Allegiance

This beautiful horse broke out (jumped the panel after capture at the trap) and stood by the jute… moving forward and back… forward and back… as his family loaded.
After the trailer (with his mares) went past him he shot up the hill behind us… then eyed the trap from the other side of the hill calling to the babies… he moved off as vehicles came in but stopped as a trailer came back up the road… and called to see if his family had come back.

Off in the distance you could see a chopper… he briefly headed toward the band being chased and then so very slowly… with head down… went down the road… and over the horizon.

I have seen thousands and thousand of horses loose everything they have. I don’t normally name them.

But this horse is “Allegiance.”
It is what he demonstrated and what we owe him.

I will edit video and get images together as soon as I can… but I am exhausted… have hours of tape and pics to log of over-driving, atrocious flying, BLM admits hotshot use and more.

As well as a few tears to shed tonight.

A local auto shop fixed my truck today even though I couldn’t pay… he said to bring the money when I get it… but to get out to the range and keep an eye on “our” horses….

Tears for many reasons tonight… these people that live here love these horses… but they are not a mine or ranching interest… they are just people that read the local paper and live their lives in this hard, but beautiful place… and cherish the ideals of Freedom and survival that “our” horses represent.

Allegiance.

Driven into the trap

Allegiance... I pledge to you...

Is it Bad Enough for You?

I sit here as the clock turns midnight. Today is the fortieth anniversary of the unanimous passage of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

§ 1331. Congressional findings and declaration of policy

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

Forty years later it appears that “mustanging” has simply become a government enterprise. Instead of humane management of herds in the wild, we now have a system where the government simply chooses the profiteers.

A complex system of mostly private contractors warehouse our National Treasure at public expense, yet off limits to public scrutiny. Roundups that occur without any meaningful access to assess the condition or actions of the contractors, at public expense. Policy that is so outrageous and contrary to the Act carried out on a daily basis.

“Have you commented on the EA(Environmental Assessment?” is a common response from BLM (Bureau of Land Management).

Well I don’t know about you, but hundreds of thousands of comments that disagree with policy are considered “of no significance.” After a while you feel like your voice as an American means nothing to the current administration.

It also appears neither does the law.

There are several lawsuits that are pushing that issue within the Judicial system. In Twin Peaks we still have a case very much alive holding feet to the fire on accountability to protocol. The West Douglas herd was saved for yet another year through litigation. The First Amendment violations very becoming very clear to a vast majority of the media as a dangerous precedent to documenting the actions of government in a “Democratic society.”

We are forced to take our government to the Courts to demand accountability within the government that supposedly holds our Constitution as it’s blueprint.

The absurdity is mind boggling.

As advocates we are now fighting to stop the spread of wild mares being given hysterectomies in the field. This is not new. It has occurred under the oversight of the Department of Interior through Fish and Wildlife. Now this butchery is attempting to make it’s way into “protocol.”

Let’s paint a clear picture. BLM manages about 252 million acres (and that depends on which website you check). Within that only about 10% are “managed” for wild equid populations. Some of those areas have AML’s (Appropriate Management Level) set ridiculously low. We even have an HMA (Herd Management Area) with an AML of 3.

Genetic bankruptcy is very real. It is happening with an animal that Congress passed an entire Act to protect. The Multiple Use Mandate has truly become “Multiple Ruse.”

We are truly in an age of Industrialization of your public land. The biggest pocket is calling the shots in the way your resources are being used. Your public resources are putting cash into the pockets of large corporations (often foreign owned). The entities that operate on public land often do so subsidized. Yes, in America we run a “welfare” program on the taxpayers back to make the rich, well, rich.

Roundups will begin again July 1 during foaling season. Just because an entity that behaves like a sociopath says something is the truth does not make it so. July 1 IS foaling season. Newborn babies and pregnant mares will be stampeded without a care for their true welfare. The concern is for convenient scheduling and budgets. The concern is to clear the land of horses, not manage the land for horses.

I will lay a flower on Velma Johnston’s grave. Known as “Wild Horse Annie” she was instrumental in passing Legislation to protect our wild herds. I wonder if she knows that what she fought for has not come to reality?

But we go on. We are getting faster. we are not reporting what happened yesterday, but we are uncovering what is planned for tomorrow. We are also getting better at the tools we have: litigation, media and the great mover of mountains, public pressure.

Stay strong, stay smart and watch the “dark side, Luke.”

After 40 years it’s long overdue to have our wild herds protected in the spirit of the Act.

Many of the horses in this video died. I can’t show you those mages because documentation is not allowed. Music Courtesy of the Amazing Maria Daines:

Catching up…

 

December 16, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Info@grassrootshorse.com

Two briefs were recently filed in the ongoing lawsuit brought by journalist Laura Leigh against the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Interior. The briefs are in connection with the Silver King wild horse roundups conducted in Nevada this past September. The case pursues the public‟s ongoing right to accountability on the whereabouts of these horses after capture.

Leigh‟s suit champions the public‟s and her own right to reasonable access to observe all aspects of the government‟s handling of the wild horses taken from the Silver King herd management area near Ely, Nevada. This lawsuit is based 100% on violations to First Amendment rights. It directly challenges, the Defendants‟ unconstitutional prior restraints on the Plaintiff‟s First Amendment rights by denying her reasonable access to wild horse roundups and related activities, to observe and report on all activities from capture, removal, processing, shipping, transportation, housing, and ultimate disposition of wild horses taken during the Silver King wild horse roundup operations (which the BLM euphemistically refers to as a “gather”).

Following hours of testimony November 16 when Judge Hicks heard Leigh‟s evidence against the BLM and Dept. of Interior, the judge agreed to allow the parties to submit additional briefs including a supplemental brief from the plaintiff as an offer of proof of the testimony and other evidence the judge refused from evidence at the hearing.

Justice Department attorneys for the BLM argued that since the roundup had already occurred, the case was mooted. Leigh‟s attorney, Gordon Cowan, argued, “[the mere cessation of illegal activity in response to pending litigation does not moot a case, unless the party alleging mootness can show that the „allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur.‟" Much case law was cited where other courts upheld Cowan‟s argument. One court concluded that, without such an exception to „mootness‟ the courts would be compelled to leave the, "defendant ... free to return to his old ways."

Conduct by the BLM at the Twin Peaks roundup in Twin Peaks CA was cited. On August 24, 2010 a New York Times reporter and photographer were allowed directly into the horse capture trap during the moment of wild horse captures. At that exact same time, Laura Leigh‟s press credentials were not being recognized by the defendants‟ officials there; and she was precluded from having access to the trap area and held back nearly a half-mile from the trap. On this same day, Laura Leigh was not allowed to walk on public land to a public road to photograph horses leaving the traps after they had been captured and loaded onto a trailer. When standing in the identical area where other members of the public were allowed to freely pass to and from their cars to the viewing area, Ms. Leigh was instructed to move and go back to the viewing area; that if she refused, it could elevate to the “next level,” which she was advised by defendants, meant she could be arrested. Many almost identical scenarios are repeated at previous and subsequent roundups attended by Laura Leigh and her press credentials from Horseback Magazine for whom she reports, are routinely denied.

Cowan‟s brief also contends the complaint is not moot where it seeks Injunctive relief to gain immediate access to horses being warehoused in facilities closed to the public, and to have the public and press observe these horses not just during their capture, but at all stages of their journey through the BLM‟s wild horse removal program.

Leigh was precluded from providing evidence that mootness didn‟t apply. The judge would not allow evidence of the BLM‟s conduct occurring elsewhere such as the closing to the public of the Indian Lakes horse holding facility. Prior to Indian Lakes‟ closure (in June) public tours of the facility were given weekly. Leigh and colleagues photographed and videoed difficult images from these tours, including images of a foal nearly starved to death, an eight month old colt dying because his feet were damaged from a recent roundup, horses with abscesses apparently suffering from pigeon fever, and other tough images. BLM‟s Dean Bolstad, according to the brief, complained to Leigh over the barrage of emails he received from displeased citizens who viewed the published Indian Lakes images.

Injured baby at PVC (how many at Broken Arrow?)

BLM‟s Bolstad sent an email to superiors arguing that “Indian Lakes” should close to the public because of the, “damage that is being done to BLM‟s image as a result of the tours.” This offensive email is attached to Leigh‟s brief. The brief also conveys that Bolstad at one point called Ms. Leigh a terrorist simply because she published her photos taken at Indian Lakes.

All subsequent requests to reopen the facility to the public have since been denied, according to Leigh‟s court filing. Since then no horses removed from Silver King who were taken to “Indian Lakes” facility were seen by the public since before their capture on the range. Even members of the public interested in adopting a Silver King horse from “Indian Lakes” would be denied access to view the horse. Horses are moved from “Indian Lakes” to long term holding and the public never has a chance to view them again.

On December 11, 2010 Leigh‟s counsel filed a brief responsive to the Defendant‟s brief that sought to strike or limit the testimony accepted in evidence at the November hearing. The defendants complained they were prejudiced when not notified that the hearing would be evidentiary in nature. The BLM also claimed to have experienced difficulty obtaining copies of Leigh‟s filed witness list from the court‟s electronic document management system. The defendants sought to have all testimony stricken.

Following a thorough brow-beating over the defendants‟ contended “surprise” that evidence would be received at a scheduled hearing, Cowan added, “To claim surprise or prejudice because the defendants were not prepared for an evidentiary Rule 65 hearing, under these circumstances, is entertaining at best.”

The BLM added a new argument to their existing repertoire of “mootness,” now claiming the complaint was somehow “vague”. Cowan argued, “this new „vagueness‟ argument seeks to steer the court astray into thinking the case should be embroiled in administrative proceedings or records which discuss challenges to the inhumanity of the defendants‟ wild horse removal and warehousing process.”

Wont forget you

Cowan in our estimation, “nailed it” when asserting the following:

Although the BLM and Interior Department‟s Wild Horse and Burro removal and warehousing process is one of America‟s greater embarrassing atrocities, this issue is not the focal point of the case. “Inhumanity” is, although ongoing with the BLM‟s “management” of America‟s wild horses, unfortunately, secondary. The case clearly seeks to challenge the defendants‟

continuing removal of interested citizens (not horses) from observing the defendants‟ handling of America‟s wild horses, particularly those horses that entered the defendants‟ process from Silver King.” These horses (Silver King horses in this instance) are being handled, processed, and/or disposed of, or moved, or “lost,” or warehoused even as of this writing. The process doesn‟t come to a halt just because the defendants completed their roundup. The process is ongoing. The roundup is only the beginning of the defendants‟ process. In this instance the defendants‟ process remains entirely secretive and hidden from the public‟s eye. In this instance, Silver King horses entered the process at the front end, beginning with the roundup. They (Silver King horses) are still there, somewhere, within the process, within the Defendants‟ wild horse handling system. There is not one document or notice from the defendants indicating that

all handling of Silver King horses has been concluded. Only the roundup stopped. No document or record of the defendants states or even implies that they (the defendants) have concluded all handling, processing and warehousing of Silver King horses. These First Amendment violations occur and are repeated each and every time Ms. Leigh or citizens are turned away, or refused access, or are kept back, or are denied appropriate observation, entrance or access to any portion of the defendants‟ processes. The most outrageous part of it all, is that the defendants continue on the same secretive, private course as if citizens possessed no right at all to observe the government in action. This is shameful.”

Trying to see Broken Arrow (film students)

Laura Leigh‟s legal actions are supported by Grass Roots Horse, Inc. an equine welfare and mustang advocacy group. The legal actions can be viewed at www.grassrootshorse.com Field Reports on wild horse roundups and related information can be read at http://blog.grassrootshorse.com

*********Please be aware that “Indian Lakes” used to be called “Broken Arrow.” At first it was called “Fallon facilty.” This creates an issue where search engines do not pick up full history. It also creates an impression that there are more facilities.

Horses are dying there every week… that we will never see… Silver King, Twin Peaks, Callaghan…

Another day in Court

Judge Hicks has finally set a date for hearing on the emergency TRO filed over a month ago for access to the hands on management of our wild herds. The Contempt motion will also be heard on the same day.

 Say a prayer for Democracy

Two important lawsuits will be heard by Judge Larry Hicks in Reno, Nevada on November 16, 2010.One of the hearings will be on the Motion for Temporary and Injunctive Relief in the Silver King, NV wild horse round up filed by the Plaintiff, Laura Leigh against the Bureau of Land Management, Interior Dept. and the Nevada State Director of the BLM. The Plaintiff‟s Response to the court on BLM‟s responses to the Motion was filed on October 12, 2010.
This lawsuit is based 100% on violations to First Amendment rights. It directly challenges, the Defendants‟ unconstitutional prior restraints on the Plaintiff‟s First Amendment rights by denying her reasonable access to wild horse roundups and related activities, to observe and report on all activities from capture, removal, processing, shipping, transportation, housing, and ultimate disposition of wild horses taken during the Silver King wild horse roundup operations (which the BLM euphemistically refers to as “gathers”). Laura Leigh, is a journalist and videographer whose work on wild horse issues has garnered her international attention.
“All I am trying to do is bring to the public a comprehensive story on the hands-on management of this National Treasure,” says Leigh “The difficulties I have had are absurd in a Democratic society.”

The government is basically controlling the content of what information reaches the public by precluding journalists who may portray them in an unflattering light.

The Second hearing will be on the (filed) August 11, 2010 Motion on Contempt of Court charges levied against the BLM which cites evidence of the Defendants‟ violation of the court‟s previous order to uphold the plaintiff‟s First Amendment Rights to observe and report on the Bureau of Land Management in regard to the “gather” and removal of wild horses in Owyhee Herd Management Area. When Laura Leigh arrived in Owyhee, accompanied by two individuals, they were barred entrance to the roundup site, stopped by armed personnel on public land, and given the literal run around.

The Contempt of Court Motion also addresses the Defendants‟ sworn testimony in open court that a „water emergency‟ existed and that an „emergency‟ roundup had to happen immediately, or horses would die. This testimony resulted in Judge Larry Hicks lifting the Temporary Restraining Order he had put in place to halt the Owyhee gather until he could hear legal arguments in the case.

Photos and documentation of the area have been filed showing that in fact the range appears exactly the same as it normally does this time of year, and nothing out of the ordinary was found by independent observation.

“Federal Judges have a tough job and a tight schedule,” said  council Gordon Cowan, “Our country is based on very sound principals that ensure democracy continues and our case will be heard.”