The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Independent Designated Observer Program Accepted by BLM

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on July 22, 2010

Please visit the following links to ensure you are getting correct and current information about your concerns.  There is a lot of misinformation about the BLM and the gather being posted on blogs, etc.  The BLM NV page is the main reference page for all factual BLM  updates and future announcements:    At this site you can also find the veterinarian reports for all the horses that have been lost.

In addition, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) accepted an offer from the American Horse Protection Association (AHPA) to initiate a pilot Independent Designated Observer Program that involves observation and reporting on the care and handling of wild horses and burros during this summer… See More’s gather season. One of AHPA‘s missions is the protection and preservation of America’s wild horses and burros on US public rangelands. AHPA is responsible for selecting the team of independent credentialed professionals who are academia-based equine veterinarians or equine specialists, from among universities with established equine veterinary medicine or equine science programs, such as Michigan State University, University of Kentucky, University of  Vermont, West Texas A&M, Rutgers University, and UC Davis, who will attend at least three of this summer’s major gathers. Two such observers were on site at the Tuscarora gather from July 18-20.

Thank you for your interest in the program.

Debbie Collins
BLM National WH&B Team


71 Responses to “Independent Designated Observer Program Accepted by BLM”

  1. This is not an Independent Observer ANYTHING! This is more stacking the deck. mar

  2. jan said

    i know how people feel about blm but could this maybe a starting place and blm would allow private observors in – they would not be working per sey for blm but would repot their findings to the blm and also to the wild horse groups – since the blm now has the power to control the wild horse population maybe outside observers would be able to make accurate counts on numbers and health of the horses as an independent group – just a thot that maybe we can find someone in blm that would be willing to work with the horse groups to save the horses – that shd be the common goal of the govt and us who want them saved

    • The public is Us and the advocates. We already have the 1st Amendment rights restored to us by a Federal Judge. There is contempt now pending on BLM because they have hid behind private owned lands for the trap sites. While this gets sorted BLM is allowing 10 public observers tomorrow and 10 on Saturday in the second stage of the now Rock Creek/Little Humboldt roundups.

      We have the right to be at the roundups and these observers from Vet School are just another smoke screen and manner to get Good Publicity for BLM. mar

      • MorganG said

        Mar, I’d like to say give blm another try but each time we do we and most importantly the horses get kicked in the teeth. I trust no more. Their actions have been beyond contempt for a very long time and now we will see if the court has the bravery and the insight to see through the smoke screens and call it where it lies.

    • EXACTLY!!!
      Thank you Jan!

  3. Linda said

    Will observations by these approved individuals be confined to the gathers, or will they (and hopefully representatives from the advocates) be actively engaged in other aspects of the WH&BP?

    I sure would like to know about the horses in short-term holding. And it’s as if those in long-term have literally vanished from the face of the earth. What about them?

    I used to put great trust in our government. Now every day brings a new crisis, and I question whether this hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach will ever go away.



  5. Roxy said

    All well and good – we’ll see what comes of this bunch – but again, why were they kept a big secret? Where did BLM post about them BEFORE hand, WHEN did BLM accept this offer – this should have been a press release – then BLM should have made sure it was posted on TCF – made some big deal about it since we have been asking for observers – sure they have observers, but “shhh – don’t tell the advocates – shhhh – quiet”. And, since no daily reports and photographic evidence have come from this bunch to our sites they are not MY public observers – period. Just more too little too late with bogus information, that in the end does not address the real issues anyway.

    And what is “More’s gather season?”

    But what does this have to do with our observers, who were granted access by a Federal Court to go to the gather? The fact that BLM, and there can be no other reason to move the trap over night, did move the trap specifically to bar Ms. Leigh and her group – this remains crap on BLMs face and it remains spit from BLM in the face of the judge.

    Plus, the fact that BLM allowed these people ahead of time is just proof that BLM never had objections from the private land owner as they claimed.

    Last, regarding the Nevada website vs the National web site – why does BLM even have partial reports for this activity on either page – if we are supposed to be only going to the Nevada website, then that is all that the BLM National page should say – just more game playing. And to add insult to injury – the Nevada page Ms. Collins is referring us to is INCOMPLETE also – it is lacking much information about this Tucsaroro event from the National page – give me a break from this con game, this shell game.

    Sure, I am hopping mad! And every attempt to try to blame advocates just falls short and fuels more angst, from its advocates fault the horses are dieing to now spreading rumors when first the two web pages don’t even jive and these observers are big secret, last if our observers had been allowed in the first place they would not just “say” this or that happened they would have provided photographic evidence and we would not be left to attempting our “fill in the blanks” – there would not be misinformation – which I beleive this is all intentional.

    Sorry Mrs. Collins – not buying it.

  6. It is very interesting that the woman in charge(or used to be in charge–somebody look it up) of the AHPA is also on the BLM Advisory Board. She seemed at “little” more moderate than good ole Larry Johnson but she was in charge of the BLM Advisory meeting in DC when I went this Fall.
    Off to watch the Chincoteague Pony Penning! They don’t use helicopters!

  7. BLM Statement: “The independent observer’s were chosen by the AHPA not BLM. They are expected to write a report and submit it to the AHPA. Once the BLM receives the report (both good and bad), we should be posting it to our website. The reports are supposed to be written within one week of the observers being on site.”

    • reveil said

      Let’s say these observers notice something wrong on the spot. They are going to wait one week before they can even bring it up to someone? Would a vet wait one week? I don’t get it.

      • No, their REPORTS should be out within a week LOL.

        • Reveil said

          Would they have accessibility to put the round up on hold and assess the situation if they see horses being hurt?

          • I don’t see how they could be stopped given their credentials. Can you imagine the hellstorm that would ensue if they didn’t stop gather operations when a university veterinarian said to? They aren’t paid by the government… They’re paid by ALUMNI… Granted, there are some monies that come from gov’t subsities, grants, etc. but the School Alumni are the ones who sit on the board. UCDavis has a long history of going to bat for animal welfare because of their Alumni, as do Texas A&M, Rutgers University and the others.
            I think that this pilot program just might be what the doctor ordered… pardon the pun LOL.

          • Roxy said

            I agree with Tracie, this pilot program “could” turn out to be a great thing. Since, supposedly, the group that proposed the program and selected the observers have been suing BLM over wild horse roundups since 1974 I think we should give them the benefit of doubt for now – which we have no choice anyway as this is thrown on us like a bomb by Ms. Collins with so many holes it would be a stretch to even call it swiss cheese – we will just have to wait and see.

            Biggest hurdle is that we have no observers to observe the observers and what they are observing!

          • American Horse Protection Assn. v. Andrus
            U.S. District Court, District of Nevada
            460 F.Supp. 880
            Sept. 15, 1978
            For the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals in this lawsuit, go to American Horse Protection Assn. v. Andrus.
            Summary of Opinion
            The plaintiff organizations brought this lawsuit to get a court order preventing the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management from engaging in a planned round-up of wild horses that graze on federal land. This opinion explains the reason for the Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and something of the nature of the feral horse herds that live on federal lands in the American west.
            In this opinion, the trial court refuses to order the Secretary not to conduct the planned round-up but does place restrictions on putting down horses that have been placed in a corral run by the Bureau of Land Management.

          • Roxy said

            Tracie, Thanks for that 1978 suit. I googled them a few days ago and found post after post of lawsuits over the years – they have been very busy in the past.

          • Roxy, As far as I know we have observers in the field today and yesterday. These are the two dates BLM Approved for 10 observers each day in Rock Creek. They met early and were escorted in and then have to leave about 1 pm. Since they are staying ‘out of town’ I think they will be posting info tonight. If I am wrong about this, please speak up… mar

            Sandra, I hope you have read Katie Fite’s report about these HMAs as she was out there also. They are attached to Laura’s redone TRO at Cloud. Katie is great as usual. Everyone needs to read what she says as it backs up my visit in Owyhee in late May and Sandra’s just last weekend- completely. mar

        • Are these not students, T, and not yet vets? Where is this written up and details to be found? Has there been some acknowledgment in print about this program?? mar

          • Not in print as of yet that I am aware of.
            Best I know at this point, these are veterinarians, not veterinarian students, making the reports. There may be students with them, for learning purposes, but it is my understanding that they are fully licensed veterinarians.
            Obviously and as always, if there is evidence to the contrary, I will gladly accept it.

    • sandra longley said

      Come on..the BLM only choses groups or poeople who are “BLM friendly”…dispute that fact. That does not qualify as “independant”-Larry Johnson doesn’t collect a check from the BLM other than for his expenses.. gotta wonder if we -the public-are picking up his bar tab..for the WH & B meetings..Lets “qualify what independant means in the real world.

    • Roxy said

      I have been searching google and Yahoo and find NO webs site for American Horese Protection Assoication.

      I was searching to see if they had any information to shed light about themselves. I was also searching to see if there is a connection between them and pro slaughter, as had been mentioned. Thinking perhaps they had signed UOH list of slaughter supporters I searched UOH – and guess what – they have removed everything from their website, including the list of members and the list of those to boycott, except for a few recent articles.

      My intent was to fiorst determine if they are in fact members of UOH and then e-mail AHPA and ask if they realized they were on the list published by Sue Wallis. Also, to fill in the blanks left by Ms. Collins Press Release, as to when, where, why, etc.

  8. Roxy said

    I almost feel bad for these observers – I hope they were warned about BLM antics and that any association with BLM immediatly casts doubt on them.

    I ask again – where and when was the first press release about this? When did BLM accept this offer, etc? Why only reported AFTER the observers were there and gone? And now attempt to blame the readers for speculation and rumor spreading – rediculous.

  9. sandra longley said

    LOL, with all due respect, what the hell is a vet from Kentucky going to know about Nevada and the mustang_everything they know comes from a text book..everything they are going to know about the land and conditions on the land -cattle encroachments ect is going to come from the really have to have facts in order to reach a conclusion..It seems we had vets on the ground that missed frying horse brains at the time it was occurring..and I am getting a little sick and tired of foreigners telling we westerners what it is like where we live.

  10. sandra longley said

    Lets just clarify some facts here..weren’t those observers quoted above..brought in to determine what went WRONG with the Tuscarora gather..they had NOT been there observing the gather when the deaths occured.

    • Roxy said

      Since Ms. Collins Press release is so vague on so many levels, no when, where, who, why, normal ABCs, we don’t know when this arragnment occured, etc. Typical BLM BS reporting. Or maybe this is not taught in whatever college Ms. Collins attended – who knows.

      • sandra longley said

        and just for the record..IF..they were there, and didn’t catch what was going on…HOW qualified are they????

  11. sandra longley said

    I am going in to HMAs to document evidence NOW-before the gathers occur…pictures of water sources- forage- cattle- fences-and am checking into hiring a range detective to get into areas I cannot to provide that this fiasco can never be pulled off again..Having been to the Owyhee last weekend and seen parts of the HMA first hand, I can testify to the fact there are springs pouring water out of the is running down roads black PVC pipe that is bringing water from the spring to a water trough has a 6 ft section missing and the water is running on the ground..the water trough is about 1/3 full..gates are closed between allotments..the only 2 gates open next to the cattle gaurds were the entrance and exit..which only makes sense- if you WANT the horses to leave the allotments..aka..rock creek…why are over 400 head of horses outside the HMAs..and only a handful inside????? I saw water everywhere I went..and only horse sign…no tracks..

    • sandra longley said

      By the way..I have pictures of the PROFUSION of wild flowers and green grasses..not the old dried up grass they want you to believe is in this allotment..Have seen it with my own eyes..with photos to back me want to stand toe to toe with me..bring it on..while they were loading horses out to utah to a prison where no one could view them..I was documenting the conditions they described as horrific

      • Sounds like a plan. What d’ya need?

        • You support documenting the HMAs before the roundups, T.? mar

          • Of course I do! Why on Earth would I not??? I support anything that brings the Factual and Evidence Based Truth forward and shows that we are not all looney toon housewife bitty ladies that big government doesn’t have to listen to! If Sandra finds something on those HMAs that doesn’t quite look right, you can bet she’s gonna get it right before she leaves willingly!

        • sandra longley said

          A bottle of tequila and a homing pigeon would have been nice! Oh yeah and a spare tank of gas..watched a beautiful sunrise @ 4:30 am from a mountain top in the Owyhee..just me and the cows and cow poop…no hope of seeing horses in that beautiful country again.It took me 1/2 tank of gas , a quart of oil, and 5 hours to zig zag up that mountain in the moonlight..

          • LOL sounds pretty damn familiar! No black stud horses trying to claim the right of way huh?
            Yea, the tequila sounds good even now, and I don’t even drink! :s

      • Morgan Griffith said

        Sandra, have you posted your pics anywhere? I’d love to view them.

        • sandra longley said

          I just got back to the ranch at 3am yesterday and haven’t pulled all my pictures off the camera and downloaded them yet but will put them out there, I am working on another HMA and need to go back there and spend a couple of days documenting..this time I am taking detailed maps..finding alot of interesting things on these trips in. Don’t let the BLM paint this picture of a bleak and barren place without water..The terrain is varied from high mountain aspens and springs pouring water out of the sides of mountains, to canyons and cliffs to hill country to mesas, It is stunning country and worth the drive in which is long and arduous, it burns up alot of gas and I can see where one needs to pack extra gas in in order to stay in there and document everything. Don’t try going in and waste too much time..go in planning to camp..I took off on the the fly when the judge lifted the closure, roads( such as they are) are not well marked and you need a detailed spur map to know where roads are headed..I went in a Subaru and had plenty of clearance, and was probably fortunate it was at night climbing that mountain, which was higher than any peak and could see in the dusk for a 100 miles and looked down on all those other peaks in the distance..It was all switchbacks to get up there..and it was the top of the world up there. I probably would have overheated the car during the day doing it worked out well..but I would not recommend doing it the way I did -without maps and in the dark. I could have probably stayed in there 4 days to a week to see it all.

          • sandra longley said

            The part I really enjoyed was waking up all the cows, listening to them bawl and complain,,my gift from the wild horses…smirk…

          • Morgan Griffith said

            Thank you Sandra for being our eyes on the ground. It is through the efforts of you and a few others that we can be truly informed of the range conditions and be able to refute the BLM nonsense. You obviously have a better sense of direction than I–if I tried a mapless trip in the dark I would have ended up in Ethiopia 🙂 Every time I see a BLM photo I want to scream “turn the camera in the other direction also” as we all know they purposely try to hogwash us with the worst shots they can find when right behind them is fat ole cows. Waking up the cows, ya little devil you.

          • sandra longley said

            Thanks morgan..really I got so much out of it..the frustration of sitting here at the computer feeling like I wasn’t doing enough..was eating me alive..I knew i wasn’t getting the whole story and needed to prove to myself that what my common sense was telling me was true..So Katie Mar and I all saw the same thing on different areas of the HMAs..I also want one of those garmin cameras that katie has…that will be my next purchase.

    • Reveil said

      Good thinking.

  12. Morgan Griffith said

    sorry forgot to hit the follow up comment button 🙂

  13. sandra longley said

    As T well knows_ because I forwarded her the e-mail exchange between me and a prof. PHD at the Utah University- some months ago..He is doing a study in the field on wild horses..He is studying a herd on 300,000 acres in the eastern Washington desert..I suggest this highly qualified person be added to the list being considered as an observer. This is the same person that was a featured speaker at a wild horse symposium in Australia this month. I have spent more time with Vets, than i care to think about..and I find most do not comprehend the psycology of the horse -let alone the wild horse.

  14. Roxy said

    BLM is accepting applications to fill 3 more seats right now (ends next week) – would this fellow be a good choice for that?

    • sandra longley said

      Absolutely!!!!It is a special interest of his, he has associates working with him as well as students..All I ask…is please start drawing people who are familiar with the western desert..and i donot mean from a text book or map, i asked for any materials he might have published on his subject, the people on the board should bring all these special skills to the job..finding the right people for this job should involve more than the ability to see it BLMs way for it to be meaningful.Fat Chance that will happen…The BLM needs to prove themselves-before they can be trusted..trusting the same old people is an impossibility..we need a clean slate and new faces otherwise its like marrying the same old drunk 5 times…what would that say about me????

      • sandra longley said

        Katie from WWP would also be an excellent one is more knowledgeable than her. I bow at her feet!

      • sandra longley said

        I suggest moving the current crew to public land in Alaska..perhaps Kodiak, where the grizzlys outnumber the people 10 to 1..they don’t get out of their truck anyway-so they should be safe…and there are no wild horses

        • Roxy said

          That is hilarious! Especially – we should be concerned for their welfare!

          • sandra longley said

            I just wanted to show what a compassionate person I am..really, I could have suggested taking their PUs away and make them walk with a sack of fish strapped to their back so they know what it feels like to be hunted down…

      • Roxy said

        You should contact this professor and Katie and talk them up to do this. There is only one more week to apply.

        If the professor is working under a grant, however, he may be limited in some respects – but worth a try.

        • sandra longley said

          Problem is..the BLM picks who sits on that board..there is no vote by us common folk in a democratic manner, who pay the bills…

  15. reveil said

    Tracie, since the vets are on site during the gather, they can’t possibly miss the cattle trucks used to carry the horses. Do you have any feedback concerning this?

    • said

      Lots! Let me get back to my office in bout an hour and I’ll get back to ya.

    • Ooooo K! Sorry, that took a little longer than I thought it would LOL.
      The deal about the cattle trailers versus horse trailers is a big one with me. Frankly, the way the horses are hauled currently is simply ridiculous. There are specific “rules” and no-nos that go along with hauling horses – whether they are domestic OR wild! I don’t give a crap about the ones who say, “Oh, well, Mustangs have better bone structure and are hardier than domestic horses so it doesn’t matter that they are hauled in cattle / stock trailers.”
      It doesn’t matter to me if those horses had legs made of titanium. The whole process itself is an outrage to me. I personally have used and hauled just about every kind of trailer made, from Aluminum to Steel, Gooseneck to 5th Wheel, single horse to double horse, and stock trailers of every length, shape, color and kind. My own personal fave is the Aluminum trailers simply because of the way they haul so light – the horses are more comfortable because the bumps in the road are not felt as hard as the steel trailers. But no matter what kind of trailer is used, there are guidelines that dictate how many horses you place in them based on the length and weight capacities of the trailer itself.
      You don’t ever load more than (6) horses into a 28 ft stock trailer. The length is the trailer OVERALL, not the amount of space for the horses to stand. On a 28 ft trailer, there is typically only about 21 ft for them to actually stand.
      By placing the horses in straight, you have (2) side by side. Slanted positioning dictates only (5) horses. Chaotic positioning – as is the case with the horses gathered from the range – dictates no more than five to six mature horses, and you had better not place anything younger in with that many mature horses unless you want injuries or death. (By mature, I mean horses of “grown” size, like 2 year olds and up. Granted, there are some yearlings who dwarf the mature horses next to them like Shetlands, so obviously, use your better judgment.)
      I simply don’t see the justification for scheduling and a “git ‘er done” attitude to take precedence over the safety and well being of the horses. It’s simply ridiculous. If you’ve ever watched the horses being loaded into the trailers at the gather trap site, you would be mortified. They are terrified, stressed, and downright confused because while they are trying their best to communicate these feelings to the wranglers, the wranglers seem to be trying their best to ignore it and just get the horses loaded. The end result is way too many horses in one trailer, all haphazardly positioned, headed for at least a 2-4 hour ride no matter which way you go – on terrible roads I might add!
      Again, this is simply ridiculous.

      • reveil said

        I agree. Do you think the vets at the gather place might have a chance to address this?

        • I hope that they do, I don’t assume that they will. For the most part, I don’t know that our beliefs about how to trailer a horse or many horses at a time are the same as those who are in others places and other situations. I’ve addressed this issue with the Cattoors directly previously, as well as with the BLM directly. This occured last during the Calico gathers and subsequent transports. There were some indications from those conversations that at least some of the message was being understood and even agreed with on some parts, but as for any actions to remedy the situation as a whole? Well, no, I haven’t seen any and neither has anyone else.

          • Reveil said

            Sounds like they are cutting corners financially. I thought they had plenty of funds to do this right.

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