Wild Horse Education

The Wild in Wild Horses, the land they stand on (public land seizure movement, segment five)

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Will we be shot to satisfy a volatile political climate? It’s highly likely that the answer is “yes.” But it can be stopped… the fight does not end.

Part one; overview, big picture: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/09/16/the-wild-in-wild-horses-the-land-they-stand-on-timeline-public-land-seizure-movement/

Part two; some of the “wild horse” set up: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/09/17/the-wild-in-wild-horses-the-land-they-stand-on-public-land-seizure-movement-segment-two/

Part three; a barometer tool for you: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/09/17/the-wild-in-wild-horses-the-land-they-stand-on-public-land-seizure-movement-segment-three/

Section four; is the new frontier, the internet (footnote; if you are one of the people doing the “copy/paste” without citing us as a source you are part of what we have written about, please stop):  https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/09/18/the-wild-in-wild-horses-the-land-they-stand-on-public-land-seizure-movement-segment/

The intended segment five was too broad a topic for one of these relatively short articles. We realize that each segment may appear to be a “long article,” when in truth it scratches only the surface of each topic. Connecting wild horses and burros to the larger picture of public land management is often lost in conversations overly rooted in a focus on a horse or burro from capture, holding, adoption and a rescue effort.

This series is broken into sections for two reasons; one it is easier to get them written  under the current daily time constraints we face, the other is that it is easier for you to read them. We hope you read them in the order presented to follow the trail of thought.

“Data shell game and how it compares to BLM PR machines in the new frontier,” the intention for the section five. We want to take you down the track of how a fabrication, presented as researched data, blew up last week. How another one may get tens of thousands of wild horses shot. This article is not the “blow-by-blow” against the reports being created in the current “circle jerk of old friends” of the public land seizure movement and their government allies. That will be presented as a fact sheet in a later piece.

We had a great example of the collision between the spin machine and reality last week in the Senate. The proposal from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on the “National Monument debacle” went under scrutiny. John Ruhs, currently acting Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) appeared in front of the Senate Committee to answer questions. Watching John Ruhs you get a distinct impression that he had thought the made up “facts” presented to assert a position would just be accepted.

Watch Ruhs as Senator Heinrich (D-NM) asks some very straightforward questions.

It seems the “I dunno” is a bit of a feeble attempt to avoid rightful scrutiny. However the logical question to the “I didn’t do it” should be; “If you had full knowledge that a report was being created that would have a massive impact on National Monuments, an area of intense public interest, why did you not request to fact check it?”

The issues surrounding our National Parks are broadly covered in the media. How many of you have watched Ryan Zinke on his public relations tours? That is what those articles in the media were, those were not informational public meetings. They were handshake photo ops to promote a political agenda.

Hunting groups, recreationalists, conservationists and tribal leaders are all speaking out against the recommendations from Zinke as “flat out lies”.

Make no mistake the current tour on “wild horses” holds the same validity as the National Parks document. However with “wild horses” the “bullet in the head or ship them to slaughter” agenda is actually one John Ruhs helped forward as the Nevada State Lead of the BLM.

The “slaughter summit” held in Utah last month was filled with members of the pro-horse slaughter/pro public land seizure movement. In no way was this the “public forum” that Ryan Zinke announced he would hold this summer.

The “Summit” was filled with many entities and individuals that John Ruhs, as NV State lead, had helped move their agendas. He did this by allowing violations of law and conceding to actions that these individuals litigated, and lost, in a courtroom. The legally upheld actions in court appeared to mean nothing to John Ruhs, the desires of his cohorts took precedent; grazing deals, large scale fertility control interfered with.

This “Summit” has it’s roots in the slaughter summits run by United Horseman in the last decade. Those meetings were a roof where many in the public land seizure movement met. In 2009 they worked with Ryan Zinke when he sat in Montana to reopen domestic horse slaughter plants. These relationships run deep and personal.

Long before we saw a “crazy faction” materialize in wild horse advocacy the counties and permittees filed litigation. The Nevada Association of Counties and Farm Bureau (NACO) filed a suit demanding horses simply be removed, killed to make space in holding or shipped to slaughter (the agenda). That case lost in district court and later on appeal.

That agenda was also being carried by the “Grass March”. The Grass March began as a protest to closure of grazing allotments during drought, the “Argenta allotments,” another batch of lost litigation by those arguing against appropriate action by BLM. However the agenda broadened to include removal of the sage grouse for consideration as a protected species and the removal and sale to slaughter of wild horses.

Another “wild horse” case at Fish Creek had the same request that included a claim that BLM had no authority to release wild horses treated with fertility control, claiming “AML” was some magic number BLM had to remove to. They lost in court.

John Ruhs bent over backward to accommodate the losing side in all of the above litigation. One and a half million (at least) has been spent to date to create special teams, fencing projects and the monopolization of a BLM district office to capitulate at Argenta. The land use plan in that district is archaic, but no funds are available to update it. The one and half million used to satisfy two permittees represents over 30 times the cost of following through on a broad scale fertility control/data collection plan at Fish Creek.

Nevada is now the only state in the nation that can not put a tracking number on the hip of a released wild horse. The tracking numbers make accuracy of data irrefutable, they make implementation fast, those numbers are used in every other western state. Here in Nevada we can’t use them anymore because apparently Ruhs said “ok,” there was no public input, no meeting to discuss wth anyone except his circle of friends. (We tried multiple times and have a long paper trail. The paper trail includes trying to have a discussion on language in the sage grouse “2.0” that went with the promise of a meeting that never happened as multiple meetings were occurring for livestock, even meetings where federal expenses were paid for by the Cattleman’s Association).

The disputed program begun in 2015 that could have demonstrated techniques to treat a large scale population before this push to kill wild horses? That program did not move forward under Ruhs, but the agenda the lack of the demonstrated tool did; the resumption of slaughter of wild horses and killing them in holding.

“Why didn’t you just give me a thousand doses of PZP and let me go three years ago. You wouldn’t have to do this big roundup and you wouldn’t have to put up with me here,” said to wild horse and burro lead Alan Shepherd (also now in the national office) at Owyhee.

“No one has any doubt you could get it done Laura, but what happens when you die?” Alan Shepherd in an example of the reasoning used.

(Our work to create a broad scale fertility control and data collection regime goes back years in negotiations with BLM Nv and involves multiple HMAs. We will discuss this further in section six).

There has been no public forum. There has been no “official recommendation report” for the public to comment on. Every effort to exclude any voice that could present any rebuttal has been made. Advisory boards suspended including the Resource Advisory Councils. These board are just beginning to reopen, after the agendas that could have been challenged are at the onset of implementation.

(note: WHE filed litigation to gain information. The case was turned over to a House Natural Resources Committee team. The issues involve serious safety issues and is far beyond our abilities to address. We will write about that in section six.)

In addition serious flaws in data have been left to stand as “facts” in Congressional testimony. In 2016 there was a hearing in the House on wild horses. No effort by federal authorities has been made to rectify the errors. (click here to learn more, scroll mid page to the second video. This illustrates one instance, there are multiple “fictions as facts”).

Any document, proposal, meeting notes or memos that come from either John Ruhs or Ryan Zinke on wild horses must come under extreme scrutiny. Any presentation of fact must be rigorously examined. The examination of any fictional statement must then include a hard look at violation of law, process and moral decency.

If we are to have any conversation that results in the death of tens of thousands of wild horses it must be based on unbiased fact, not political agenda and manipulation.

To compound this problem advocacy is now being painted as the “extremists.” Since the budget was proposed to kill tens of thousands of wild horses advocacy as a whole has demonstrated restraint. Engaging in the few options open, calls and letters, the response was primarily appropriate with a few exceptions that were misled, but not “crazy.”

The crazy train was used (please read section four, these are intended to be read in order) by the opposition. They are preparing to use it again at the most critical juncture of the budget debate. In order for the report created by the “circle jerk of politics” to be seen as credible, advocacy needs to be seen as easily dismissed.

Be careful out there. Now more than ever you must look behind every mailer, meme and private hate chat message. Dig for the truth. If it sounds crazy, it probably is, so look deeper before responding. Crazy comes at you from both sides of any argument and often meets in a perfect circle of objectives that usually have a personal, not professional, root stem. Wild horses need an educated and nonreactive advocacy more than ever.

It is highly likely that we will see a budget passed that includes killing wild horses. The political climate is volatile. Massive moves are being made that include debate on health care, immigration, defense spending, education and on and on. We have been told that the questions will be asked, the investigation will happen (but could take time), and that holding up funding of the entire federal government will not swing on wild horses. (Remember we have two budgets now; an interim and the final FY18 due December 8th, due to defense and disaster relief.)

We ask that you continue to act in good faith and with integrity, even if the unthinkable is approved. It can be stopped. Watch how your representatives vote on these issues crucial to you. A huge mid-term election is coming and you do have the power to turn the table. It resides in that ability to engage, support and vote for candidates you believe in. Our military has fought for that right over and over, and individuals have strived their entire lives to provide to you.

Remember that wild horses and burros are the weak link in the public land seizure movement. The objective is reducing federal authority over public resource. Even if “wild horses” are not “your thing” at minimum remember they are a legally protected public resource, not a use, and any encroachment into the law will encroach all.

We are asking that you make three calls for the wild ones. Please remember that your Congressional representatives are not equine experts. When you call separate the issues.

Senate: “I do not want any federal funds used to kill healthy wild horses. The Department of Interior budget has multiple options to save a few million dollars. Not one subsidy to livestock is addressed in the budget and the federal grazing program is out of control. The wild horses should not be shot or sent to slaughter to continue the broken grazing program. As an American I find it unacceptable, completely unacceptable.”

House: “Please support Raul Grijalva’s efforts to get a full hearing into the House subcommittee into infractions in public land management that include intimidation of federal workers, safety issues to the public and illegal activities that forward independent and private agendas. The activities of John Ruhs as state lead in Nevada must come under serious review.” (please note Grjalva’s office has all of the information and has been working on this issue for years. You can tell your representative to contact Grijalva for the details).

Senate: “As an American I am asking that the Senate create a full investigation into illegal activities occurring in public land management that includes intimidation of employees by superiors, threats from private interests, creates a clear and present public safety issue and forwards personal political agenda. The activities of John Ruhs as state lead in Nevada must come under serious review.” (You can tell your Senator to contact Raul Grijalva in the House for details)

You can find your representatives here: http://govtrack.us

You can sign our support letter here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/09/11/we-can-stop-this/

Please note that this call for an investigation is not WHE alone. There are multiple environmental organizations pushing for the same.


Just asking that you make these calls presents a safety risk for us at WHE. We hope you have read the entire chain of articles and recognize that wild horses are part of the resentment over federal control in public land management as a whole, wild horse issues do not live in a magical bubble outside of public land. Public land issues are part of a larger picture that includes resentment over any regulation that interferes with a profit line. The conversation about wild horses actually has very little to do with “defensible decision making” and everything to do with politics and personal agenda.

There are many victims in the scenario from land to people. Real concerns get used to inflame the entire picture, even if the issue of concern is unrelated to another. Both sides of this conflict have individuals exploited to forward political and personal agenda.

The inflammation hides the real issue, much like a broken bone. Only when you look under the surface closely, like an x-ray, can you identify the break and treat it. When so many people profit off of the inflammation itself… any x-ray technician can find themselves in hot water fast.

Further reading: “All the Pretty Horses Must Die,” Cristopher Ketcham.

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Categories: Wild Horse Education