is the BLM hiding?” Finched asked.  ”People are being paid a per horse rate to care and feed these animals. If the horses aren’t there, then where is the money going?”

Gorey states that the BLM does not send horses to slaughter. However, the agency doesn’t keep track of its horses after they are sold, critics say.

It is estimated that there are app. 30,000 horses of all ages housed under lock and key on private property that the agency refuses to grant access to on a routine basis.

The reason, “the horses are on private land,” Gorey has repeatedly stated citing the federal privacy act. According to the BLM, 10,755 wild horses were removed from public lands and placed in giant holding pastures in 2010.

Ranchers in western states frequently call the Mustangs, “the cockroaches of the west” and view them as a nuisance.

The agency has refused to allow an independent audit of the number of horses held privately by ranchers at taxpayer expense, despite the fact that BLM controls app. 243 million acres of mostly vacant land where the horses could be housed for free. The horses compete for grazing land with more than 1 million cattle that inhabit leased pastures at the fire sale rate of $1.35 per cow and calf per month.

The horses seized in Utah are over the age BLM offers for adoption. When such horses are sold, buyers agree not to sell them to slaughter, the BLM says.

The wife of the owner of the cattle truck which carried the horses told Utah reporters for the Deseret News and KSL-TV, “We are known for buying slaughter horses,” she said, “but it was just our truck that was being used.” The woman claimed the horses were Texas bound but not destined for slaughter, despite the fact that Mexican slaughter houses are just across the U.S. Mexico border from El Paso.

Finch, like many others, believes the BLM would rid western lands of all wild horses.

“The next move by the BLM will surely be a cry that they can no longer afford to support all the wild horses they have taken and to ask Congress to add an amendment to allow them to sell horses without restriction. That should make the non-thinking horse haters in Congress squeal in delight.”

”Bottom line, older wild horses should never be removed from their homes on the range and caring BLM employees have said as much to me,” Kathrens said. “Older mustangs are particularly vulnerable, not just because they have trouble adapting to incarceration, but because they are not attractive as adoption animals, making them targets for sale and potential purchase by killer buyers. Are unscrupulous government employees and private contractors involved in the current trafficking case? Until that question can be answered, there should be an immediate halt to round up operations and the subsequent hauling of wild horses to holding facilities where the public is denied access.”

Kathrens is calling for a federal tracking system to document the whereabouts of every wild horse under BLM control. “BLM needs to prove the whereabouts of every animal they have removed, particularly these older animals who have been rounded up in the last few years. If we can track an orange from the time it leaves the grove to the time it is sold at the grocery store, BLM can certainly implement a tracking structure for these federally protected mustangs. Until they can implement this kind of tracking, no wild horses should be removed from the safety of their ranges.”


August 1, 2011

BLM wants Public comments on possible Pryor Mountain 2012 roundup

Please write or fax in your comments TODAY!  

The BLM is proposing possible bait trapping and removal of more horses from Pryor Mountain in 2012, which is the ONLY WILD HORSE HERD left in Montana!  Remember there was a large round-up in late 2009, and many horses were removed from the approx. 38,000 acres.   There are approx 150 adult horses on Pryor Mountain and 17 foals.

Reply before the August 31, 2011 deadline!!!

Read BLM’s Report here

– There should be 150+ adult wild horses in each herd area for safe genetics, and yet the BLM wants 90 or fewer
– Say no to a possible future roundup or bait trapping of any kind!

Jim Sparks, Field Manager, BLM Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101
or by fax (406) 896-5281.
-The BLM is not accepting emails or phone calls

July 31, 2011

BLM’s 1996 & 2011 Wild Horse Report by State, Cattle Grazing Fees & System

# of Wild Horses still roaming free according to BLM’s website

State                     1996                 2011

Arizona                171                   434
California         2434                  2872
Colorado             871                     984
Idaho                    551                    500
Montana              165                    165
Nevada            22796                  17710
New Mexico          70                        63
Oregon               1718                   2456
Utah                   2405                   2497
Wyoming          4105                    5333

Total                  35286                33014

There are fewer Wild Horses in 2011 than in 1996 roaming free according to BLM’s own reports.

Horses in Holding Facilities (2011)  – approx. 40,334.  

How much does this cost?   The DAILY per-horse cost for taxpayers:

  • Short-term holding facilities is $5 per horse
  • Long-term holding costs are $1.25 per horse.

And horses can live 10-25 years in a long-term holding facility.
Many Wild Horse Areas have been completely 100% removed of horses – forever.   At the current removal rate, Wild Horses could be extinct in 10 years!

Many advocates say there are fewer than 20,000 perhaps as low as 15,000 Wild Horses roaming free.  Many have asked for third party ‘head count’ to check the BLM’s official numbers.


The Bureau does not make an annual national “count” of the livestock that graze on BLM-managed lands because the actual number of livestock grazing on public lands on any single day varies throughout the year and livestock are often moved from one grazing allotment to another.  So an aggregate head count would provide very little information on overall livestock use. …..

By golly they certainly count EVERY WILD HORSE don’t they!!!

Meanwhile  income from cattle grazing is only $1.35 per cow/calf per month, per AUM  (AUM = animal unit month, 1 cow/calf, or 5 sheep/goats, forage needed for one month).  The grazing fee for 2011 is only $1.35 per AUM.

The Federal grazing fee, which applies to Federal lands in 16 Western states on public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, is adjusted annually and is calculated by using a formula originally set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978. Under this formula, as modified and extended by a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM).
The Federal grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then adjusted each year according to three factors – current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production.  In effect, the fee rises, falls, or stays the same based on market conditions, with livestock operators paying more when conditions are better and less when conditions have declined.
Authorized (as distinguished from actual) grazing use on public lands has declined from 18.2 million AUMs in 1953 to 12.4 million AUMs authorized in 2010.

So this is what I am understanding from the BLM’s own website:

  • they do not actually conduct an official annual count of how many billable head of cattle that are grazing on public lands.
  • after all these years, they are still charging the absolute lowest amount possible to ranchers, even though beef is high in the grocery stores, inflation, private leases are much higher, etc… and the BLM’s monthly income fee is still about the same as it was in 1966.
  • they are collecting on 8.2 million AUM (according to BLM’s Rangeland Administration System), which is actually a huge decrease of REPORTED grazing since the 1950’s?   Notice that REPORTED is in all caps!

Others say there are as many as 30 million cattle on public land.

Grazing Fees Continued…

Table 1. Grazing Fees from 1981 to 2007 (dollars per AUM)*
Approx. 260 million acres (BLM & Forest Service FS) currently in grazing use. 


Meanwhile, studies show that Private Lease ranges $8 – $23 AUM*

I’m trying my very best to be polite here, but in no way does this system make any sense to me, and I am from a small hereford cattle/horse ranch in Texas.

“The only way to save the water, land and last wild horses in the American West is to remove the government’s incessantly corrupt Bureau of Land Management…” says Academy Award winner Michael Blake, author of Dances with Wolves.

*Grazing Fees: An Overview and Current Issues
from the CPS Report for Congress, June 22, 2007

July 30, 2011

BLM’s Roundup Schedule (July 22, 2011) and other Reports

BLM 2011 Holding Facilities Report

BLM Fiscal Year 2011 Adoption Report

BLM 2010 Completed Round-up Report

BLM 2009 Completed Round-up Report

National Wild Horse and Burro Tentative Gather Schedule

July 22, 2011

Herd Management Area
Gather Date
Planned Gather Number
Planned Removal Number
Office of Administrative Jurisdiction
Outside Paisley
Bait Trap
7/1/11 – 9/29/11
Outside Warm Spring
Bait Trap
7/1/11 – 9/29/11
Buck/Bald Complex
Triple B
Cherry Creek
Antelope Valley West
7/20/11 – 8/31/11
Jackies Butte
8/2/11 – 8/8/11
Three Fingers
8/9/11 – 8/15/11
Little Colorado
8/17/11 – 9/6/11
White Mountain
8/17/11 – 9/6/11

China Lake Navy

9/2/11 – 9/5/11



Ridgecrest, CA
Field Office

Winter Ridge HA
9/10/11 – 9/14/11
Barren Valley Complex
Sand Springs
9/10/11 – 9/30/11
Spring Creek Basin
9/15/11 – 9/18/11
Piceance/East Douglas HMA
9/20/11 – 9/30/11
February 25, 2011

BLM’s 2011 Roundup Schedule

Click here for the 2011 BLM Schedule 

March 30, 2010

BLM’s Round-up Schedule for 2010

Here is a link to more round-ups at the taxpayer’s expense.

March 30, 2010

BLM wants 1000 more Wyoming Mustangs rounded-up

Bridger - McCullough Peaks Wild Stallion

The Bureau of Land Management, has proposed the removal of 1,000 more Wyoming Mustangs claiming that 1.7 million acres of public, wild horse designated lands can support no more than 1165 mustangs spread over the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Herd Management Areas.   Please take time to write BLM and Obama today.   In Defense of Animals has set up an easy-action form here – write today, comments due by Friday, April 2nd.

In all my years of photographing the Wyoming Wild Horses, I have never seen starving horses – except for one old & sick mare that I once observed at winter.    Please taks action if you enjoy Wild Horses and want to preserve this historic icon for our future generations.

March 30, 2010

Texas lost its Wild Horses

Did you know that Texas alone use to have over 1 million wild horses?

   Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses currently remaining on public lands…. thousands fewer than when the 1971 Wild Horse & Burro Law was passed.

·      Very few herds left in the wild are genetically viable (meaning over 150 adults, allowing for herd to sustain itself)

·      It costs the American taxpayers over $110,000 a day to feed the 36,0000 wild horses the government has moved from the range to short and long-term holding (that is $44 million cost annually to American taxpayers).

·      BLM proposes to roundup an nearly 12,000 more wild horses and burros this fiscal year alone, likely only 3000 will be adopted

The BLM is always asking for more money, a larger budget, to store wild horses in holding pens…. ‘for the good of the horse’.

Please take a stand for Wild Horses!

October 28, 2009

Bridger update

A huge THANK YOU to fellow photographer Pam Nickoles who just found out and informed me, that one of my favorite Wild Horses, Bridger, from the McCullough Peaks Range was not rounded up and is still living free!

Pam and Carol Walker were both so helpful! – Thanks!

A small bit of good news when the world seems so tough now-a-days!

Bridger is the big, stocky grey stallion on the left.


Bridger and Bachelor Stallions, McCullough Peaks


October 26, 2009

Wild Horse Population Numbers

The Numbers:

Around 1900 there were about 2 million horses running free.   

Millions were shot, poisoned, slaughtered, and considered as pests by western Ranchers.

In the 1950’s (when Wild Horse Annie first brought horses to the national spotlight), there were only about 25,000 left in the wild.

In 1971, The Wild Horse & Burro Act was passed, and there were about 54,000 horses in the wild.   It was a long, hard battle for Horse Advocates to get this passed, but the law set aside 54 million acres for wild horses. – the initial public land where these horses were already established.

Now in 2009, there are approx. 32,000 horses in the wild.  Some say fewer, and want an actual census of horses and land to be done by a third party.

The BLM plans to remove 12,000 horses between Sept 2009-Oct 2010. 

If they conduct these expensive roundups in the next 12 months, that will leave about 20,000 horses in the wild – about 1/2 of the horses than when the Law was initially passed in 1971!  

The BLM is greatly reducing Wild Horses to near-extinction, and very quickly too. 

Since the 1971 Law was passed, 25 million acres (about 50%) have been quietly taken away from the wild horses.   Because of these little known BLM actions, the BLM tries to claim that these current (smaller and fewer) Ranges are overpopulated, and the land is ‘degrading’.  They claim that round-ups are for the safety of the horses – to prevent starvation. 

That is simply a lie from the BLM to convince the average American that round-ups are needed. 

There are 3 million cattle, 100:1 ratio of cattle to wild horses on public land. 

The horses are being mis-managed and driven to extinction, one horse range at a time, all across the great American West.

Please contact your State Senators, Congressmen, and the Obama Administration, to support the ROAM ACT and the Wild Horses.  Give them back the land that should be theirs in the first place.