CAES Files Appeal Against UT BLM Muddy Creek Wild Horse Gather Plans

28 August 2018

Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES) today filed an appeal with the IBLA against the UT BLM decision to gather the Muddy Creek wild horses.


CAES alleges the transfer of lands that are withdrawn for a federal land use, such as the management of wild horses, to the UT SITLA was not legal. Once these lands were designated as herd areas they are withdrawn lands, or not available to be disposed of per the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Federal Land Policy Management Act, and the Historic Preservation Act.
CAES also brought forth questions on the necessity of a gather when there are so few horses on such an immense piece of land. The BLM says that principle use of the lands is only permitted for wild horses in3 wild horse ranges across the country, but CAES disagrees. CAES feels the WFRHBA said that horses had principle use of the areas designated as a result of the WFRHBA in the 70’s, The BLM believes that FLPMA authorizes them to manage all these areas under multiple use mandates, but CAES pointed out that FLPMA also states that lands that are designated for a previous land use do not fall into multiple use if it is contradictory to the previous land use plan it was designated for.
The Appeal also points out inconsistencies in BLM’s number. The estimated census numbers would be a biological miracle. BLM estimates the number of wild horses in a herd by using a formula. The one they used for this census “would mean that even stallions are giving birth” according to Theresa Barbour who is the CAES Board Member representing the non-profit for this appeal.
The Muddy Creek herd is loved by many and has been the cornerstone herd of CAES, an all-volunteer, national equine welfare group. They have shared wild horse issues for many years using popular photos of horses from the Muddy Creek herd, such as the ones here. Including a very popular social media image taken by one of their photographers of the damage cattle do to the western lands and, then as CAES says… the cows don’t blame the dog…they blame the horse.

We Have to Expect the Laws to be Enforced, or They Won’t Be

21 August 2018
Val Cecama-Hogsett

In Part two of our Catching up on CAES works and what we’ve been up to we’re going to discuss the recent gathers and abuses that many of us have seen on social media.

Recently we saw photos and videos posted of 2 wild horse gathers, one in Utah and the other in Wyoming. In both cases, we contacted the BLM Director of the state. We asked for an immediate halt to the gather, and that an investigation is done on the contractors and the inhumane events that were happening.

The Utah gather we called Ed Roberson, BLM UT Director, and the gather was stopped, although there has been no investigation launched into the behaviors of the contractors, and the location of the trap being next to barbed wire fencing that horses ran into and in one case flipped over.

The Wyoming gather we contacted Mary’Jo Rugwell, the Wyoming BLM Director, and we received no response. We then put out an action alert asking people to also contact her office. We noticed that there was a huge interest in what was happening, and we compiled a list of 85 groups and organizations that were with us in asking for the WY to come to an immediate end and again asking for an investigation to happen. We sent the list and the second demand for Ms. Rugwell, or someone at BLM to hear our request and do something on August 16, and on August 17 we received notice that the gather was stopped, the BLM stated they are looking into what happened that killed so many foals and how they can improve. We asked that they also look at their policy for shipping stallions since they lost a 6-year-old during a fight in a trailer between 2 stallions.

We still question the ability of the project lead on the WY gather and the call he made to allow the gather to take place in temperatures that were very close (possibly over at times) to the cut-off that is legally allowed, and most days of the gather were in the range where the call to go or stop the roundup was made by the project lead. This was the likely reason for several foals dying of what the BLM termed ‘capture’ shock. It is shock induced by a fast and severe loss of body fluids.

The other issue we addressed and are going to continue to follow is one of the use of the term ‘pre-existing condition’ for horses that are euthanized at the trap sites or holding facilities. We explained in our complaints about both gathers that there is a BLM MOU stating the herds are checked for horses with pre-existing conditions before the roundup, we do not feel this is done. We also feel that it is extreme animal cruelty to chase a wild horse for miles with a helicopter when it has a condition that is SO bad that the animal needs to be euthanized. If the condition is not that bad but is exacerbated by the chase, then is that not knowingly and willfully killing an animal?

There are BLM policies, the CAWP (Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program) Standards that are ‘guidelines’ or policy of BLM, and those were questionably followed, maybe…there are some areas that we believe were violated, but they are not strong enough to prosecute. However, there are also federal, state and even county animal statutes that the BLM must abide by, and that’s where these events are prosecutable. We are discussing issues with BLM and they are aware that we still may file complaints of animal cruelty, endangerment, and abuse. What our goal is, is to affect change.

We’ll update you as we go.


(Parts 3 & 4 of our catching up series will be next week and will address what legal actions are we are involved in currently and the Water for Western Wildlife program and goals for the remainder of 2018 and 2019.)

CAES Rambling Thoughts

21 August 2018
Val Cecama-Hogsett

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This morning I read a message from someone who asked me if I know of any bills that she should bring to the attention of her elected officials. I just happened to be reading one an hour before reading her question. I responded and got off on more of a rant. But then thought this would be some good information to share with our followers.

We have a huge problem in the west and it’s all wrapped up in what I feel like is last century nightmare come back to revisit the United States. In the day and age of such advanced technology…why are any meetings closed, or so remote no one goes to them? Why aren’t they all put online for people to view and comment on? Afterall aren’t public lands, wildlife, clean water and air something that belong to every American?

So…this is my reply to the question, is there a bill I should bring up:

H.R. 5727 is a huge concern

In fact, the UT land trades and sales to SITLA are very concerning. BLM is giving land to UT SITLA, and we are finding out now that it is creating checkerboard areas. This creates a problem.
In Emery County UT, specifically but not exclusively, they traded or sold lands that were set aside (withdrawn) for other land use plans. The parcels sold were within wild horse Herd Areas creating a checkerboard of public, state/state lands. Now, SITLA sued BLM/DOI to get horses of SITLA lands. The case was dismissed when they reached an agreement, that agreement is to remove horses!
This has been an underhanded way for UT to take over portions of public lands, and for ranchers and extractive industry to deal with a century-old issue, wild horses, and other wildlife that are in the way.
These land exchanges to states must stop and must be investigated. I believe that Congress not only needs to vote against H.R 5727/ Senate 2809 because it takes us a huge step backward in protecting critical wilderness areas, but also because it does not and has not been done with consultation of the tribes, and it is solely commercial interest driven. This is common throughout UT and some other western states.
This is the problem we have currently with collaborative, or cooperative groups, also called working groups, advisory council or boards, etc. They claim to be a diverse group of stakeholders, using people who are local to a specific area. If you live in the west, you realize how unsupervised these rogue groups are.
Here in Oregon, I like to go to Eastern Oregon when I can, but it’s a long drive, and lately, all I see is commercial industry out there. It is getting harder and harder to find the wildlife as they disappear, and this year the air quality is so bad that my lungs cannot take it (from wildfires). But to be involved in what decisions are made in this area I love I have to go to these backroom meetings. One of those groups is the Steens Mountain Advisory Council and it is a 7-hour drive one way. If I don’t go then they make decisions that we do not hear about until months later and often too late to do anything about it.
This board I refer to has one person who is a wild horse representative, and that person is a veterinarian, who BLM contracts with, to perform gruesome sterilization experiments, and many on pregnant mares. There is no other wildlife person on this board. There are ranchers, a state guy who seems to be irritated to have to be there, the daughter of another vet who wants to kill and/or sterilize mares is the environmental person, and then there is one member of the Paiute tribe who is just ignored really, and one guy who runs a private campground that butts up to the wilderness study area. They ALL have a financial interest. The one position that is supposed to be someone without financial interest lives in the county, which means he certainly has some level of financial interest.
The whole pretense of collaboration is really rigged and stacked against any real public input. These kinds of groups are happening all over to appease people like the Cliven Bundy’s of the world. They don’t get their way and there’s an armed stand-off. So the rest of us get screwed, we lose valuable lands that are our heritage and culture, and we lose our wildlife, our clean waters, and much more…and it’s all done with a label of collaboration. Collaboration is a word that now makes my skin crawl. Just another word for corruption, behind closed doors, of the good ol’ boys.
Right now, we know of 3 such groups that are really on or watch list, and you will see more action from CAES on issues like these. We want transparency, and we our rights to have a say, they are effectively being stifled on the local, state and federal levels. Check in your area for groups like these and if you find you have one that concerns you send us an email with the links and details, we have a plan!
You can send us your mail

Collaboration Isn’t New, But It Doesn’t Mean You’re Doing It Right
By Peter DeWitt on April 2, 2017

“Collaboration. It’s at the tipping point of becoming a buzz word people hate to hear. Perhaps for some of you it already has hit that status. The reason why it becomes a buzz word is that we are put into collaborative groups where the decision we are working on has already been made. We really don’t have a voice in the process. We were window dressing to make it all look good.
Too many collaborative experiences have been manipulated by the man behind the curtain.
I’ve written a few books on collaboration, and I was surprised to find that in many cases it doesn’t work. Kuhn (2015) found that, “More productive collaborations have been identified as those in which participants directly engage one another’s thinking. They listen and respond to what their peers say.”
Unfortunately, too many collaborative moments are spent in the land of nice where people don’t challenge each other’s thinking. Or worse, they’re not supposed to engage as much as they’re supposed to be compliant. Kuhn found that “In less successful collaborations, participants are more likely to work in parallel and ignore or dismiss the other person’s contributions.”
That doesn’t sound very collaborative.”

HEY…CAES…Where Ya Been?

CAES received an email just asking us where we’ve been lately. Our website was down, for too long, because of a domain provider switch. But We’re BACK…so let’s catch-up!

CAES got the notice from the Oregon Veterinary Medica Examining Board. Based on our complaint against Dr. Leon Pielstick the Board opened an investigation. We’re posting that link below for you to read.

Pielstick Complaint 2018

Here’s the Notification of Investigation


We also submitted this veterinary complaint to Burns BLM, the district office in Oregon that wanted to do these gruesome mare sterilization surgeries on pregnant wild mares. Additionally, we sent it to members of the Colorado State University IACUC members, president, and also to several other Federal Representative and Senators.

We were pleased to see that soon after we received notification of the investigation CSU withdrew from their plans to do the study with Dr. Pielstick, BLM, and the USGS. This means BLM will have to look for yet another university. In 2016 they wanted to partner with Oregon State University and that was stopped during the appeals process. There were 3 appeals filed, 2 were dismissed for lack of standing, but ours stood. Within a week of our brief detailing our reasons for appeal, the BLM asked the judges who hear cases on appeal (Interior Board for Land Appeals or IBLA) to vacate or redact their decision of record, stating they no longer wished to do the study.

This 2018 plan we believe we have stopped before we even had to take it to appeal. At a minimum, they will need to find a new university and get approval from their IACUC and then start with a new EA (Environmental Assessment) which starts the public comment period over again.

CAES is committed to NOT allowing these barbaric, antiquated and fatally dangerous surgeries to sterilize mares and abort their foals.

Here’s the order to vacate and remand we received when BLM canned the plan in 2016:
CAES 062

Next article on our catching up series will be the UT and WY gather and abuse issues we have dealt with, both are at an end, but we’d like to tell you more about these incidences and what CAES did in both cases. Stay tuned for part 2…