Laura Leigh Groups Calls for BLM Humane Treatment of Horses

America’s wild horses and burros need humane treatment

RENO, (Wild Horse Education) – As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalizes the 2013 roundup schedule (fiscal 2013 begins October 1) please join us in calling for BLM to adopt a significant Humane handling policy with ramifications for violations.

In 1971 Congress declared our wild horses and burros “fast disappearing from the landscape” and mandated their protection on public land. In over forty years of this mandate the BLM has never adopted a policy of humane handling practices.

“In the year 2012 in the United States of America,” stated Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE), “this conduct left unaddressed by a government agency is an obscenity.”

It has been more than a year since the agency engaged in the Triple B roundup review. This conduct at that roundup earned BLM a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) after a helicopter apparently hit a horse with the chopper skids in the Federal Court of Judge Howard McKibben.

The review done by BLM included the following: “Horses were observed being struck in the face, and often confused due to aggressive loading procedures and excessive pressure by multiple handlers. Several videos reveal that a few horses were repeatedly shocked with an electrical animal prod, sometimes in the face, and in one case, the use of this electrical prod led to a horse becoming stuck in a panel at the loading site. Some videos reveal horses being struck in more than one instance with the trailer gate to induce loading, and in one instance a horse appears to have been kicked in the head by a Sun J employee. In one video it appears that a horse was dragged into a trailer by a rope around its neck.”

“It’s difficult to understand – why, during the majority of removal operations, wild equines are denied even the most basic humane handling.” said WHE volunteer Lisa LeBlanc, “Nevada statutes consider over-driving and excessive striking of an animal – any animal – illegal and punishable by law. The BLM had stated, months ago, it is setting forth policy for humane standards during removals and after care, but the policy remains elusive, and loosely interpreted.”

Wild Horse Educations Federal Court Litigation for Humane Care remains active.

Below is a sample letter (short and simple) and suggested recipients.

Mike Pool, acting National Director:

Amy Lueders, Nevada State Director at:

Gus Warr, Utah lead wh&b program:

Amy Dumas, California wh&b lead:

Fran Ackley, Colorado state wh&b lead:

Donald Simpson, Wyoming state director:

Mike Mottice, Oregon assistant director:

Steven Ellis, Idaho state director:

Ray Suazo, Arizona state director:

Jamie Connell, Montana state director:

Dean Bolstad: National wild horse and burro management specialist:

As the 2013 fiscal year “gather” schedule is finalized to remove wild horses and burros from public land I implore you to adopt a standard of humane care for operations and processing facilities.

In spite of public outrage, litigation and BLM’s own admission of inappropriate conduct documented in the Triple B team review the agency has failed to create humane handling policy for America’s Heritage species. Supposedly protected by an Act of Congress these animals are removed without an enforceable policy to ensure that all practices follow a humane guideline.

At the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting that took place in April of this year, Dean Bolstad gave a report stating that such a policy would be in place by July 2012.

It is unfathomable that an agency tasked with the protection of wild horses and burros on public land fails to operate without any standard for humane handling in place. No matter how you feel about wild horses and burros being on our rangelands one thing most people seem to be in agreement about is that they need to be handled in a humane fashion.

As a new schedule is announced I strongly urge you to adopt a humane care standard.


(your name and contact info here)

Wild Horse Education supports an active Federal lawsuit to the issue of Humane care. In addition they carry a case that won a landmark Ninth Circuit decision on the “public’s right to know” that is pending hearing later next month. In June of 2012 WHE won a case to hold the agency accountable to it’s own policy at Jackson Mountain during foaling season. Public support is needed to keep litigation efforts active and provide the documentation to support the cases.

13 comments for “Laura Leigh Groups Calls for BLM Humane Treatment of Horses

  1. shirley
    October 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I hope you are not sending our wild mustangs to slaughter although I heard you were. If you can’t handle the job please let someone that loves animals and has a heart to take your places. Apparently you are not doing what the American people want you to do and that is WRONG and needs to be changed. American love horses:)

  2. September 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I sent this letter to the email address provided for Dave Phillips
    I have just read a disturbing report on the hundreds of wild horse you have bought over the years. I don’t understand why you can’t produce papers for all the horses that you have found homes for. From the comments I read that you made about horses, you sound like an advocate for horse slaughter. How disgusting. I for one hope the U.S. government looks into your practices. I will be one who writes to the appropriate government officers. You have signed a contract that specifically states that this is illegal. I assume money from the sale of horses to be slaughtered is more important than your morals. Which obviously you lack. You and your kind sicken me. So far you have gotten off of charges. You haven’t been looked into fully by the right parties so it can’t be verified. Hopefully, soon that will change. God help us we will get rid of you and your kind from the slaughter of horses.
    Watching, Judy Maxwell

    Sent from my iPad

  3. LoriSchmidt
    September 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Laura Leigh and Wild Horse Education (WHE) work tirelessly towards humane Care for our Mustangs and Press Freedoms to hold BLM accountable for the atrocities that they commit against these living legends. I am very proud to be counted among the volunteers of WHE who try provide a support group for her and the organisation so that we can keep them in the field and in the courts to fight for these standards. Please could you support this work in any way that you can, every dollar counts, and share it with everyone you know. Funding is everything and without it we cannot keep it going. The time to act is NOW, while there are still horses to fight for, if the BLM has their way they will be no more and at the rate they are going it will be in a very short space of time.

  4. Lisa L.
    September 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    So – do we continue to expect that profusely sweating, foamed up, limping or bloody animals are an acceptable result of ‘humane handling’? Or that euthanizing an animal for injuries and infirmities – specifically, the very young and the very old – considered healthy enough to be run for miles, now crippled as a result, is likewise acceptable? Particularly when these animals are said to need removal because they are compromised by lack of water and forage.

    Yet still healthy enough to be run for miles??

    If wild equines are considered only untrained domestic stock, would these processes be acceptable if applied to trained domestic stock? No; they would not.

  5. September 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I have written this letter and sent it to every email sight you put up for us to send complaints to.
    You just have to stop this insanity with the wild horses. They belong to the American public as well as the land they occupy. The BLM, who should have nothing to do with the wild horses, is not acting for the American public. These horses are disappearing so fast we won’t have any for my grandchildren. They are being abuses and injured by these stupid round ups to get rid of them. How much of our American dollars are being spent on these inhumane practices? They, the horses, should be America’s pride. Instead they are being run down with helicopters for God’s sake. Pregnant mares running in stress until they abort. Colts being run down until they drop from exhaustion and inevitably get seriously injured. This sickens me. I pray you will stop this and I’ll be watching and sharing the out come with all I know. Good or bad.
    Judy Maxwell

    Sent from my iPad

  6. Royhobbscolorado
    September 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    My family and I not only want humane and respectful treatment during round ups and in holding. We want the Burns Amendment repealed NOW! Who is working on this? We must come together and show the BLM and the government the American public will NOT tolerate wild horses being bought in large quantities and having them shipped to slaughter! The Burns Amendment makes this legal and this is 100% UNACCEPTABLE! AND it should be a felony for anyone to buy titled mustang at auction for the purpose of slaughter. The Burns Amendment MUST GO NOW!

    • September 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      We assisted Dave Philips in his research and have further research on the Burns Amendment. We have two active cases right now, Press Freedoms and Humane Care and the Burns Amendment is one we are looking at challenging… but we need public support.

  7. deborah
    September 29, 2012 at 10:18 am

    i find it appalling the agency that is entrusted by the federal gov. and the American people to uphold the protection and preservation of the Wild horses and Burros on public lands, do not have a standard of care for the handling of these charges that insures to the best of their ability exactly that! I would never agree to hire a contractor to do a job, knowing ahead of time the nature of a contractors business is to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible and move onto the next job, without a guarantee there is a protocol in place for what is expected, and protections that my property is protected against anything short of those expectations.Yet this is exactly the case with the BLM and the contractors who interact with our wildlife at the most stressful moments in their lives….BLM is not living up to their responsibilities and its a breech of public trust!

    • admin
      September 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

      There are at least six distinct breeds of wild horses listed in The Official Horse Breeds Standards Guide, Voyageur Press.

      • deborah
        September 29, 2012 at 11:49 am

        and what about regional cultural significances? there is an evolutionary trail …a living history as to the settlement of those ares in the gene pool of almost every different herd. With the humble burros we are often talking about 500 yrs of human settlement, often times a herd spans a multicultural history, like western settlement, Native American Ranching, and Spanish exploration…the horses are a living history lesson that compliment the old missions, and rancho’s.As well as a example of the pioneering spirit of the west.

        • admin
          September 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

          There is also a growing body of thought that the horse never died out in North America and many of these breeds are not feral at all but are the product of 10,000 years of evolution and selective breeding by Native Americans.

          • kat Hayden
            September 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm

            Statement for the 110th Congress (1st Session) in support of H.R. 249 A BILL IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES House Committee on Natural Resources (Introduced January 5, 2007)
            (The non‐native, feral, and exotic designations given by agencies are not merely reflections of their failure to understand modern science, but also a reflection of their desire to preserve old ways of thinking to keep alive the conflict between a species (wild horses) with no economic value anymore (by law) and the economic value of commercial livestock.

            Native status for wild horses would place these animals, under law, within a new category for management considerations. As a form of wildlife, embedded with wildness, ancient behavioral patterns, and the morphology and biology of a sensitive prey species, they may finally be released from the “livestock‐gone‐loose” appellation.

            * Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Director, The Science and Conservation Center, Billings, Montana, holds a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. Patricia M. Fazio is currently an environmental writer and editor residing in Cody, Wyoming and holds a B.S. in animal husbandry/biology from Cornell University, an M.S. in environmental history from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in environmental history from Texas A&M University, College Station. *******************************************


            The public trust and parens patriae doctrines

            V. CONCLUSION In a period when the United States Congress and state legislatures threaten to weaken environmental laws in an effort to protect private property rights, the continued application of the public trust doctrine remains crucial. If wildlife protection set forth by statute or constitution is hampered,the public trust and parens patriae doctrines can play an important role to ensure protection. If existing statutory and constitutional protections remain intact, the public trust and parens patriae doctrines still provide wildlife protection that differs from and complements constitutional, statutory, and common law theories. The strength of the public trust and parens patriae doctrines lies in the flexibility they afford the judiciary. When called upon to protect common resources under these doctrines, courts can flesh out the public trust duty on a case-by-case basis. In the wildlife context, courts can look to the public trust cases involving water issues for guidance. Based on existing public trust doctrine case law, the state must: (l) consider the potential adverse impacts of any proposed activity over which it has administrative authority; (2) allow only those activities that do not substantially impair the state’s wildlife resources; (3) continually monitor the impacts of an approved activity on the wildlife to ensure preservation of the corpus of the trust; and (4) bring suit to enjoin harmful activities and/or to recover for damages to its wildlife under the parens patriae doctrine.219 Courts may adapt this general framework to the cases before them. The role the judiciary should play in applying the public trust doctrine springs from the core of the public trust doctrine. The state’s relationships to water and to wildlife both stem from the notion of sovereign ownership of common resources. The citizenry has the expectation that the sovereign will protect the common resources.

  8. shirley
    September 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I insist on humane treatment of horses BLM, the American public demand it. You ask us for comments and do not listen and do whatever you do anyway. The helicopter roundups have to stop that is cruel and inhumane. The wild horses belong to the public along with the land that they are living on and should be able to stay living on, there is plenty of land out there for all wildlife and that includes HORSES. Wild horse Annie worked very hard to get them protected! You were supposed to be doing that, but you need to do a better job or we will get someone else to do it.

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