Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meets

Will wild horses be removed for sage grouse?

Will wild horses be removed for sage grouse?

The Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet Monday, April 14, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Sacramento.

The meeting will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott Sacramento Cal Expo, 1782 Tribute Road, Sacramento, California 95815 (hotel phone number: 916-929-7900). The agenda of the meeting can be found in the Friday, March 21, 2014, Federal Register (at or

Public comments will be on Monday, April 14, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time. If you want to speak you must register in person with the BLM by 2:00 p.m on that same day at the meeting site. BLM limits the time you can speak, usually 2-3 minutes depending on the number of people present.

Speakers should submit a written copy of their statement to the BLM at the addresses below or bring a copy to the meeting. There may be a Webcam present during the entire meeting and individual comments may be recorded and likely broadcast.

“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.”

Those who would like to comment but are unable to attend may submit a written statement to: National Wild Horse and Burro Program, WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada, 89502-7147. Comments may also be e-mailed to the BLM (at; please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the e-mail.


1798434_617038608368511_53688272_nPrior to any meeting of the BLM Advisory Board Wild Horse Education prepares a series of articles and sample issues relevant to comment. Many people feel overwhelmed by the multitude of issues at hand and their increasing frustration at the lack of proactive action toward rectifying issues in the wild horse and burro program.

For the last five years BLM Advisory Board meetings could be interchangeable. The same discussions are regurgitated from the board and the same frustrations are expressed during public comment. Press conferences and releases are engaged in by both sides and for a moment the meeting will make local news stations and a brief mention in National news. The “circus will be in town.”

Laura Leigh, our founder, was asked if she will attend the meeting. Her answer was “Why? Why should I waste precious resources to go to the meeting when there are so many serious issues that need attention on the ground where the wild horses and burros are? I will submit extensive comment as always. However I have found the meetings as effective as gasoline is for putting out fires.”


We have every expectation that there will be the “usual suspects” discussed by the board: “Overpopulation, sterilization, slaughter.” These will be presented in a “woe is me we can’t do anything because of budget constraints and holding facility over crowding” manner. The side dish will be “drought” and increasing pressure from states and counties.

Water haul for livestock in the Diamond Complex prior to grazing restrictions being implemented

Water haul for livestock in the Diamond Complex prior to grazing restrictions being implemented

There will be no recognition that the current situation came about through a lack of proactive management. For years the advocacy has been trying o get BLM to fix many aspects of the program on the range and have been ignored as “meaning well, but without the facts.” BLM has instead relied on roundups and called it “management.”

You will not hear serious discussion about fixing the flawed foundation of the program. There will be no discussion about how to rectify land use plans to address flawed allotment of forage, flawed boundary lines, manipulated “Appropriate Management Levels” (AML), or any of the root causes of the diseases in this program.

In June of 2013 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a report that failed the BLM program in almost every aspect. The report pointed to the identical flaws that the “uniformed advocacy” have been trying to engage for decades. However you will hear illogical uses of the report including one sided interpretations. BLM has already released statements claiming that working on the adoption program and the “call to the public” to create a more effective form of birth control are steps they are taking toward addressing the NAS report.

You will likely hear the following “discussions” where the public will listen to the board and BLM, but public comments will be limited to a couple minutes on one day and out of context. (At the bottom of this section we published the “agenda.” Please note that public comment period begins basically after BLM gives it’s “update” and “responds” to Advisory Board recommendations from previous sessions and NOT after you hear a discussion from the “working groups” of the Advisory Board. Public comment in this instance is to the ADVISORY BOARD, not BLM. The public is to “urge” the board to make certain recommendations. If you don’t hear what the board is working on how can you effectively “advise” the Advisory Board?)

After meeting the new Advisory Board Members (none of which are from the advocate community, see below article for BLm press release) the following will likely be discussed:

1. Creation of “birth control methods.” The discussion will include permanent sterilization techniques like castration and hysterectomies. PZP-22, the current birth control, will be said to be ineffective even though it has never actually been utilized on more than a minute fraction of the current population. Of course all of this will be presented in a desperate fashion because “overpopulation” is a platform BLM uses as it’s backbone to justify every action without ever justifying actual overpopulation.

This discussion will briefly dovetail into a discussion about euthanizing wild horses in holding. It will also touch on the “mercy killing in the field” concept BLM Wild Horse and Burro Chief Joan Guilfoyle mentioned in last summers “operation” memo.

Reforms? Ask this horse if BLM has "reformed" a humane care policy.

Reforms? Ask this horse if BLM CAWP works.

2. BLMs Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) will be updated. This is usually presented as a buffer to the discussion about “slaughter” that usually arises out of the pro-slaughter camp in the Advisory Board. CAWP has been an extremely expensive measure that to date has failed to create any actual policy toward humanely handling wild horses and burros. Since CAWP’s inception Wild Horse Education has gained a handful of court orders to inappropriate conduct.

We expect that there will be an announcement, or presentation, that revolves around another “memo” created for handling of animals. It is expected that this will be without any consequence for violations of any aspect of another very vague memo that lacks specific rules. There may even be a “policy” of sorts presented to “reassure the board” that BLM will “continue” to handle animals “humanely.”

3. Drought and tension on the range. Drought issues will be discussed as if they appeared out of nowhere. At no time in the discussion will an over allotment of forage to domestic livestock producers be discussed. What will be discussed are “emergency” roundups and “mercy killing.” Again “over population” will key factor to this discussion. BLM will talk about not having funding for water hauls and will refuse to supplement feed. Zeroing out of herds will also likely be in this discussion.

4. The adoption program. BLM will tell you what they are doing to improve adoptions. The adoption program is seen as a”failure” because it does not place all the animals removed from the range. This presentation may likely include discussions about the Mustang Makeovers, incentives to adopt at “events,” and Internet adoptions.

Wild horses offloading into the "closed to the public" facility Broken Arrow after capture from the range out of public site

Wild horses offloading into the “closed to the public” facility Broken Arrow after capture from the range and now out of public sight. No public visitation has been allowed since October 2012.

5. There may even be a discussion about “Public Relations.” This topic has arisen at the last few meetings. At a previous meeting it was even discussed that $2 million be devoted to study why BLM has a bad image. Either in this section, or in the one addressing NAS recommendations, BLM will present a “memo” on observation at roundups.

6. BLM will talk about what they are doing in response to the NAS report. This discussion will cover adoptions and birth control.

Aerial view of extractive interests next to an HMA in the Owyhee Complex. (photo Laura Leigh)

Aerial view of extractive interests next to an HMA in the Owyhee Complex. (photo copyright Laura Leigh)

7. Somewhere in this discussion BLM sage grouse action plans will be discussed. we do not expect BLm to update on land parcel sales to the fracking industry or any discussion about HMA’s impacted by expanding mining of any kind.

The agenda is listed below:

Monday, April 14, 2014 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

8:00 a.m.Welcome and Introductions
8:30 a.m.Agenda Review
9:00 a.m.Approval of September 2013 Minutes
9:20 a.m.BLM Response to Advisory Board Recommendations
9:40 a.m.Wild Horse and Burro Program Update
11:45 a.m.Lunch
1:00 p.m.Wild Horse and Burro Program Update continued
3:00 p.m.Public Comment Period Begins
4:30 p.m.Public Comment Period Ends
5:00 p.m.Adjourn

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

8:00 a.m.Wild Horse and Burro Program Update continued
1:00 p.m.Working Group Reports
2:15 p.m.Advisory Board Discussion and Recommendations to the BLM
5:00 p.m.Adjourn


We will make the packet we are sending to the Advisory Board available to the public. The packet will be one based on our “6 point Challenge” to the BLM. You can join the challenge here:

The first complete section in the challenge is for a humane care policy. You can download the pdf at this link:

Similar pdf’s will be available on each point in the challenge. It is an awful lot of work and we will have them prepped as fast as possible. The situation in Iron County Utah has created additional challenges.

REMEMBER YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND TO SUBMIT COMMENTS! Comments must include a statement AND justification for that statement. Remember you are writing to the Advisory board and expressing your concerns to them about what you want “Advisory Board” recommendations to include. Our comment packet will be available shortly.

BLM press release on new board members:

Release Date: 04/11/14
Contacts: Tom Gorey (BLM) , 202-912-7420

BLM Announces Three Selections for National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Land Management announced today that the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture have made selections for the three open positions on its nine-member National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Dr. Sue M. McDonnell of West Chester, Pennsylvania, has been appointed for the category of wild horse and burro research; Fred T. Woehl, Jr., of Harrison, Arkansas, has been appointed for the category of public interest (with special knowledge of equine behavior); and Dr. Robert E. Cope, DVM, of Salmon, Idaho, has been appointed for the category of natural resources management. Each individual will serve a three-year term on the Advisory Board.

Dr. McDonnell is Clinical Associate and Adjunct Professor of Reproduction and Behavior at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Also, as a certified applied animal behaviorist, she consults privately on equine behavior and welfare. Dr. McDonnell, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, co-edited the current leading academic book on horse behavior, titled “The Domestic Horse: The Evolution, Development and Management of its Behaviour,” published by Cambridge University Press.

Mr. Woehl has been involved in the horse community for more than 40 years as a trainer, natural horsemanship clinician, and educator. He is actively involved with the Equine Science Department at the University of Arkansas and taught Equine Science at North Arkansas College. He has served as a volunteer for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program for 10 years, conducting demonstrations of wild horse versatility and assisting with adoptions. Mr. Woehl worked as a senior agricultural adviser for the U.S. State Department from October 2008 to November 2009 in Iraq, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of agricultural programs and policy for the Ninewa Province.

Dr. Cope, who earned his DVM at Kansas State University, has practiced veterinary medicine since 1975. After relocating to Idaho, he was elected Lemhi County Commissioner in 2001 and still serves in that position. Dr. Cope has been active in the National Association of Counties (NACo), serving as chair or vice chair of NACo’s Environment, Energy, and Land Use Steering Committee for nine years. As a veterinarian for nearly 40 years, Dr. Cope has focused on large animals, particularly range livestock.

The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board advises the BLM, an agency of the Interior Department, and the U.S. Forest Service, part of the Agriculture Department, on the management and protection of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands and national forests administered by those agencies, as mandated by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Members of the board, who represent various categories of interests, must have a demonstrated ability to analyze information, evaluate programs, identify problems, work collaboratively, and develop corrective actions. Information about the board can be found at: