BLM Will Not Move Captive Oklahoma Mustangs Despite New Dust Bowl Threat

By Steven Long

1935 WPA Dust Bowl Photo, Library of Congress

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Little has changed in the federal Bureau of Land Management’s handling of wild horses under its Wild Horse and Burro Program, this in spite of the worst drought affecting Midwestern states since the dust bowl of the 1930s. What’s more, nothing will change, despite a threat from nature that could put thousands of animals in jeopardy.

Asked by Horseback if the BLM was making any special arrangements to move wild horses held captive in giant pastures in Oklahoma and Kansas, national BLM spokesman Tom Gorey responded:

“Despite the current drought conditions in the Midwest, wild horses on long-term pastures continue to thrive,” he said. “If current weather conditions do not change, pasture contractors may have to begin supplemental feeding earlier than normal.  Therefore, these wild horses will have the advantage of having someone that can address their immediate needs.”

The BLM holds tens of thousands of horses in giant pastures in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Horseback also asked Gorey if the press and public would be given unlimited access to the secretive boarding procedures at the privately contracted pastures. Recently the magazine has had increasing anecdotal reports of horses being removed from those pastures in cattle trucks to be sent to slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

Such reports may be pure fantasy since no animal advocates have actually trailed or photographed trucks carrying horses from BLM’s private secretive pastures to slaughterhouses abroad. Moreover, there have been few substantiated reports of horses in slaughterhouses with the distinctive BLM neck brands.

“Wild horses and burros removed from the range are branded immediately,” Gorey said. “Wild horses are *not* being taken in the dead of night from long-term pastures to slaughter, as I’ve stated before.  This is a myth.  Wild horses are branded by the BLM after they are gathered from the range.”

Yet the rumors persist and come from credible sources near BLM holding facilities.

“With regard to public and media access, you no doubt are aware that we have started annual pasture tours that are open to the press and public,” Gorey said.

The tightly controlled pasture tours the spokesman mentioned are of limited duration and are held only intermittently.

“ 24/7 access is not possible because the pastures are privately owned,” Gorey said.  “As I mentioned, there are currently no emergency situations at our contracted pastures.”

While the BLM pastures are owned by private contractors, there is virtually no doubt that the agency could easily exert pressure to open them up in light of recent rulings in cases such as Leigh vs. Salazar from California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The justices ruled BLM is illegally preventing the press from observing roundups it calls using the benign term, “gathers.”

28 comments for “BLM Will Not Move Captive Oklahoma Mustangs Despite New Dust Bowl Threat

  1. Janet Schultz
    August 14, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    That is not what the Court of Appeal ruling was.

    • August 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Janet, Let me help you out a little here. although the 9th circuit court said the lower court made a bad ruling, they agreed with the lower court on many aspects. and here is the final few lines of the released judgement from the 9th. I dont see how it can be claimed as a win, when all it did was send it back to the lower court with some strong instructions and recommendations. I have the Whole PDF but it is 23 pages, but can make it available for all pretty easy if there are enough people requesting to read it.. here is the final lines

      I prefer to end the detours now. Sending this case back
      without directing more preliminary injunction activity would
      encourage the district court and the parties to get on with the
      trial. It is within our power to do so. While I enthusiastically
      join Judge Smith’s analysis and holdings on the law, I dissent
      from the judgment to reverse and remand for further proceedings
      on the preliminary injunction motion. I would affirm and
      remand for a determination whether Leigh is entitled to permanent
      injunctive relief: get to trial as soon as possible.

      So as you can see LL did not win her case. it was sent back for Trial. another Lie that she has put out.. this was not a win…

      • admin
        August 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

        You are quoting the Desent, Mr Ullrich. We are not fooled.

        • Ldg
          August 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm

          Actually, LL did not declare it a win. Others did, but not LL. She knows she still has a road to go on this one.

          And, if you check the court record (and IF I remember correctly), the judge that dissented actually wanted the case to get to trial. The majority wanted it sent back to district court where LL faces a not very friendly judge who is probably upset that his ruling was questioned.

          Maybe LL should comment to clear this up?

      • August 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm

        The Mr. is not Necessary Admin, but thank you for the respect.

        and I am quoting the last few lines of the Published decision. and If I recall, LL was screaming she won and was bragging about it when the decision was announced. Now to give her the benefit of the doubt she may have been saying she won a reversal, but that is not what she played it off to be.. and I hate to say this but this was the worst case that could have come about. granted if she wins it will be a win for the first amendment, but it will be a loss for the horses. because of LL and her BS access to the horses has come to an end. The days of being at the traps have ended…

        • admin
          August 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

          The editor has 2,000 hours in a courtroom. Horseback’s Laura Leigh won in the Ninth Circuit by any standard. Sorry. Moreover, the First Amendment and press access trumps everything as the BLM will find out.

          The Editor

          • Janet A Schultz nee McNutt
            August 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm

            I will respond to this when I retrieve a copy of the Order sending the PI back to the lower court. It was not a win – as a matter of fact – all justices remarked that she did not prove her case with facts. The reversal was on grounds that she did not present and was actually on grounds the lower court did not fully consider. That does not constitute a win. It was merely a correction on the lower court. When we start getting realistic and rational discussions of what is going on, we may appreciate the progress that is being made and celebrate all that is good about the wild horse and burro program. Hey, I think I’ll spearhead that movement. I’m going to start a non-profit that will facilitate appreciation of the program and congratulate the employees for jobs well done when seen. Have you ever watched those wranglers moving hundreds of horses at the short term holding? It is a sight to behold. And just makes your hair stand up when you can appreciate the knowledge and skill used to connect with that many horses at one time. There is so much to appreciate – so little time.

        • Ldg
          August 16, 2012 at 2:07 am

          I’d like to know why the poster says the day of being at the traps as ended? Because of the bait trapping? BTW, being at the traps is kind of a misnomer anyway since observers were kept up to a mile away.

  2. Louie Cocroft
    August 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Those captive Wild Horses NEED to be brought back to their Legal Herd Management Areas. They should have NEVER been removed in the first place.

  3. Stephanie Graham
    August 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Spent most of today (as I do at least once a month) with wild mustangs in short term holding right here in Oklahoma, so I have pretty good idea of what’s going down in my home state. Too tired at the moment to round up my thoughts and comment however. Tomorrow….:)

    • Ldg
      August 15, 2012 at 8:20 am

      Stephanie, I look forward to your report. I became alarmed after seeing some thin horses come out of the LTH pastures and into the Extreme Mustang Makeover program. I’m not saying a lot were thin, but enough to make me ask, again, about the conditions of the LTH. I got much the same answer that Horseback did.

      With all the controversy over the LTH pastures, they are stupid not to keep people informed of the status of these horses, particularly since OK is in the middle of the worst of the drought area. It just reinforces the idea that the BLM has something to hide, (even if it isn’t the case.)

      The BLM also must know how insulting it is to mention their annual pasture tours. We’ve already had the ONE tour this year of a Kansas facility and that was a few months ago. Conditions could have changed at that facility as well.

      • Janet Schultz
        August 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        The thin horses did not come out of LTH, they came off a contractor ranch who had been holding the horses (shipped there from short term in Nevada) and who had been chosen to participate by the trainers during a video pick last year from Carson City. The pick was by TIP trainers who are training the horses and will appear in the Supreme Mustang Makeover. No one was happy about the condition of some of the horses. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. The people who know these horses and are working to get them back to condition and train them for the competition are struggling to find the best path for the horses. They do what they do because they know and love them.

        Lets say you had a contract for long term holding of wild horses. Would you want a bunch of yahoos crowding your ranch whenever they felt the need to express themselves? These are private ranches under specific contractual terms. Public tours are arranged and be happy for that. We are faced with what is. The numbers are precise because they are billing for a specific number of head. They are actually SAFER in LTH than on their ranges, during episodes of say – drought. Water is provided to them. Feed is provided to them if it is not present in the pasture.

        • admin
          August 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm

          Ms. Schultz, we take strong exception to several of your comments. To begin, Horseback advocates the unfettered repatriation of the horses to the wild, period, end of story. Further, we strongly believe in natural selection as first advanced by Charles Darwin. Predation and illness will keep the herd numbers in check, including natural events such as drought. We strongly believe wild animals are best left in the wild. Finally, as journalists we demand unfettered access to government property unless a claim can be made for national security. We don’t believe even wild horses rise to that standard, much as we love them. Government contractors such as the ranchers holding public property (our wild horses) must be even more open than the government itself. This policy has provoked a total lack of trust by the public of an already tarnished federal agency, the BLM.

          The Editor

          • Ldg
            August 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm

            Forgot to add, one of the TIP trainers I correspond with looked at her 5 year old geldings paperwork and saw he had been captured in 200x and had been in a mid west LTH for several years.
            He was not in as bad a shape as some, so he doesn’t qualify for the new class of “most improved body condition” that EMM just added to this event to address the fact that some of these horses were too thin to be trained for the regular competition :((

          • Janet A Schultz nee McNutt
            August 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm

            Mr. Editor – I guess I don’t really care what you take strong exception to. I have my opinion, this is America and I am entitled to it – as you are to yours. You may want the wild horses to be unfettered and returned to their lands, but that would be in contravention to The Act. if you want this type of management, you must go to the trouble of petitioning Congress to change The Act. Surely, you care that much. As much as our endeared Wild Horse Annie who truly did devote most of her life to the protection and management of the horses.

            when you break it all down mr. Editor, it takes individuals who believe in what they are doing to do it right. I have faith there is more than one of those types of people in this world – that is, in addition to myself. See how arrogant that sounded? That is just what all this “total lack of trust” talk is, arrogant and unsubstantiated. It is said that he who points his finger must curve it to himself/herself. It would thus be your shortcoming that may be in the way of real communication.

        • Ldg
          August 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm

          Janet, that response ignores that option of a middle ground … Especially the part about “bunch of yahoos crowding your ranch” … I am asking for some corroboration that the LTH pastures are doing okay and the horses are doing well. That is not too much to ask since Oklahoma is in the middle of the worst drought in decades and the allusion to the Dust Bowl repeating itself is a real concern.

          I had no idea that mustangs went to a contractor between shipment from STH to LTH. Do you mean maintenance facility? If so, what is the contractor’s explanation for the thinness of some of the horses? Will this contractor be allowed to keep mustangs again? I hope not. And no one is faulting the TIP trainers. They do seem to care and are not responsible for the condition of the horses upon arrival.

          • admin
            August 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

            Point of information. The Long Term Holding pastures are contracted out to local rancher by BLM as well.

            The Editor

          • Janet Schultz
            August 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

            Well I replied to your comment Ldg but it didn’t make it.

  4. Christie
    August 15, 2012 at 1:50 am

    There needs to be an independent auditor who monitors the number of wild horses and burros in long term holding. There should be an exact record that is consistent with the amount of tax payer dollars being paid to each private rancher. Of course, it would also be good to have a photograph of each horse for inventory purposes. A private contractor could perform this public service as a function of government accountability. Our wild horses are helping these ranchers earn millions of dollars a year; we should know whether we are paying them for grazing 4,000 horses after they have sold off 1,000. I’d like to know how they account for the money earned when the horses are sold. How does the money change hands, and who accounts for it. How do they account for a horse who dies of disease, natural causes, or through euthanasia?

  5. Y. Arellanes
    August 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    There is more than “anecdotal evidence” that wild horses and burros removed from the range are being taken in the dead of night from long-term pastures to slaughter. This is a NOT a myth. BLM branded horses have been rescued from slaughter pens by advocates when they come across them. These are not rumors.

    The ongoing obfuscation and lies by the BLM is due to the facts that they have MUCH to hide and are responsible for the horrible and terrifying treatment of horses and burros which should remain free to live their lives on the range. organization.

    The people have to do something mighty drastic to stop them before it is too late and all our wild mustangs and burros will be gone FOREVER while holding hope that the courts are going to stop them from all these illegal activity.

  6. Louie Cocroft
    August 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    This is a 45 page document, including UDSA export charts.

    http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/horsemeat/Investigation-Gelding%20Exports_Final_VJP_11-13-2007.pdf
    Investigative Report
    Case Study
    Suspected Illegal Exports of
    Geldings by Non-Slaughter Shipment
    From New Mexico to Mexico
    By Valerie James-Patton
    November 2007

    Introduction
    After several months of tracking the numbers of horses on the USDA Market News –
    New Mexico Livestock Export to Mexico Reports, and comparing the numbers to the
    USDA Texas Livestock Export to Mexico Reports, an unusually high number of geldings
    being exported to Mexico from New Mexico under the non-slaughter status were noted.
    Questions regarding these disproportionately high non-slaughter gelding exports are
    compounded by the fact that no breeding females or breeding males are being exported from
    New Mexico while the Non-Slaughter gelding exports continue to climb to record levels.
    Page 1

    Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Long Term Hold Facilities
    As of Sept 9, 2007, BLM has contracted 10 long-term holding facilities in the United States, two
    of which were recently added after July 2007. Six of the facilities are in Oklahoma, three in
    Kansas, and one in South Dakota, with each facility being either a ‘mares only’ facility or a
    ‘geldings only’ facility.
    Geldings Only
    Six out of BLM’s ten long-term holding facilities are exclusively ‘gelding only’ facilities and
    according to the September 9th, 2007 BLM Facility Inventory Chart, there are 11,756 geldings in
    these long-term holding facilities. (Attached)
    Whitehorse, South Dakota, the newest long term gelding facility, is starting out with 580
    geldings and the Kansas, Tetervillw East gelding facility currently holds 2,083.
    The other 4 gelding facilities are all located in Osage County, all of them holding over 2,000
    geldings at each facility, with the current total for Oklahoma at 9,093 geldings. The facility in
    Foraker, currently holds 2,495 geldings, and the Hulah facility holds 2,199 geldings.
    The other two Oklahoma BLM long-term ‘gelding only’ facilities are contracted to John Hughes,
    an Oklahoma cattle rancher, who keeps about 4,400 geldings between his two 2 ranches, both in
    Osage County, one located in Bartlesville, and the other located in Catoosa.
    BLM does not report the flow of horses that are sent to long-term facilities and there is virtually
    no way to track this flow. In other words, they don’t show the flow of horses being sent to each
    facility or of those deceased. One hundred horses could easily disappear and be replaced
    within a week and the reports would not show these figures. BLM facility reports only provide
    a “snapshot” of containment numbers, not the flow of horses moving in and out of the holding
    facilities.
    Additionally, all the paperwork for the Oklahoma and Kansas BLM long and short term
    holding facilities, as well as the processing of all the adoption paperwork of wild horses for both
    Oklahoma and Kansas, is handled by the BLMs Administrative Program Office in New Mexico.
    (As shown on the BLM facility reports by state initials next to each facility – Attached)
    Conclusion
    Geldings shipped from New Mexico to Mexico are obviously not being exported for breeding
    purposes. What other purposes could be served for exporting thousands of non-slaughter
    geldings into Mexico if their final destination is not slaughter? There is little doubt that most, or
    even all of these geldings are actually going over the border for slaughter as their final
    destination due to the sheer numbers being exported.

  7. Y. Arellanes
    August 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you LC. Many years this brutality has been going on, is it any wonder why BLM numbers continually remain the same. Gelding = immediate death sentence.

  8. Leslie Peeples
    August 16, 2012 at 2:59 am

    The Extreme Mustang Makeover horses that were photographed and videoed in Jan 2012 and picked up by their trainers in May 2012 were being kept at the shadow 7 ranch in Kansas. I called the phone number from the coggins and low and behold the machine said “Shadow 7″, one of our Long term holding pastures. Most of these horses lost significant weight, some up to 150 lbs in 3 months.
    Yes, we need access, the public needs to be able to keep an eye out for the horses.
    I say once again “if there is nothing to hide then open the doors and show us”!!
    As for the court case, a loss would be the 9th curcuit upholding the lower courts ruling (end of case), that is not what happened. A win is when it is sent back to the judge with new instructions (case continues), that is what happened.
    If our government, (any and all agencies that manage wild horses, protected by the act or not), was totally transparent (in a fish bowl, so to speak)we would not be guessing about how many horses are in holding and how many have been sold to slaughter, or how many were injured and died in and after roundups and the cause of the deaths because we would know the facts, we do not know, we are not privy to most of the info surrounding BLM’s so called management. We the public would have the factual information to work with the government agencies to lay out positive change, a reformed structure of “actual” wild free roaming management, istead of the ever constant method employed by BLM, “roundup and removal”!

    • Janet Schultz
      August 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      I don’t really believe you care a rat’s whisker for any answer you ask fo

      Those are Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover horses.

      As for the transparency issue, Leslie, we could say the same about certain registered nonprofits.

    • Janet Schultz
      August 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      And might I add, your tone is decidely different than that announced on the last line of this article. The Court of Appeal did NOT rule BLM is illegally preventing the press from observing roundups.

      Point made.

  9. Ldg
    August 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Buford’s Shadow 7 ranch was the scene of the only mustang facility tour scheduled this year (in June). Pastures looked fine in June but still some horses delivered to EMM trainers in May were thin.

    Tour of the ranch here:
    http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/wild-horses-blm-wild-horse-long-term-holding-tour-in-kansas

    this is a quote from the Walker’s blog …

    “But I did ask and clarify that the 10 and older horses could be sold without limitation, and were at risk of ending up who knows where – at risk of being slaughtered. Paul McGuire from Oklahoma told me that only 1000-1500 horses were sold per year from long term holding, but when I had an opportunity to speak to Bob Buford myself, those figures seem low. He told me had had just sent 200 to a couple of different states, and this last year had sent 1700 to Hutchison Correctional Facility.”

  10. Louie Cocroft
    August 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

    This is a 45 page document, including UDSA export charts.

    http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/horsemeat/Investigation-Gelding%20Exports_Final_VJP_11-13-2007.pdf
    Investigative Report
    Case Study
    Suspected Illegal Exports of
    Geldings by Non-Slaughter Shipment
    From New Mexico to Mexico
    By Valerie James-Patton
    November 2007

    Introduction
    After several months of tracking the numbers of horses on the USDA Market News –
    New Mexico Livestock Export to Mexico Reports, and comparing the numbers to the
    USDA Texas Livestock Export to Mexico Reports, an unusually high number of geldings
    being exported to Mexico from New Mexico under the non-slaughter status were noted.
    Questions regarding these disproportionately high non-slaughter gelding exports are
    compounded by the fact that no breeding females or breeding males are being exported from
    New Mexico while the Non-Slaughter gelding exports continue to climb to record levels.
    Page 1

    Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Long Term Hold Facilities
    As of Sept 9, 2007, BLM has contracted 10 long-term holding facilities in the United States, two
    of which were recently added after July 2007. Six of the facilities are in Oklahoma, three in
    Kansas, and one in South Dakota, with each facility being either a ‘mares only’ facility or a
    ‘geldings only’ facility.
    Geldings Only
    Six out of BLM’s ten long-term holding facilities are exclusively ‘gelding only’ facilities and
    according to the September 9th, 2007 BLM Facility Inventory Chart, there are 11,756 geldings in
    these long-term holding facilities. (Attached)
    Whitehorse, South Dakota, the newest long term gelding facility, is starting out with 580
    geldings and the Kansas, Tetervillw East gelding facility currently holds 2,083.
    The other 4 gelding facilities are all located in Osage County, all of them holding over 2,000
    geldings at each facility, with the current total for Oklahoma at 9,093 geldings. The facility in
    Foraker, currently holds 2,495 geldings, and the Hulah facility holds 2,199 geldings.
    The other two Oklahoma BLM long-term ‘gelding only’ facilities are contracted to John Hughes,
    an Oklahoma cattle rancher, who keeps about 4,400 geldings between his two 2 ranches, both in
    Osage County, one located in Bartlesville, and the other located in Catoosa.
    BLM does not report the flow of horses that are sent to long-term facilities and there is virtually
    no way to track this flow. In other words, they don’t show the flow of horses being sent to each
    facility or of those deceased. One hundred horses could easily disappear and be replaced
    within a week and the reports would not show these figures. BLM facility reports only provide
    a “snapshot” of containment numbers, not the flow of horses moving in and out of the holding
    facilities.
    Additionally, all the paperwork for the Oklahoma and Kansas BLM long and short term
    holding facilities, as well as the processing of all the adoption paperwork of wild horses for both
    Oklahoma and Kansas, is handled by the BLMs Administrative Program Office in New Mexico.
    (As shown on the BLM facility reports by state initials next to each facility – Attached)
    Conclusion
    Geldings shipped from New Mexico to Mexico are obviously not being exported for breeding
    purposes. What other purposes could be served for exporting thousands of non-slaughter
    geldings into Mexico if their final destination is not slaughter? There is little doubt that most, or
    even all of these geldings are actually going over the border for slaughter as their final
    destination due to the sheer numbers being exported.

  11. Louie Cocroft
    August 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Apologies for the duplicate comment. It does, however, bear repeating. The only place our Wild Horses and Burros are safe is back the range, where they belong. They are far better off taking their chances with mountain lions.

Comments are closed.