Citizens Against Equine Slaughter Files a Complaint Against Tabitha Romero, BLM’s Southern Nevada District Office, Wild Horse & Burro Specialist.
©CAES2018 Updated 5/13/18
Today, May 7, 2018, we filed a complaint alleging neglect and animal cruelty to the Nevada State Attorney General’s Office. After 22 years of mismanagement of the Cold Creek Herd in Nevada, we got a notice that once again an emergency gather has been called for the herd due to horses that appear to be in poor body condition.
We do not agree that there is an emergency, and if there is, it is not the horses from the herd, as you can see from the above picture of the horse in the worst shape in the herd. She has gained significant weight since coming out of the winter months and foaling. We do have reports of horse sightings by 2 of our team members who frequent the HMA, that say they do not recognize these horses. Is there a situation being created to push the starvation and removal plans to kill 100,000 wild horses through the FY 2019 appropriations bill, again pushing the agenda of Rep Chris Stewart, and the commercial special interest groups who want them gone. In this case, it is the hunters.
The other major use of this area is hinting of big game, mainly elk. The hunters are reported to have shot in the direction of one of our team members more than once, and cars will follow her, stop and watch as if to intimidate her. She has witnessed them shooting a desert tortoise and an endangered fox in the area as well. This is not a hunting preserve, it is a wild horse preserve. Again we have to ask if there are many elk herds that are large, and many mule deer and other wildlife, why is it that the only species starving on the land is the horses? We call shenanigans. And we want charges filed, and the truth told about why this is a persistent problem that these 2 federal agencies are just watching it happen instead of fixing the problem.
Our Boots on the Ground team member reported that on 4/10/18 as she was following the James Gang they were in the line of fire from nearby gun enthusiasts shooting in the direction of the horses as they were headed to the water. She stayed with James and his mare and newborn foal until dark. The following photo shows the 2 people on the hill with their firearms.
The BLM and Forestry Service both manage the herd and there is a history of emergency gathers from 1996 to present all siting lack of forage due to drought. We assert that Ms. Romero has watched these horses slowly starve, and knowingly did nothing to provide sustenance for horses she is responsible for the protection of under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act (WFRHBA).
That same law also gives authority for the managing agency to provide supplemental food or water if needed. This was the basis of our complaint. She is in violation of several Clark County Ordinances, and Nevada statutes on Animal Cruelty. The wild horse management laws of the state have been broken every time this lack of management has caused the death of a wild horse and that is a class C felony charge in the state.
Since 1996 the pattern of calling an emergency gather, instead of a normal gather, means the public has no chance to provide input as mandated by NEPA laws. Also, this patter of emergencies for 22 years for the same reason (drought) means that the BLM has done nothing to rectify the problem. This is not management, not protection and should be prosecuted.
We are poised to file a complaint against Bill Dunkelberger, Forest Supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest who is equally culpable for watching this herd deteriorate and doing nothing to protect the horses. The Forestry Service is mandated by the same WFRHBA. These horses need a better management plan, their numbers are so low that there is no genetic viability and that will further increase the risk to the overall herd health.
The announcement to do the gather beginning May 14 was put out today (a real emergency should happen faster than 8 days, we knew about this yesterday, so it was at least 8 days, likely longer.
What can you do to help:
Contact Attorney General Laxalt
Tell him you want Tabitha Romero & Bill Dunkelberger charged with animal neglect and cruelty for not acting on this situation and allowing prolonged pain and suffering, not providing sustenance and not managing our wild horses in the Cold Creek Herd in a manner that preserves them for future generations.
The continued harassment of wildlife enthusiasts and photographers has got to end. The last photo from one of our team members is one she took while hiding in the hills to take the photo. The vehicles are hard to see, but hers is the blue car. Whoever drove up there stopped and dumped a 25-pound bag of carrots in front of her car. It is likely they took a photo of it with her vehicle’s license plate to try and say she was illegally feeding the horses. That has been a major problem for this herd because the public feeds them from the roadside and in a parking lot, this can create a collision with vehicles and puts both human and horse at risk of injury. It also encourages the horses to behave in a way that is not natural and they remain there waiting for the next handout instead of foraging and moving to higher elevation where there is more forage.
The announcement for the gather can be read here:
Update as of 5/13/18
Bill Dunkelberger also named in complaints of animal abuse and cruelty to NV Attorney General Laxalt. Administrative Appeal has been received and acknowledged by both the BLM and USDA Forestry Service. The appeal is based on the repeated call for ’emergency’ over the past 22 years. This was not an emergency,, the horses were improving, and if the appeals process rules this was an emergency then there has been a continued, 22 year emergency that opens BLM and Forestry Service to a can of worms for managing an ’emergency’ for 22 years instead of fixing the problem. We contend that problem is an overpopulation of elk on this wild horse preserve.
New photos from local community members and our boots on the ground in the Cold Creek area have been flooding in. The majority of calls and emails from community members and our people are telling us that horses were dumped prior to this gather, that some mares were thin coming out of winter, especially those with foals born this year, and that with the spring forage coming in they were gaining weight. Nobody, that is an advocate for this herd, believes this herd needed to be gathered. There have been 2 people named that appeared to be advocates and reported starving horses to force the gather, and we are finding out that one of the pictures used by one of these advocates was likely doctored to make the mare look much worse than she really was.
Suspicions around the real motives for this gather abound, but it all seems to fit right into trying to prove the claims, especially those of House Representative Chris Stewart, claiming we have “tens of thousands” of starving wild horses on our public lands. Again, what advocates and lawmakers MUST ask is why only wild horses are allegedly starving when no other species is. In this particular wild horse preserve there are many more times the number of elk than there are wild horses and the photos below, taken this week, clearly show that the elk, which supposedly have access to the same forage, are looking pretty darn good.