WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) offered an amendment to the Sportsmen’s bill to provide for the responsible management of the wild-horse population around Corolla, North Carolina and the Outer Banks. The Burr amendment is the same as HR. 126, the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives on June 3, 2013.
“The Corolla wild horses are one of the many natural treasures of our state, and people travel from across North Carolina and the country to witness these wild horses in their natural habitat,” said Senator Richard Burr. “I am proud to introduce this amendment that will provide for the care and management of these wild-roaming horses and give local organizations and authorities the tools they need to manage these horses without excessive federal involvement. We have waited far too long for action on this issue, so I hope Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will finally allow a vote on my amendment --protecting the Corolla horses is important to sportsmen and all who love wildlife.”
The Burr amendment would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of North Carolina, Currituck County and the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to craft a new management plan to care for the wild horses that inhabit the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The plan would allow the herd t o grow to the size found by equine scientists to be necessary to maintain genetic viability – between 110 and 130 horses.
The Corolla wild horses are unique to North Carolina and do not exist anywhere else in the world. Their lineage can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Outer Banks in the 16th century. They are Colonial Spanish mustangs that have survived in the wild for the last four centuries and now roam across Currituck County, North Carolina.
This legislation is supported by The Humane Society and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Bureau of Land Management plans to Zero Out the Wild Horse population within the Humboldt Herd Area, located in the state of Nevada.The Round-Up will begin as soon as funding & holding space becomes available and take approximately 30 days to complete utilizing the bait/water trapping method.
The Winnemucca District, Humboldt River Field Office (HRFO) has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Decision Record based on the analysis provided in the Humboldt Herd Area (HA) Gather Final Environmental Assessment (EA). The initial gather will begin as soon as funding and holding space becomes available and take approximately 30 days to complete utilizing the bait/water trapping method.
“The Humboldt HA was not designated for the long-term management of wild horses through the Sonoma-Gerlach Management Framework Plan due to the checkerboard land pattern found within the HA and, therefore, is not currently managed for wild horses or burros,” said Humboldt River Field Manager Vic Lozano. “Since this area is not a Herd Management Area managed for wild horses, these wild horses have been identified as excess.”
The Humboldt HA is located about 30 miles south of Winnemucca, Nev. and extends along the east side of Interstate 80 to Lovelock, Nev. The proposed gather area is comprised of 431,544 acres of both private and public lands. There are currently an estimated 185 animals plus the 2014 foal crop on these lands. Some of the animals may have been missed in the gathers conducted in 1985 and 1993. Other wild horses may have migrated into the Humboldt HA from adjacent herd management areas (HMAs) due to overpopulation in those areas.
The EA, FONSI, Decision Record and other documents can be found at http://on.doi.gov/1sr6Zme
For more information on the background on the Humboldt Round Up Click Here
America's wild horses and burros have continued to be an issue of intense interest to the American public. The year 2013 was no exception. Issues of range management, slaughter, abuse during roundups and in facilities continued to surface.
The year began with legal actions filed against the BLM roundup at the Owyhee Complex. The suit alleges that wild horses are being illegally removed from the range.
In addition the suit illustrated horses run into barbed wire, babies run to exhaustion and intensive use of an electric cattle prod. On January 10th the court issued strong language against the abuse. Several motions were filed in this case over the course of the year and the suit is expected to go to hearing.
Early in 2013 the Department of Interior (DOI), that umbrellas several agencies including the BLM, saw former Secretary Ken Salazar step down. In 2012 an investigation by Dave Philipps (for ProPublica) uncovered 1700 wild horses sold by the BLM to a single kill buyer that has apparent ties to Salazar. During a press conference Salazar actually threatened journalist Philipps with a "punch in the face" for publicly asking him about the sales of wild horses.
Salazar's replacement Sally Jewell, former REI executive, immediately began to shuffle questions on the program over to the expected National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report. The study had been commissioned nearly two years prior at an estimated cost of 1.5 million dollars. The report was issued in June and gave the program a failing grade pointing to a "lack of data" that supports and decision making. Since the report was issued no reforms in failing policy have surfaced.
The BLM's contentious relationship with the press continued as legal actions carried by the advocacy group Wild Horse Education against press restrictions battled in and out of the courtroom all year. The litigation was joined through Amicus briefs by fifteen news organizations including: The Reporters Committee for a Free Press, NPR, Seattle Times and others. In December the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed this case into mandatory mediation for 60 days with a report to be filed with the court if no agreements can be reached in this case that has spanned over three years in the legal system.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse and burro program was under scrutiny as the government shutdown momentarily halted roundups. Networks such as NBC, the Travel Channel and NPR ran major stories on wild horses. Actions by the BLM received hundreds of thousands of comments from a dissatisfied public.
As 2013 drew to a close serious public land management issues are rising that may very well make a bleak picture even more fragile. Sage Grouse management plans are being formulated that could likely impact wild horses and burros in an extremely negative fashion as private livestock interests push to protect government subsidized public land grazing. The Grazing Improvement Act (if passed) will allow livestock producers to skirt environmental review for decades. And the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) organizes legal action supported by the Cattleman's Association against wild horses.
Horse slaughter is standing on the edge of coming back to American soil. Regardless of the simple fact that horse meat is not a safe food source slaughter plants are pushing to process American horses. Many advocates for wild horses have feared for years that a failure to change policy and the continual stockpiling of American horses in government facilities (more than twice the number of wild horses sit in facilities than exist wild on the range) is a sign that wild horses are in direct line for slaughter. Many appointed members of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board are openly in support of horse slaughter.
2014 promises to be an important year for the survival of wild horses and burros on America's public land. The Chinese call 2014 the "year of the horse." It may very well be that the fate of America's symbol of Freedom will be decided this year. Will we reform this program and begin to protect wild horses and burros and the asset they are to our American soul? Or will we turn our back and choose to put money into the pockets of a select few and in a betrayal to the contribution these horses and burros made to not only the building of our country, but our own identity as "strong, intelligent, untamable" Americans?
The group WildHorseEducation.org created a "Year in Review 2013." They wrote a timeline and crated a "year in review video" of their work to protect wild horses and burros.
To read the entire timeline, and to watch the video, Click Here.
Source: The Examiner, by Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education
Congressman Ed Whitfield defends interaction between his official actions and his wife’s lobbying.
Ethics experts said that the Whitfields could be violating House rules through their joint lobbying for legislation, although these experts cautioned that it isn’t a cut-and-dried case.
“If it were Boeing and they were doing this, it would be a really big deal,” said Melanie Sloan, head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. While Sloan applauded the Whitfields for disclosing their activities — something that has been one of the major problems in other ethics cases — she said the joint lobbying of members and staffers is troubling.
“I can’t see a flat-out ethics violation, but I can certainly see it creates an appearance problem, and it would seem like the better course would be for them not to be lobbying together; that seems inappropriate to me,” Sloan said.
Veteran ethics lawyer Stanley Brand said the activity does raise questions because lawmakers aren’t supposed to gain personal benefit from their official duties.
“It’s not that easy to get from those general standards to a violation,” Brand said. “There have been cases before where spouses have been registered lobbyists and their husbands or wives are on committees where those companies have interest and that’s never been enough to get you to a violation.”
Whitfield is hardly alone when it comes to lawmakers with relatives who lobby. Dozens of congressional relatives are registered lobbyists, and oftentimes, lawmakers with family ties on issues weigh in on legislative proposals. Congress cracked down on ethics reforms in 2007, banning spouses from lobbying a member’s personal office staff and the lawmaker. Other lawmakers whose relatives have lobbied include: the wife of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) as a lobbyist at Kraft Foods and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), whose father — former Rep. Bud Shuster — served as a contract lobbyist.
Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle defended Harriman-Whitfield’s involvement pushing the horse legislation.
“I think sometimes when folks look at issues like this, they nitpick on it as a conflict of interest and I just want to say, No. 1, there is a real difference in working for a coal company or an oil company or any big business, pharmaceutical company and working for a nonprofit organization where there is no financial incentive to gain as an institution,” Pacelle said. “The track record of both Connie and Ed is deep involvement in animal welfare far preceding Connie’s involvement in the Humane Society. She came to the Humane Society because she was already very, very involved on these issues personally.”
Further, Pacelle said that he meets with Whitfield to discuss legislative issues, not Harriman-Whitfield. Pacelle said he didn’t see anything wrong with Whitfield and his wife personally lobbying his colleagues together on the issue of animal cruelty.
“It’d be a shame if our society didn’t allow spouses to advocate for ending poverty in the world, or advancing other core values of our society. I’m not sure what she’s supposed to do, just be mute on these issues with his colleagues,” Pacelle said.
Harriman-Whitfield has a history of advocating against animal cruelty long before joining the Humane Society Legislative Fund in 2007. As assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior under President George H.W. Bush, Harriman-Whitfield is credited with playing a major role in instituting the U.S. and worldwide ban on the elephant ivory trade.
Harriman-Whitfield now serves as senior policy adviser for the Humane Society Legislative Fund and has been engaged in federal lobbying since early 2011. During this two-year period, the HSLF spent $90,000 on in-house lobbying activities, according to Senate lobbying disclosure reports. An outside lobbying firm billed the organization an additional $60,000 so far this year, according to another report.
Whitfield’s annual financial disclosure report does not include his wife’s compensation from the Humane Society.
For his part, Whitfield said his standing with the Humane Society hasn’t always been good, although he provided POLITICO with a long list of legislation he has offered dealing with animal welfare during his time in Congress.
“Sometimes I’ve had a good record with them and sometimes I have not had a good record with them, but I’ve been involved in a multitude of issues, so from my perspective there absolutely is no violation of ethics laws and if someone thinks there is they can file a complaint,” Whitfield said, noting that he has a 62 percent rating in the group’s 2013 midterm score card.
Source: Politico by John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer
"WE NEED the tonic of wildness." -- 42 years ago this week, President Richard M. Nixon invoked these famous words of Henry David Thoreau when signing the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
Noting that he took "special pleasure" in "signing strong legislation to protect these noble animals," the President highlighted that wild horses and burros deserve protection as "an ecological right -- as anyone knows who has ever stood awed at the indomitable spirit and sheer energy of a mustang running free."
Four decades later, the promise of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act remains tragically unfulfilled. In 1971, President Nixon observed that "demands of the market for [horses'] processed products, competition for forage used by domestic livestock" and other commercial forces had pushed wild horses and burros to the brink of extinction.
Velma Johnston, AKA Wild Horse Annie, is largely credited with generating the grassroots advocacy that secured the Act's passage. At the time, she called out the "powerful forces" aligned against wild horses and burros, including the "domestic livestock industry... and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management -- custodian of the public lands -- which looked upon the commercial harvesting of the animals as an expedient means of range clearance to make more forage potential available to the vested interest groups...."
Four decades later, these vested interests remain aligned against the mustangs. They have turned the law intended to protect these iconic animals on its head, and are the driving force behind the massive roundup and removal of wild horses and burros from our Western public lands.
The result is a corrupt and devastating federal program that today stockpiles more wild horses in captivity than remain free on the range.
If this trajectory continues, few, if any, truly wild, free-roaming horses will exist in the coming decades. Half of all lands designated as wild horse and burro habitat have been eliminated over the past four decades, and administration after administration has allowed the systematic removal and elimination of wild horses and burros from our public lands in the West.
In signing the Act, President Nixon recognized the "outpouring of concern for the preservation of wild horses and burros on our Western ranges." He saluted the "determined young defenders of the wild horse who have helped give impetus to this effort."
Today, we must again reignite that outpouring of public concern as the only way to counter the forces that to continue to threaten the very existence of wild horses and burros in our nation. With 50,000 wild horses stockpiled in holding facilities, and the horse slaughter industry poised to resume in the U.S., the stakes could not be higher.
Take the first step in fighting back by visiting StopTheRoundups.com and adding your name to the growing grassroots movement to Keep Wild Horses Wild.
When people speak, change can happen.
Source: The Huffington Post by Suzanne Roy
Follow Suzanne on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FreeWildHorses
Obama Administration Allows America's War Horses To Fall Into Slaughter Pipeline
Today we mark the service and sacrifice of our veterans, as well as our commitment to look out for them once they return to civilian life.
Lately we've been reminded that this commitment extends to the military's service animals, like the dogs who are now placed in good homes after being retired from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Unfortunately, one group of animal veterans has been forgotten. These are America's War Horses -- the horses who were used as cavalry mounts and who nobly served our country -- often giving their lives. Right now, the federal government is complicit in a shameful violation of our responsibility toward these historic and cultural icons.
The remote and rugged northwest corner of Nevada on the California-Oregon border is called "Mustang Country" because of the wild horses that have roamed there since the 1800s. Wild horses are deeply entrenched in the history of the area; on the backs of their ancestors, the West was won.
Wild horses captured from the lands that are now the Sheldon Refuge were captured and shipped overseas to serve in battle, including in the Spanish-American War and World War I. These historic animals -- whose presence on the Sheldon lands predates the creation of the refuge by at least half a century -- played a critical role in America's past.
The decedents of America's War Horses should be honored and protected. Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has turned its back on these horses, disregarding and literally disposing of them.
Historically, pressure from ranchers wanting to graze cattle on federal lands in and around Sheldon, led to an endless series of roundups that often ended tragically for Sheldon's mustangs. In 1971, the Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, but it only applied to wild horses on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service Lands. Sheldon's horses were left out in the cold.
In the early 1990s cattle grazing was eliminated from the refuge and the Sheldon range rebounded. Today, forage is lush and plentiful, the antelope population (the primary species that the refuge was created to protect) is larger than ever, and the wild horses and burros are fit, healthy and strong.
But the roundups continue. In 2012, despite thousands of Americans sending in comments urging protection of the Sheldon wild horses and burros, the FWS turned their backs on the public and America's War Horses by pushing forward with a new plan to eradicate these animals within five years.
A year later, the assault on Sheldon's wild herds began. Between September 9 to 14, a helicopter stampede captured 415 wild horses. Despite public opposition and a federal lawsuit, refuge officials proceeded to turn 252 of these horses over to a government contractor, Stan Palmer of J&S Associates in Mississippi, who is supposed to find them "quality" and "long-term" homes.
The problem is, the FWS's government contract with Palmer is vague and today the FWS is unable to verify the whereabouts of as many as 202 of 262 wild horses previously placed with Palmer between 2010 and 2012. The agency's own investigation found that "a bunch" of these horses were sold at a livestock auction, where kill buyers often purchase horses for shipment to slaughter.
As one legitimate Mississippi horse rescue person put it, "You can't even find a home for a good riding horse in Mississippi. What do you think Stan Palmer is going to do with hundreds of wild, untamed Nevada mustangs?"
The answer appeared in a Facebook post by one of Palmer's employees stating:
"we do government contacting (sic) to take in wild horses and give them homes. These are not branded or tattooed mustangs. They are simply wild horses. We are not aloud (sic) to sell them. you show up with your trailer and load em up... when they leave my house they are no longer my business."Days later, horses were hauled away by the trailer load.
It's the kind of situation that fuels cynicism about government spending and waste. Since 2010, the federal government has paid Palmer nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to take wild Nevada mustangs and give them away in Mississippi. This benefits the government in one way: by laundering the horses through a middleman, the FWS avoids the political heat that would result from taking them directly to a slaughter auction.
Sadly, the arrangement does not benefit American taxpayers or these defenseless horses, who just over two months ago, were roaming wild and free. Nearly 20,000 citizens have contacted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell about this travesty, and thousands have written to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has direct oversight over FWS refuges. But Washington does not seem to care.
On this Veterans Day, while Washington looks the other way, America's War Horses are literally being sent into the slaughter pipeline.
The Obama administration and Congress have turned their backs on America's War Horses despite polls that show Americans reject horse slaughter and support protecting and preserving wild horses on the western range. This Veterans Day please remember the sacrifices of all veterans, including the tens of thousands of horses who tirelessly served this country, and their descendants, who today are forgotten and literally thrown away.
Source: The Huffington Post by Suzanne Roy, Campaign Director for American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
Navajo Nation Suspends Horse Round-ups And Forfeits Support For Horse Slaughtering And Horse Slaughtering Facilities
FARMINGTON, N.M. – Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have reached an agreement in principle in which the Navajo Nation would suspend horse round ups making way to halting the sale of Navajo horses to horse processing plants. The two leaders reached the agreement in a meeting over the weekend.
“We have met with Gov. Richardson and we have come to an agreement to find long term solutions to manage our feral horse issue on the Navajo Nation. We will suspend horse round ups and forfeit support for horse slaughtering and horse slaughtering facilities. We have maintained an all of the above approach to managing our horse population and our land. This approach to manage our resources has included the use of horse round ups and other humane methods with our goal being strengthening our balance between livestock and the land. I am thankful for the input we have received from various groups from within the
Navajo Nation and throughout the United States. We are now using that input in formulating innovative initiatives to address this issue. I have always advocated for strong long-term solutions and partnerships. I believe the MOU will serve as a gateway for more resources to assist our local communities,” President Shelly said.
Gov. Richardson represents the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, which he founded with actor, director and
conservationist Robert Redford. The foundation is working to stop the slaughter of horses, including actively fighting efforts to reopen horse slaughterhouses in the United States. The foundation is committed to finding humane alternatives to horse slaughter to deal with the nation’s wild horse population and is working with advocacy groups such as Return to Freedom headed by world-renowned horse advocate Neda DeMayo.
“I commend President Shelly for calling for an immediate end to horse roundups and for making it clear that moving
forward the Navajo Nation will not support horse slaughter or the return of horse slaughter facilities,” Governor Richardson said. “This is exactly the outcome horse advocates, such as myself, had hoped for.”
The two leaders agreed to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that would suspend horse round ups on the Navajo Nation while the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife and other horse advocacy groups, including Animal Protection of New Mexico, work with the Navajo Nation to develop and implement alternative policies to manage feral horse populations. Possible solutions that will be explored include equine birth control, adoption, land management and public education.
“I am interested in long-term solutions humane to manage our horse populations. Our land is precious to the Navajo people as are all the horses on the Navajo Nation. Horses are sacred animals to us. I am thankful we can partner with agencies that have resources to help us find real long-term solutions,” President Shelly said.
President Shelly added that the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources and the Navajo Department of Agriculture will cooperate with Gov. Richardson and the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife.
“I look forward to getting to work partnering with President Shelly and the Navajo Nation to help find and develop policies that are not only humane, but offer long-term solutions to managing the Navajo Nation’s horse population,” Governor Richardson added. “I hope that federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture, as well as horse advocacy groups will also support our efforts with funding.
The MOU is expected to be signed within two weeks.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is seeking a Wild Horse and Burro Program Director for its Wildlife Protection department.
The main responsibility of this position is to promote and advance the protection, humane treatment and management of wild horses and burros on private, state and federal lands. Other duties include, but are not limited to: manage and direct existing staff working on wild and burro work; develop and implement a public information campaign for wild horse and burro advocates, concerned citizens and others to educate interested parties on the program and the HSUS’s vision for wild horse and burro management in the U.S.; organize, coordinate, and lead wild horse and burro protection coalitions, working groups, etc., in which HSUS is involved; provide guidance to HSUS staff on HSUS policy, strategy and rationale on various wild horse and burro related issues; seek out media opportunities; initiate and respond to media requests relating to legislation, cruelty and other wild horse and burro protection issues; assist in efforts to develop membership and funding potential for the wild horse and burro protection program.
Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in related field along with five years of experience, and demonstrated interest in, wild horse and burro protection and related federal, state and local laws and policies is highly desired. Strong knowledge of equine issues and immunocontraception preferred. Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills including public speaking and writing for diverse audiences. This position requires extensive travel.
Please submit a cover letter and resume using this form or fax to 301-548-7701. This position is located in Gaithersburg, Md, and allows for telecommuting.
ARLINGTON, Va. —Speaking before the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly addressed the growing problem of feral horses on the Navajo Nation. This meeting discussed how the advisory board provides recommendations to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
The law mandates the protection, management and control of these free-roaming animals in a manner that ensures healthy herds at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them.
In his remarks, President Shelly underscored the financial burden feral horses present and the increasing drain on the Navajo Nation’s finances and natural resources, and risks damaging valuable trust assets. The Navajo Nation is currently spending more than $200,000 a year to address the damage these horses cause. The Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture estimates the feral horse population at 75,000 and growing.
“The potential damage and cost of addressing this problem coupled with the suffering the animals experience has brought the Navajo Nation to ask you to find a solution to feral horses. These horses are not the iconic wild horses that many think symbolize the West. These feral horses are once domesticated animals that have been set free by owners who can no longer afford their upkeep,” President Shelly added.
In his discussions with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society and the American Wild Horse Sanctuary, President Shelly expressed his concern as a horse owner about the suffering that these animals are experiencing. “Horses are sacred and special to the Navajo people and have had a central place in Navajo culture going back to our creation stories. I hate to see horses in pain; we need to do something about this needless suffering. The federal government must to live up to its responsibilities,” President Shelly said.
Feral horses are one of the biggest concerns facing Navajo communities. Overpopulation contributes to rangeland depletion, water source damage through feces and urine contamination, death and property destruction due to highway accidents, competition for natural resources used by domestic livestock and people, pain and suffering of feral horses due to starvation, dehydration and predation.
Source: Navajo Division of Natural Resources
Source: L.A. Times by Tony Perry
RAMONA, Calif. — Filaree, daughter of Anza and Fiera, is standing in her field — which currently is 140 acres of pasture land in this rural, horse-loving community northeast of San Diego. Inquisitive, unafraid of visitors and with a gentleness that belies her designation as a "wild" equine, Filaree is among 20 horses in the pasture, all mares and foals. Four stallions, including Anza, are kept in a corral miles away.
DNA testing has shown that the mares and stallions and their recent offspring are descended from horses that carried a Spanish military expedition into the region in the mid-1700s. Their history is intermixed with the triumphs and tragedies of early California. But though their past is storied, their future is uncertain, possibly dependent on the wild-horse policies of the federal Bureau of Land Management.
"These horses are no different than the grizzly bear, the mountain lion and the wolf — they're our heritage," said Kathleen Hayden, member of Coyote Canyon Caballos d'Anza, a group dedicated to protecting the small herd.
John Kalish, field manager for the BLM office with responsibility for San Diego and Riverside counties, said that while he too finds the horses beautiful and wants them to survive, his agency does not think relocation is the answer. "We feel it's unrealistic to release these horses back to the wild," Kalish said.
The two areas mentioned by Hayden's group, he said, would not work. There is not enough forage and water in Coyote Canyon, and the Beauty Mountain area is too close to developed areas."The horses would most likely range out to private land or the [Anza-Borrego] state park," he said. What's more, Kalish said, the horses of Ramona have been adopted, which erases the BLM's responsibility. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken a similar hands-off attitude toward Filaree and the other Coyote Canyon heritage horses.
Hayden's group disagrees with both agencies' interpretation of their duties under federal law meant to protect wild horses. Filaree's long-ago relatives were there when Father Junipero Serra built his mission in San Diego in 1769 and when the Indians staged a massacre near Warner Hot Springs in 1850.
Some of the horses were herded by the Indians into Coyote Canyon on the edge of Anza-Borrego Desert. The horses were not discovered there by the Bureau of Land Management until 1974. A study by UC Davis veterinarians in 2003 concluded that the herd was malnourished and on the verge of death. The horses were declared feral and invasive and a danger to native species.
Using helicopters, wranglers hired by the BLM rounded up the last 29 of the horses and trucked them to a sanctuary in South Dakota.The 2003 roundup, which caused a number of pregnant mares to lose their foals, mobilized Hayden and other horse-lovers in the county's backcountry into action.
"I'm just an old cowgirl from Idaho," said Hayden, 69, as Filaree and a "watch-burro" named Brigette Berdu approached.
Hayden and others were able to rescue four stallions, including Anza. In 2009, Hayden's group persuaded the BLM to ship to a private ranch at Borrego Springs 14 mares from a herd in southern Utah that shares the same bloodline as the Coyote Canyon horses. Among that group was Fiera. A year ago the horses were transferred to Ramona, on private land already set aside for a population of burrowing owls.
The county Board of Supervisors in June endorsed a resolution urging the Bureau of Land Management to devise a plan to relocate the Coyote Canyon horses to federal land under the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act.
Not as large as the thoroughbreds at Del Mar, or as dramatic in their galloping as the famous mustang, the Coyote Canyon horses have what horse-lovers call a square conformation. The most common colors are chestnut brown, red dun and black roan. In the pasture are 17 mares and three foals, with one more foal on the way. Neighbors watch over the herd for any intruders. If the neighbors are too busy, Brigette Berdu is on duty. She trails the herd and watches for any visitors who slip beneath the barbed wire. "She's not going to let anything happen to 'her' horses," Hayden said. "She knows how important they are."