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Terri Farley
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

BLM Cares Really, Truly, Deeply About Wild Horses

BLM 2008: Killing captive wild horses  “magic bullet for budget problems"

BLM 2015: Killing captive wild horses sold to Tom Davis in 2008 was "deceitful" 

BLM helicopter round-up of wild horses, Melissa Farlow photo
Three years after the public demanded an investigation of Bureau of Land Management sales of wild horses to Mexican slaughter houses via known kill-buyer Tom Davis of Colorado,  the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General issued a report confirming the deal.

According to the Associated Press ”Steven Ellis, the BLM’s deputy director of operations, lamented Davis’ ‘deceitful actions.’”
I mean, BLM had absolutely no idea what Davis had done with 1,794 federally-protected wild horses.


It’s been almost 7 years to the day since my op-ed in the Reno Gazette Journal  quoted then-BLM Deputy Director Henri Bisson who suggested  killing captive wild horses might be a “magic bullet for budget problems".

At the same time, Susie Stokke, then Nevada’s Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager, told KUNR that though BLM spends millions on many programs, “aggressive management of wild horses is the magic bullet for BLM budget shortfall.” 

 2008:  Sally Spencer, director of program which sold wild horses to Davis:

“BLM hasn't yet exerted its full powers” over mustangs. 

I mean, it almost sounds like a policy had been born.

Still, after the publication of the Op-Ed and a longer blog on the same topic, I heard from Spencer who asked why I’d turned on the BLM. I responded that I was tired of lies, and never heard from her again.

The Denver Post quotes the report : “Between 2008 and 2012, Davis spent $17,940 on horses from the BLM... “ and “BLM spent more than $140,000 delivering the horses to Davis…” 
If this wasn't an attempt to balance the BLM budget on the backs of wild horses, what was it?  
Before this report came out, I asked BLM questions about Tom Davis and other wild horse policies. They never answered, so I turned to government websites.

BLM’s Myths and Facts page often lags behind current events and modern science, but it's never sounded with such hollow irony as it does now. 
"Myth #2:  It is the BLM's policy to sell or send wild horses to slaughter.

Fact:  This charge is absolutely false. The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management care deeply about the well-being of wild horses"

But they sent them to slaughter, just the same. 
Author's Note: Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt pushed back its publication deadline to give the agency over a year to respond to inquiries about wild horses, but BLM chose not to answer a single question on the record for my recent non-fiction book, Wild At Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wild Horses & Young People Fight to Save Each Other

 Melissa Farlow image
We were born to cozy warmth and milk into the care of those with muscles to protect our fragile bodies. 
We were born to grow strong legs and far-seeing eyes 
as we followed the paths made by wise guardians. 
Instead, Destiny tossed us to the cruel. 
We hurt. We starved. We tottered, bewildered, from one hard hand to the next.  
Until, reflected in each others’ eyes
We healed a little, forgot a bit. Too tough and afraid to
believe in love, we still dreamed of gentle hands held out, palm up. We dreamed
a mirage of hope.
The story of a girl named Robin, who spent years in foster
care, and her love for Rocky the mustang appear in WILD AT HEART.
Purchase the book  WILD AT HEART first edition, hard cover volume 

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Will BLM be Cowed by Ranchers, Miners?

Standing room only crowd at BLM's RMP meeting, Fallon, NV

May 19, 2015                                                                                          Fallon, Nevada
About 170 people crowded elbow-to-elbow in the Churchill County Commission chamber. More spilled outside, eager to hear about BLM’s new Carson City Resource Management Plan (RMP) for public lands.
Along with a few other wild horse advocates, I came to dispute a plan that would zero-out bands of mustangs but leave livestock home on the range. BLM figures 4.8 million acres can sustain only 2,508 wild horses but 12,600 cattle.
Right off, the crowd was disappointed. BLM staff wouldn’t answer questions; they came to listen.  
Four speakers mentioned wild horses and three represented the Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone tribes.  The rest of the 6-8:30 pm comment period belonged to the Fallon Tea Party, mining and livestock industries. Samples from my notes:  

"Churchill County is not Sherwood Forest and BLM is not the Sheriff of Nottingham" (speaker dons green Robin Hood hat) 

"We have enough trees" "We have enough protected lands" "We got enough wilderness"
         "We’re not going through a drought; it’s just a dry period and mining’s our cash cow"
"Looks like you’re going to drive people off the land"
"I hunt. My kids hunt and I don’t need no Master’s degree"
"Cattle are good for the range and mining is good for the water table" 

Why worry?  Throughout the West legislation is being introduced to prohibit the Federal government from managing lands within a state. That would mean an end to public lands and the meager protection afforded to range, water, vegetation, sacred sites, wild horses and other wildlife.

Remember Cliven Bundy, a rancher backed by an armed militia (ladies in front, please) protecting his “right” to skip out on a million dollars in grazing fees? On March 31 the Bundy Ranch gang, headed by Cliven’s son Ammon, are coming to the Nevada Assembly to support a Resource Rights Bill. 
Nevadans only (sorry): Want to  enter your opinion of AB408, which would turn all public lands over to the state? .Click here  to vote AGAINST  giving wild horse lands to ranchers & miners _______________________________________________________________________________   Please watch and listen for further developments.   
Read Bundy’s letter to the folks, here at Ralston Reports

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Born to Be Wild


The real Phantom Stallion wasn't alone when he was rounded up from the Virginia Range of Nevada. His mare Shy and a dark gray colt came with him. All three were saved from slaughter by people with hearts for horses.

A girl named Amber fell in love with the colt and named him Rain Cloud and adopted him. 
Rain Cloud stayed in his native Nevada, but his mother and father, the Phantom and Shy were freed into the Wild Horse Sanctuary in California. If you want to see their day of freedom, click here for video
Rain Cloud lived in Nevada even after Amber left for an out-of-state school Amber's mother Margaret took care of the gray colt, who was slowly turning the silvery moon color of his sire. Rain Cloud. He got good food and water, and a domestic mare took over as his substitute mother.
After a few years, Margaret invited me to meet grown-up Rain Cloud. 
By now he was pure white with black mane and tail. He had kind eyes, a proud stride, and a wild stallion attitude. He reminded me so much of his sire.  

With Amber gone, Rain Cloud had fallen out of the habit of listening to people.
 In the picture at right, you can see he's turned one ear to catch my voice, but he had no real intention of doing what I asked.

A few months later,Rain Cloud's substitute-mother mare had died of old age. Rain Cloud was not a happy guy. He needed a wild horse adventure, but he couldn't be set free He needed training to live among humans and he was so lucky that Palomino Armstrong happened to be in town on the weekend Margaret decided it would be best for the grown up colt to go to California with Palomino.

Rain Cloud in California  or What Do You Mean I'm Not the Boss? 

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Thursday, January 01, 2015

3 New Year’s Resolutions You'll Stick To For America's Wild Horses

These are three New Year's resolutions you'll stick to, not because they're easier than going to the gym or spending less time online, but because the lives of America's mustangs are at stake. If you do nothing else today, put #1 on your list! 

1. Shovel out your old vocabulary:  There are no Bureau of Land Management lands, nor BLM horses. There are public lands and American wild horses.  Feel free to inform others online and in person.

2.   Follow the money trail:  as you read wild horse news – especially round-up announcements -- ask yourself, “Who profits?” 
It won’t be Nature until livestock numbers are lowered.  Livestock outnumber wild horses at least 50-1.  Memorize that statistic and repeat as needed. 

3.   Question press release propaganda:  When newsrooms are short-staffed, press releases become stories, so it’s your job to find the source behind the headline. Just because “news” is repeated verbatim in a dozen sources, doesn’t mean it’s true. Agencies send out hundreds of press releases. Who’s quoted? If all represent a single viewpoint or source, return to resolutions 1 and 2, above.  

Wild Horse Foal Behind Bars  by Cat Kindsfather

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Despite Abuse, Mustang Filly Can Trust

Men yank on baling twine wrapped around Diamond's neck (photo by Bo Rodriguez)

Dear Readers,
Today I touched Diamond. When I saw the mustang filly in the slaughter ring, neighing for her mother, I didn't think she'd survive the repeated trauma of capture, separation from her family, being dragged by her neck by two men, and being sent to a slaughter auction.
Today I touched Diamond at her wild horse home, Wynema Ranch and if I hadn't noticed her flattening ears, she might've taken a nip. I didn't blame her. 
Diamond was rescued with her family, but her mother didn't survive for long. She has a wonderful home and you can visit her if you like.
Read  Diamond's story and you'll know why she touched me as I watched this hurt and hounded filly relax, and sling her glossy head over the shoulder of Margie, a volunteer she'd never met before.
Our species could learn so much from horses.

p.s. Wynema Ranch and Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund needs volunteers to help rescued wild horses

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

TAKE ACTION for Wild Horses Before They're Gone

It can be crazy keeping up with wild horse news, but I do it with a great but under-used feature of Google called an “Alert.” 
With this, I get daily FREE email about wild horses.
Here's how: 
To set up a Google Alert: follow this link, fill out the form, and click the “Create Alert” button.
The form asks some questions :

            Search Query:  Type in wild horses
           Type – I set my alerts for all types of alerts – news, blogs, books, etc.
  • How often : Once per day is enough for most people
  • Volume  This isn’t loudness ; it means, how many responses you want to see. I choose “Only the best results,”  otherwise you often get the same story over and over again.

When you get your Google Alerts they’ll look something like this:

Wild Horses: Fair Game On Public Land
Global Animal
The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) collected 23 wild horses from the Virginia Range earlier this month. The range outside of Reno, Nevada is public land and thus unprotected by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which protects ...
You click on a headline, go read the story and if there’s a place to comment, do it.
THIS IS ALL ABOUT PEER PRESSURE! Your opinion influences other people. They won’t know if you’re 11 years old or 87 years old. They won’t know if you’re a student or a veterinarian – unless you think those facts are important to mention.  
In a short response, I might say  

“wild horses deserve freedom and the land they’re given by law” 
“wild horses belong to all Americans and shouldn’t go to slaughter” or
 “a wild horse sanctuary is a good idea, but shouldn’t be all geldings"
If you want to go a step further, use this easy format :  
a  1)      Describe your personal connection to the issue  in 2 -3 sentences
b  2)    Give 3 facts about the issue – 1 – 3 sentences
c  3)    WHAT ACTION do you want people to take? – 1 sentence

That’s it! In 3 – 6 sentences, you will have explained why you want to live in a world with wild horses.
If you want, you can even keep that short document as a letter-in-waiting, but whatever you do -- put your opinion out there! You don't have to be brave or brilliant, you just have to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves.

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