Another Foal dies

Euthanized at the Broken Arrow

I was able to visit the horses at the Broken Arrow again. Many of these horses I have not seen in months.

I wanted to write to you about the experience of seeing these horses again. I entered the facility and expressed a desire to write about the adoption event… and one of the first horses I saw was wearing a tag on his head. Almost a gesture representing a “hey… get me out of here.”

"Get me outta here!"

I had an amazing reunion with some of the younger horses… that have grown so much since I saw them last. One by one a small group came up to say hello and I even got my head nibbled….

"Hello" (Elyse Gardner)

I had an amazing moment seeing General, Commander and True… I will save that for another day.

But instead I get to share that yet another foal has died.

At the end of the tour we observed an emaciated foal. The little thing appeared dehydrated and weak. The mare was present and attentive. She appeared to have very little milk.

She was also one of the mares that had been treated with PZP and released in CA.

The baby was euthanized after we left.

Mare and foal, foal euthanized (Craig Downer)

I spoke with Dean Bolstad today and he was genuinely concerned that this foal was allowed to get to the state it was in before intervention. We discussed the many “reasons” that this could have happened but he was in agreement that it shouldn’t have happened at all.

However we now have another birth and death that will not appear in any record.

So I leave with more questions…

Is PZP associated with a higher incidence of spontaneous abortion? Is it associated with a higher mortality rate to foals?

We will be told “no.” But the truth is that there is no statistical record kept. Studies on “sanctuary” horses are not studies on wild bands. Wild bands that deal with compound stress issues such as those that occur during round up are NOT the same as a controlled group in sanctuary… so don’t even try to convince me.

We are still waiting for the basic numbers of age, sex, etc. on this gather. Apparently the guy that enters the data needed help…. and then the help needs to be checked…. and then….

We are promised the data this week.

The vet at the Broken Arrow has appeared to need an assistant or two since day one. Why are these missed issues still occurring? Are there too many horses at the facility? Too little staff? Too hot to walk the pens?

I am very tired and have much to accomplish in the next few days. I will post more tomorrow.

Morning Coffee Chatter

It appears that there is some rather interesting “chatter” in the wild horse world today. I’ll start with this one and post again in a bit…

Maureen Harmonay wrote in an article for the Examiner about the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association reports posted on the BLM webpage about previously undisclosed deaths of Calico horses.

I wont comment to the specifics she addresses, but urge you to read the article. Instead I want to point out a bit more “food for thought” in the reports.

In the report dated Feb. 13, Dr. Davis (ASVMA), writes: “We did not see any indication of infectious disease.” He then goes on to note a horse in quarantine with an abscess that was suspected to have strangles.

comment: A horse with an abscess was in quarantine on Feb 13. A single horse with “no other signs of infectious disease” in the population. I thought we were being told horses had signs of pigeon fever and abscesses since they came in off the range?

He comments about the foals with sloughed hooves. He notes that only “verbal” information was available. He then notes that the foal was “emaciated,” and the metabolic issues associated with re-feeding may contribute to the condition causing eventual hoof slough.

comment: I will send Dr. Davis pictures of the “emaciated” foal with hoof slough.Then he will have visual confirmation that the colt was not emaciated. Perhaps he will delete the justification spin he hands the BLM in this report?

Calico Foal

Foal euthanized at Fallon Facilty

He also notes the average body score is 5 or above with a few at 3 or less. 12 horses in the hospital pen were of a 2 or less (mares).

comment: I was there at the end of January and saw a handful of 2’s, not in the hospital pens. The hospital pens held horses suffering from some form of lameness or another. I have photographs, no “2’s.”

However I agree the vast majority of horses were a 5 or better. The high percentage of older horses also refutes a claim of an unhealthy range.

I have too many comments about the reasons horses can drop weight quickly and if you read his report you will see the significant number of issues he left out.

He also notes that Dr. Sanford mentioned pregnant mares, gathered in winter, are usually in the poorest condition.

comment: So why did you do such a large gather during winter against the advice of a federal judge?

Popcorn?

I have re-edited the piece “Calico Complex In Retrospect” for viewing on the web.I was approached to provide video for a group pressing DVD’s for DC. They ran a test group and went only with my footage. I felt that the project I had begun was important because it told a more complete story of Calico.

I researched distribution and each option was expensive. This would slow down getting the images to the public in a manner that was timely. These horses need our attention now more than ever. So I created a public viewing option (click on Theatre)  here at a site devoted to the project.

A CD is still available and the edit is a bit different for anyone wishing to have a hard copy of the project. They are available on my website here.

Not sure if you want popcorn… but the piece is up for viewing.

In Retrospect

Calico Retrospect

As I prepare to head off to DC to join other advocates to raise our voice for the wild horses and burros I am putting the finishing touches on many projects. The one I am most proud of is a new video of the Calico Complex gather. The pride stems not only from the piece itself, but from the process of creating the piece.

This effort came together very quickly. It required fast communication and a real cooperative effort from many people. The process truly speaks of the effort that is needed to be that voice for our horses and burros. This is an effort made by “just people.” People that devote their time and resources to stand for something they believe in.

In that space personal differences become meaningless… self transcends into a collective space of “voice.”

The complete DVD will have a short film and history of the gather as well as personal statements by those that contributed to the piece. Distribution information will be available within the next 24 hours.

Once more I want to remind you that even if you can’t make the trip to DC set the 25th of March aside and contact your local media, set up a table with brochures, wear a ribbon, a t-shirt… start a conversation… for our wild horses and burros.

BLM DVM, SNAFU

I don’t normally post “reprints” this often but this “trail” is important to follow. This is the third story in a row from Steven Long of Horseback Magazine on veterinary credentials.

The responses Steven gets to what should have been very simple requests speaks loud and clear. These types of responses are what we receive most often. The “straight answer” never comes. It creates an atmosphere of absolute distrust.

If these are the responses to simple questions, imagine how convoluted the responses are when we ask more complex questions?

The BLM representatives will stand in front of a television camera and give a reporter a quick sound bite response while wearing a uniform. An advocate will then need to express to the reporter how those responses are incorrect or misleading and then try to represent the “truth” as we know it… and the real truth will remain an unknown until an investigation occurs.But the reporter walks off with the sound bite… and the majority of the public never “gets it.”

This example of a simple request, the type of response and the potential consequence is so clearly illustrated by Steven in these three articles.

If you want to be “educated” on standard BLM operating protocol… these three articles are really all you need.

Death Toll for Calico Now 115 While BLM Has No Credentials for Vets on File

Photo by Elyse Gardner

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The record death toll for a federal Bureau of Land Management roundup has again risen with the demise of two more horses raising the count to 115. Specifically, 69 have died at the agency’s Fallon holding facility, 7 died at the site of the Calico roundup itself, and there have been 39 miscarried foals.

The animals are under the care of BLM veterinarian Dr. Richard Sanford. Horseback Magazine asked for his vitae under the U.S, Freedom of Information Act. In a certified letter to the magazine dated March 9, 2010, the agency responded.

“We have conducted a thorough search of our files and were unable to locate any records responsive to your request.”

Sanford is the second BLM veterinarian who appears to have no credentials on file with the bureau. Dr. Albert Kane, who has worked on the Calico “gather” is not licensed as a veterinarian in Nevada according to state records. Sanford holds a Nevada vet license.

According to a physician, veterinarian, and emergency medical technician contacted by Horseback Magazine, virtually all medical professionals have credentials on file where they are employed and carry them as well.

These same professionals have raised questions regarding moving wild horses from a sparse diet of desert grass to one of rich hay as soon as they were captured. They have raised questions that the Calico tragedies are the result of gastrointestinal problems such as colic.

Dr. Kane, BLM DVM?

Reprint from Horseback Online

The Big Story

Unlicensed Vet Working Nevada Gather Where 113 Horses Have Died or Have Been Miscarried

By Steven Long

Photo by Laura Leigh

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A government veterinarian working for the Bureau of Land Management in its Nevada office has treated horses there without a state license.

At least 113 captured horses have either died or been miscarried after a grueling chase by helicopter over rocky mountain land in the dead of winter.

Horseback Magazine confirmed late Monday in a check with the Nevada Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that there is no record of a veterinary license for Dr. Albert Kane. Last month the magazine sought the vitae of the veterinarian but the BLM refused to supply it.

Kane is a Veterinary Medical Officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Policy and Programs staff. In this position he serves as a staff veterinarian and advisor for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, according to spokeswoman JoLynn Worley.

“Dr. Kane doesn’t have a current bio or CV available at this time and has declined to prepare one specifically at your request,” Worley said at the time.

After the refusal to respond to the magazine’s request for Kane’s credentials, a request for that information under the Freedom of Information Act was filed. Thus far there has been no BLM compliance on the FOIA.

The 113 dead horses came from BLM’s Calico Wild Horse Management Area in Northern Nevada. The “gather” was a tightly controlled operation in which press and public was held in a viewing area far from the actual roundup and helicopter driven stampede.

Horses captured in the operation are now held in the BLM’s Fallon processing facility.

Horseback Magazine has now asked the BLM if Kane is licensed elsewhere other than in Nevada.

The Fallon facility is under tight control with press and public barred from observing horse processing in other than rare and brief media days and observation opportunities.

Opponents of the gathers have charged that the government agency is rendering America’s wild horse herds genetically bankrupt on its 260 million acres of mostly vacant land.

Last year, in a 68 page document titled “Alternative Management Options” the BLM discussed killing thousands of wild horses. It also addressed the issue of neutering horses in enormous numbers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former rancher, has proposed that thousands of horses be sent to seven holding areas in the Midwest and East as tourist attractions. The proposal has been ridiculed by equine welfare activists as “Salazoos.”

Senator asks… will he answer?

Below is an article from Horseback Online. More Breaking News from Horseback.

My post will appear beneath it.

This letter from Senator Boxer is important.

California Senator Asks Salazar Tough Questions – Expects Answers

By Steven Long

WASHINGTON, DC, (Horseback) – California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer released a letter demanding answers from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding the embattled Bureau of Land Management. It’s Wild Horse and Burro Program is under fire after the deaths of scores of horses in a mid-winter “gather” in Nevada’s Calico Mountains.

The horses were stampeded into holding pens after a grueling chase by a roaring helicopter over rocky ground in freezing weather. Two foals died after losing their hooves in an excruciating lingering death.

Dear Secretary Salazar:

I am writing to thank you for your recent attention to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Wild Horse and Burro Program and to seek information that would help me evaluate your proposed refoms to this program.

Wild horses and burros are majestic symbols of the American west and are beloved by many people for their remarkable intelligence, grace, beauty, and power. Unfortunately, these charismatic animals have also been at the center of great controversy for many decades.

Commercial harvesting once threatened wild horses and burros until public outrage led to their protection under the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. After working to recover these species for many years, the BLM has recently begun trying to reduce populations once more due to concerns that the animals are now overpopulated. The BLM contends that unchecked population growth has led to decimation of forage, starvation, competition with native animals, and land use conflicts. However, many animal rights advocates contend that the animals are healthy when left alone in the wild and that the BLM’s efforts to control populations are jeopardizing the survival of these iconic species.

To better understand your recent proposal for reforming the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program and evaluate these different arguments, I would appreciate it if you could answer the following questions:

What techniques are used to estimate wild horse and burro populations, assess the genetic viability of herds, and determine appropriate management levels? Has there been any independent verification of the BLM’s techniques or data to ensure that they are based in sound science?

What are the disadvantages of allowing wild horses and burros to remain unchecked in the wild? Has there been any independent documentation of the BLM’s claims about the health of these animals, their impact on environmental conditions, and the need to remove them?

How does BLM ensure the humane treatment of wild horses and burros during roundups and retention in holding facilities? Has there been any independent confirmation of the humaneness of the BLM’s treatment of these animals? Are there any alternative methods for rounding up the horses that might be less disruptive to these animals and possibly make them more suitable for adoption?

Do you have any specific sites in mind for the National Wild Horse Preserves that would be established under your new proposal? How many acres would be needed for these preserves? How many preserves would be federal and how many private?

How much would it cost to establish and manage these National Wild Horse Preserves? Can you provide me with a cost-benefit analysis comparing this proposal with the status quo and with leaving the horses where they are currently found?

This is a complex and emotional issue with important long-term ramifications for the future of our wild horse and burros. I appreciate your attention to this matter and your look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer

United States Senator

Art and Horses……

Another question she needs to add:

Why when asked by advocates for an overlay map of grazing leases and permits over herd management areas are we directed to a geocities website where we would have to build our own map lease by lease? How can the BLM possibly manage the area in any way, shape, or form without such a map?

I approached the BLM with a conceptual proposal. I was asked “where would we put it.” I said “give me a map and I’ll show you.” I was sent to geocities. I turned it over to John Holland to look at. Creating the map would be a full-time job for months! It would most likely require trips to each BLM field office. It’s absurd that a simple map of where leases overlap the shrinking HMA’s contained in the 262 million acres of BLM managed land does not exist as public record.

I hope she gets the answers soon.

I can’t wait.

This has to stop.

Just a note:

I’ve just finished General’s Saga Part 2 and will post by tomorrow night.

Editing the video and “just life” have me a bit tired tonight. Elyse called me to let me know she was posting on her blog that “Lightning,” the magnificent palomino stallion in the Equine Welfare Alliance slideshow I made, is at Fallon. She will send me a link when she gets the full story up and I will add it here.

KEEP CALLING.

White House Hotline: 202-456-1111

Calico Complex Video Essay

I apologize for the camera shake. I borrowed a camera I had never used before.

It was cold and my nose kept running.

This video is long. If you are already depressed about the actions, or lack thereof, by the current Obama administrations Bureau of Land Management, please don’t watch this.

Just the few hours that we as a group have been allowed to observe this gather we have seen so much. It boggles the mind what may have occurred when this agency was allowed to operate without witness.

Horses continue to die from the gather. The stress of the actual gather, the stress of confinement and diet change. The stress now of processing. This was a massive gather done at a very vulnerable time of year.

Now these symbols of American freedom, those that survive, face adoption, sale authority, and long term warehousing.

Note: at about 4 minutes into this video is the video of the  foal harassed by helicopter in a longer form than previously shown.

My heart aches.

Edited to add:

Yes, this video is available in HDV. The quality is “dumbed down” to cut down on render and upload time. If you need clips to send  to local media e-mail me the time code and I can burn a disc.

KEEP CALLING the White House Hotline and your local Senators! Don’t forget local media. Get the word out!

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Death of the Calico Foal

Calico Foal

Foal euthanized at Fallon Facilty

Hope Springs Eternal  (A Eulogy)  By Laura Leigh

written 2/1/2010

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – On January 22, 2010 I was given a tour of the Fallon holding facility after my observation days (Calico gather) had been cancelled by weather twice.

I had witnessed the gather on January 16, and met Gene Seidlitz (Winnemucca district manager) and Heather Emmons, both of the Bureau of Land Management. Both appeared to be very willing to accommodate and provide access in as transparent a manner as possible Gene spoke to me many times about the concept of finding areas for dialogue and co-operation. I had hoped to write an article based on that concept.

On January 22, Seidlitz and Lisa Ross, BLM public relations coordinator for Calico gather met me at the agency’s Fallon facility. John Neill is acting BLM manager at Fallon. I was given free access to photograph and ask questions. I was also allowed to videotape the “hospital” facility at Fallon. I soon saw a row of small pens near the entrance to the facility next to the area being built to process horses. The plywood for windbreaks was stacked but not installed.

The pens held mostly foals and a few mares. Each horse I saw demonstrated some form of lameness. Many had bandages on their legs. Of particular concern was a foal that would not rise when approached.. His eyes were glassy.

Over the next few days I made several attempts to gain information about that foal. I sent e-mails to Gene, Lisa, and John. I was told the foal was up the very next day and doing well. Information I found hard to believe because I did not think he would even make it through the night. I requested a vet report and was told I would have it as soon as one was available. I requested that the foal be released to me and I would facilitate his placement into a facility that could properly care for him. The request was denied, the BLM saying it was not needed.

I named him “Hope Springs Eternal.” I began to make inquiries to find a facility to bring him to. He would have a home.

Several more conversations with John Neill continued to assure me the foal was fine. John said he was busy and if I did not get the vet report to please call him again.

I called today. I was told the vet report is online. It’s not. He was euthanized Saturday because his hooves had begun to slough.

My emotions are many:

So much for a timely exchange of information. So much for the concept that the “guys on the ground” are any different than the guys in DC, something they want you to believe. So much for the idea that co-operation toward problem solving with the best interests of the horses at its heart will ever be a reality. So much for “ Hope Springs Eternal.”

The baby I saw on January 22 was in incredible pain to the point that, as a wild animal, he could hardly lift his head as a strange human, a potential predator, approached. All the others rose and limped away. This baby languished in that facility with no windbreak in agony. A baby that had a chance if the humans involved could have attempted to create an opportunity to work together. Releasing that foal would have cost the BLM nothing… and maybe created the sensation that somewhere in this madness a spirit of humanity could overcome this battle of obstinate adherence to outdated bureaucratic protocol. I had “Hope.”

Little spirit you are now free of this administration’s unwillingness to recognize your worth. “Hope Springs Eternal,” rest in peace. You are loved.