Outrage over pro-kill, anti-mustang article in today’s Economist

PM Economist Billions Spin Article

Today The Economist published an article titled America is set to spend billions on taming its growing wild-horse population with fake projected costs in the multi-billions for shock value and pro-kill, pro-slaughter, pro-sterilization undertones. It’s clear the media piece goes beyond yellow journalism and was placed in the economist by a PR firm paid for by public land-grabbers who hate wild horses. Otherwise, how could such an article, filled with outrageous errors and lack of facts, get into the publication?

The $1 billion figure that BLM claims it would cost to care for the wild horses held in captivity has ballooned.  Keep in mind that in an article posted in the Rawlins Times, BLM inflated that number to $2.3 billion — 230% times the original number.
In today’s Economist.com article, the $2.3 billion has swelled to $4.6 billion — 200% times higher still.

This “article” is trying to put pressure on Congress to kill or sterilize America’s beloved wild horses. The motives are clear.

Marybeth Devlin, Protect Mustangs Advisory Board member and member of the Alliance for Wild Horses and Burros wrote the following in the comment section. Let’s hope people will read the facts:

“The Big Lie of “overpopulation” is the pretext for BLM’s war against the wild horses. It’s BLM’s version of the “Shock Doctrine,” wherein BLM concocted a phony crisis to push through policies antithetical to the Wild Horse Act against the will of The People.

In fact, horses are a slow-growth species when it comes to reproduction. The gestation-period lasts over 11 months, and a mare produces just 1 foal. While an independent study of BLM’s records did confirm a nearly 20% birth rate, that study also found that 50% of foals perish before their first birthday. Thus, the effective increase in population from new foals is just 10%. However, adult mortality must also be taken into consideration. Adult mustangs succumb at a rate of at least 5% a year. So, what is a normal herd-growth rate? Around 5%, probably less. Thus, a herd could not double in 4 or 5 years, debunking another BLM falsehood. But BLM stealthily inserts herd-growth rates far higher than 20% in its reports — biologically-impossible herd-growth rates. For instance, in Wyoming, BLM declared that the Salt Wells Creek herd grew from 29 horses to 616 horses in 6 months (yes, months), a 2,024% increase. BLM’s “data” is chock-full of preposterous growth-estimates. So, when you hear talk of how the wild horses are reproducing “exponentially,” that’s a sure sign that BLM has falsified the data. You should also know that the National Academy of Sciences was required by the terms of its grant to draw conclusions per BLM’s figures — the falsified figures. The NAS was not allowed to collect data independently. Thus, BLM wired the results to confirm its lies.

Wild horses are underpopulated. Per the guidelines of BLM’s own geneticist, more than 80% of the herds suffer from arbitrary management levels (AMLs) set below minimum-viable population (MVP). Low AMLs enable BLM to claim an “excess” in herds whose numbers, even if they were over AML, would still not reach MVP. So being “over AML” is meaningless as well as misleading. But those low AMLs, combined with fraudulent, biologically-impossible herd-growth estimates, give BLM an excuse to scapegoat those few wild horses for the range-damage done by the millions of livestock that overgraze the public lands.

PZP is a potent weapon in BLM’s arsenal — for its biological warfare against the wild horses. PZP is a registered pesticide. Its mechanism-of-action is to cause auto-immune disease — tricking the immune system into producing antibodies that target and attack the ovaries. The antibodies cause ovarian dystrophy, oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries), ovarian cysts, destruction of oocytes in growing follicles, and depletion of resting follicles. The mare’s estrogen-levels drop markedly as PZP destroys her ovaries. Ultimately, PZP sterilizes her. A recent study — which included the McCullough Peaks herd — found that PZP extends the birthing season to nearly year-round. Out-of-season births put the life of the foals and the mares at risk. Worse yet, radioimmunoassay tests indicated that PZP antibodies are transferred from mother to female offspring via the placenta and milk.

As for the wild horses held in captivity, they are the “legacy” of former Secretary Salazar’s equid cleansing era, during which he had tens of thousands of wild horses removed from the range. However, the mortality rate of captive wild horses is about 8% a year. So, obviously, since they are not reproducing, their numbers will steadily drop, showing that BLM’s billion-dollar figure for their care was bogus — it was just another Lie. But that Lie has ballooned. BLM has taken the $1 billion figure that it originally announced, multiplied it by 230%, and then multiplied that number by another 200%, amplifying the fraud. When BLM lies, it lies Big.

The Wild Horse and Burro program, if administered per the minimum-feasible management-model specified by Law, would not cost much at all. BLM does not lack for resources. There are 22 million acres of legally-designated wild-horse herd areas — which BLM previously took away for political expediency — that can be reopened as habitat. The horses now held captive can be released to those areas, where the cost of their upkeep will be $0.

Contrary to BLM’s disinformation campaign, wild horses do have natural predators — mountain lions, bears, wolves, and coyotes. But those predators are persecuted mercilessly. The government exterminates what the hunters don’t shoot. However, the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros — Wild Horse Annie’s foundation — notes that even without predators, their wild-horse herds self-regulate their numbers, with population-growth in the single digits.

Finally, adoptions have not declined. It’s just that BLM used to count sales-for-slaughter as “adoptions.” Now, only “forever-family” placements qualify. However, mustangs are not homeless horses. They are wild horses whose home is on the range.”

Protect Mustangs is an organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses.

Bad science, spin and alleged subterfuge

BLM Aug 2013 Spin-shop

Joan Guilfoyle (BLM), Debbie Collins (BLM) and Facilitator

 For the record

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) public workshop on August 6, 2013 in Reno was a pitch session for the agency’s point of view that shade is not necessary at the Palomino Valley Center (PVC). The facility is the largest wild horse and burro short-term holding, adoption and processing center in America.

PVC resembles a feedlot–fattening up wild horses before probable slaughter for human consumption. Even so there is no shelter for the close to 2,000 captive wild horses, including pregnant mares and foals, at the huge facility.

The workshop was more of a “spin-shop” and failed the BLM’s interactive promise. Often questions from the public were repeated but not answered.

The BLM’s neglectful point of view was supported by biased consultants with a history of working for the cattle industry–a long time foe of the wild horse.

We received many complaints from members of the public who were in the room, and those on the webinar, stating that their questions and comments were not answered.

Advocates were put off after traveling to Reno to give public comment but were not allowed to share their findings because the BLM was not letting them speak.

There was no brainstorming session of substance–only a BLM pitch against shade that allowed the concerned public to ask questions and some colorful writing on boards.

The advocate community and members of the global public are up in arms that the BLM appears to have found consultants from U.C. Davis who speak with alleged forked tongues to back up the BLM’s negligent care.

Ph.D. from U.C. Davis advises against minimum standards of shade/shelter at BLM facility

Ph.D. from U.C. Davis advises against minimum standards of shade/shelter at BLM facility

The recommendation by Dr. Carolyn Stull, Ph.D. from U.C. Davis, to deny America’s captive wild horses access to shade/shelter is appalling. Everyone knows the minimum basics of Animal Husbandry 101 is food, shelter, water. Obviously there is a conflict of interest. Is this because of her ties to the cattle industry or is it something else?

Stull wrote a paper titled “Managing Equine Neglect Cases” in which it states at the top, in the definitions, quote, ‘NEGLECT: is the failure to provide proper shelter, food, or water. Neglect may also include failure to provide veterinary care to a horse that is ill or injured.”

When I asked her why she was recommending no shade/shelter for captive wild horses in the BLM’s care, especially after Stull herself wrote a well known paper on NEGLECT, she appeared to downplay the importance of shade by stating that her paper was for domestic horses in California.

Everyone saw through her shocking response. Many advocates have the episode on video and will publish the whole dog and pony show soon.

The BLM’s proposition to shade only the “compromised” equids is outrageous. All captive wild horses and burros need access to food, water and shelter.

The crowd in the room, the viewers on line, and the public wants all the captive wild horses to have access to shelter.

The BLM requires all adopters provide shelter in order to adopt wild horses and burros yet they are not providing it themselves.

When asked questions about the number of uncounted dead wild horses, the BLM’s vet appeared evasive and appeared to demonstrate a blatant lack of transparency to the taxpayer. He seemed to show disrespect for his oath as a DVM by appearing to hide information about all the dead horses at the government facility.

The BLM and/or their vet appear to have neglected to perform necropsies to prove exposure to triple digit heat–without shade–contributed to the death of more than 3 wild horses during the heat wave. Without necropies, there is a lack of scientific proof–even though the BLM’s negligence points to subterfuge. Keep in mind, the BLM is routinely skewing the death count by not counting the dead without brands showing their id numbers.

The BLM’s mortality statistics avoid counting the majority of captured dead horses and burros. False mortality statistics are reported to convince Congress things “aren’t so bad”.

We request accurate death counts for transparency. Congress and the greater public need to know the truth.

More than 26,000 people have signed our petition and the number is growing every hour. http://www.change.org/petitions/bring-emergency-shade-for-captive-wild-horses-and-burros

Every day the BLM refuses to bring emergency shade and shelter, more people learn about the horrible way America’s captive wild horses are being treated by the agency charged to protect them.

Research on shade for wild horses and burros would be a waste of taxpayer funding as food shelter, water and veterinary care are the basics for animal welfare.

More roundups are inexcusable when the BLM neglects their basic care in captivity.

Protect Mustangs formally reinstates our request for captive wild horses and burros to have access to shade and shelter from the elements.

This shameful issue is being well documented by many advocates. The bad science allegedly pushed by consultants is being well documented. The BLM’s lack of transparency and avoidance to work with the public is being well documented and the whole world is watching their heinous acts of neglect towards native wild horses and burros.

If the BLM had cared for the captive wild horses then little Shadow would probably still be alive. See and share the video investigation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdM2NrJcX8o&feature=c4-overview&list=UUX02ydgQl6GSD0XdTBz9vaQ

Please sign, share and email out the petition for emergency shade: http://www.change.org/petitions/bring-emergency-shade-for-captive-wild-horses-and-burros

Now contact your senators and representative and request they intervene to bring shade/shelter to the captive wild horses and burros.

Best wishes,

Anne Novak

Executive Director of Protect Mustangs


Protect Mustangs is devoted to protecting native wild horses. Our mission is to educate the public about the indigenous wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

Links of Interest:

August 9, 2013 This is Reno, Palomino horse facility needs shade http://thisisreno.com/2013/08/opinion-palomino-horse-facility-needs-shade/

July 20, 2013 Kansas City Star by Martin Griffith, The Associated Press BLM seeks ideas to protect wild horses from heat http://www.kansascity.com/2013/07/20/4357157/blm-seeks-ideas-on-how-to-protect.html

July 20, 2013 CBS San Francisco BLM seeks ways to protect wild horses from heat after pressure from Bay Area advocate http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/07/20/blm-seeks-to-protect-wild-horses-from-heat-after-pressure-from-bay-area-advocate/

BLM’s wild horse and burro program looks to community for ideas at workshop: http://thisisreno.com/2013/07/blms-wild-horse-and-burro-program-looks-to-community-for-ideas-at-workshop/

Captive wild horses need relief from heat says HSUS http://horsetalk.co.nz/2013/07/18/captive-wild-horses-need-relief-heat-says-hsus/#axzz2ZcyetMGy

Captive wild horses need shade, advocates say http://horsetalk.co.nz/2013/07/02/captive-wild-horses-need-shade-advocates-say/#axzz2ZcyetMGy

How many foals are dying after roundups?: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4246

BLM’s email revealing they are not counting the unbranded dead amongst the 37 dead mustangs at the Nevada facility http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4220

BLM avoids necropsy to avoid proof of heat distress http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4808

Animals’ Angels investigation of BLM mortality discrepancies continues



Lack of accountability remains questionable
The BLM has habitually demonstrated a complete lack of accountability regarding horse and burro mortality rates. Excuses include everything from incomplete and missing paperwork, to excluding deceased foals with the death tolls. If BLM’s record-keeping is as palpable as they would have the public believe, why are there such imposing discrepancies?


As mentioned in our previous report, the Nevada BLM Office utilizes a rendering company to dispose of deceased horses and burros. The figures from the mortality reports of the Nevada BLM do not reconcile with the rendering company receipts.


BLM Horses 1


Hundreds of horses were unaccounted for. The BLM’s Public Affairs Specialist Heather Jasinski rationalized this huge discrepancy in part by claiming that they do not count stillbirths (aborted fetuses, animals born dead and newborn animals found dead) and young foals that died before they were freeze marked, but also admitted that the “National WH&B Program is currently reviewing its reporting procedures for all aspects of the program and will modify them to correct any identified discrepancies.”

BLM Horses 2
Our review of the mortality rates at the Palomino Valley Holding Facility in Nevada was alarming, but unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg. Received via Freedom of Information Act Request, the disposal information obtained from Utah, California, and Colorado BLM offices and landfills was enough to cause great concern. Upon reviewing the mortality reports, disposal protocols and landfill delivery sheets from January 2010 to May 2013, we were compelled to share our findings with the general public.

While each state maintained at least rudimentary mortality reports, there is absolutely no oversight whatsoever with regard to disposal. Landfills utilized by the BLM either do not keep disposal records, or refused to provide them to Animals’ Angels; referring us to the BLM instead.  One landfill in Utah did respond to our request for disposal receipts, however, the receipts were for total tonnage and not by head count. Their receipts still didn’t match the records supplied by the BLM. Without an outside agency keeping and/or providing disposal records, it is nearly impossible to know the true mortality rate of horses and burros within the BLM.


BLM Horses 3


Per Mr Fran Ackley, BLM Wild Horse Program Lead, the Colorado BLM has an “assistance agreement” with the Canon City Correctional Facility. Prison employees pick up deceased horses and burros and take them to the landfill.This agreement was described as an arrangement that benefited both Government organizations in various ways, providing work for inmates and providing a service needed by the BLM.

Colorado BLM supplied Animals’ Angels with copies of prison receipts, indicating a fee for this “service” being charged by the prison. Also included with this FOIA, were thefacility/mortality reports. As per usual, the BLM’s figures in Colorado often do not match the prison receipts. Animals’ Angels requested a copy of the prison’s records, but Mr. Jim Heaston, Head of the Department of Corrections Program, denied our request.



Utah BLM also supplied Animals’ Angels with mortality records for the DeltaGunnison and Salt Lake Facility. According to Juan Palma, State Director of the BLM in Utah, the BLM utilizes five landfills for dead horse disposal: Iron County Landfill, Sevier County Landfill, Millard County Landfill, Sanpete Landfill and Salt Lake Valley Landfill.


Iron County Landfill

Per the BLM, disposal at this landfill was rare. There was no charge for disposal, nor were any records kept by either party. Associated numbers for the word “rare” are left open to interpretation.

BLM horses 4


Sevier County Landfill

Per the BLM, there was no charge for disposal at this landfill, nor were any records kept. Exact totals were unknown.

Millard County Landfill

Per the Millard Landfill, records were not kept regarding horses/burros disposed of by the BLM. Sheryl Dekker, Office Manager at the landfill, also indicated that they did not invoice for the service and that the landfill does not monitor if & how many animals are delivered to their “flesh pits”.

Sanpete Landfill

According to the BLM, this landfill was utilized quite frequently for dead animal disposal from the Gunnison facility. Per the Sanpete Landfill’s Chairman Scott Bartholomew (who referred us to the UT BLM), records are not kept regarding the BLM’s disposal. However, a portion of Utah BLM’s internal records received with the FOIA included receipts for Sanpete. Money was exchanged for the service, but the BLM was again charged for tonnage, not for individual headcount, which makes it difficult to compare these figures with mortality report numbers. Exact totals are unknown. According to the mortality records, 131 horses died at the Gunnison facility in 2011. The Sanpete Landfill invoices indicate disposal of carcasses with a total weight of 56,780lbs.



Salt Lake Valley Landfill

The Salt Lake Valley Landfill provided BLM disposal records to Animals’ Angels. This landfill was paid by the BLM for tonnage. The tonnage records provided by the landfill do not match the number of dead horses listed on the mortality records. For example, according to the mortality records, no horses died at the Salt Lake Facility between April and July of 2010. However, the landfill records show several BLM disposals during that timeframe.


Incongruent record keeping by all entities proves only one thing: there is no way to accurately determine the death rates within Utah BLM, as concrete figures are completely unavailable.



According to Amy Dumas, Wild Horse & Burro Program Manager, California BLM buries deceased horses and burros on-site at their holding facilities. The California BLM did provide mortality reports for the Litchfield and Ridgecrest facility. Without any external audit system, confirmation and accuracy of these figures is subject to believing that they are undeniably true. Based on the other FOIA’s we have received, it would be hard to imagine that the California holding facilities properly document the number of deceased animals.


In summary:

The public needs to understand the autonomous nature of BLM operations. Autonomy cannot be an attribute of a Government-run agency. Inaccurate documents, specifically those regarding mortality rates, lead to suspicion. If this was indeed a transparent agency, the numbers wouldn’t lie.


Animals’ Angels is awaiting FOIA responses from South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Oregon and Arizona. We will continue our investigation into the BLM’s practices, and will update our report with our findings.  As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support.

Protect Mustangs™ spurs inquiry into dead horses at Palomino Valley

(Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

(Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

On Friday April 12, Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs™, asked a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee a simple facility question. She wanted to know the mortality rate of captured wild horses at the Palomino Valley facility since January 1, 2013.

Rather than provide an easy transparent answer, the employee dismissed her request and told Novak to contact the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office.

Novak copied many advocates and members of the media on her second and third request for mortality rate information. She is concerned about the obvious lack of transparency in the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The wild horse and burro advocate community now wants to know how many have died at the facility since the beginning of the year. Several advocates have sent the BLM employee emails as a result of his refusal to share basic facility information.

Esteemed advocates and members of the public have contacted their elected officials to request government transparency and an answer to Novak’s question.

Members of the greater public are wondering why the BLM is hiding the mortality rate. The big questions are spreading on social media: “What is the BLM hiding? How many died at Palomino Valley since January 1, 2013?”

Below is Novak’s third request:

April 17, 2013

Dear Jeb,

Kindly provide a written response to my simple question from April 12th. You will find the whole email stream on our website as well as below:

How many horses died at the facility since Jan 1, 2013?

Thank you for your prompt assistance.


Anne Novak


CC list includes Stacy Peters, Palomino Valley employee and others

BC list undisclosed


Anne Novak

Executive Director

Protect Mustangs™

San Francisco Bay Area

Tel./Text: 415.531.8454


Read about native wild horses: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=562 

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Protect Mustangs™ is devoted to protecting native wild horses. Our mission is to educate the public about the native wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

Read Animals Angels’ FOIA report revealing discrepancies in mortality records from January 1, 2010 to May 31, 2012: http://www.animalsangels.org/the-issues/horse-slaughter/foia-requests/497-blm-nevada-mortality-records-a-nevada-rendering-animals-angels-foia-request-reveals-discrepancies.html