Wild Horse Education

Wave Two of the Attack on the Wild Horse and Burro Act coming this week

How do you stop the corruption? you go after the corrupted. We are presenting this article (we know it’s long) to get you ready for the delivery of the second wave of politically rooted propaganda, masquerading as a factual debate, hits the airways this week. You will be tempted to join debates on the lies and become exhausted, fast.

We ask you to focus on those delivering the package for a few moments.

The call you need to make to Congress this week: freeze the program and investigate the corruption.

PLEASE make a call this week to your Representatives.  (ACTION HERE)

On April 22 a first round of public relations arrived on a clandestine agreement with HSUS, ASPCA, Return to Freedom, Public Lands Council. Cattlemen’s Ass’n, Nevada Association of Counties, Christ Stewart (R-Utah), and many more entities representing the livestock industry. (For purposes of this article we will refer to the collective as the “Stewart Alliance.”)

On May 7 Stewart waved his alliance in a committee hearing on Appropriations citing agreement among “diverse stakeholders.” In truth these are not “diverse stakeholders,” these are those that want to be seen as the only stakeholders and represent large corporate interests that will all obtain personal and organizational gain if Congress adopts the proposal.

If this were a true meeting of engaged stakeholders it would have been organized like the recent input scoping on oil and gas corridors; those that comment, engage and/or have engaged in litigation would be invited. No such effort was made in any action put forth by this alliance. In fact, this alliance has gone out of it’s way to remove truly opposing voices from dialogue.

This document excludes stakeholders that have standing in courts for our western herds. The document includes organizations and individuals that have had legal briefs tossed by courts as having “no standing,” or that always need to find someone outside their organization to “stand on” for a legal argument.

This document in no way represents the legal record of “stakeholders” in any conversation representing wild horse management. This is an attempt to give an impression to media and Congress of “who should be in control” and who should be excluded, simply because they make the assertion. The document itself is a power grab that will gut the law.

This push to change the Wild Horse and Burros Act through Appropriations was attempted last year and failed (HERE).

This year is seen as a “last chance” to gut the Act before the next election cycle in 2020. These multi-million dollar interests are sparing no expense and have the expensive public relations teams in high gear.

The first round came from HSUS, ASPCA, Return to Freedom as they tried to get you to see them as “oh so brave” for caving entirely on wild horses and obtaining ground on a few domestic bills, promises of “getting some of the new subsidy money,” and the title of “stakeholder” (that most of them do not currently have under law unless they ride on an individual or organization that does). Press releases and carefully crafted venues where they have control and can exclude truly opposing voices have been engaged for 30 days (Gillian Lyons of HSUS was scheduled to debate our founder, Laura Leigh, on NPR and cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. This is not about any open process, this is a trail of hidden and dirty deals).

The next round is set for this week when the livestock industry will grab the “public relations” ball. 

It is set to begin at a “summit” this week in Reno. It claims to be the first summit of it’s kind, it’s not. There was a summit in Utah with almost identical presenters and the same organizer in 2017. In 2010 the BLM spent a million dollars on a “summit” in Denver that had no follow up with wild horse organizations present. (check out the membership list of the coalition HSUS, ASPCA and Return to Freedom joined)

The “mini version” of this Stewart Alliance document has just been adopted by the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee and moves into committee. That is simply the first step. This has to pass the subcommittee, committee, full floor vote, in both the House and Senate.

Appropriations fight for the fiscal year 2020, that begins funding the government in October 2019, has just officially begun.


We need to STOP any changes to the wild horse program. This politically corrupt move by corporate interests must not be adopted in any form by Congress this year. They know how dirty this is. They know this may be their last chance to gut the Act before the next election wipes that opportunity for the corporate corrupt mess of this administrations DOI away.

Press Release from the public relations firm Gattuso Coalition. This is crafted to make this sound “academic” and downplay that this is essentially a training session for members to learn how to sell the alliance message to gut the Wild Horse and Burros Act.

(printed in full so you can hear the tone. Our article continues after the press release and we urge you to scroll down and continue reading after the photo of John Ruhs.)

First of its kind equid-roaming summit to establish communications protocol for ecological maintenance

  • Summit to take place May 29-31, 2019, in Reno, Nevada, in light of rising roaming equid –

RENO, Nev. (May 22, 2019) – This month, myriad equid stakeholders will convene to discuss the science behind the current wild horse and burro populations of Nevada, Wyoming and Utah and to work to identify an improved process for communication amongst the varying collaborators. Summit delegates representing more than 90 organizations from 30 states will convene for three days to receive policy, management, and science updates as they work in partnership with a sense of urgency to develop an action strategy to better engage Congress, public land, and wild horse and burro stakeholders to ensure healthy horses on healthy rangelands.

As of March 1, 2019, the BLM estimated there were 88,090 wild horse and burros (free-roaming equids) inhabiting designated herd management (HMAs) areas. To sustain ecological balance for BLM-administered areas, the current appropriate management level (AML) is set at 26,690 animals. Wild horse and burro population are increasing at 15-20 percent annually, doubling the on-range population every four years.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (WFRHBA) gave the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U. S. Forest Service (USFS) the statutory authority to manage and protect wild horse and burros in 177 designated HMAs on public lands in ecological balance with other public land multiple-uses.

Although Congress gave the BLM and the USFS legal authority to manage wild horses and burros on designated western rangelands, litigation and policy actions have complicated their efforts.

To develop this stakeholder-based, comprehensive communication processes, the Society for Range Management, The Wildlife Society, the Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming Sections of the Society for Range Management, the Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming State Chapters of The Wildlife Society, and the Jack H. Berryman Institute, Utah State University are hosting the Free-roaming Equid and Economic Sustainability Summit in Reno, Nevada, May 28-31, 2019. Delegates from stakeholder organizations including, but not limited to, the national rangeland wild horse and burro rangeland management coalition, Native American tribes, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States, and Return to Freedom will work toward developing the communication process that will help in managing free-roaming equids in concert with other public lands’ multiple-uses to achieve western rangeland ecosystem sustainability.

“If the current management policies continue, the impacts to fragile western rangelands, wild horses and burros, wildlife and their habitats, and humans will intensify resulting in irreversible consequences,” said Terry Messmer, Director of the Berryman Institute at Utah State University. “This is too critical a juncture in our ecological history to ignore, and the willingness of stakeholders to come together as we take this important next step is heartening. This summit speaks to the fact that all parties understand we must do our best to protect the landscape’s diversity of life and that the time to act is now.”

For media inquiries, location information or to obtain press credentials for the Summit, contact Rachel Gattuso at rachel@gattusocoalition.comor (775) 336-9453.


About the Society for Range Management
The Society for Range Management is the professional scientific society and conservation organization whose members are concerned with studying, conserving, managing and sustaining the varied resources of the rangelands which comprise nearly half the land in the world. Established in 1948, SRM has hosted over 4,000 members in 48 countries, including many developing nations. SRM’s members are land managers, scientists, educators, students, producers and conservationists–a diverse membership guided by a professional code of ethics and unified by a strong land ethic.

About the Wildlife Society
Founded in 1937, the organization’s mission is “To inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation.” The Wildlife Society enhances our members’ networking and learning opportunities, professional and career development, and provides numerous ways for them to get more involved in creating a better future for wildlife and their habitats. TWS is an international organization committed to addressing national and international issues that affect the current and future status of wildlife in North America and throughout the world.

About the Jack H. Barryman Institute
The Berryman Institute is a national organization based in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University. It is named after Jack H. Berryman to honor his distinguished career in wildlife management. The Berryman Institute is dedicated to improving human-wildlife relationships and resolving human-wildlife conflicts through teaching, research, and extension.

They added two documents to the release to layer in their talking points that they will be selling to the public and press and training the participants to repeat.

The first is what they call “origin and history” (Gattuso1) and the second is what they are calling a “fact sheet” (Gattuso2)

We know the outright lies and inequities will make you angry and tempted to get caught in debating layer after layer of nonsense. We do understand.

Before we discuss the crafted and paid for talking points, you need to take a hard look at those “doing the talking” and delivering the package.

(our article continued beneath the photo of Society for Range Management member, John Ruhs that sat in the BLM deputy director chair)

Ruhs_SRMMEMBERThe Society for Range Management (SRM) is a nonprofit organization that works for policy changes like the engagement they took on sage grouse, National Monuments and wild horses; to gut protections in favor of industry. It is against BLM policy (ethics manual) for an employee to work for policy change. It will come as no surprise to any of you that several BLM managers will probably participate in Wed/Thurs sales pitch by SRM.

John Ruhs, as NV State director was directly involved in shutting down the largest fertility control darting program in the nation at Fish Creek, even though there was no legal reason to do so. The counties, et al, lost in court. The case was entirely based on BLM not doing what they wanted and doing something an advocate was involved in; it was about control and had nothing to do with management. After the case lost individuals were involved in illegal activity on range. Ruhs made both the program his cronies wanted stopped, and any penalties, disappear. (This is the same time the “Stewart Alliance” was formed and HSUS et al jumped into bed with them instead of joining the fight. They were not “brave” as they assert, they were greedy, corrupt, cowards.)

Ruhs was promoted to Deputy Director of BLM and given the authority of Director, by Ryan Zinke. Zinke has ties to Protect the Harvest, with members directly involved in the penalties Ruhs made disappear in NV, and overlap with SRM and Public Lands Council, etc (many are the same people). Zinke also holds stock in a gun company of a lobbyist for Protect the Harvest (HERE).

Ruhs oversaw incorporation of this alliance document into the BLM report to Congress last year. 

After he was grilled on the outright lies in the report on National Monuments, Ruhs was pulled out and sent to Idaho.

Brian Steed was brought in to take his chair. Again, the Deputy Director was given the authority of Director, by Zinke. (It should be noted that BLM has not had a Director, a position vetted through Congress, since the current administration began.)

Steed began working in politics as Congressman Chris Stewart’s campaign manager, and in 2013 began working on Capitol Hill as Stewart’s Chief of Staff. He began his career as the Deputy County Attorney for Iron County, Utah. January 2009 to December 2011, Stewart taught at Utah State University, which has taken more than $26 million from oil billionaire Charles Koch’s foundation. While at USU, Steed promoted  oil and coal development within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. USU is one of the alliance members whose input is incorporated into the BLM report this year and they are also participating in Wednesdays public relations conference. (Many wild horse advocates will remember that in 2014 Iron County threatened BLM with removing wild horses illegally as Bunkerville was hot).

Steed was in Stewarts office working on the policies Stewart is now proposing to change; not just on wild horses, but a slew of public land issues. Steed was directly involved with the “alliance members” working with both himself and John Ruhs on wild horses.

As Deputy Director, Steed will hand the BLM Report to Congress, that incorporates the changes the alliance wants (that he helped create) within the next 30 days.

That is why no expense is being spared by the corporate interests behind this attempt to gut the Act, exclude your voice and benefit personally. The “ducks” are all in a row and the ones they grabbed in corporate political (not on the ground) advocacy were the perfect chicken to join the line-up. They see this as a “last chance” to get all of these power grabs through before the next election.

We currently have multiple investigations into activities at Interior by oversight agencies. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has not had a Director since this administration took control of America’s public resources (wild horses are a resource, not a permitted use like cows).

Just last week Senator Udall called for a halt on new oil and gas permitting in Grand Staircase and an investigation.

We need one on wild horses, too. PLEASE make a call or two this week. (TAKE ACTION)

We will be doing a series of articles throughout the week:

This is going to be a hard fight and we must not waiver. If this is not defeated? Your wild, wild horse herds will be unrecognizable in 3 years time. Yes, it is that bad.

If you want to understand some of the dangers you can read a breakdown of points on this alliance that were incorporated into the BLM Report last year, but rejected. We must defeat it again this year. CLICK HERE. 

More soon…


Help us stay in the fight. 




Categories: Wild Horse Education