Tag Archives: WH&B

Elderly BLM STALLIONS recently gathered from Sulphur, Utah – found homes!

21 May

A WEDNESDAY FEEL GOOD STORY: The Elderly BLM STALLIONS recently gathered from Sulphur, Utah – found homes! – Horse and Man.

Lots of feel good stories from the previous internet adoption auctions, but this one was pretty exceptional – advocates and rescuers working together sharing photo posts about the horses and 2 jennies [Rosemary (necktag 5237) and Rosebud (necktag 5431), at Mantle Ranch which are on the upcoming internet adoption again] . I was totally surprised to see that all the elderly sulphur horses were adopted and some of them at sanctuaries.

Wild horse in holding at Elm Creek, NE Do you recall when several mares had been taken out of the auction? They were taken out because they were foaling. I found out a few hours ago that the ladies who won a few auctions and also arranged transport for the 3 sulphur sale authority stallions to go to the Black Hills of South Dakota …well the really GREAT news is that those two ladies have arranged that those mares and foals will be joining the stallions at Black Hills. Be sure to donate a couple bucks if you can.

Mantle Ranch, WY necktag 9900

Mantle Ranch, WY necktag 9900

Since the BLM WHB facebook page usually posts 5 or 6 horses available for the internet adoption auction on their page that may only help those 5 or 6 horses or burros. Photos are ‘deal clinchers’ – photos motivate – while words could be just too good to be true.  When horse lovers see a photo of a horse, if that’s the horse they’ve been hoping to have, they join the auction.  It’s the photos that motivates them to try to win that horse at the auction.

Join this facebook event if you want to help share photo-posts of the wild horses and burros in the June 2, 2015 -> BLM Wild Horse and Burro Internet adoption starting June 2, 2015

© 2011 afroditi katskis

Triple B, Newark Valley temp holding pens August 24, 2011 © 2011 afroditi katskis


Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting on September 11, 2013 – Roxie June Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture Presentation

27 Sep

Note to my readers:

   AS I watched the live-stream and the captured text, I noticed various problems with the captioning. It is evident to me that voice recognition software was used to capture the text from the speakers instead of a professional transcriber like a court reporter.

 There are many words here that are not spelled correctly. When trying to read this captured text, and the word is unintelligible, trying saying the word out loud phonetically. I hesitated to change any text or make corrections as I did not want to be accused of modifying it to suit any particular persons benefit or detriment. Please consider this not as an essay, but more as notes and a guide for further conversations.

–  When you see this: >>   it means theres a change of speaker. Sometimes the live-stream captioning added the names of the speakers and sometimes it did not.

–  The multiple dash  – means that live captioning dropped some text.

–  Sometimes the live captioning repeated the beginning of a sentence and sometimes whole sentences were dropped.

Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting on September 11, 2013

Roxie June Planner, Department of Agriculture, Navajo Nation

Roxie June, Planner, Department of Agriculture, Navajo Nation

Roxie June Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture Presentation September 11, 2013

>> Roxie June: Okay. (Speaking Navajo) my name is Roxie June and I’m a principle planner with the Navajo nation Department of Agriculture. I was asked to come here and present on behalf of Navajo nation. We are working — I am going to be tell you about the feral horse roundups that we’re conducting on the Navajo nation and we’re working in partnership with the Department of Natural resource — I’m sorry, the Department of Resource enforcement and the Bureau of Natural resources BIA and Navajo nation chapters. I’m going to be going through all of these subjects here. I’m going let you know a little bit about our department, how much the Navajo nation has invested, what sort of support we have within the nation, the listing of the chapters that support our efforts, the number of horses we’ve captured, and what the feral horse roundup process is and some pictures regarding the land conditions.

First of all, we’re with the Navajo nation Department of Agriculture and if you go to our Web site, you will see some information regarding some of the public hearings we’ve been having since last year. The feral livestock is a huge problem on the Navajo nation. And one of the issues we’re addressing right now is just solely the feral horse population and we are also working with department resource enforcement. They’re the legal enforcement of animals on the Navajo reservation and that’s the Web site if you want to go and find out more about the Department of Resource enforcement.

And we are under the executive branch of the Navajo nation. We’re under the division of natural resources. There’s several programs or departments under division of natural resources and if you look at VRE which is resource enforcement, they have 22 personnel, 16 are certified law enforcement officers, MDA has 29 total people el and we have three programs — grazing management, tribal ranch program and veterinary program. 

And these are some of the taf staff and equipment that are invested by all of these organizations in the livestock roundup. So we have staff that are actually out there in the field. Administrative support that handle all the paper paperwork in the office, vehicles on the ground, livestock trailers, flatbeds, ATVs. As you can see there’s a lot of capital equipment that is being used and this is equipment that’s used every single day. So our horse trailers are travel back and forth under the central processing unit out.field. They’re getting beat up. We’re changing tires constantly, we’re welding and repairing livestock trailers. The panels get beat up. All these equipment are being used in the field. Just this year Navajo nation has invested 4,000 — $600,000 due to the continuing drought conditions. And part of that investment is ronding up feral horses.

On July 18th, 2013, the Navajo nation council unanimously approved a resolution in the amount of 1 — approximately $1.4 million for feral livestock roundup and one of their conditions is just concentrate on horses only. And then a week later, president Shelly does sign that legislation putting it into law. And then on the 31st, the funds were made available to each of the departments and we have a little under two months to get all that spent. And the funds are only available for this fiscal year which ends in September, however, we have requested to carry it over to next year and there is a current state of emergency regarding the drought conditions so those are how the amounts are divvied out of that total amount. Budget is for personnel, travel, air — those are all the items that we’re using the budget for.

And some of the general information is 25 temporary staff have been hired, they’re being paid $8.44 an hour, the youngest 19. You know, because the wage is so low, most of the gentlemen are in their early 20s. 59% of the funds have been expended. Part of the funds are for direct payments to the chapters. Chapters invest their personnel and capital assets as well and we’re looking at reimbursing the chapters at $30 per horse captured in their chapter and 25 is what is allowed or — 250,000 is what’s allowed budgeted for all the chapters across the Navajo nation. Our department is providing for the temporary staff mileage, meals, lodging, safety equipment, communication equipment. We’re paying for hey, feed, water and we’re also paying for herd health for the rider’s horses. Field staff and NDA we have three program staff, six extension agents.

In addition to the temporary staff. BIA has one or more of the represents at each of the roundups, eastern usually has three or more per site. Resource enforcement has at least two rangers per site in order to ensure compliance with the laws and also for enforcement reasons. Shims the community people do get upset so we to make sure we have law enforcement there. Navajo chapters also have volunteer and paid staff for all these roundups and the Department of Resource enforcement provides hay, feed and water to the horse that’s are captured.

Just an estimate of August and September, 370 driving hours to transport laborers and captured horses. We’ve driven over maybe $7,000 to transport the laborers, horses and equipment. We’ve gone at least 66 transporting trips. And we are limited with the number of available trucks trailers, if we go to chapters working team have more trips. Though were were given money to buy bigger trucks and bigger trailers, takes time to go through the bidding process of the Navajo nation. So all the capital equipment are still waiting to be received. We’ve bid them out. We processed through our financial system and a lot of the equipment is specialized so we have to wait for the vendor selects to send in order to manufacturers and then when it becomes available, they’ll send it to us so that’s where wore at on the capital equipment. Until we receive that equipment, we’re doing multiple trips. The support when he is from the Navajo nation president. The council our division supports and also Navajo nation chapters, far, 65 chapters have approved resolutions requesting for roundups which is 73% of the entire Navajo nation chapters. Roundup resolutions continue to be submitted and we are working with the chapters letting them know what the process is, how they can submit a request. Again, the resolution was unanimously passed by the Navajo nation council. And the reason was to address extreme drought conditions on the Navajo nation. The president’s in full support.

Thus far, only one chapter has voteed to oppose the rondeup and that was Oho in eastern agency. One chapter did rescind roundup resolution recently I believe it was last week or the week before. Right now 36 chapters are on the waiting list for community roundup. I didn’t include the August and September rondeup schedule. However, if you look at August and September, almost every single day of that month we have at least two to three roundups per day. And the reason we’re doing that — the reason we’re limited to that is because of our personnel. The rangers are tired, everybody is tired. This is almost like a 24-hour operation where we’re trying to get this done by the end of the fiscal year. We’re trying to get it done before the monsoon season you about we didn’t get make that. But we are continuing to work as hard as we can — but..

This funding is expended, we won’t have temporary personnel. So we’re going to go back to regular personnel which is 4-5 individuals. Same with the rangers. However, we will still have the capital equipment that we are purchasing. We’ll have a lot of equipment but we’ll be challenged with the labor. Here’s a listing of the chapters that have submitted their resolutions and a lot of the resolutions are multi-year continuing resolutionses, they’re not just for specific day and time. We also have our district grazing community members that want to be 5 days per roundup. But due to the enormous requests limited staff, limited equipment, we’re trying to keep it to 2 to 3 days for each roundup.

Here’s a report made by Department of Resource enforcement a couple days ago. They had captured 899 feral horses, each is processed by the rangers and they mark and they record every single horse they have an 8 by 10 sheet that says they’re branded, not branded. They have what brand is on there, the color of the horse, any markings. They keep meticulous records. And those that are branded are kept for 2-3 days for the owner to show up and claim the horse. When this do show up and claim the horse, they have to make sure that whoever brings in the grazing permit that that’s the individual named on the permit, that the brand matches what’s on the horse, the markings, et cetera, to ensure horse does belong to that individual and then they’ll release the horse. However, if they find through their investigation that this individual actually has more horses than is permitted, then they will keep the horse and sell the horse. We try it get them out immediately, if not the same day, the unbranded horses we try to remove immediately because it just costs too much to water them, to feed them, to hold them. And so we try to remove the horses as soon as possible. Again, meticulous records are kept by the Department of Resource enforcement on each and every horse that is captured in the field.

The process is you get community support at the Navajo nation chapters. We’re not — we are not just traveling the reservation capturing any and everything. We go only if the chapter supports it. Only if the chapter membership votes and says yes, this is what we want. And then we’ll meet with them, we’ll plan with them, we’ll help them along the way. We’ll show up at a scheduled date and time and along with their personnel, our personnel, then we capture the horses ans then we remove the horses. So we don’t go out there and just capture any and everything. When we don’t have a roundup schedules, we’ll do right of way pickups where our equipment and our personnel will drive all the right-of-ways.

A. Not all the right-of-ways but we’ll designate certain areas but we’ll travel the right-of-ways and pick up anything and everybody. Donkeys, horses, sheep, et cetera. Then we’ll pick them up and again only in the fenced right-of-ways, we don’t go outside the fences and chase animals in there.

This is the process for how to request a chapter roundup. We do presentations almost on a daily basis letting the chapters know this is the process and all roundups are done according to Navajo nation law. What happens during the roundup, first they meet with a debriefing group. They do the roundup according to the chapter plan. The horses are captured, placed in a holding pen. Once they’re in a holding pen, they’re considered Navajo nation property. The department loads up the horses and transports it to a central processing facilities and they document all the horses and then they’re and then they’re sold to a buyer and the buyer takes the horses. That’s what happens during the roundup. It’s all done according to Navajo nation law.

The reason this is done is because of land condition. Feral horses, livestock overpopulation, continuous drought condition. Arid land base climate change. All of this is documented by the Bureau of Natural resources, BIA. They’ve done range inventory utilization studies, if you go to our Web site, you’ll see some of the BIA information there. The U.S. Geological Society has also been doing some studies on the Navajo nation. EPA, the Department of Public safety has information people that have het livestock on the highway. It’s just a vicious cycle. At some point we’ve got remove some of the elements.

Here’s some of the pictures, here’s some of the horses. Some of the horses especially before the monsoon were in very bad condition. Skinny, a lot of flea or insects on them. Some of them have hooves that are very long. They have bites and scars I guess from fights within the herds. And on the right is the Department of Resource enforcement holding facility.

Here’s one of the buyer trucks. And on the other side is where Department of Resource enforcement is — the way they process the horses, they separate them out. The horses that are too little, those — the buyer has certain standards and he can’t purchase horses, the smaller horses so they’ll have to release those back on the Navajo nation until they get a little bit bigger, this is a picture of Nashtidi (sp) appreciate area. If you in the area there’s pedestaling where you see a plant which is the root and on the bottom is a lot of sand. So this was taken last year. And the information on the slight from the U.S. Geological Society drought conditions 1994, climate change is influencing drought impacts in the southwest, long-term trends of decreasing temperatures and snowfall. 

Observation from the elders these trends have an impact on the plant and animal population. These are some of the pictures that they took. Though it looks pretty nice in 2011 or in 2010 and then 2011. Those are some of the spring vegetation surveys that they took.. These are some more information from the USGS. Although we’re currently in the monsoon season and we’re getting a lot of rain, because of the past 4 forage depletions, a lot of the that you see out there actually not noxious weeds and once the rain stops and if the drought conditions continue, you’re going to go back to the same forage depletion type areas and this is conditions livestock and feral conditions are in. It’s not healthy for either one of them.

Tracked it from I believe the within 1950s to recently. So you can see this is actually growing every year. This is a picture from the mini farm area. I believe it’s called wind evaly and those homes there are constantly under attack by the dunes. It’s to the point where they have to get the chapter to bring their — to bring their tractor over and start pushing the dunes back, start filling up their windows and building up against their homes. In the black Mesa roof rock area, people have gone to town in the morning and in the afternoon they come — or in the evening, late evening at night, they come back some people have gotten into an accident because the sand actually moved onto the road just from that morning and they didn’t know about it. So they ran into the sand dunes and crashed.

And the president has also made statements where he’s flown over the res everybody Asian and he can see the sand from the sky. You go over the res reservation, you can see where all the sand movement is when there’s high winds like in April, the storms are just — the sand storms are terrible to the point where you have to pull over to the side of the road because you can’t see. You can’t drive. And it’s just in the Chinley area, very, very bad. There’s a lot of places thousand out the reservation when those high winds come up, you can’t see there’s just too much sand in the air.

This is some of the erosion now that monsoon is here with the drought conditions, dry earth, rains come and flood the earth. This is a couple weeks ago, I think it’s a tractor. In fact, some of our Randups were cancelled because the roads were washed out and they weren’t accessible for vehicles and livestock trailers. So right now with the monsoon season that’s what we’re experiencing as well. This was just taken yesterday in the upper fruit land area. And in the Chinley area, I understand they’re having massive floods right now and they have set up a rescue center at the chapter house. I know this is a bad report, but you know, we’re hopeful for the future. So —

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Roxie, thank you for your presentation, what kind of population do you think there are?

>> Roxie: Due to limited funds we haven’t done the survey. We did get money for aerial surveys, that’s one of the things that we’ll be working on. However, our estimates are we es mat of 200 per chapter, you get the 10,800 permit and there’s — we’re looking at 50 to 25,000 horses. Some of the chapters especially on the borders, they do make concerns statements to us saying that people from off reservation because we have open grazing, we’ve heard from some of the chapters that el people will come, load the organizations and they’ll just you know, deposit them on the reservation. We don’t know, estimate from 50 to 75,000.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Any questions for Roxie from the board?

>> Roxie June: If you look at everyday life, for instance I got funding for school garden so I budgeted for you know, seeds and irrigation, whatever. Once I met with the schools, one of the first things they asked was — even though all the schools are fenced 0 off, they say somehow the horses, the animals get in. So to do the school garden, the very first thing I have to do is dig fencing. And that’s how the feral horse population is affecting our schools, our everyday life, that is part of it.

>> JUNE SEWING: The Hopi reservation, what is their situation, is it similar?

>> Roxie: The Hopi reservation has very strict grazing control. They have (Jim) assume they have better funding for resource enforcement because they’re very good at enforcing grazing on their land. So their land is actually in very excellent condition and I know I’ve heard I’ve heard from pueblos that say when the wind comes all that wind is coming from Navajo. If you look at Hopi, they’re very good strict with their resource enforcement, they take good care of their land. They have people on the ground an allelicy enforce it with people.

If you’re on the Hopi reservation and there’s a big wind, you’ll see all the stabbed and storms from our reservation going on to their reservation and that’s one of the things that USGS is saying as well is that all this sand from the reservation, our reservation is likely impacting the snow caps in Colorado when the know is carried to the peaks, the comfort snow is carried to the peaks the sun bounces off them and melts the snow earlier. So, if we don’t get help, you know — just because we’re on the ref 7I, we have all this land, all these communities, all states arounds and it’s affecting this them as well..

>> JAMES DALE STEPHENSON: I appreciate you come here and talking. I worked for 17 years for Yakima station in the State of Washington and was in charge of the horse situation there. This is happening throughout the country on Indian reservations. But there are too many surplus horses, really destroying the land and really affecting people’s lives. So thank you very much.

>> Roxie June: In some of the remote areas of the reservation where people don’t have running water, the horses are actually competing with the people for the water. When people come to the windmill, the horses drank up all the water. And even though people aren’t supposed to use windmills for their homes, they do. Because that’s the nearest and closest and least expensive way for them to get water, they use it for daily household work or needs for agriculture. So at some of these windmills, the horses come if you go right when the sun is starting to come up, you’ll see 20, 30, 50 horses athe windmill drinking the water.

By the time people come for water, there’s no water so they have to wait for the water to be pumped back up and last year when we were doing the roundup, there was an area in the Chinley area where there was a natural feed area and the horses were fighting each other just to get a little tiny stream and they were killing some of the females, they were killing the foals. The bigger more powerful horses. The horses are fighting each other out there when there’s not enough water for them.

This year we’ve had calls from chapters where the earth dams had dried up and left conditions sandy muddy clay so the horses were getting — they were so weak from lack of forage, lack of water that they were getting stuck in the clay. And so you could just see the carcass and the bones and stuff from the animals that had gotten stuck at the earth dam area. So the BIA actually came in and they provided financing materials for the chapter so they fenced off some of the earthen dams to avoid that — fenced acre in the Easton area they had animals dying and they wanted us to remove the carcass. It was actually the owner’s responsibility so the owner had to get a tractor, dig it up and bury the carcasses, so that’s part of why we do these roundups as well because it’s better for us to remove live animals than to deal with dead carcasses.

On the ref serve Asian it’s so isolated that we have to we have to pick up the animals and take them to place that accepts carcasses and that can cost anywhere from — I don’t know, 70 or 80 to over $100 per carcass. So that adds more cost. And so — and this is from or vet program, you know, if they have an animal that comes in in bad condition, they try to treat it. If they don’t live, then we do haul them away. But, if there’s mass carcasses out on the reservation, interests no way for us to handle them. It will cause a lot of problems in terms of human and other safety issues. So to deal with carcasses, we’re trying to avoid that. We’re trying to remove them while they’re still alive.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: John Falen has one more question for you.

>> I know we’re short of time here so we’ve got to move right along, but what percentage of this number of horses, 50 or 75,000 have you been able to round up and ship and was your goal of that number of horses? To round up and actually get shipped?

>> Roxie: If we have an estimate of 50-75 and in one month we’ve only rounded up a thousand, that’s just very, very low percentage. And with the monsoon season, it’s very difficult to capture the horses. Those horses are very smart and you know, our riders out there have said that the horse know how to get down low on the ground and hide. They used the actual canyon landscape. To actually in Easton area it’s very open. There’s not a lot of trees. It’s very, very difficult to catch those horses. And again with the monsoon season, they don’t gather at the wind mills any more. Now there’s natural springs, waters, there’s places they can get water. So it’s a lot harder now to capture them.

>> John: Gather on horseback, huh?

>> Roxive: Yes, we are gathering them on horseback and they use ATVs but I’m not sure to what extent. I know with had two ATVs and some of them did get damaged so I believe most of the gathering is done by horseback.

>> John: You do have an out let for all the horses?

>> Roxie: What we do for the horses captured is there are livestock trader permits that are secured secured through the Bureau of Natural resources. They have a permit process. You have to be bonded. I’m not sure what the other criteria are so I’m not sure how many livestock trader permits are out there. But people would have the livestock trader permits are the buyers we deal with. And the reason we do that, the reason we don’t just have a sale and just say well whoever can — you know wants to buy a horse, you’re welcome to take it is we found, you know, in the very beginning several years ago — and we’ve been doing horse roundups for a long team now so it’s not just something that’s year or last year.

We’ve been doing it for some time because of the continuing drought conditions, we found if we sold them to an individual, what they would do is they would take it to the border town, to the flea market. They would buy it for maybe $30, take it to the flee market, sell it for 2 or $300. Navajo person or person living on the he are serve Asian would buy that horse and bring it back to the rereservation. So when we’re doing roundup, we were finding the same horse two or three times.

So you know, as we experienced these type of things, we had to become more strict and say okay, we need to remove these horses so they don’t come back. So by dealing only with the buyer with a trader’s permit, that’s how we’re able to make sure those horses don’t come back. And there’s an individual that has a valid grazing permit and we’ve captured their horse more than two times, we let him know, we’ve captured it this time and this time. We’re not giving it back to you. So —

>>Boyd Spratling b thank you very much for traveling to Washington to give us this information maybe with we’re out west we can get an update.

>> Roxie: You guys are always welcome to come visit us or join us on one of the roundups. You’re welcome to come see the hand and see what we’re doing with it.

>> TIM HARVEY: I just wanted to point out for people who proposed self-limitation as an option, this is a perfect example of why self-limitation is simply not an option.

>> I agree.

>> TIM HARVEY: It’s just not an option.

>> Roxie: We cannot afford to hold those horses not evenly for one or two days. We have so many challenges, economic, social. We should be out there helping people farm. We should be helping them do conservation, that’s what we should be doing but we’re not. This is mostly what we’re doing is trying to capture — it’s not just horses but we’re dealing with dogs. We’re dealing with it’s just a lot of problems to deal with. It would be nice to get some help.

>> Get this word to Congressmen and people in Congress.

>> Roxie: We sent a letter out and the backlash we’ve gotten is Navajos are killing horses. All these tribes consider horses sacred and this is what the Navajos are doing. So instead of offering any help, instead of trying to find out what the problem is, it’s just a backlash of you’re murdering horses. And that’s not what we’re trying to do.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Thank you very mu.

Please Comment on the BLM Plan to Eradicate Wyoming Herds Today!!

27 Sep

Please Comment on the BLM Plan to Eradicate Wyoming Herds Today!!.

URGENT: Please send comments before 4 p.m. MST today to BLM_WY_RockSpringsRMP@blm.gov
with the subject line ‘Wild Horse Scoping’ or to the fax number (307) 352-0329.

They are due by the end of business today. That is:

6:00 PM. EST east coast
5:00 PM CST central states
4:00 PM MST mountain states
3:00 PM PST west coast

READ MORE HERE: Please Comment on the BLM Plan to Eradicate Wyoming Herds Today!!.

Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting Sept 10, 2013 Arlington, VA

10 Sep

Very sorry folks, but I missed the very beginning of the presentations partially because I thought it started at 9:00 am EST and partially because the batteries in my mouse died. Since I missed a great deal of the the morning presentations, please take the time and make some comments below for the rest of us.

I thought it would be a good idea to capture the text for a couple of reasons. First, so that those who did not attend in person or watch the live-stream, would know what was said. Secondly to help those that did attend in person or watch the live stream to be able to refresh their memories and be able discuss what was presented at the meeting.

Yesterday’s post was exceedingly long so today I decided to break up the day’s proceedings at the breaks. There were four sessions today: two in the morning and two in the afternoon.  The last session was reserved for attendees to make their comments and address the Advisory Board about their concerns.

Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting Sept 10, 2013

up to the first morning break

This text is as it came from the captioning feature on the live-stream; no edits, spell checks or grammar was corrected — no editing except I broke the text into smaller paragraphs to make it more readable.  

…and science can be used to determine whether or not that has a negative effect or not. But certainly that’s a valid hypothesis. 

>> Boyd, can I — 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Can I ask a few questions? 

>> TIM HARVEY: I didn’t know if you were going to go somewhere else. I just wanted to use John’s comment as a segue, that’s all. I’ll be as brief as I can possibly be, which isn’t always easy. 

I just wanted to use as a segue for a quick comment is people keep referring back to over AML, over AML. Over AML. And what you guys have pointed out which I’m going to reiterate and what John just brought up, AML, by what you guys have found, is not based on good science. What we’re using as AML now. And the differentiation that you pointed out how horses utilize land isn’t being looked at in establishing AML. So what John just brought up is what I said before and I support John’s questions here 100%, that the top priority here that you guys have brought to the table is that AML needs to be re-evaluated, looked at. They need to consider the differences in how horses are utilizing this land and that — and then AML needs to be reviewed on every single HMA and re-established using good science that you guys are helping bring to the table. So that’s pretty much — 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Thank you, Tim. I have a couple questions, it seems like a lot of this is based on the handbook, the staff, for the horse specialist may not be complete or written as well as it could be to reflect perhaps what some of the procedure are within the district and we’re talking about — there is little science. I mean, looking at that handbook, perhaps there’s little science going into that process of setting AML. And maybe I’m bouncing a little bit off what Callie asked is that the other processes, the range people and other people that are out there doing the monitoring on these allotments perhaps are putting more science in to that process than is being reflected in the handbook. And at district level, those offices are all sitting next door to one another. And I’m wondering if perhaps the handbook doesn’t reflect some of the process that goes on within that district and their staff. Could that be a case? 
>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: I think the handbook is a set of recommendations that districts should be using with an effort to make processes more consistent. But I think — and Mike may address this as well — it’s just not specific enough to assure that consistency. 
>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: The handbook itself? 



>> There’s a huge emphasis on land health on how management objectives should be set but there’s not much in the handbook about assessing land health. If there was more specificity about how you do that in the handbook, that would be helpful. So it’s not just how much forage there is but what are the impacts of the animals on the landscape. And the thriving ecological balance if you want to think of that, instead of land health. But there should be some more specificity about the methodology for that so that you know, different areas within the BLM are on the same page. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Okay, you talked a lot about alternative stable states and being theory and cutting edge that piques a little question in my mind. Is there really a good science to back up that theory? Because you made quite a point that it’s theoretical now but at cutting edge. So do you feel comfortable from your position that there’s good science to back up that model? 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: Yes, I do. It’s an emerging area but it’s been around for quite a while. That theory has been in existence for quite some time now actually. It’s just a difficult thing to study scientifically. There’s still ate lot of work to be done — but it’s accepted. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: I’m sorry, go ahead. 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: I wanted to add that as opposed to a lot of other ways of looking at vegetation change, it’s very much a data driven modeling process, unfortunately we don’t have the data in a lot of cases you build your hypothesis about how these things work based on whatever, you know. and then as information accumulates, you adjust and refine the model. So it fits really well with a system where you’re learning through experiments Asian and observation as you go. Experimentation and observation as you go. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: You’re setting hypothesis, you’re instituting an action, you monitor that and see if it’s working for you. I think in medicine or anything else those are very good principles. So — but it fosters flexibility, also. For a number of things that BLM is doing on public lands and dealing with natural resources. So I — I’m happy to hear that you’re promoting that particular situation. I have a few questions about resilience. And you know, I’m kind of the — have learned maybe some of the older methods when an area or a site, ecological site crosses a threshold into a different state, that you know, that’s what the threshold meant that they — it probably won’t return. Now I’m hearing that — is it just a different way of looking at it or now we’re talking about perhaps crossing back into the previous state, across that threshold. I’m a little bit confused by that. 

>> The resilience comes into the strength or the level to which a system is going to be within a certain state and resist perturbations. So, if you think of how much perturbation it requires to push a system over the threshold, that involves the concept of resilience. That will be more resistent to perturbations and more likely to stay in a certain state and be able to push into a threshold. 

>> You’re not saying they’re more likely to come back than previously you’re just saying being perturbed more there’s resistance to 0 crossing that threshold. Not necessarily coming back. 

>> Yes. 

>> Okay, excuse me. 

>> A little bit of drought and her herbivory. I have to be a a little bit on track with what Callie said here on the amount herbivory followed by drought or stress or that system is kind of a hand in hand thing as opposed to one versus the other. Is that correct? If you have arcments that have been grazed down — arrangements that have been grazed down by whatever species, then you have drought following that, those plants going into that drought in a debilitative state. Is that correct? We’ll have more chance of being able to — those are the ones that animals are continually going after, stress harder and have a greater chance of being pushed out in a drought situation. 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: They should be considered hand in hand as part of an interacting system. The climate affects the response to herbivory and herbivory also affects the response to climate. So you have to consider both at the same time definitely. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Callie is getting itchy next to me here so go ahead and ask your question. 

>> CALLIE HENDRICKSON: Thank you. Is there a way to tell the amount of energy in a root system, let’s say. So can we tell when they’re getting to a point they’re not going to be able to come back? Or do be just have to wait until the plan — we just have to wait until the plant is gone to know that it’s dead. 

>> Too far? 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: Well you can measure below ground biomass, plant cover, basilar cover. You can measure the carbohydrates content and then the nutrient content of the below ground structures. Yes, there’s ways to get at th


>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: What it means is less clear. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Ed, do you have . 

>> Ed ROBERSON: I’m happy to hear you talk about resilience, the managers I’ve met that have done that have stayed in business. And healthy rangelands. If we’re talking about putting things in the handbook, to manage for rangeland health based on the concept of REI resilience, we all walk around and look at land, are there things you would see or metrics you would suggest given the fact that there’s limited time and limited money (Rick Danvir) that could be measured by eye and/or from the sky. But what are some cothings you’re looking at to tell you whether on those areas that are in an — a good state, a state that seems to meet the requirements of the animals there now, how can you tell whether that is tending towards resilience or whether it’s a risk? 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: Well, I can tell you one big thing that really affects resilience and that’s soil and condition of the soil and loss of the soil. When you lose soil, you lose vegetation resilience. So that occurs to me right off the bat. 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: I was going to say nutrient cycles, water cycling. Or functioning hydrologic processes. Those kinds of processes contribute to resilience. 

>> Rick: In other words, is water getting into the ground as opposed to running off the ground, that kind of thing. And you could pick some of that up — I mean, we both can see it walking around. Could you also pick some of that up fairly well from remotely? 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: In as much as you can sense bare ground and the dynamics of bare ground versus the vegetation cover. But I think that would have to be linked to some degree to on the ground verification. But using the two together, the remote sensing along with the ground based verification would be a big improvement, I think. 

>> Rick: One thing I think I’m hear with limited time and energy, bare ground is a pretty good initial metric we can use to tell us especially if we have trend information? You know, to to give you a clue whether we’re moving in a positive or towards a bad — in a bad direction or tending towards resilience. 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: Yeah, trend would be good. Because how bare ground has changed over time would be important. I have to fall back on the ecologist statement, it depends. And it depends on the ecosystem. 

>> Rick: That’s true. There’s going to be greater difference — quite a difference between southern Arizona and northern Great Plains. 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: Absolutely. 

>> Rick: So you have to look at a particular HMA or region long term under different precipitation conditions. 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: When you mentioned southwest, some people think that more spatial definition between plants is important and it’s one of the problems we’re having with fire and invasive species is they come in and fill up some of the bare ground. So it really is a matter of each — knowing each place and that’s why we need these models and — for specific . 

>> Rick: They were talking about species would be important or annuals versus perennials. 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: Absolutely. Species and climates and topography, all those things are a factor.

>> Rick: Last question. We talk a about allocating forage and forage budgets. But given the fact that we’re in unpredictable environments — and I’m just thinking about some of the range managers or ranchers that are still in business that I’ve run across — some of the more successful ones are not thinking just about do I have enough forage for this year for my cows, my elk, whatever. But what about next year? What if it doesn’t rain next year? Have I grown enough this year to carry me through next year. So talking about forage allocation, in your minds, would it be appropriate that — to consider maintaining, you know, adequate forage out there for the needs of wildlife and horses, which aren’t going to go anywhere? Over multiple years given unpredictable weather? 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: I think you should consider that variability in how much forage is available aif you’re managing for — and if you’re managing for good horse condition, good body condition in the horses over a multiple time — year time period, you either have to be prepared for the condition to go down in the bad years or you have to ensure that there’s some forage bank that they can draw upon in those dry years. It depends on your management objective. I mean if you think that that’s the way the system should be managed, you know, according to the management objectives for that piece of land, that’s what you should do. But others would argue that natural ecosystems are naturally variable and there will be years when animals are in poor condition and they’ll be hungry animals out there. 

And that’s just the way it works. Rick Dan virginia: I’m thinking about being a wildlife manager and quail and greater sage crass from being listed and I know there’s a relationship with herbaceous cover and you know, vital rates that you can measure on those animals. That’s part of what I’m throwing in there too is not just in terms of eating but some of the other users that are — you know that are out the

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: Sure. But you also have to consider the natural variability of some of these habitats that you know, if it’s a quail that lives in a dry habitat, then it must have evolved certain adaptations to be able to live in such a dry habitat. 
So it depen(Laughter) 

>> Rick: I think that’s a good point. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: At this point. Julie has a question. Let’s wait. Go ahead and is your question. 

>> JULIE GLEASON: I have a quick one. It’s speculative and outside the scope but I’m hearing different things that the modeling technique has been tested in the past. It’s a good technique and I’m hearing we need to test for whether the horsees are over AML, there’s not enough data in the field. How long do you think it would take to it incorporate a new model? Do you think we need to do a year research and maybe incorporation in one year, two years, tomorrow, next week? Just speculative. 

>> I do want to make the point that there’s a linkage here between Bob’s work and that if we don’t know how many horses are out there, it makes it — I mean, that’s an important step in being able to evaluate whether we’re below or above AML (Lynn). 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: I think you should think in terms of the long-term. As far as, like, developing your modeling capability. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. On the other hand, models already do exist and they can be drawn upon as a starting point. But there’s always room for improvements, and model testing and refinement and the ability to readily use some of these more complex models over a wide range of areas is challenging. And it’s going to require some work to develop that capability. So I think something can be done in the next couple of years, but I think you have to look at the long-term to really get to where you want to be with that. 

>> I was going to wait until after break and say something if this is on. But for the board members and for Mike and Lynn, we don’t have to start from zero. Because the AIM strategy, which we’ve signed (Ed robber son) is something we’ve developed since I’ve been here in my job. The eke logics of that handbook, we just celebrated the interagency completion of that handbook for range sites and still needs to be worked on for forage sites but we have that. And these things will apply to all our programs and it will take us a while to get them implemented.

 We’ve worked within RCS to get the natural resource inventory system with some — with sites random sites across the landscape so that we can track changes in our — in the habitat over time. And those key components, which also are factors in the sage Crouse and which — I missed the last meeting because I was at a sage grouse meeting. So that data will be used to inform all the decisions we make as we move forward. The landscape level assessments that we’re doing regionally in the west, they’re regionally rapid assessments, those are to bring science to our decision making and they include predictive models that talk about fragmentations and the effects of climate change and those things are being rolled out by our state directors and by our field offices. We — we’re working with landscape conservation cooperatives in the west. Multi agency NGOs universities.

We’re working with the science infrastructure that has been established in the west. The — well across the nation, climate science centers at USGS established. We — while we don’t see ourselves as a — let’s say a research science organization, we have a lot of ologists and we have a lot of specialists whose academic credentials are significant and who bring that knowledge to the job every day. Brandon Besselmire, I worked with him extensively when I was in last screws cruiseis, Jeff Harek worked with him in Las Cruces. We’re trike to bring that science to the decision making. The land health standards tech notes and assessment guidance that we have applies to everybody. But — and at 10,000 person organization, when you’re field offices are struggling to meet their day-to-day workload, it’s hard for them to get that consistency and I think we — I’m only expressing facts as I see him to inform the board and I want to make sure that John and I — I mean, we’re going to talk a little bit about this tomorrow and work with you all.

I don’t want to filter the information you’re getting from others, but I also don’t want you to think that you know, we just came out of the dark ages to land management. We — you know, I did savory system in New Mexico. We looked at the effects of land grazing and how it might be applied. So I think there is a lot here. There’s a lot we’ve learned, there are a lot of recommendations we’re going to talk about tomorrow that we really need to carry forward and strengthen and there’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses that the NAS pointed out to us that we embrace and want to resolve. And I did want you to know that wear out there pushing remote sensing. We’re pushing GIS models and application and it just — it takes a while to get it through the organization. And so that’s — your question lifted me to that statement. I’m sorry. 

>> Well, I want to thank you. We found many good things going on. So I do agree. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Okay. Jim. 

[male board member speaking]>> I want to stop this off. I think it illustrates the real need to get rid of the excess horses out there in the range land. Because when you have — when you’re over AML, all you’re going to do is decrease the racker of that land over carrying capacity of the land over time. So I think it’s imperative that BLM get on the ball, get the surplus horses off the range so you’ve still got vegetation level. I spent the last 10 years managing horse herd there on the Yakima reservation. And at this point in time, we have about 10 times the number of horses that we have carrying capacity for. There are places there where there is absolutely no vegetation left. Recovery in that situation. Our carrying capacity is decreased manifold because of that. I think it’s imperative for the BLM to take action to get these horses off the range so they can maintain a sustainable habitat. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Thank you. 

>> Going back to the question of land that you say is you can’t be restoring it. Has any it thought been given to manually doing something about that? I realize that if, you know, if the land is totally devastated as we say beyond it. But, if it comes to a certain state, with some receding or that kind of thick, thing, you know, there’s been concern about water, well, the climate in those areas has not significantly changed in forage grew there to begin with. So, if there’s not some kind of way of rehabilitating that to that point because I know that you do there is reseeding done in areas where there’s been fire. They’ll fly over with seed to restore that. Is that something you’ve considered or is that a possibility? 

>> MIKE COUGHENOUR: Yeah. The idea of alternate stable space, that does not exclude the possibility of restoration. It’s just saying that it can be very difficult for restoration to be carried out. And it can be very expensive and maybe so expensive that it’s not even feasible to do it over large areas. It takes a lot of resources to do that. But we’re certainly not ruling out the possibility of restoration efforts. 

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: And again, seedings can be extremely useful. When we’re saying climate, sometimes we’re talking about weather. Some years we’ll have a good rainfall and seeding always goes better in a good rainful year. So when seeding is done, those will affect the outcome as well. 

>> JUNE SEWING: By utilizing seed or whatever it is that is indicative to that climate to begin with, you know, like I say, the total over all climate hasn’t changed. There are some years when it’s drought and some years when it’s wet. But you know, the forage has survived. And just as an aside, when you say that it is expensive, this is not basically your question is just a statement. Which the organization that I represent is willing to participate in monetarily in some of those areas. We’ve done it in the past where we have purchased the seed to do that kind of thing. So you know, for BLM to listen to that is, you know, would be helpful, I would think. Anyway, that was my. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: I think my type keeper standing against the wall. Do we need to do something different. How do you want to handle the break? Club club come back at — well, 25 minutes and/or the real thing is coming back at 10 after the hour. 

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: TNEB. And I’d like to thank Dr. Huntsinger and Dr. Cough in our for their time. We appreciate them coming.. 

(A break was

single horse

Federal Court Forces Interior Department to Consider Scientific Evidence Regarding Wild Horse Management | American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

10 May

Federal Court Forces Interior Department to Consider Scientific Evidence Regarding Wild Horse Management | American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

!! WOOHOO !!
“The Honorable U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell stated in her 23-page opinion that the agency

“may not simply remain studiously ignorant of material scientific evidence well known to the agency and brought directly to its attention in timely-filed comments.”

(Emphasis added.) She decisively rejected the BLM’s attempt to exclude the expert declarations from the agency’s decision-making process and affirmed that the Court would consider the “material scientific evidence” contained in the declarations as in future rulings in the case.”

Spin-Doc paid for with tax dollars spurs wild horse advocacy | Protect Mustangs

3 May The last horse of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chute area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

Spin-Doc paid for with tax dollars spurs wild horse advocacy | Protect Mustangs.

The BLM made a “documentary‘ that they are ONLY showing to BLM staff – one must wonder why ONLY  the staff can view it?

The BLM made a video that they are only showing to BLM staff!

Makes you wonder what’s in it and if they have used any updated ‘science’ or recent fossil discoveries of the origins of equines?  Or if maybe they have learned more about the dynamics of familial relationships of the wild horse and burro herds?

Also wondering why the public is barred from viewing this ‘documentary’?  If it is truly a ‘documentary’, and not a ‘spin-doc’, then everyone should be allowed to see it, WE have PAID for it!

White Foal and Grey Mare at Newark Valley, NV temporary holding pens, August 2011

Triple B, August 25 Newark Valley trap site

15 Oct The third band, 8 horses and one foal, running hard at the trap site.


Again we were told to meet at the Ely village park at 4:00 am which meant a 2:00 am wake up call and a 3:00 am departure from Cherry Creek. Today we had a different plan. Now Arla and Maureen knew where the trap site was in Newark Valley and they were going to do some scouting in the area looking for an appropriate vantage point. I was supposed to meet them at the 30 mile loop turn-off from route 50 at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The BLM caravan, Chris Hanefeld and Vanessa in the first car, followed the three HSUS reps, me and two rangers, heads out of town on Route 50 towards Newark Valley again. We arrived at Ruby Marsh Road and as soon as the vehicles in front of me hit the first patch of very dusty dirt road, I literally had to stop – I could not see the road! I wasn’t so worried that morning as I had been on this same road the day before. As I stopped to let the dust clear, the ranger behind me passed me and took off! Another cloud of dust to wait through! I found out later he was the new guy on the team that day and didn’t know all the correct protocols – i.e., a ranger is supposed to stay at the end of the caravan and not leave an observer behind.

Chris Hanefeld and the HSUS SUV were waiting for me at the temp holding pens. They were wondering what happened to me and I explained I chose to drive carefully within the 25 mph speed limit, and had to wait for the two plumes of dust to clear before I would drive on.

We got to the trap site and started walking over to the observation area when Chris got a message that the chopper was bringing in a band of horses. We hurried to get there and set up our cameras.

Early in the day I decided to ask Chris Hanefeld about the 500 foot clearance that the chopper was required to keep from people. Chris Hanefeld said the FAA rules is the reason why the observers were to keep 500 feet from the trap site. Chris added that the fuel truck was also supposed to keep 500 feet away from the trap site and the observation area since the chopper ‘hot-fueled’ there. [Hot-fueled – the chopper is fueled while the chopper engine is still running.]

The First Band

First Band is Sighted in Newark Valley

First Band is Sighted in Newark Valley

First band was found early and appeared to be brought in without incident but I had no idea how long or far they had been driven or where they had started? I could not see what was going on in the areas hidden from view due to the terrain but once I had a shot of what I presumed to be racing horses and chopper dust, I clicked to preserve the time. Sometimes it was not obvious until the cloud of dust got closer.

When I finally got a chance to view my work, I realized that the first and second band were really the same band; they were split into two groups. The first band consisted of 9 horses and two of them were foals. The first five were pushed into the trap site while the other four initially escaped by heading back down slope (north and away from the trap site). These four can be seen standing around in the background of a few shots while the first five were being pushed in the direction of the trap site. Each group had one foal.

The first half of the first band

The first half of the first band approach the trap site.

The First Band

The First Band

The second half of the first band.

The second half of the first band.

The Second Band

The second band is spotted north east of the trap site.

The second band is spotted north east of the trap site.

The second band was a different story – chopper drove the band a long time and a long way – photo time stamp shows that the chopper and horses were in view way down the valley at 7:45 am and were pursued until 9:07 am. This was the largest band of horses I saw at one time so far and they managed to escape! Made me feel real good especially after all the miles they ran!

The second band approaches the trap site.

The second band approaches the trap site.

The chopper ended up pushing them in a box pattern around the trap site and observation area and if my observations are correct they would have run more than six miles or more around us (this does not include when the horses reversed direction from time to time) nor does it include the miles they must have run just to get to the trap site.

The second band regrouping in the trap site area

The second band regrouping in the trap site area

As the horses approached the trap site, the grey mare was leading but three dropped from view and another horse took the lead away from the trap site leading the seven up the hill to the south behind the observation area. The chopper turned them around several times but the horses were determined and kept on heading south. At one point 3 reversed direction and headed south (uphill) the seven others headed north. The north bound horses reversed direction and headed back uphill the way the other 3 had gone. Next time I could see them, there were only nine horses! One had dropped out somewhere. The group of nine continue uphill until they took a right turn and ran west, crossing the road near the ranger parked on the road uphill (south) of the trap site; when this happened I was reaching for my next camera memory card and don’t have any photos of them crossing the road.

The band is headed south

The band is headed south. And one of the 10 makes a run for freedom.

The band is heading west

The band is heading west

{See photo gallery below for the photos in the order they were taken.}

After crossing the road they took another turn right and headed north on the other side of the road. Even though they were less than a mile away, they could not be seen due to the terrain until they were north of the trap site.

The second band has crossed the road we drove in on; this is south of the trap site area.

The second band has crossed the road we drove in on; this is south of the trap site area.

The second band running east just north of the ranger parked on the road.

The second band running east just north of the ranger parked on the road.

And again they made a right turn just north of the other ranger parked on the road and the horses continued east. The Ely district BLM had rangers parked on the road about a half mile away on either side of all the trap sites to control traffic should the chopper be driving horses into the trap site area.

Another right turn to head into the trap site but they won’t go there! The chopper continues pushing them and they go south once again, up the hill! As they head south, the chopper splits them up and after a few double-backs, a group of four horses and one foal escape into the trees while the other four horses head downhill (north) only to escape into the trees!

This band won this battle – they are in the trees and not coming out! If ever there was a band of wild horses I’d like to meet, it’s this band – the band that got away!

[There is a slideshow in the works of this band from start to escape which includes a lot more photographs than are posted here – it will be posted soon! in the meantime scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the gallery of photos at the trap site on August 25, 2011]

Immediately after this failure to catch wild horses, the chopper flies directly over the observation area – so close I could see the watch on the pilot’s wrist! At this point I turned to Chris Hanefeld and said, “500 feet?”

I watched theses horses be chased for one hour and twenty-two minutes, according to my camera. Several times I begged Chris Hanefeld to contact Ben Noyes and tell him to stop the helicopter but he refused as it ‘was not his job’ to tell the WHB specialist how to do his job.

The third band also had 10 horses, two were foals. This band was easily herded from the north east into the trap site. They were driven to the trap site through a depression in the terrain and therefore they were not viewable by my camera and half the time, neither was the chopper visible. This band stayed together throughout their stampede and unfortunately for them, they were trapped.

The third band is at the trap site.

The third band is at the trap site.


Everyone's eating dust at the trap site!

Everyone’s eating dust at the trap site!

The last hors of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chuted area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

The last hors of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chutted area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

Immediately after the third band was captured, they began loading the horses onto trailers. They trailered the foals separately. After trailering the foals, they started taking down the trap site.

[Short slide show of trailering is in the works…check back here real soon.]

I didn’t get to inspect the inside of the trailers they used to transport horses back to the temporary holding pens; I suspect it was the trailer they asked us to stand in on Saturday the 27th while we were observing during the Butte Valley trap site. That trailer did not have a skid-proof floor – bare metal! (more about this coming up soon.)

Newark Valley, Aug 24, 2011

1 Oct


Getting to the trap site

Another day of getting up at 2:00 AM, but this morning everything was ready to go: Cooler with water and food, car packed with camera gear, and coffee ready to drink! I left Arla’s at 2:45 AM. Shortly after I left, Maureen and Arla followed in the 4×4 pickup Maureen had rented. I arrived at the meeting point in Ely before 4:00 AM. Only one BLM Ranger was there when I got there and the others, Chris and Vanessa and another BLM Ranger, showed up shortly after I did. Chris Hanefeld came over and introduced himself and explained that we would go to temporary holding first to determine the location of the day’s trap site. Only the contractors knew where the site would be that day, according to Chris. The previous day, they had gathered eight horses at Ruby Lake Marsh.

Shortly after 4:00 AM, we left Ely and headed southwest out of town on route 50. Maureen and Arla were following the entourage consisting of Chris Hanefeld and Vanessa (never got her last name) from the Colorado BLM PR Department, two park rangers, and myself. Maureen and Arla had plans to skirt the trap site to find a place where they could be hidden from view in order to observe what could not be seen from there, but since they didn’t know where the day’s site was to be, they followed as close behind as they could without being noticed.
We turned right at the Ruby Lake Marsh Road, which was after the 30 mile loop road. Shortly after turning right onto Ruby Lake Marsh Road, the road became dirt, and I slowed down to accommodate the 25 mph speed limit while Chris continued on a breakneck speed. Occasionally, I would see his SUV’s rear lights and kept going; one of the Rangers was always behind me so I didn’t worry too much about where I was going. I made it to temporary holding and saw a trailer of domestic horses head down the road; the chopper was still on the ground and it was not yet light.

I kept in touch with Maureen and Arla via cell phone whenever there was a cell signal in order to relay which turn-offs were passed and give them the name of the turn-off we did take. I tracked the miles from the turn off onto Ruby Lake Road and gave them landmarks they could identify, as when the road conditions changed or crossed cattle guards. After that, Verizon cell phone service blacked out, so Maureen and Arla didn’t know about the left turn after them temporary holding compound. SunJ had three 5th wheels parked there as well as horse trailers, and the helicopter. They had also set up a round pen for the domestic horses used in the round-up.

Upon taking the left turn which was across the valley from temporary holding, the dirt road became very dusty. Not wanting to drive in the dust in the dark, I slowed down considerably hoping that Maureen and Arla would see the car lights from a distance. The road got worse! A very dusty, dirt road so bad that in the dark with headlights on there was no way to see the road. It was a worry as to how the others could see the road and follow the winding path it took. Several times I stopped to let the dust clear, as I felt they were all going too fast on a winding, dusty, rocky road –- certainly faster than I dared go in unknown territory. Huge dust clouds were created by the vehicles ahead. The road eventually became less curvy but still dusty, and I found myself on a straight road headed down the shoulder of this mountain into the valley floor.


It was not yet dawn when we got to the trap site in Newark Valley. Light peeked over the ridge to the right of us as we faced the trap site; we were facing north into the valley on land that was gently sloping upward away from the site. The dirt road continued past the trap site and made a right turn almost a mile below it; this is where one of the BLM Rangers parked his well-equipped truck. The other Ranger parked south of the trap site about a half mile or more just below the trees on the gentle slope we had just come down. I was told to park along the road across from the trap site and behind Chris Hanefeld. We headed to the observation area just south of the trap site, and had a pretty good view of the area. The view of the trap site wasn’t great, but it was the best of the three trap sites I’d been to during this trip.

Chris Hanefeld pointed out we needed to be 500 feet from the trap site and to hunker down if asked. It was possible from time to time to go back to our vehicles with a chaperone if we asked first and the chopper was not nearby. We were allowed to wander the terrain behind us to find an appropriate area to find a bush to water if we asked first.

Since I was the only observer throughout the morning’s roundup, Vanessa (BLM Colorado…I don’t think she ever gave her last name but maybe she did to the other observers), Chris Hanefeld, PR, BLM, Ely district and I were in conversation most of the time. I asked questions I knew the answers to and some that I didn’t. It was surprising that I knew the answers when he didn’t – after all, he’s in charge of answering media questions isn’t he? You’d think after ten years with BLM in the Ely district office that he would know more than he does about the wild horses in his district. Vanessa, on the other hand, is a recent employee of BLM public relations in Colorado. She is just learning the ropes and apparently just learning the lies promulgated by the existing BLM staff.

There were four bands caught this day. Each band had a foal. I’ve selected photos for each family band that was rounded up. None of these horses will be returned to the range; this is the last time you will see most of these horses, except for three that I know that are being adopted as sale authority horses by other photographers / videographers who were at the Triple B round up. (just learned that one of the sale authority horses, a black 20 year old mare, died as a result of eating the very rich alfalfa they are fed in short term holding…)

This was my third day in Nevada and it hadn’t rained in a while and was very dry everywhere. The only way to spot the horses being chased down the Newark Valley was to spot chopper dust. When the chopper drove the horses to the immediate area around the trap site, the horses would be shrouded with dust flying everywhere. In turn, as it settled on their wet bodies, the dust became cracked dust cakes on the horses’ backs.

I saw the chopper in the mountains to the east and below the trap site at 6:21 AM. In fact, all the horses chased that day were chased down from the mountains on the east side of the valley.

Everyday I saw some horses escape. When this happened I wanted to cheer them onward, but this could have gotten me thrown out of the observation area for frightening the horses. I did not ask Chris if he thought the horses would hear me scream over the din the chopper was making…

I was so far away from the trap site that there was little I could see without my camera. I brought binoculars for convenience, but my camera lens was better. Even then, it’s still hard to tell what you have seen until you can view the image on a monitor and examine the details!

[Next: temporary holding]

Triple B Roundup

23 Sep

It was quite by surprise that I ended up going to a BLM ‘gather’ (BLM’s word for round-up) of wild horses!  The Triple B round-up in eastern Nevada only had a few more weeks before it’s end date when a bunch of my facebook friends offered to pay my travel expenses to go to Ely, Nevada.  I left a week later …

Getting There

Nothing about this trip was easy. Seemed like every obstacle was placed in the way starting with Amtrak’s late arrival in Martinez by more than 3 hours! I decided to keep on trying to get to Elko, but this meant when I got to Elko I had to get a place to stay as it was not possible to hang out at the train station. There is only a phone booth size compartment that they call a train station in Elko. I had called Hertz ahead of time and delayed the rental reservation till the next morning.


I picked up a Chevy Traverse AWD in Elko and drove it to Arla’s in Cherry Creek. I had been on US 80 many times over the years but have never seen this stretch of the road so green and lush – there was even a bit of snow left on the mountains!

When I reached Wells, I turned south on route 93 and was surprised that the snow patches continued a bit along the mountaintops and high crevices. Along the way, I got off 93 onto Cherry Creek Road, a dirt road that cut 5 miles off my trip Arla told me.  I saw a small group of either deer or antelope and did not have any chance of photographing them as my camera was still packed.  After I got it out, I saw nothing.

Got to Cherry Creek and of course I was too lazy to look up the email on my phone where Arla gave me directions through her little village so I asked this older gentlemen at the row of the village’s mailboxes who was reading his mail in his truck.  Followed his directions, ended up at Arla’s little gallery where I knew she wouldn’t be so I drove around for a short while when Arla magically appeared and smiled at me and I realized who she was and off to her house at the top of this village.  Awesome view of the valley from there! Later that night I realized how bright the stars were – much brighter than where I live in the Sacramento River delta!

Arla and I spent a good part of the afternoon chatting.  We went to her little gallery, Cherry Creek Gallery, and I got a chance to meet Annie and Spring, Ray’s mustangs.

Later in the afternoon, we took a drive down 9 mile loop to 4 watering spots: 2 little streams, a trough filled by a spring and another little pool fed by a spring – all were full of water and the streams were flowing. They all had hoof prints of horses, antelope, deer and cattle.

However, the least amount of prints were those of horses. Arla kept telling me that this was an unusual year as all these watering spots were full! In years past, these spots had water year round but not brimming as they were this year so late in the summer!



I got up about 2:00am and left at 3:15am but was late arriving at the meeting place in Ely, the little park in the middle of town.

Upon calling BLM, I learned I had arrived 2 minutes after they left. I sat there a while looking at my email on the phone after leaving a phone message for Chris Hanefeld PR, BLM Ely, NV. I also took a few moments to make sure I was in compliance with the rules of observation they sent me via email – don’t wear white, black or red, and no bright colors, only neutral colors, closed toe sturdy shoes, and hat among other items on the list.

Tiffany was told to call me back and I chatted her up a bit and found out three people from HSUS were there since Monday. Somehow on Tuesday, the HSUS group, had gotten a flat tire and damaged the air conditioner in the SUV they rented, so Wednesday they did not show at the trap site but did show up at temporary holding which we visited at the end of the day’s round-up.

I drove around Ely before day break, saw the Railroad Museum, several casino hotels, and many murals on the sides of brick buildings depicting miners and the railroad. Got some gas and went to the only supermarket in town before returning to Cherry Creek.

Becky Springs

Arla and I spent the afternoon chatting about photography, the BLM, horses and late in the afternoon, drove up to Becky Springs which is located where Rte. 93 does a right turn about 15 miles north of Cherry Creek. As we turned onto the dirt road headed to the spring, we noticed an ATV with two hunters. We altered our route to the spring and as we did so spotted an antelope who took off immediately with the ATV in pursuit. We never heard a gun shot so we presumed he got away.

Becky’s Spring was set underneath a tree and had lots of foot prints in the mud surrounding it – saw many deer and antelope prints and an occasional horse hoof print. Maureen was expected to arrive and we knew she’d be arriving soon so we left the springs and headed back to Cherry Creek.


This is the first installment of my experience at a BLM roundup. There will be several more chapters to follow describing my experiences complete with photographs, at the Triple B Roundups in Newark Valley and Butte Valley.

This was my very first experience at a BLM wild horse ‘gather’.  I will also admit that I have never owned or had the responsibility for caring for a horse but learned to ride thanks to my friends years ago who took me trail riding from time to time.  I’ve always loved horses, admired their grace and beauty but it’s been less than a year since I decided I had to stop the BLM from taking the wild out of the wild!

I am appalled that the BLM employees and contractors show such a lack of care for the wild horses, their own staff and observers. They violate or don’t enforce their own rules when it comes to following the BLM Caravan above the posted speed limits on very dusty dirt roads to the trap sites, permitted clothing color requirements for observers or trap site contractors, FAA rules about helicopters, but most of all the rounding up of wild horses with a helicopter … piloted by Josh Hellyer!  Why must he fly so low over the horses? Why does he fly over the trap site and hover so close to the ground?  Why is he allowed to fly over the observation area at less than 500 feet? And why is he allowed to keep the horses and foals running for 30 to 60 minutes at a time?

Each day of the Triple B round ups I attended started at dawn! Only 4 bands caught at most per day before the round ups were called off due to wind before noon?  The pilot would drive the bands down from the mountains (where cattle don’t graze) from miles away, at best we could see them 20 minutes before they arrived at the trap site with them!

My facebook friends have played a great part in my education about wild horses and burros and are responsible for providing the travel expenses needed to attend this roundup. Thank you so much for this experience!

afroditi katsikis

Red Dawn In Newark Valley

Survival Guide for a BLM Roundup

6 Apr

Survival Guide for a BLM Roundup

         [a collaborative work by the members of Hippies for Horses facebook group]

Having followed the Antelope Valley roundup in Nevada this year as close as we possibly could from our computer screens, and since there are poeple in the group who are considering observing one, we prepared this article to assist those people make their plans to attend a BLM roundup (aka: BLM gather) for the first time.

Every night we would review videos and photographs posted in blogs, BLM reports, and comments made by on-site observers at the roundups. Some nights, emails and phone calls were made to the photographers in the field to clarify the previous day’s activities.

Everyday that photos and videos were posted, we emailed each other to discuss what we saw, made notes of what was not in the clips publicly posted and made attempts to contact the observers at the roundup to clarify what we were seeing in the photos and on video. Of course only a small amount of what was actually filmed/photographed was publicly posted.

For those who hope to go to a BLM roundup as observers (if the roundups resume in 2011), please be prepared and educated. What follows is a checklist of what to take with you and what you should know before you go.



Both still and video cameras must be *GPS enabled, with good zoom lenses

Tri-pod for Video

Tripod or mono-pod for camera with a long telephoto lens


Take extra camera batteries and memory sticks.

Small portable digital audio device for making notes quickly (consider wearing one around your neck)

Consider separate GPS unit to track route into trap site from easily designated spot off main roadway

[ *GPS – if you don’t have a digital camera with GPS some cameras have auxilliary devices to add to your camera and if you can’t afford that, go to the Roundup anyway.}


Sat Phone – can be rented by the week or month – don’t rely on your cell phone to have service at all the trap sites – unpopulated remote areas do not have many, if any, cell towers.

Sustenance and survival

water, snacks – no amenities available

toilet paper and a small shovel to dig a hole (no port-a-potti)

consider wearing depends

hand sanitizer, sun screen

lightweight folding chair or stool – something to sit on

Small luggage cart with big rubber wheels to carry everything needed for a sun-up to sun-down day – most likely your car will not be at the trap site so wear hiking boots for the walk from the parking lot to the trap site.

Even in summer, nights in the mountains and desserts can get very cold – bring a coat

BLM guidelines ask all observers to  wear muted colors (earth tones and neutral shades) Bright colors are not allowed.

Phone numbers

BLM: Wild Horse Roundup hotline

BLM staff responsible for the roundup

BLM’s WH&B Specialist


BLM District public affairs specialist

Local sheriff and or state police

Media contact information–establish media contacts prior to roundup and persuade them to attend or at least make connection prior–so they will help support get your footage on the air during and after the roundup




Local map with directions to the closest sheriff’s office

Topographical map of the HMA and the local area

Pre-roundup reading material:

HMA information and recent reports &/or press releases

Animal abuse laws of the state the gather occurs in (bring a copy with you)





What to Know:

How to judge a horse’s general body condition


– signs of age, pregnant & wet mares

Horse care




Photographic observations to include:

Views of:

Parking lot

Walk into trap site

The road the horse trailers will be using

Trap site – is it easy for the horses to move into the chute

All roundup staff – employees, contractors, bystanders, observers

– closeups of the faces of the BLM employees and contractors

– closeups of the pilots–perhaps during refueling

*Consider working in teams with some photographing horses, some photographing staff

Empty pens and pens with the horses (do the corrals have any trash in them?)

Chase scenes to include some pan outs for a sense of distance horses have been chased

Close ups

– horse heads

– mare-foal pairs

– injuries

– problems in the chute with the horses

– any faulty equipment

– problems trailering

Loading of each horse onto trailers


– zoom in on DOT # and license plate information

– condition and type of trailer

– no-skid ramp and trailer floor

Any Semis tractor trailer rigs

-zoom in on DOT # and identifying information on truck, and license plate information

Trailering – are the horses secured in the trailer?

Location of BLM personnel during the capture – along the chute, etc?

Helicopter – especially the reg # on it

Observe the horse trailer pull away and travel from the trap site to the parking lot – was the truck driver careful and cautious?

How many horses in each band rounded up? Try and get a head shot of each wild horse or burro.

Try to get closeups shots:

– If any horse has any obvious injuries, blood, wounds, swellings.

– If they are weaving and not running straight, stumbling, sweating steaming bodies during winter.

Horse Observations

Take special note of foals and any horse having trouble keeping up with the chased herd

How many pregnant mares are there?

How many wet mares & foals are there?

What is the general body condition of the horses?

Are any limping, breathing hard, sweaty?

Roundup Observations

Is the helicopter keeping it’s distance from the horse?

How long has the helicopter been out looking for horses when it comes back with a family band?

What does the entry chute look like?

Will the approach to the chute cause any problems for running a horse in?

Is there anything attached to the corrals that is flying in the wind that may scare the horses?

Are they using the shade cloth on the sides of the corrals?

How are the horses corralled? with thier famiies or by gender with foals separated?

Upon rounding up the horses and burros, are they applying PZP?

What does the range look like – is it damaged in anyway? Is there plenty of forage?

Post Roundup

After the horses are loaded hike around the area with binoculars looking for injured or dead horses and foals or aborted babies.

Keep a daily diary of events: who you talked to, what you saw or didn’t see, or expected to see. Be sure to note any weather conditions and any changes that may have occurred everyday you attend the roundup.

Things to note:

* Did they release any horses. If so were they PZP’d and released?

* Document every mare PZP’d in order to track her

* What temporary holding facility were they taken to?

* Did the BLM and/or contractors follow their own guidelines?

* Document all BLM staff in charge of roundup–photograph their close ups and names

* Document all staff hired by BLM as contractors in charge of roundup–photograph them with their close ups and names. Include all wranglers with plastic flags and all staff, and volunteers around horses as much as possible.

* Note the times and keep detailed notes.  What time did the helicopter take off?  How long was it gone before returning with horses?

With all your dealings with the BLM, being polite and non confrontational can be helpful.  Even though the roundup staff may not have read all the documents suggested in this article, not all of them are evil; honey catches more flies than dung , so be sure to be polite and professional.

If you see something wrong specifically, ask kindly if it can be changed…for example the orientation of the trap, debris flying around in the corral or on the fencing, or when a horse needs help.

Since clearly the BLM holds all the cards on the roundups and controls the fates of the wild equines in America, so we must continue along the same lines as Wild Horse Annie, aka, Velma Johnson, methods and continue to increase public involvement and dialogue with the BLM for solutions to problems and for better and humane care of all the horses and burros.

I hope this article was helpful in getting ready to attend a roundup.  If you manage to go to a round up for a the first time this year, please let us know if the checklist was helpful and we’d sure see your photos and videos.

If we left something out, please add your comments…

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