FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wild Horse Madness

ow2016_005

An Open Letter to the BLM

Dear Bureau of Land Management: You know what you’re doing to America’s wild horses is wrong.

So why are you doing it?

Our public rangeland is in trouble. It is in trouble because it has been battered, beaten and raped by profit-driven interest. It has been managed through fear, bungling and the kowtowing to good ole boys in Stetsons.

The cowboys who dominate the rangeland hate wild horses because the horses are said to compete with cattle for the forage on the public domain. They hate the federal government for stopping them in 1971 from the wholesale capture and slaughter of wild horses that put extra money in their pockets.

But here’s the truth: less than 2 percent of the public forage is eaten by wild horses. Livestock use 66 percent of public land, wild horses can legally exist on about 11 percent of public land, and in that 11 percent the horses are allocated as little as 12 percent of actual grass to survive.  In other words, actual use of all public forage by horses is minuscule.

A century of documentation shows that livestock grazing does most of the ecological and environmental damage to the public lands.  Ironically, grazing of our shared resource produces a tiny amount of food, less than 3% of all beef sold in this country. In other words, marginal food production has historically beaten our public land to dust with cloven hooves.

Congress acted on behalf of the American people in 1971, with the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, to protect the horses on the public domain as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”   Some land was set aside for the horses, land that was to be managed “principally, but not exclusively” for their use.

But you folks at the BLM don’t seem to care about the law and the mandate of Congress.  Apparently you only care about doing what you’re told by cattlemen, who appear to be your real overseers.

The BLM regularly incorporates into its management process so-called “science” to benefit exploitive private interests on public land.  At the same time it ignores the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most authoritative scientific bodies in the world, whose 2013 report on the wild horse program states that the program is grounded in science so flawed to be almost meaningless.

It’s clear similarly that the paperwork justifying the current round-up of horses in northern Nevada, which began on November 1 and is expected to last several weeks, has no basis in science or reason.

The result is needless bloodshed.  The ongoing round-up in Nevada, at the Owyhee Complex not far from the Idaho border, has trapped 405 wild horses so far with a total of 1600 expected.  Less than a week into it there have been at least four deaths of horses.

I have been the sole public observer in recent days.  In good weather the roads in this part of the Nevada high desert are treacherous.  In bad weather, the kind we’ve had during the past week, constant traffic on the roads creates ruts, pits, and exposed sharp rock.  Everywhere there is mud.

I asked the BLM about the safety of transporting horses in trailers over these rutted roads and was assured that the expertise of the round-up contractor, the privately-owned Cattoor Livestock, was enough to provide safe passage.  I warned the BLM that I had seen horse trailers get stuck before.  Coordinating with the Cattoor contractors, BLM went forward with the plan nonetheless.

As expected, a trailer laden with horses broke in the deep rocky mud. The wild horses inside the trailer were severely injured. One of the mares had blood gushing from both eyes.  Her skull was smashed and face swollen. She was limping.  There were another three horses with severe facial injury.

The contractor is now making the claim that the horses were not injured in the accident but during handling in the corrals. If that is the case, then the negligence is worse than I thought.   Who runs the show? BLM? They are supposed to have padded equipment and move slowly in their handling of the animals, according to their own “welfare policy.” Was BLM sleep deprived?

Moving forward at this operation it now appears the BLM is going to reduce the days of public observation.  My group, Wild Horse Education (WHE), litigated and won in the 9th Circuit the right of citizens to observe the handling of wild horses during capture. The state of Nevada promised, as a result of my lawsuits, to make observation a priority.

Do I really need to litigate again? Is this what “collaboration” means for a wild horse advocate?

WHE, the only organization to have ever litigated and won in federal court on the issue of the inappropriate and inhumane treatment of wild horses, has begun a formal process to address what’s happening at Owyhee.

My days observing the round-up begin at 3 am in freezing weather and end at dusk.   Then I process the information and images for sharing with the public on my website.  I don’t sleep much.

But when I report to the public what I discover and document, I’m told by the BLM that I’m making trouble, causing dissension and disorder.  All because I’m simply observing the persecution of animals that Americans have come to love — animals which the US Congress deemed worthy of protection from the actions of a tiny minority, the cattlemen of Nevada.

Laura Leigh is the director of Wild Horse Education [http://WildHorseEducation.org] and has been observing and litigating against the cruel and inhumane round-up and the sale to slaughter of wild horses since 2009.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail