Friday, February 27, 2009

Burros Shot to Death in Arizona

On Monday February 23, 2009, at least 11 and possibly up to 15 wild burros were shot outside of Phoenix in the Lake Pleasant area. As most of you know these wild burros are protected by federal law and the BLM is offering a reward of up to $5000 for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this horrific tragedy. Due to the nature and the number killed, the charge will not be a simple misdemeanor, but a full fledged felony punishable by jail and/or fine.

The animals' bodies were found by people who were doing some off roading and they were shocked and horrified by what they found. Some of those killed were literally newly born, with other jennies in the process of either giving birth when shot or going into labor as they lay bleeding to death. The community and even the BLM are saddened by the deaths and they all appear to want to find out who did this. According to some from the area these burros are well known to the local residents and were curious and friendly animals, which may have made them an easy target for those who wished them dead.

To me this is not only a tragedy, but a moral issue that we as wild horse and burro advocates face. When people are looking at the wild horses and burros as "pests" or annoyances that are disposable we are very fortunate that this doesn't happen more frequently. The spokesperson for the local BLM office said because of the number it would be a felony (see the interview by clicking here), but EVERY case of shooting a wild horse or burro should be aggressively investigated and EVERY perpetrator should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The reason why the federal law isn't a deterrent is the fact that too often these cases go without being solved and when they are solved the person responsible often gets a simple slap on the wrist.

In 1998 34 horses were killed, including pregnant mares and young foals in Nevada. These horses were Virginia Range horses and fell under the jurisdiction of the state of Nevada. The 3 involved plead guilty to either a misdemeanor for one of the men and two plead guilty to a single count which was a gross misdemeanor. They paid $1500 in restitution (jointly), fines of $1500 and $2000 and various costs incurred. Tow of the men were Marines and they also were discharged from the military. (Note: Deanne Stillman covered this case in her book "Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse. If you would like to buy this book consider buying it from and making AHDF your charity of choice.) In January of 2002 4 horses and a mule, including one nursing mare which ultimately led to the foal's death, were killed on the Outer Banks of South Carolina. That case has never been solved. In December of 2005 a pregnant mare was also killed in South Carolina after being shot in the stomach. The case was solved, but I cannot find the results. In January of 2007 at least 7 horses were shot outside of Pinedale, Arizona. This case included yearlings, and young horses and some of the horses were beheaded. The case has never been solved. In March 2007 in the Cedar Mountain HMA a 9 year old white stallion was killed and a black stallion was severely injured and had to be euthanized. It was never solved. In July 2003, 3 horses were shot to death west of Ely, Nevada, one a six month old filly. This was part of a 2 year string of deaths in the area that left 24 horses dead in Nevada and Utah. The case was never solved. In December of 2001 5 horses were shot in Colorado, this followed 37 horses being shot in neighboring Wyoming in December 2000. I cannot find any info on whether the cases were ever solved or not. In the 1990's over 600 horses were killed during a two year span in a disagreement between ranchers and the BLM. I cannot find out if these cases have been resolved or not or what the punishment was. There are many more cases and this doesn't include all the cases in Canada where wild horse were shot with no resolution to many of those cases either, except in some of them the government participated to trap or provide food for wolves.

As one can easily see the issue of shooting our wild horses and burros isn't new. Each one of the cases is equally horrific and those found should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to act as a deterrent for other such cases. I hope and pray that they will find out who shot and killed the burros in Arizona, but since so many go unsolved or with minimal prosecution, I am not holding my breath.

I hope that everyone will take a second and sign a petition (some of the links on this page come with VERY graphic and disturbing pictures, notice I have been up all night working to get the images out of my mind and to try to make a difference) and ask that the government actively pursue and prosecute EVERY violation of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act to the fullest extent of the law. It is up to us, the American people, to ensure that these tragedies are not just accepted and that those responsible pay for their callous and terrible actions. Remember that those who mistreat animals are very likely to mistreat humans, and we do NOT want that kind of person walking the streets free to harm others or more defenseless animals.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great News!!

For those of us who cannot attend the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, it is incredibly frustrating. No matter where we all live, we still care about the wild horses and burros and being left out of the process is unfair.

Stepping in to fill the gap is Nevada HorsePower. They managed to stream the last meeting and will once again be streaming the next one for us to view. Last time, some may have experienced some technical difficulties, but they simply didn't expect the number of people who logged in at once. They think they have worked out the issues and are expecting the crowds. So, please if you can watch do so. It is informative and it involves us because these are OUR horses and burros, OUR tax dollars that support the program and OUR right to know. Read the press release below.

HORSE POWER a non-profit 501(c)3, and their educational partner, Sierra Nevada Community Access Television., is proudly announcing another project together. Bringing the Public the complete National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory meeting, March 2nd, from 8 am - 5 pm.
The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting will be web-streamed live from the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada, Monday, March 2nd , 2009, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by Horse Power ( through their public information partner Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (SNCAT). This very controversial meeting is intended to bring together the representatives from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Wild Horse Advisory Board and wild horse and burro advocates.
The decisions made at this meeting, could by law include the euthanasia or selling for slaughter of the over 30,000 of America’s wild horses and burros now warehoused in government pens. The meeting will include recommendations and input from the Bureau of Land Management, The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and public comments from Wild Horse and Burro Advocates from all corners.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Understanding Legislation and Compromise

Recently we released a great guide to legislation to help folks better understand how the legislative process works. I highly suggest that if you haven't read it yet that you download it and read it as you can. There are just so many bills, both on the state and federal level, pending that affect horses and knowing the process can only help with their protections. At the state level in some areas; Arizona, Utah, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois and others; there are bills pending that would legalize horse slaughter which could impact the pending federal bills.

As some may have noticed there has been some controversy over HR 1018, the bill introduced to protect the wild horses. I think that it is only fair to myself and the Congressmen who introduced the legislation that I make a few things clear.

One of the things that everyone should understand is that anyone, including the President, me or you, can write legislation but only Representatives and Senators can introduce legislation. So, generally they like to write their own as it has their name on it and they are responsible for it. They often will seek out the advice and suggestions of those within the industry that will be affected by the new law to help them, but in the end it is their own conscience that drives the wording of the bill. No matter how explicit the suggestions, the words are theirs and theirs alone as they are the elected official and they are the one(s) who are ultimately responsible for whatever happens under their law, good or bad. Remember, the Burns Amendment?

While Senators and Representative consult with groups and individuals, they almost never consult with just one group or individual. When they get conflicting suggestions they will usually give more weight to the larger group or the more influential individual as that group or person is seem to be able to deliver more votes in support to their pending bill. It is very seldom that every group or individual involved is happy with the final wording of the bill, but it is always hoped that the bill is as fair as possible.

When we are talking about horse slaughter it is simply amazing that we have been able to get legislation introduced every Congressional session as those who support slaughter are usually better funded and more influential. I think that we have had so much success because we are talking about humane issues and it is hard to look at the facts and say that slaughter is a good thing, no matter who supports it. However, because they are so well funded and supported by influential folks we have had a hard time getting the bills to actually go through. This is why the various groups have banded together, it will take all of us to pass this legislation as individually none of us could accomplish it alone. For this cooperation to work all of us have had to compromise and work with one another and put aside personal feelings and checked egos at the door. Not everyone has done a great job of that, but I think all of us have done a decent enough job of it.

On the wild horse bill some of the groups disagree on how to accomplish the end result of protecting the horses. There are so many ideas out there that I can't even begin to name them all here. However, at their core they all do agree that the horses and burros should be protected and they should remain on the range. The proposed bill put wording into the bill to reflect some of these various ideas. Do I agree with EVERYTHING in the bill? Not on your life and there are some that I would never advocate in a million years. One in particular, I hate the idea of completely, but it was added by a larger group that is seen to be able to deliver more votes than my group can. So, regardless of how I feel, it is in the bill. However, some ideas I had are also in the bill. and that group may or may not agree with those, so it is probably as fair as it can get.

While we are talking about what is in a bill we also need to talk about "perfection". It is nearly impossible to achieve perfection in any arena, but in legislation it is beyond impossible. There are too many people to please. First, it has to be a bill that has a chance to pass, so it has to please other Representatives, Senators and the President as these are the steps to passage into law. Second, it has to please those within the industry it affects. If not all, then nearly all, industries have opponents and proponents of some aspect. Looking again at slaughter, it is well known that certain large breed registries support slaughter, as well as those who oppose it. And even within the ranks of those who oppose it there are disagreements on certain aspects. Then you have the general public who weigh in on the issue whether it impacts them directly or not. You can see that it would be impossible to please them all, even if you were only attempting to please those on one side or another. There are compromises made. Not all are good like those made in the dark of night or made for personal or political gain. However, they are necessary if one wants to accomplish anything at all.

Should you support a bill just because it does something, even if it isn't everything you want? Well, that is up to the individual. People tend to affiliate themselves with certain political parties, but it is VERY rare for them to agree with everything that party stands for. You have to make up your mind which one most accurately reflects your personal beliefs. The same is true for a bill. Does it reflect enough of what you think for you to support it? That is not to say that you shouldn't try to make changes that you feel strongly about. You should if it is a political party or a bill. However, one shouldn't attack those one your side. They aren't the enemy, they are trying their best to reflect what they perceive is the majority opinion. So, asking for changes within a party or bill should be requested politely and with due respect. (Of course in politics since you never know whose support you may need one day you should always be polite and respectful, even if they oppose what you are talking to them about on any given day.)

With respect to the wild horse bill last session we asked for 2 things, that the Burns Amendment be repealed and that mass euthanasia of healthy horses in holding facilities be prohibited. A bill was introduced to do that, but even though it passed the House it was never heard in the Senate. This session we have a far more comprehensive bill that addresses many more of the issues that advocates have wanted for years. Now is the time to ask yourself does it more accurately reflect your opinions than not? Another thing to think about is that since we are so poorly funded it is difficult to find lawmakers to introduce legislation and if one doesn't support the bill it very well could take 4 years to get another bill introduced and then it wouldn't be introduced by Congressmen who are seen to be "experts" because of the committees they sit on. (Please read the Legislative Guide to understand the way this term is interpreted in Congress and why the sponsors of HR 1018 are the only proper ones to introduce legislation on this issue.)

Compromise isn't fun and often it isn't pretty, but it usually allows us to accomplish, at least partially, what we want. Can you accept the compromises in the bill? Only you know the answer to that, but in all honesty I hope that you can because I think it is the right bill and the only chance the horses have at this time. Does it need comment or "fixing"? Again, the answer is as unique as each of us. If you feel that there are things that need addressing you should follow your conscience, but remember to act appropriately when doing so. I have at least one issue that I would like to see corrected within the bill and I will be opening dialog with the committee and the sponsors to see how and if we can best do that. But at the end of the day I had to decide my position on the bill and based on several issues, not the least of which is that many folks agree that if something isn't done in the next few years the horse and burro populations will be irreparable making delaying the bill until I can get a "perfect" bill unacceptable, I support the bill and will fight my hardest to see it passed, even without the changes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Has the World Gone Crazy?!

Recently the text for the bill HR 1018 was released. I was so happy I could dance, it actually took EVERY suggestion made by the advocates and put them into a bill that I thought, while not perfect, it was pretty close. Now I am getting calls and emails from people who actually think that the bill is bad and have decided not to support it without reading the darn thing. They focused on something they THINK they see and instead of sitting down to digest it or even ask questions they have begun to attack it.

Please excuse my language but "What the He** are you thinking?" Does anyone think for a second that Rahall and Grijalva have any designs on destroying the horses? Does anyone really think for a second that I would actually go along with it if they did?

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, let's look at this thing logically and like mature adults. I will go point by point over a few points to show why this is a good bill and why it deserves to be fully supported by the equine community. Then everyone can read the rest. I would suggest taking a copy of the current bill and setting it next to the existing one.

Currently the bill says "It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding,harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands." Now read it with the change. "It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands."

As one can see, this doesn't limit where they can be located opening up every inch of public lands to them.

The next part makes that clear when it strikes the part about exceeding their territorial limits and where it adds (7) Identify new, appropriate rangelands for wild free-roaming horses and burros, including use of land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, and voluntary grazing buyouts, and negotiate with private landowners to allow for the federally supervised protection of wild horses and burros on private lands.

Then it puts ALL of the horses and burros under the Secretary to prevent that pesky little thing they do about only the ones under the BLM are entitled to protection. It also says that they consider outside resources and those SHALL (no longer making it an option but a command) be outside of the BLM, which includes Craig Downer and Dr Gus Cothran.

The bill prohibits the use of helicopters for use in rounding up horses and burros, which the original bill intended. The bill prohibits the euthanasia of healthy animals, and it doesn't allow for the commercial sale of the horses. It also says that the Department of Interior will do follow up inspections to ensure that the law isn't being broken by those trying to slide through the loopholes.

Another thing the bill does is prevent horses from being removed and never returned to the range. (h) If the immediate health or safety of wild free-roaming horses or burros is threatened, such as in severe drought conditions, the Secretary shall temporarily remove animals from the range. (Emphasis added)

I can go on and on but I think that I made my point. Sorry if this comes off snappy but I KNOW the intent and I KNOW how hard so many of us worked on this to make sure that it covered as many problems as we could in a single bill. It is a pain to have so many make snap judgments on what this part means and what that part means, especially without reading the darn thing. I have already heard from Rahall's office that some groups have already come out and said that they won't support the bill because "it took away their protections". I sincerely hope that everyone will settle down and truly read the bill now with an open mind. Many of us worked REALLY hard on making this bill a reality.

Text for HR 1018

The text for HR 1018 is now available. The bill goes far beyond what I first reported and covers ALL of the things we suggested. Please read the bill below carefully and then make calls to your Representative and ask them to cosponsor and support the bill as it is an EXCELLENT bill for the horses and gives them the fullest protections.


February 12, 2009

Mr. RAHALL (for himself and Mr. GRIJALVA) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources


To amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to improve the management and long-term health of wild free-roaming horses and burros, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of the Act of December 15, 1971 (commonly known as the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act; 16 U.S.C. 1331 et seq.).


    The first section is amended by striking `in the area where presently found, as'.


    Section 2 (16 U.S.C. 1332) is amended--
      (1) in paragraph (c), by striking `which does not exceed their known territorial limits,'
      (2) in paragraph (d), by striking `and' after the semicolon;
      (3) in paragraph (e), by striking the period and inserting a semicolon;
      (4) by amending paragraph (f) to read as follows:
      `(f) `excess animals' means wild free-roaming horses or burros which must be removed from an area, in accordance with section 3(d), in order to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship in that area.'.


    Section 3 (16 U.S.C. 1333) is amended to read as follows:
    `Sec. 3. (a) All wild free-roaming horses and burros are hereby declared to be under the jurisdiction of the Secretary for the purpose of management and protection in accordance with the provisions of this Act. The Secretary shall--
      `(1) protect and manage wild free-roaming horses and burros as components of the public lands;
      `(2) designate and maintain specific ranges on public lands as sanctuaries for the protection and preservation of wild free-roaming horses and burros, where the Secretary, after consultation with the wildlife agency of the State where any such range is proposed and with the Advisory Board established in section 7, considers such action desirable.
      `(3) manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands;
      `(4) consider the recommendations of qualified scientists in the field of biology and ecology, some of whom shall be independent of both Federal and State agencies and may include members of the Advisory Board established in section 7;
      `(5) ensure that management activities related to wild free-roaming horses and burros are at the minimal feasible level and carried out in consultation with the relevant State wildlife agency in order to protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species, particularly endangered wildlife species; and
      `(6) ensure that any adjustments in forage allocations are made after taking into consideration the needs of other wildlife species.
    `(b) In order to determine if an overpopulation of wild free-roaming horses and burros exists, the Secretary shall--
      `(1) maintain an inventory of wild free-roaming horses and burros on the public lands;
      `(2) update the inventory annually; and
      `(3) make the inventory by herd management area available to the public on the Website of the Bureau of Land Management at no cost.
    `(c) In order to better manage wild free-roaming horses and burros, the Secretary, not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this section, shall take the following actions:
      `(1) Adopt and employ the best scientific, peer-reviewed methods to accurately estimate wild free-roaming horse and burro populations on public lands.
      `(2) Employ scientifically sound methods to develop a policy for setting consistent, appropriate management levels.
      `(3) Provide a public process, including a period for notice and comment, for finalizing appropriate management level standards.
      `(4) Publish and distribute these standards to each field office so that the methodology for estimating population and determining appropriate management levels is consistent across public lands.
      `(5) Train Bureau of Land Management personnel on the use of these standard techniques to estimate population and determine appropriate management levels.
      `(6) Consult with--
        `(A) the United States Fish and Wildlife Service;
        `(B) wildlife agencies of the State or States where wild free-roaming horses and burros are located;
        `(C) individuals independent of Federal and State governments who have been recommended by the National Academy of Sciences; and
        `(D) individuals who the Secretary determines to have scientific expertise and special knowledge of wild horse and burro protection, wildlife management, and animal husbandry related to rangeland management.
      `(7) Identify new, appropriate rangelands for wild free-roaming horses and burros, including use of land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, and voluntary grazing buyouts, and negotiate with private landowners to allow for the federally supervised protection of wild horses and burros on private lands.
      `(8) Establish sanctuaries or exclusive use areas; and
      `(9) Research, develop, and implement enhanced surgical or immunocontraception sterilization or other safe methods of fertility control.
    `(d) If the Secretary has exhausted all practicable options of maintaining populations of wild free-roaming horses and burros on the range, the Secretary may provide that excess wild free-roaming horses and burros are humanely captured and removed for private maintenance and care, so long as the Secretary has determined an adoption demand exists by qualified individuals and the Secretary can ensure humane treatment and care by requiring that--
      `(1) no more than four wild free-roaming horses and burros may be adopted per year by any individual, unless the Secretary determines, in writing, that the individual is capable of humanely caring for more than four wild free-roaming horses and burros, including the transportation of such animals by the adopting party;
      `(2) each individual adopter shall execute an appropriate attestation, pursuant to section 1001 of title 18, United States Code, affirming that adopted animals shall not be used for purposes of slaughter for human consumption;
      `(3) methods for removing wild horses and burros shall not include the use of helicopters or any other airborne devices; and
      `(4) wild horses and burros shall not be contained in corrals or other holding facilities for more than 6 months, while awaiting disposition.
    `(e) When an excess wild free-roaming horse or burro has been transferred to a qualified individual for adoption and private maintenance pursuant to this Act and the Secretary determines that such individual has provided humane conditions, treatment, and care for such animal for one year, the Secretary may, upon application by the transferee, grant the transferee title to that animal.
    `(f) Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this subsection, for the purposes of carrying out a successful wild free-roaming horse and burro adoption program the Secretary shall--
      `(1) implement creative and more aggressive marketing strategies for the adoption program, including the use of the Internet or other media to showcase horses and burros and the adoption program;
      `(2) explore public outreach opportunities, including agreements with local and State organizations that are using horses and burros for rehabilitation, therapy, or prisoner programs;
      `(3) provide resources to properly screen and train potential adopters;
      `(4) conduct tours of Bureau of Land Management facilities for interested parties; and
      `(5) develop volunteer mentor and compliance check programs for assisting the agency in facilitating successful adoptions.
    `(g) The Secretary may not destroy or authorize the destruction of wild free-roaming horses or burros unless the Secretary--
      `(1) determines that the wild free-roaming horse or burro is terminally ill; and
      `(2) ensures that the terminally ill wild free-roaming horse or burro will be destroyed in the most humane manner.
    `(h) If the immediate health or safety of wild free-roaming horses or burros is threatened, such as in severe drought conditions, the Secretary shall temporarily remove animals from the range.
    `(i) Except in cases of removal under subsection (g) or subsection (h), if the Secretary removes wild free-roaming horses or burros from the range or decreases the range of the wild horses and burros, the Secretary shall provide a public notice on the Website of the Bureau of Land Management 30 days prior to the planned removal.
    `(j) The Secretary shall--
      `(1) track the number of wild free-roaming horses and burros injured during gathering or holding in a centralized database system;
      `(2) determine what information on the treatment of gathered wild free-roaming horses and burros in holding and adopted wild free-roaming horse and burros could be provided to the public to help inform the public about the treatment of wild free-roaming horse and burros; and
      `(3) ensure that such information is easily accessible on the Website of the Bureau of Land Management.'.


    Section 4 (16 U.S.C. 1334) is amended--
      (1) by striking `animals removed' and inserting `animals returned to public lands'; and
      (2) by striking `In no event shall such wild free-roaming horses and burros be destroyed except by the agents of the Secretary.'.


    Section 6 (16 U.S.C. 1336) is amended by inserting `and other private entities' after `landowners'.


    Section 7 (16 U.S.C. 1337) is amended--
      (1) by striking `nine members' and inserting `12 members';
      (2) by striking `Governments' and all that follows `management.' and inserting `Governments and shall include at a minimum three representatives of the livestock industry; three representatives of the environmental community; three representatives of the humane community; and three scientists with doctorate degrees who have expertise in wildlife management.'; and
      (3) by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Selection of members of the board shall be conducted by notice and comment rulemaking in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. et seq.) shall be for a term of four years. No individual shall serve more then two consecutive terms.'.


    Section 8(a)(4) (16 U.S.C. 1338(a)(4)) is amended--
      (1) by striking `3(e)' and inserting `3(d)';
      (2) by inserting `, transports for processing,' after `processes'; and
      (3) by striking `the remains of' and inserting `a live or deceased'.


    Section 9 (16 U.S.C. 1338a) is amended--
      (1) by striking `helicopters or, for the purpose of transporting captured animals, motor vehicles.' and inserting `motor vehicles for the purpose of transporting captured animals.'; and
      (2) by striking `The provisions of section 47(a) of title 18 shall not be applicable to such use.'.


    Strike section 10 (16 U.S.C. 1339) and redesignate section 11 as section 10.


    Amend section 10 (as so redesignated by section 10 of this Act) as follows:
      (1) Insert `(a)(1)' before `After the expiration'.
      (2) Insert `(2)' before `The Secretary of the Interior'.
      (3) Add at the end the following:
    `(b)(1) Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this subsection and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report that contains the following:
      `(A) The number of acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management for wild free-roaming horses and burros.
      `(B) The appropriate management levels on public rangelands.
      `(C) A description of the methods used to determine the appropriate management levels and whether it was applied consistently across the agency;
      `(D) the number of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands;
      `(E) a description of the methods used to determine the wild free-roaming horse and burro population;
      `(F) any land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, and voluntary grazing buyouts that the Bureau of Land Management has acquired or pursued for wild free-roaming horses and burros;
      `(G) any sanctuaries or exclusive use areas established for wild free-roaming horses and burros;
      `(H) programs established for enhanced surgical or immunocontraception sterilization research and development;
      `(I) the extent to which fertility control is being used by the Bureau of Land Management to control the population of wild free-roaming horses and burros;
      `(J) the percentage of the Bureau of Land Management budget devoted to contraception annually;
      `(K) the ratio of horses the agency has contracepted and put back on the range; and
      `(L) which herds contraception has been administered and with what results.
    `(2) Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall be made available to the public on the Website of the Bureau of Land Management.'.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Its been a Good Day!

Usually I can't sleep because of the atrocities that I have read about, they keep me up all night with horrifying pictures in my head. I stay up trying to figure out how to make it better, just knowing if I say or do the right thing that maybe I can make a difference. So, I write about it usually posting about the bad things I have heard.

Tonight I can't sleep for a very different reason, the past few days have been so good that I just don't want the day to end. So, I thought it only right that I share it just like I would the bad.

First, personally it has been a good day. My family and I usually spend Valentines Day together and this year was no different. My hubby and I went to the movies, saw a good one and the popcorn was fresh (trust me that isn't always the case). The kids didn't fight today which was beyond a miracle. The critters, including the horses, were all frisky and funny wanting to play and just seemed to want to entertain us, which they did. Add to all that with the fact that everyone is happy and healthy, it was a great day personally.

Second, the bill to protect the mustangs, that I have been waiting for, was introduced. As my previous post said it looks like it is a good bill. I was worried about it not containing enough to help prevent the absolute destruction of our heritage species, the mustang, but it seems like it covers most of our wish list.

Third, the AHDF has been trying to figure out a way to help the wild horses and burros and we had an attorney come forward to help us. I had a great meeting with them late Friday and we are awaiting the official agreement from them to represent the AHDF in a suit against the BLM. We all, the attorneys and the AHDF, had a meeting of the minds on how to proceed and what path to take. The attorneys are going to be working pro-bono (providing their services for free), but we are going to be looking at legal expenses that we will have to raise, but we can think about that later. It is just great news that even the legal community is seeing the injustices to our horses and seeking us out and not waiting for us to bring things to them. So, that alone would have made Friday a good day, but add to it the bill and Friday was a truly awesome Friday the 13th!

Fourth, we decided to attend the Homes for Horses Conference and it is being held in Las Vegas in April. A fun city that I am looking forward to visiting again but better than just that it is being combined with the Animal Care Expo so I can visit with a few of my friends from the equine community as well as the humane community. It isn't often that one can combine so much into a single trip. I love the information we share and what I learn at each one of these types of events, so it is exciting to be able to go to them no matter where they are.

If anyone doesn't know what the Expo is about it is the annual conference (April 6-9) for humane advocates put on by the HSUS. It combines many different workshops that those in the shelter and advocate community can really use. Last year they added equine workshops, which they will have this year as well and it is open registration, so I hope that anyone who can attend will and they will say hi to me while they are there. The Homes for Horses Conference is limited to those invited and is the 9th and 10th of April. So, while it isn't an open event I hope others will join the coalition and attend subsequent events (there may be space for new member organizations, but space it limited so if anyone wants to join and go I suggest that they register soon). AHDF is an original member, attending the first conference back in 2007. The purpose of the Coalition is to bring together interested organizations to make the equine welfare community better (accreditation), disprove the unwanted horse myth, battle horse slaughter and to support one another. I was unable to attend last year, although I did make it to the Expo, so I am looking forward to attending this year.

Fifth, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission used to give incentive funds to the Walking Horse industry, but they have decided to withhold funds because of the many violations on soring. They have left the door open to reapply when the clean up their act. This isn't the first good news to come from the Thoroughbred racing community over the last few months, many tracks have implemented no slaughter policies and are moving toward being more humane. This isn't to say that they have done all they should to make horse racing a perfect place for the equine athlete, but at least they are working toward it, unlike the Quarter Horse industry.

Sixth, the recent letter released by former Mayor of Kaufman, Paula Bacon, on the issue of horse slaughter. The AHDF has provided Congress with documents for years showing that the horse slaughter industry is not only horrific to the horses but to local communities where they are located. However, often people assume, incorrectly, that we don't know what we are talking about. Ms. Bacon's letter speaks from experience and cites the same documents we have provided. In a time when several states are considering opening plants, even with a federal bill prohibiting it being considered, the letter is timely and well written. Of course, knowing Ms. Bacon personally, I knew that any letter like this would be great and compelling. I hope everyone in states where this is being considered will take advantage of the letter to show why nobody should want such an industry in their communities.

Seventh, and last, I have had some great calls by the public about horse welfare. As soon as a year ago I would get calls with questions from people who had never heard of slaughter or the plight of the wild mustangs and burros, but now am getting informed calls asking what they can do. To some this isn't a big deal, but to me it shows that the public is getting even better informed which makes passing laws to protect our horses easier. The more the public knows the better and the more support we see for the pending bills. Of course, I ALWAYS appreciate the calls and emails with questions and enjoy talking to them as well. How else is one going to learn, but I also like mentoring those who already know the issues on how to make a difference. Don't forget about the Legislative Guide that I just wrote to help guide the average person through the legislative process and tips on how to lobby. I hope that everyone will become informed on the issues, but if you have questions always feel free to ask, no question is stupid. The only folks I don't like talking to are those who don't want to learn or hear about the issues, but want to argue. I won't argue with you, so don't even try.

Like I said it has been a great couple of days, so it isn't crazy to not want them to end. Too often I have bad days and share them, so I wanted to pass along the good as well.

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Bill HR 1018 Introduced

The long anticipated bill to protect wild horses and burros has been introduced. HR 1018, introduced by Reps Rahall and Grijalva, not only would prevent the BLM from their proposed mass euthanasia program, but helps revamp the program to help protect the horses and burros under the BLM.

Program changes in the bill include strengthening the adoption program , expanding the land for the wild horses and allows the BLM to create sanctuaries. The expansion of the adoption program is an issue that even the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board has noted and has recommended for years. But adoption isn't the only answer so the bill also addresses the issue of expanding public land ares, which is needed because the BLM has removed around 20 million acres from the program over the years and it is time that land is returned to the horses. But the bill doesn't stop there, it addresses the issue of horses in long-term holding facilities. Holding horses in facilities is not the answer to the supposed issue of overpopulation, sanctuaries may be and the bill allows the BLM to assist in creating those sanctuaries. One specific sanctuary proposal has gotten a great deal of attention lately, the Pickens plan, but it is by no means the only one that this part of the bill could help.

The AHDF fully supports this bill and we think that this bill is just as important to see passed as the slaughter ban bill. So, please contact your Representative and ask them to cosponsor and fully support the bill. We are still asking for independent census and a full and comprehesive reveiw of the BLM's management of the wild horse and burro program because without their mis-management the bill wouldn't be needed. We think that this is also important so please include that in your comments on the bill.

The full text of the bill is not yet available. As soon as it is we will post it. We thank Reps Rahall and Grijalva for their dedication to the the horses and burros and to the American public who have long asked for some of these changes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AHDF Updates

Wow, there is alot going on at the AHDF. We just updated the site with a new and better format that is more user friendly and more interactive. While we are still working out some of the bugs, it is so pretty and nice that I want everyone to take a peek and see what is going on. The format of the AHDF website has never been changed, so our little upgrade looks great, but I want to hear your opinions.

While you are on the site look for some of our new articles. We just added one about Rescue Burnout to our information on rescues. This article is aimed at preventing the burnout of all our wonderful volunteers and those who work tirelessly on the horse issue. I hope that people find it helpful. More informative articles will be coming in the next few days. We also added information on pending state legislation to reopen horse slaughter plants in the US. I ask that everyone act as quickly as possible to prevent these measures from passing. If they do pass it makes getting a federal ban MUCH harder.

We recently got a suggestion about adding the AHDF to You Tube and while we considered it, we felt that it could get pretty boring after a while. Plus, the concern was who the heck wanted to listen to me doing AHDF and bill updates. We have decided that while You Tube wasn't the answer we needed the means to provide interesting updates to the public. So, we have decided to do podcasts. We are working on getting the software and hardware up along with all the supporting issues. When we launch our first podcast we will announce it here. We have also joined Twitter and we are AHDF on that site. If you don't know what Twitter is please don't ask me, I just join them and follow the instructions. So, you can follow the AHDF on MySpace, Twitter and through our blog. Hopefully there won't be any more of these things invented because I am getting overwhelmed by them all.

We have also added new articles on our Horse Care website. On that site you can learn how to properly fit your horse for tack and now bits. We are working on an article on the new issue of bitless bridles which should be up soon. Horse Care Online is great for those first time owners or potential first time owners, but I would like to see us get a little more advanced. So, I am looking for articles that people can find helpful for owners on a variety of topics. If anyone has something please let me know. Credit is always given to our guest providers.

Legislatively not much is going on. We provided input for a potential wild horse protection bill but we still haven't seen the text for the bill. We do have a legislative section on the AHDF site so stay tuned for updates. I know things are frustrating right now with nothing moving, but Congress is focused on the economy and they are refusing to let legislation of any importance be brought forward until the economic issues are resolved. Bear with us, I know soon we will see some things shake loose soon. Please continue with calls for cosponsors though, we need to be getting ahead right now.

Last but certainly not least the AHDF is working with a prominent law office to file some legal suit to help protect America's wild horses. While we don't need funds to pay our new attorney we WILL need funds later for certain legal expenses. If you would like to donate to our legal fund please visit and donate online or by sending your checks or money orders to AHDF at 1718 M St NW Unit 191 Washington, DC 20036. These costs are going to run over $5000-$10000 in the end so we are trying to get a jump on raising the funds now.

We certainly have a great deal going on right now and I hope you can appreciate the hard work involved. We do have a few volunteer positions available so if you are interested in assisting us in our work fill out a volunteer application available on the AHDF website. We can also use funds too, so if you have not yet renewed your membership dues please do so now.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Website had new look

If anyone looked at the AHDF site over the weekend you may have noticed a few differences. The AHDF site is undergoing a long overdue face lift. While we are making the changes you may experience a few difficulties. We apologize for any inconveniences but are sure you will find the new site much easier to navigate, more user friendly and much nicer to look at.

If you get a chance you may want to take a little peek at the wonderful work Dawn has done on the site and let us kow what you think about the changes. (Please don't email us about broken links, missing pictures or other details, we are working on them and hope to have all the dust settle by the middle of the week.)

We hope the site will help our visitors make the most of the information we have available and make it easier to join the AHDF to protect the horses. Thanks for your patience.