Part Three of Three: “All the Management Tools.”

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has said publicly that he does not plan to send wild horses to slaughter, at least as long as the idea lacks public support:

The fact is that the American public has shown that it does not want to have slaughtering of these animals,

Salazar said in October 2009 when announcing his plan to relocate wild horses and burros in holding to newly created “preserves” in the east and midwest.

BLM Director Bob Abbey has not taken a public position on killing healthy wild horses as far as I know, but when he was BLM’s Nevada State Director, he talked about using “all the available tools,” needing “more tools available” and looking at “other options” as in

We need to agree that management must happen, determine the appropriate numbers, and then manage accordingly by using all the available tools to do that.

The adoption program is an important tool and we need to use it to the best of our ability, but we have to look at other options.

If the public wants us to manage more efficiently within an existing budget, then we need more tools available to deal with the population issue.

In July 2008, Henri Bisson, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the time, told the Associated Press that the BLM was considering “euthanasia” of wild horses due to budget constraints:

One option would be to stop all roundups — something the agency said would lead to “ecological disaster.”

“The other option is to use some combination of the (adoption program) and euthanasia, which would be really difficult to do,” Bisson said.

“Our goal is supposed to be about healthy horses on healthy ranges. But we are at the point we need to have a conversation with people about pragmatically what can we do given the financial constraints of our program to meet the goals we have,” he said before meeting with area horse advocates.

When Bisson used the word “euthanasia,” he was not using the word in the way most people use it–causing death by injection of chemicals to a beloved animal in order to spare the animal suffering.  For a group that constantly harps about “facing harsh realities” and “having to talk about the hard things,” BLM employees’ use of the word “euthanasia” and the phrase “all the available management tools” when what they mean is slaughter or unrestricted commercial sale (that amounts to the same thing) is strange.

Bisson privately expressed reluctance about using this “option” and “vowed to work with parties interested in taking the horses” then in short and long term holding, but soon there was a new sheriff in town at the DOI, Bisson went to the Public Lands Foundation (PLF) as President and Bob Abbey was named new Director of the BLM.

At a November, 2009, meeting of the Society for Range Management in Sparks, Nevada, Bisson was described by the BLM’s Bud Cribley as some kind of hero for putting his “head on the chopping block” with the “euthanasia” announcement, although Bisson landed on his feet after leaving the BLM.  As President of the PLF (where BLM retirees go after they leave their official jobs but continue collecting federal retirement paychecks) Bisson can continue messing about in public range policy.

At a July 2009, meeting of the Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (NWGB RAC), the BLM’s Nevada lead for the Wild Horse and Burro (WH & B) Program Alan Shepherd reported, according to the meeting minutes:

The NS Director received the letter from the RAC and appreciates the comments. The draft of the new WH&B strategy should be ready by the October SLT meeting. Shepherd is looking at new options to control populations like fertility drugs and skewing the sex ratio. The NSO received a copy of the state’s lawsuit regarding horses and sent their comments back to the state.

The “new WH & B strategy” is essentially the Salazar plan that was three months away from being presented to Congress by Shepherd’s boss’s boss.

The “NS Director” is the Nevada State Director of the BLM Ron Wenker, and “the letter from the RAC” that was “received” by him according to Shepherd was a letter drafted by Chuck Matton (and another RAC member named “Steve”) that was discussed at an earlier RAC meeting, held in Winnemucca, Nevada, on April 29-30, 2009.

According to the April 29-30, 2009, NWGB RAC meeting minutes (page two of five), Matton made the following motion that was unanimously approved:

II. Summary of Motions Other Than to Approve Minutes

Motion – Chuck Matton made a motion that a letter be drafted to BLM Nevada State Director Ron Winker encouraging the BLM to use the tools available for wild horse management.   The WH&B National Advisory Committee, chairpersons of other two RACS and Mike Holbert will be cc’d.  Suggested to re-word #16 of the WH & B Act which states “as a last resort”, to recommend. The letter will state, “This RAC is recommending the following guidelines to dealing with the WH situation by endorsing the WH &B recommendations’ for the other RACS to reject, accept, or alter.  A cover letter will be included with the recommendations.  Steve and Chuck will draft the letter. The draft will be sent to members of this RAC for review and consensus.  John Gebhardt will sign the cover letter.  Then go to other two other Nevada RACs for their consensus at the fall Tri-RAC meeting in Elko.

Will Roger Peterson seconded – motion passed unanimously.

[“Ron Winker” is Ron Wenker, Nevada State BLM Director.  The “Steve” who co-authored the letter may be Steven Siegel, NWGB RAC Energy Minerals Member.  “Will Roger Peterson” is William Peterson, NWGB RAC Recreation Member and President, Friends of Black Rock.  Here is Peterson on the subject of “Feral Horses vs. Wild Antelope.”]

What did Matton mean by “use the tools available” and what did the RAC members understand they were doing when they unanimously agreed to send a letter to the BLM urging the agency “to use the tools available for wild horse management?”

It is no mystery, no secret and not even a puzzle that BLM managers believe they have a “problem” with excessive wild horse numbers and believe the “solution” includes slaughter (what the BLM Advisory Board calls “humane euthanasia for healthy, excess wild horses.”).

The mystery is why proponents of unlimited commercial sale for slaughter continue to use the phrase “all the management tools available” when they mean commercial “sale authority without limitation,” and why they use the word “euthanasia” when they mean slaughter.  It is like children in a clubhouse using code words.

The “# 16 of the WH & B Act” reference actually came out of a November 2008 WH & B Advisory Board recommendation that “Selling animals without limitation or euthanizing excess animals be recommended ‘as a last resort.'”

16. As a last resort, recommend that sale eligible animals not sold or adopted after a period of 30 days be offered for sale without limitation (without the intent clause) or be humanely euthanized pursuant to current law unless the Director determines there is a viable alternative.  (Robin Lohnes, Co-Chair and representative of Wild Horse Advocacy does not support recommendation #16.)

BLM Response: BLM is considering this recommendation as part of its five-year strategy.

Chuck Matton’s letter to the BLM Nevada, that was unanimously approved by the RAC members present at the April 29-30, 2009, meeting, was to remove the words “As a last resort,” from the Advisory Board recommendation that horses be sold without limitation or slaughtered.  Technically speaking, the Advisory Board recommendation would then read “Recommend, recommend . . . ” but I think it is clear what the intent was.

Charles Matton is listed as the “Wild Horse and Burro” representative on the BLM’s NWGB RAC webpage.  His wife Bonnie Matton runs the Nevada-based “Wild Horse Preservation League” in Nevada.  Back in 2004, when former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns snuck language into an Appropriations Bill that removed a limitation on selling wild free-roaming horses and burros for slaughter, Matton was quoted in a news account:

“You can kiss the thousands of horses in long-term holding facilities goodbye,” said Wild Horse Preservation League member Chuck Matton of Dayton.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates 32,290 wild horses currently roam on public lands across the western United States. More than half of them – 17,679 – are in Nevada, and 14,000 remain in seven BLM long-term holding facilities in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Matton, husband of Wild Horse Preservation League President Bonnie Matton, said most of the horses in the BLM long-term holding facilities are old or unwanted.

“Most people don’t care to adopt older horses because they’re pretty set in their ways and hard to train,” he said. “This will make money for the BLM. It’s $25,000 a day they won’t have to spend to feed them.

The Calico Complex round-up commenced in the last days of December, 2009.  On December 30, 2009, BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Program specialist Susie Stokke described the BLM’s plan for where the wild horses that the BLM calls “excess wild horses” would go after they are taken off the range.

According to Stokke, the horses would be taken to a “new short term holding facility, that the BLM calls “the Indian Lakes Road facility.”  The facility, Stokke said, is operated under contract and is located entirely on private land.  The contractor was selected, Stokke said, after “submitting a qualified proposal in response to the BLM’s solicitation and following a technical program evaluation of the offer.  An EA analyzing the potential environmental impacts associated with the facilities construction and operation was prepared.”

There is no information about the facility available online or at the BLM website, according to Stokke, “primarily because it is located entirely on private land.”

The landowner is Broken Arrow.  Broken Arrow is also the BLM’s selected contractor (i.e., the landowner is the contractor).  The facility is operated under a five year contract with the BLM.  The contract is administered by the BLM’s Washington Office.

Excess wild horses from the ongoing Calico Mtns Complex gather will be going to the new Indian Lakes Road facility.  [Members of the] public who are interested in visiting the new facility to view the Calico Mountains horses are asked to call Heather Emmons (Nevada BLM Public Affairs Specialist) at 775-861-6594.  Heather is coordinating dates/times for interested public to visit the facility.

The Broken Arrow Angus Ranch USA website’s “About” page indicates “Troy Adams of Broken Arrow USA has been in the Angus business in California for 13 years.  Adams sells bulls private treaty off the ranch near Live Oak.” Broken Arrow Angus Ranch USA is listed as a host of the 2008 Denim and Diamonds Angus cattle sale in Denver, Colorado.  At the 2009 Denim and Diamonds sale, Broken Arrow Angus, Live Oak is recorded as having the highest priced cow sold:

Top Bred Cow: Lot 10–BAAR USA Lady Jaye 494, 1-19-04 female by B A R Ext Traveler 205. Bred to Reich Lead On 424. From Broken Arrow Angus, Live Oak, CA. To 44 Farms, Cameron, TX, for $38,000.

The highest price for “Top Bull” went to “Lot 11–BAAR USA SMR Tumbleweed, 1-9-08 bull by BC 7022 Raven 7965. From Broken Arrow Ranch; Spruce Mountain Ranch LLC, Ebert, CO. To Tumbleweed Syndicate for $30,000 for one-half interest.”  Broken Arrow Angus Ranch in Live Oak, California, has no apparent connection to Broken Arrow Ranch in Harrison, Nebraska that also breeds Angus cattle.  Broken Arrow Angus Ranch in Live Oak, California, does have a connection, at least genetically speaking, to “N Bar Primrose” the “breed matron” whose genetic material was used by Broken Arrow to manufacture a pregnancy that sold for $65,000 in 2009, according to this press release on February 3, 2009 from the Bovance cattle cloning company:


February 3, 2009 Sioux Center, Iowa – Two genetic copies of N Bar Primrose 2424, sold as yet-to-be-born pregnancies, dominated both the Denim and Diamonds and also the Bases Loaded Angus sales at the recent National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo.

The Denim and Diamonds sale was topped with the pregnancy consigned by Broken Arrow Ranch at a bid of $65,000. This pregnancy was purchased by Luddington Cattle Company and Kiomichi Link.

The February 3, 2009, press release also describes the Bovance cloning technology company genetics:

Bovance is a joint-venture between Trans Ova Genetics of Sioux Center, Iowa and ViaGen of Austin, Texas. Trans Ova Genetics helps cattle breeding clients effectively implement advanced reproductive technologies, including embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization, sexed semen, genetic preservation and cloning. ViaGen adds value to the marketplace by cloning animals, licensing and selling proprietary animal genetics, and providing traits and technology for animal agriculture industries worldwide. Bovance provides bovine cloning services to cattle producers across North America as an exclusive product offering from Trans Ova Genetics.

On January 2, 2010, according to a “preliminary report” authored by Willis Lamm of Least Resistance Training Concepts (LRTC), “Chuck Matton, Wild Horse Preservation League” visited the new Indian Lakes Road/Broken Arrow facility in Fallon, Nevada, where wild horses that the BLM has labeled “excess wild horses” are being trucked from the Calico Complex round-up site.

Matton and three others, including Lamm, were taken around the Indian Lakes Road/Broken Arrow facility on January 2, 2010, by John Neil, Manager of the Palomino Valley Holding Center for the BLM and Rich Sanford, DVM, BLM veterinarian.  Lamm’s report noted

We didn’t try to count the horses, but the estimated population present appeared to represent the numbers of horses BLM reported as being trapped and removed.

As long as estimates appear to represent reported numbers, why get hysterical and emotional?  It is not as if the BLM is secretly conspiring to send wild horses to slaughter.  They just want public support for using all the management tools available.

One Response to “Part Three of Three: “All the Management Tools.””
  1. Chistine, I have been trying to make a connection between the owner of the ranch at Soldiers Meadows
    where the Calico Roundup began and Troy Adams of the Broken Arrow facility in Fallon… Both are from CA and the one at the Ranch is a Scientist involved in the cloning of Horses… I have seen statements about horse cloning like; “Cloning will replace stud fees” and realize there is mucho money in this.

    I had some information that has gone the way of deletion and cannot find the ranch guys name. He owns the little airfield there that Cattoors used, BLack Rock range. I know you get busy but if you have this man’s name and background I would love to see it again.

    Have a good one and take care, mar

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