Will “Team Wild Mustang” make the championship “Public Land Bowl?”

Go Team Wild Mustang! Video from High Rock

EDITED Superbowl Sunday 2016: Team “wild horse” is loosing the “public land bowl.” It has been very difficult to cut through past addictions. Addictions to continual catering to public land grazers and the “drama” of advocacy that has sent the same old plays out into a new game. 

As expected both livestock and mining have filed litigation against sage grouse protections. This is done as theist at the table creating huge plays to use habitat protection funds for sage grouse to create more “cow chow.” In addition the “states rights” agenda has run full steam leading us to ask the question: should BLM/DOI leadership “step down?” 

This post is from fall 2014 but may help some of you understand the larger picture. We have been trying to engage it, with little understanding from the public. We KNOW it is complex, but that is simply the reality of the field.

Enjoy the “Bud” clydesdale commercial. Happy Superbowl (go Broncos, sorry Panther fans but we need to root for the horse on the field).

At Wild Horse Education we are active in advocacy for wild horses and burros on public land. In the course of that advocacy we engage multiple arenas that effect our herds including field work, litigation, rescue and more. American’s love their wild ones and an Act was passed by Congress unanimously and signed into law in 1971 to reflect that desire to see our wild horses protected from abuse, extinction and slaughter. However wild horses and burros exist on public land. We wish it were as simple as “leave the horses alone,” but the resource of public land faces serious competition on the field of public land use planning fronts.

This time of year my thoughts go to holidays with family. Thanksgiving for us meant overeating and football. College games, pro games and high school games were part of our routine. Our local high school team always had a game that day. Now our team held an interesting record, the most consecutive games lost. It was not that we had no talent, but it was disorganized and underfunded and a huge portion of the team could not play due to bad grades or other disciplinary measures (bad neighborhood). We never won on the field, but if the other team was not fast enough getting on the bus, we won in the parking lot. I think you get the picture.

Over the course of the last several years we have noted multiple issues that will impact the ability of wild horses and burros to exist as a viable part of our public lands. Many of these issues become difficult for the public to track and understand. Back in September we wrote a piece on the “Showdown in Nevada” and used a common movie storyline arc to try to introduce players and issues.

However the intensity of the field is increasing like teams jostling for position for the trophy of land use. We were searching for a way to present the information to you in a way that helps you to keep track of all that is arriving. In reading other news that comes across our feed we checked our favorite teams in the National Football League (NFL). If time permitted creating a mirror site to the NFL almost seems appropriate. We could post stats on the “teams” (interests) vying for the trophy and post the outcomes of each “game” (meeting, litigation, bill, research) and give you player stats (organizations). It might be a useful tool to have such a website as the race for the “public land resource trophy” intensifies, but for now we are going to settle on writing this piece and will continue to use the analogy.

The inventor of the game: Congress and the President

The referees: government agencies such as Department of Interior (through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Fish and Wildlife Services, USFWS) and Department of Agriculture (through Forest Service, USFS).

Officiating oversight: The US Judicial system, Congress

The trophy: Public land

The Contenders: Team Energy and Team Sage Grouse look like the leaders to a hotly contended race for the final showdown. However Team Livestock is doing all they can to knock out Team Sage Grouse. Team Wild Mustang is in that “wild card” game with Team Livestock. Team Hunting is still in the fight, but key players may be in negotiation with Team Sage Grouse to get a better deal. Team Recreation is usually just happy to make the playoff at all and get some profit from t shirt sales.

Now some of the games you watch are orderly and teams demonstrate serious resemblance to the 49ers in 89 and 90. Team Energy has often had this type of track record.

In football there were two leagues, the AFL and the NFL. There was a championship game between the two leagues that competed for viewers and revenue. In 1970 the Chiefs (AFL) beat the Vikings (NFL) putting to rest that the NFL was far superior and the AFL was simply not of the same caliber. After 1970 we had the two becoming one league, under separate conferences.

So if we look at Team Energy as part of the early NFL and Team Sage Grouse as early AFL, this match up is creating a changing framework for the race for the trophy. We are actually going to see a new process for public land management plans begin in the next couple of years due in large part to impetus of the two leading teams. Planning 2.0 (current name for the landscape approach to the game of winning use of public land) is in it’s draft stages and is intended to create a field where all teams play in the same arena with much more of the “competition” taking place at the national level, instead of political district levels. To see the new “rules of the game” in process go here:

Other match ups are more like watching “The Longest Yard.” If you look at the “games” between wild horses and livestock it is kinda like watching the guards and the prisoners face off. Livestock interests are much more powerful and have historically ruled the field. Wild horses have been scapegoated and held captive by the political interests representing livestock. Wild horse advocacy is also not an organized “lobby” effort and is made up of a vast variety of people… but scoring “touchdowns” is not out of the question.

Picture from USFS website. The greater sage grouse, the most powerful bird in the West.

Will Team Sage Grouse knock out all contenders?

A look at some of this weeks “team” stats:

Team Energy:

This team is doing so well right now that they are looking to expand the game The cry of “enough” for “energy independence” is fast becoming outdated as the “shift from being a net importer of gas to being a net exporter” occurs in an era of mining regulations on public land requiring extractive interests be given the “home field advantage.”

This team has been given a huge boost in existing regulations and recent “fast track” reforms

Team Sage Grouse:

Causing all kinds of pressure to the leading team, and all others in the race, through a US Geological Survey report announced Friday that calls for a three mile buffer around breeding leks for greater sage grouse from “fracking,” a “win” against Team Energy, This has come on the heels of the US Fish and Wildlife Service listing a sub species, Gunnison Sage Grouse, on the Endangered Species List.

The “MVP” of Team Sage Grouse continues to be PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. This week unveiling an interactive map showing how the “referees” have not kept Team Livestock playing by the rules

Non-permitted livestock use on NV rangeland in 2014 (illegal use)

Team Livestock has been known to “play dirty”

Team Livestock:

Team Livestock and Team Energy are both experiencing good economic times. Chris Hurt, Purdue University agricultural economist, believes livestock producers can anticipate a “mini boom” that could last for the next several years according to BEEF USA Or you can follow team livestock’s economic progress here:

Now team livestock has a public relations campaign focused on grabbing resource from Team Wild Mustang before Team Mustang ever reached the field. It has been very busy not only spreading unfounded propaganda blaming wild horses for everything from (non existent) disease on the range to the cost of a loaf of bread and the next great famine to hit the US (also non existent). Litigation against wild horses by the livestock industry is mounting (even though 66% of public land is open to livestock, only about 11% to wild horses and within that 11% livestock still gets about 80% of the grass). In addition they are attacking the players of Team Mustang with articles like those published in Range Magazine  Nevada Rancher

Expect team livestock to continue these tactics. The next game should include more propaganda that attempts to portray livestock as a “beneficial” use to the range (to try to erode Team Sage Grouse’s game) and a more vilifying of wild horses and the advocates themselves.

Roping Horse

Team Wild Horse has been given unfair treatment “for it’s own good” by the referees since the very first game.


Team Wild Mustang

This team is truly a “wild card.” Victories include areas of humane care to horses (CAWP) expected soon, access issues and conversations expanding on managing wild horses and burros on the range. Humane Care fight, some history Access These plays are still active, awaiting the ruling of the “referees” (BLM).

However this team has a lot of work to do in order to address “pre-season” flaws present in existing land use plans and cohesive team work.

A huge assist is expected shortly from a play begun by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that points out the deficiency of appropriate referee (BLM) action in many of the previous games where wild horses and burros are involved (lack of data and flawed basis for decisions). First look at the NAS report here: This should help Team Wild Mustang on the field moving forward toward the play offs. But yet again we are waiting to see the ruling of the ref.

Since the very first “match” Team Wild Mustang has to challenge the rulings of the “refs” in an unfair field of play against Team Livestock. With the very first game having to go to “oversight” in the Judicial system where it was ruled that the Refs (BLM) could not simply take wild horses off the field to satisfy Team Livestock… but that they had to be removed “for their own good.”

However just like at many play off games there are celebrity fans cheering on the teams. Team Wild Mustang has a number with box seats including Robert Redford.

Team Hunting and Recreation have many players that appear to be changing jerseys to team livestock or sage grouse. We will update you as we have more info in ongoing matches.

“Monday night football” has nothing on the competition happening in the race for the “Public Land Bowl.” Will Team Wild Mustang make it through the “wild card” game with livestock interests  to face off on the field with Sage Grouse and Mining? Don’t count them out. The  team is becoming competitive in the field and skilled at reading the plays of the opposing team. A victory on the field is possible… and if not? I guess there is always the parking lot.


Stone Cabin stallion and one of his mares... still free on the range

Stone Cabin stallion and one of his mares… still free on the range. Help us to keep it that way.

We are getting multiple questions from people that do not  understand what is happening in the fight to protect our wild horses and burros. We hope that the bit of fun we had in the above editorial helps a bit. But just like in the multiple interests that are vying for resource on public land there are multiple ‘players” on each team. We urge you to look at each player and their “stats” to become more informed about YOUR team as the fight continues. (We would love to have a cartoonist volunteer to help with illustrating the issues. We do not have the time with multiple urgent projects. But think a comic strip may just be the way to get this info across. Contact us at if you want to volunteer and put comic in the subject line).

We wish you a great holiday season and urge you to “keep the faith.” Our work continues covering removals, field work gathering data and multiple meetings toward the creation of management on the range. JOIN us and help our team make that goal line! Http:// We do need your help to stay in the game.

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Information coming soon on active documents open for public comment and much more!