2013, Year in Review


9/11/2013 Sheldon NWR, the horse in the center is “Rosie” rescued by WHE with her foal born just days after this “run for life.”

2013 was an intense year for wild horses and burros and for Our “Year In Review” has images that represent much of the following in sequence. Not all of our work is represented here, or in the video. Our websites and blogs are chock full of information.

We thank you for your support in 2013 and look forward to making 2014 truly “The year of the Horse.”

A special “thank you” to Melissa Etheridge for the use of the song “I Run For Life.” The song honors our founder, Laura Leigh’s “run” to protect our wild horses and burros as she fights breast cancer.

These lyrics epitomize why we do what we do:

I run for hope, I run to feel
I run for the truth for all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for life

The year began with the Owyhee Complex roundup. On January 10th 2013 we filed litigation that  gained a Temporary Restraining Order. Stern language from the court was issued to conduct issues that included running horses into barbed wire, extensive hotshot use and running babies to exhaustion. The Owyhee case remains active awaiting Discovery and further hearings against inhume conduct and unjustified removals. In the wake of litigation BLM issued a humane care “Memorandum.” Until there is an enforceable policy, and outrageous actions continue on the range and in holding, our legal actions that address inhumane conduct will continue.

The Diamond Complex Roundup took place as literally feet of snow fell in the Mountains of Eureka County. This roundup was extremely controversial and has been a source of continued controversy on range management. We are now watching as the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) prepares to launch legal actions against wild horses supported by entities such as the Cattleman’s Association and several Nevada counties. Eureka county was responsible for the “Diamond 30,” wild horses that represented a genetic component missing from the range, from being returned as horses flee an adjoining HMA into Diamond for “unknown” reasons.

Although the Deer Run roundup was done as a bait trapping operation it was devastating to the local community. Many people tried to find solutions besides total removal… but the removal took place anyway.

In spite of Leigh’s cancer diagnosis that came in May issues continued to mount for wild horses. BLM refused to release documents in the TripleB/Jackson Mountain case that dealt with injuries and deaths and more legal Motions had to be filed. The NBC story, that we worked on for more than 100 hours, aired. We began a plea for treatment of wild horses in holding facilities as disease, injuries and lack of proper care continued to be documented.

The summer had intense heat inside and out. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a report that showed signs that members listened to some of what we discussed at meetings. We filed litigation to stop hidden removals at Three HMA and BLM then opened the operation to the public. More legal documentation had to be filed in the Triple B/Jackson Mountain case and we beat BLMs motion to dismiss the case. A heatwave sparked fire to the campaign for better care for horses in holding. We continued to monitor areas of concern on the range and create recommendation documents. We filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (and were joined by 15 news organizations) for the publics “right to know” what happens to wild horses and burros managed by the US government. We filed litigation against BLM plans to remove horses from the Snowstorm portion of Owyhee (based on our field work) and the roundup was suspended. On just one day we had four hearings in federal court!

We were accompanied to the Blue Wing Roundup by the Travel Channel for the new series “America Declassified.” Pulitzer prize nominee, Dave Philipps, worked with Leigh on the peice. The two met at the Stone Cabin roundup in 2012 and their meeting resulted in an investigation that uncovered 1700 wild horses going into the hands of one killbuyer. This time they address many issues of the BLM program.

In a heavily contested battle the McDermitt tribal authorities removed horses off of BLM land under an agreement with Forest Service. Prior to the roundup Forest Service dropped out of the agreement and the courts ruled that the horses belonged to the tribe. Litigation stopped the auction of unbranded horses at the last moment. The auction was heavily attended by kill buyers but many of the branded horses were purchased by rescues and individuals. The unbranded were sorted and later sold and distributed to various rescues. Two orphans, after their long ordeal and loosing their moms, came into the care of Wild Horse Education.

Wild Horse Education continued the fight in 2013 for Owyhee, TripleB/Jackson Mountain and the First Amendment (the public’s right to know), these cases were active all year. The McDermitt case pointed out the nightmare of jurisdictions wild horses are caught in. The “Three HMA” case had BLM open the “secret” roundup to public observation.  After our filing for Snowstorm, BLM cancelled the roundup.

The EIGTH case we fought this year was for the horses from Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. The horses from Sheldon are direct descendants of horses that fought in our World Wars with our American soldiers. These horses, every roundup, find themselves in direct line for the slaughter house. The US Fish and Wildlife Service claims to create protections yet fails at every turn to do more than “cover their tracks.” This year half the population of Sheldon was removed. Stampeded over rocky terrain they may be some of the very last of the Sheldon Mustangs as the intention is to remove them ALL them all in 2014. We created a website to preserve the legacy of the Sheldon Mustangs and Burros. We are working on a short film about the “Forsaken,” the last of the Sheldon Mustangs. A mare and her tiny foal are now safe with us. Our fight for the Sheldon’s goes on….

Thank you for watching our “Year in Review.” We receive many comments that our videos are too graphic. We tried to “tone it down” a bit this year. We hope this video gives you a glimpse into our work. Please share the video with friends. We need to raise awareness now more than ever as our treasured American heritage animals, our wild horses and burros, truly are again “fast disappearing” into the chapters of history.