******FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE******
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead reminded the U.S. Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that under the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act the federal government must remove excess horses from its Herd Management Areas. Currently horses overpopulate seven of those areas in Wyoming. The requirement to remove excess horses is not discretionary in federal law.
“Wyoming must enforce its rights under the Wild Horse Act,” Governor Mead wrote to the Secretary of the Interior and head of the BLM. “I have appreciated your cooperation in other matters and hope we can remedy this problem in that vein.”
Governor Mead gave notice that if the Department of Interior and BLM do not comply with the law in the next 60 days Wyoming will proceed in court.
“I hope that you will take immediate action to remedy these violations in Wyoming,” Governor Mead wrote.
Separately, the BLM is planning to remove wild horses from land in southwest Wyoming pursuant to an agreement between the BLM and private landowners. The area involved is part of the checkerboard where private, federal and state lands are intermingled. Wild horse advocates are challenging this course of action and Wyoming is intervening in that lawsuit. The State of Wyoming owns approximately 62,000 acres in the area.
Wyoming’s livestock leases are managed to protect natural resources and maximize revenue. Wild horses are not managed and increased populations of the horses interfere with the State’s ability to get the full value of the leases for the benefit of schools. Additionally, the lands are damaged when there is an overpopulation of wild horses.
Wyoming Governor Press Release
August 25, 2014
The owners of a corral in Scott County where more than 50 wild horses were reported to have died last week have denied that any wrongdoing on their part could have led to the incident. Since then the number of reported horse deaths has risen to 75.
After investigations at the facility, located East of U.S. Highway 83 on Road 70 in Scott County, findings by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) indicate the main reason the mostly older horses died was the stress they suffered after being moved from their original pasture to the corral. Their feeding and crowding issues also were considered as factors.
Some of the horses at the corral, managed by Beef Belt LLC, were found down and were euthanized because it was determined they could not get back up, according to Paul McGuire, BLM’s public affairs specialist.
“It is also true that the horses could have been affected by the food mix, as well as the quantity of the feeds,” McGuire said.
The Bureau of Land Management reported last week that it had started investigating a case in which 57 wild horses died at a corral in Scott County, Kansas.
Reports indicated the horses were transferred from a range managed by the BLM because an open-pasture contractor had reported he would not be taking on all the 47,300 horses that he had previously been managing. The Bureau then sought another place where the 1,900 animals (1,500 mares and 400 geldings) could go, as they had to leave by June 1, 2014.
The manager of the corral, Steven Landgraf, one of the owners of Lakin Feed Yard, which specializes in corrals just like the one in Scott County, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the staff at the corral.
“We did our best to take care of them. It is not like we did not do our job,” Landgraf said. “As animals get older, they die. The animals that have died have all been between 19 and 20 years old. It is a fact of life; how do you say this without being cruel?”
Landgraf explained further that the organization has cows and buffaloes that die there frequently.
“It is normal to have 4 percent or 5 percent of deaths with cattle, so this does not really count as out of the ordinary,” he said. “There were 1,490 of them that came in, and, if these few died, it shouldn’t be such a big deal.”
Five more horses died between Saturday and Monday. Four of them were euthanized, according to the BLM.
“I have a cow herd. When the cattle get to be this old, we sell them so they can be turned into hamburger. That’s not the way with horses; we can only take care of them. If they are old, they naturally succumb to nature,” Landgraf said.
According to McGuire, it is part of the contractual arrangement that if there are deaths on these private holdings, they must be reported immediately.
“I always report to customers because I am accountable every day,” Landfgraf said. “I don’t treat these animals any different from my father’s animals, which are on this land.”
BLM officials say they responded immediately when reports of the horse deaths were made. The ensuing investigation informed their decision to leave the animals at the corral, but adjustments were made in their care.
“There were basically three principle causes: one is that these animals are older; anywhere from 15 to 20 years. Because of that, they didn’t endure the stress of the move quite well. When they arrived here, the environment was very different because they had to learn how to feed from the bunks. Some of the less dominant horses succumbed to the stress,” McGuire said.
Though the bureau insists stress was the main cause of the deaths, they introduced significant changes in the feeding regime at the corral, pointing to this as another notable probable cause.
“We have asked the operator to increase the quantity of feeds from 18-20 pounds a day to 26 to 28 per day. We also asked them to increase the energy density of the feeds. The mixture of grass and alfalfa is now balanced in favor of alfalfa,” McGuire said.
BLM has never had to move such a large number of animals, McGuire said.
“This case is unique because these animals were taken off of a pasture where they’d been living. BLM has never moved such a large number of older horses to a feedlot from a pasture situation. This is kind of a first for the agency,” he said.
The animals were moved to the corral in the course of one week. BLM’s representative says the move included 200 animals per day. “We had to move the horses immediately. It was an unavoidable situation that we had to respond to,” McGuire said.
According to McGuire, the last horse arrived at the corral June 22. The contractor received a monthly report at the end of June. At that time, the report indicated only about three deaths, which did not alarm BLM. The next report came at the end of July, and BLM noticed a spike in the number of deaths. That was on Aug. 5.
“It seems the measures we have taken so far have achieved what we intended: to get the horses stabilized. The deaths have tapered off, and the horses have a very healthy appearance and seem to be doing quite well,” McGuire said.
BLM also advised the contractor to spread the horses out to more lots so that they are not crowded in one as they were initially, according to McGuire.
Joseph Stratton, who works with the Washington office of BLM and is charged with technical matters of these operations, put the matter in context: “Sometimes, no matter what you feed these animals, when they are stressed, their bodies will not accept the feed. They retreat metabolically instead. Sometimes the bacteria in the horse’s stomach cannot process the new feed, which is different from the pasture. They could eat and still be thin.”
According to Stratton, the horses feed three times a day starting at 6:30 a.m., with this first feeding lasting an hour to an hour and a half, since there are 28 pens. At 10 or 11 a.m., they come back for another feed. In the afternoon, about 2 to 3 p.m., they come back for another.
“Before everybody goes home, they go back and pick up what the horses have dropped and throw it right back into the bunk, so there is no waste,” Stratton said.
Source: The Garden City Telegram by Steven Tendo firstname.lastname@example.org
Click Here for BLM's August 15, 2014 Press Release on the Death of the Horses
A plea deal is in the works for Horse Slaughter hauler, Dorian Ayache, that could include no prison time
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A plea deal is in the works for a slaughter-horse hauler that could include no prison time and a fine of less than $25,000. Dorian Ayache is the owner of Three Angels Farm in Lebanon, a trucking company whose rickety trailers wrecked on the interstate twice in 2012, endangering drivers and causing several injured horses to be euthanized.
Ayache was facing 26 years in prison for violating a U.S. Department of Transportation order to shut down after inspectors found numerous safety violations.
Tuesday, Ayache entered a guilty plea in federal court. If it's accepted, all the charges against him will be dropped except one: failing to maintain a current driver's log. The maximum fine he faces is $25,000. Ayache would serve six months in prison at most, but he could end up serving no time at all.
"I think it's a pretty trivial sentence," said Leighann Lassiter, the Tennessee director of the United States Humane Society.
"This violation, number one, resulted in endangering thousands of people on the road, but also contributed to the suffering of thousands of animals who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in his care," Lassiter added.
Ayache was transporting horses to the Mexican border, where they were to be slaughtered for human food that is sent overseas.
The federal government criminally charged Ayache with continuing to operate an unsafe trucking operation after being ordered to shut down. The Department of Transportation found Three Angels Farm's equipment in disrepair and its drivers' logbooks inaccurate.
Scott York was driving the Three Angels trailer that broke in half on I-440 in 2012. He told Channel 4 that Ayache ordered drivers to stay on the road for longer than the law allows.
"He taught me how to fudge a log book," York told Channel 4 in 2012. During that time, York said, the horses were not given water, food or rest. And if the horses went down, he said, they were given electric shocks. "He makes you cattle-prod them up," York told Channel 4.
After the government shut down Three Angels Farm, Ayache hauled horses under a different company's name, Terri's Farm. Its owner, Theresa Vincent, is being offered the same plea deal of zero to six months in prison and a fine of less than $25,000.
The sentences aren't set in stone. The plea agreements have to be approved by a federal judge. Sentencing is set for Nov. 21.
Source: WSMV by Nancy Amons
WSMV slideshow of Ayache's trailer that was hauling horses that crashed on I-40 im 2012
Scott City, Kan.—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has launched an investigation into the cause of death for 57 wild horses that were recently transferred to a corral in Scott City, Kan. The BLM, which manages 49,200 wild horses and burros on the range and 47,300 in open pastures and corrals, strives to ensure that herd sizes on the range remain in a healthy balance with other public rangeland resources and uses and places a priority on the well-being of the animals in its care.
After removal from the range, the BLM aims to place animals that are not adopted onto open pastures, often in the Midwest. In March 2014, an open-pasture contractor in Kansas informed the BLM that he would not renew his existing five-year contract, requiring the BLM to remove about 1,900 animals (1,500 mares and 400 geldings) by June 1, 2014. Due to concerns about the older age of many of the animals and the stress associated with being moved, the BLM worked to find an appropriate facility as close as possible to the open pasture. The BLM located an in-state facility that could accommodate the animals and began moving 1,493 mares to the Scott City corral. The transfers were completed on June 22.
On Aug. 5, the contractor informed the BLM that a number of the transferred mares died between June 22 and Aug. 5; as of Aug. 15, a total of 57 transferred mares had died. On Aug. 12, a team of BLM personnel and a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service arrived on site. The team is investigating the situation; determining the causes of death; evaluating the facility, the corral feed and feeding practices; and taking actions to support the short- and long-term needs of the horses. After arrival, the team euthanized an additional 13 mares that were determined to have little to no chance for survival due to health issues.
Preliminary findings from the team’s USDA large animal veterinarian indicate that the animals died as a result of their age combined with stress from the recent relocation, the shift from pasture to corral environment and the change from pasture feed to processed hay feed. There is no indication of infectious or contagious diseases being the cause.
“Our team is working closely with the corral operator to make adjustments to the care of the animals,” said USDA veterinarian Dr. Al Kane, who is on the investigation team. “The horses have been fed three times a day since the beginning. In addition to increasing the amount of feed being offered during feedings, we’ve worked with the onsite veterinarian and the operator to increase the energy density of the horses’ feed by increasing the ratio of alfalfa to grass in the hay mix. This helps support the horses’ nutritional needs during the transition from open-pasture to the corral environment,” he added.
Once the investigation is concluded, the team will complete a report that will be made publicly available.
Credentialed media are invited to attend a facility tour on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Interested members of the press should contact Paul McGuire at (405) 826-3036 or email@example.com for additional information and details.
Source: Bureau of Land Management Press Release
Federal land managers are under fire from animal welfare activists for seeking extra holding space for wild horses removed from western rangelands.
With current facilities nearing capacity, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is accepting bids until Aug. 29 from contractors interested in either operating short-term corrals in 31 states in the Midwest and East or long-term pastures.
After removing horses from the range, the bureau places them in short-term facilities until they're either adopted or shipped to pastures in the Midwest where they spend the rest of their lives.
The agency routinely thins what it calls overpopulated herds on public land. BLM officials, in a statement Thursday, said they plan to open "multiple" short-term corrals that can handle at least 150 horses each in various states along and east of the Mississippi River. They also seek one or more long-term pastures that can accommodate from 100 to 5,000 mustangs each.
The bureau has not yet awarded contracts for bids it received earlier this year from contractors interested in running short-term corrals in 17 states in the West and Midwest.
Bureau spokesman Tom Gorey said the total number of new holding facilities and their cost would depend on the number and quality of bids submitted. About two-thirds of the agency's budget covers holding costs.
"We want to get out of the holding business, but at the moment that's not possible," Gorey told The Associated Press. "The bottom line is we have to make sure we have enough off-range holding for horses that are removed."
Budget constraints are prompting the bureau to remove just 2,400 wild horses and burros from the range during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, down from 4,176 in 2013 and 8,255 in 2012. The vast majority of animals targeted for removal are horses.
But horse advocates criticized the agency's plans for more holding space, saying it continues to "stockpile" horses at a growing cost to taxpayers with about as many mustangs now living in holding facilities as on the range.
"The BLM continues to refuse to reform its broken wild horse program," said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. "The agency is intent on sticking American taxpayers with the bill for rounding up and warehousing captured mustangs instead of listening to the scientists and the American public, and humanely managing wild horses and burros on the range."
Gorey said activists' demands to halt the removal of horses from the range are unrealistic because herds grow at an average rate of 20 percent a year and can double in size every four years.
According to the latest figures provided by the BLM, a total of 49,209 horses and burros freely roamed 10 Western states as of March 1, the vast majority of them mustangs. That estimate exceeds by more than 22,500 the number the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.
Off the range, there were 47,272 wild horses and burros in short-term corrals and long-term pastures as of July 30, the agency said.
Source: The Associated Press, by Martin Griffith
Click Here for BLM's Wild Horse and Burro FY14 Round-Up Schedule
It’s official. The controversial horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico will not be opening. “I think it’s just time to stop and see what will happen now,” said Valley Meat Owner Rick De Los Santos.
For almost four years, De Los Santos has been trying to slaughter horses for food. He’s faced court battles from animal rights groups and the Attorney General along with federal push back. Earlier this year the President signed a bill to stop funding horse slaughterhouse inspections until 2016.
Friday, De Le Santos told KRQE News 13 the fight is over. “It really is at this point at the end of that business in Roswell by them,” said Valley Meat Attorney A. Blair Dunn. On Thursday, Dunn submitted a letter to the New Mexico Environmental Department withdrawing the plant’s application for a ground water discharge permit.
The permit, which would allow the plant to discharge animal waste, is a must for the plant to operate. Blair claims the department strung them along for seven months, never saying no the permit, but never saying yes either.
“They’ve been telling us well we need a 30-day extension, we need 45 days, we need 60, we cant make a decision right now,” said De Los Santos.
The letter states the inability of the Secretary to make a decision has contributed to the destruction of Valley Meat’s lawful business. Valley Meet also claims the Attorney General’s office played a big role in the slaughterhouse closure and Dunn says there’s a good chance they’ll sue the state because of it.
Animal activists say they’re happy the horse slaughter fight is ending. “It’s great news for New Mexico,” said Laura Bonar with Animal Protection of New Mexico. “Horse slaughter is cruel, horse slaughter is dangerous and horse slaughter is not supported by Americans.”
Source: KRQE, by Emily Younger
Click here to read Valley Meat's Notice of Withdrawal of Application to the New Mexico Environmental Department.