The Wild Horse Crisis Out West Continues

Navajo activist Leland Grass (right) confronts horse buyer Jeanne Collom.

Celebrities are fighting it, deals are being brokered, and two proposals are sitting in Congress to end it. So why are horses still being slaughtered in droves?

From: Esquire
By: Leslie Macmillan

BLACK MESA, Ariz. — The West is on the verge of a wild horse crisis, according to the Feds. An estimated 33,000 roam freely on public lands and even more on tribal lands. Under a 1971 law, the Bureau of Land Management is supposed to protect these horses and control their numbers so that they don’t ravage grasslands or die of starvation.

Horses in Monument Valley

Photo by Leslie Macmillan
Wild horses roam the mesas of Monument Valley on the Navajo reservation.

But critics of horse roundups contend they are a profit-driven enterprise sanctioned by the federal government and driven by business interests like cattle ranching and extractive industries that want to clear land for development.

“The only way to get at those resources is to get rid of the horses,” said Navajo activist Leland Grass. He has been trying to stop roundups of horses, which are often bound for Mexican slaughterhouses, on the Navajo reservation.

Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly recently made national news, saying he had reversed his position on horse slaughtering and ordered a moratorium of the roundup of horses on the reservation. Actor Robert Redford and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who have formed a foundation to protect wild animals in the West, brokered a deal with the nation’s largest Indian tribe to find humane alternatives.

“It’s a big lie,” said Jeanne Collom, a horse buyer who said roundups are still taking place on the reservation, and she has been buying them.

This was confirmed by Erny Zah, director of communications for the Navajo Nation, who said roundups will continue until an agreement is signed between Richardson’s group and the tribe.

On a late September afternoon, the scene at one roundup on the reservation was chaotic as teens chased horses on ATVs and dirt bikes into corrals. Collom said she buys horses for just $20 a head.

“The population is growing and the range is shrinking,” said Elmer Phillips, the head ranger for the Navajo Nation. “What comes along on the range nowadays is a different kind of creature: most of these horses are inbred and under 700 pounds.”

But critics say the data the policy is based on comes from an environmental impact study commissioned by Peabody Energy in 2008 as part of the permitting process to expand a coal mine it operates on Navajo land. The coal mine fuels the Navajo Generating Station power plant, which is majority owned by the U.S. Interior Department. Interior oversees the BLM, the agency responsible for managing wild horses, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which issues grazing permits on the reservation and contracts with horse buyers, including “kill buyers,” who buy horses bound for slaughterhouses.

Asked whether that study informed the horse policy, Zah said, “It’s definitely part of it.”

Peabody Coal did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Continue Reading

AUTHOR: Posted by Habitat for Horses Calaway
4 Comments
  • barbara ries

    http://www.ncai.org/resources/resolutions/opposition-to-any-all-horse-anti-slaughter-acts

    http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/GAO_Response-final.pdf

    http://www.ncai.org/resources/resolutions/opposition-to-any-all-horse-anti-slaughter-acts

    National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

    WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

    WHEREAS, the Tribes of the United States have for many years spent countless man hours and funding protecting and re-establishing the ecosystem from degradation; and

    WHEREAS, the Tribes of the United Stated are home to over 100,000 head of unclaimed/feral horses that are overgrazing and destroying the rangeland, valleys and hillsides of many reservations and that are damaging natural spring developments, efforts at stream bank restoration, and culturally significant plants; and

    WHEREAS, the tribes of NCAI have previously adopted NCAI resolution # NFG-09-017 in June 2009, “Opposition to Any/All Horse Slaughter Acts, Also Supporting a Tribal Amendment Allowing Tribes of Establish Horse Slaughter Facilities within Their Jurisdiction”;

    Afroditi Katsikis shared Leland Grass’s album: Chilchinbeto/Kayenta OCT 25, 13 NN Horse Round up.

    Leland Grass’s photos taken yesterday of roundup at Kayenta which continued today. 3 foals were left behind when their mares were rounded up by ATV’s and dirtbikes! Look at the photos and make some calls!

    Photo

    Chilchinbeto/Kayenta OCT 25, 13 NN Horse Round up

    Oct 25, 2013 horse round was all ATV and Dirt bikes but kayenta community effort (johnny nez) said, “We not using the NN agri” . He told us, he not using NN Agricuture, come to found out he corraled some horse underneath the Hwy160 tunnels and waited for NN to come. NN was busy at chilchinbeto, When sun went down on…See More

    By: Leland Grass

    Photos: 16.

    Like · · Share · about an hour ago ·

    Barbara Ries ‘s a big lie,” said Jeanne Collom, a horse buyer who said roundups are still taking place on the reservation, and she has been buying them.This was confirmed by Erny Zah, director of communications for the Navajo Nation, who said roundups will continued…See More http://www.navajotimes.com/news/2013/0813/080813hor.php#.UmxmBT3n9jo

    October 26, 2013
  • barbara Ries

    .

    Options.

    Afroditi Katsikis shared Leland Grass’s album: Chilchinbeto/Kayenta OCT 25, 13 NN Horse Round up.

    Leland Grass’s photos taken yesterday of roundup at Kayenta which continued today. 3 foals were left behind when their mares were rounded up by ATV’s and dirtbikes! Look at the photos and make some calls!

    Photo

    Chilchinbeto/Kayenta OCT 25, 13 NN Horse Round up

    Oct 25, 2013 horse round was all ATV and Dirt bikes but kayenta community effort (johnny nez) said, “We not using the NN agri” . He told us, he not using NN Agricuture, come to found out he corraled some horse underneath the Hwy160 tunnels and waited for NN to come. NN was busy at chilchinbeto, When sun went down on…

    October 26, 2013
  • AZ

    What Navajo Nations ranger, Elmer Phillips, stated in this article applies to the human population that seems to feel entitled to all aspects of land, life, & freedom without any respect for other living beings. Humans are overpopulationg, destroying vast lands and environments with no regards to animal homes and livelyhood. Shrinking lands, Mr. Phillips? Inbred? Take a good look at the human race and then tally up the score. How sad the word ‘Progress’ is.

    October 28, 2013
  • Susan

    Teenagers chasing wild horses on dirt bikes? My God, what are we teaching our youth to be? And if you look at the numbers flying around, there IS NO OVERPOPULATION OF WILD HORSES! Millions upon millions of land, 8 million cattle, and 30,000 horses. Seems like the cattle are destroying the land…NOT the horses.

    October 29, 2013