Wild Horse Education

Cold Creek, The Blame Game

Water is not the issue, it's forage. In drought distribution of population becomes critical. BLM would not work with advocates to develop a proactive plan.

Water is not the issue, it’s forage. In drought distribution of population becomes critical. BLM would not work with advocates to develop a proactive plan. (Cold Creek, photo used by permission, AWHA)

An “emergency” removal of wild horses at Cold Creek has caused a “blame game” of multiple entities vigorously pointing fingers at each other in an extraordinary “blame game.”

201 wild horses were removed from Cold Creek (located in the Wheeler Pass HMA) through a bait and water trap operation. So far the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has euthanized 28. The horses were moved much faster from the area than expected to Axtell, Utah. BLM says they have now identified more wild horses in distress and are going to continue the removal operation.

From a BLM press release yesterday: “We have identified more horses that are in danger of starving,” said BLM Acting State Director John Ruhs. “These animals are in the same very poor condition as the horses we gathered last week.”

Please note the Wheeler Pass is an HMA. There is a WHT area associated within Wheeler managed by Forest Service. This does not negate BLM management of Wheeler (i.e. Cold Creek).

The Blame Game

In social media we have people blaming the advocates on site that tried for years to get BLM to implement fertility control, yet BLM never did. We have “anti advocate” factions blaming the advocates in what can only be called a bizarre twist because those advocates supposedly make money “giving photo tours.”

Wild horses inside the Fish Creek HMA, 8/1/2015

Wild horses inside the Fish Creek HMA, 8/1/2015

In the most bizarre twist we saw Kevin Borba, the “trespass rancher” from Fish Creek, and his new “best buddy” Dave Duquette of Protect the Harvest, blame Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education. Those accusations go so far as to claim BLM does what Leigh says and apparently making an attempt to confuse the public into thinking these are the wild horses at Fish Creek.

What is missing is the actual conversation on how the mechanism of managing wild horses is supposed to operate.

Addressing The Ship of Fools

First off advocates, that BLM have failed to follow through with on conversations, have no jurisdiction or authority to take any actions other than advocate within a broken system. So the buck does not stop there.

Blue is the approximate territory visited by WHE. The yellow is Fish Creek. The Red is Wheeler Pass (Cold Creek)

Blue is the approximate territory visited by WHE. The yellow is Fish Creek. The Red is Wheeler Pass (Cold Creek) The map is a BLM map showing all HMAs in the West.

Wild Horse Education, even though it is extremely small, covers a vast amount of territory. However the Wheeler Pass HMA in Nevada is not one of the areas we spend any time in. When an area has an advocacy presence WHE usually does not focus our attention in the area. There are a vast number of isolated management areas (BLM, FS, USFWS, etc) that have no regular “on the ground” interaction. We tend to focus on those.

Fish Creek (the area of the Borba/Duquette social media storm) is literally hundreds of miles from Wheeler (where Cold Creek is).

In addition WHE has been warning the public for the last two years that failures within the BLM to regulate livestock appropriately during drought WILL lead to extreme situations. These situations will likely result in on the range deaths of wild horses and wildlife, including deer and elk. IF the BLM did “what Leigh says” livestock use would have been suspended at the onset of 2015 and livestock producers given remuneration through the USDA program in place. In other words 2015 would have been a “paid vacation” for public land ranchers. (Just so we are clear livestock is in Fish Creek, not Cold Creek)

The Buck Stops HERE

The mechanism for managing wild horses and burros on public land is overseen by multiple jurisdictions. In the case of Wheeler Pass the BLM is the agency that oversees management practices.

This year removals are restricted by budgetary constraints (because BLM ran a roundup machine full steam and compounded problems instead of solving them). Additional restraints have come from Congress. Roundups are prioritized by category. Those categories include public safety and “emergency,” (or escalating issues).

Each District monitors and prepares reports as they vie for positions on the schedule. That schedule is first approved by the National office and funds are allocated to each state. From those allocations each state approves of removals/management/fertility control from the budget they are given by National.

The situation at Cold Creek was absolutely predictable by the distribution of population, available forage, body condition in winter.

So the questions any rational person would be asking (without ever even going to that HMA) would be:

Where is the escalating issues report from that district?

Why was a removal like the one at Kiger or the Pryors approved, and not Wheeler, by national?

If there was not an escalating issues report on Wheeler from that district why are we not hearing about it?

If there was an escalating issues report what was the State Director thinking when funds were being allocated for removals and projects like the “pilot program” in Antelope were approved above Wheeler?

WHY did the state office wait until the wild horses got into that dire of a shape where 28 were euthanized already to date before taking action? WHY was that action directly on the heels of the controversy at Fish Creek?

The blame begins in the district and the buck stops at the BLM state office, the lap of NV State Director John Ruhs.


We saw this post on Facebook by Lee Williams of Oregon. Lee is an active advocate for the Kiger herd. We asked him if we could share as it was one of the most sensible posts about this we have seen. Lee has a colorful vocabulary and a “way with word.”

From Lee Williams Facebook page, posted with permission

From Lee Williams Facebook page, posted with permission

Lee Williams: So the BLM just euthanized 28 mustangs from the Cold Creek herds. They gathered up 200 that just walked into the traps for food. The BLM said they were doing it to take care of the mustangs. At the same time they gathered up about 200 Kigers , they reported the Kigers were removed to “protect the range” and it would have been a tough winter for them otherwise. So this would all make sense if they followed their own principles. The BLM left the horse in the top photo and 28 others out on the range till the point they were almost dead. The Kiger in the bottom picture shows no signs of lack of food but was gathered at great cost using aircraft. The difference is the Kiger was gathered for its testicles so they could be sold to breeders. The horse in the top photo was not as fortunate to have BLM promoted testicles and was left to starve on the range , gathered and then shot because it was to late to save. If the BLM would only listen to their own bullshit the horses at cold creek could be gathered in time to save them. The fact the Kigers are being adopted with their testicles intact shows they were not gathered to protect the horses range as stated. Even if starving they left the Cold Creek on the range too long. Guess they were to busy collecting testicles for sale elsewhere. Its all about the priorities.


WHE is once again under an absurd attack machine. Before you buy into it, look at the facts.

Categories: Wild Horse Education