Article by John Cox, Cascade Mountains
“It’s pretty much a joke how the entire horse program is handled,” says Dale Tunnell, Special Agent in charge of the BLM’s division of Law Enforcement in Santa Fe. “They’ll run one herd into another management area and say it’s overpopulated. Then they’ll take a certain number of horses off the land. The cattle ranchers have a significant say on how those ranges are managed. The managers will do anything to keep those ranchers off their hind ends. The whole purpose is to remove wild horses from the public lands. If they could decimate the herds to where they could die out and become extinct, it would make the politicians and the bureaucrats extremely happy.” This still goes on today, as you read this article.
There are times when we come across something that appears extremely suspicious. Often we simply let it pass, as our time is a valuable commodity. Then there are times when a subject is so blatantly wrong that it is understood within our minds-of-minds that actually “Taking a Stand” becomes of importance. So it is with the Wild Horse Herd Roundups conducted by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM from here onward.
BLM Agent interviews an Informant on the subject of stealing horses from the BLM Wild Horse Herd Roundups:
“. . . Agent: Is this a pretty good organization? This sounds like something that’s pretty well planned out, it’s a big organization.
Informant: Well, its very well set up, you know. There’s nobody that participates in it that isn’t well known and don’t know what’s going on.
Agent: Do you feel like there’s people inside the BLM that know about this practice, that are a part of this practice?
Informant: Sure. We can’t operate unless they’re standing there. . .”1
The Burns Amendment
In an “An Interview with Former Sen. Conrad Burns,” he admits collusion with Senator Reid, Nevada. It has been shown their motivation toward doing this Amendment to be simply an excuse, essentially based on well known but false information, which provided them an open-door situation to create a protection circumstance, to friends and other coordinators. It did and many people who “. . . know what’s going on. . .” (from the Interview above) carried on illegal operations, horse stealing, and profiteering from Federal Lands, all America’s lands and American Government Property, and at a heavy expense.
“In the world of equine welfare there may be no person subject to derision than former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns. An ardent supporter of horses as a commodity to be sold for whatever reason their owner deems profitable, the former auctioneer lost his seat in the U.S. Senate to a farmer, Jon Tester, after passage of the Burns Amendment. The law was passed in the dead of night after it was attached to an appropriations bill nobody had read. For the first time, in an exclusive interview with Horseback Magazine, Burns tells how the revocation of the law came about.”
Burns: “Well, [Sen.] Harry Reid came to me and said, I’ve got a problem in Nevada.’ And I said “˜What kind of a problem do you have?’ Because we don’t have a problem up in Montana.”
Horseback: So what happened then?”
Burns: So he and I, up in his office, got together and we crafted that amendment because they’ve really got that problem of over grazing down there. That’s how that came about.”
Horseback: It was actually Reid’s idea, huh?
Burns: Yeah, well it was his problem, I just helped him solve it, that’s all.”
Horseback: “Well, you did a pretty good job of it.”2
It was called the Burns Amendment. Senator Burns, Montana, and Senator Reid, Nevada, wrote the Amendment the night before a (approximate 2004/2005) Budget Amendment. The “Budget Amendment was to be signed the following morning by President Bush. Without scrutiny or votes or discussion by Congress or the Senate, these two legislators attached this “Amendment to the 1971 Horse and Burro Act” onto this other piece of legislation. This blatantly usurped the Democratic process; as well it is a SLAP IN THE FACE to all Americans and Veterans who sacrifice so much, as the BLM basically use the system for personal gains. It remains in place to this day. How can this BE?
One of the reasons Burns stated doing this, and usurping the Democratic process, was his perceptions of grazing and grasslands available to cattle. The fact is, and always has been for years and well known to ALL, BLM, contractors, and activists alike, that the reports and research were erroneous and invalid.
“Grazing has been asserted to influence such key ecological characteristics as water quality, net primary productivity, nutrient cycling, plant and animal diversity, wildlife habitat availability, and oak regeneration (Belsky and others 1999, Kauffmann and Krueger 1984).” Valid Grasslands Management biologists and specialists also attest, “Many reports on grazing affects either fail to establish adequate experimental controls or are inadequately documented as to the details of grazing. (Allen-Diaz and others 1999, Tate and others1999). They are directly referencing BLM Grassland studies and terrestrial reports. You will learn why later within this article.
Within this particular discussion we can also look at the laws, “If you file a document that you know contains false, erroneous, or fictitious information or statements, you may be subject to criminal penalties under 18 U.S.C. 1001 and 43 U.S.C. 1212. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000.” BLM Legal Handbook.
The BLM and Cover-Up Incidents
“I had agents,” says Tunnell, “that I’d sent to Oklahoma on some wild-horse cases who had determined that there was a lot of cover-up and falsification of reports–some pretty dirty dealings. I got my first taste of how BLM handles their internal problems. They went so far as to try to smear the reputation of the agent who worked the case. They did everything they could to stop him from completing his investigation.”
Special Agent Sederwall, Tunnell, and the others got a U.S.attorney over in West Texas to call a grand jury. Jurors were sworn in. Subpoenas were issued, some to BLM officials. The officials never showed. The Justice Department just “. . . stopped pushing the case.” The grand jury expired. Says Tunnell, “In an investigation that lasted 14 months, with 15 agents involved, with 3,000 pieces of documents identifying the corruption and fraud, at no level did we ever get to a grand jury and provide evidence.”
Here it is once again, reflections of how the Burns Amendment went through Congress, with no perusal by anyone else but Burns and Senator Reid. One can assume from all of this as well, the millions of dollars spent on investigation, by BLM Agents and the Justice Department, and only a very high ranking source could “null and void” the situation. We can only speculate, but certainly obtain the knowledge something was crooked, and money paid to Government officials – and many of us in the media, as well as other horse people and advocates, do not think that is such a far fetched thought in regard toward any this situation what so ever.
Tunnell goes on to state, “. . . The idea that government employees who have daily interactions with cattlemen will protect the interests of the wild-horse herds is absolutely absurd. When it comes to rustling government mustangs, the greed would have made a drug lord blush, say the agents, who claim to have solid evidence, including tapes of informants saying that BLM employees were taking money.
Illegal Activities of the BLM and Private Contractors
This list has been taken from a Public Document, i.e. Summary, New Mexico Wild Horse and Burro Investigation, Case Number: RP-05-93-021-01; This Summary was an Informative Summary put together by the former Director of the BLM, Jim Baca, and meant for the eyes-only of the incoming Director of the BLM, in regard to this “Ongoing” investigation. It is of illegal activity by BLM personnel, Private Contractors, and others unspecified, dealing with or is a BLM employee or private contractor.
Of Note: There were four Investigations ongoing at this time; Case #RP-05-93-021-01; Case #NM-960-03-93-021-023SA; Case #NM-960-03-021-020; and Case #NM-960-08-92-021-805 respectively.
The highlights of the Investigations follow;
- BLM Management personnel have authorized the transportation of wild horses to group adopters at the expense of the government;
- BLM management personnel have authorized the fee waiver and/or fee reduction of wild horses without delegated authority;
- BLM management failed to inspect and prepare written reports for group adopter facilities and property prior to receiving adopted wild horses;
- BLM personnel publicly and openly promoted the commercial us of wild horses, i.e., bucking stock and slaughter house;
- BLM personnel in concurrence with BLM management, entered false information regarding the wild horse documents into BLM DPS-8000 data base;
- BLM personnel through their government positions, arranged for special privileges and allowances pertaining to wild horse adoptions;
- BLM personnel and management knowingly converted to the use of another, wild horses belonging to theUnited States;
- BLM personnel and management did knowingly attempt to interfere with an ongoing investigation by discussing privileged information regarding the Investigation with other BLM personnel, some of whom were subjects of the Investigation;
- Many, many more “lack of document” charges, especially in regard to the Wild Horse Herd Counts and the financial income and expenditures mandatory at each BLM facility, were not completed, lost, or unavailable for confirmation – in order to appropriate funding for each facility;
- Several more listings expressed concern toward illegal activity, and lack of following directorial and mandated training and compliance of Inspectors, Wranglers, and Field Level Administrators of the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
So how did this become a situation where the Grand Jury was virtually taken out of the entire equation here, despite the fact there were approximately 872 Felony Counts; and 1,279 combined Felony and Misdemeanor Counts, to include fraudulent paperwork, fraudulent data input into the BLM computer systems, erroneous paperwork, Employee Misconduct, money laundering, misplaced funds and much more.
Well, it gets even more interesting here, as the list will show, given by one Deputy Field Solicitor, Department of Justice:
- Attempts by BLM managers to learn about sealed Grand Jury information;
- Participation by BLM managers in destruction of evidence;
- Alerting suspects concerning impending search warrants;
- Release of confidential informant and undercover investigator identities, actions he noted, threatened the lives of both the informant and the investigating agents;
- Threats of abuse and sexual innuendos, reduction-in-work-force, and other discriminatory situations happened as well, but too numerous to list here.
After all of that an Attorney, Charles Brooks in the Department of Justice, chimed in and recommended against undertaking any prosecution, because, he concluded, “the Wild Horse and Burro Program was so tainted that it would be unfair to single anyone out for prosecution.”
The fact is — this is all public information. This is part of the checks and balance system of our Government system, without which theft and other illegal activities, ripping off taxpayer dollars at will, can simply run-amok and cost taxpayers in the billions of dollars each year, as it does now because this system is not working. The BLM continues to remain totally out of control, with no checks-and-balance system in place. This government agency is a mess, and no one is doing anything about it, at the expense of our Wild Horse Herds, with the Slaughter propaganda simply being a rouse, or something to take our attention away from the real problem, the BLM itself. Frankly, these Wild Horse Herds do not, and never did need to be rounded up and taken off of BLM (America’s) Lands – the information to do so remains false even to this day.
The problem toward resolution is actually getting our justice portion of our Government to act accordingly. Taxpayers have already paid for a thorough investigation, the BLM’s own information shows both negligence and illegal activity, and the Internet is beyond flooded with Wild Horse Herd Abuses at just about every horse herd roundup that has taken place. Nothing was done, the taxpayer once again gets $0 from the BLM, in the mean time, BLM administrators, they stand their giving the taxpayers the finger.
It is also obvious to those of us that handle horses almost daily, that unqualified people are being hired to do the roundups, and being paid large amounts of taxpayer money to do little to nothing except steal the horses for profit. Our Government needs to act, rid our financial system of this untrustworthy, dishonest, and certainly spend-freely Government agency. It no longer has a useful purpose, other than illegal activities and mismanaged lands for personal profits, and that is about all.
For the entire informative packet and interview see Horses Led To Slaughter, Anatomy of a Cover Up in the Wild Horse and Burro Program, PEER White Paper, Number 14, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Washington D.C. 20009-1125, http://www.peer.org/pubs/whitepapers/1997_horses_to_slaughter.pdf , 1997.
An Interview with Former Sen. Conrad Burns, http://www.animallawcoalition.com/wild-horses-and-burros/article/1052, Posted Sep 17, 2009.
Former BLM Employee Pleads Guilty to Public Corruption Charges Sophisticated Contract Manipulation Scheme Defrauds BLM of Over $400,000, http://www.fbi.gov/portland/press-releases/2010/pd041610.htm
February 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm
PLEASE READ! I have news on two horse slaughter related bills right here in OKLAHOMA!: This is deeply upsetting to me, and quite frankly enrages me to no end. I live in Oklahoma, where 18,000 wild mustangs and burros live in captivity, put there by the BLM. 98% of the mustangs and burros are OFF LIMITS to the public. At least 3,000 mares live on the Drummond ranch (Ree Drummond…The Pioneer Woman..ring a bell?). She said on her blog when new mares come in they are usually already pregnant. They give birth and then the BLM returns and gathers all the foals and weanling together regardless of age. They are then taken to short term holding. I have verified this myself as I travel to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma short term holding as often as I can. I have witnessed very young foals there looking very weak. When I asked the BLM guys down there (they are nice and answer my questions easily by the way which I appreciate), they tell me that it is “easier to round up all the babies at once rather than wait until they are all of age”. So they are putting then offspring from our last wild mustangs in danger all over again! I am horrified and angry.
We have two bills introduced here in Oklahoma RIGHT NOW: HB2758 by Rep. Jerry McPeak, Democrat out of Muskogee, Oklahoma. This bill is for tax incentives (50% TAX BREAK) to any foreign owned and operated horse slaughter plant if built here in Oklahoma. The second bill: HB2340 is called the Oklahoma Horse and Burro Ranching Act by Rep. Skye McNiel out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. SO FAR HB2340 is what we call a “shell” bill, meaning it has a title and a date, but NO content. Basically a midnight oil bill that can have things added at the last minute.
I am doing ALL I can to protect our American Icons of Freedom from this vicious industry that cares little for anyone except the almighty dollar. But would anyone out there like to give it a go?
CALL THEM PLEASE and give them a piece of your mind in a polite, professional, but firm manner. Say HANDS OFF OUR HORSES and NO to having a “community killer” on Oklahoma soil!
Jerry McPeak HB2758: contact number (405) 557-7302 email: email@example.com
Skye McNeil HB2340: contact number (405) 557-7353 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WE MUST ACT TOGETHER and in an EXPEDITED FASHION!
February 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm
It is a shame and a disgrace to America how our magnificentwild horses and burros are being treated. This is so unfair and wicked. It stinks to high heavens! It must be changed and the horses and burros restored to their rightful freedom! Order my book just released through http://www.amazon.com. Its title is The Wild Horse Conspiracy
March 1, 2012 at 12:55 am
This is the most well written, informational article I have ever read. I have been fighting for reform for our horses and now that the full and true extent of the ugliness of covert operations and corrupt agendas within the BLM and in fact , the whole Interior starting with Salazar and even into our congress and Senate frankly has deepened the despair I feel at a demoralization of a once great nation. We have been fighting an insurmountable foe. It isn’t about exposing a corrupt government. With the passing of the NDAA and the ” trespassing bill ” the true agenda of an evil empire has emerged . We cant fight them through legal processes. Its a diversionary waste of time . They are laughing at our efforts and we are doing nothing for our horses in reality. iTS TIME TO GET AS DIRTY AS THEY ARE. Calling to all good minds to think outside the box and come together with a plan that will if nothing else be a statement of our aversion to a callous, self seeking, money driven government who answers to no one, not even God. A statement of epic proportion. WE MUST FREE OUR HORSES. *Note Im not speaking of any acts which could be remotely contrived as being harmful or aggressive or combatative to anyone in our government or otherwise.
March 1, 2012 at 2:10 am
America is going to hell. All our freedoms are stripped, our wild horses evicted for greed and lies, and we are puppets on strings. Google “Thrive documentary” by Foster Gamble. Get to the minutes 44 and up and watch what this government has all along been and will become. The master plan has been orchestrated. The video tells it all. Yes it’s time to get as dirty as they are. I think we might need a revolution. Like in the good ol’ days. Take out the trash. Period.
March 4, 2012 at 4:59 am
NIce piece of work on this story.
July 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm
I appreciate how candid the informant in this article is. I could see in the eyes of many BlM employees that they knew of the corruption but were afraid to speak out. My documentary “Wild Horses In Winds of Change” encapsulates the crises facing America’s mustangs under the corrupt management of the BLM. The film is making the rounds to PBS channels across the country. I don’t know if it’s shown in Oklahoma or Nevada for that matter, but it’s shown in about 28 states so far. I made the film for public awareness and I know it’s doing what I intended , because I receive emails from people across the country who want to know how to help. I send them links and give them names – and the energy toward solutions keeps building.
August 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm
The “managing for extinction” has been going on for years but it has become an all out war against our wild horses under Secretary of Interior Salazar.
January 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm
Reblogged this on Wild Horse and Burro Territory Tribune.