Personal message for the “blog”

Jackson Mountain stallion watches his mares after arrival at PVC. They will be separated here, he will go to the stud pens and they with the mares.

Jackson Mountain stallion watches his mares after arrival at PVC. They will be separated here, he will go to the stud pens and they with the mares.

from the desk of Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education (follow ongoing work at wild horse education website)

It is very hard to describe the personal experience of the current state of the issues that Wild Horse Education is addressing for our herds.

On one hand this has been an extraordinary physical marathon of range work, in all kinds of weather, under all kinds of physical extremes. Dust, mud, blistering heat and frigid temperatures take a toll on equipment and ones physical body. Files are massive and the quantity of documentation fills drive after drive and causes laptops to choke. The vehicle makes new sounds every time it is shaken, bounced, bumped and run in sub freezing temperatures or high heat, your physical body begins to mirror the creaks and groans. The very real need to expand this aspect of the work is apparent. This aspect of the work is what gives us the ability to demonstrate a first hand knowledge of the range and present accurate information toward gaining real changes as we try to bring an honest conversation to the management of wild horses and burros to the agency itself, the public, legislature and if needed, the Federal courts. You make this part of the journey looking like a character out of “Mad Max,” or other post apocalyptic film, half the time. You forget to brush your hair, have no time to clean your clothes and your equipment is a mishmash of devices pieced together that looks like it shouldn’t even run but is a powerful editing tool.

On the other hand this work requires diligent research and organization. Thousands of hours of video footage, hundreds of thousands of still photographs, assessment documents and grids, reference material and the hundreds of documents filed in court. You have to focus, wear the right glasses to read,  remember to shower, and raise your vocabulary above the guttural sounds that your dog finds acceptable as conversation on the road.

Then there is another aspect, communication with the public. Somewhere between being a “range rat” and an “accountant” you need to remember the social skills to engage the public in a conversation that relays what you “gained” on the range, digested in the “library,” in a manner that speaks to the daily lives of “normal.”

Many of you have written wondering what it is like to do this work… the best way I can describe it… it is like carrying a bag filled with “hats.” Some of the hats you have worn before and they fit well, others don’t fit quite right but when you wear them in enough storms they shrink and mold and become familiar.

Today I sit at the computer organizing three active cases against the Federal government. Two of them speak to the objective of gaining a humane handling policy for wild horses and burros, one of them speaks to access to animals from range “through ultimate disposition, adoption, sale or death.” I am organizing depositions, documents and editing video footage for various purposes.

High Rock, 10-30 (Leigh) 6 escape the trap

High Rock, 10-30 (Leigh) 6 escape the trap

I wanted to “touch base” with the followers of the blog and say “whew” as we gain the first step in the conversation at Owyhee toward gaining a “humane” objective in the ten year plan and “where’s the #@*! coffee?” as we start to compile and hone the effort on access. The work we are doing on land use plans and investigations such as the slaughter issue are also still in progress AND I have to get back out on the range.

Yes, there is an extraordinary amount of work that needs done YESTERDAY. There are tools that as an advocacy we do not have and must literally build. But this is not without hope… we are building the tools and creating the language for conversations based on first hand observation… we are gaining a conversation that can lead to changes… that can grow to more changes. It IS movement.

As a MOVEMENT we must recognize that fact and gain momentum. If there is an opportunity, no matter how small, if it is not seized the moment passes. The road to change leads to change as the road of apathy leads to apathy, the road of depression leads to depression. We are on the road to change…. it may be a two track in the dessert but eventually (even if you have to travel off-road a bit) it leads to a highway.

Best to you.

Laura

Fast post, Litchfield (High Rock Horses, holding)

This is just a quick update on the Litchfield facility.

Horses from High Rock are being taken to this facility. Ability to assess horses is extremely limited at this facility. Most horses are in corrals that are not easily visible. This trip I was able to see primarily studs only.

I will return when youngsters are moved for vaccination.

Processing is not visible and access to view was denied.

Overview Litchfield, 11-2

Gorgeous bay stud (Fox Hog pen)

Stunning young studs (buddies, very attached to each other)

Guilfoyle speaks at Conference in DC today

Today in DC the new head of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, Joan Guilfoyle, will speak at the International Conference for Equine Welfare.

She has committed to speak for ten minutes to introduce herself. She will answer no questions from the public, nor participate in any dialogue. She has agreed to speak to address her willingness to “dialogue” with the public.

Sounds like the same old contradictions.

As Guilfoyle prepares to speak the last horses of the roundup  were removed from Barren Valley in Oregon. Only two runs of the pilot were documented. Almost a week allowed no documentation at all.

This video is of the last two groups taken.

Please help support the work if you can.: http://wildhorseeducation.org/mission-statement/donate/

Editorial: NY Times, shame on you

The New York Times ran a piece by Phil Taylor of Greenwire (look up Greenwire, it is an “energy and environment” publication).

I took the time to submit an Editorial, but am not taking the time for the submission to be rejected.

There are several other areas of the piece I find disturbing besides what I address in the below submission, but there is only so much time in the day.

Link to the Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/09/20/20greenwire-interiors-new-wild-horse-chief-confronts-growi-35228.html

I urge you all to create your own submission to the Times.

I am crafting doc’s and editing and back on the road…

I always hate to ask… but I do need your help to stay out here and continue the work.

http://WildHorseEducation.org and legal here: http://wildhorsefreedom.org

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Guilfoyle, is this ok?

Dear Editor,

While applauding the Times for having covered the issue of Wild Horses and Burros on public land, the journalistic standard of the piece “Interior’s New Wild Horse Chief Confronts…” by Phil Taylor lacks authoritative bases.

Federal law does not “force” the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to “cull” horses. The law instead requires them to manage according to a “multiple use” mandate and to “protect” wild horses as “living symbols of the pioneer spirit of the West.” “Removal” of horses is only one of many tools in the BLM’s toolbox although by choice, it is the only one utilized thus far in the forty-year history of the mandate.

The “advocate community” is rightly concerned that wild herds are not managed under “multiple use,” but are managed at a non viable standard in an inhumane fashion. If an extraction company was forced to operate at the current capacity that our National Treasures are being managed, they would be forced out of business. Genetic bankruptcy is more than a concern, it is a stark reality that would ultimately lead to the extinction of wild horses in the West.

There is no “over population.” There is instead, competition for resources on public land.

If you give away a resource the horses rely on to an entity that operates in a subsidized fashion on public land, you have an “over population” of horses according to the agency. You have also created another avenue for public wealth to go into private pockets on the back of an already over burdened American tax payer.

The agency manages more public land than any other, approximately 262 million acres. All of that land is open to “multiple use,” two-thirds of it open to livestock grazing and a mere 10 percent is currently legal land for wild horse herds. Within that 10 percent, horses are often provided less than 2 percent of available resources.

Fences create artificial migration routes. Water sources are fenced off and roads are being widened for the high speed heavy truck traffic to accommodate expanding extractive interests. These extractive interests compete for water in arid western states. Their thirst for the liquid is rising at an alarming rate.

This agency determined that an “Appropriate Management Level” (AML) of horses for one Herd Management Area was sufficient at three animals. Why did they leave three? The BLM did not want their statistics to show another area “zeroed out” of wild horses.

Joan Guilfoyle is now sitting atop an agency guilty of severe fiscal mismanagement rooted in historic prejudice where private interests can profit. Its failed policy is running full steam toward disastrous consequence to the health of public land. Wild Horses are its chosen scapegoats. It is more than tragic that yet another bureaucrat who parrots the old regime has taken the helm.

Guilfoyle, claiming to have been at the Triple B roundup, states,

“It might be the one in a thousand that rears up against the corral and bumps up against the gate, and people go, ‘Oh my gosh, it got hurt,'” she said. “But that’s one out of thousand that came through more or less agreeably. Part of it, I think, is perception and understanding of what’s happening.”

First death at Triple B

I personally attended more roundups than any government personnel or public observer in the last eighteen months. I documented horrific incompetence and lack of the most basic of humane treatment. That documentation includes a nonstop testimony to numerous daily offensive actions. Triple B is no exception. Taylor, who accepted her words as Gospel, fell down on the job when not seeking where the truth lies.

Mr. Taylor cites one lawsuit that could not halt the roundup. Yet, he fails to cite the suit that succeeded in proving that the Agency is guilty of inhumane treatment. A temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued late last month by the Honorable Howard D. McKibben, a Nevada federal judge (Case 3:11-cv-608). His Honor expressed stern disapproval not only toward the conduct of the helicopter pilot who actually struck an exhausted horse, but toward the BLM’s justification process that “blames the horse” for such incidents The suit remains active in federal court. Meanwhile, Guilfoyle’s agency has yet to address Judge McKibben’s decision. Incredibly, the BLM refuses thus far to even recognize Judge McKibben’s remarks of his being “troubled” by the BLM’s conduct, nor has Guilfoyle’s agency issued parameters for pilot conduct in the wake of the judge’s ruling.

The press has yet to “do their job” and hold the government accountable as our forefathers intended they do when they wrote the Constitution. Taylor’s piece is evidence of spineless reporting where he fails to address press access issues in his warm “welcome aboard” message to Guilfoyle.

As camera lenses and observers catch atrocities, Guilfoyle’s agency closes its doors to observers instead of implementing corrective action. The BLM blames advocates for “not understanding” what they must do. Or, they”blame the horse” for “necessary” abusive treatment.

Two respected organizations, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the National Press Photographers Association, filed a brief in a pending Ninth Circuit appeal (Case 11-16088) over their concern for the Agency’s denigration of constitutional First Amendment “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” notions. The case addresses the repeated content control accomplished to minimize “bad press,” when Guilfoyle’s agency systematically excludes the press and public from viewing its horrific handling of wild horses captured from public lands. Remove the press and there is no problem.

It is more than a “shame on you” I send to Phil Taylor for failing to address either of these cases in his article. Mr. Taylor instead, chose the “easy way out,” avoiding the tough and gritty method real journalists employ when ferreting out the truth of their chosen topic. Taylor’s piece legitimizes an agency that is no friend either to America’s wild horse or to the true journalist.

Laura Leigh

Founder, Wild Horse Education

Vice President, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Plaintiff in the above mentioned Federal lawsuits

Terrified foal forced through the jute after his band was shattered and he was chased with only his mom into the trap, colliding with wings, Triple B

Alleged Inhumane Treatment Prompts Wild Horse Lawsuit

Now you know what I’ve been working on. I need your help to stay in the field and continue to develop a chain of documentation.

http://WildHorseEducation.org

Donations can be made to support Litigation at Wild Horse Freedom Federation. You can mark your donation “HUmane Case” or donate to the general fund to help pay cost for other ongoing Litigation efforts.

Orphan at Triple B

Feds found to be in violation of own humane standards

HOUSTON, (WHFF) – Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) filed a lawsuit and companion Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Federal Court in Reno Nevada on Wednesday, 8/24/2011. Through their Plaintiff, Laura Leigh, the issue of “humane treatment” will enter into a Courtroom.

The Wild Horse and Burro Act that passed unanimously in 1971 was done with the expressed intent of protecting the “living symbol of the pioneer spirit of the West.” Yet questions of humane treatment, including basic care like water and feed, often come into question during actual roundup operations.

Now 40 years later the question of “humane care” will have its “day in Court.”

“Day in, day out, roundup to roundup, I see the same issues,” said Leigh WHFF, VP and Founder of WHE (Wild Horse Education.org), “lack of water in holding, feed given inappropriately and a pilot that flies dangerously close, including contact with an exhausted animal. When you view these animals in their natural state and then witness the disregard given to our symbol of freedom, it is a direct blow to your soul.”

Leigh has witnessed more roundups than any government or public observer in the last 18 months. She has spent countless hours documenting wild herd behavior and the process these horses face once they are removed from the range.

BLM states it operates under regulation 43 CFR 4700, including the following definitions:

Humane treatment means handling compatible with animal husbandry practices accepted in the veterinary community, without causing unnecessary stress or suffering to a wild horse or burro.

Inhumane treatment means any intentional or negligent action or failure to act that causes stress, injury, or undue suffering to a wild horse or burro and is not compatible with animal husbandry practices accepted in the veterinary community.

“Accountability within the actual activities of the BLM has been an ongoing issue,” states WHFF President R.T. Fitch “actually finding an avenue to address the core intent of Legislation has been almost impossible. If this is an issue that needs to land in a Federal Court to actually begin a dialogue than that is exactly what we will do.”

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Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with 501c3 status pending.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands. WHFF is funded exclusively through the generosity of the American public.

 

NOTE: The lawsuits have been transferred to http://WildHorseEducation.org