Congressman Chris Stewart Violates U.S.C. Title 18

Press Release: July 7th, 2017

Citizens Against Equine Slaughter has found evidence that the Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and at least one Congressman are guilty of violating 923. 18 U.S.C. § 371—Conspiracy to Defraud the United States:

“The general conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, creates an offense “[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose. (emphasis added).”

Congressman Stewart Reports a 41% increase in WH&B population in less than 5 months – IMPOSSIBLE

We find that Chris Stewart did stand in front of a Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of the Interior in 2016, addressing the BLM FY 2017 Budget. He did state that the wild horse population, in a majority, on the range were starving, or dying from dehydration. He also stated that there were, at that time, 67,000 wild horses on the range. These claims and population statements were those made by the BLM and the DOI in several media sources, as well as the Budget Justification letter submitted to Congress.

screenshot-stewart house gov 2017-07-07 16-02-19
Screen grab from video of Rep. Stewart’s presentation to the Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of the Interior in 2016

These 2 population statements would suggest that the wild horses went from approximately 47,000 in January 2016 to 67,000 by May of 2016 a 41% increase in less than 5 months? When BLM skews the ratio of stallions to mares on the range, 60 :40, this would mean that with 40 percent of the 47,000 wild horses in January, 18,800 would be mares, and all of them along with approximately 1,500 stallions had to have given birth in 5 months to achieve the 67,000 population boom stated in May of 2016.

  1. We found that the August 2016 Environmental Assessment, Adobe Town Wild Horse Movements & Habitat Selection Research Gather, DOI-BLM-WY-D030-2016-0104-EA, page 35, Line 132 and 133, stated the wild horse population on the range was less than in holding (47,403 in holding), according to BLM officials in January of 2016.
  2. Then in the Interior Appropriations subcommittee mark up, Representative Chris Stewart did state on 25, May 2016 that “There are more than 67,000 of them (horses) now, …”

Was there even a census between these two numbers showing a 41% increase from Jan to May of the same year (2016)?

While we gathered photos of horses across the 10 states in various HMA’s to prove they were healthy, we found no wild horse advocate group with volunteers on the ground, no wild horse photographer, and even one ranch manager (Stacey Davies, from Roaring Springs Ranch in Oregon) who stated he knew of NO starving horses in Oregon, during a meeting of the Steens Advisory Council. So we asked, but never received any proof of this claim of “tens of thousands of horses that look like this”, made by Representative Stewart, as he held up an old photo of a mare and foal from one instance in 2015 in which human interference with wildlife created an issue where the horses did not act naturally, but instead became emaciated.

Along with these claims of health crisis and population booms, there is always the claim of rangeland destruction, but the question must be asked when photographic, or range-tour evidence is presented, was there ever livestock here? How long ago? And did the time after livestock were removed allow for rest and recovery. There is no wild horse habitat without livestock damage that proves the wild horses are destructive. Even studies such as the WY radio-collaring of wild horses in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area will be biased by the fact that plant life or consumption will be looked at based on the location given by the collars of the horses, however, no other species that eats these plants is simultaneously studied. Therefore, there is no valid way of scientifically determining what ate that plant. Making that aspect of the entire study invalid

We assert that these statements and misrepresentations of truth are intentional

We assert that these statements and misrepresentations of truth are intentional, and done to convince the public as well as Congressional members to agree to an agenda to push these horses off the range or to genetic extinction. Many herds show signs of inbreeding when the genetic analysis reports are read. Augmenting genetics with the odd mare from an outside herd is not keeping the unique genetics found in different herds or areas viable or separate from the meta population, rather destroying any uniqueness. The augmentation method has also proved unsuccessful in the Kiger/Riddle HMA’s of Oregon. The Oregon genetic analysis reports have shown a steady decline in viability, even with outside mare or stallion introductions.

These intentional lies and mistruths must be exposed, and those perpetrating them must be charged with violation of U.S.C. Title 18, with intent to misinform the U. S. government to reach special interest agendas while misleading the people they are to serve.

Submitted to Congressman Raul Grijalva for the Congressional record, to be shared with the Natural Resources Committee of which he is the Ranking Member, on 7, July 2017.

Media Contact:
Val Cecama-Hogsett




June 12, 2017

To the Interior Subcommittee Members:

Ken Calvert, California
Chairman Mike Simpson, Idaho
Tom Cole, Oklahoma
David Joyce, Ohio
Chris Stewart, Utah
Vice Chair Mark Amodei, Nevada
Evan Jenkins, West Virginia
Betty McCollum, Minnesota
Ranking Member Chellie Pingree, Maine
Derek Kilmer, Washington
Marcy Kaptur, Ohio

Unified Voices of the Eagle (UVOTE), a coalition of organizations working together to protect the environment, would like to submit the following statement on the President’s FY 2018 Interior and Agriculture Appropriations Budget Proposals.

Our concerns include the proposed language regarding the Wild Horse and Burro Program, which designates a $10 million reduction. Despite exorbitant past budgets, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) not only remains far from reaching its fiscal goals, but for decades has failed to humanely manage wild herds both on their legally designated public lands and in off-range holding, as 16 U.S. Code Chapter 30 – WILD HORSES AND BURROS: PROTECTION, MANAGEMENT, AND CONTROL requires. This proposal would not make the BLM more accountable or more efficient but would mean a death sentence for thousands of America’s federally protected wild horses and burros.

We also adamantly oppose any funding being authorized to reopen equine slaughter, funding for USDA meat inspectors, or funding to transport horses to slaughter. The United States government must be held accountable for knowingly providing and facilitating pathways for questionable food products to enter the global food chain. Horses in this country (including wild horses) are NOT raised for food. Domestic and gathered wild horses are routinely given many substances that the FDA clearly states are not for use in animals that are for human consumption. Funding activities that support horses being slaughtered for human consumption would be a crime against humanity, and could bring serious consequences in our relations with other countries, including important allies in foreign affairs. Wild horses are untested and exposed to innumerable environmental toxins, including radiation, toxic wastes, water pollution and prions, which have been proven to linger in soils, be taken up by green plants, and transferred through ingestion to mammals through repeated exposures. Wild horses are also known carriers of toxoplasmosis and trichinosis which can be transmitted to humans who consume them. Inadequate study or knowledge does not excuse deliberate release of what in other countries is called “bush meat” into the human food chain. Bush meat, you may know, is the source of many human epidemics, including the Ebola and AIDS viruses. These organisms often do no harm to their natural hosts but will transfer across species, with unknown risks.

Though America’s wild horses and burros remain an integral part of our country’s early heritage and culture, and are important to our Indigenous Peoples, the 2018 budget proposal seeks to allow BLM lethal latitude in management of the wild horses and burros. This proposed budget opens the door for these iconic animals—protected in response to citizen demands to end their indiscriminate slaughter in the 1960’s—to be sent to slaughter to remedy the BLM’s persistent and calculated mismanagement of wild horses for decades now.

Charged with properly managing these public lands, the BLM’s grazing program is a far more logical and equitable source of budget cutting, as this program regularly costs taxpayers more than $150 million on an annual basis, not including peripheral costs of predator controls, infrastructure matching funds, and environmental degradation and remediation. With more than 2 million livestock roaming over their ranges, it is preposterous to claim that the small herds of wild horses dispersed over ten western states are an issue to anyone but private, for-profit interests seeking to extract further gains from millions of unwilling taxpayers. Further, among the few (and diminishing) legal areas where wild horses and burros are allowed by law to exist, they are forced by this management regime to share the resources they need with private, for profit grazing livestock. Consider that the entire Wild Horse and Burro budget was less than the subsidies paid to ranchers, in New Mexico alone, in a single year.

The grazing program was originally implemented to “rein in” the wholesale destruction of America’s rangelands during the Open Range era of livestock profiteering. It was created to entice homesteaders and ranchers to forego destroying our “commons” and to ensure they could survive and prosper on their home properties. It is not and never was to engender property rights, nor was it intended to support huge corporations that use millions of acres of public lands (at approximately one tenth of market value) to make profits. As the Taylor Grazing Act is just 83 years old this year, it is only one generation in existence and does not hold the weight it is often assumed to carry. Nor is it immutable.

It is undeniable the BLM, while publicly declaring an intent of managing wild horses and burros in a way that ensures a thriving herd, or preserves unique genetics in distinct areas, is quietly and intentionally enabling extinction of wild equine herds, while favoring grazing leases for cattle and sheep on legal wild horse and burro homelands. The BLM’s own genetic viability manager, Dr. Gus Cothran, indicates viability minimums at around 150 animals; the IUCN puts this number for any species at around 10 times that. Under the BLMs supposedly professional management these biological imperatives are widely ignored. Some examples: Utah has 17 of 19 HMAs below viability; California 19 of 21; Arizona 5 of 7; Colorado 2 of 4; Nevada 60 of 85; Idaho 5 of 6; Montana 1 of 1; New Mexico 2 of 2; and Wyoming 7 of 14. The predictable anomalies due to inbreeding are then further unfairly used to diminish the value of these innocent animals who are subjected to every human whim without a voice at the table of their own.

In full understanding and agreement that the current management regime, whose central focus is off-range long-term horse boarding, is unsustainable, we suggest:

  • REPATRIATION: The 41% of land taken from the original Congressionally authorized Wild Horse & Burro preserves be returned to the program. They are by law not allowed to exist elsewhere but the BLM has consistently reduced both acreages and total herds (by around half), effectively emptying them of wild horses and burros forever. Repatriation of gelded horses would present no reproduction concerns, they would simply and slowly die out naturally in the wild, and at negligible cost to taxpayers.
  • ON RANGE CONTRACEPTION: The BLM has consistently and questionably avoided any meaningful use of on-range contraception, which has been proven successful in managing wild horse herds in the eastern U.S. for decades (among other areas). BLM currently darts less than 1% of the wild horses with PZP, a safe form of birth control. To effectively attain desired population control that percentage needs to be approximately 25%. A fertility control vaccine will not be successful if not used in the appropriate number. The vaccine used today costs around $25/dose, is given only to reproductive age females via dart, and can be administered by volunteers. Considering that one dose is a near perfect equivalent of only five days upkeep for horses confined off-range, not pursuing this logical and sound fiscal management approach is indefensible. Even with repeated doses this approach remains more cost-effective than current practices, and clearly better conforms to the best interests of the widest American public. Further, it costs far less than the enormous costs of helicopter roundups and related labor, transportation and shipping, not to mention these almost always produce equine fatalities and/or mortal injuries, so are a significant waste of taxpayer funds altogether.
  • LAND CONSOLIDATION: Support appropriate land trades where there are checkerboard areas of public and private land which are causing a conflict between herds and private land owners. These are legal problems caused by people, not by the animals.
  • RETIRE OR RESCIND PERMITS: Grazing permits were and remain not rights, but privileges, and the BLM has always had full authority to rescind, revoke, or retire permits but has rarely shown the courage to do so. Especially in the few legal wild horse and burro areas, grazing permits could be rescinded and permittees perhaps offered a one-time buyout to prevent friction and produce win/win situations. Since these privileged few compete unfairly in the free market by access to grazing at around only 10% of the open market rates, anyone interested in free markets and private property rights should find this currently unfair advantage onerous and rightly dissolved.
  • Grazing Cap: A cap be put in place on the number of acres that one individual, or an individual corporation can use to graze livestock. It is not fiscally sound to let corporations (some with over 2 million acres) obtain a grazing permit at merely one tenth of market value. Therefore, if there is not a cap put in place the permit fees should be raised to market value.
  • Enforcement: BLM needs to have better funding for enforcement of these lands, and the stand-offs between the Federal government and armed protestors like the Bundy’s. This has proven that even if our federal agencies want to do a better job of managing for the health of the ranges and wildlife the ranching industry is not going to allow them to do their jobs.

Wild horse management must be on the range because BLM has proven the case that roundups and removals do not work and are wasting the taxpayer monies. And there must be a cessation of the serious overgrazing happening by the intensive numbers of livestock on these lands.

We are grateful for the opportunity to voice our concerns and solutions and we insist our government listen to and safeguard the best interests of the majority of our 325 million citizens, and not simply enable and amplify known abuses of our system and our resources to support only a privileged few. Part of what has always made America great is our shared commons, our public lands and resources, which were wisely protected in response to rampant profiteering. Our wild horses and burros can provide a better long-term profit to our citizens in the form of ecotourism for all the generations which follow us, but only if we are as wise today as some of our most admired ancestors.
Please recognize and respond appropriately to prevent this proposed commodification and subsequent risk of wholesale loss and slaughter of America’s cherished wild equines, whose ancestral home is here, on this continent. We, the people, expect nothing less from you.

Submitted on this the 12th day of June, 2017
By the Unified Voices of the Eagle Coalition
Representing organizations with a total membership of over 1.5 million.