We have written so much about the Sheldon Mustangs (just type Sheldon in the search bar) trying to inform you of the issues present at the refuge. We talked about the plans made to remove all horses and burros that started to be created five years ago (Sheldon is NOT a drought removal or a “for the good of the horses,” but simply because they do not fit in with what Sheldon says in their mission). We have tried repeatedly to get folks to recognize that Sheldon is not BLM but is managed by USFWS… but still under the Department of Interior. Social media memes from those that head “wild horse orgs” told people to “call BLM and give that org money.” The history of Sheldon horses as “war horses” is well documented and we shared that with you in the past. We have shown you the horses and told you where you could get one. We talked about our litigation (and there is more info on that to share later as more of the “story” is told). We wrote about the lack of accountability and tracking of horses that come out of Sheldon. Even court documents show that Sheldon horses admittedly went to slaughter. We were the only ones to bring this to court and we had very little support. We do not know what other orgs did with their funding.
We have tried to stay away from how this “feels.” This post is what it “feels like.”
note from Leigh:
From all that I have witnessed over the years and all the opportunities that were given to USFWS, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, there is absolutely no respect in any way shape or form for a public that cares deeply and earnestly about our Mustangs and burros at Sheldon. This refuge is no “refuge.” It is managed with an attitude as if “any public that does not enter that refuge with a gun” is an intruder. I have watched this over and over again… in the very last moments… as the last of our war horses are sent most likely back into danger of slaughter and abuse… the “lines held firm.” If you watch the end of the video you can see that is you travel with a permit to kill something you get priority treatment.
This is the last of the last. A first phase of the final removal was complete in August (note the Sheldon website gives you no daily stats or cumulative totals. At the trap you are also basically given no information). Sheldon is USFWS and there is no “adoption program” like the BLM has. The horses leave Sheldon unbranded (no visual identification, they are “microchipped”). Sheldon officials do not track the horses that leave and they go to slaughter, back yard rodeos and then slaughter. Over and over and over…
During the first phase we were going to take the old mares and new foals, to help those horses that should not travel an option of staying in Nevada to grow strong, and try to give this a “positive” outcome. Do you know where they are? They are still in the pens at Sheldon. The adoption contractor was basically told not to adopt to us. The intention of us taking in horses was so they would NOT travel to Texas and back to Nevada. Instead Sheldon insists that the tiny babies and old moms need to be hauled twice (if they even go to us). Essentially I was told “to keep my mouth shut” by both Sheldon officials and the contractor set to take horses during that first phase of this roundup or we would not get to help mares and foals… hmmmm? What would you call that? Sounds like blackmail to me.
Because I wrote about “what happened” at Sheldon articles were written about me by an online “hater” and the roundup contractor that were erroneous. The online hater has never been active on range, in litigation, or anything relevant. Someone sitting behind a computer took out our support to fight for this herd in an online smear campaign. Has our country really become that vulnerable to a social media post? This is terrifying.
Horses have shipped from the first phase. One contractor in Utah received two loads (over 50) of horses and miraculously found “good homes” for all of them in two weeks (I went through adoption stats in Utah for last year for BLM wild horses and found 22). Sounds like we have another J&S on our hands (slaughter broker). The problem is that the Utah contractor is expected to get more horses from this group being removed now. We have seen no plan by Sheldon that will ensure horses do not go to slaughter, or in any way be accounted for. Do you think Sheldon officials will go read micro chips on any horses over the next year to see if Sheldon horses are still alive?
Just want to hit a few points of “observation day”…
- The day started with confirmation that Sheldon miscounted horses and I was right, there were only about 80 left.
- I had a feeling Mark Amodei (R, NV) might go to Sheldon… when I asked if he had come I was told “I do not recall,” (I’m sorry if my Congressman called I would remember). I was told that not a single other person even filled out a permit to come and see the horses.
- They were running at least two teams… one in the air and one roping from horseback.
- On the way out I was not allowed to stop and photograph an old stallion, but a group of people with hunting tags were not an issue… just the woman with tears on her face… who was made to move and held for 20 minutes. Then when I was allowed to go back was “escorted” by a ranger as the hunters just drove on their merry way. The stallion had already moved on. As I left the range I was also followed by the ranger… I stopped to photograph three other horses I saw, threw up in my pretzel container, as the ranger stayed behind me.
No other area I know has caused so much strife with the public, difficulties with the government agencies and so many wild horses repeatedly landing in danger than Sheldon. No area I know of has had so little public action… just infighting, everywhere. Sheldon wild horses and burros are GONE… forever.
Action is EXPIRED as Sheldon horses are gone. This is the last time for you to speak out for them. Sheldon Mustangs are being eradicated forever with tax payer money. “Adoption” contractors being paid with tax payer money. Will less than 30% of the horses removed in the last two years be accounted for? Did the American public pay for people to profit from the slaughter pipeline? Call your Congressmen today and tell them YOU want USFWS and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge held accountable for every wild horse and burro they removed from the range in the last two years. http://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup Action EXPIRED Tell them your “vote depends on it.” Say something like: USFWS needs to account for every horse and burro taken from Sheldon. The American public should not be footing the bill for people to profit from slaughter. We want proof (not fictitious paperwork) that the horses are safe. TELL your Congressman to say that the last 86 horses from Sheldon CAN NOT SHIP until ALL the horses are accounted for… those 86 horses ARE THE LAST OF THE SHELDON’s.
This video is intentionally edited to NOT be like most of our videos. This video has info in it, but is presented to tell you what this “felt like.” It is narrated in first person with emotional content. I have NEVER left a range in tears. I am usually focused on “what can I do” or actually working on real plans to make changes or crafting litigation in my head if issues get out of hand. I left this roundup screaming, sobbing, because of all the lies that swept away this herd forever.
Just three days before Sheldon I sat in a room that contained Steve Ellis from the BLM (although it was mostly political pandering, I can not wait until the elections are over) and Congressman Amodei. They are talking about spaying all of our wild herds and beginning the travesty I saw play out at Sheldon, everywhere.
Just two days before Sheldon I was at a RAC meeting where we did not receive one negative vote to an alternative to help keep horses on the range.
The day before Sheldon I was at Broken Arrow that had not been open to the public in two years as we begin to address access issues in a “civilized” fashion. What does that even look like? Will it all be just another contradiction?
My heart aches. I fear that what I watched here is set to repeat, everywhere. The story behind the scenes of exploitation and lies is something I can not convey in 1000 words. Can it change?
Goodbye old man….
We have tracked several horses from Sheldon and found that many met the same fate as those in years past. We will be pushing for a full accounting.
Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction of our wild horses and burros.