Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bureau of Land Management Again Trying to Slaughter America's Wild Horses - Please Comment and Say WHOA to Slaughter

For the last month many of us have eagerly awaited the public release of the GAO's report on the Wild Horse and Burro Program. We just knew, based on their previous investigations, that they would do an incredible and in-depth report based on their previous investigations. In our minds we just knew that while it might not come down fully on the side of the horses, it would be fair and truthful. The BLM must have had such a hard time not to laugh in our faces.

While we had to wait more than 30 days after its release to Congress, the BLM knew what it was going to say before it came out. The GAO took surveys of BLM field offices and the report reads as if it came directly off the BLM website, and I believe that parts of it did. There was no real investigation of facts and documents provided by humane groups were ignored, especially if there was anything that conflicted with the BLM's "official" position. Of course the worst part of the report, the one that basically demanded that the BLM begin the wholesale killing of healthy wild horses in holding facilities, wasn't even expressed on the BLM site.

If you haven't yet read the report you can find it on our website or the GAO's site. Everyone should read it, our taxpayer dollars paid for it. But after reading it one has to wonder why it took months to prepare since it is full of BLM quotes many of us have heard before.

One of the things one has to wonder about is why the report repeatedly spoke about the BLM's census methods. According to the report, the census methods used by BLM are not only not accurate, but are under-estimating herd sizes astronomically. The method can only UNDER estimate, not over estimate. The method used by BLM are direct count plus a percentage for unseen animals and increased each year by a percentage to account for foals. This is the method the BLM stood behind for years saying that it was accurate + OR - anywhere from 15-20%. Now the GAO report says that the method is so inaccurate that it may account for hundreds of uncounted horses. They fail to follow with the logic that if it is so inaccurate the BLM should reevaluate the AMLs as the range has shown that it could support more horses than originally thought.

The report cites the Jackson Mountain HMA as an example. During the Jackson Mountain fiasco over 185 horses died during the removal and holding. The report erroneously cites 150. The claim is that the BLM grossly underestimated the number of horses on the range by 640 horses. They fail to mention that the BLM claimed that they were closely monitoring the herds in the Jackson Mountain HMA due to numerous reports that the water sources were not properly filling and horses were frantic to find water. They also failed to note that the neighboring Sheldon Wildlife Refuge "lost" over 400 horses that may have been migrating between the two areas. When humane groups and individuals repeatedly asked Sheldon and BLM where over 400 horses could have disappeared to, their requests for information went unanswered. By the way, during the time the horses disappeared fences were repaired between Jackson Mountain and Sheldon, so if the horses had traveled onto BLM land they would have been trapped there with no water. One single incident cannot prove that the entire BLM census method underestimates EVERY single time.

On the contrary, it is not only possible but statistically probable that they could just as easily OVER estimate census numbers. If one looks at the report prepared by the American Herds, it is not only possible but probable that the population still roaming our public lands is 20,000 fewer than the BLM estimates. American Herds looks at the way BLM calculates the population of horses and using their own methods comes to much lower number than the BLM and below their arbitrarily determined Appropriate Management Level (AML).

The determination of AML is important because it determines how many horses are removed from the range. If the AML is set too low, as it is in many areas where the AML is below 40 horses, horses are removed unnecessarily and put into holding facilities. If the GAO is looking at how to handle the horses in holding facilities they should have looked at the fact that they may or may not have been gathered improperly. This is especially true when they are basically saying these horses should be euthanized. That should be the last resort as the law states, not the answer to issues that are as yet unresolved. It is possible that these horses should be returned to their rightful place on the range and not held and certainly not killed.

The GAO also failed to recognize that the BLM has zeroed out herd areas in violation of the law that states that the horses are to "be managed WHERE THEY ARE FOUND" (emphasis added). For them to have decided for convenience sake that herd areas should be closed or horses not returned after disaster is not within their jurisdiction. The law trumps policy. In addition, the BLM has removed around 30 MILLION acres from the wild horse and burro program. Certainly the 30,000 horses in holding, or at least a large majority, could be returned to the range if this land is once again added to the program. Then the taxpayer wouldn't be footing the bill for their care at these facilities and the horses would be where they belong. Since most if not all stallions are castrated when they enter the holding facilities, it isn't likely that they would be genetically viable, but it is far better than their death.

For these reasons and many more it is imperative that EVERYONE contact their Congressperson and Senators and ask for answers. Nothing will answer these questions other than independent assessment of the wild horse and burro population and a full Congressional investigation. The American Herds report should be cited as a comprehensive investigation that shows that the BLM census numbers are not accurate, but not because they underestimate but because they are inflating the number of horses in the wild. Since there are such widely differing census numbers it is important to determine what the correct population is. Until such an assessment is done and until a Congressional hearing is held the BLM should be prevented from killing a single healthy animal in holding facilities. Wording should be included in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, S 3213 to prevent the BLM from using any of their budget to "euthanize" healthy animals. Please pass this along to your friends, relatives and anyone in your address book. The lives of over 30,000 horses depend on our voices, please do not let them die because the GAO failed to do its job properly or because the BLM improperly manages the program.

To find your Congressperson and Senators visit the Save Our Wild Horses website.

The BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is meeting next Monday, 17 November 2008 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino’s Reno Ballroom, 50 East Fourth Street, Reno, Nevada from 8am to 5pm local time. Comments should also be submitted to them asking that they NOT approve any motions to euthanize healthy animals in holding facilities. Those who would like to comment but are unable to attend may submit a written statement no later than November 12, 2008, to: Bureau of Land Management, National Wild Horse and Burro Program, WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada, 89502-7147. Comments may also be e-mailed to: . Those submitting comments electronically should include the identifier "WH&B" in the subject of their message and their name and address in the body of the message.

The Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses is also meeting 14 November 2008 at the Winnemucca Convention Center at 50 West Winnemucca Blvd in Winnemucca, Nevada from 9am to 11am. They should also receive comments.Thank you for your time and dedication and PLEASE forward this far and wide.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote For Pennsylvania's Anti Horse Slaughter Reps - Vote NO for Holden and Tim Murphy Who Are Pro-Slaughter

How Pennsylvania’s Congressional Representatives Feel About Horse Slaughter

I decided to create a comparison of incumbents versus their opponents with respect to their stance on horse slaughter based on the recently introduced bill HR 6598 (Equine Protection Cruelty Act) as well as HR 503 (American Horse Slaughter Protection Amendment) and HR 249 (restoring protection to wild burros and horses). This poll was conducted via email and telephone and began at the beginning of October. The goal was to have an informational page here to show Pennsylvanian constituents how their US Representative and their opponents in the upcoming election feel about HR 6598.

HR 6598 is the Equine Protection Cruelty Act, introduced by Representative Conyers in July of 2008. While the House of Representatives did not get the bill out of committee for a vote, we ( ) anticipate that HR 6598 will be reintroduced early in the 111th Congress.

Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008 - Amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term of up to three years for possessing, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering, or receiving any horse, horse flesh, or carcass with the intent that it be used for human consumption. Reduces the prison term to one year if the offense involves less than five horses or less than 2,000 pounds of horse flesh or carcass and the offender has no prior conviction for this offense.

Specifically, I asked the legislative aides or campaign aides if the legislator or campaigner would co-sponsor, support or not support HR 6598 as written currently when reintroduced in the 111th Congress.

Here is how things shake out:

District 1: Representative Brady, incumbent, is currently in the process of co-sponsoring HR 6598, according to Robert Henline, his Agricultural aide. His opponent, Mike Muhammed did not respond to our communications.

Vote for Brady.

District 2: Representative Fattah has co-sponsored HR 503 and is in the process of co-sponsoring HR 6598. His opponent, Adam Lang was unresponsive.

Vote for Fattah.

District 3: Representative English has co-sponsored HR 6598, 503 and supported 249. His opponent, Kathy Dahlkemper, will co-sponsor the bill according to Jon Pyatt of her campaign staff.

Good support is offered by both candidates. Note Rep. English has supported many equine bills over the last several years. Both should support humane treatment of our equines.

District 4: Representative Altmire has been a friend to horses in the past and co-sponsored HR 503 and 249. His office did not respond to my survey. Melissa Hart’s representatives were contacted several times and did not respond.

Vote for Altmire. He has a proven track record of support.

District 5: Incumbent Peterson is retiring, which is a major relief to Pennsylvanian’s opposed to horse slaughter. Glenn Thompson is running against Mark McCracken. Neither office responded to the survey, despite numerous attempts to contact them.

In this heavily rural area, it is difficult to know if either will support our equines.

District 6: Representative Gerlach has already co-sponsored HR 6598 as well as 503 and 249. His opponent, Robert Roggio, is reported by his campaign office to be supportive of 6598 and will co-sponsor the legislation if elected.

Vote for either. Gerlach has a proven record of support; Roggio intends to co-sponsor.

District 7: Neither Representative Sestak or his opponent Craig Williams responded to our survey. Representative Sestak has co-sponsored 503 and supported 249.

We suggest supporting Sestak based on his past performance.

District 8: Representative Patrick Murphy has co-sponsored HR 6598 and 503 and supported 249. His opponent Tom Manion has said he will support humane treatment of equines.

Vote for Murphy based on his past support, however Manion appears to be a good choice as well.

District 9: Representative Shuster sends letters to his constituents indicating a compassion for horses, but his office fails to confirm support of any legislation. He did not support HR 249 or co-sponsor 503. His opponent, Craig Williams did not respond to requests for information.

Write in “Shrek”…he has a kind word for donkeys!

District 10: Neither Representative Carney or his opponent Chris Hackett responded to our survey, despite numerous attempts. Carney supported 249 but not 503.

This vote again goes to the write-in “Shrek.”

District 11: Again, no response from Rep Kanjorski or Mayor Barletta. Kanjorski had supported 249 but not 503.

Vote for Barletta. We need a change.

District 12: Rep Murtha has been a steady supporter of our equines, co-sponsoring 6598, 503 and supporting 249. We received no response from his opponent.

Please support Representative Murtha.

District 13: Rep Allyson Schwartz has co-sponsored 503 and supported 249 and 6598. Her opponent, Marina Kats has also indicated that she would not only support 6598 but “push for greater penalties” for inhumane treatment of equines.

Both are very supportive of our equines, but Schwartz does have the proven track record.

District 14: Representative Mike Doyle has co-sponsored HR 6598, 503 and supported 249. Opponent Titus North of the Green Party did not respond.

Vote for Rep Doyle.

District 15: Colin Long, aide for Representative Dent was unwilling to give a stance for HR 6598, which makes me suspicious of support of the bill. However, Dent has supported 503 and 249.

Despite promises to get back to us, opponent Bennett never stated her opinion.

Vote: I don’t feel certain about either of them.

District 16: Representative Pitts has been very supportive of equine protection, but neither he nor his opponent Bruce Slater responded to our poll.

Vote for Pitts. He supported 249 and co-sponsored 503.

District 17: Holden has not been a friend to our equines. He doesn’t support 503; he is in fact pro-slaughter. His opponent, Toni Gilhooley will support the bill and probably co-sponsor according to her campaign office.

Vote for Gilhooley in 2008!

District 18: Representative Tim Murphy is also pro-slaughter based on my communications with
his office. His opponent Steve O’Donnell did not respond to the survey.

Vote for O’Donnell or anyone except Tim Murphy.

District 19: Representative Platts is a co-sponsor of HR 6598 and 503 and supported 249. He is a good friend to equines. His opponent, Phil Avillo reports he will be happy to co-sponsor 6598 as well, if elected.

Vote: Platts has been a great friend to equines and has a proven track record of supporting them, but Avillo appears to be a good choice as well.


Again, this poll was done in a limited amount of time with a limited number of resources. All comments are suggestions regarding public officials and should be viewed as such.

Stolen Horse International


The face of death

The face of death
#396, A kind, gentle Thoroughbred

All that is left

All that is left
I will never forget him...I promise. I am so sorry, #396...I don't even have a name for you...

Why would you take my life? Am I a food source animal?

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