Boy, has it been a month or what? Such a month necessitates that I crawl out from the rock I was hiding under. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that I’m not going to offer any monumental, mind-blowing commentary. It’s more of an … itch. Some folks in the wild horse realm are wrong, wrong, wrong and my skin is crawling to call them out on their garbage. Better late than never?
So I’ll start this blog off by talking about the jerkiest thing of all to happen this month. The BLM’s Advisory Board met and in the course of the yammering and complaining 8 out of 9 members voted to recommend the BLM euthanize the horses in Long Term Holding… aka they wanted the BLM to kill about 45,000 of them.
Well, the day I have been dreading for over 3 ½ years has finally arrived. I suppose I should be thankful they waited so long instead of having it show up in August, but really, I would have been perfectly fine waiting forever only to have it never show up.
What am I talking about? The BLM has released a scoping statement for the White Mountain Wild Horse Herd. This is the first step of the process. Basically, they are announcing their intentions. The public has the opportunity to comment, at which point the BLM goes back and write a more detailed Environmental Assessment. There is another comment period on the EA. After that the BLM, having done their bureaucratic due diligence, proceeds to do whatever they want.
Vimes’ Band. Left to right: Striker, Guinivere, Saran, Chasma, Bink, Nova
As a general rule, it is a very big mistake for me to start running my mouth off online when I am overly emotional. The problem with that is that we are only 1/3 of the way into an emotional year that feels like it is just going to keep building and building until everything spirals out of control. When you are faced with such a time, it seems logical to get it all out in the open while you still have the chance.
Because the fact of the matter is, we were snookered folks. And the most ridiculous part, is that we were conned by the same people that con us over and over again without remorse. It’s almost like an abusive relationship. You tell yourself that this time it will be different, things will get better.
Spoiler Alert: IT NEVER DOES
I would like to compare the BLM to mules, but it hardly seems fair to besmirch the good name of such a fine species as the noble mule.
When I last updated this blog, I discussed the lack of wind breaks or adequate shelter at the BLM holding facility in Rock Springs. At the time, the Cloud Foundation offered to pay for and install wind breaks for the wild horses help in the facility. The BLM refused this offer saying the horses did not need such luxury. I had feelings about this decision, as winds can regularly gust in the 30-50 MPH range and temperatures in the winter month are consistently below zero. Still, nothing could be done without the BLM’s permission and they put their foot down. Rock, meet other BLM shaped rock.
The issue came up again at the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting on Monday, April 14th. Halleluiah! It was a pleasant surprise that quickly turned into an infuriating example of the bull headedness of the BLM. I wrote the conversation down to share with everyone.
Thanksgiving is finally here. It’s always been my favorite holiday. I love spending time with my family thinking on how blessed I am.
But as a wild horse advocate, it feels like there is little to be thankful for this year.The Cloud Foundation lost their lawsuit to tear down that eyesore of a Forest Service fence. The Park Service removed over one hundred horses from Teddy Roosevelt National Park. We discovered that Secretary Jewel is proving to be entirely disinterested in protecting our wild horse herds. It’s just been one terrible thing after another lately.
And then there is the Salt Wells roundup.
The Salt Wells roundup has been a particularly painful blow. It always hurts to watch horses that I know and care about rounded up and taken away. Even so, this roundup is different. In most roundups, there is a shred of hope that at least some of the horses will be released and allowed to return to the range. This time around, every single horse who hit the trap was removed, regardless of age, sex, or color.
A roundup is a terrible thing to witness. Horses crest a hill and are driven by a helicopter down towards a trap. Experienced horses will sometimes recognize what is happening and try to turn back, but by then it is too late. Panicked wild horses crash into gate panels and each other, crying out frantically to one another in fear. Stallions suddenly forced into close proximity will fight, adding to the chaos of all the bodies crushed together in a small space. Within moments stallions are separated from mares, and mares from their foals. Within minutes the horses are pushed into a trailer with waving flags and hauled away from their home.
They will never see their families again.
I wish I could step out of life for a while.
Yesterday I stepped out my door at 5 a.m. and didn’t step foot back in until 8 p.m. A full-time job, a two hour round-trip to said job, four horses who all need a lot of time and attention to their training, every other weekend taking care of my Gramma in another state, the occasional attempt to keep this photography thing going, cleaning up after the massive rainfalls in Colorado, responding to NEPA documents put out by the BLM … I am freaking burnt out. And the funny thing is, I don’t really have it that bad. How much busier are my dear readers with spouses and children on top of all the stuff I just rambled off?
So I get it. Life is busy.
That makes it hard to find time to be a wild horse advocate. Sitting down at the end of the day to peruse a document hundreds of pages long and filled with government speak is not something anyone wants to do. But it is one of the most important things that you can do right now.
Let’s break down the process chronologically: The BLM releases a scoping notice. The public has a month to comment. The BLM releases an Environmental Assessment (EA). The public has a month to comment. The BLM disregards the public’s comments and proceeds with their plans to decimate (or in the case below, eliminate) a wild horse herd.
At this point, a wild horse advocacy group may or may not sue the BLM. This is the part where all those comments the BLM ignored become important. A person may not be a plaintiff if they have not commented and participated in the normal process. Even if you are not directly part of a lawsuit, the number of comments recorded and filed by the BLM will be noticed and taken into consideration by a judge.
White Mountain bachelors
I was going to spend a little more time on my blog focusing on the positive before getting into the more heavy topics concerning what few wild horses are left on the range. Life apparently has other plans.
This weekend a foal was euthanized (read: shot) at Sand Wash Basin. Think that’s upsetting? Read on.
The foal was euthanized because he managed to get baling wire wrapped around his neck which was strangling him to death. This makes Little Colorado the second horse in Sand Wash Basin to be killed in the past six months from wire. (See Nancy’s blog on Greasewood for more details)
What a fabulous weekend in Sand Wash Basin! None of my photographs came out very well, but I was having too much fun to bring myself to care. But where my camera skills failed, the memories remain. So I am going to share the horses stories with you.
I thought about going in chronological order, but then I thought why be obvious? So instead I’m starting smack dab in the middle with little Tripod. When will you hear about Mingo and Picasso’s foal, White Out, Hopscotch, or ornery old Benson? Heck if I know. Guess you’ll have to keep checking back here. 😉
But onto little Tripod! Tripod is a classic underdog. His right hind was severely deformed from an accident as a foal. As a result, he hobbles around the range. The first time I saw him, I wondered how he was still alive. He was alone, unable to keep up with the other bachelors running about, and seemed so small and gangly compared to the more robust 3 year olds running about.
This trip helped change my opinion on Tripod. It’s a little less towards the how the heck is this poor baby still alive and closer to he’s had a bad shake in life but he’s just another wild horse living out his life. Tripod, you see, is a classic example Mustang tough. He may never have a band, and he may not be able to keep up with the other bachelors full time, but Tripod is still surviving and has a shot at a life that isn’t half bad.