New post from American Herds blog- “Calico: Past, Present and Future – part VI”

The beginning of this series originally presented a forward stating, “To understand the magnitude of what has occurred here – as well as to grasp where it is going and why – first, we must travel back in time to witness what BLM did, how they got away with it and how they plan to continue harvesting the bitter crops they began cultivating over two decades ago…” continued here

captive wild horses- canon city, CO prison training program and holding facility


70 Responses to “New post from American Herds blog- “Calico: Past, Present and Future – part VI””



  2. Roxy Says:

    I need some education. For some reason I could not get the “read more here” page to work – just running the same sentence down the page.

    What happened, what changed two decades ago? I know about the steady increase in horse numbers right after the 1971 Act, and that sometime the roundups started. Did BLM just start doing roundups 2 decades ago? I’m sure that is not correct. And when did they start doing roundups? Did they escalate twice recently, once two decades ago (20 years +/-) and then again right after Bush took office?

    I guess I am still struggling with some history, and reading so much in my short time I feel a little overwhelmed.

    And to the one comment on the other site, which is an excerpt from a Cloud Article (which one?) about sorry to be a conspiracy theorist, don’t apologize for that:

    A conspiracy is not a “theory” unless it is unknown. An unknown it is just as easily true as false. I don’t like how somehow we connect those two words at the hip in a negative way. If you are examining unknowns and ask questions and then take a position based on limited information, then I guess I’m proud to join you as a “conspiracy theorist”. If proven another way, then, ok, we have more information now and can adjust our thinking. Example – Hey, I voted for Nixon, he did some wondrous things, but he was “A Crook” in the end. Does that make those finding out the truth “conspiracy theorists” in the duration when we did not know for sure? NO. This is a new phenomenon of word twisting, or my memory is worse than I think.



    • Roxy Says:

      It was probably my fingers, went back again and got through the whole thing – a couple of times – woweee!

      Still not finding that history I’m looking for – first roundups after 1971 started when? Right after my generations helicopter pilots starting coming home from Viet Nam needing a job – cheap labor, don’t ask any questions? I’ve sunk into despairing cynicism.

    • Roxy Says:

      And, what happened 20 years ago (two decades ago)?

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        In 1976 BLM made their own mandate for Multiple Use which has had a huge onward effect on their handling of the wild herds. mar

      • Karen L. Says:

        Roxy, The BLM was already skewing their interpretation of the WFRHBA of 1971, but in 1976 The Federal Land Policy Management Act came into being. That Act requires multiple use and sustained yield—they started using that phraseology to pre-empt requirements under the WFRHBA. Attorney Laura Allen has written extensively on this at the Animal Law Coalition site.

  4. Linda Says:

    This article has great potential for further understanding of what’s happened to these herds over time. I must admit much of it left me in the dust, and it will take several readings before I even begin to understand it’s full implications.

    My inital take-away is the BLM has absolutely no provable data on the wild horse numbers. The various counts are all over the map, and they’ve pretty much admitted they have no idea which horses went where, when, how, and why. It’s all speculation.

    They must be going crazy with their calculators each time they think they’ve got a firm number, and another number comes in that contradicts it.

    The agency doesn’t know, or seemingly care to know, the herds they’re supposedly managing. Until they identify and catalog individual animals and bands, they’ll have no baseline, so their current removal policies and practices will be all they have left to fall back on.

    I anyone’s opinion, which are the best on-the-ground managed HMAs/HAs? The BLM should model their management strategies after their most successful programs.

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Linda, this is true, yet what they wanted was “treasured herds” and showcasing which we do not want. All herds on the same level of care is what we need for them. No exceptions. mar



  6. Janet Ferguson Says:

    May I reiterate Linda’s question:

    “In anyone’s opinion, which are the best on-the-ground managed HMAs/HAs?”

    This looks like a good question to be asking now! And “best” — over what period of time.

    20 years ago was 1990. Maybe article was written prior to 2010 and refers to another year?

    • sandra longley Says:

      I can tell you that long time advocates tell me it is the Burns oregon district…Their EA for stinkingwater and cattle alottment EA was certainly more comprehensive and they are actually doing range management and improvements..HOWEVER..Oregon has had many hHMAs 0 out…we have 2500 WH left in the state by end of summer 1300, with only the kiger herd not gathered yet..Even after the proactive range improvements they take horses to the low AML, don’t reduce cattle numbers, but did implement grazing rotations for the cattle…considering the huge numbers of cattle AUMs as opposed to WH and Wildlife aums being utilized any idiot can see..if you really have a problem then you would have to cut usage in porpotion to each population..and that is not happening..the horses are being punished for ALL damage done

      • sandra longley Says:

        WE REALLY need to challenge them on their use of “the multiple use Option” the legality and the way it is being implemented as the tool to remove massive amounts of horses..The post over at RTs by an advocate was spot on and needs to be pursued.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        I think that was Jubic’s post.

      • Roxy Says:

        Sandra, one of the sites has recent BLM and/or USFS activity about Stinkwater. There was no explanation as the person putting it up seemed to be short on time.

        I can’t read or understand those reports yet and the commentary did not indicate whether it was good news or bad news. I would like to see some opinions from a few what the Stinkwater stuff means.

        Anyone else get that e-mail and recall which site it was? (I’ve been spread too thin lately and distracted so cant’ account for sources of anything right now)

        Your following post on summation of the article – I agree. I had that same epiphany a week or so ago on the Kudrna proposal – which I also later found out is part of Calico and I think (?) part of the Mega Complex in talks now.

        “Intentionally” is left open to some interpretatin in the artical, as in “Opps the helicopter roundups caused horses to flee to other HMAs”, that may be one way to look at it. Another way is just look up intentionally in the dictionary. My take – The article points out, based on BLMs actual published figures (that are somewhat contractiory, but not by much), that HUGE counts of fluctuating numbers of horses coincidentally match up with “unaccounted for horses” in other HMS, and visa versa.

      • sandra longley Says:

        Roxy, that information is over on The Mustang Project blog..I have posted some info along with my comments letter on that can click on any of the BLM documents posted there and get all kinds of background info on that HMA..We usually try to disect each and every HMA that comes up for comments as well as things like the ruby pipeline that effect the horse..It is good to bounce this off of each other and share our info. and perceptions as one person will pick up on something another one misses..There is also a documents and evidence page you can click on to resource any questions you have..Tracie will always try to locate something you are looking for..she has her own library and saves us alot of time and frustration

  7. sandra longley Says:

    My take away from the article is that the BLM may be intentionally moving horses around to create artificially high numbers in their censuses..that seems to be alot of area for so many herds to be moving enmasse without something driving them..If it was caused by a lack of forage they wouldn’t be moving back..Louie that was my thought as well..
    Second point would be the part about gelding studs and turning them into Sheldon horses from BLM horses..if you read the Stinkingwater HMA/EA you know they are gelding 5/10 studs and returning them from 210 horses they gather only 40 are to be returned, approx 20 mares, 10 studs and 10 they are now openly doing this..and they may be trying to slip this by here as a test case to see if this is going to get a legal challenge..which they were obviously afraid of or wouldn’t have consulted their lawyers…It seems to me it violates the intent of the 71 law and i think they are waiting to see if we catch it…there are getting to be many things we should be challenging them on Legal Right to do…for instance, in consultation with their legal dept..they say the can legally move horses to longterm holding…because there is no case law as of yet that has ruled they can’t…BOING…we need to challenge it…Spaying mares and some of their ideas on castration need to be challenged when they are alterning the breeding nature of the herds..once they remove them they are getting around it by saying they are no longer wild horses, but “horses” in captivity..We need to tie their hands with lawsuits..if we loose we appeal on up the line..WWP has managed to put the fear of god in the BLM..I have read articles in AG papers where cattlemen are afraid to do something on their allotment for fear WWP will come after them.

    • sandra longley Says:

      They may have chosen oregon, or oregon may have volunteered(The Alternative Management Options-domuments from the meeting minutes portion suggest to me a HMA in oregon was the only one that would willingly do this) oregon being out of the headlines, not closely watched other than the kiger herd, and advocates here have long standing ties to BLM and work in their volunteer program and do not want to take a visable stand aginst the BLM..a perfect spot to conduct these tests.

      • Roxy Says:

        Sandra, Excellent on the wild life court decrees – I did not know that – thanks.

        So they are wildlife.

        I don’t understand some parts of your posts. They are wildlife, but they ARE above deer, for example?

        First post says “is a mule deer less of a ‘wildlife’ because they end up in a zoo somewhere”

        then at 2:19 the post says

        “…does forever set them apart and above other wildlife”

        Can I get that court case please?

        Is this court decree basis to keep them OUT of Salazoo or any other similar place?

      • Roxy Says:

        PS this would be great info on Wikipedia with link to the court case.

      • sandra longley Says:

        In some respects they are treated less than wildlife..for instance..other than buffalo..the wild horse is the only other wildlife species not allowed to roam freely across the country..I don’t see the fish and game rounding deer off my property when they are grazing or eating my alfalfa hay..however, I have no problem sharing..but ranchers are issued extra hunting permits if they feel they are suffering economic damage from the wildlife..I say..put up a damn fence if you don’t want them me the burden should be on the property owner not the animal..yet many ranches make more off of their big game hunting permits and guided hunts than they do off of crops and is at least is a can bring between 5,000 to 10,000 per elk depending on the score of their horns..these are not private herds but public herds I am talking about..I do not support the privatization of our public wildlife>
        The horses have special protections and restrictions-it is a double edged sword..The BLM considers them a “nuisence” which is why I firmly believe they should be taken out of their hands..there was much conversation in the ‘secret document about how to get the public to assume the care and cost of the horses in long term holding..excuse me “hospice” facilities..they are milking us many times over for a process we do not agree with.

      • Karen L. Says:

        I’m just reading these recent postings rather quickly… Are y’all referring to the Kleppe v. New Mexico case and its being upheld on appeal? (I haven’t looked at what has been written on the Mustang Project blog.) The link to the appeal is here.

      • Karen L. Says:

        About halfway down the page, at FN4, the term “wildlife” is asserted to include wild horses. This definition, which excludes the term “feral”, is important to the horses’ designation.

      • Roxy Says:

        Sandra, I have heard this “hospice” phrase now a couple of times. I do not know what that is in reference to. Share please?

        If it was in the BLM meetings last week I am waiting for a transcript – not in my nature to listen to every other word and feel I have heard anything – my building/fire code regulatory nature and previous real estate – one missed word can change an entire idea.


    • Linda Says:

      Yeh, I bet move them here, there, and everywhere to justify their numbers. “Hey, Fred. They say we need more horses over there to up the count. Fire up the chopper. and let’s go get ’em.”

      Until there are independent identity records and studies, I don’t know how we can challenge this.

      Also, I still don’t understand when the horses transition from wild to captive. Are they still “wild horses” once they’ve been processed? Does “Mustang” = “wild” (re: “Mustang Makeovers).

      The BLM calls programs: “Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro”, and “Wild Horse and Burro Sales”. How do these titles relate to their status, especially the horses in short/long term holding?

      • Roxy Says:

        Linda, I asked that same question in my first days on these blogs, and again a while back and got a really good answer to the bigger question that keeps resurfacing of native, feral, etc. = “What modern Wild Equines are in my estimation, is a ‘heritage’ species – an animal with more than 5 centuries of occupation in this country, a species that has lived symbiotically with all species of wild life prior to the advent of domestic stock animals & Caucasians. They carved their niche; they EARNED the right to be here, not to perish ignominiously simply because they annoy the new neighbors.” Another post on why are big horn numbers vanishing “why do these animals continue to perish? My concern, and it’s not a comfortable position to take – perhaps their time is over. Survival depends on the ability to adapt to very harsh circumstances, like Polar Bears, who, unlike their dark brown relatives, can only subsist on a diet of meat. If the prey is gone, Polar Bears starve; they can’t eat grass, berries or roots.”
        I don’t always copy authors names down, so sorry, can’t give credit where credit is due.

        We all call our adopted wild horses “wild horses”. But they are not really in my opinion – they are a domesticated horse – from any source is completely separate.

        I have made a clear distinction in my head between domestic and wild horses, and in my brain wild horses are wild life until they are removed from freedom. Then they are in a void for a while until they get trained. Some are sadly in that void the rest of their dying days. Some are “owned”, yet wondrously given a place to live as if they are still truly free and wild, and so in my opinion are still wildlife. If let out in the real wild world, they do, in my opinion return to wildness, but in all fairness to purists, only their offspring might be called truly wildlife again.

        This gets tricky for me, when and how, if wild horses are designated by everyone in the entire world as “wildlife”, do we create and maintain their uniqueness separate from other wildlife. And keep them from the ravages imposed by man on wildlife? I’m still swimming in “nowhere” land on this. I see all kinds of “opinions” and “beliefs” and emotional responses, but no hard evidence that they will be protected then either. Even “heritage species” does not mean they can just run amuck. What if we advance the position held by some – no more roundups or intervention ever – and then, what if we are wrong, with all natural predation they do multiply beyond what can support them? Then what do we do? Do we just say, well that particular ecological systems time has seen its last days, so the horses and everything else just dies naturally? Maybe so – I don’t know – I can’t get to the crux of that matter to satisfy myself.

        At this time I do not hold to an idea of “no human intervention”, at least to as much extent as would be the case in prehistoric times forward through the stages of civilization.

      • sandra longley Says:

        Roxy, is a mule deer less of a ‘wildlife’ because they end up in a zoo somewhere..because wild horses allowed themselves to be domesticated, does that make them any less wild life..and in fact the supreme court decided definatively wild horses were wildlife and that decision was upheld by the 10th court of appeals..specific to that doesn’t get anymore definative than that..despite what fokelore says about the origins of wild horses..and the fact that it gets repeated ad naueseum on the blogs as if it were truth.

      • sandra longley Says:

        As a matter of law, it is “unconstitutional” to refer to them as other than wildlife…The fact that congress enacted a law specifically addressed to the issue of wild horses and their meaning and representation to the american people does forever set them apart and above other wildlife.

  8. Janet Ferguson Says:

    When you google mesteno mustang you get, among other things, this web page from the Univ. of OK from 1994-1995.

    I think this question: “Mustang” – “Mesteno” – “wild horse” definition is a hotly debated issue among some groups promoting certain agendas.

    Kirkpatrick is quoted on one website from 2001 as saying there is no science any more, just politics (et al) where groups use the wild horse issue for promoting their own soapbox beliefs. . . (There’s an article I saw yesterday which gives his exact quote at the end of the article.)

    Also why pretend to be “old time” “livestockers” “on the range” “matter-of-fact” frugal guys who want to dispose of “livestock” in the “old ways” when you are really part of a big corporation with money at its heart; and/or a big energy extraction company going for fossil fuel extraction to feed the energy consuming lifestyle we all have grown to accept? It’s essentially dishonest.

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Here’s the link to the article with the Kirkpatrick quote (I mentioned above):

      • sandra longley Says:

        Did PBS ever run this..i would like a preview before I pay $35 dollars for it..My own personal opinion is that the wild horses are a species unto themselves, unlike domestic breeds who have been bred by mankind for uniformity..the wild horse is selected by nature for the strongest to survive, and they come in all shapes sizes and call them a mustang is to reduce them to something people can relate to..a BREED..and that is not what they is where the confusion starts..they will always be” Wild Horses or Equids” whether you ride them, love them, pet them or they stand in hospice pastures awaiting death..I refuse to call them preserves or long term holding..its until death due us part, baby. Their one purpose there is to die off. Don’t hang a name on it like “the patriot act” to try and make me think its something its not.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        I do not know about the film — just “discovered” it on the internet — by chance, really.

        In wild horses and burros — form follows function — that is what they say, right? That means that Mother Nature decides what’s a wild horse.

      • Karen L. Says:

        sandra, Try the Bull Frog Films site. I think they have a DVD of “El Caballo” for maybe $15.

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        Here’s the Bullfrog website but it looks like they want more than $15.00! ??

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        OK, here’s a link (from Bullfrog) that has the $15.00 price:

    • sandra longley Says:

      Hey, thanks for the info!

  9. Janet Ferguson Says:

    This is an interesting article, written in 2009. It is oriented to legal issues. If you don’t have time, just read the “conclusion.”

    • Linda Says:

      Whoa, Janet, this IS a long one. But I can’t ignore so much important information, legal findings, and citations. I read all of “Wild Horses as Property”, but haven’t made it to the cases yet.

      Pet peeve: “Cosmetic Cruelty”. People think I’m kidding, but I’d like to go out and do “weaves” for horses with docked tails.

      Every time I see two nose-to-tail, switching what’s left frantically in a vain attempt to keep the flys away, I want to find whoever did it and slap some sense into them.

      Draft Breeders, if you want to show your horses ample, well-muscled butts, leave their tails as nature intended and LEARN HOW TO BRAID.

      And (any breed) if you want to show off their necks, don’t “pull” or “roach” their manes – learn how to French Braid.

  10. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Now, I am in “the rough” or maybe in “the pond” or more probably in “over my head” however — here’s a genetic bill of rights thing.

    It isn’t really related to this discussion, but it has to do with life on earth.





  12. Jill Says:

    They are so beautiful and such troopers to put up with life in captivity.

    God, please… help us help these lovely horses!

    Please, help us to achieve in finding the true protection from mankind and from the BLM, of which they are so desperately needing.

  13. sandra longley Says:

    Finally found a legal case where the judge granted injunction(S) on removals of horses, requireing BLM to look at removing cattle to mitigate the lack of forage on HMA..made my day-finally established precedence

  14. Karen Says:

    Thanks for the post. It is quite a bit to follow from over the past decades, and I will need to re-read it to be able to follow it clearly. A very good baseline to understand what has been happening.

  15. Deb Bennett Says:

    There is an update on the Calico horses on the BLM’s website. They have gelded the 5 yr. and older stallions with more deaths.

    • sandra longley Says:

      Yes, we must keep the events at fallon in the public eye, still many deaths going on there..Donot let the fact that we have no observers there reporting and taking pictures, allow you to forget..That is what the BLM is counting it is back to business as usual

    • Barbara Steele Says:

      Our horses were always gelded in cold weather to prevent fly problems and infection. They were kept in a clean stall until the sedative wore off and then turned out to a grassy clean paddock to lightly exercise. Oh, that’s right–the BLM likes the rough and tough cow methods. I wonder what has happened to Lightning and Tomahawk–and the other stallions that rightfully belong on their range?

      • sandra longley Says:

        those boys were moved to the palamino facility for adoption..all horses the public showed an interest in went right to adoption..altho I would much prefer they had been released to their land with a family..better to be adopted than gelded and end up in long term hospice, waiting for death, being moved around the country like they were baggage..I am sure many more die during that process.

  16. sandra longley Says:

    sorry i forgot to put the link with it..

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      June 18th was a real bloody mess, wasn’t it?

      • sandra longley Says:

        I have a real question about whether that double crypt..was in fact a gelding that was euthanized..but since his cryptorcid surgerys have not gone so well, complications and all resulting in deaths(vets do not due that as a field surgery) it is done in a surgery setting..but these are “cow” boy vets-with a cowboy mentality, not horsemen.



  18. sandra longley Says:

    I am guessing they are going to be needing some armed gaurds out there at fallon, give those cowboys some guns and they will thin their own ranks

    • sandra longley Says:

      after a couple of drinks they will start shooting those horses in the pen like their no kneck relatives did in winemucca

  19. sandra longley Says:

    Seems to me when I read their “secret” document, there was a concern they would need to have consueling avaiable for employees who had to kill healthy horses….they seem to be chirping right along having NO problem with it.

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Sandra, I thought the BLM moderator in the afternooon session of the Denver meetings, day one, indicated that “euthanasia” of the horses is “off the table.”

      I wasn’t at the live chat at that time and had to listen to the tape for the beginning of that session.

      • Linda Says:

        My take – “off the table” for discussion in Denver, not “off the table” for BLM action. I’d call them snakes, but that would be an insult to snakes.

      • Karen L. Says:

        Yeah, you couldn’t tell if euthanasia was “off the table” for the discussions or really “off the table”.

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        Yes, it was ‘off the table’ for discussion only… mar

  20. sandra longley Says:

    remember in that document as well…the questions posed..(when we kill the healthy horses) will the american public be up in arms? the next question was…Do we care?..honest to god that is what they said in the document..That exchanged sealed for ever my feelings about the BLM and this group of psycopaths. I for one am not selling these horses out for a wing and a prayer coming from the likes of these knuckledraggers

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      They don’t need to be psychopaths: The Cloud Foundation has this version of the current laws here on their website. If you read the law itself, as amended, it is truly chilling.

      For instance, look at the definition of “herd.”

      Keep reading and you will realize the horses have NEXT TO NO PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW(S).

      • Janet Ferguson Says:


      • Roxy Says:

        Excellent. We need the original act and each subsequent revision though, when it passed, what was it called.

        And we need this on Wikipedia desparatley, including how it all ties in dollars and cents with grazing on public lands, which alarminly, is not even mentioned on the entry for BLM (another BLM opps?).

        The BLM entry on Wikip is a puff peice by BLM.

      • Roxy Says:

        Cloud, I didn’t even know this was there (it is on BLM too). Not easy to find from search or any headings. I never did find it, but did not exhaust all possibiites.

        Need to add the original act and each subsequent revision though, when it passed, what was it called in order to compare and see the actual events of the reivsions.

      • Roxy Says:

        This is particularly interesting too:

        “…the Secretary shall contract for a research study of such animals with such individuals independent of Federal and State government as may be recommended by the National Academy of Sciences…” 1983.

      • Roxy Says:

        I’ll stop with this or I will have the whole thing here. But some parts point out that some of our claims of illegal acitivites by BLM are not illegal. We need legislation:

        “3. For the purpose of furthering knowledge of wild horse and burro population dynamics and their interrelationship with wildlife, forage and water resources, and assisting him in making his determination as to what constitutes excess animals, the Secretary shall contract for a research study of such animals with such individuals independent of Federal and State government as may be recommended by the National Academy of Sciences… “ 1983.

        The one above it is the most disturbing. “2. c. The Secretary shall cause additional excess wild free roaming horses and burros for which an adoption demand by qualified individuals does not exist to be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.”

        Yes, “herd”? Try “band”.

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