The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

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

Re: Call to Action by Nevada Tahoe Conservation District by TracieLynn Thompson, August 03, 2010

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on August 3, 2010

Well Folks, I just couldn’t let this one be… The following is my response to an email and attached document circulated by Mr. Doug Martin, District Manager of the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District. In this email and it’s attachment, “anti-horse” attitudes were prevalent. As if his own words of contribution were not enough, Mr. Martin circulated this email and it’s attachment which further reinforced his department’s display of the same attitude. In his position as the District Manager of the NTCD, Mr. Martin has clearly stepped outside of his authoritative boundaries. I have found his comments, email and the attachment to be very offensive, not only as an Advocate for the American Wild Mustang but also as a Hunter, Fisher, and Outdoor Sportswoman myself. There is a right way to do things, and there is a wrong way to do things. Pick your path to find your result. Just be warned: it may not be the result you want.


P.S. I will give you fair warning now… The attachment to my reply is very graphic and should not be taken lightly. Please, view at your own risk.

Lessons Learned Equine Instruction

P.O. Box 1363 Kountze, Texas 77625


Doug Martin, District Manager
Nevada Tahoe Conservation District
Box 915 Zephyr Cove, Nevada 89448
(775) 586-1610 x 22

August 3, 2010 

Dear Mr. Martin,  

I am writing today to inform you that other sportsmen, sportswomen and I take issue with your statements regarding the Wild Horse and Burro Management Plan as stated in the document “Wild Horse and Burro Talking Points, July 2010”, and in the email sent by you to various other parties for distribution with this document attached. 

You presume to speak for all sportsmen and women with your statements. Nothing could be further from the truth. True sportsmen and women have dedicated themselves to the honest definition of conservation, which is the protection of natural and cultural resources from damage and harm to maintain balance. Balance, Mr. Martin, is something that is only achieved when there are equal and corresponding amounts of each component that are an integral part of the ecosystem itself. 

The “call to action” you have stated in your email’s subject heading is a mere drop on the vast lake known as the Advocates for the American Wild Mustang. And yes, Mr. Martin, there are those among us who are indeed sportsmen and women, who do hunt game and fish as an integral part of our own culture, such as I. 

I have been hunting and fishing literally all of my life. I have been steward to the lands where we hunt White-Tailed Deer mainly, but also Dove, Duck, Eastern Turkey, Javelina, Rabbits/Hares, and Squirrel among others to ensure their survival in a thriving habitat and ecosystem which will prolong and increase the quality of their lives. Personally, I do not care for the Javelina, Doves, or Ducks. It’s not that they are of a lesser quality but rather that I personally do not care for them. 

However, these species are components in the ecosystems supporting the wildlife I do personally care for, such as the White-Tailed Deer, Rabbits, Eastern Turkey and Squirrels. By removing the aforementioned species from the ecosystems, I would be forever damaging the survival of the species I do care for along with their quality and longevity of life. 

Therefore, I care for their habitats as I would any other habitat, be it of my own personal liking or not, because in Mother Nature’s wisdom, these ecosystems are dependent upon each other. They are all part of the balance. Remove one, enjoy the imbalanced disaster. 

I would like to address your “talking points” as you seem to have a few mistakes among them.

“Increasing populations of wild horses and burros affect not only ranchers and other private landowners, but it also affects cultural and historical sites; reduces forage for wildlife habitat, which imperils threatened and endangered species; and creates uncertainty for landowners to continue conservation practices. “ 

In 1971, Congress declared that the wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands. 

Regardless of the amendments to this original piece of legislation, this mandate and declaration remains steadfast and unchanged. Yes, their presence may affect the ranchers and other private landowners, but that affect is legal in the eyes of this mandate and declaration. It is only due to the unlawful changing of ownership of those lands in the first place that the ranchers and private landowners were enabled to be affected. 

When you speak of the cultural and historical sites that are affected, I sincerely hope that you realize that it is again only due to the “boxing in” that has occurred as a result of the land ownership changes and Right of Ways issued that this affect is taking place. Had their lands not been taken away, they would not be forced into the areas you now claim are being affected adversely. 

Wildlife habitats fall under the same scenario as the two aforementioned situations. However, I wish to remind you, Mr. Martin that the American Wild Mustang has just as much right to his habitat as the ones you speak of being affected. 

“The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in response to declining populations of wild horses and burros. The Act gave BLM two management tools for when populations rebounded to unsustainable levels: the removal of excess animals for sale or humane euthanasia. Opponents of these management tools propose a laissez-faire approach, letting the populations of wild horses and burros self-regulate. These methods have never been used, due to a rider attached nearly every year to the Interior appropriations.” 

Mr. Martin, you have trespassed into a grave mistake by stereotyping all Advocates into one, and certainly not this particular Advocate. I, and a great multitude of others like me, do not believe we are “proposing a laissez-faire approach to the increasing numbers” of the American Wild Mustang; no, far from this. We are in fact working as fast and furiously as we possibly can to mitigate against rising numbers with the best researchers, biologists and scientists we can find to reduce the population rates without harmful side effects to the Equines themselves or to the ecosystems they inhabit. 

“Current methods used by the BLM are adoption and fertility control. Both are at a great expense to taxpayer dollars, and not effective at managing the populations sustainably. Wild horse and burro populations on public lands must be properly managed to prevent degradation of rangeland resources and to minimize expense to the tax-paying public. We urge BLM to continue managing wild horse and burro populations to balance their impacts on rangeland resources with other public land uses while protecting the resource base.” 

You would like for the BLM “to continue managing wild horse and burro populations to balance their impacts on rangeland resources with other public land uses while protecting the resource base.” I ask you Mr. Martin, what resource base are you protecting by urging this management to continue as it is currently?  It certainly cannot be one that includes all components of a healthy and balanced ecosystem. 

Excess horses and burros should be removed on an annual basis, using the least costly, humane methods and programs. Excess horses and burros that are not immediately adopted should be sold to the highest bidder to avoid extreme costs of caring for the horses and burros.  

Mr. Martin, I would like to ask you a question, as one hunter to another. When you are hunting an animal, should your target region be in the neck or in the abdomen? And when you arrive at the animal after you have made your shot, if he has not perished do you then end the animals suffering or allow him to continue bleeding until he has bled out? 

If you were a true conservationist, you would never shoot for the abdomen, and you would immediately end the suffering that your first shot did not. You would act accordingly to ensure a humane and quick way for the animal to die. Conservation is protection. Protection is from any and all harm possible. Harm is inflicted with suffering. 

When the American Wild Mustang is “sold to the highest bidder”, sometimes they are blessed to be placed with a true conservationist. Unfortunately, most times they are not. Most times, the highest bidder is the person known as a “kill buyer”. This person will purchase the horses based on their weight for eventual shipment to slaughter. The conditions of this transport are less than deplorable, not to mention the methods currently used to conduct the death of said horses at the slaughter plants. 

The photos found in the attached document (Response to Mr. Doug Martin, Dist Mgr, Nevada Tahoe Conservation District, August 03, 2010 – Attachment) have been released by the USDA through FOIA requests. They were taken of horses in trailers that arrived at slaughterhouses. This is what happens to the horses in the trailer during transport. Some are trampled by other horses. They go down and cannot get back up. Some are already injured or weak when they are crammed into the trailer past the trailer’s capacity limits. 

 Others have nothing wrong with them until they are loaded onto the trailer, and then the torture begins. Many die on the way, as the drivers continue down the road, not stopping to check on their cargo. Please refer to the attached pictures. When you look at these pictures, imagine what kind of chaos and pain must have been going on in this trailer. And please, by all means PLEASE do note that the horse in Figure 3 is still alive, as is the horse in Figures 6a, 6b and 6c.

Yes, conditions such as these are “sickening”, “disgusting”, and “abusive to animals”. Yes, these conditions are certainly against the law, but only if that law is enforced. These horses in particular were transported within the United States where we do indeed have laws to prevent such situations. To my knowledge at this time, no charges were ever levied against the driver, the owner of the truck, or the company and parties that sent these horses on their way.   

“The costs gathering wild horses and burros and adopting them out are going up from about $900 to $1300 per horse, not because of contractors doing the work, but mainly because of ensuring safety for public observation during the gathers. There’s the cost of restroom facilities, law enforcement, and increased staff – all this to assuage the demands of animal rights activists who want to be able to observe horse gathers.”  

I am not going to validate this statement with a response.  

“The approaches undertaken by BLM thus far cater only to animal rights advocates and not everyone else. Public involvement should include all stakeholders, not just the ones who are most vocal and litigate. This approach sends the message that the only way to gain the attention needed to this problem is for landowners to litigate.” 

Mr. Martin, your document’s statements are getting more and more off kilter. Again, you have unwisely stereotyped all Advocates as one. Furthermore, you have not done your homework. BLM has issued many ROWs that directly affect the American Wild Mustang and his native habitat. The proposed Ruby Pipeline Project is one in particular. Its proposed route crosses a total of (5) HMAs in Northwestern Nevada. 

Additionally, if you were to look at the National Wild Horse and Burro’s website under the specific titles of the Calico Gather and the Tuscarora Gather, you would find editorials there from those who are in support of the gathers. Look further into the website and you will find more letters of support. You need only to look a little further to the current situations involving the Owyhee HMA to see that BLM has respected the rights of private land owners. 

No, litigation is not the only way to gain attention for this problem. However, a clear voice with a willing and open mind is a prerequisite. 

“Civil action pertaining to the management of wild horses and burros, when the issues relate to private lands, should be held at a local court in the state where the issue develops. When federal lands are involved, actions should be heard in the nearest federal court to the lands where the issue arose.” 

I have told many a friend and many a foe the same thing when faced with a statement such as this one: Be very careful what you wish for; you just might get it.  

“Wild horses and burros are not native wildlife. They are feral animals. They should not be considered as wildlife and should not be classified as endangered species. Nevertheless, BLM needs to establish whether wild horses and burros are considered wildlife or livestock and then manage them accordingly. Depending on the classification, either state fish and game agencies or state agriculture agencies have jurisdiction to work with the wild horses and burros issue.”  

Now in this statement, there was a rough start.  But again, you didn’t do your homework. 

Since establishing the Department of Mammalian Paleontology at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History in 1891, Henry Fairfield Osborn had been conducting paleontological explorations to discover the evolutionary antecedents of the modern horse, Equus caballus. Finds resulting from these expeditions had already augmented a growing bank of scientific knowledge pointing to the horse’s evolution in North America. 

In 1889, he and his colleagues had come upon “… a considerable number of skeletons of the … original North American horse …,” known as eohippus in fossil beds near Mount Blanco in the Texas Panhandle. 

Fossil remains of the horse, representing every phase of evolutionary modification, have been found in North America. Ancestors of the modern horse evolved on the North American continent over 57 million years, with horse evolution being cited as a classic example of the evolutionary process, where natural selection molds characteristics, both biological and behavioral, that promote survival. 

Yes, the American Wild Mustang roaming free on the range today is a “feral” horse in the sense that some of his ancestors were once domesticated. However, in all reality they are royalty among the species which are wholly and completely NATIVE to the Western United States. 

You did have one good point though. There should be an establishment in the legislative system that designates whether the American Wild Mustang is to be considered wildlife or livestock. Quite frankly, I don’t see how they could be considered “livestock” as they are not domesticated, legally traded, bought and/or sold while they are still on the range roaming freely. In this instance, they are indeed “wildlife”. If the Equine has been removed from the range, domesticated, and is titled per the BLM, WH&B and 1971 WFRH&B Act, that Equine can then be considered livestock. 

“Conservation Districts have established well-worn pathways to America’s farms and ranches and private landowners. They are trusted by landowners as a reliable and consistent nexus of information and conservation implementation. Conservation Districts can help with establishing better public engagement and monitoring of wild horses and burros.”  

To be blunt, I am not entirely confident in this after reading your “talking points”. I am definitely not convinced that would want you and your organization to be involved in any part of the Wild Horse and Burro Program. A step such as this would require a great deal of proof of intent. 

No, Mr. Martin, I am not a “bleeding heart” for these animals. Yes, I do care deeply for them, but I constantly attempt to remain as objective as possible. I am a voice when they have none. I am an Animal Protection Advocate. I am a rational, intelligent, diplomatic voice in the midst of chaos. 

“Belief” and “disbelief” are two very interesting concepts. There are those among mankind’s society who will not believe until they see. There are those who remain in disbelief simply because it does not follow their preconceived notions. The first would be a cynic. The second would be ignorant. 

 The bottom line is this: Whether you choose to believe facts and truths presented before you does not make them any less real; they are still facts and truths if they have been proven scientifically and mathematically. I am willing to compromise on some things when the compromise is met at least half way. On others, I am not so willing. I have never, will not now, and will not ever compromise on my belief in the facts and truths that the American Wild Mustang should remain in his rightful place on the ranges of the Western United States to roam free. And no sir, I am not ignorant.   

It is my sincere wish and hope that you and your organization will reevaluate your position on the American Wild Mustang. To that end, I will even make myself available for any help and resources needed to accomplish this goal. The resources contained within my website are at your disposal just as they are to any other individual who would like to expand their knowledge. All I ask is a respect for copyrighted materials. 

If you and your organization do not wish to reevaluate your position, then Mr. Martin I have no other choice but to pity you. Ignorance is a very sad thing. Blatant and purposeful ignorance is first step to the fall of a society. 


Tracie Lynn Thompson
Owner & Lead Instructor
Lessons Learned Equine Instruction
(409)658-4491 cell


The Texas Mustang Project 

Working for Better Management Options and Cohabitation 

Through Compromise and Communication for the American Wild Mustang 





11 Responses to “Re: Call to Action by Nevada Tahoe Conservation District by TracieLynn Thompson, August 03, 2010”

  1. betty said

    thank you

    • You are most welcome ma’am…

      • morganlvr said

        Loved it! I am in the midst of writing to him too. That string of fallacies was just TOO MUCH not to answer. I’ve told him that, if I were him, I wouldn’t talk those points in public if he wanted to maintain any shreds of credibility.

        Specially liked the part where it says that the BLM caters to the horse people. I about fell off my chair and that howler. Good Grief!

        btw, love the new site name!

  2. Linda said

    T., you rocked my socks off with this one!

  3. Reveil said

    Loved it. Nice piece and right on point.

  4. Donna Buscemi said

    I also sent him an e mail addressing “Wild horses and burros are not native wildlife.”

    Sent him a couple of articles with documentation of Wild horses as Native to North America.

  5. Funny… I’ve called his office 4 times today and have yet to recieve anything more than a voicemail inbox. No operator, no one home… Guess all us Advocates scared the heck out of ’em! 😀

  6. Lisa LeBlanc said

    Dang, T! That was (please pardon the colloquialism) AWESOME!
    I think probably he can’t answer the phone ’cause his pants fell off. ( as in ‘scared the pants off’…)
    Wow. SO…SHINY. I feel as if I have been witness to a Heavenly occurence. Seriously. I only read it and felt the Power. You WROTE it!!
    There are no words of praise, no descriptive idioms, nothing verbal worthy enough. I can only bask in the knowledge of your You-ness (” Why, yes. I often exchange words with the Mighty T; she’s just like regular folks.”)
    There are Mustang & Wild Burro Advocates, smart, driven, well-informed. And then there’s the fortunate few who can draft a stream of consciousness like this that strikes fear in the wicked & reverence in the righteous.

    • Thank you Lisa… It really does mean a lot to me seeing your kind and humble words of praise LOL
      I dang sure hope I scared the pants off ’em… Anybody got a camera in the Tahoe Area??? Snap us a pic of Mr. Martin running, er, falling around town with his pants around his ankles!
      Seriously though, thank you… from the bottom of my lit’ ole pea pickin’ heart!

  7. Cathy said

    “The public may visit the BLM WEBsite”? For what? To read warm and fuzzy propeganda provided by the BLM? Why is the public not allowed to visit the “HOLDING sites” during the traumatizing “gather” of these horses?

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