This one’s for you, BLM

My readership has risen over the last month. Many are wild horse advocates that have come to expect me to report on the issue. But many of my readers are government personnel from various agencies.

I realize that my observations today will not make officials “happy.” But I report what I observe and the logical conclusions that can be made.

If it is good I will say so.

The Kiger/Riddle roundup had serious access issues at both the trap and holding. But with what could be observed there were no issues with pilot performance, so it was not mentioned nor criticized. At the Burns Corral I was actually given access. What I saw was reported honestly. Yes, it was a professional (that is what I am) assessment of performance. The staff at the Corral has every right to be proud of what they do.

Today I saw very real indications that the issues I observed at the Antelope roundup with this same contractor are repeating at Triple B. The most basic assessment tool is still denied me, the ability to take a respiration rate. (That no official nor contract staff was taking either, btw) However being able to see the sexes of the horses and the time frame it took to bring them in, give me every pause that there are still serious issues. I could see the “signature” flying at the mouth of the jute for the first run and knew the pilot.

This time of year is extremely fragile in a wild equine population. Roundups should not be occurring in the state of Nevada at all in July. The combination of foaling season and heat create a dynamic where only the “best” should attempt any such operation. Any operation this time of year should be for emergent reasons only.

11 horses is not enough to confirm, but it is enough to raise the question. Yet the opportunity to further evaluate these issue through observation of sorting by sex as the horses leave the range will not be available again at this roundup and other “tools” will come into play.

The “padding” that could be seen was not on each bar that should have had it and it was significantly inadequate,no more than a “see we did it” statement.  LOOK at your own Corral in Burns.

Today the PR staff was a pleasure to be with. Chris Hanefeld and I have spent more time alone together over the last year than I have with any man in a long time. He is a pleasant human being. Jeff Fontana came in from Twin Peaks. Jeff is also a very nice man who really does like his job and people. He is a great “front guy.” Jeff is also very willing to have discussions that contain mutual respect and a willingness to discuss areas that could be improved and Jeff and I agree on many things.

Yet neither Chris nor Jeff make policy. Too bad.

This is for those in DC reading my blog: Access to evaluate must occur. An actual discussion about how to assess a wild population must occur. I am amazed at how little basic tools are utilized by onsite “vets” and the lack of comprehension for the value of those tools.

There needs to be serious reform and standards of review that have consequence… and not just to the horses anymore.

Just had to get that “off the chest.”

Oh… and tell your Rangers to lighten up. Not one armed guard was there to glare and bark at Kiger, not one. They set at the area of operation entrance to monitor any incoming traffic and that was it. I’m a journalist and wild equine subject matter expert. I use “my big girl words” and have always followed directions.


20 thoughts on “This one’s for you, BLM

  1. Jill says:

    Hopefully they will be able to accept a few compliments!

    There is little to nothing worthy of compliment associated with the unnecessary, massive, blind destruction they are intent on doing

  2. MargoWolf says:

    Excellent look at the scene of the crime. I hope people take this and follow through on the pilot. If there is video coming of this guy, we will use it well with your permission.

  3. Linda H says:

    Excellent observations Laura–also ditto on the armed guards. That is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate. Advocates are there to document and evaluate–and armed guard costs are another unnecessary cost to taxpayers and an intimidation tool. Thank you Laura for your complete evaluation, documentation, and tenacity.

  4. Poor Ginger says:

    Thanks, Laura. You answered my question about the padding.

    And to anyone from the WH & BP (or other agency) reading this, the very best (FREE!) PR you can get will be when the gathers conform to your own published standards and practices, the recommendations of the Designated Independent Observers, and confirmations from Laura and others. If you remember, local folks said the same thing after the tragedy in the Gulf.

  5. Daune Ketelaar says:

    Thank you for your dedication to these amazing horses and your honest reporting of these wretched roundups. I live in Yerington, NV and have been blessed to have watched our local herds and the foals that come each year…so precious! I want to help!!! Please, let me know what I can do. I have grown up with horses and am appalled and saddened at how little their plight is made known to the public! Bless you for what you do! I will follow your reporting closely from now on and do whatever I can to help raise public awareness!

  6. I am from The Netherlands, Europe and following the Round Ups as well as BLM issues since quite a while. I do not wonder their agenda and why one decides to do it excactly in July, either month is plain wrong cause I believe this whole round up is something that shouldn’t happen in the first place. It seems ignorance to me. They don’t care. Or might it be that the contractors are just available in summer. Whatever the reason is, what I see while travelling in the States the growing numbers of cattle is amazing. We people tend to play God and decide who is to live where. I still find it hard to digest thatamericans are destroying the little culture they have. I mean, Wild Mustangs is a unique selling poin in many was one could cash in, whch is something Americans are pretty skilled in.
    Yet, ruining a treasure which was given for free by God seems pretty dumb to me. Shame on you….

  7. Louie Cocroft says:

    In other words, Laura,
    Same old Gestapo tactics and Monkey with a Razor Blade operation.

  8. Louie Cocroft says:

    Laura, what contractor was used at the Kiger/Riddle round-up?

  9. Mara LeGrand says:

    .While making Wild Horses In Winds of Change, I heard over and over from BLM employees how badly they treated by the wild horse activists. I was treated respectfully as media by the employees at the round up I attended at Tobin. Laura makes a good point that the employees are not the decision makers. They need their jobs and do what they’re told. POLICIES need to change and continued education and information – delivered to the policy makers. I don’t think there is any convincing Salazar – he’s too died in the wool, old school rancher, but other politicians will be shocked to see animals so mis-treated and the dreadful management at tax payers expense. I believe lots of politicians – have a heart and will begin to wonder how things could be done better. If the voters care they will keep forcing their concerns on their elected officials. The most likely change of policies happen from within an organization so — we have to keep working toward that goal, even while standing guard for the treatment of the horses. Keep it up and always wear sunscreen. Mara

  10. Louie Cocroft says:

    Mara, I believe that you are right. We have to hold the bar up. I do wonder what makes such a difference in Herd Management Areas. The District Manager? The Field Manager? The comparisons that Laura makes are the difference between night and day.

    • Poor Ginger says:

      This may be wrong, but I’ve been told the District Managers are pretty independent of Washington in the majority of decisions and operations. I remember reading that, when the department was formed, the original Director called for as much local autonomy as possible, based on knowledge, ethics, and fair dealing.

  11. Rhonda Lanier says:

    Laura thank for you being there for the horses and for reporting on what you observe first hand. I agree 100% with Jill in that these round ups are totally unnecessary and it seems blatantly obvious in what their end goal is: to remove all wild horses and burros from public lands. President Obama has ignored all my calls, my faxes, my pleas to order this SOI to stop this madness. I in turn am denying his requests for my financial support, and it will be my greatest pleasure in 2012 to deny him my vote.

    • Karen says:

      Ronda, I can understand your frustration, but you are kidding yourself if you think any of the Republican candidates will work harder for our wild ones or pay any more attention to us. A Republican president will only strengthen anti-environmental activity.

  12. We’re about to see a government shut-down, higher interest rates, no Social Security checks, etc, and yet, incredibly, on goes the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro roundup machine in the July desert, brainlessly grinding away at the sky and earth, spending money and sending more animals to long term storage facilities, contractors for these grazing lands are licking their chops over these opportunities for ‘pork’ in their own states in OK, KS, etc.

    The Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is inertia on wheels and I found no mention of term limits in the current charter, either. They certainly are not trying to do right by the American taxpayer nor the herds. They should be crying bloodly murder over these mid-summer and mid-winter roundups on humane grounds if nothing else, yet, they have disappeared into the wordwork. They should be insisting on more vets present or NO ROUNDUPS. Yet they cave to the inertia of business as usual.

    Anyone who missed the USA Today job study – federal employees are more likely to die than get laid off their jobs.

    • MargoWolf says:

      Yes, that study said people get fired the first 2 years on a job, mostly. Government employees are not getting fired or laid off but are retiring or dying on the job!! That is amazing job security. These people do what they are told.

  13. Lynette says:

    Thanks Laura, I look forward to your observations since I am so far away and can not see what is happening. I am working to rally more people to our cause and want the BLM to know that our numbers are growing and we will continue the pressure. I feel the BLM is just lucky right now that Congress is busy dealing with this debt ceiling or they might be feeling more heat.

    What the BLM has not learned after all these years is that if they just follow the law and the rules for safe round ups and would heir contractors who will round up horses using the best methods instead of killing them then they would take a lot of pressure off themselves. If they would let observers in then what could us advocates say if the round ups go right and no horses are hurt or die. Yes we know that some will be hurt but to have their hooves run off is way beyond what should happen even just looking at the humane side of it. That is the kind of thing that we advocates object too. If we have to accept round ups then they MUST be humane and so far that is questionable.

    I also question just how important this round up is if they only have rounded up 33 horses in 2 days. To me that shows that there are not all that many horses running around if they can’t find them so easily. I can not help but believe that their numbers are off as we have been saying for a very long time. Its just too bad that the Judge could not take his observations a little further and asked for proof of the excess number of horses. He did not know that the BLM always says that but produce not stats of proof.

    Thanks again for your hard work Laura. We all appreciate it and we are REALLY out here. We just wish we could be there with you.

  14. Harmony H. says:

    I have recently become aware of the wild horse issue and came across your blog. I must admit that I don’t know much about the issues and that is why I am replying to your blog. In your bio and this article it is stated that you are an wild equine subject matter expert, if I may please what is your background that qualifies you to be considered a wild equine subject matter expert? I am sure you are aware of how internet content can be erroneous and since this being my initial search for information on this topic, I want to be sure that I am researching reputable sources. I see that your busy monitoring a current gather, so I thank you for your time.

    • Laura Leigh says:

      HI “Harmony,”

      Internet is an interesting thing. There is a lot of information that needs to be sifted through in order to find out the truth, I agree. Some of the information apparent, some not.
      Like IP addresses of posters. They can tell you “who” someone is in an arena where folks don’t post their names.

      My qualifications have been recognized by a Federal Judge. In a venue where the credibility of others (that you would never ask this question to) are suspect.

      My background includes wildlife studies, equines and media, recognized as valid in Federal Court. My expertise at observation of roundup protocol is also recognized (and not disputed) by BLM.

      Hope that finally puts your “search” at rest and you can begin to question the validity of others.

  15. lea says:

    i can’t thank you enough laura for being our eyes and ears on the front line, it takes courage, selflessness and a heart of gold to put YOUR personal life aside and be there for our horses and burros. day after day, year after year.
    NO way can it be EASY as some may assume, meaning on your spirit let alone your pocket book.
    what i really don’t get is that some would dare to attack you for for raising funds to photograph and report the truth of what’s really going on out there, in the middle of know where to us. they sit at their computers saying how easy it is and i’d do it on my own dime… hahahaha. when everyone in this arena has a “donate” box on their website as well. you work for the public and our horses !
    lol.. i’m sure your getting rich…
    i’m not the most intelligent person but i know a JOB when i see it…
    my thoughts are with you keep up the great work !

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