Wild Horse Education

#WhyAreYouTakingSoLong to end the #DerangedWar?

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At Wild Horse Education (WHE) our inbox has been flooded with questions from the public and media since the “standoff in Oregon” began. The questions being asked include many from individuals seriously upset by multiple factors that clearly demonstrate the lack of equity in enforcing basic laws and many from journalists that are actually digging into the history and multiple agendas present.

In response we are publishing an “editorial” style overview and then a series of links and observations. Our time is very limited.

The entire picture of current public land management is an American tragedy. The tragedy is that it could have been avoided if fair and equitable practices were engaged by actual leadership in federal agencies. Instead we have watched agencies act like abuse victims. (Former BLM Chief Bob Abbey seems to agree)

“If I did what the permittee did I would be in a jail cell by nightfall.” This quote is attributed to our founder Laura Leigh after the permittee at Fish Creek broke multiple aspects of the Code of Federal Regulations in a manufactured social media “crisis” after losing a legal battle to stop wild horses from being returned to the range (aided and abetted by ProSlaughter group Protect the Harvest and the Eureka County Commission in NV). If WHE acted, or encouraged others to act, in illegally hauling water onto land we had no claim to and luring wild horses off an HMA and then illegally removing wild horses, Leigh would see a jail cell.

If a wild horse organization showed up at a remote holding facility, armed, to demand prosecution for the admitted sale to slaughter of over 1700 wild horses to kill buyer Tom Davis they would go to jail. They would be met with violent force and any effort made through appropriate channels by any organization would be immediately halted and be given no credibility (even if no one from other organizations were involved). A clear tie to this kill buyer and the former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar exists with clear violations of policy, protocol and the law. But if any advocate stepped over any boundary whatsoever, every advocate would be painted with the same brush and face repercussions.

“Public land management is like living in the household of an abusive drunk,” said Leigh, “Everyone walks on eggshells to avoid the wrath of the abuser. Mom might even punish her kids if they say anything to shatter the myth that she has a healthy marriage. I have referred to wild horse advocacy as the ‘red headed stepchild’ of public land. Public land ranching politics acts like the abusive dad. BLM is the cowering mom. Many of the kids are trying desperately to appease mom and dad. Wild horse advocates? We can go to bed at night and know we are not related.”

However this analogy places wild horses in a very bad spot, they get blamed for everything. Not only are wild horses blamed for every ill of public land when they actually are a marginal use at best (11% of public land that receives less than 16% of resource) but actions involving wild horse advocates are overblown. At one roundup at a US Fish and Wildlife refuge (just like the bird sanctuary taken over by the “militia”) there were six armed law enforcement officers (from varying jurisdictions) following one member of the public, Leigh. She was armed with nothing more than a camera.

Why is it taking so long to address the armed take over of a bird sanctuary? Because we are in a seriously deranged war that has deep roots in twisted mythology.

In the typical foul ways of any mental illness, the lies and fictions of the house rule the reality. They are perpetuated. Law enforcement usually fails to get involved to address an abuser until someone gets critically injured.

Let’s hope it is not the case here and “mom divorces dad” and presses charges before one of the kids gets killed.

Leigh with Sarge after he was "off HMA" during illegal water haul and removed from the range without permission, also an illegal act. Sarge will never be safe on the range again.

Leigh with “Sarge” after he was “off HMA” during illegal water haul and removed from the range without permission during a social media campaign by pro horse slaughter interests that video tapped themselves doing it. “If I did it? I would be in a jail cell.” The further empowering of the “rancher” by the BLM led to multiple death threats to Leigh that continue to this day.


The agenda includes horse slaughter and the resumption of “mustanging” (an unregulated cash crop utilized by the ranching community before the WFRH&B Act). This is evident in the agenda in  multiple venues. This agenda has many names: Grass March, State’s Rights, Bundy. They all have the same agenda and it is control of all public resource for their own personal profit, not to manage for any “public.” If you live anywhere besides a  local county they barely recognize you as “American.”

Most horse welfare advocates know the name Dave Duquette. He now works for Protect the Harvest and was an instigator in the Fish Creek fiasco. He is one of the most well known pro horse slaughter faces today. Protect the Harvest just released a twisted video of an interview with the “militia” in Oregon. That video calls the police presence an agent of “terrorism.” They call themselves “peaceful” because people are coming and going. There is no recognition that people are coming and going because the law enforcement present is allowing it. (Note: the video had a comment section when it was first posted. We saw that the comments were actually pointing out a few facts that we assume was not what the intention was when posted. The comment section appears to have been removed).

At WHE we recognize that the vast majority of Americans see what is happening as a momentary opportunity to poke fun by creation of hash tags like #BundyEroticFanfic and #VanillaIsis. But for those of us involved in daily attempts to create any accountability to equitable practice that preserves habitat, this is a very dangerous time. Fringe groups on all sides are uneducated to reality and perpetuate their own mythos.

We beg all the advocates and representatives of the press writing to us to really look hard before you act. This situation did not develop overnight, it has deep roots and spreads like a weed.

Excerpt from an article by colleague Katie Fite of Wldlands Defense that can only be summarized as the cultivation of this weed by BLM. (we excerpted the wild horse portion but you can read the entire article on Counterpunch here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/08/blm-leadership-coddles-hostile-and-law-breaking-nevada-ranchers/)

Hold Your Wild Horses

BLM leadership has knowingly looked away from a series of purposeful and blatant violations of the Code of Federal Regulations by a rancher (Borba) in the Fish Creek wild horse Herd Management Area in Battle Mountain country.

The rancher was found to be in “willful trespass”, grazing his livestock outside the boundaries of his legally authorized use for eight months. Under pressure from politicians Heller and Amodei, the BLM reduced the trespass and lowered fees.

The rancher and Eureka County also became upset over a local BLM decision to manage wild horses to incrementally reduce the population. The BLM removed over 200 wild horses, and then planned to use the PZP fertility control drug, and release horses given fertility control back to the HMA. In a stand-off reminiscent of an old western movie, the county and rancher showed up onsite and demanded the BLM not release the horses.

The BLM caved, and the horses were hauled away. After a lengthy legal battle the horses were returned to the range months later.

The disgruntled rancher began a social media campaign to rile the public against “government abuse.” Claims were made that he was never in trespass. He video taped himself repeatedly breaking the law, and put it on social media. The penalties for the acts committed clearly state that the permittee will face fines, possible jail time and “shall” lose the right to graze on public lands.

Ruhs met with the rancher, County and local BLM Manager Furtado at Fish Creek, and sided with cattleman over his own staff. The BLM state office has now put the brakes on the fertility control program for the Fish Creek wild horses. This winter, the permittee is grazing livestock as if nothing happened.

Links for further reading:

One HMA and one horse that became a target: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2015/11/04/sarge-a-poster-child-for-everything-wrong-range-management-a-layer-of-bricks-part-two/

Addressing the propaganda piece “Rangeland Under Fire” with multiple citations that break the myth http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/02/14/rangeland-under-fire-under-fire-editorial/

Nevada “Showdown” written in 2014 as we saw the inevitable consequence of agency inaction heading for the violent climate we face today advocating for preservation of resource http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/09/03/editorial-nevada-showdown/

2015 was a very hard year of retaliation from livestock against everything from catching trespass ranchers to creation of the first humane handling policy for wild horses and the retribution it brought http://wildhorseeducation.org/2015/12/28/2015-a-year-of-retaliation/

Harpers article on “Bundy” and the “Land Grab” from Feb 2015 http://harpers.org/archive/2015/02/the-great-republican-land-heist/4/

YOU can support a House Resolution to denounce this type of behavior here: http://wildhorseeducation.org/2016/01/06/immediate-action-support-hr-575/

“I would hardly expect Sandoval to make any such statement if wild horse advocates were threatening violence against the BLM,” said Wild Horse Education President Laura Leigh, “BLM restricts every move by law abiding wild horse advocates in the interest of ‘public safety.’ I have been legally addressing this issue in the courts for almost four years. I realize this is an election year but I expected more comprehension of the volatile nature of the situation from our Governor. This is not a handful of people simply observing. The people supporting Bundy, and Bundy himself, have encouraged threats of violence. More and more we are really seeing just how much control a livestock producer has over Nevada politics.” except from an April 2014 article http://wildhorseeducation.org/2014/04/08/governor-sandoval-chastises-blm-in-support-of-bundy/

Categories: Wild Horse Education