Thursday, May 27, 2010

Let's Work Together

Original Message -----
From: Valerie James-Patton
ToSent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 7:35 PM
Subject: A National Moratorium to Stop DOI Wild Horse Round-ups
A National Moratorium to Stop DOI Wild Horse Round-ups

Hi Everyone,
I'd like to present something to everyone that I believe just might be the solution that we need to help save what's left of our wild horses and burros. I'm starting to think it may be the only solution. It's not my idea, it's Deanne Stillman's idea. And I believe it's a great one. I certainly have not seen any better suggestions. I sent this idea to some of you a few weeks ago, and because I've added many more names here, I'm sending it again to share thoughts and ideas between everyone here.
Deanne mentioned it in her recent article, "Let's Mend the Broken Trail," but until she sent me the Department of the Interior's Code of Conduct, I didn't realize the possibility of what she has in mind. Given the dwindling number of wild horses on the range, she is urging that wild horse groups set aside any differences, work together, and ask for an immediate moratorium on all wild horse round-ups carried out by any agencies within the Department of the Interior, until the Department proves itself to be in compliance with the code.
I'm pasting the Code of Conduct here, and I hope you all see what I do. For instance, note that the code prohibits the fabrication and falsification of studies. Yet last year, two Interior Dept. scientists, Brooks and Campbell, came forward and accused the Bush administration of falsifying the latest grazing studies. There are many other aspects of this code that apply to current policy towards wild horses and burros. I think Deanne might have found us all a solution. I did tell her I'd try to help push it, and just sending her idea out to all of you is the only way I can think of to do it. If any of you see the possibility as well, please forward the idea to anyone you feel might be interested.
Thank you,

For Immediate Release Hugh Vickery May 30, 2003 202-501-4633

(WASHINGTON) -- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton today announced the
development of a for the Interior Department
- independently reviewed and approved by a panel of leading scientists
and ethicists - to help ensure the integrity of all scientific work
done by its employees and contractors.
"The scientific code of conduct will help ensure the American people
that the research and analysis we use has been conducted according to
the highest standards of the scientific community," Norton said.
The department developed the code in accordance with a new federal
policy on conduct of science published on December 6, 2000, by the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
In addition, the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General
recommended the department develop a scientific code of conduct in its
report on its investigation of the submission of unauthorized samples to
a laboratory during population surveys for the Canada lynx in 1999 and
The code is being developed through a unique process involving both
peer review by an independent panel and employee involvement. The code
will be a new addition to the Department Manual, and this will be the
first time employees have had a chance to comment on a change to the
"We want the new code of conduct to be fully embraced by Interior
scientists as an accurate statement of their ideals," Norton said. "We
will fully involve employees in active discussion to ensure this reflects
their professional standards."
In addition to the employee comment process, there will also be an
opportunity for public comment on a similar code being prepared for
consultants and contractors to the department. Their code will go through the
ordinary administrative rulemaking process. Dates for public comment
will be announced later.
The code is similar to the codes of conduct of many scientific
organizations, including the Wildlife Society, American Fisheries Society,
and Ecological Society of America, to which many department scientists
belong. All of the scientific activities conducted or funded by the
Department are covered by this definition. These involve inventory,
monitoring, study, research, adaptive management or assessments that are
conducted in a manner specified by standard protocols and procedures.
"It is vitally important that any organization that does as much
scientific research and analysis as the Interior Department have a
well-founded code of scientific conduct that governs the full range of scientific
activities," said Dr. Deborah Brosnan, president of the nonprofit
Sustainable Ecosystems Institute and head of the independent review panel.
"Our panel felt that this was a strong code that meets three key goals
of building trust between science and the public, giving guidance, and
providing support for scientists."
The panel also included: Ann Bartuska, executive director of The
Nature Conservancy's Invasive Species Initiative and current president of
the Ecological Society of America; Baird Callicott, professor of
environmental ethics at the University of North Texas; Barry D. Gold, program
officer for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Carol Boggs,
director of the Center for Conservation Biology; and Jim Reichman, director
of the National Center For Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.
Under the new federal policy, scientific misconduct includes both
professional misconduct and research misconduct. Research misconduct is
defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing,
performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or
processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is
not accurately represented in the research record.
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes,
results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of

Any allegations brought under the code will be handled in accordance
with departmental personnel policies and with the department's Handbook
on Charges and Penalty Selection for Disciplinary and Adverse Actions as
a guide. The new federal policy includes safeguards for subjects of
allegations, including timeliness, objectivity and confidentiality.
The Interior Department has established a website
( that contains the existing agency directives
pertaining to policies and conduct.
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics also has a website
( where it has published the Standards for
Ethical Conduct of Employees of the Executive Branch.
Here is the proposed code:

To the best of my ability:
I will act in the interest of the advancement of science and
contribute the best, highest quality scientific information for the Department
of the Interior.
I will conduct, manage, judge, report, and communicate scientific
activities and information honestly, thoroughly and without conflict of
I will be responsible for the resources entrusted to me, including
equipment, employees' time, and funds. I will be accountable for the
prompt and accurate collection, use, and reporting of all financial
resources and transactions under my control.
I will disclose the research methods to the local communities, Indian
tribes, and other individuals whose interest and resource uses are
studied; and respect the confidential and proprietary information provided
by those individuals to the fullest extent permitted by law.
I will neither hinder the scientific and information gathering
activities of others nor engage in dishonesty, fraud, deceit,
misrepresentation, or other scientific, research or professional misconduct.
I will welcome constructive criticism of my scientific activities and
information, participate in appropriate peer reviews, and critique
others' work in a respectful manner amid objective scientific review.
I will be diligent in the creation, use, preservation, and
maintenance of collections and data records; adhere to established quality
assurance and quality control programs; follow the records retention policies
of the Department; and comply with Federal law and established
agreements related to the use, security, and release of confidential and
proprietary data.
I will know, understand and adhere to standards of public information
dissemination and the formal publication of scientific information and
respect the intellectual property rights of others.
I will be responsible in all scientific activities for both the
collection and interpretation of data I collect and the integrity of
conclusions I present.
I will place quality and objectivity of scientific activities and
information ahead of personal gain or allegiance to individuals or

Monday, May 3, 2010

Orphan Foal Rescue

Sent: 5/2/2010 6:24:11 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Sunday's Orphan Foal Rescue

Feel free to cross post.
On Saturday afternoon a call was received about a dead mare with a foal near Cooney Spring behind Iron Mountain (northwest of Stagecoach.) The circumstances of the mare suggested that she might have been shot and some target shooters were heard in the area that afternoon. Michael Hettrick was on the scene and Mike Holmes and Daryl Peterson responded and determined that based on the way the horse had fallen that this relatively young mare had apparently died suddenly but there were no signs whatsoever that she had been shot. Nonetheless there was a young foal approximately three weeks old by her side. A stallion was protecting the foal so a decision was made to wait and retrieve the foal at first light on the following morning.
Michael and Mike located the foal the next morning, still being actively protected by the stallion. Volunteers responded to the incident location. Shirley Allen brought the LRTC trailer and I brought Corey, a BLM mustang that we use for range work. The idea was for the walking volunteers to quietly encircle the foal and stallion from a distance to separate them from the greater herd of horses. With this done I would distract the stallion with Corey while the volunteers secured the foal. In reality the stallion was having nothing to do with this plan and he would circle around the approaching humans and attempt to get back over to the larger body of horses.
The rescuers' strategy shifted at that point to one where the walkers would stay put and I would trail the foal and stallion on horseback until the foal got tired and fell back. This strategy worked as pretty soon the pace dropped from a trot to a walk, then the foal was content to walk alongside Corey. I was able to quietly drop a loop over the foal and we rested until the walkers caught up.
The volunteers then walked the foal back to the trailer, giving him time to rest periodically. With Corey close by the foal stayed pretty calm. He was loaded in the trailer with Shirley riding with him, and is presently recovering well at the Lucky Horse Corrals. In fact little "Iron Man," as he is presently called, has pretty much made himself at home at Shirley's, even coming into the house (into the orphan room) to wake Shirley up when he wants another bucket of mare's milk replacement. Needless to say he's now wearing one of Shirley's famous foal diapers.
Daryl will be out Monday to do estray paperwork on the foal. When the "Iron Man" is determined to be sufficiently grown and healthy, he will be available for adoption.
Here are some photos Sharon was able to take during the rescue. (Slide show presentation above!)This foal has distinctive markings. It would be helpful if any of you who have photographed the Iron Mountain horses in the past two weeks or so could see if you have a photo of this foal. He would most likely be part of a small band with just a mare and stallion. Earlier photos with known dates as to when they were taken will help us accurately age this foal.
":O) Willis

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sulphur Springs Band on the Range

Sulphur Springs Band on the Range
Photos by Robert Hayden taken this month near the Utah/Nevada border about 100 miles west of Cedar City Utah. There are an estimated 200 left after 325 were removed last November 2009!!

Las Vegas Rally for Wild Horse Preservation April 25

Sent: 4/23/2010 11:42:38 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: come to wild horse rally Sunday called DON'T TAKE MY BALLS

PLEASE COME OUT NOON SUNDAY TO RALLY FOR THE CALICO STALLIONS - MEET AT THE RED ROCK SCENIC OVERLOOK. We are spray painting tennis balls red and suspending them from lariats - and signs will be provided for you. If we have enough people, we'll put a second group in front to the RED ROCK entrance so do come out.

If you cannot come, please put the information below on your facebook and twitter pages. The achey, shakey geldings at the Fallon holding pens thank you!

Las Vegans will rally in sympathy with the young stallions under 4 years of age that were painfully castrated last week by the BLM at the Fallon Nevada holding pens. If the BLM wins the federal lawsuit by In Defense of Animals, they will castrate all the remaining mature stallions from the Calico roundup. The BLM has severely limited public access to the captive Calico horses despite public demands for transparency.
We will hang blood-red balls from lariats and circulate petitions asking President Obama to rein in the BLM, an outdated agency and friend of welfare cows. Below see poster by Melissa Ohlsson.

WHERE? RED ROCK CANYON SCENIC OVERLOOK ON HIGHWAY 159, from Las Vegas Strip, go west on Charleston, past the 215 Beltway and Red Rock Canyon entrance gates

WHEN? SUNDAY APRIL25, 2010 from NOON to 2pm

WHY? Castration is a way of wiping out the gene pool of the mustangs that have unique bloodlines adapted to their specific area. Pictures of the castrated horses taken by Craig C. Downer appear below.

BACKGROUND? In January 2010, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a deadly roundup of 1922 wild horses from the CALICO MOUNTAINS COMPLEX in northwestern Nevada, despite a federal lawsuit underway to stop the roundups and the recommendation of the federal judge that BLM should NOT conduct a roundup in the dead of winter. The Calico horses were not starving and had not damaged the public range, meanwhile the BLM sharply increased the number of private cattle allowed to graze at subsidized cost on the horses' range. Stress and trauma lie behind the majority of the 86 wild horse deaths (to date) and 40 spontaneous abortions, a report issued today by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) concludes. AWHPC notes the expense of the Calico roundup which will cost taxpayers at least $1.3 million through April, and $1 million a year to warehouse the non-adoptable horses over their 20+ year lifespans. This costly policy, which relies on expensive roundups every four years, is pursued while cost-effective, on-the-range management strategies are ignored.


American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
The Cloud Foundation press releases
News Story on Calico, rising death toll & skewed numbers from George Knapp (KLAS- Las Vegas)
BLM Daily Reports from Calico Roundup/Fallon Holding
American Herds
Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit. America’s Disappearing Wild Horses - A History

Roundup Schedule- updated February 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't Care About Wild Horses?...Maybe You Care About Your Pocketbook??

Grass Roots
thecloudfoundation | April 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

A great new site to foster grassroots activism to protect and preserve our wild horses and burros in the wild--- online here

From the site: "We are individuals who care about the issues and want to join together to take concrete, measureable steps to make a difference. Grassroots activism is a time honored tradition that has stood the test of time. Let’s put it to work for our Horses. Join with us. E-mail us at"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Malibu Screening of "Disappointment Valley"

Dear Friends, this is a must attend event and opportunity to help the mustangs, meet new people, make new a beautiful Malibu estate necessary, space is limted, details below...see you there...Vivo Los Mustangs!

Sunday, April 25, 730P--Screening of Disappointment Valley. . . A Modern Day Western AT Olandar, home of Carla and Leigh McCloskey, 6032 Philip Avenue, Malibu, Ca 90265 $15.00

New guests may come at 7P to see Leigh's wonder study, the Hieroglyph of the Human Soul See images of the Hieroglyph and Leigh's other work on his web site:

RSVP for screening needed as space is limited: 310-457-5398 or email

This film examines the plight of America's wild horses and the rapidly deteriorating condition of our wild and beautiful public lands in the majestic, haunting American west. The film is impressionable, haunting and will inspire people to take action towards positive change. The film presents solutions for America’s wild horses and burros and the preservation of our public lands.

We are honored to have James Anaquad Kleinert--Director/Cinematographer available for

Q & A after the screening.


ABOUT THE FILM: "Disappointment Valley. . . A Modern Day Western"

In his international award-winning documentary film Spirit Riders,director James Kleinert followed an American Indian peace movement begun by the Lakota Nation as they made their historical horse-back ride to Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Spirit Riders shows how American Indians have reclaimed their sacred way of life through re-connecting with the horse. (

Kleinert continues his work in a feature-length documentary film, titled Disappointment Valley. . . A Modern Day Western. The filmmaker examines the politics behind the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) controversial policies on public lands and questions the fate of America's wild horses and burros, whose very existence is in jeopardy.

Through interviews with scientific experts, ranchers, historians, wild horse owners, animal rights activists, environmentalists, movie stars, uranium prospectors and many other colorful characters, the filmmaker examines the origins and effects of the recent "Burns Bill," which gutted the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 and cleared the way for the slaughter and removal of wild horses in America. Greed and corruption take center stage, exposing corruption within the Department Of The Interior. The film also explores the current impacts on western public lands by oil, gas, mining and corporate cattle grazing.

The film interviews such experts as, Jim Baca, former Director of the Bureau of Land Management under the Clinton Administration, Congressmen Raul M. Grijalva (Chairman on the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands),Randy Udall, energy consultant, Michael Blake, (Writer of Dances With Wolves and Wild Horse Advocate), the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management, environmental attorneys, Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen, Daryl Hannah and more.

The filmdocuments the struggle of an animal that has long symbolized freedom, individualism and unbridled passion in America. Documenting wild horses in their authentic, beautiful pure essence (filmed in HD), Disappointment Valley, is a profound film that will awaken and touch all who view it.

The majestic band stallion known as Traveler, named after Robert E. Lee’s Stallion, and his family are, located in beautiful Disappointment Valley, Colorado. Traveler and his snow-white mare known as Alfa, live and thrive with their family until the Bureau of Land Management conducts a massive wild horse round up, taking two thirds of the wild horse herd away, destroying the wild band’s family dynamic and genetic viability in this brutal round up and removal. Traveler is sent to wild horse prison, a short-term holding facility, as is most of his family. Follow wild horse advocates as they work to get Traveler returned to his homeland, the threat of being shipped to BLM long term holding facilities is high. He may face euthanasia, or worse, being shipped to Mexico for brutal slaughter.

The untamed natural beauty of the last few remaining wild horses is a strong sign of hope for many people. Real-life heroes take peaceful action to save this noble symbol of American freedom and raw beauty. The wild horses’ plight is our own!

Disappointment Valley. . . A Modern Day Western, is a film that is impressionable, haunting and will inspire people to take action towards positive change. The film presents solutions for America’s wild horses and burros and the preservation of our public lands.

Copyright 2009 Spirit Riders Foundation Inc All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Extreme Graphic - Slaughter House - Please Help Put an End to This Horrific Crime

Caution: Extremely Graphic

CHCD has released footage of the Richelieu and Bouvry Slaughter houses and kill pens. There are about 7 videos and be warned, they are horrific. CHDC had notified us last week and warned us but I didn’t expect this. If you ever need motivation to keep fighting to end slaughter, this will do it. You will note the green USDA stickers so many of these are our horses – minis, ponies…. Some of the horses were loaded two in the kill box forcing one horse to watch as the other was killed, others are left suffering while hanging as several attempts are made to kill them and others were shot several times including both eyes. It is an outrage and beyond cruel.

CHDC will be issuing a press release tomorrow and John & I will most likely be doing a follow-up release. They will also be posting a footage index on their site.

You can view the investigations on the CHDC site or on YouTube

A huge thank you to Shelley, Twyla and Sinikka for exposing this cruelty.

Call your legislators and the president. This must end.


Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

An Editorial - Simple as That.......


The BLM, Ken Salazar & Wild Horses

An Editorial


By Robert A. WINKLER
The Desert Independent

April 6, 2010

We have taken an interest in the Wild Horse issue. This symbol of the west where we live, work, raise our children and sometimes try to remember a time when fences, freeways and politics didn't rule the land.

Unfortunately money has always spoken louder than good sense. Some would say good horse sense. And in this case it is the horses who have been knocked senseless by Department of Interior head, Ken Salazar and his Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

If you have been reading our articles (See the accompanying article and check out our Archives.), you know the detail of the horrors the BLM has inflicted on this noble animal. You also know that this has been done at great expense to the American taxpayer. Why? Follow the money as they say. There is only so much land. The horses are competing with moneyed cattle ranchers. It doesn't take a degree from an Ivy League University to figure out who is going to win out on that range.

Oh yes, the BLM has come up with lots of reason the horses have to go. They all dry up in the desert wind, like made up stories by a child trying to get out of doing something wrong.

Simple as that.

Simple as that.

We at The Desert Independent therefore say to the BLM, shame on you.

You have not discharged your duty to your country.

You have not discharged your duty to its citizens.

You have not discharged your duty most importantly to the now helpless horses in your charge.

Ken Salazar, you and the BLM have hidden yourselves away from the light of the public eye. And, apparently for good reason. What you have done and not done. What you are doing would never withstand public scrutiny.

You must ask yourselves, who works in the dark?

The answer is clear.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Friends of the Wild Horses and Burros - Pray!!

To Friends Of The Wild Horses And Burros:

Please join a national prayer network to save the last of America’s wild horses and burros. There are only a few left, and there is no indication that other efforts to save them will be fast enough.

To join others in a national prayer network, make a commitment to the horses and burros to pray for them every day for two weeks. Pray from the heart and with your deepest love. Then ask from 2 to 6 friends who want to help to do the same. This should create a large network.

This has no formal organization, no leaders, and costs nothing. Please help, they need us desperately.

Mary Anne Fleetwood

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Nobody's Horses" are EVERYBODY'S HORSES!

author of Nobody's Horses
----- Original Message -----
From: Don Hoglund MS, DVM
Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 3:45 AM
Subject: Attached - "Say Something" Management of the free

Attached PDF for publication on your Web Site. Permission granted to
reproduce the attached article "Management of the Free."



Capture Stress Affects the Free-Roaming Horse:

It was reported on February 4th, 2010 that approximately twenty-five formerly free-
roaming horses had abortions in the hours and days after strenuous captures in the Calico
Complex Mountain Range of Nevada. Bloggers blogged, journalists scribbled, and wild
horse advocates blamed the abortions and other horse deaths on a devious Bureau of
Land Management (BLM) staff beholden to the cattle and energy lobbies. The advocates
often cite the tortures found in the feature film, The Misfits, and quote Thelma Johnson
while public observers recited their pledge to restore the protections of the now-
weakened Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Nonetheless, some physical, chemical, or mechanical processes caused more than twenty-
four equine abortions in the hours and days just after capture at the Calico Complex. Did
these processes contribute to what we veterinarians call an apparent “abortion storm?”

In 2001, Holcomb and Ashley, at the University of Nevada-Reno, reported that
“successful management of many species often relies on actions that involve intensive
handling of individuals. Knowledge of how such handling may affect reproduction of a
particular species is important and may be applicable to managing other species.” They
used pregnancy testing, field observation, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records,
and adopter surveys to determine effects of stress induced by gather and removal
management practices on the reproductive success of feral horses in the Garfield Flat
(GF) Herd Management Area (HMA) in Nevada. They analyzed pre-release confinement
effect data from gathers conducted in August 1993 and January 1997 and data on the
additional effect of removal in 1997. The data for an un-gathered population in the
Granite Range (GR) HMA in Nevada were used as controls for both years. Data from ungathered
GR horses also were used as controls for habitat effects on reproduction.
“Granite Range and un-gathered GF mares in 1997 had similar reproductive success
rates. Pregnant removed mares in 1997 had less reproductive success than un-gathered

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

mares at GR (P=0.003) and GF (P=0.005). Gathered and released GF mares had less
reproductive success than un-gathered GF mares (P=0.05). The results suggest that
minimizing time that mares are held prior to release will reduce fetal loss.”

During the fast and furious hours of any stimulating aerial herding the equine body goes
through a series of stress induced biochemical, physiological, neurological, and
mechanical effects. The heart and lungs accelerate, normal gut movement slows leading
to increased gas production, blood vessels constrict in many parts of the body and dilate
in the muscles, salivation increases, the colon evacuates, hearing is diminished, tunnel
vision results in loss of peripheral vision, instantaneous reflexes accelerate, sweating
begins, muscles fatigue, shaking results, and in the mare – occasionally abortion storms
appear. All of these conditions could be considered signs of stress, but did the stress of
the actual chase cause the abortions in an animal that evolved able to run while pregnant?
Or was it some other capture related phenomenon?

“Abortion in horses may result from a variety of causes. Infectious agents, such as
bacteria, viruses or fungi, may attack the fetus or its membranes, resulting in fetal death
and expulsion. Other factors attributable to the mare, fetus or external forces may also
cause loss of the embryo or fetus. These factors include twinning, hormonal deficiencies,
congenital anomalies, ergot alkaloid toxicity, and ingestion of tent caterpillar setae.1”
According to some experts, nutritional deficiencies have not been associated with
abortion in mares and in spite of common beliefs, experimental rough manual
manipulation of the pregnant uterus has not caused abortion or embryonic death2.

I think we can all agree that major equine physiological occurrences result during the
acute stress response of being chased by aircraft, land vehicles, and humans on foot.
Those powerful effects are often mediated by way of chemical and electrical signals
originating in the brain and affecting the adrenal gland and numerous other fear
responsive organs. As a result, during the chase and for hours after, high-levels of many

1Dr. Dan Kenney, Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine at the University of Guelph,
OMAFRA fact sheet, 89-169.

2 Dr. Dan Kenney, Ibid.

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

stress related hormones are produced or released by the adrenal glands, including
adrenaline and cortisone. Though not definitively proven, increased cortisone levels have
been implicated in contributing to abortion in horses. Some reports indicate that abortion
in mares [occurring within hours to days of capture] is most likely caused by an increase
in cortisone levels that initiate the parturition cascade in the mare.3 In one study, mares
experiencing artificially induced colic who subsequently aborted had higher cortisone
levels than untreated mares carrying to full term.4

If 50 horses perished as a result of gathering and handling 2,500 horses, the capture
fatality rate is about two-percent. Though no deaths or some fatality rate lower than two-
percent is preferred, two-percent is not ridiculously high for the capture and disposition
of 2,500 formerly free-roaming horses. The exception that I know of for lower abortion
and other fatality rates during capture and removal of more than 1,800 free-roaming
horses was at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in 1995. After slow, multiple
helicopter captures of 10 to 27 miles duration I observed 1 death due to capture
technique, less than 10 deaths due to the combined veterinary processes, freeze-branding,
other handling, and transporting to holding facilities, and I attended 2 abortions on
WSMR. Neither of the abortions appeared related to the capture process. Of the 1,800
plus horses of all ages removed from WSMR during the birthing months of January to
August, the adoption herds produced more than 300, 1995 foals. What might have caused
the abortion storm at Calico?

In my experience, and not judging a capture that I neither attended nor participated in, I
make the following generalizations. The abortions at Calico were not likely the result of
some faulty technical strategy during the actual aerial herding. Helicopter facilitated
captures are the safest, least stressful, current strategy for capturing free-roaming horses
on vast tracts of land. I doubt that the abortions can be attributed directly to the weather,
the time of year, or the length of incarceration. Assuming water was available on the

3 Dr. Anne Schramme, clinical assistant professor of Theriogenology at the veterinary teaching hospital at North
Carolina State University, personal communication.

4 Santschi, E. M., M. M. LeBlanc, and P. G. Weston. 1991a. Progestagen, oestrone sulphate and cortisol
concentrations in pregnant mares during medical and surgical disease. J Reprod Fertil Suppl. 44:627-634.

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

Calico Complex, poor range conditions did not cause the abortions unless poisonous
plants were recently consumed in pathological quantities. If the horses had consumed
adequate plant toxins they would likely have aborted in the harsh winter months prior to
capture and did not have adequate photoperiod for recycling and breeding by early
January 2010. Diagnostic testing and the age of each fetus at the time of abortion might
help answer the toxin or infectious disease questions. Increased cortisone levels from
acute stress during and just after capture may well have induced potential for the
seemingly large numbers of abortions. So what really caused the pathological levels of
stress at Calico?

In my assessment, the most stress a free-roaming horse undergoes results from the close
proximity of human handlers in the hours and days just after capture. Any presence of
movement by a human on foot causes stress to the free-roaming horse. As a result, at
WSMR, the technical specifications for capture demanded that the freshly captured horse
be left alone with abundant average quality forage and free-choice clean water for not
less than three contiguous days. I propose that the near presence of humans on foot and
human related processing of freshly captured horses immediately after the Calico
captures and not the actual aerial pursuit by itself was probably the causative-agent for
untenable stress resulting in higher than normal cortisone levels in the mares. It is
possible that the combined stress conditions led to an acute parturition cascade resulting
in abortion in some mares at the Calico capture facility. However, technical capture
strategy changes limiting humans on foot in or around the BLM corrals for three-days
post-capture might reduce such abortion tragedies in future captures. That strategy is not
without logistics, time, and cost considerations.

Few of the claims of BLM mismanagement or advocacy legal maneuvers have slowed
the western states’ public horse captures or resolved the free-roaming horse breeding-
herd dilemmas we face. On the other hand, I have searched the various arguments about
mismanaged public horse policy for fair-minded references to the good federal, state, and
private free-roaming horse management found at the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang
Center near Lovell, Wyoming and along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas. Those

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

programs have produced effective public policy and precedent setting management of
free-roaming horses. Perhaps we should study the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center
policies and the Outer Banks horse management solutions and determine if those
principles and practices apply to the management of public horses in the ten western
states. Nevertheless, in order to understand the federal free-roaming horse policy and to
offer palatable solutions for management of the western states’ free-roaming horses, we
might remind ourselves of how America got to this crossroads in the mustangs’ long road
to freedom5. After all, when we capture a free-roaming horse, we destroy an aspect of the
very freedom we treasure as Americans.

Historical Perspectives on the Free-roaming Horse:

At the beginning of the nineteenth century nearly two million wild horses, or mustangs,
graced the western ranges, the rearing stallions – tails and manes flying – were almost
mythical symbols of freedom, independence, and endurance. By 1970 free-roaming horse
numbers on western states’ public lands were pared down to nearly 20,000 animals. The
Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195) was enacted to
protect the remaining wild horses where then found on forty-seven million acres which
became divided into three-hundred and three herd management areas.

Sadly, within the last thirty years, some members of congress have worked tirelessly to
zero-out over a quarter of the originally preserved acreage and have eliminated one
hundred and eleven of the wild horse herd areas. The traumatic capture and adoption of
free-roaming horses have been so successful, that six of the original sixteen western
states that were home to wild horses in 1971 no longer have herds. Due to recent federal
legislation by politicians beholden to private enterprises, free-roaming horses could
vanish from the American west. What will the future hold for these noble creatures who
are direct descendants of horses that once hauled us across the frontiers of America and
helped us build a nation?

5 Heacock and Valdez, The Spanish Mustang and the Long Way Home, University of Houston Center for Public
History, vol. 7, Number 1, Fall 2009,

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

Today, the attitude of “Live and let live,” when applied to the environment, just doesn’t
work. Human population growth, urban sprawl, and natural resource development have
made it necessary to manage everything – even wild things. So, to preserve the wildness
and the world we love, we must intervene to save these free-roaming horses. The first
intervention might be to detoxify the vocabulary.

If you ask anyone vaguely familiar with horses about free-roaming American equine
issues, be prepared to spend considerable time in debate. There are plenty of valid
viewpoints, several of which are quite emotional. The multitude of positions has created a
deafening whirl in the halls of Congress as well as out on the western rangelands.
Concerns for and about wild horses pit urbanites against ranchers, public servants, and
horsemen. For instance, just referring to free-roaming horses as wildlife is a great way to
get bogged down in arguments, even law suits, about definitions. What distinguishes wild
from exotic, mustang, feral (ranch horses gone loose), or indigenous? The truth is that,
when cornered, free-roaming horses have plenty of equine wildness in their behavior, and
it is that very wildness that captures the human imagination. Calling them ‘free-roaming’,
as found in federal language, allows the discussion to concentrate on the horses
themselves as a unique environmental and national treasure. The key is to find palatable,
long-term solutions to preserve them, while at the same time protecting the environment
and the interests of private citizens.

As an equine veterinarian and professional horse welfare advocate with 25 years
experience in dealing with and training thousands of un-gentled horses captured in
western and eastern states, I completed seven annual contracts as the attending
veterinarian with the Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico prison inmate horse
training programs. I also provided the onsite technical support, veterinary care, and
adoptions program for the rescue of the White Sands Missile Range horses from which
Nobody’s Horses arose.

From my perspective, in order to comprehend this often emotional debate, we must
understand that there are two major horse populations in the United States; the domestic,
private property horses and the publicly-owned, free-roaming horses found in the wild in

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

many states or held in federal captivity awaiting fate. Only some of the free-roaming
horses in the western states fall under the federal protections of ‘wild’ horse law. The
other free-roaming horses, east or west of the Mississippi River, are on sovereign lands,
military reservations, park service lands, federal lands not covered by ‘wild’ horse law, or
on private property. In these various places the horses are either not protected by any law,
as in the feral designation, or they are only protected by state and/or local laws. I consider
only the federally protected, free-roaming horses in this discussion.

At first glance and because Nobody’s Horses is a book about free-roaming horse rescue,
the domestic group of equine might easily lope out of this discussion because they fall
under the purview of domestic property law. Not so fast. Though the domestic population
of 9 million horses is privately owned, current congressional potential for prohibiting
horse slaughter for human consumption is locked between forces supporting and
opposing such federal legislation. Because debate revolves around the acceptability of the
slaughter of any horses, the fate of free-roaming horses enters the fracas. The publicly
owned, free-roaming horse populations – hoofing out a living mostly on public lands –
counts at about 64,000 head total. About one-half of these highly regarded horses – in
effect, John Q public horses and taxpayer assets – range freely in ten western states. The
discussion will return to their destiny later. The other 34,000 head, to the disquiet of some
vocal sympathizers, are imprisoned in protected holdings called sanctuaries or in federal
stockyards awaiting adoption to loving homes or death by law.

As of this publication and regardless of logical or emotional perspective, three statements
can be made. Free-roaming horses are still being captured even though more than 34,000
are already detained and munching out a life in taxpayer funded holding areas. Some
captured, free-roaming horses are not federally protected from commercial processing.
Domestic horses including some of the refuges from the wild life are not protected from
human consumption. How did this trifurcation and resultant anxiety come about, this
time? I say Senator Burns and his colleagues in Congress forgot about the determination
of wild horse advocates. Or did they?

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

In 2004, due to the Burns Amendment change in wild horse law, 8,000 of the imprisoned
equine captives that are deemed not-adoptable are likely headed for a cold meat-hook. As
the Burns Amendment would have it, regulatory protections for wild horses managed by
the staff at the Bureau of Land Management and its counterpart in the Department of
Agriculture were changed. Senators had written into the 3,300-page federal budget a
mandate that the BLM sell to the highest bidder wild horses deemed not-adoptable. In
April of 2007 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 249 which would have restored
the prohibition of the commercial sale and processing of captured, free-roaming horses
and burros. That bill would have overturned the Burns Amendment. However, sessions
of Congress last two years and at the end of each session all proposed bills and
resolutions that haven't passed both houses of congress are cleared from the books.

H.R. 249 later evolved into H.R. 1018 that passed the House in July, 2009 and
hibernates peacefully in the Senate – Committee on Energy and Natural Resources –
as S.R. 1579, a companion bill to the House version. Like it or not, as of February,
2010, the fate of the free-roaming horse is regulated under the protections of legislation
formed and passed on or before fiscal year 2005.
My current concern is for the destiny of the few remaining free-roaming horses that fall
under the often amended and notably weakened protections of the Wild free-roaming
Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The land management policies that apply to public
horses seem to revolve around the concepts of health of the public lands, capture for
adoption, maintenance in sanctuaries or holding facilities, or in-the-wild management.

Dr. Kathleen Fagerstone of the USDA Wildlife Services tells us that “for most of the last
century, federal and state wildlife conservation agencies in the United States have
focused on conserving or increasing populations of many species of wildlife. The
changing cultural values and increasing urbanization of the United States are curtailing
traditional wildlife management tools used to effectively manage conflicts between
human and wildlife populations. A growing interest in non-lethal methods for [animal]
population control [in-the-wild] of nuisance or damaging wildlife species has fostered
research in wildlife contraception.” Due to the fact that contraception for wild or other

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

free-roaming animals is now possible, thanks to advances in scientific research, this
method of population control is gaining favor in the hearts and minds of horse advocates
and wild horse critics alike.

Dr. Gary Killian, a distinguished professor and fertility control expert, notes, “There are
lots of factors that need to be considered, not to mention the fact that mares that are
contracepted tend to live longer. Decreasing the death rate will add to the total
population. I guess if fertility control of free-roaming horses were easy, it would have
been done already. At least we have some tools now like immunocontraceptives that have
potential to be useful if we could overcome the politics and figure out how best to apply

So what are equine immunocontraceptives6? How do they act to reduce birth rates? Who
is against their use, and why?

USDA Wildlife Services at the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins,
Colorado began developing wildlife contraceptives in 1991. Scientists both here at
affiliated universities and private companies have steadily worked toward developing and
registering contraceptive products that are practical and safe for animals and humans. In
2005, the regulatory authority for wildlife contraceptives was changed from the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Currently, two immmunocontraceptive vaccines, the Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
(GnRH) and the Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) vaccines have been tested to prevent
pregnancy in free-roaming horses. Both come in a liquid form for injection by needle or
bio-bullet. (Inter-uterine devices (IUDs) have also been tested, but with only limited
success.) These two vaccines use the animal’s immune system to produce antibodies
against reproductive hormones, gamete (egg) proteins, and other proteins essential for
successful reproduction. In other words, the antibodies interfere with the natural activity

6 This author does not consider hormone injections a viable option for contraception in Free-roaming horses. Oral
vaccines for fertility control in horses are not yet available.

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

of the reproductive agents. The vaccines can now be made so as to be effective
contraceptives from 1 to 4 years or longer. Neither is a hormone, nor do they have
hormone-like activity.

GnRH Vaccines are not Hormone Injections:

The GnRH vaccine creates antibodies that interfere with the reproductive hormone in
both sexes by causing blocking of biologically active GnRH. The result causes a
reduction in the release of other reproductive hormones and silencing the activity of the

Fagerstone et al report that blockade of mammal GnRH is effective in reducing fertility in
most mammals, including rodents. The contraceptive effects of a single-shot GnRH
vaccine lasts for at least four years. As of October, 2006 in the fourth year of Dr.
Killian’s well-refined study of the GnRH vaccine GonaCon ™ 7, half of the mares are
still open (not pregnant). In preliminary studies with white-tailed deer using a modified
GnRH vaccine, GonaCon-Blue™, 80% of the females are infertile four years following a
single vaccination.

A recent USDA “Target Safety Study” completed for the FDA8 in collaboration with Dr.
Killian’s group at Penn State University, “did not find any contraindications associated
with GonCon use.” GnRH vaccines can cause sterilization, but only if administered
repeatedly. Hence, GnRH vaccines need to be used judiciously by knowledgeable,
experienced handlers. The GnRH vaccine has been submitted to the EPA for registration.

PZP Vaccines:

7 ™ -National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, USDA, Animal Plant Health Service, Fort
Collins, Colorado.

8 Safety and Toxicity Evaluation of GonaConTM Immunocontraceptive Contraceptive Vaccine in White-
tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

The Zona Pellucida (ZP) is a naturally produced glycoprotein layer located on the outer
surface of the egg which is produced in the ovary of the mare. Use of the PZP vaccine
results in infertility either by blocking sperm from penetrating the zona pellucida layer or
by interfering with egg maturation. According to Fagerstone, “The advantages of PZP are
that, because PZP is a protein broken down in the gastrointestinal tract when consumed, it
does not enter the food chain [if a vaccinated horse were eaten]. Also, its effects are
normally reversible. It is not species specific and is effective in reducing fertility in most
mammals tested. The disadvantages are that PZP vaccines must be applied by injection.”
Other significant disadvantages with PZP vaccines exist. The vaccinated mare continues
cycling and thus remains a target for stallions, where as pregnancy would limit that
harassment. Also, it is unknown if ovary destruction occurs as a result of the antibodies.
In some instances, when the antibodies level drops below critical thresholds (as the
vaccine effects wear off), late-term pregnancies may occur complicating the winter life of
the mare and the new born foal.

Long-term studies involving GnRH and PZP vaccines on white-tailed deer (Miller et al.
1999 and 2000) showed no adverse effects on the animal’s health. For the GnRH vaccine,
altered heat-cycles in the deer were seen and expected. The same can be anticipated for

There are of course concerns that must be addressed when using contraceptives to control
overpopulation in free-roaming horses. Any program will need to be funded, easy to
administer, cost-effective, effective for multiple years, and have few or no known
contraindications (adverse effects). Currently, since the vaccines are injectable, horses
must be captured and processed or shot from a remote location with a dart or bio-bullet.
Even though capture for processing is traumatic and inherently violent, study of vaccine
efficacy and horse health necessitates a close relationship to the target animal. Aerial
facilitated darting or use of bio-bullets can be inefficient, and these types of vaccination
methods make research study of the health and biomedical effects of the contraceptive
difficult. The darting process has the potential to leave a mechanical dart in the
environment. Further, annual capture of free-roaming horses for booster vaccination

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

usually becomes more difficult with each subsequent attempt. This is not economical and
from a behavioral perspective it is not logical. A vaccine that is effective for multiple
years is better and less costly than a one -or two-year vaccination.

There are other considerations to take into account when attempting to control herd size.
Is the population “open” or “closed” to migration from other herds? What are the sex
ratios, age structure, and the natural estimated increase or mortality of the targeted herd?
Researchers have produced various models, some of which suggest that animals which
give birth at 3 years of age, as horses generally do, will need more interventions than
simply contraception in order to maintain a herd at a desired population. These additional
interventions include capture and removal, redistribution of family groups to lands
allotted for herd management, or in the case of game or nuisance wildlife, lethal control.
Of course, lethal control was not an option for free-roaming horses, until recent

Contraceptive treatment to manage free-roaming horse populations in the wild must take
into consideration the average age of the animals involved. Dr. Killian astutely observes
that ‘if younger mares have had one or two foals, they have contributed to the gene pool,
and additional foals with their genes are not needed” to keep the genetic pool intact. In
addition, due to the difficulties of gathering an entire free-roaming herd for vaccination,
there will always be a number of untreated mares in any given population.

Bottom Line:

I agree with Dr. Killian’s suggestion that “The bottom line is there are some reasonable
one-treatment options that will be available for contraception of mustangs in the near
future. These far surpass anything currently being used for mustang contraception. What
has to happen is that the public needs to drive the course of action. In my experience, the
people with the dollars and currently in charge of dealing with the [horse] problem are set
in their ways and have different ideas about how to proceed.” Given the normal
mortality, sex-ratios, and reproductive rates of free-roaming horses in a herd of one

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

hundred and twenty horses, contraception in one mare for one year who would have
otherwise foaled a reproductively viable female offspring will – on average –
eliminate eight to twelve horses from the population over the next fourteen years.9

However, the author recommends contraception in mares ten years and older so that the
genetic contribution of each mare in the herd remains intact. In this manner, one ten-year
old mare blocked from contributing one viable female offspring might remove eight
animals over the next fourteen years.

The wild horses of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center and the Outer Banks of
North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have set the precedent for true art in the fertility
management and adoption of free-roaming horses. Thousand Welcomes Farm in Chapel
Hill, North Carolina, the Foundation for the Shackleford Horse in Beaufort, North
Carolina, the National Parks Service at Assateague Island National Seashore Trust in
Maryland, and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia are notable
examples of farms and organizations who have proven their love and respect for
historical America and free-roaming horses.

I don’t know if all sides of the free-roaming horse debate can be placated, but I do agree
with groups who say that ecotourism should also be given a chance to play a role in herd
preservation. “Horse lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, as well as those with an interest in the
history of the Old West, should be given the opportunity to enjoy wild horse excursions
year-round. In addition to non-intrusive observation of wild horse behavior and herd
dynamics, in-the-wild management itself could become part of a unique experience for
visitors to herd management areas.”

As an equine veterinarian who has spent his professional life protecting the publicly
owned free-roaming horse, I understand the legitimate concerns of all interested parties,
cattlemen included. However, I feel that we need to protect our public property first,
while we weigh the proper stewardship, transport, and disposition of this revered part of

9 D. L Höglund, mathematical calculation, 50% chance of female offspring; ten foals over twelve years @
50% male; 20% mortality; reproduction until age eighteen.

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses

our American spirit. I am not accusing our Interior Department and USDA land managers
of mismanagement. My experience with the staff in these entities has been trusted and
respectful. Most public servants and land managers tell me that they want to manage the
free-roaming horse in the wild. They need the proper laws, proper policy, dedicated staff,
time, and mandated funding to do it right and to study the effects of the management.

The agriculture and veterinary medical colleges in states with free-roaming horse
populations are a great mechanism of public oversight and could be recruited to assist
these agencies and keep academic research and influence involved. After all, we trust the
schools to teach and lead our young people, and since we already employ the staff and
faculty, why not trust them to care for our free-roaming horses, too? It would be a perfect
outdoor laboratory and a good use of public funds.

Judiciously applied fertility control contraception will go a long way in maintaining horse
populations at desired levels. However, when environmental study indicates that any
given population of free-roaming horses needs to be artificially lowered by capture, I
suggest the captives be remanded to the good and effective wild horse transition
programs such as the prison inmate training programs and the New Mexico Mustang and
Burro Association transition program. In this manner, free-roaming horses are gentled
under a humane and controlled system before they are released into a domestic equine

Many cattle growers would applaud effective free-roaming horse population control.
Animal advocates should be pleased with preservation and limited captures. Wildlife
managers would welcome the funding needed to appropriately manage all of our
important wild species. Slaughter of free-roaming horses would not be necessary because
the horses would either be returned to freedom after being examined and vaccinated, or
gentled in a prison training program and sold to responsible owners. One in ten thousand
horses is truly not amenable to gentling. Those few might be neutered and returned to
their original herds. We can’t manage one million free-roaming horses, but we can
manage enough to be meaningful. Should we tolerate the possibility of zero free-roaming

Don Höglund MS, DVM Nobody’s Horses


Even though emotion about the issue of free-roaming horse survival often takes us to
places we do not want to go, we should allow reasoned passion from the heart to direct
our efforts. We should protect all of our animal species from birth to death with
intervention only when necessary and always as humanely as possible. If we choose to
terminate animal life, we should do so humanely.

It is time for solutions: not finger-pointing; not just words. It is time for action. Captures
resulting in unreasonable numbers of abortions and death should stop until these
problems are resolved. In the mean-time, funding for long-term study of all of our natural
resources through the State University should be required. In this manner we can trust the
university system in the ten states where free-roaming horses reside to report back to the
taxpayer on best-solutions for management of all of our natural resources – including the
free-roaming horse. Help save the free-roaming horse from destruction by contacting
your elected representative and respectfully ask them to get involved in the management
of free-roaming horses in-the-wild. After all, the horses belong to all of us, the land
belongs to all of us, and the elected representatives who control our money work for all
of us. These nobody’s horses are everybody’s horses.

About the author: Dr. Don Höglund is an equine veterinarian and author of NOBODY’S HORSES: The
Dramatic Rescue of the Wild Herd of White Sands. He has spent 25 years working with wild horses
rounded-up in the western and eastern states. He served seven annual contracts with the BLM as a private
contract veterinarian in the successful New Mexico prison inmate wild horse training programs organized
by the then Congressman and current New Mexican Governor, Bill Richardson.

Friday, March 19, 2010

American Herds Alert - US Forest Service

----- Original Message -----
From: Vicki Tobin
To: Vicki Tobin
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 8:33 AM
Subject: American Herds Alert-US Forest Service

Hi! I spoke to Cindy last night and she is trying to work on an article but asked me to pass along some preliminary info. I was furiously taking notes and hope I got everything….

The US Forest Service is going to be issuing an EA and EIS for 11 territories. The announcement was made on February 24 but they are not allowing the 30 day comment period contrary to federal register protocol. Her understanding is they are going to issue their decision WITH the EA. Not only that but they are doing the EA before they complete the EIS for livestock grazing. Comments on the EIS are due by March 22.

In addition, their AMLs must be in line with BLM AMLs. Apparently, the BLM has issues because the horses are intermingled and because in the winter, the wild horses are on Forest Service land in the mountains and then come down to BLM land in the summer. They don’t want the AMLs set for only the mountain areas because they’ll ruin the ranges – same ol’, same ol’.

She also mentioned that they are using old maps. Really old maps. Several of the herd areas no longer exist or have been renamed so you know the numbers are going to be inflated.

Of most concern is that the management plan will remove public access during round-ups.

Here’s a link with some information on the EIS

Stay tuned for more info from Cindy. If anyone has additional info I can pass along, send it my way.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Old Mare Has Died

What follows is a beautiful tribute to one of the original Sulphur Springs Mares by their caretaker and photographer, Key Levie:

"The Old Mare Has Died

March 14 & 15, 2010

She was the only mare not in foal when the mustangs arrived a little over a year ago. You could tell she was very old so I gave her the name La Vieja, The Old One.
Her days were spent somewhat solitarily, not making friends or taking an interest in the new foals arriving almost on a weekly basis. And yet, she had a dignity about her, but also a sadness. Perhaps she knew her days were short or her spirit had been damaged from the trauma of the round up and the loss of the only home she had ever known, the hills, canyons and sage covered mesas of western Utah. While the other mares with their new babies adjusted to life in their temporary desert sanctuary, the old one seemed to decline into a depression that drained her life away and she wandered off to die alone yesterday.
The days leading up to her death evidenced her decline and I knew yesterday that the end was near. And the babies sensed it too, a new experience encompassing the ebb and flow of life. I watched as Uno, the oldest of the foal crop, approached the mare who was standing dejectedly with ears drooping. The old mare had never let the foals touch her or acknowledged them other than to chase them away from her food with ears pinned and teeth snapping. But this day, Uno was ignored as she tried to make the mare move. Then, giving up on that effort, nibbled on her gently and lovingly. Soon she was joined by Dos, the black colt with the strong Barb characteristics. Working together, they encouraged the mare to move into the shade of the trees by the water trough. The two youngsters then scampered off to find other adventures and the old mare spent the better part of the day standing in the shade.
As I went about my chores, I glanced at the mare now and then. Later in the afternoon, I saw that she was no longer under the trees. Looking around, I finally saw her several hundred feet out in the five acre paddock. She was down and not moving. With foreboding, I made my way over to her followed by all nine babies. As we approached, the mare raised her head and I back off, not wanting to frighten this still wild horse. But the babies stayed there, gently nudging her or just watching. Soon they were joined by some of the other mares and all stood around her quietly. After about an hour I saw the old mare go into her death throes, frightening the babies but they didn’t run away. I know animal lovers are often criticized for attributing anthropomorphic qualities to animals. But what I witnessed was as touching and poignant as any family group around the deathbed of a much loved member of the family.
Today, the guy with the backhoe came and buried the old mare where she lay. They said the babies kept coming over to watch and this evening I see them out there looking at the ground under which she lies and they are more subdued than is usual. There is a quietness over the whole herd, a palpable somberness. I can’t help but feel that we as humans greatly underestimate the depth at which animals feel. There is much we can learn from them if we can just take the time to stand back and observe. I grieve for the old mare but am grateful that her last days were spent in comfortable, beautiful surroundings rather than in a filthy desolate holding pen where no one cared.
Kay Levie"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Help Keep California Horses From Going to Slaughter

• Group: Equus
• Subject: Announcement from Equus
HSUS has asked me to send this message on their behalf. Please note that this message deals with legislation regarding the transportation of horses for slaughter outside the United States.

If you support this bill, please re-post this message.

Thank you so much for your efforts to end horse slaughter!

Jill Fraser

Help keep California’s horses from going to slaughter!

As you many know, congressional leaders Rep John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Burton (R-IN), Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen John Ensign (R-NV) have introduced House Bill 503/Senate Bill 727 (The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009) to ban the slaughter and export of horses for slaughter for human consumption.

In 1998, California voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on the slaughter of California horses for human consumption but because transport across state and international lines remains legal, California horses continue to be transported and sold out of state so we cannot assure protection of our horses and are dependent on the passage of a federal ban to stop this cruelty.

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez has recently introduced Senate Joint Resolution 22 that would declare formally the desire of the California Legislature to see Congress enact these two important bills.

Letters of support from individuals and organizations (must be on your letterhead) are needed. Senator Florez needs to hear from Californians that support his resolution and want to see California’s horses protected from the cruelty of long-haul transport across the border to a gruesome death.

Submit your letters or emails to:

Senator Dean Florez

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 327-5989

Please also spread the word (yes, please forward this alert to all your friends!) and make plans to attend the first hearing of this resolution:

Tuesday, March 16

Senate Food & Agriculture Committee
9:30 am

State Capitol, Room 113

Sacramento, Calif.

Even though this is only a resolution, we expect opposition and need a good showing of California horse lovers throughout this process.

Posted By Jill Fraser

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vote NOW to Stop BLM Round-ups of Wild Horses

go to webpage for easy vote

433 Votes
Vote Now!
STOP cruel BLM round ups of WILD HORSES

The BLM is managing wild horses and burros to extinction. They were designated as part of our American Heritage in the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act . In front of our nation's capital are statues commemorating their role in building our nation.The BLM/DOI is wasting millions of taxpayers' dollars on programs that have clearly failed. They have denied the American people the transparentcy in the round ups that was promised. The BLM is CURRENTLY conducting cruel and inhumane winter round ups. Last week the helicopters chased a colt over volcanic areas, wearing his feet down to nothing. Then transported it for 4 hrs. until they put him out of his misery. It has become the BLM's 'dirty secret'. THE BLM NEEDS A CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION. THE ROUND UPS NEED TO STOP IMMEDIATELY. Thank you for all that have taken a moment to vote, PLEASE pass this along to all advocates...this is a voice for those who are counting on us.

Get on a California Email List to Save Mustangs

If you reside in California, would you reply to this as I am making a separate California email list. I apologize if you have already seen this post. Please vote and help this issue get on the radar screen.

Let me know if you do not want the email notices. Thank you.
Please respond to Jyoti at the above link to be included in a California mailing list.

Sent: 3/4/2010 1:54:52 A.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: Help me Change America

I wanted to see if I could get your quick help. recently launched the 2010 Ideas for Change in America competition.

One idea is titled: STOP cruel BLM round ups of WILD HORSES. WE ONLY NEED 357 MORE VOTES TO MAKE THE TOP 10, WHICH WILL BE PITCHED TO PRESIDENT OBAMA TOP AIDES. (" The top 10 rated ideas will be presented to relevant members of the Obama Administration and serve as the basis for national grassroots campaigns following the competition.")

(Well, "top aides" isn't exactly the President, but it's better than a kick in the shins and only takes a minute to "click" and vote.)

I thought you might be interested in getting involved and recommend you check it out. You can read more and vote for the idea by clicking the following link

The top 10 voted ideas will be presented at an event in Washington, DC to relevant members of the Obama Administration, and then promoted to's full community of more than 1 million people. So we could have a real impact.

Thanks for the help!


Share a Ride from CO to D.C. for the Wild Horse Protest

----- Original Message -----
From: Carla Bowers
To: Anni Williams ; Kathleen Hayden ; Katia Louise ; Linda Lee ; Morgan Griffith ; Virginie Parant ; Jill Starr ; Neda DeMayo ; Arlene Gawne ; Cindy MacDonald ; Carrol Abel ; Garnet Pasquale
Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 9:18 PM
Subject: Marilyn Wargo needs 3 riders to share driving to March forMustangs in DC

Hi, LA & Vegas advocates – I wanted to send you Mar’s contact info in the hopes that some of you may be interested in driving out to meet her in Pagosa Springs, CO, & then drive together to DC. That’s a haul, for sure! Or, if you know of other advocates who want to go but can’t spring for the flight, could you please forward this email to them. We need hundreds of folks to show up at this event to show Congress, et al, that we mean business on behalf of our wild herds. Below is a note from Mar with a few more details:

“I am willing to drive but I have no money. I have places to stay over in the Midwest and in the DC area which would save money. I have posted at Cloud Blog and the Ride Share site... there are only two of us from opposite sides of the country so far. I can seat 3, in xtra cab of pickup with bed in camper for resting driver.”

Please be in touch with Mar as soon as possible if this is an option. Here is her contact info:

Marilyn Wargo
449 Echo Crk Dr
Pagosa Sprgs CO 81147
Phone: (970) 418-1110

For the wild ones, Carla B

P.S. If you know others in Colorado who might want to go with Mar, please connect them together. Thx.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Say No to Federal Fundinf for Wild Horse Salazoos!

Below is a press release just issued. Here is a link to the release -

February 28, 2010



Laura Allen

Animal Law Coalition and Equine Welfare Alliance, general counsel


Vicki Tobin


Say No to Federal Funding for Wild Horse Salazoos!

CHICAGO, (EWA) - The funding testimony for the planned sanctuaries dubbed by wild horse supporters as "Salazoos" outlined last October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Energy and Natural resources on March 3, at 10am.

The outcome of the testimony will decide if our wild horses belong on their western public lands or in "zoos" in the East and Midwest and whether the BLM will commit millions upon millions of future dollars to warehouse wild horses and burros that would otherwise live without cost to the taxpayers in their natural habitat where they have lived for centuries.

The requested funding would increase the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) budget by $42M to purchase one of the seven planned "Salazoos." The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and its over 100 member organizations, Animal Law Coalition, The Cloud Foundation and numerous Mustang advocate and welfare organizations are vehemently opposed to increased funding for the BLM for this incredible financial sinkhole.

America already has a management program in place for our wild equines. It's called the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act. It was inspired by a heroic Nevada woman, Velma Johnston, who as "Wild Horse Annie" gave these horses a sanctuary BLM has been trying to destroy ever since it was passed.

A management program for wild horses and burros on public land has yet to be proposed by the BLM or DOI that is compatible with current law. Their answer is to remove wild horses from the land, permit grazing by millions of cattle at below market rates and move our horses to a zoo like setting far from their home. In fact, the BLM was given appropriations to care for the wild horses in holding pens but has appeared to use the funding to round-up more horses. When citizens complained, they were denied access as armed guards prevented them from even viewing horses in captivity.

With no viable management plan in place, it is a disgrace and waste of critical tax payer dollars to increase funding to yet another mismanaged program. The 1971 law calls for wild horses and burros to be managed on their (OUR) public lands - not in holding pens and not in zoos.

The BLM spent approximately $2M gathering a mere 2,000 animals at its Calico wildlife management area, a cost of $1,000 per horse. Once in holding, the animals will each cost the government approximately $500 per year to warehouse. Worse, the government charges ranchers only about 20 cents of every dollar that program costs taxpayers. "The Salazoo plan is yet another raid on the public funds by special interests", says EWA's John Holland.

BLM has spent more than $2 million in 2009 on a firm that stampedes wild horses with a roaring helicopter. At the Calico Nevada round-up, more than 98 have died as a result, including unborn foals and two babies who lost their hooves after a multi-mile run of terror.

The wild horses and burros represent a mere .05% of animals grazing on public lands. When the 1971 law was passed, wild horses were present on 54 million acres. Since then, over 200,000 horses have been removed along with 22 million acres of public land. Many herds have been zeroed out leaving public land available to return wild horses to their land. Congress should replace the lost acres with good grazing land for the animals BLM wants to place in its Salazoos.

The livestock grazing on public lands alone outnumber the wild horses and burros by over 200 to 1 and are subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Neither the BLM nor DOI has yet to explain how millions of privately owned livestock are sustainable or how neither agency can find room on the 262 million acres of public land it manages for less than 50,000 wild horses and burros. Neither has explained why the wild horses and burros are being blamed and removed for range degradation when the government GAO studies reflect the livestock are ruining the ranges.

The EWA and ALC call on Congress to deny additional funding and specifically defund wild horse and burro round-ups until the DOI and BLM can provide independent current range population counts, current range assessments and a viable management plan that upholds the 1971 law.

Both Sen. Mary Landrieu and Sen. Barbara Boxer have posed serious questions to the BLM on its management practices. Those questions should be answered immediately with facts, not spin.

Additional details on defunding the BLM for "Salazoos" can be found at Animal Law Coalition , article number 1188 .

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 100 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

Equine Welfare Alliance

Friday, February 19, 2010

Protest Over Calico Mustang Roundups and Denial of Public Access to OUR Horses

Free the Calico Mustangs
We call on you to call on behalf of the Calico Mustangs. Your calls, letters, email and faxes are working! Please keep it up.
Public Viewing of Incarcerated Mustangs Denied
Despite the enormous cost to the American taxpayers and the controversial nature of the roundup, the BLM and the Department of Interior (DOI) are denying requests for independent humane observers during the processing of nearly 1900 mustangs over the next few months in preparation for their long term holding or adoption. During this dangerous time for the mustangs, the public are being denied an opportunity to view BLM running the animals through alleyways and into chutes where they will be freeze-branded, inoculated and neck-tagged.

49 horses have died as the result of the roundup. This does not include the 30 plus mares who have aborted their late-term foals in the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada. The 4% death rate is over eight times the BLM expected level for a helicopter roundup. Foals are now being born in the pens and the public is not permitted to confirm young, sick and old animals are being humanely treated in a timely fashion.
Mustang Outrage Protest

President Obama is expected to arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada, just when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is asking Congress for over $60 million dollars mostly for more roundups and over $40 million to buy farms in the East to warehouse the wild horses the BLM has condemned to captivity.

In memory of Freedom, the Calico mustang who leapt a high pen wall and burst through barbed wire to freedom, a Mustang Outrage protest is being held today in Las Vegas starting at 1:30 pm in front of the offices of Senators Ensign and Reid, on the steps of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse, 333 S. Las Vegas Building, Las Vegas NV. Banners will then be carried to over 40 locations across the entire city of Las Vegas so the public can see our Mustang Outrage!

Take Action

Support the Mustang Outrage Protest happening today in Las Vegas.

Please call the White House Comment Line: 202 456 1111 right now.

Ask OBAMA for a Presidential Pardon for the Calico Mustangs.
Set them FREE!!


You may also ask the President to 1. call an immediate halt to all wild horse and burro roundups and 2. call for a Congressional investigation into BLM practices in connection with its management of the Wild Horse & Burro Program.

If you cannot telephone, please email the President. Fax the President at 202-456-2461.

For more information, please see Tuesday's Horse.

Thank you everyone.
Carol Poole
Wild Horse & Burro Advocacy Team

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

BLM Responds to Critics of Wild Horse Roundups with a Shroud of Secrecy

BLM responds to critics of wild horse roundups with a shroud of secrecy

Obviously stung by vocal public criticism of its cavalier treatment of the wild horses it captured from Nevada's Calico Mountain Complex, the BLM is literally circling the wagons in a desperate effort to prevent news of how the horses are faring from leaking out.

The last straw seems to have been the I-Team investigative journalist George Knapp's critical report of the Calico gather and its aftermath:

"A massive roundup of wild horses in northern Nevada turned out to be one of the deadliest in the history of the wild horse program.

Contrary to assurances from the Bureau of Land Management, dozens of horses were killed during the Calico roundup. What's more, the horses are still dying inside government corrals because of injuries suffered during their frightening run across tough terrain.

If a private citizen were to kill dizens of wild horses, that person would go to prison. Yet the government has been killing mustangs for years, with the promise that it's all for the horses' own good."

The best available information indicates that at least 49 Calico horses have perished since the end of December, and another 30+ in-utero foals have been lost--a shocking 4% mortality rate among the 1900 or more horses who were captured from their native ranges.

In just the last few days, the BLM announced it would severely curtail visitors to the Indian Lakes Road short-term holding facility near Fallon Nevada, where the mustangs are being corralled; only 10 observers will be permitted to see the horses on chapteroned "guided tours" during a two-hour period on Sundays, when the actual "processing" (branding, gelding, vaccinations) will be temporarily suspended.

And on Wednesday, February 17th, the BLM quietly took its "Calico Gather Daily Updates" offline. There have been no official reports of fatalities, miscarriages, injuries, or births since Thursday, February 11th, but you can bet that many have occurred. We do know that another stallion was euthanized on Monday, February 15th, but we don't know why. The BLM apparently thinks that the furor over the fallen horses and foals will quiet if it sequesters them behind closed doors, but if anything, the agency's stonewalling is having quite the opposite effect.

Craig Downer, a wildlife ecologist and longtime wild horse advocate, agrees:

"Processing our wild horses in secret does nothing but promote suspicion on the part of the public, who simply request to have independent representatives present to verify that our horses are being treated humanely. Denying American citizens the right to watch over their horses is a very disturbing trend, and simply throws fuel on a spreading fire."

Indeed, recent visitors to the Fallon holding pens have painted a disturbing picture of what's happening there. Terri Farley, the noted author of the Phantom Stallion series of children's books, was one of the last private observers allowed into the site, on Thursday, February 11th. "I've seen the conditions these horses are exposed to--no cover, no windbreaks, except for some of the 'hospital pens,'" she said.


You can "talk back" to the BLM by using its comment form to ask questions, or make complaints or comments.

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses