The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Craig Downer’

Craig Downer Responds to Pancake Complex PEA

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on October 24, 2011

Our friend, Craig Downer, has graciously passed on his comments in response to the Pancake Complex Preliminary Environmental Assessment. For those of you who know Craig, you will find that he has once again outdone himself. For those of you who are not familiar with Craig’s work, you’re in for a real treat! For reference, please see Pancake Complex Preliminary Environmental Assessment. ~T

October 21, 2011
BLM Ely District Office
HC 33 Box 33500
Ely, NV 89301
Email: PancakeComplex@blm.gov; rthompson@blm.gov
Attn.: Gary W. Medlyn, Egan Field Manager

Subject: Objection to proposed wild horse roundups in Pancake Complex: Pancake HMA, Sand Springs West HMA, Jake’s Wash HMA (proposal to zero out), and Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory (USFS)

Dear Mr. Medlyn:

Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to comment.  I have reviewed the Pancake Complex Preliminary Environmental Assessment and am very disturbed by its negatively tendentious plans and questionable justifications toward this vast, 1,259,739-acre area’s wild horses.  The proposed action is not at all fair to this national heritage and North American returned native species nor to the individual wild horses who have proven their survivability and ability to fit into the natural ecosystem in question, nor does it accord with the chief tenets of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.  At its 40th anniversary, we Americans should now be celebrating this noble act’s true realization rather than lamenting its subversion.  Unfortunately your proposed plan for these horses falls within the latter category.

My analysis of some of your tables reveals a true egregiousness.  To cut to the chase, Table 1: Herd Management Area, Acres, AML, Estimated Population, and Estimated Numbers for Removal reveals that as of May 2011 what you term to be an over-populated herd within the four legal areas actually had 571 legal acres per remaining individual horse. This included 517 legal acres per individual horse in the 855,000-acre Pancake HMA, 1,029 legal acres per individual horse in the 157,436-acre Sand Springs West HMA, 1,164 legal acres per individual horse in the 153,663-acre Jake’s Wash HMA, and 347 legal acres per individual horse in the 93,640-acre Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory.  Regardless of how many times you state otherwise, this is not an over-population, but rather an under-population from any fair and objective point-of-view.  A couple hundred acres per horse would not be an over-population in this area provided you exercised your legitimate authority to secure an adequate water supply for the wild horses.  America needs true defenders of its wild horses, not officials who all-too-willingly abrogate their responsibility to defend the rights of these wonderful animals and the General Public who support them.

The crux of the problem concerns your (BLM‚Äôs & USFS‚Äôs) over-allocation of forage to livestock, principally domestic cattle and sheep grazing within the legal wild horse areas.¬†¬†Examining your EA‚Äôs section 4.5: Livestock Grazing and particularly Tables 3, 4, & 5, your Animal Unit Month (AUM) figures reveal the following year-round equivalent of cattle grazing within the four wild horse areas, taken both separately and as a composite.¬†¬†In the Pancake HMA, current permitted livestock use equals 1,826 cattle.¬†¬†In the Jake‚Äôs Wash Herd Area (HA, so named because you have decided to zero it out), current permitted livestock use equals 696 cattle.¬†¬†In the Sand Springs West HMA, the current permitted livestock use equals 40 cattle. Excluding permitted livestock use in USFS‚Äôs Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory, which would add considerably, the minimal grand total for year-round livestock usage is 2,562 cattle.¬†¬†We conclude that there are more cattle grazing just in the three BLM HMAs than there are year-round wild horses in the four legal areas which, according to Table 1, sum to 2,208 horses ‚Äď and the latter is likely to be an exaggerated number that includes the 2011 foals but does not adequately account for mortality factors.¬†¬†Though the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act clearly states that the resources of the legal Herd Areas (BLM) and Territories (USFS) are to be ‚Äúdevoted principally‚ÄĚ for the wild horses or burros upon their legal grounds, such is clearly not occurring at present what with 54% of the grazing resource going to domestic livestock and 46% of the grazing resource going to wild horses.¬†¬†This wild horse population should be left alone. It is in the process of filling its ecological niche and attaining natural self-stabilization of its numbers ‚Äď if we people would only allow it to do so.

If the drastic and grossly unfair Pancake Complex roundup proceeds as planned and taking the mid-point Appropriate Management Level of 499 wild horses, there will remain only 19% of total forage allocation for the wild horses (499 divided by 2,562).¬†¬†This is a clear violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, as the wild horses‚Äô presence is being marginalized and minimized even within its legal areas ‚Äď which taken as a whole only represent a small fraction of the public lands.¬†Their restoration to principal presence within their legal areas would constitute true ‚Äúmultiple use‚ÄĚ as opposed to the status quo of monopolistic use on the public lands by especially livestock.¬†¬†Additionally, BLM is planning to zero out, or eliminate, all wild horses from Jake‚Äôs Wash Herd Area.¬†This HA contains a sizeable 153,663 acres; and though the 132 currently surviving wild horses here clearly disprove BLM officials‚Äô claim that the area is unsuitable for wild horses, these officials persist in listing inadequate habitat components such as water, forage, shelter, etc., though the chief missing factor is their willingness to defend the wild horses‚Äô rightful water, forage, shelter, and other survival requirements!

Alternative F, the No Action Alternative is the more fair and only reasonable and legal alternative of those presented by the E.A., yet it is discredited even in the E.A. as being invalid.¬†¬†–Talk about tendentiousness against wild horses in the wild!

In addition to the above, I have the following complaints:

Page 18: You make light of the ‚ÄúRemove or Reduce Livestock within the HMA,‚ÄĚ yet it is the only truly fair and legal option here.¬†¬†You evade your responsibility to reduce or eliminate livestock, yet you are clearly willing to do this and in drastic measure to the wild horses themselves!¬†¬†(The wild horses, by the way, have a right to live here, while livestock permittees only have a cancelable privilege to graze their livestock here.)¬†¬†You refer to the 2008 Ely Record of Decision and Resource Management Plan and to the¬†Tonopah¬†Resource Management Plan, but fail to honestly criticize these in light of the actual law protecting the wild horses and establishing their rights to live their free-roaming life at healthy, viable population levels upon certain areas of the public lands.

Page 19. Your clear abrogation of responsibility is indicated on this page when you claim that the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 4710.5 is only for emergencies ‚Äúand not for the general management of wild horses or burros.‚Ä̬†¬†This is simply not true by any reasonable interpretation of this code and again reveals your prejudiced attitude toward the wild horses.

Page 22. I question your statement that fences do not restrain wild horse movements within their legal areas, given the fact that they are open-ended.  Much of this would depend upon how long they are and where they are located.  Your least and last consideration seems to be for the wild horses themselves.

You make no intelligent comparison of relative livestock, big game, and other conflicting or potentially conflicting interests including ORVs and mining operations in relation to the wild horses and how this affects their well being in the wild.

You go out of your way to state that the Pancake Complex has not been designated as a wild horse ‚Äúrange‚ÄĚ and point out the four in the U.S. that have.¬†¬†Yet all the original wild horse and burro areas should be considered as ‚Äúranges‚ÄĚ according to any fair interpretation of the Act.¬†¬†Again you give more importance to regulations than to the federal law itself!

Pages 22-23: Your discussion of available water sources says nothing about how you could take steps to secure or improve water availability for fairer numbers of wild horses.  You seem to be grasping for excuses to justify your miserable treatment of the wild horses.  The utilization trends and consumption rates you quote do not in fact reveal a dire situation caused by wild horses, though your implied conclusion indicates just this.  Your justification for zeroing out Jake’s Wash HMA is very arbitrary, and you make not even the feeblest attempt to do something to keep the horses here.  As stated above, the 132 surviving wild horses disprove your contrived case against them.  It is obvious they are your targets.  By fomenting cooperative agreements with other entities as enabled under Section 6 of the Act, BLM officials could, in fact, secure year-round water, forage, etc., for the spirited Jake’s Wash wild horses, whom I have had the rare privilege to observe since 1980.

Page 24: Again, objectively viewed, your presentation of facts for Sand Springs West HMA is unconvincing as a case against the current number of wild horses.¬†¬†And I find it revealing how you avoid bringing livestock into consideration in regard to those areas that are being over-utilized.¬†¬†I also suspect that existing fences within the two HMAs, one HA and one Territory could be preventing a more extensive and natural rest rotation ‚Äď or equitable distribution of grazing pressure.

Pages 26-27: I very much object to the creation of an one-third non-breeding segment of the wild horse population, and as a wildlife ecologist, predict that this would result in a dysfunctional herd lacking the true vitality that is required for long-term survival.  This is very much contrary to the true intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.  For the same reason, I disfavor the 60% male to 40% female sex ratio and view this as very disruptive to the social structure of individual bands and to the herd as a whole.  It has been abundantly proven that mature bands of long standing naturally limit the wild horses’ growth rate when the wild horses are allowed to fill their ecological niche without excessive interference by people.

Page 29: I also note that you plan on administering PZP to all released mares and again caution against the adverse effects PZP could cause both to individual wild horses, e.g. stress, pain, dysfunction within horse society, ostracism, and to the social structure of the harem-band as well as to the whole herd.  As you may have heard, I am proposing Reserve Design as a much better solution to the wild horse challenge, but this will require letting the horses be the principal presences and letting them realize their ecological niche within adequately sized and composed habitats and cutting back on livestock and other monopolistic uses.  This would result in natural self-stabilization by intact social units and is true to the noble intent of the Act.  In this same regard, I am entirely opposed to the gelding of stallions. Even your statement that up to 5% of castrated stallions may die as a consequence should be enough to cancel this cruel proposal that is so thoughtless of the horses themselves.

Page 33: Your frequent tampering with the wild horse population prevents the establishment of a harmonious wild-horse-containing ecosystem, one that is enhanced overall as to biodiversity, soil richness, food chain/web, seeding dispersal, etc., since the horse is a true returned ‚Äúkeystone‚ÄĚ species here in¬†North America.

Page 34: You make light of the kicking and biting that occurs immediately after capture when the horses are first penned ‚Äď and this occurs among both the stallions and the mares, not just the stallions.¬†¬†I have observed this on several roundups and it both can and frequently does result in serious injury and even death of the wild horses so traumatized and unnaturally crowded together.¬†¬†Our goal should be to leave these wonderful animals alone in their rightful legal and ancestral lands and to let them be born, live out their lives, and pass on naturally contributing their remains rather than to be subject to this unnatural and terrifying chasing by helicopter, violent capture and manipulation and a life of confinement, or a cruel trip to the slaughter plant, e.g. in¬†Mexico¬†or¬†Canada.¬†¬†This is clearly wrong and not what the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act intended.

Page 49 ff: You imply that wild horse reduction would improve wilderness values thus ignoring the many positive contributions wild horses make to the ecosystem.  In fact, they greatly restore the North American ecosystem, as they are not a ruminant digester like nearly all other large and more recently arrived grazers, but a post-gastric digester and thus help build soils and disperse seeds of a greater variety of plants and to a much greater degree than the ruminants.  They restore North America’s naturalness and they also greatly bolster the food chain or web both through their droppings and by contributing their mortal remains.

Page 48: Finally, wild horses are very inspiring to people, to the General Public as a whole.  Their presence in the wild is a healing one, both to the natural life community and to those economically disinterested people who come from near and far too just experience their presence.  Ask the thousands of wild horse advocates in this nation of ours and throughout the world what I am talking about.  It is high time that as public officials and servants sworn to uphold all the laws of the land you listen to us rather than just to those vested interests who for one greedy reason or another have targeted these returned North American natives for discrediting and elimination.

Sincerely yours,

Craig C. Downer
Wildlife Ecologist, Author on wild horses and burros, etc., board: The Cloud Foundation
P.O. Box 456
Minden, NV 89423-0456
T. 775-901-2094
Email: ccdowner@yahoo.com
Advertisements

Posted in BLM, Daily Posts, Ely FO, FY2011, Jakes Wash, Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory, Pancake Complex, Pancake HMA, Sand Springs HMA, USFS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

IDA v. Salazar, from Animal Legal & Historical Ctr…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on March 18, 2010

Specifically, Section III DISCUSSION, Sub-Section B. Placement of Excess Horses in Long-Term Holding Facilities, 1. The Merits…
 
March 18, 2010, From Animal Legal & Historical Center:
Case Details: IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Ken SALAZAR, et al., Defendants
Court Date: 12/23/2009
Court Citation:
Docket Number: Civil Action No. 09-2222 (PLF)
Judges: PAUL L. FRIEDMAN, District Judge
Attorneys: William James Spriggs, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Pc, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs. John B. Grosko, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resource, Washington, DC, for Defendants
Appealed From:
Appealed To:
Affirmed:
Reversed:

United States District Court, District of Columbia
In Defense of Animals v. Salazar
United States
— F.Supp.2d —-, 2009 WL 4981172 (D.D.C.)Summary:

In this case, the Plaintiffs, In Defense of Animals, Craig C. Downer, and Terri Farley, attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction that would stop the defendants, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and representatives of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (‚Äúthe Bureau‚ÄĚ), from implementing a plan to capture or gather approximately 2,700 wild horses located in western Nevada (‚Äúgather plan‚ÄĚ).¬† The Bureau wanted to corral the horses to bring the horse population under control so that it might protect the ‚Äúecological balance‚ÄĚ of the area.¬† The plaintiffs contended that the gather plan had to be set aside pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ¬ß¬ß 551 et seq., because the Bureau did not have the statutory authority to carry out the gather plan, and because the plan did not comply with the terms of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (‚ÄúWild Horse Act‚ÄĚ), 16 U.S.C. ¬ß¬ß 1331 et seq.¬† The Court denied the Plaintiffs request for an injunction.¬†

The Court held that in order to warrant preliminary injunctive relief, the moving parties had to show: (1) that there was a substantial Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in BLM, Calico Complex Gather 2009-2010, Daily Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Message from T. & Calico Gather Updates, February 02 – 09, 2010…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 10, 2010

(The fonts in this post have been intentionally left in black with the exception of the ending prayer.)

Message¬†from T…

I spoke earlier with Craig Downer via email. Craig stated that his count of casualties at the time of our correspondence was forty three¬†(43) horses.¬†Craig also¬†stated “I am going out again on Thursday and again on Saturday, then the facility will be closed to public viewing according to BLM announcement.”

This past evening, I spoke with Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief, Wild Horse and Burro Program. During our conversation, the topic of the public being onsite came up. Personally, I was surprised there were still observation days taking place, and that visitors from the general public were still being allowed into the facility.

The reasoning for this is that foaling¬†season is now upon the Calico mares who’ve retained viable pregnancies. Two foals have already been born in this past week. With the ordeal that these horses have been through, on top of being heavily pregnant, all personnel¬†attention should be focused on their¬†care and needs… not on members of the general public who would like to visit. Mr. Bolstad¬†stated that this was their concern as well, hence the discussions regarding the closing of the public visitations.

As a matter of liability and protection for all parties (and horses) involved, members of the general public cannot be allowed into the facilities or onto¬†the grounds without an employee escort. Being¬†the owner of a business that involves equines, I know this lesson all too well. Again we come back to the old adage of “the best of intentions…”; they don’t always have the best outcomes.

While I understand the desire¬†from the public to “be near the horses” and/or be as involved as possible, there does come a time when their presence is more of a hindrance to these horses than any amount of help, no matter what the motives.

Case in¬†point: ¬†Just before this post, I viewed an online video the 2nd colt who consequently¬†died / was euthanized¬†as a result of hoof sloughing.¬†Obviously, I was affected by the¬†plight of this young colt. His pain should not have been allowed¬†to continue in his condition without being given attention and care to his needs. On the other hand, I can’t describe the feelings I had while watching this video towards whoever the videographer had been. The mere presence of this “stranger” and “intruder” placed added and undue stress on¬†his already horribly stressed psychological state of mind. It is late, and I don’t want to attempt a direct quote only to get it wrong because I am fatigued, however the general context of what I read along with the video was that the colt was in so much pain that he could not stand to move away from this intruder as did his paddock mates.

At this point, the question came to my mind of¬†‚ÄúWhy did this person(s) continue to remain in this colt’s pressure zones?‚ÄĚ There was an obvious knowledge of the affect their presence was having on this colt as is evidenced¬†by their comments, and yet they remained – continuing to add to this colt’s stress. Just because this colt was already¬†having undue stress and was in undeserved pain does not nullify the actions of an individual¬†or individuals who add to that stress and pain. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

I do not intend these comments in a condescending manner. More so I intend them in an inquisitive and somewhat awestruck manner; and also with the attitude of one who would expect anyone in close proximity to these horses to respect their boundaries. They are indeed wild horses, not the family pet (yet). Adding pressure to an already pressured animal does not produce a positive outcome; quite the opposite actually.

Given this colt’s particular situation, it is my opinion – for what it’s worth – that he should have been allowed¬†to spend what time left to his short life without the prodding eyes and emotional pressures of another¬†creature¬†that was not of his own kind. Again, the motives behind these actions are not sufficient¬†to justify the actions themselves; not by any means.

Again, in my opinion –¬†for what it’s worth –¬†as for the facility personnel not giving him¬†proper care in his time of need – at least a sedative or pain relieving medical intervention – I am again inquisitive, but now wholly¬†awestruck.¬†Giving the colt some sort relief in his last hours would have been the¬†more appropriate course of action versus allowing (or forcing)¬†him to lie in wait of euthanasia. Even¬†most who are not accustomed to dealing with the health and behaviors of the equine in general would see these¬†are measures¬†of compassion and humanity. This colt may have been “only 1 of 1900”, but he was one. His life meant no less and was no less significant than any of the others.

I suppose the best way to explain this would be that he should have been given as much peace as was possible. Unfortunately, he was not given this peace, but instead was given two separate instances Рavoidable situations Рthat further took away any chance of peace he might have found in his own mind.

I will add him to my prayers along with the others as I ask St. Francis to bless them and St. Christopher to guide them in their journey ahead. May they all find the peace that was not granted to them on this Earth before death.

T.

Calico Gather Updates, February 02 – 09, 2010

Tuesday, Feb. 9 Indian Lakes Road Facility
Studs and weaned colts continue to do well and gain weight. Most mares from the Black Rock East and Black Rock West HMA are doing well.  Mares from the Warm Springs and Calico HMA are generally improving.  Most of the Granite HMA horses appear to be doing well, however, BLM is monitoring three or four Granite horses with poor body conditions. No miscarriages were noted today.  One Black Rock East mare and one Warm Springs mare died.  Both were euthanized because of poor condition/hyperlipemia/metabolic failure.

Facility deaths: 2, cumulative total: 39

Monday, Feb. 8 Indian Lakes Road Facility
BLM continues to monitor the condition of two weaker mares from the Warm Springs and Calico HMAs and three to four horses from the Granite HMA in poor body conditions.  One 15-year-old stud from the Black Rock West HMA was euthanized because of poor condition/hyperlipemia/metabolic failure.  No miscarriages were noted today.

Facility death: 1, cumulative total: 37

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in BLM, Daily Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments »