#MustangMonday begins 3 days of action for wild horses

© Cynthia Smalley, all rights reserved

Young Wyoming wild horses rescued by Protect Mustangs from the slaughterhouse feedlot after a BLM roundup in March 2014 (Photo © Cynthia Smalley, all rights reserved.)

Three actions to take before Congress goes on summer break July 31st.

1.) Call and fax your county commissioners to request they stop supporting the resolution pushed through the national NACO meeting to give the states the ability to manage federally protected wild horses and “dispose” of them . Politely let them know you will hold them accountable if wild horses are killed or slaughtered and the states have a heinous history of “taking care of wild horses.” Explain that livestock is causing range damage because cattle and sheep outnumber wild horses more than 50 to 1. Let them know people in all states across the country enjoy wild horses and as a federally protected animal–they belong to everyone. Request a written response from your county commissioners.

2.) Call and fax your representative to politely insist they stop Chris Stewart’s (R-UT) Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014, H.R. 5058 from gaining any momentum in the House. Explain to them that the Act is misleading and would allow states to dispose of federally protected wild horses by killing them or selling them to slaughter. Request a written response from your representative.

3.) Call and Fax your 2 senators and representative the Declaration by Llyod Eisenhauer, former BLM manager, who states the pending Wyoming Checkerboard Roundup appears to be in violation of the law. Ask your elected officials to stop the Checkerboard Roundup scheduled to begin August 20th. Request a written response from your elected officials.

Contact us with any questions via email to Contact@ProtectMustangs.org

Links of interest™: 

Contact Congress: http://www.contactingthecongress.org

Roundup abuse footage:

Defund the Roundups Petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/defund-and-stop-the-wild-horse-burro-roundups

Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014, H.R. 5058 https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5058/text

NACo passes horse resolution http://protectmustangs.org/?p=7000

Former BLM manager declares Wyoming roundup appears to be in violation of the law http://protectmustangs.org/?p=7021

An American writes to the BLM against helicopter roundups in Wyoming http://protectmustangs.org/?p=6996

Dangerous bill puts America’s wild horses at risk of slaughter  http://protectmustangs.org/?p=6967

Associated Press (viral) Bill seeks to allow states to manage wild horses http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Bill-seeks-to-allow-states-to-manage-wild-horses-5617520.php

Former BLM manager declares Wyoming roundup appears to be in violation of the law

LEGAL DECLARATION filed by former BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins area manager, Lloyd Eisenhauer:

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING

Rock Springs Grazing Association, Case No. 2:11-cv-00263-NDF Plaintiff, v. Ken Salazar, et al.,Defendants,

DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER

I, Lloyd Eisenhauer, declare as follows:

1. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am a former Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) official with extensive experience in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts in Wyoming and intimate familiarity with the public lands under BLM management in those areas.

I have reviewed the consent decree proposed by BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association (“RSGA”) in this case and provide this declaration based on my longstanding knowledge of, and management of, wild horses and livestock grazing in the Rock Springs and Rawlins Districts.

2. I grew up in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming with a livestock and farming background, served in the Marines for four years, and then owned a livestock business from 1952-1958. I enrolled in college in 1958, studying range management. From 1960-1961, BLM hired me to assist with collecting field data for vegetation assessments and carrying capacity surveys related to livestock and wild horses. These surveys were conducted in the Lander, Kemmerer, and Rawlins Districts. When I graduated in 1962, BLM hired me full-time to serve in the Rawlins District in Wyoming, where most of my work focused on grazing management involving sheep, cattle, and wild horses. From 1968-1972, I was Area Manager of the Baggs-Great Divide Resource Area in the Rawlins District. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted, and in the spring of 1972, on behalf of BLM, I conducted the first aerial survey of wild horses in Wyoming, recording the number of horses and designating the Herd Management Areas (“HMAs”) for the Rawlins District. After a stint as an Area Manager with BLM’s Albuquerque, New Mexico office, in 1975 I took over as the Chief of Planning and Environmental Analysis in BLM’s Rock Springs District for three years. I was the lead on all planning and environmental assessments. During that time, I also served as the Acting Area Manager of the Salt Wells Resource Area, which is located in the Rock Springs District. In 1979, BLM transferred me to its Denver Service Center to serve as the Team Leader in creating the agency’s automated process for data collection. I received an excellence of service awardfrom the Secretary of the Interior commending me for my work as a Team Leader. In 1982, I became the Head of Automation in BLM’s Cheyenne office, where I managed and implemented the data collection and processing of various systems related to BLM programs. I retired from BLM in 1986, and have stayed very involved in the issue of wild horse and livestock management on BLM lands in Wyoming, and have written articles about the issue in local and other newspaper outlets. I have won various journalistic awards, including a Presidential award, for my coverage of conservation districts in Wyoming. Along with a partner, I operated a tour business (called Backcountry Tours) for six years, taking various groups into wild places in Wyoming – without a doubt wild horses were the most popular thing to see on a tour, in large part due to their cultural and historical value. I also served six years on the governor’s non-point source water quality task force.

3. Based on my longstanding knowledge of wild horse and livestock management in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts, and in the Wyoming Checkerboard in particular, I am very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA, embodied in the proposed Consent Decree they have filed in this case, under which BLM would remove all wild horses located on RSGA’s private lands on the Wyoming Checkerboard. The Checkerboard is governed by an exchange of use agreement between the federal government and private parties such as RSGA. However, due to state laws, property lines, and intermingled lands, it is impossible to fence the lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard, which means that both the wild horses and the livestock that graze there roam freely between public and private lands on the Checkerboard without any physical barriers. For this reason, it is illogical for BLM to commit to removing wild horses that are on the “private” lands RSGA owns or leases because those same horses are likely to be on public BLM lands (for example, the Salt Wells, Adobe Town, Great Divide, and White Mountains HMAs) earlier in that same day or later that same evening. Essentially, in contrast to other areas of the country where wild horses still exist, on the Wyoming Checkerborad there is no way to distinguish between horses on “private” lands and those on public lands, and therefore it would be unprecedented, and indeed impossible for BLM to contend that it is removing all horses on RSGA’s “private” lands at any given time of the year, month, or day, considering that those horses would only be on the strictly “private” lands very temporarily and intermittently on any particular day .

5. Another major concern with BLM’s agreement to remove all horses from the private lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard is that BLM is undermining the laws that apply to the Checkerboard, and wild horse management in general, which I implemented during my time as a BLM official. Traditionally, BLM officials (myself included) have understood that, pursuant to the Wild Horse Act, wild horses have a right to use BLM lands, so long as their population numbers do not cause unacceptable damage to vegetation or other resources. In stark contrast, however, livestock (sheep and cattle) have no similar right to use BLM lands; rather, livestock owners may be granted the privilege of using BLM lands for livestock grazing pursuant to a grazing permit that is granted by BLM under the Taylor Grazing Act, but that privilege can be revoked, modified, or amended by BLM for various reasons, including for damage to vegetation or other resources caused by livestock, or due to sparse forage available to sustain livestock after wild horses are accounted for. BLM’s tentative agreement here does the opposite and instead prioritizes livestock over wild horses, by proposing to remove hundreds of wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard without reducing livestock numbers – which, in my view, is contrary to the laws governing BLM’s actions as those mandates were explained to me and administered during the decades that I was a BLM official.

6. While I do not agree with every management action taken by BLM over the years in the Rock Springs District, I can attest – based on my longstanding employment with BLM and my active monitoring of the agency’s activities during retirement – that BLM has generally proven capable of removing wild horses in the Rock Springs District, including by responding to emergency situations when needed and removing horses when necessary due to resource damage.

7. Considering that wild horses exhibit different foraging patterns and movement patterns than sheep and cattle, and also than big game such as antelope and elk, no sound biological basis exists for permanently removing wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard at this time. In particular, wild horses tend to hang out in the uplands at a greater distance from water sources until they come to briefly drink water every day or two, whereas livestock congregate near water sources and riparian habitat causing concentrated damage to vegetation and soil. For this reason, the impacts of wild horses are far less noticeable on the Checkerboard than impacts from livestock.

8. In addition, because livestock tend to eat somewhat different forage than wild horses (horses tend to eat coarser vegetation such as Canadian wild rye and other bunch grasses, whereas cattle and sheep mostly eat softer grasses), there is no justification to remove wild horses on the basis that insufficient forage exists to support the current population of wild horses.

Also, because cattle and sheep have no front teeth on the front part of their upper jaws, they tend to pull and tear grasses or other forage out by the root causing some long-term damage to vegetation, whereas wild horses, which have front teeth on both their front upper and lower jaws, act more like a lawnmower and just clip the grass or forage (leaving the root uninjured), allowing the vegetation to quickly grow back. These differences are extremely significant because if there were a need to reduce the use of these BLM lands by animals to preserve these public lands, it might be cattle and sheep – not wild horses – that should be reduced to gain the most benefit for the lands, and which is why BLM, during my time as an agency official, focused on reducing livestock grazing.

9. BLM’s agreement with RSGA states that RSGA’s conservation plan limited livestock grazing, primarily by sheep, to the winter months to provide sufficient winter forage.This is a good example of “multiple use” management, since wild horses and sheep have very little competition for the forage they consume and the seasons during which they use parts of the Checkerboard. During winter, sheep use the high deserts and horses utilize the uplands and breaks (i.e., different locations) for forage and protection. During the summer, when sheep are not present, wild horses use various landscapes on the Checkerboard. This multiple use should continue for the benefit of the livestock, the wild horses, and the public and private lands involved.

10. I am also very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA to permanently zero out the Salt Wells HMA and the Divide Basin HMA, leaving no wild horses in those areas that have long contained wild horses. I have been to fifteen of the sixteen HMAs in Wyoming, and to my knowledge none has ever been zeroed out by BLM. It is my view, based on everything I know about these areas and the way these public lands are used by wild horses and livestock, that BLM has no biological or ecological basis for zeroing out a herd of wild horses in an HMA that existed at the time the wild horse statute was passed in 1971, as is the case with both the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs. And, again, because the wild horses have a statutory right to be there, whereas livestock only have a privilege that can be revoked at any time by BLM, there also is no authority or precedent, to my knowledge, for the agency to zero out these two longstanding wild horse herds simply to appease private livestock grazers.

11. The zeroing out of wild horses in the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs is also concerning because it would mean that, in those two longstanding HMAs, there would no longer be the “multiple use” of these public lands as required by both the Wild Horse Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Currently, while there are other uses of this public land, such as by wildlife, hunters, and recreational users, the two primary uses in those HMAs are by wild horses and livestock. If BLM proceeds with its agreement with RSGA to zero out wild horses in those HMAs, the only major use remaining would be livestock use, meaning that there would be no multiple use of those BLM lands. Not only will that potentially undermine the laws that BLM officials must implement here, but it has practical adverse effects on the resources – multiple use is very beneficial for the environment, and particularly for sensitive vegetation, because different users (e.g., livestock, wild horses) use the lands and vegetation in different ways. When that is eliminated, the resources are subjected to an unnatural use of the lands which can cause severe long-term damage to the vegetation. As a result, zeroing out these herds would likely be devastating for the vegetation in these two HMAs, because livestock would be by far the predominant use in this area.

12. Turning the White Mountain HMA into a non-reproducing herd, as the agreement between BLM and RSGA proposes to do, is also a farce, and violates the meaning of a wild and free-roaming animal. This is essentially a slow-motion zeroing out of this HMA, and is inconsistent with any wild horse management approach I am familiar with that BLM has implemented on public lands.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is trueand correct.

Lloyd Eisenhauer

Hours left to get your T-shirts to raise awareness for wild horses

Order here: https://www.booster.com/loveponies

Only a few hours left to get the t-shirts accounted for or they won’t go to print. Do you know anyone who might like one of the “I Love Ponies . . . Discover Mustangs” awareness t-shirts in kids–adult sizes for only $20. each? All the money raised in this fundraiser goes to feed the Outreach Mustangs in our program.

Here is the direct link: https://www.booster.com/loveponies

Here is a link with a photo you can share on Facebook too. Just click on the link and then share out once you are there: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectMustangs/photos/a.240625045996522.58710.233633560029004/721901864535502/?type=1&theater  because it takes a village.

Thank you so much for helping the wild horses!

 

Horse contraceptive study raises concerns

October 29, 2010
By Laurie Dixon
Research indicates the long-term horse contraceptive, porcine zona pellucida (PZP), extends the breeding season in wild horses, raising concerns over the social consequences of the drug on herds.

PZP, which is derived from pig eggs, is increasingly being used in wild horse herds . . .

Read more: http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/news/2010/10/220.shtml#ixzz38YJwjAdY

Go to the National Advisory Board Meeting to Stand Up for Wild Horses and Burros – Wyoming August 25

Where are wild horses?™

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management

Notice of Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces that the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will conduct a meeting on matters pertaining to management and protection of wild, free-roaming horses and burros on the Nation’s public lands. DATES: The Advisory Board will meet on Monday, August 25, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time. This will be a 1-day meeting.

ADDRESSES: This Advisory Board meeting will take place in the Little Theater
(SC 109), located in the Student Center Building of Central Wyoming College, 2660 Peck Avenue, Riverton, WY 82501, telephone 1-800-735-8418.
Written comments pertaining to the August 25, 2014, Advisory Board meeting can be mailed to National Wild Horse and Burro Program,WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, NV 89502-7147, or sent electronically to wildhorse@blm.gov. Please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the email.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ramona DeLorme, Wild Horse and Burro Administrative Assistant, at telephone 775-861- 6583. Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board advises the Secretary of the Interior, the BLM Director, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Chief of the Forest Service on matters pertaining to the management and protection of wild, free-roaming horses and burros on the Nation’s public lands. The Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board operates under the authority of 43 CFR 1784. The tentative agenda for the meeting is:
I. Advisory Board Public Meeting
Monday, August 25, 2014 (8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)

8:00 a.m. 8:40 a.m. 9:00 a.m. 9:20 a.m. 12:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 3:45 p.m. 5:30 p.m.

Welcome, Introductions, and Agenda Review
Approval of April 2014 Minutes
BLM Response to Advisory Board Recommendations
Wild Horse and Burro Program Update
Lunch
Public Comment Period Begins
Public Comment Period Ends
Working Group Reports
Advisory Board Discussion and Recommendations to the BLM Adjourn

The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. An individual with a disability needing an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, such as an interpreting service, assistive listening device, or materials in an alternate format, must notify Ms. DeLorme 2 weeks before the scheduled meeting date. Although the BLM will attempt to meet a request received after that date, the requested auxiliary aid or service may not be available because of insufficient time to arrange it.

The Federal Advisory Committee Management Regulations at 41 CFR 101-6.1015(b), requires the BLM to publish in the Federal Register notice of a public meeting 15 days prior to the meeting date.
II. Public comment procedures

On Monday, August 25, 2014, at 1:00 p.m., members of the public will have the opportunity to make comments to the Board on the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Persons wishing to make comments during the Monday meeting should register in person with the BLM by 12:00 p.m. on August 25, 2014, at the meeting location. Depending on the number of commenters, the Advisory Board may limit the length of comments. At previous meetings, comments have been limited to 3 minutes in length; however, this time may vary. Commenters should address the specific wild horse and burro-related topics listed on the agenda. Speakers are requested to submit a written copy of their statement to the address listed in the “ADDRESSES” section above or bring a written copy to the meeting. There may be a webcam present during the entire meeting and individual comments may be recorded.

Participation in the Advisory Board meeting is not a prerequisite for submission of written comments. The BLM invites written comments from all interested parties. Your written comments should be specific and explain the reason for any recommendation. The BLM appreciates any and all comments. The BLM considers comments that are either supported by quantitative information or studies or those that include citations to and analysis of applicable laws and regulations to be the most useful and likely to influence the BLM’s decisions on the management and protection of wild horses and burros.
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Taxpayers are paying for animal cruelty

 

NACO passes horse resolution.

Wild horses rescued from a kill-buyer auction in August 2013  (Photo © Anne Novak)

By Tracie Sulllivan Cross-posted for educational purposes from The Spectrum

CEDAR CITY – In an effort to gather support for recent legislation introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT Iron County), Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller pushed a resolution through last week at the National Association of Counties that sends a resounding message back to Congress — let the states manage their own wild horses.

The resolution, which was also carried by County Commissioner Mark Whitney, Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock and Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman, was unanimously passed by all 3,069 county members of NACo.

“It went through with very little to no debate,” Bushman said. “It was amazing.”

Stewart recently introduced the Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014, H.R. 5058, that if passed would take jurisdiction from the Bureau of Land Management and give it to the states and Indian Tribes to implement their own management plans for the wild horses and burros according to their specific needs.

In an interview with The Spectrum and Daily News Monday, Stewart said NACo’s resolution will go far to help him in getting H.R. 5058 through Congress.

“It clearly helps us. This resolution was passed unanimously,” Stewart said. “We’re not talking about all conservative Republican counties here that passed it either but many political philosophies, and they all agreed that the states have the right to manage their own wild horses. Some of these counties are controlled by independents and Democrats, so this will help us to build a broad coalition of supporters. I’m very grateful for that.”

The resolution lends support for Stewart’s legislation, calling for the federal government to “give individual states exclusive authority to appropriate herd management levels and dispose of animals that exceed AMLs at state’s discretion, just like States do now for other wildlife species.”

Stewart said while it’s still early in the process, he hasn’t run into any issues with the Congressional delegation. He feels he may even have the support of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, long a Democratic stalwart.

“I can’t speak for Sen. Harry Reid but the reality is his state has a much bigger problem with the wild horses and even he has expressed frustration with the BLM’s management of the wild horses,” Stewart said.

While at the NACo conference in New Orleans, Miller said he spent time with a few congressional leaders including Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu — who he believes will support efforts to turn the management of the wild horses over to the states.

Read more here

 

An American writes to the BLM against helicopter roundups in Wyoming

 

© Protect Mustangs

© Protect Mustangs

July 16, 2014

Bureau of Land Management
Wyoming — State, District, and Affected Field Offices
Wyoming — Annual Hearing — Use of Helicopters, Motorized Vehicles

Per the standard practice for BLM state offices that administer the Wild Horse and Burro Program to hold an annual hearing on the use of motorized vehicles and aircraft — chiefly helicopters — for counting, capturing, and carting off wild horses and burros, such a meeting has been scheduled for this date in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I regret that I cannot attend the hearing. However, I am submitting information, recommendations, and alternatives as an interested party in behalf of the wild horses of Wyoming. I request that my comments be read aloud at the hearing.
HELICOPTERS — Dangerous to Humans
Scheduled Airliners — Safe; Helicopters — Crash-Prone

The American public considers travel-by-air to be safe, even routine. Crashes are rare, and fatalities, few. Thus, it is easy to assume that all flight is safe, which is not the case.

Helicopters are notorious for crashing. Please compare and contrast Wyoming’s aviation crash-records of scheduled air carriers versus helicopters during the 42-plus years since the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 — the period from January 1, 1972 to May 31, 2014 — per the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

Scheduled Air Carriers (“Part 121″)

14 — Accidents and incidents (minor events excluded)
0 — Accidents that resulted in fatalities

Helicopters

113 — Accidents and incidents (minor events excluded)
5 — Accidents that resulted in fatalities
6 — Number of persons that died in those accidents

At the link below, you can replicate the searches to verify these data.

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/index.aspx

Similarity to Aerial Hunting

In the United States, more than a hundred helicopters and planes have crashed while conducting aerial hunting, whose procedures closely resemble those involved in rounding up wild horses. Just as with BLM gathers, aerial-hunting pilots fly only a few feet off the ground and perform risky maneuvers from which they may not be able to recover.

http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0422-15.htm

Moreover, the long hours involved, and the frustrations of working with frightened, unpredictable animals, can lead to pilot error. Video documentation is plentiful of helicopter pilots ramming horses and burros with their landing skids, seemingly intentionally.

Helicopter Accident and Incident Record during Wild Horse Roundups

Helicopters have crashed while rounding up wild horses. BLM admits to approximately 10 helicopter accidents and “hard landings” during wild-horse gathers over the past 30 years or so. That’s about one crash every three years. What airline would stay in business with such a safety record?

Using helicopters for gathering wild horses and burros is inherently risky, with no greater purposes than administrative convenience and “efficiency.” Such purposes do not justify the risks. There is no imminent threat to life or property that would require the use of helicopters to roundup some horses. BLM is wrong to continue this dangerous activity when a safe alternative is available — bait trapping.

Helicopter Census Method Puts BLM Personnel at Risk

BLM’s environmental assessments often allude to the use of “multiple experienced observers” (whom I suppose to be BLM staffers) to count and photograph wild horses — or what they think are wild horses — while being flown in grid patterns over the range.

Given the crash-proneness of helicopters, BLM could face a tragedy — with loss of several key personnel, friends, and colleagues in an accident. Counting wild horses does not justify this risky method. Instead, consider bait-and-or-water trapping every member of each herd — without removals. Fit them with telemetry collars, and track them.

Helicopters — Some Recent and Relevant Accidents

1. On February 18, 2013, a helicopter belonging to El Aero Services, Inc. took off from its home-base in Elko, Nevada to perform certain operations on behalf of BLM. The helicopter subsequently crashed near Eureka, Nevada. The pilot was killed. Here is the link to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report:

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20130218X22833&ntsbno=WPR13GA128&akey=1

Please note that, on one of the helicopter-runs preceding the crash, BLM’s Helicopter Manager was aboard. Moreover, the NTSB report seems to suggest that the accident may have been caused, at least in part, by pilot-fatigue. Best practices (US Army flight regulations) would have called for reduced “time-on-task” — no more than 37 hours per week, with additional reductions by factors of 1.3 to 1.6 due to low-altitude flight, which is known to be more tiring than higher-altitude flight. The pilot that died flew in excess of those recommendations and, tellingly, the accident happened on the last run of the last day of that long work-week.

2. While the crash referenced above occurred during a seed-dispersal project, the NTSB report discloses that the pilot had experienced a previous accident, on October 18, 2007, … while herding horses in North Dakota. On that day, the pilot was conducting a helicopter-roundup on behalf of the National Park Service. Please see the photographs on pages 4 – 7 of the PowerPoint Presentation, found at the link below.

https://www.iat.gov/Training/modules/2008accidents/DOI_FY_08_A-200_HO.pdf

Per the NTSB report, the probable cause of the 2007 accident was: ‘”The pilot failed to maintain clearance from the fence while maneuvering at low altitude.”‘ The pilot and passenger both suffered minor injuries. The report does not say, but that passenger may well have been a Federal employee. Who was the contractor? Again, it was El Aero Services, Inc. Here is the link to that Probable Cause Report:

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20071115X01799

I note that, despite the 2013 tragedy and the 2007 accident, El Aero was recently awarded a $6,000,000 contract for helicopter services relating to the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

3. On April 14, 2014, a helicopter being used by Wildlife Services to locate a radio-tagged Bighorn sheep crashed near Bullfrog, Utah. The pilot and crewmember were seriously injured. Here is the link to the preliminary accident report.

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20140429X35951&key=1

Recommendation: Avoid helicopters for counting and gathering wild horses. As they say, the life you save may be your own.

4. On June 29, 2014, a helicopter being used to fly photographers around the Paul, ID area crashed. The pilot and two passengers were injured, and the helicopter was crushed. BLM staffers saw the downed aircraft and responded to the scene to render assistance (leading some onlookers to infer — mistakenly — that it was a BLM aircraft). I am including this event for your consideration because BLM personnel photograph wild-horse bands while taking inventory and when determining population-distribution.

http://magicvalley.com/news/local/injured-in-helicopter-crash-near-paul/article_04b14362-ffe7-11e3-98c2-001a4bcf887a.html

Why Helicopters Crash

Below is the link to the slide presentation Human Factors in Helicopter Accidents that accompanied the keynote address given by NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt at the Fifth International Helicopter Safety Symposium.

http://www.ihst.org/portals/54/ihss/Execs_and_Sumwalt/NTSB%20Sumwalt.pdf

Mr. Sumwalt’s talk focused on a crash that occurred in New Mexico during a search-and-rescue flight. Note the similarities between the factors that led to the crash in question and the conditions, standard operating procedures, and observed pilot behavior in BLM helicopter roundups. The factors deemed to have played a significant role in the New Mexico accident included:

Flight conditions

Remote, mountainous terrain
Windy conditions
Twilight, less than 2 hours of daylight

Organizational

Culture that prioritized mission execution at all costs
Weak requirements for risk assessment during the mission
Actions and attitudes detrimental to safety
Lack of a “safety-focused culture”

Pilot

Fatigue
Self-induced pressure to conduct the flight
Situational stress that “… distracted him from identifying and evaluating alternative courses of action”
Inadequate pilot staffing
Personal temperament — “very aggressive, high-speed type”
Long work hours and sleep disruptions due to work-related phone calls at night

BLM Helicopter Roundups Involve Additional Risks

The factors listed above could have been said of most BLM helicopter roundups. However, there are additional risks inherent in a BLM wild-horse gather:

BLM-FS Roundup — Flight Conditions

Low and slow
Desert-type environments — brownout potential
Winter roundups — whiteout potential
Dealing with unpredictable animals
High potential for loss of situational awareness

BLM-FS Roundup — Organizational

Need to stick to the scheduled time-frame for completing the roundup
Pressure to appear to reduce exaggerated estimated herd levels to low-AML
Culture of secrecy and deception regarding helicopter roundup flights
COTR/PI failure to stop the pilot’s pitiless harassment of exhausted horses

BLM-FS Roundup — Pilot

Financial incentive to round up as many horses as fast as possible
Motivation to earn the per-horse fee in addition to the flat-fee for service
Preoccupation, seeming fixation, to capture every last horse
Evident haste to bring the bands in, forcing them to gallop over rough ground
Divided attention — multi-tasking — while monitoring aircraft systems
Showing off, trying to impress onlookers that he has the “right stuff”
Aggressive, relentless prodding and ramming of horses with the landing skids to make them move faster, but often knocking them down instead
Impatience, anger, frustration, recklessness, and vindictiveness reflected in the roundup pilot’s patterns of behavior — egregious emotions that can lead to unwise decisions and result in an accident

How the Bad Behavior Looks

Below is the link to a report that aired on HLN about the recent Jackson Mountains roundup in Nevada. Most of the still-photos are of those operations. There is also video footage from previous roundups, documenting the pilot sadistically ramming animals with the half-ton helicopter’s landing skids, even flipping one little burro upside down. (Once it loads, there’s a 15-second ad, and then the news-clip starts.)
(Run-time: 2 minutes, 54 seconds.)

http://www.hlntv.com/video/2012/06/11/jvm-horse-roundup

Pilot Error — The Cause of Most Helicopter Crashes

According to studies, human error remains the causal factor in 65 to 90 percent of helicopter mishaps. BLM has been gambling that the risky behavior involved in its wild-horse roundups can continue without further disasters. But the odds are against it. Such roundups are tragedies waiting to happen. BLM is negligent in continuing to use helicopters when a safe, superior gather-method is available.

Helicopter Pilots — Would Seem More Qualified, But …

Ironically, helicopter pilots are typically more mature, more experienced, and have higher ratings than the average pilot. They tend to maintain their currency in time and type. Yet despite their seeming advantages, they have more accidents — 46-percent more. If a crash occurred during a helicopter-roundup, the pilot, BLM staff, observers, and the wild horses could be hurt or killed.

Commercial Considerations — Economic Viability Factors

An insightful helicopter-crash study, Root Causes of Helicopter Pilot Error Accidents, which had been posted on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Website, noted that economic pressures also affect the safety of helicopter operations. Helicopter pilots work under financial stress. They strive to maintain high utilization rates, make flights when requested, complete flights as planned, meet schedules, please people, and … make money. I am transmitting a file with the Root Causes report for your reference in addition to my comments.

BLM contract helicopter pilots appear in a big hurry to gather as many horses as quickly as possible, presumably to maximize profits — they are paid a per-horse fee in addition to their flat-fee for service. They push the horses to gallop, even as the band approaches the wings of the corrals. The horses, lathered in sweat and heaving, come to an abrupt halt in the crowded pens, contrary to humane-care standards. However, it must be noted that the entity in charge — BLM — has allowed the pilots to behave in this manner.

Complacency — A Root Cause in 55 Percent of Helicopter Crashes

When a pilot has repetitively — and so far without incident — engaged in an activity that is dangerous, he may become complacent. Such a pilot would lose a sense of the risks that are inherent in what he is doing, becoming casual instead of careful. Boredom may also be a factor. With less vigilance, the pilot relaxes his standards, becomes careless, and puts himself and others at risk. Complacency leads to pilot error. The Root Causes study found complacency (as well as its fellow-traveler, overconfidence) to be a root cause of 55 percent of helicopter accidents. From the observed behavior of the BLM-roundup pilots, it can be inferred that they have become complacent. They appear to have lost awareness of the riskiness of their endeavors.

Here is an anonymous quotation that was included in the Root Causes report:

A Superior Pilot is One Who Stays Out of Trouble By Using Superior Judgment to Avoid Situations That Might Require The Use of Superior Skill.

BLM contract helicopter pilots cannot be said to meet this superior standard.

Helicopters — Subject to Brownouts in the Desert, Whiteouts in the Winter

When helicopters maneuver at low altitude, the rotors’ down-wash may create brownout — conditions of reduced visibility for the pilot due to blowing and recirculating dust and sand. Whiteout is the corresponding phenomenon with snow. Visual cues become obscured, and the horizon can disappear. Brownout can result in spatial disorientation — the pilot loses awareness of the orientation of the helicopter with respect to the earth. Engulfed in a swirl of dust or snow, the pilot might not be able to tell whether the helicopter is flying level or drifting into an object. In the visually-degraded environment of a brownout or whiteout, a helicopter-pilot can become spatially disoriented and crash. BLM personnel may be on board.

Here is the link to a news report on how the Military is studying the problem of brownout.
(Run-time: 1 minute, 41 seconds.)

Here is the link to a video of a police-helicopter landing (safely) in a whiteout.
(Run-time: 1 minute, 15 seconds)

BLM helicopter-roundups have taken place under both brownout and whiteout conditions.

In the Event of an Accident, Rescue Efforts Would Be a Challenge

In a helicopter roundup, the pilot flies off alone looking for bands of horses to bring back from across a herd management area that can encompass many square miles. Should a crash occur in rugged terrain at a remote location, medical help might not get there in time. While the pilot may be willing to accept this risk, surely BLM should not be putting a contractor in situations that could endanger his safety — and his life — merely to round up horses. And surely BLM’s own personnel should not be asked to risk their life to perform a non-emergency job.
HELICOPTERS — Dangerous to Horses
Inhumane Roundup Method

BLM’s use of helicopters to round up the wild horses is inhumane. The horses are terrified by the thunderous, high-intensity noise as they are pursued by the low-flying helicopter. They are blasted with sand, dirt, and gravel from the rotor wash. Panicked by the chaos, they stampede, injure themselves, and become separated from their babies and bandmates. Mares miscarry. Foals become orphans. Many horses die from stress, even more have to be euthanized. Helicopter-style roundups are abusive, especially to foals, older horses, and pregnant mares. This is unacceptable.

As has been documented on video, helicopter pilots conducting these roundups appear in a hurry to gather as many horses as quickly as possible, presumably to maximize profits — they are paid a flat fee plus a per-horse amount. Frustrated by the wild horses’ lack of cooperation and impatient to get them moving faster, the pilots ram the horses with the aircrafts’ landing skids, in some cases even flipping the animals into a somersault. There is video documentation of such abuses, and a court found that they had indeed occurred. There has also been documentation of contractors whipping wild horses in the face, kicking them in the head, dragging them by the neck with ropes, using electric prods on them.

Recommendations: Helicopter-style roundups must be abolished. Roundups in extreme temperatures — either the summer heat or the winter cold — must end. Stampeding horses for countless miles — causing them to lather with sweat and then bringing them to an abrupt halt — must be prohibited. Forcing the horses to run long distances over rough terrain, thereby wrecking the delicate hooves of the newborns and resulting in lameness and even death — must never happen again.

BLM should institute the kind approach to gathering wild horses. Roundups should be done slowly, quietly, and gently using the bait-and-water trapping approach. This method also tends to preserve family unity, which is essential to wild-horse social structure.
HELICOPTERS — Dangerous to the Environment
Possibility of a Post-Crash Fire’s Leading to a Wildfire

The crash of a roundup-helicopter could result in a fuel-spill. Especially in these times of drought, when there is an abundance of dry brush, a wildfire could be sparked. Thus, even the environment is at risk from the use of helicopters to round up wild horses. It bears repeating that, because herd management areas are typically in remote locations, it would be difficult to put out a post-crash fire and keep it from getting out of control.

Potential for Increase in Transmission of West Nile Virus

This year has seen West Nile Virus (WNV) infections among wildlife in Wyoming. According to data submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WNV infections have been found in mosquitoes, birds, sentinel animals, or veterinary animals.

http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsMaps/preliminaryMapsData/activitystatedate.html

Last year, there were at least 13 cases of humans that become infected by WNV, for which there is no vaccine or treatment. One resident of Powell died of WNV.

http://www.powelltribune.com/news/item/11422-powell-man-first-wyoming-resident-to-die-of-west-nile-this-year

Helicopter-stampedes can result in wild horses trampling riparian areas and in so doing, creating stagnant water puddles — conditions ideal for mosquito breeding. The prospect of a helicopter gather increasing the likelihood of WNV outbreaks among wildlife was raised by BLM in a 2012 environmental assessment. BLM was concerned because WNV has been a significant cause of mortality among sage grouse and other bird species. The precautionary principle would call for protecting Wyoming’s residents — both human and avian — from exposure to harm.

Helicopters Emit Exhaust Gases that Contribute to Ozone and PM-10

Aircraft engines “emit water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), small amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulfur gases, and soot and metal particles formed by the high-temperature combustion of jet fuel during flight.” (Please see the last paragraph on page 2 at link below.)

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/afd-051013-001.pdf

The EPA notes that ground-level ozone has many detrimental health effects, which is why it monitors that form of pollution and regulates it. Fuel combustion, transportation, and fugitive dust — all of which are operative in a helicopter roundup — contribute to ozone.

http://epa.gov/air/emissions/basic.htm

Except for one aircraft-services contractor who still flies a B47G-3B-2 helicopter whose reciprocating engine uses 100-octane low lead fuel (100LL), all the other contractors fly turbine-engine helicopters, which use jet fuel. Although basically kerosene, jet fuel contains many additives, except lead. According to one source (link below), in addition to 70 or so proprietary compounds whose identity is withheld as being confidential business information (CBI) and which might even include mercury, here are some of the compounds emitted in the exhaust of combusted jet fuel:

Freon 11, Freon 12, Methyl Bromide, Dichloromethane, cis-l,2-Dichloroethylene, 1,1,1-Trichloro-ethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Toluene, Tetrachloroethene, Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene, o-Xylene, Styrene, 1,3,5-Trimethyl-benzene, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, o-Dichlorobenzene, Formaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, Acrolein, Acetone, Propinaldehyde, Crotonaldehyde, Isobutylaldehyde, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Benzaldehyde, Veraldehyde, Hexanaldehyde, Ethyl Alcohol, Acetone, Isopropyl Alcohol, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Butane, Isopentane, Pentane, Hexane, Butyl Alcohol, Methyl Isobutyl Ketone, n,n-Dimethyl Acetamide, Dimethyl Disulfide, m-Cresol, 4-Ethyl Toulene, n-Heptaldehyde, Octanal, 1,4-Dioxane, Methyl Phenyl Ketone, Vinyl Acetate, Heptane, Phenol, Octane [referring to the saturated hydrocarbon not the short form of the term "octane rating"], Anthracene, Dimethylnapthalene (isomers), Flouranthene, 1-methylnaphthalene, 2-methylnaphthalene, Naph-thalene, Phenanthrene, Pyrene , Benzo(a)pyrene, 1-nitropyrene, 1,8-dinitropyrene, 1,3-Butadiene, sulfites, nitrites, nitrogen oxide, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen trioxide, nitric acid, sulfur oxides, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, urea, ammonia, carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5).

http://www.lead.org.au/Lanv7n3/L73-4.html

If the piston-engine aircraft is used, pollution also occurs. The 100LL “avgas” fuel, when combusted, emits lead, a dangerous neurotoxin. The EPA advises:

Lead emissions to air undergo dispersion and eventually deposit to surfaces. Lead deposited to soil and water can remain available for uptake by plants, animals and humans for long periods of time.

The EPA further states: “Lead is a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) pollutant listed among EPA’s 12 priority PBT pollutants.” Please see page 11 at link below.

http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/net/tsd_avgas_lead_inventory_2002.pdf

Why would BLM even consider polluting the environment just to round up some horses?

Helicopters and Green-House Gas (GHG) Emissions

At the link below is a compare-and-contrast analysis of the GHG emissions produced by a passenger van versus by a helicopter transporting those same passengers. Interestingly, the aircraft in question, a B206 L4, is a model that one of the contractors uses. From other documents, we know that the roundup helicopter may refuel as many as four times a day. Such a frequency brings its own dangers of pollution from spills.

Bottom line: helicopters use much more fuel and, consequently, release many times the GHGs that a motor vehicle does. Which begs the question: Why would BLM employ such a polluting vehicle to round up equids when safe, humane alternatives are available? In fact, since there is no need for roundups at all, the cost, waste, and pollution are all the more indefensible.

http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/23533

Helicopters and Noise Pollution

An HMA is a designated space for wild horses and burros. It should be a place of peace and quiet. Using helicopters is a violation of that environment, disturbing the peace with the deafening roar of the chopper flying at very low altitude. It is unacceptable to use such a vehicle in a wild-horse area, polluting the environment with high-decibel noise and vibrations.

In its Report to Congress on Nonmilitary Helicopter Urban Noise Study, the Federal Aviation Administration noted that “a helicopter may be much more noticeable than a fixedwing aircraft because of the impulsive blade-slap sound.” Members of the public have a heightened reaction to helicopter-generated, low-frequency noise. This distinct “impulsive” (spontaneous changing) pattern is referred to as the “unique noise character” of helicopters. The FAA’s report explained:

When throbbing occurs at low-frequencies, the actual loudness is greater than that predicted by the equivalent level. Stated another way, even though the equivalent level of a sound may be below the threshold of audibility, the sound is audible.

The report further noted:

Rate of response is defined as the ratio or relative order of magnitude of percent average noticeability comparing two unique sources of noise. In this case, helicopter noise was compared to fixed-wing airplane and train noise. The rate of response function for helicopter sounds grew at three times the rate of response functions found for airplanes and trains. This paper showed that sound noticeability may be a significant variable for predicting human response to noise. The character of the sound was a key ingredient to noticeability. Helicopters, with their distinctive sound character, appeared to be more noticeable than other sounds for the same A-weighted sound exposure level.

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/policy_guidance/envir_policy/media/04Nov-30-RTC.pdf

Surely, wild horses will be similarly disturbed as well as traumatized by the roar, thunder, and rattle of the helicopter. In addition, they will suffer the brutality of being rammed by the landing skids to prod them into moving faster, as ample video documentation has revealed. Such cruelty took place in plain view of observers with video cameras. Imagine what went on out of their sight and scopes.

Helicopters and Decibel Readings

The following link contains a chart of decibel readings taken by a person that lived near a site in East Hampton, NY where helicopters operated out of the nearby airport. Note that for helicopters flying at “dangerously low, tree-top level,” readings of 85 to 90 decibels were common. Depending on the species, trees can be 30 to 60 feet tall or taller, and the helicopter would have been higher still to be above the tree tops.

http://www.ehhelicopternoise.com/files/Helicopter%20Sound%20Levels.pdf

At the link below, we learn that a Bell J-2A helicopter at 100 feet above ground level (AGL) reaches 100 dB. This reading is similar to those recorded by the private citizen referenced above.

http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm

According to another source, the decibel reading for helicopters reaches 105 dB, or louder than a jackhammer. Altitude: 100 feet AGL.

http://stophelipad.org/noise_levels.shtml

The following chart indicates that, at just 85 dB, hearing loss can occur. At 100 dB, the maximum safe exposure time is just 15 minutes. A roundup of a single band of wild horses can take much longer than 15 minutes.

http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/ruler.aspx

At this link, there are more examples of sound levels in various environments.

http://home.earthlink.net/~dnitzer/4HaasEaton/Decibel.html

BLM documents note — and we have seen for ourselves that — when herding equids, the roundup helicopter “would drop as low as 5 or 6 feet when turning the animals.” At this extremely low altitude, the noise level is likely well over 100 decibels, producing pain and suffering that is surely injurious to the acutely sensitive hearing of the equids. Combined with tremendous vibrations and the blasting rotor wash, the process is cruel and pitiless.

It is unacceptable to subject sentient creatures to such torment. America’s wild horses must be handled with care and concern. The agencies’ administrative convenience is the least important consideration.

Helicopters — Adverse Effects on the Wilderness, on the Wildlife

The impacts of using helicopters for roundups include the blowing of soils, injury to plants, and stress and possible injury to wildlife. The noise, pollution, stampeding of wild horses for miles-on-end would negatively impact the environment.
HELICOPTERS — Inappropriate Method for Counting Wild Horses
Aerial Inventories Produce Gross Over-Counts

BLM has also been employing aircraft to conduct inventories of wild horses and burros. However, the aerial method results in significant over-counts, as evidenced by BLM’s reporting of census figures that indicate reproductively-impossible birth-rates.

It is difficult to accurately count mustangs by means of a flyover, hard to tell horses apart and to know for sure that they haven’t been counted already. Due to wild horses’ roving nature — they are known to roam up to 50 miles a day — many instances of counting the same animals is probable. Indeed, wild horses may become particularly mobile, frightened into fleeing the deafening roar of the helicopter used for the flyover. Therefore, it is likely that horses are double-counted, and not per the “direct count” or “mark-resight” or the “simultaneous double-count” methods that BLM touts, but literally by counting many horses twice, perhaps even more than twice. Cows may be mistaken for horses. Deer may inadvertently get counted too.

An aerial inventory also tends to include “rock horses,” which fool the eye particularly when one is high above the landscape in an aircraft traveling at relatively high speeds. Related to this phenomenon is observer fatigue, which sets in after hours in a cramped, stuffy aircraft cabin, confined by seatbelt and crash-helmet, craning one’s neck to peer out the grimy windows, counting and photographing what look like they might be horses. The process repeats. And repeats. It gets tiresome. Airsickness may become an issue. The aircraft contractor and the census-takers know what they are supposed to find: Excess horses. Funds have been budgeted for a roundup, and with government allocations, it’s either “use ‘em or lose ‘em.” Why, even the worst-case modeling projections say there should be excess horses — just like the estimates predicted and the extrapolations seemed to show. So, excess horses are “found.” Confirmation-bias at work.

BLM needs an accurate method of taking inventory. The current approach has proven unreliable. Impossibly-high estimates of wild horse and burro populations have led to unnecessary removals, costly holding, and impaired relations with grazing permit-holders (who become alarmed by reports of a mustang population explosion) and wild-horse-and-burro advocates (who know there cannot be even half the number of mustangs on the range that BLM claims).

Recommendations: BLM-Wyoming should contract the census-taking function to independent experts, ideally ones associated with a university that has a strong animal-sciences program. BLM should research new technologies for remotely tracking wild horses and burros and then procure the system that best serves the purpose. There might even be a way to link the tracking devices to a data-base that would store comprehensive information on each animal. By employing technological approaches to tracking, BLM will secure accurate, reliable data for management purposes, including a complete demographic breakdown of the wild horses and burros in every HMA along with each equid’s genetic profile.

Why Would an Over-Count Be So Bad?

BLM justifies the need for a roundup when it estimates that horses in excess of the “appropriate management level” (AML) populate an HMA and/or have taken up residence outside an HMA. From this estimated population figure, BLM typically subtracts the lower bound of the AML to determine how many horses to remove.

For example, let’s say an HMA’s AML-range is 150 to 200 horses but that now the herd has grown to 300. BLM conducts an aerial inventory but “sees” 500 due to its over-count. It then plans a roundup thusly:

500 — estimated population — 67 percent higher than actual
− 150 — low AML
———–
350 — targeted for removal

BLM assumes the helicopter roundup will achieve a gather “efficiency” of 80 percent. Accordingly, BLM expects that, of the 500 horses it estimates are in residence …

400 — will be captured, of which …
350 — will be removed and
50 — will be released back.

The 100 that supposedly don’t get caught, plus the 50 that are to be released = 150.

The helicopter roundup ensues. Just 300 horses are captured — but they constitute the entire herd. All are removed (“gate-cut”) because the gather seemed to fail to achieve its “efficiency” goal when, in reality, the roundup got 100 percent, thus exceeding the goal and wiping out the herd. BLM assumes that 200 horses cleverly hid and evaded capture, and that they are still on the range, breeding away. In fact, the herd has been rounded up into extinction.

Aircraft Census and Gather Contractors — Apparent Conflict of Interest

The aircraft service providers used by BLM for conducting inventories and roundups know the score — if “excess” horses are found, a roundup will be scheduled and they can make some serious money. Thus, there is motivation to find — or create the appearance of — an over-population.

Doing so would be easy. The same area could be crisscrossed multiple times. BLM staff could easily become disoriented and not be able to tell that they had been over an area already. The horses could be spooked into fleeing outside their HMA, which would accomplish four things inuring to the financial benefit of a helicopter contractor. Scaring the horses and driving them out of the HMA could …

Cause them to be counted twice — once inside, and once outside the HMA,
Gin up the number of horses that appear to populate the HMA,
Automatically target such horses for removal, and
Result in the false appearance of a need for a roundup.

Thus, the helicopter inventory method suggests the appearance of a conflict of interest. The potential conflict pertains to the incentive to increase revenues through generating more billable services and more billable horses.

Recommendations: First, reform the census methods as earlier advised. Then, reform the roundup procedures by abolishing the helicopter-stampede method and instead, employing bait-and-water trapping. These corrective actions will eliminate the conflict of interest.
MOTORIZED VEHICLES — Dangerous to Wild Horses’ Health
Motorized Transport — Long Travel is Cruel, and Results in Illness, Deaths

Helicopters are not the only vehicles of concern. Trucks and trailers transport the gathered horses and burros, first to short-term holding, and eventually to long-term holding in most cases. Which brings up transit time. Prolonged confinement in trailer-travel is bad for horses’ health. BLM’s procedures call for mustangs that are in transit to be offloaded, rested, watered, and fed during journeys lasting more than 24 hours. However, the rest-stop provision may be waived (and probably usually is) if the “stress” of receiving a rest stop is deemed likely greater than the stress of uninterrupted travel. The procedures I’ve reviewed do not reveal who makes this determination or who monitors compliance. It is difficult to envision any scenario that would provide for an easy offloading of wild horses. Are there contract facilities along the way for this purpose? BLM does not say, but probably not. Thus, the supposed provision for humane transport is merely theoretical. The mustangs suffer terribly, since these trips to long-term holding surely take more than 24 hours.

On the “Tips for Traveling with Horses” episode of the “Best of America by Horseback” show that aired on RFD-TV on February 16, 2011, the guest veterinarian advised that horses should not be transported longer than 12 hours. Studies have disclosed a higher incidence of fevers and respiratory infections when travel-time exceeds 12 hours. Thus, there is no doubt that the wild horses, already stressed and crowded together in a cattle-car for more than twice that amount of time, will suffer illnesses as a direct result of the prolonged transport. The extended period in transit may be one reason why mustang fatalities in long-term holding (eight percent) exceed both those that occur in roundups (one percent) and those that take place in short-term holding (five percent).

So, here we have costly roundups, extravagant expenditures of taxpayer funds to ship wild horses around the country when there is room for them right where they are, and an inhumane method of said transport leading to more expenditures for veterinary care due to illnesses brought on by excessive time in transit.

Recommendations: BLM should create a mustang-transport task force to come up with ways of routing horses so that time in transit is always less than 12 hours. The team needs to develop not just procedures but definitive ways of verifying driver compliance. Possibly, electronic tracking mechanisms could be placed on the trailers to monitor location, speed, and other data. Intermediate check-points could be established. Also, BLM needs to devise a way to monitor to ensure contract drivers are operating their truck safely, and in a way that minimizes stress on the horses. Merely having rules and securing assurances are not enough. Trust, but verify.

Too Long Standing Still

There is also a concern about the length of time horses may be kept in trailers that are not moving. BLM’s policy says that wild horses may not be left standing “… for a combined period of greater than three (3) hours.” Crammed into a trailer in the hot sun, three hours is a long time. This provision needs to be reconsidered and reformed.

Recommendations: Total time for the horses to be confined in a trailer without the vehicle being in motion should be limited to 1½ hours. During rest and refueling stops, the trailer should be parked so that it is protected from the elements. Another issue that must be resolved is how to verify and enforce driver-compliance.
HELICOPTERS, MOTORIZED VEHICLES — Costly for Taxpayers
Crunch the Numbers

Expenditures of government funds need to be estimated, evaluated, and justified. BLM-Wyoming must complete an analysis of all costs, both immediate and long-term, of using helicopters and motorized vehicles to round up and cart off horses rather than cart in materials for range-improvements — such as to construct guzzlers. The cost-benefit analysis needs to crunch the numbers to ensure that public funds would be spent prudently. A thorough analysis will bring clarity to the decision-process. Rounding up wild horses generates immediate and on-going, long-term costs. It is an unsustainable approach involving …

Population inventories and monitoring flights via contract helicopter service
A helicopter roundup of a certain number of wild horses
Fertility-control treatments administered to mares
Removal of those horses
Transport of said horses
Short-term holding to prepare horses for adoption, and
Long-term holding for the many horses that are not adopted.

Through crunching the numbers, BLM will likely determine that a better use of its funds — and its helicopters and motorized vehicles — would be for rain-catchment projects. Guzzlers would improve conditions on the range for all water-consumers — livestock, wild horses, and wildlife — for decades to come. Thus, expenditures for such beneficial range improvements would not merely be costs but long-term investments.
BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
End Helicopter Roundups

I urge BLM-Wyoming to repudiate helicopter roundups and, instead, implement bait-and-water trapping as the method for gathering wild horses. I ask you to take this approach right away.

Helicopter roundups should have ceased long ago. The spectacle of this brutal roundup method being used against the wild horses has horrified the nation. It is in the Agency’s own self-interest to stop incurring negative publicity and casting itself in a bad light. I urge you to reform your methods. End helicopter roundups.

Cruelty-Free Methods — No Helicopters, No Whips, No Electric Prods

I urge the BLM-Wyoming to ban the use of helicopters, whips, and electric prods in gathering and maneuvering wild horses. It is time to implement cruelty-free, whip-free, prod-free operations.

Bait Trapping Only

I urge the BLM-Wyoming to require the use of the kind method of gathering wild horses — bait trapping. This method is a true best management practice. Because bait-trapping has been proven effective, it makes sense to adopt it — after Wyoming’s wild-horse herds substantially exceed the minimum-viable population (MVP) level prescribed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with regard to wild equids.

Recommendations: Use bait trapping exclusively. The goal is for bait-trapping to replace helicopter roundups. Bait-trapping should not be just another method of gathering horses but the method. I urge the BLM-Wyoming to embrace the superior bait-trapping approach.

Bait Trapping and Public Observation — Transparency, Accountability Essential

The public is interested in observing wild-horse roundups. Even though bait trapping is safe and kind to the horses, we wish to see the process in action. But because this method is slower, and requires waiting for the horses to enter a trap, observing in person will be challenging to arrange.

Recommendations: Install real-time video cameras — “caval-cams” — at the trap sites and corrals Live-stream the video on your website. That way, any member of the public can monitor a gather online. Think of the public-relations advantages of video-cams over the current practice of keeping observers unhappily far away from the site. Of course, there may still be some observers that prefer to visit the traps and corrals. That option should still be available. However, it will no longer be a contentious matter. Bait trapping is a gentle process, so most of the safety precautions currently necessary due to the dangers of low-flying helicopters chasing stampeding horses will be eliminated.

Learning the New Method

If Wyoming’s BLM staffers do not feel qualified to conduct bait trapping, there are trained units that could be brought in to do it or to show staff how it is done. Learning something new is an opportunity for personal as well as professional growth. BLM’s Billings Field Office (Montana) eschews helicopters in favor of bait trapping. Externally, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and The Cloud Foundation can refer you to an an expert in water trapping that works with the US Forest Service and, thus, is an approved contractor.

When to Gather

When herds significantly exceed the IUCN population guidelines for sustainable genetic viability, a bait-trapping gather may be necessary. The appropriate time to gather wild horses is in autumn — before the snowfall season. By then, foals are older, and temperatures are cooler. Small-scale, annual fall events will mean fewer horses coming up for adoption, and they will be available just in time for the holidays. The horse adoption market won’t be overwhelmed — as it is now — and fewer mustangs will need to be placed in sanctuaries, preserves, or long-term holding. Such an approach will prove cost-effective, enabling BLM to redirect the budget to rangeland improvements and other purposes.

Trapping, or Entrapment?

BLM has been exploiting alleged complaints from private-property owners of wild-horse trespass to set up capture-corrals on those very properties. The corrals are baited to induce the wild horses to trespass, and when they inevitably do, they are punished with permanent denial of their freedom. This approach is wrong.

Siting bait-traps on private property invites trespass and rewards it, likely provoking even more wild horses to leave their herd management area (HMA) than the few that may have wandered. Further, BLM then uses the private-property location of the traps as an excuse to bar humane observers, thus shrouding agency-operations in secrecy, which raises suspicion as to what you are hiding from the public.

I would also point out the appearance of a conflict of interest — permit-holding ranchers that use the HMAs to graze livestock are often the very ones complaining. By getting rid of the wild horses, they free up more room for their cattle. Some unethical permit-holders may even lure wild horses onto their property for this very reason, thereby giving themselves an unfair competitive advantage.

Recommendations:

1. BLM should install guzzlers and mineral licks well-inside each HMA to encourage the wild horses to remain within the boundaries of their dedicated habitat. If supplemental forage is provided, it must be dropped toward the middle of the HMA. These proactive steps should be taken first. The goal is to draw the mustangs back into the HMA and to give them motives to stay there.

2. Complaints of wild-horse trespass received from permit-holders should be investigated and verified, with the “bring-’em-back-home” measures described above taken as the first response.

3. The perimeters of the HMAs should be fenced, and those fences, maintained.

4. Bait-traps must be sited on BLM land, where public-observation can occur.

Semi-Trucks and Trailers (Big Rigs), and Pickup Trucks

Use such vehicles to cart in materials … such as to haul water during drought, to bring supplemental forage to the wild horses, and to transport construction-materials for the installation of water catchments — guzzlers.

Partnership with Wild-Horse-and-Burro Stakeholders

The Wild Horse and Burro Program is a high-profile / hot-button topic. The Program is national in scope, and is monitored by dedicated advocates. Comments received from the public are beneficial, but consultation-efforts should not end there. BLM-Wyoming needs to cultivate real partnerships and establish good working-relationships with mustang-advocates, particularly with the leaders of the prominent national, state, and local organizations working to protect the interests of wild horses and burros. Representatives of our sector must be formally included in the planning process right from the start and all along the way.

Recommendations: BLM-Wyoming needs to establish an advisory committee of mustang-advocates and work with us to formulate policy — such as how to gather wild horses and burros. I call upon BLM to …

collaborate,
consult,
cooperate, and
coordinate

… with us. Wild-horse advocates across the nation look forward to consensus-based decisions and to the development of best management practices concerning wild horses. As the recent National Academies of Sciences report said: “… management should engage interested and affected parties and also be responsive to public attitudes and preferences. BLM should engage with the public in ways that allow public input to influence agency decisions.”

Value All Comments — Publish All Results — Strive for Consensus

I urge BLM-Wyoming to publish the minutes of the hearing — as you did in 2013 — including the number of persons that participate in the hearing, both those that attend in person and those that submit comments. Show that you value every response on its own merits rather than labeling some as “form letters.” The Constitution provides for the right of citizens to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The Constitution does not require each complainant to formulate a unique letter. Indeed, the very word “petition” connotes a document that multiple parties sign in agreement and solidarity regarding a particular issue. At court, there are even class-action suits, wherein many plaintiffs join together to seek justice regarding a matter of mutual concern. One action, many parties.

Please report …

How many persons attended the hearing and how many submitted comments,
How many and what percentage favored or opposed helicopters and why,
What different alternatives were proposed, and
What modifications, corrections, improvements will BLM make per the public input.

The process is supposed to build consensus. The public-involvement component is designed to get feedback from those persons interested enough to participate in the planning process. Disregarding feedback leads to decisions that are not supported by the majority of stakeholders.

Recommendations: Each and every comment must be honored fully, individually, and collectively, with the numerical results published.

Show Respect — Provide Ample Time for Comments — Encourage Dialogue

BLM-Wyoming’s 2013 hearing in this regard lasted just 13 minutes! The meeting commenced at 5:30 p.m. and concluded at 5:43 p.m. The six attendees were each allowed a maximum of two (2) minutes to speak. Questions were disallowed. A number of the attendees had traveled from out-of-state to take part in the hearing. By severely limiting the time allowed and by prohibiting questions, BLM showed contempt for these dedicated citizen-taxpayer-advocates and for the public-input process itself.

BLM staff also appeared disrespectful and distrustful of the attendees, seeming to suggest that the participants might become unruly. The hearing manager — who went on at length about all the “procedural guidelines” — issued the following warning to participants:

Profanity and vulgar language will not be allowed. Please keep your statements clean, or you will be escorted off the premises.

The hearing manager concluded the event … by suggesting that attendees might try to hide in the restrooms!

I would ask that everyone gather themselves and proceed to the exit. The building will be cleared. The restrooms will be checked and the building secured. This hearing is now adjourned. Thank you.

Recommendations:

A required annual hearing needs to be a meaningful event. I suggest that a minimum of four hours be set aside for the hearing. A full day would be better. If the public were to see that BLM took these hearings seriously, more persons would surely attend.

Ample time must be reserved for each participant to comment, with the amount of time extended if there is a low number in attendance. I suggest 30 minutes per person. Question-and-answer periods are essential, and dialogue should be encouraged.

BLM staffers should be provided training in customer-service skills, and they need to be reminded that courtesy and respect must be shown to members of the public. BLM employees must be reminded that they are duty-bound to honor the public-input component, which the subject hearing is meant to fulfill.

Conclusions

Renounce the use of helicopters under any circumstances.
Use motorized vehicles only to carry in water, forage, or materials.
Empower wild-horse advocates to have a real influence on BLM processes
Respect hearing-participants, and respect the public-input component.

Thank you for this opportunity to participate in this hearing by submitting substantive comments. Would you please keep me informed and on your mailing list to be notified regarding matters that affect the wild horses of Wyoming.

Sincerely,

Marybeth Devlin

Get your I Love Ponies t-shirts to raise awareness for wild ponies

 

Order your shirts here: https://www.booster.com/loveponies

Help raise awareness with T-shirts! Did you know that many American wild horses are often pony height? Mustangs need to be adopted to get out of the holding pens and they make great pony partners! Get the “I love ponies” T-Shirt to encourage education and mustang adoptions. Irma Novak (17) a member of the United States Pony Club, was inspired to make this shirt for the Discover Mustangs program after she saw the most adorable wild ponies who need to find homes.

Here’s the link to get your T-Shirts: https://www.booster.com/loveponies Only 7 days left!

All the money raised goes to feed the Discover Mustangs program wild horses. Protect Mustangs is a California nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of native and wild horses (& ponies too).

PM Mantle Little Cloud #0729

Dangerous bill puts America’s wild horses at risk of slaughter

©Cynthia Smalley

 

Dear Friends of Wild horses and burros,

It’s bad when the BLM holds captive mustangs with no shade or shelter but if we all don’t rally quickly to stop a misleading bill in Congress, we could witness America’s cherished wild horses being sold to slaughter by the thousands instead of being held captive in holding pens or living in freedom as the law intended–safe from harassment and slaughter.

You probably have witnessed what happens when the states “manage” wild horses. . . In the case of the 41 wild horses from Dry Creek, Wyoming, 37 were sold to the Canadian slaughterhouse. We are so grateful to have rescued 14 youngsters (8mo-2 yrs) who were all going to be butchered for human consumption abroad.

Below is an Associated Press article that is going viral this weekend while the National Association of Counties is meeting in New Orleans. The Utah Commissioners are trying to get a joint resolution backed which would put American wild horses at-risk of being killed and slaughtered to “dispose of them.” Of course the politicians don’t pitch it this way. No . . . they cover that part up and make their resolution and their legislation look like it has animal welfare in mind. You can see the bill below.

Let’s hope this article shines the light on their sinister plans. It’s time to fight for the protection of wild horses.

Bill seeks to allow states to manage wild horses
By Martin Griffith, Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Utah congressman has introduced legislation to allow Western states and American Indian tribes to take over management of wild horses and burros from the federal government.

Rep. Chris Stewart said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has mismanaged the animals on public rangelands and states should have the option of managing them.

An overpopulation of horses is pushing cattle off the range, the Republican lawmaker said, and leading to the destruction of important habitat for native species.

“States and tribes already successfully manage large quantities of wildlife within their borders,” Stewart said in a statement. “If horses and burros were under that same jurisdiction, I’m confident that new ideas and opportunities would be developed to manage the herds more successfully than the federal government.”

But Anne Novak, executive director of California-based Protect Mustangs, said her group opposes the legislation because it would lead to states and tribes killing the animals or selling them off for slaughter for human consumption.

The government is rounding up too many mustangs while allowing livestock to feed at taxpayer expense on the same rangeland scientists say is being overgrazed, she said.

“We’ve had firsthand experience with states and tribes managing wild horses, and it’s horribly cruel,” Novak said in a statement. “They ruthlessly remove wild horses and sell them to kill-buyers at auction. Severe animal abuse would be the result of the (legislation).”

The Bureau of Land Management says it’s doing all it can, given budget constraints, overflowing holding pens and a distaste for the politically unpopular options of either ending the costly roundups or slaughtering excess horses.

The bill’s introduction comes at a time when the bureau has been under increasing pressure from ranchers to remove horses that they say threaten livestock and wildlife on rangelands already damaged by drought.

In Utah, Iron County commissioners had threatened to gather up hundreds of mustangs themselves, saying the government refuses to remove enough horses in herds that double in size every five years.

Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller said he and commissioners from Utah’s Beaver and Garfield counties are trying to drum up support for a resolution in support of the legislation at the National Association of Counties annual conference in New Orleans, which ends Monday.

“The resolution will be instrumental in getting Chris Stewart’s bill through Congress because it shows support across the nation,” he told The Spectrum of St. George, Utah.

Stewart said his Wild Horse Oversight Act would extend all protections that horses and burros enjoy under the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 while giving states the opportunity of implementing their own management plans.

Under the bill, the states could form cooperative agreements to manage herds that cross over borders, and the federal government would continue to monitor horses and burros to ensure that population numbers as prescribed by the 1971 act are maintained.

The bureau estimates 40,600 of the animals — the vast majority horses — roam free on bureau-managed rangelands in 10 Western states. The population exceeds by nearly 14,000 the number the agency has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.

Some 49,000 horses and burros removed from the range are being held in government-funded short- and long-term facilities.

# # #

Cross-posted from the San Francisco Chronicle for educational purposes: http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Bill-seeks-to-allow-states-to-manage-wild-horses-5617520.php

Please share this news with your friends and help with a donation to feed and care for the WY14 and the other wild horses in our Outreach Program here: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=701

Hear a commissioner spin his pitch while interviewed on a friendly radio station in Utah: https://soundcloud.com/ksvc/mark

Take action and contact your county commissioners and all your elected officials to request they do not support rogue commissioners in Utah and ask that they do not support the individual states managing wild horses because it would put them at risk of slaughter.

Now is the time to stand up and fight for the voiceless!  Together we can turn this around.

Many blessings,
Anne

Anne Novak
Executive Director
Anne@ProtectMustangs.org
www.ProtectMustangs.org

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