Monday, March 14, 2011


            PLEASE BE SURE TO GET YOUR RESPONSE IN TO BLM'S "PROPOSED STRATEGY" document today, March 30, 2011.  Look over their strategy.  If you are tired of reading, I think you will find this Press Conference, including the question-and-answer section, an excellent source of information and inspiration.  Also informative and inspiring are the public comments voiced at the Advisory Board meeting.  More excellent sources of feedback to BLM:
            Two more places to help you bring your thoughts into focus/into words:
            The Cloud Foundation recommendations are on their website; just click on the link here to view those.  
            There is a click-and-send strategy feedback letter on's website.  I recommend you copy-and-paste that letter into the body of a personal email, edit it to personalize it with some of your own words and perhaps emphasize the issue(s) that are most meaningful to you or to those whose opinions you most trust and respect.    
          With numerous supporters of our American wild horses, I traveled to Phoenix to attend the first 2011 meeting of the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, as well as the press conference we held to Stop the Roundups.
           WE LISTENED TO FIVE passionate, knowledgeable speakers with histories of standing up for the horses.  You may view Madeleine Pickens, R.T. Fitch, and Simone Netherlands, the first three on R.T. Fitch's blog since I need not duplicate what is already available;  
           Here are the last two clips for you from the press conference officiated by Ginger Kathrens, Emmy winning filmmaker of the Nature series on Cloud, the inimitable wild Palomino stallion of the Rockies. Following these last two statements came the Question-and-Answer segment, all of which is posted below.
           And now Laura Leigh's statement:

              The individual statements were closed out by Michael Blake's statement at the March 10, 2011, Stop-the-Roundups press conference.

I will be adding more as I go along...wanted to get these up for you now.
         Here now is the complete Questions-and-Answers time, broken into four sections (1A, 1B, 2, and 3) since 10 minutes is the maximum video time Youtube allows at present.
         Here is part 1A, Questions and Answers, where Laura Leigh and Ginger Kathrens answer a fundamental question:  What do we think has to happen to protect the wild horses and burros in perpetuity (i.e., as an ongoing presence in our land)?

               3-10-11 Qs & As Part 1B, as Ginger Kathrens answers a question regarding the numbers of cows and sheep as compared to the numbers of wild horses and burros on the HMAs — the wild horses' and burros' Herd Management Areas designated for them:

and moving right along, here is Qs and As, Part 2, where Laura Leigh discusses some heavily competing interests and what many believe to be the real issue behind the push to remove wild horses and burros from our public lands:
    And here is Part 3, Qs & As, Madeleine Pickens discussing her plans for Mustang Monument, the sanctuary she is endeavoring to create in a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Bureau of Land Management:

  Public Comments
          Here are some of the public comments.  I will continue to get these out to you as soon as I can.  BLM will also be re-broadcasting the whole Advisory Board meeting, but they haven't gotten that up yet.  When it is available, I will be happy to post the link here.
           UPDATE:  On BLM's Youtube channel they've kindly posted their livefeed transmission from the Board meeting, including public comments.  Just click on the link above.
          We were not permitted to use tripods up here where people were speaking due to safety precautions established by the fire department for ready access, so once again, things are not as smooth as I would prefer.  However, I decided we'd all rather make do and see faces of the speakers than have a nice steady image of the speakers' backs.
          Here is my statement to the Advisory Board during the Public Comments portion.  Four minutes flies by.

           And before you watch Ginger's statement below, I just have to say what a privilege it is to know and work among these stellar people, and to call them and to be called friends.  This was a well attended Board meeting with advocates coming from all over the country.  I met people with whom I've been communicating for a long time on Facebook and through my blog, email, networking...  and renewed acquaintance with Advisory Board members, some of whom are making an effort for the horses.   There are new members, and we need to see what recommendations they will make.
          And it was good to see people from BLM, as well.  We must continue to emphasize and choose relationship.  We come down on different sides of the issues often, but we have to keep working at this.  We are making history, people, make no mistake.  Keep showing up for the horses and burros...
          Here is Ginger Kathrens:

          Here is Craig Downer's statement.   I was truly moved by his "reading with expression," as he put it, of some of his comments which he had already submitted to the Board.

              And I will soon have more comments from people at the Advisory Board Meeting.  There are several more really terrific comments I am eager to post for you.  This is not nearly complete without them.
              I am heading this weekend (March 26-27, 2011) for Los Angeles to see the new Humanion Films release, Saving America's Horses - A Nation Betrayed.  Katia Louise, filmmaker, came out to the Calico roundup in January 2010, interviewed Craig Downer, interviewed me.  She covers all horses' struggle and service in many venues, that is, wild horses as well as the terrible slaughter nightmare. 
             This film, like James Kleinert's Disappointment Valley, is an important revealing work.   Included in the film is some of my wild horse roundup footage as well as that of Laura Leigh's, as well as her own and others.  This should be an important work.  I will tell you what I think in my next blog.  In he meantime...
              Here now is Deniz Bolbol's strong, clear comment.

      And here is Carla Bowers' well articulated statement.  Carla was a vital member of the team who traveled to D.C. in early February.  Thank you, Carla.   

            Western Watersheds, thank you.  For a little perspective, let's take a look at a short video clip recently released by Western Watersheds.  This is footage of a cattle grazing allotment on our public lands.  This is not a wild horse Herd Management Area; this is all "livestock" grazing.   No horses to blame this devastation on...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Indian Lakes Holding Facility: One Year Later

©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner
Has anyone seen any statistics on the foaling rate and spontaneous abortions now taking place in the Antelope complex mares?   Do the Indian Lakes Updates reflect these figures?  Is any facility reporting these things?   Below is a screenshot of the last Indian Lakes update.  
Nothing said about the spontaneous abortions resulting from the grueling roundups.  
        ANSWER:   No.  No.  And no.  Because once again, we're not there to see it, so it's not being reported.  Let's make believe it's not happening, shall we?
         However, three live births and approximately 20 miscarriages have occurred in the Antelope mares now housed at PVC (Palomino Valley Center), according to Manager John Neill.  He confirmed this in conversation with Deniz Bolbol of Return to Freedom.
         (Explanation: "Spontaneous abortion" = miscarriage.  The involuntary, spontaneous loss of a baby forming in the womb.)
         IT IS HIGH TIME FOR ALL BLM facilities to be posting updates on the horses they have.  Our wild horses have disappeared into a black void, the opening to which is fiercely defended by BLM.
         When I asked for this, Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program, admitted that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) told BLM in its recent report that they need to be more transparent, and BLM is now working on the prototype for all of its holding facilities to be keeping updates like the one kept at Broken Arrow.  This is long overdue.   Hopefully they will be retroactive to at least include these Antelope horses.
         My thank you to BLM and Broken Arrow for maintaining this log.  — though it is hard to praise an organization for just doing the job it is supposed to do.   What say you begin including the spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and live births, please?  
         BROKEN ARROW and PALOMINO VALLEY CENTERS:  Why don't you be the first ones to actually include the newborn foals in your records?  BLM policy at present is they are not even counted or acknowledged until they are tagged/branded, usually four to six months old by then.  It is unacceptable to be so casual about these new lives.  My mare foaled before I picked her up; BLM did not note the date. 
         Now let's take a look at a portion of my blog post from January 26, 2010:
         The death toll of the wild horses at Fallon continues to rise.  No one is including the dead foals in the official counts.  But the roundups stress these horses terribly. 
         One thing we have heard almost nothing about:  15 to 20 mares at Fallon have miscarried/spontaneously aborted.  We saw this mare standing and laying down, standing up, then down, and staying down.
  ©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner                 
                                     Ever seen a horse in pain?  You have now.  
               Follow-up has revealed that she had spontaneously aborted in the morning and was now, at 2:30 pm, passing the afterbirth.  I pressed manager John Neill, asking how much attention she would receive, if any, and he committed to looking after her.  My followup today indicated that John and facility owner Troy Adams got her into the chute and "cleaned her out," and he said she is "fine" today.   I wonder what she would say.  But I am relieved she is alive.  
              If we had not been out there to see this with our own eyes and ask the questions, I believe this [issue of miscarriages] never would have been brought out.  I am more convinced than ever that It is vitally important to have an actual, personal, human presence continually showing up at all the holding facilities and the roundups, cameras in hand.  It is my absolute privilege to be there on behalf of the horses and to share this information with you.  (End of 2010 excerpt)     
         FAST FORWARD TO 2011:    
         Well, it is no longer my privilege to be there since BLM has allowed no one in since June 2010.  We're not there to see it, so it's not being reported.  It's called being in denial: "Let's make believe it's not happening."
         Click on this link to view the updates for Indian Lakes/Broken Arrow (two names for the same place).  Bear in mind that we have to take BLM's word for what's happening there since they are closed to the public.  Some have tried to adopt horses we know are still in the facility, and BLM sometimes has trouble finding them.  Will they let us in to help look?  Not on your life.   
         Are they manufacturing uranium there?  What is so top secret that we can't get in to see our wild horses?
          I realize it sounds like I have trust issues.  I do, indeed.  
           1)  I have caught an agency of my precious, beautiful America doing its best to make wrong look right, as in helicopters pushing and skiing on top of running, terrified wild animals;
           2) to make neglect, potentially criminal neglect, look like acceptable practices (I've worked on a great, modern ranch run by a compassionate country woman who actually cares about the cows, the sheep, the horses, and knows how to do it right, so don't tell me the lack of oversight that lets foals starve and get bitten up, the lack of pain medication when needed, and leaving contagious animals in the general population while there are empty sickpens is good animal husbandry);                
           3) In my presence sought to marginalize the wild horses' real pain and suffering as in:
               a)  "a little stiffness";
               b)   their white-eyed fear and escape attempts as "a little nervous";
               c)  or ongoing contagious deadly pneumonia as "low level respiratory infection"or "minimal levels of upper respiratory disease" suddenly resulting in eight animals in one week reported dead from pneumonia (January 29 - Feb.4 Indian Lakes Updates).  Finally they are talking about "active" respiratory infection.  
           4) Don't tell me it's okay to process horses in and on equipment designed for cows, who are much shorter and do not rear up and break their necks.  There is simply no excuse for this.  Wild horses are regularly reported as crashing into crossbars, breaking their necks and dying.  If they don't die, what of the injuries suffered?  They can't speak; how many sustain ongoing painful injuries from these needlessly low bars created for cattle?  

             To those who've seen this video before: Please forgive the repetition; I have shown this clip before, but until the issue is addressed, I will bring it back. This equipment has to be changed.  
Bob Abbey said BLM is expediting reforms. Start with refitting these crossbars at a height suitable for a rearing wild horse at every BLM facility and requiring that every contractor's equipment meets the same criteria.   Put video cameras on pens and helicopters;  
         BLM: Open the doors of Indian Lakes to the public once again.  
         Require hourly monitoring/oversight at holding facilities so animals don't suffer needlessly.  
          There is another issue on my mind for the horses today:  They have no shelter.  Young horses, and foals, are dying in large numbers when you look at the Indian Lakes updates.
          We've had some very harsh winter weather across the west.  These animals, stressed from recent roundups, now stand in primarily flat feedlots, flat pens, with no shelter whatsover.  Horses make good use of even one tree in the wild.  A lone bachelor stallion was documented standing in the shade of a lone pole in the summer!  Indian Lakes has a couple of pens that have hills.  All the rest of the pens are flat. The pens in Litchfield, California, and Palomino Valley Center in Sparks/Reno, Nevada, are flat. Most BLM holding facilities are flat.  None has any shelter.
         The important thing to understand is when the horses' undercoats get soaked, and the winds rip through, they freeze.  Their amazing ability to thrive in below-freezing temperatures is compromised.   They can and do get very sick.  It is no mystery that so many horses, especially the young and old horses, are succumbing during these winter months.  It's simply about giving them an opportunity to stay reasonably dry — to not get soaked.

           National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 10 and 11.  I would love to meet you there!  Please plan to come if you can.
         If you cannot come to Arizona's meeting, your comments are still vitally important.  You can send your comments through BLM's link for comments for the Arizona Advisory Board Meeting right here.
©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner                        "Where are we?"

Horses arriving at the Indian Lakes holding facility in Fallon, Nevada
          ALSO IMPORTANT:  The Bureau of Land Management has posted a new "strategy document."  Please click on this link above to view BLM's new strategy entitled, "Proposed Strategy." Your comments are wanted.  Please send your comments to, and include "Comments on the Strategy" in your email's subject line.  You might want to look at the "strategy" document first and send your comments to both the Advisory Board (link above) and to this "
          PLEASE TAKE ACTION, even if it's only one sentence.  Your voice really does count. In the last D.C. trip, Congress told our advocates to get people to write   Pick a horse out of a photograph you've seen, and imagine giving that horse your voice.  Do it.
          The primary point right now is the roundups need to STOP.   The numbers of horses are low.  The cost is great in every way imaginable, i.e., to the horses, to the taxpayer, to the government.
          Some other major points:  The horses and burros will benefit even if you just choose one; just let our government hear from you at this critical juncture.
           -  OVERPOPULATION MYTH:  There is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros on the range.  Compare 25,000 − 30,000 wild horses and burros to over 4 million cattle on the same ranges; 34 million deer and 100,000 elk in the U.S.  Some think there are no more than 20,000 horses left.
           -   REPATRIATION:   Return wild horses and burros to their ranges; remove cows and sheep from wild horse herd areas:  Compare 160,000 acres grazing land for cows and sheep, 26.6 million acres remain for wild horses, down from 51 million acres in 1971;
           -   RESPECT BAND STRUCTURE:  Keep family bands together when/if horses are rounded up.  Stop destroying the fabric of wild horse society;
           -   STOP SEX SKEWING OF ON-THE-RANGE HERDS:  BLM rounds up whole herds, destroys family groups as they separate out all mares from all stallions; PZP treats mares (contraceptive drug), releases a group of stallions, and hours or days later releases handpicked PZP-treated mares in a ration of 60 percent stallions/40 percent mares.
              The horses find each other and new battles ensue as stallions seek to rebuild their families.  Between destroying band structure and the sex skewing of the herd, the wild horse society is being tampered with on every level.  A genuine, unbiased study is needed comparing herd dynamics of manipulated herds with untouched herds.
                Karen Sussman, of ISPMB (International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros)  has been overseeing bands untouched by roundups and can be a rich source of information to the BLM.  In the meantime, BLM destroys in one afternoon what these stallions have lived and fought for their whole lives.
           -   TRANSPARENCY: Reinstate public access to Indian Lakes Holding facility, and allow public access to every facility housing America's wild horses and/or burros, including longterm holding pastures.
           -   HSUS is trying to have African lions declared an endangered species since there are between 23,000 to 40,000 remaining, with 2/3rds being neither protected nor viable.  Well, most of our wild horse herds are down below genetically healthy numbers now, but BLM wants to keep removing more.
          These are just a few important points.
          Thanks for your patience during the long delay in getting a new posting up, but the Celebration of Freedom post is being viewed by many and introducing new people to the life of wild horses while I have been preparing for Arizona and supporting the advocates' D.C. trip to inform the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee of the real goings on, demonstrating why defunding the roundups, the needless, abusive, wildly expensive roundups is the responsible thing to do.
         The other links on the front of this blog will keep you well informed if and when this blog is quiet.  Thank you!  United we stand,
for the wild horses and burros, captive and free,
for those who were, and those yet to be,
Elyse Gardner
Another reminder:
Look at these beautiful Calico stallions below in this photo taken at the very beginning of the Calico roundup.  They are bewildered and unhappy, but thin and starving they most definitely are not. 

©2010 Elyse Gardner
Only a very tiny percentage of our nation's wild horses are ever"starving" or thirsty.  Emergency roundups are extremely rare.  That is truly a myth generated by those who want the range and her resources for other uses like cattle and sheep grazing, mineral rights, mining interests.  Wild horses belong on the range, needing less than 5 percent of our public lands; let's keep them free.