Skamokawa couple face animal cruelty charges

By Diana Zimmerman

August 6, 2020

Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy and his wife, Daria were scheduled to be in Wahkiakum District Court on Wednesday morning for a preliminary hearing. The pair have been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and two counts of transporting or confining a domestic animal in an unsafe manner in a case that brought Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office to their Skamokawa property multiple times over the course of several months in 2019.

A brief overview, according to reports from the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office:

On May 2, 2019, WCSO received a complaint that several horses were loose in Skamokawa. When deputies responded, they found a small pig standing atop a larger decomposing pig carcass in a pig pen that was several inches deep in mud and feces. Nearby in a garage, they found several dogs standing shoulder to shoulder, unable to lay down in a kennel, along with a smaller cage containing more dogs. The dogs were without food and water. Two calves were found without water, and a dozen or more chicks were found without food or water.

On June 8, 2019, the WCSO received a report of possible animal cruelty at a property in Skamokawa.

A deputy found one horse up to its knees in mud and feces. There was an overturned water bucket nearby, and no feed. The horse had swollen knees and had lost patches of hair. Nearby in a horse area, he found four horses with untrimmed hooves and swollen knees. Several of the horses had ribs showing.

Paul Lacy said he had sold about 20 horses and still had about 18 remaining. He said it was not uncommon for horses to not get their hooves trimmed, stating that the Department of Natural Resources does not trim wild horses’ feet.

A witness provided photos of neglect, including a horse with visible ribs standing in a stall in mud up to its knees. A second photo showed a horse with overgrown hooves and visible ribs, and a third photo showed two horses with visible ribs.

On June 15, 2019, deputies and an animal control officer from Cowlitz County visited the Lacy home to inspect the animals. The animal control officer “found them to be in such bad conditions and health, according to her training and experience, that probable cause existed for Animal Cruelty.”

On June 18, 2019, deputies were told about an injured horse. A caller said she had witnessed people loading most of the horses onto a truck, but found a horse with a broken leg in a stall, bleeding out. Deputies responded. They found two horses in a muddy pen, one of which had clearly defined ribs, hips, and shoulder bones. Several pigs were in a large stall, laying in and wandering around in mud, feces, and bones. A horse with a leg injury was found deceased nearby, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head.

On June 21, 2019, deputies returned to the farm. They found a horse with open wounds on its muzzle and face. Photographs were taken.

Paul Lacy said that the horse that had been euthanized had been buried in his back field, and that he had gotten rid of several dogs. He said that he did not want to get rid of any more, as he and his wife, Daria, planned to breed them to sell. He was advised that they would need a license.

Lacy was advised at that time that if he did not continue to improve the care of his current animals, he would be subject to criminal charges.

On June 24, 2019, Lacy said in a missive that he had reduced the number of horses from 18 to two, the number of dogs by five, the number of chickens by two, and the number of pigs by one, with a plan to auction three and harvest two.

On July 3, 2019, a neighbor reported that some of Lacy’s animals were on their property. The Lacys were given a warning. Deputies noted that the two remaining horses appeared to be in better condition, and that pigs were in a newly constructed pen with food and water available.

On December 15, 2019, a search warrant was served by the sheriff’s office in conjunction with the Cowlitz County Humane Society, which seized four pigs, one sow, five piglets, 15 sheep/goats, four ducks, four ducklings, one turkey, seven dogs, and 32 bird eggs in an incubator. Two dogs were found in a room, with evidence that they had attempted to gnaw and scratch their way out. The floor was smeared with feces, and there was no food or water. In the same room, they found a cage containing a duck and ducklings, the bottom of the cage full of liquid feces, resulting in a fetid odor. The animal control officer was heard to say that day that “this was one of the worst cases she has worked on.”

On December 19, they returned to collect the remaining animals, including 10 turkeys, 11 geese, 61 ducks, 42 chickens, one pack rat, and two pigeons. Every bird had a lice infestation, according to the report.

HSUS/HSLF video lays bare the terrible practice of soring, as industry prepares for annual walking horse ‘Celebration’

A Humane WorldKitty Block’s Blog
By Kitty Block and Sara AmundsonCalendar Icon July 16, 2020In our video, a former big lick trainer says that “without some type of soring, they’re not going to do the big lick.” What that means, essentially, is that a horse who is not sored would not have a chance of winning at the Celebration or any big lick walking horse event. Photo by the HSUSTrainers who paint horses’ legs with harsh acids and chemicals that burn through the skin, causing unspeakable pain to the animals, then add heavy shoes and tie chains on top of those wounds to intensify their suffering. Trainers who hit horses with sticks and shove electric prods in their faces to get them to do what they want. Trainers who drag and force horses to stand when they are hurting too much to do so.A video we are releasing today presents some shocking scenes from the Humane Society of the United States’ undercover investigations of the Tennessee walking horse industry. Above all, it shows the abject cruelty visited upon the animals to get them to perform an artificial, high-stepping gait called the “big lick” at competitions by “soring” the animals.It is some of the worst animal abuse you will see, but here’s the kicker: it has been allowed to continue for half a century with very little to no accountability for those who break the law.Even now, as the nation reels under a pandemic, the big lick segment of the industry, after several months of forced shutdowns, is returning to business as usual. Preparations for the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration at an arena in Shelbyville, Tennessee, to be held between August 26 and September 5, appear to be on in full swing, despite a reported increase in coronavirus cases in Bedford County, which is home to Shelbyville.The only acknowledgement of the coronavirus threat was the organizers noted in their press release that they felt it “prudent to select two alternates for this year’s show in case any of the five initial selections were to fall ill and be forced to quarantine.”Such callousness is not surprising in an industry that has always put winning ribbons above animal welfare. The Celebration has, in recent years, been little more than a showcase for some of the industry’s worst offenders, and there’s little reason to think that it will be any different this year. In our video, a former big lick trainer says that “without some type of soring, they’re not going to do the big lick.” What that means, essentially, is that a horse who is not sored would not have a chance of winning at the Celebration or any big lick walking horse event.What has made it easier for these animal abusers to get away with their misdeeds is the increasingly lax enforcement of the Horse Protection Act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Trump administration. The USDA is charged by Congress with the job of inspecting horses at shows to ensure they have not been sored. But as we have been reporting, the number of citations and enforcement under the law has plummeted in recent years. The USDA has also repeatedly stated that the industry’s self-run inspection programs should be the primary line for enforcing the HPA.Not surprisingly, those industry groups—riddled with conflicts of interest—rarely, if ever, cite violations or issue penalties, and even allow participants to keep their prizes and titles if they’re found in violation after their wins. Making matters worse, the rider/trainers of the top three placing horses in the Celebration’s World Grand Championship class last year were all slated to begin federal disqualifications after they were allowed to compete. One doesn’t even begin his USDA-set disqualification until after this year’s Celebration, and another, after the 2022 show.The administration has taken other steps to facilitate the scofflaws. In 2017, the Trump administration withdrew a federal rule that had broad bipartisan support and was finalized in the last week of the Obama administration. That rule would have ended walking horse industry self-regulation and banned the use of the torture devices that are integral to the soring process. The HSUS and Humane Society Legislative Fund are suing the agency for withdrawing the rule.Congress remains our only hope now if we are to stop this abuse swiftly, and a sweeping majority there, cutting across party lines, is eager to end soring.Last year, in a historic vote, the House voted to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by an overwhelming margin of 333 to 96. The bill would ban the use of devices integral to the soring process, end the industry’s failed system of self-policing, and significantly increase penalties for violators. Recently, the House Appropriations Committee also voted to double funding for HPA enforcement in FY 2021.The PAST Act has a bipartisan majority of 52 cosponsors in the Senate but it has languished in the upper chamber for months now because some senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are co-sponsoring competing legislation, introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and supported by those engaged in horse soring, which allows the industry to continue policing itself with no accountability and no restriction on the use of soring devices or tougher penalties.The HSUS and HSLF have long shined the spotlight on soring, and we won’t stop until it’s stamped out for good. As the cruelty on display in our video shows, it is high time for our elected leaders to stop giving cover to those who break the law and bring the PAST Act to a vote on the Senate floor. Please contact your senators to urge them to cosponsor the PAST Act, S. 1007, and do all they can to help secure swift passage of this crucial bill. It’s the only solution now before us to end the gruesome and archaic practice of soring that has caused so much unnecessary suffering for so many horses, all in the name of “entertainment” and for the sake of a ribbon.Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.The post HSUS/HSLF video lays bare the terrible practice of soring, as industry prepares for annual walking horse ‘Celebration’ appeared first on A Humane World.Related StoriesHSUS/HSLF video lays bare the terrible practice of soring as industry prepares for annual walking horse ‘Celebration’HSUS/HSLF video lays bare the terrible practice of soring as industry prepares for annual walking horse ‘Celebration’ – EnclosureSouth Carolina pet owners sue Petland for selling them sick puppies

Breaking news: U.S. House passes major infrastructure package with key provisions for wildlife corridors, horse transport

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

July 1, 2020 1 Comment

Breaking news: U.S. House passes major infrastructure package with key provisions for wildlife corridors, horse transport

The reforms passed today will help mitigate significant declines in the populations of threatened and endangered animals like the Florida panther, bighorn sheep and Key deer. Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceShare323TweetRedditEmail323SHARES

The U.S. House has just approved provisions that would make highways safer for wildlife to cross and create safer conditions to transport horses across the country, as part of the Moving Forward Act, a package of reforms designed to restore America’s aging infrastructure.

The measures approved today would create safe passageways for native wildlife species to migrate in order to find food, water and shelter, to adapt to changing environmental conditions, and to reach breeding or wintering areas. This is a crucial investment toward our nation’s ecological health because scientists estimate that two in 10 animal and plant species in the United States are at risk of extinction, largely as a result of habitat loss due to growing human populations and residential, commercial and energy activities in and around important wildlife migration corridors.

A national wildlife corridors systems such as the one proposed in the package would connect fragmented habitats with bridges or tunnels on federal lands—including national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other conservation areas—and participating state, tribal and private lands, and would protect natural pathways to allow wildlife to move between isolated patches of habitat. The animals would no longer have to cross highways, where they are highly likely to get hit by vehicles, or pass through other human developments.

Such corridors would also create more resilient landscapes and are known to increase wildlife movement between habitat areas by approximately 50% compared to areas not connected by corridors. They also make our nation’s roads safer for people, by reducing the risk of vehicle-wildlife collision. The reforms passed today will help mitigate the 725,000 to 1.5 million large-animal-wildlife-vehicle collisions that occur in the United States each year—collisions that result in more than 200 human fatalities, over a billion dollars in property damage, and significant declines in the populations of threatened and endangered animals like the Florida panther, bighorn sheep and Key deer.

These measures in the package that passed today were incorporated from two other bills, including the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, H.R. 2795, introduced by Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and the INVEST in America Act, H.R. 2. We applaud Reps. Beyer and Buchanan for taking the initiative to make our roadways safer for both people and animals, and we are grateful to the House leadership for including the national wildlife corridors system in the Moving Forward Act.

The package also includes key provisions from the Horse Transportation Safety Act, H.R. 1400, introduced by Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and Peter King, R-N.Y., that makes it unlawful to transport horses across state lines in double decker trailers built for transporting shorter farm animals, such as hogs and cattle. We are grateful to Congress for recognizing the great safety risk this practice poses, for both horses and humans. The horses are at risk of serious injury because there is not enough space overhead for them to stand upright, which can cause them to fall during transport. Cramming them into trailers not meant to carry animals this size can greatly increase chances of major accidents on the roads.

Two more key provisions for animals were adopted during the amendment process today. The Bird-Safe Buildings Act, offered through amendment by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., would advance bird-friendly practices in the construction of federal buildings to help prevent the deaths of a billion birds killed each year in the United States when they fly into buildings. Another bill, to establish the Western Riverside County National Wildlife Refuge providing habitat for 146 plant and animal species in California, was offered as an amendment by Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Mark Takano, D-Calif.

Both provisions will not only enable the federal government to reduce negative impacts on animals, but they will also serve as models for other sectors.

The provisions for animals approved today underscore how deeply connected human and animal interests are, and how benefiting one can help the other. The package now moves to the Senate and we’ll be pushing to secure passage of these measures there, with your help. Please contact your Senators to encourage their support for the Moving Forward Act and for making our highways safer for wildlife and horses. It’s a worthy investment in the future of our nation.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Chaos at UK Black Lives Matter clashes: How men hurled BIKES at police horses – after a female mounted officer was knocked unconscious when her terrified steed was hit by a missile, bolted and hit a woman

  • The Black Lives Matters protests saw thousands of people take to streets of Westminster on Saturday
  • Following hours of peaceful protests, demonstrators became violent in clashes against the police
  • Some were spotted launching projectiles – including bikes – at police horses just outside of Downing Street 
  • One bolting horse slammed its rider in to a traffic sign before knocking over a woman demonstrator 

A female police officer was injured when protesters hurled projectiles and flares at her horse which bolted and sent her into a traffic light, amid chaotic scenes at the Black Lives Matter protest last night.

Footage shows the demonstration on Whitehall, central London turning violent as protestors bombard mounted officers with missile – and even Boris bikes – after hours of peaceful rallies drew to a close.

Through piecing together pictures, bystanders’ videos and eye-witness accounts at the scene, this how the dramatic situation unfolded.

A female police officer was injured after her horse slammed her into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground after being spooked by projectiles thrown by protestors

A female police officer was injured after her horse slammed her into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground after being spooked by projectiles thrown by protestors

Terrified horse hit by missiles and bolts

Shocking footage show a horse on Whitehall in a state of panic after being hit with missiles such as glass bottles and flares thrown by protestors.

The horse’s female rider struggles to stay in control as she rides the animal down the street charging protestors.

But within seconds the horse slams into a traffic light, sending its rider flying to the ground amid shocked gasps from onlookers.

The runaway police horse then turns back on itself, slamming a demonstrator to the ground as it attempts to flee the scene

The runaway police horse then turns back on itself, slamming a demonstrator to the ground as it attempts to flee the scene

Riderless horse hits protestor

The now-riderless horse continues to look to escape the crowds, scattering protestors as they attempt to get out of its path.

But then, after violently changing direction, the animal runs directly into a demonstrator, knocking them straight to the ground.

Another bystander then captures the horse running up Whitehall before turning off down Horse Guards Avenue, and eventually making its own way to its stables.

The injured officer is seen being pulled off the street by two other officers and a protestor. Met Police have confirmed she is recovering in hospital

The injured officer is seen being pulled off the street by two other officers and a protestor. Met Police have confirmed she is recovering in hospital

Female officer is hospitalised

In front of Downing Street, two officers and a demonstrator are seen dragging the fallen horse rider out of the street. She is believed to have been knocked unconscious in the fall.

Met Police said last night: ‘The officer is currently in hospital, receiving treatment for her injuries which are not life threatening.

‘The officer fell from her horse and we are examining the full circumstances of what took place.’

The Metropolitan Police told MailOnline that they are continuing to investigation the cause of the incident.

Demonstrators were caught launching bicycles at police horses during violent scenes on Whitehall, central London on Saturday

Demonstrators were caught launching bicycles at police horses during violent scenes on Whitehall, central London on Saturday

Protestor hurls bike at horse

Amid an increasingly tense backdrop, protestors continue to throw projectiles at mounted police officers.

A series of photos captures a masked protester wearing a dark blue overcoat and black gloves picking up a Boris bike in front of the Foreign Office.

He then deliberately hurtles the bicycle straight in to the path of a group of police horses.

Witnesses reported another two incidents where bikes were thrown towards horses at around the same time.

One masked man was seen purposefully rolling a Boris bike straight into the path of a mounted horse. Others were seen on social media throwing projectiles such as water bottles at riot police

The bike hits one of the horses on its right side before falling over, causing the horse to rear up as its rider tries to bring it under control.

There are several reports that missiles, possibly a flare, also hit officers on horseback. One bystander said: ‘One flare was an inch from my head.

‘It went right past me and hit the officer’s shield. A bike was thrown at the horse.’

A police horse, believed to have a female rider, bolts after being hit with a bicycle. The horse quickly turns and makes its way down Whitehall as terrified crowds scatter to get out of the way

A police horse, believed to have a female rider, bolts after being hit with a bicycle. The horse quickly turns and makes its way down Whitehall as terrified crowds scatter to get out of the way

Terrified horse bolts

More photos show what appears to be a second horse, in front of strewn Boris bikes, standing on its hind legs before it bolts following the incident.

The Met Police confirmed tonight while they are still investigating what happened, no animals were injured in the protests.

Thousands of protestors took to the streets of London today to protest against police brutality, following the death of US citizen George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.

Protestors congregated in Parliament Square and Downing Street before moving across the other locations in the Capital including Battersea and Victoria.

The scenes on Saturday are the latest in a string of protests to have taken place throughout the week in London.

The officer (pictured) lay motionless on the floor following the incident near Downing Street on Saturday afternoon

The officer (pictured) lay motionless on the floor following the incident near Downing Street on Saturday afternoon

The officer was moved to the pavement (pictured) after he collided with a traffic light whilst moving at high-speed on the horse

The officer was moved to the pavement (pictured) after he collided with a traffic light whilst moving at high-speed on the horse

The demonstrations occurred despite please from Government ministers, including Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to not break lockdown regulations and attend the protests.

Some protestors were seen wearing face masks and other means of protective equipment.

Elsewhere in London, popular boxer Anthony Joshua attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration in his hometown of Watford.

The heavyweight boxing champion made a passionate speech calling for the need to ‘speak out in peaceful demonstrations’ and not to protest with ‘selfish motives and turning it into rioting and looting’.

There have also been protests in major UK cities such as Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield and Newcastle.

Ohio animal hospital offers free care for police horses injured during weekend protests


CINCINNATI, Ohio (WJW) — An Ohio animal hospital is looking to help horses that were injured during the police violence protests this weekend.

Demonstrators across the nation took to the streets in response to the death of George Floyd. He died Monday while in Minneapolis police custody.

The Animal Eye Institute, located in Cincinnati, is offering to treat police force horses that received eye injuries during the protests.

Our sister station in Columbus, WCMH, shared video on Twitter of protesters throwing objects at mounted officers during the downtown demonstration Saturday.

NBC4 Columbus


Tear gas fired after objects thrown at mounded officers during downtown protests. 

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While it is unclear from the video if any of the horses were injured, the Animal Eye Institute has extended their hand to officers located anywhere from Columbus to Lexington, Kentucky.

“We aren’t in any way going to get political here, but if any police horses have eye injuries from protests from Columbus down to Lexington, we will treat them for free,” the hospital wrote on Facebook. “Just call the office or send us an email. The big gentle giants don’t deserve to be hurt.”

While the Columbus protest turned violent, causing the Ohio governor to activate the National Guard and Columbus officials to issue a state of emergency and an indefinite city-wide curfew, most of the protesters in Lexington remained peaceful.

**Watch the video above for a look at the Columbus protests**

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, protests erupted in Lexington for the second night in a row Saturday.

While some were seen turning over garbage cans, other protesters picked up the spilled trash. Some protesters confronted police, chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” and “I can’t breathe!”

Alex Slitz


Protesters confront police in front of the library on Main. @heraldleader @HLpublicsafety

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A third “socially distant, non-violent protest” has been planned for Sunday night at 8 p.m. at the Lexington courthouse.

In Cincinnati, where the Animal Eye Clinic is located, protests have been violent. FOX 19 reports several protesters threw bottles and rocks at police. An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper’s helmet was even stuck by a bullet. The officer is ok.

Some protesters were seen throwing trash cans into the streets and starting fires. Some businesses were also vandalized.

Nationwide more than 1,400 people in 17 U.S. cities have been arrested since Thursday. While most protests being held in Floyd’s name have been peaceful, several have erupted in violence.

2019 Calgary Stampede ties as 2nd deadliest year for chuckwagon horses

Total animal deaths at rodeo and chuckwagon races have topped 100 since 1986

Chuckwagon driver Chad Harden was disqualified from the Calgary Stampede after causing an accident on July 11, 2019, that led to a horse being put down. Chuckwagon horses make up more than two-thirds of the animal deaths at the Stampede. (CBC Sports)

The 2019 Calgary Stampede is now tied for second place as the deadliest year for chuckwagon horses in more than three decades — with the total tally of animal deaths surpassing 100.

Three horses had to be put down at Sunday night’s chuckwagon races, as the 10-day Stampede wrapped.

The latest deaths bring the total number of animals that have died during the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Stampede since 1986 — when the most detailed records are available — to 102.

The Calgary Stampede declined requests to provide the organization’s own details on deaths through the years.

The most complete records available publicly are from the Vancouver Humane Society, which has added up the tally since 1986 using data from the Calgary Humane Society and media reports.

CBC News validated the numbers wherever possible.

In total over the 10-day event in 2019, six chuckwagon horses died — four of them from the same driver’s team.

That gives it the unfortunate honour of tying with 2010 as having the second highest toll on chuckwagon horses. Chuckwagon horses make up more than two-thirds of the animal deaths at the Stampede.

The top of the list is 1986, when 12 horses died.

Two humans have also died in the competition since 1986: outrider Eugene Jackson in 1996 and wagon driver Bill McEwen in 1999. Both died of head injuries.

Here’s an overall roundup of animal deaths at the Stampede since 1986:

The Vancouver Humane Society says the total tally includes:

  • 72 chuckwagon horses.
  • Nine calves.
  • Five steers.
  • Four bucking horses.
  • One wild ride horse.
  • One show horse.
  • One bull.

Outside of the Stampede itself, nine horses died in 2005 while being herded over a bridge on their way to the grounds.

The latest deaths prompted renewed calls from animal rights advocates and others for the Stampede to end chuckwagon races and the rodeo.

This graph tallies animal deaths, by year, at the Stampede. Use the drop-down menu to see the data by animal type:

The Calgary Stampede has launched a review in response to Sunday’s deaths. Last week, a chuckwagon driver who caused an accident that led to a horse being put down was fined $10,000 and banned from competing at future Stampedes.

The Stampede says it has made many changes over the years to increase the safety of animals and humans.

The Stampede’s roots can be traced to 1886, when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair.

The  2019 Calgary Stampede ran July 5-July 14.

A tarp covers the scene of the accident that led to three horses being euthanized after a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede on June 14, 2019. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Rancher fears for 30 horses left behind near Telegraph Creek as fire rages on

The Alkali Lake and South Stikine River fires have merged, now engulfing almost 300 square kilometres of northwestern B.C. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Vernon Marion had two hours to prepare to flee when he got the evacuation order to leave his home in Telegraph Creek, B.C., earlier this week as the Alkali Lake wildfire roared closer.

He ran outside, put some of his belongings in a field he thought would be safe from the fire, and tried to protect them with a tarp and water jugs.

“You don’t think properly when something like that’s happening,” he said.

“If you had to do it all over again you’d probably do it differently.”

Vernon Marion of Telegraph Creek, B.C., is concerned about the 30 horses he had to leave behind when he was evacuated from his home as a wildfire approached. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Neighbours and outfitters have offered to take horse trailers into the area to rescue the animals, but officials told Marion it’s too dangerous.

So now he has to wait and find out what is to become of his ranch and his horses.

“We’ll go down there if we get a break [Friday] and round them up.”

‘We’re resilient’

Yukon Minister of Tourism and member of the Tahltan First Nation Jeanie Dendys was in Telegraph Creek during the evacuation where she and her sister helped people get out of the community.

“Our chief is working non-stop which is what we did during those initial days,” she said.

“There’s so much work to be done, but people are safe and that was what our main focus was.”

Dendys said the Tahltan people are heartbroken over the devastation the wildfire has caused in their region, but she believes the strength of the community will help them overcome the loss.

“We’re resilient,” she said. “The unity that we have among our people will bring us through this.”

Fires merged

Early Thursday, the South Stikine River and Alkali Lake fires merged created a fire covering almost 300 square kilometres.

At a meeting in Dease Lake on Wednesday night, B.C. Wildfire Service incident commander Hugh Murdoch said ground crews and air support are working to protect culturally significant sites and buildings in the area.

From left, Tony Falcao of the B.C. Wildfire Service, Chief Rick McLean of the Tahltan Nation and Hugh Murdoch of the B.C. Wildfire Service update the public on the fire situation on August 8, 2018. (Phillipe Morin/CBC)

“The type of efforts that we’ve been putting forward will continue,” Murdoch said.

A cold front is expected to pass through the area in coming days, and crews are preparing for a potential increase in wind and shift in its direction.


 May 06, 2018 11:57 AM PDT Updated: May 06, 2018 11:57 AM PDT

This Thursday, May 3, 2018 photo shows dozens of horse carcasses lying in a dry watering near Cameron, Ariz.
CAMERON, Arizona –Off a northern Arizona highway surrounded by pastel-colored desert is one of the starkest examples of drought’s grip on the American Southwest:  Nearly 200 dead horses surrounded by cracked earth, swirling dust, and a ribbon of water that couldn’t quench their thirst.  Flesh exposed and in various stages of decomposition, the carcasses form a circle around a dry watering hole sunken in the landscape, CBS affiliate KPHO reports.

It’s clear this isn’t the first time the animals have struggled.  Skeletal remains are scattered on the fringes and in an adjacent ravine.

It’s a symptom of a burgeoning wild horse population and the scarcity of water on the western edge of the Navajo Nation following a dry winter and dismal spring runoff.

According to the Navajo Nation, 191 horses died of natural causes.

“These animals were searching for water to stay alive.  In the process, they unfortunately burrowed themselves into the mud and couldn’t escape because they were so weak,” Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a statement on Thursday.

A grim photo posted by the Navajo Nation shows the horses, many of them in mud up to their thighs and even their necks.

Conditions aren’t forecast to improve anytime soon, and tribal officials suspect other animals have died with not enough to eat or drink.

“One of the things we do is we picture the worst-case scenario when we got out there,” said Harlan Cleveland of the tribe’s Department of Emergency Management.  “I did smell the decomposition and the bodies starting to smell, the carcasses.  But I didn’t realize until I looked down from the berm and saw all those horses down there.”

Here, drought doesn’t manifest in having to shut down swimming pools or let lawns go dry.

This rural community does not have its own potable water source.  Those who have running water in their homes get it from a well, piped from over 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) away.  Most haul water, carrying large plastic tanks in the beds of their pickup trucks.  The groundwater is brackish and recommended for livestock only, but the two storage tanks closest to the watering hole no longer function.

Animals were accustomed to finding relief at the stock pond where the horses died, but locals say the pool of water beneath the decades-old earthen dam has dried up more quickly each year. Families have been downsizing their herds because they can’t rely on the vegetation or watering holes.  Some have hauled water and left it in troughs for animals.

Charlie Smith Jr. climbed the small berm overlooking the watering hole three weeks ago in search of his cattle.  At the time, he counted 29 dead horses and a cow that wasn’t his stranded at the edge looking up at him.

“It’s very emotional,” he said, standing beside his truck loaded with hay.  “I kept calling my sister saying, ‘this is bad.’  It just hits you.  You tear up.  You know you don’t have the capability to save them.”

Tribal officials counted 118 dead horses and two cows this week, but that tally doesn’t account for any carcasses that might have been pushed deeper into the mud by the other struggling animals, or for skeletal remains.

Tribal officials estimate tens of thousands of feral horses on the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation spanning 27,000 square miles (69,929.679 square kilometers) in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.  Some communities have called for roundups, but often they’re halted with public outcry tied to Navajo spiritual beliefs about the animals and the role they play in prayers and ceremonies.

When Emmett Kerley was a teenager in the late 1970s in Gray Mountain, the community controlled horse populations by castrating the smaller ones, he said.  Navajo culture taught that young men should train horses and tame them, part of building endurance, a strong work ethic and managing livestock, he said.

“There were no feral horses back then, but then the society changed in greater America but on Navajo, on the reservation as well,” he said.

Staff with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs put up a barbed wire fence around the watering hole where horses laid overlapping one another.

Federal and tribal workers this week used heavy equipment to bring horses found on the outskirts closer to the others.  Hydrated lime was spread over the site to aid decomposition and to ward off scavengers.  Friday’s work focused on collapsing the berm and burying the animals on site.

Eventually, the tribe will redirect any water that flowed into that watering hole into a safer area.

“Knock on wood, God forbid, that we have that situation anywhere else within the reservation,” Cleveland said.  “This will lay the foundation for how we respond to this.”

For all the devastation, there was a bright spot.  As Cleveland surveyed ground earlier this week determining how best to respond to the deaths, he saw a foal – no more than four weeks old – moving next to what was assumed to be its mother.

Tribal officials carried it to a truck and used a long-sleeved, white T-shirt to keep it warm for the trip to a veterinary clinic 45 minutes away.  They named her Grace.

Erin Hisrich, who owns the clinic, said Grace was severely dehydrated and will need to have her blood-sugar stabilized and kidneys functioning before she could be adopted.  On Thursday, the brown foal with a long patch of white hair on its face splashed in a tub of water and cozied up to visitors.

“In the end, that made my day responding to this emergency and this chaotic scene,” Cleveland said.  “At least this baby foal made it out.”

Casualties of the Vanishing West

Sunday, 27 December 2015
Written by 
Sonia Luokkala

By Sonia Luokkala, Earth Island Journal

Chief, a Kiger mustang born in the remote wilderness of Utah, lives with 400 other rescued wild horses and burros in a 1,500 acre sanctuary, hundreds of miles from his original home. Years ago the stallion was captured in a round up led by the Bureau of Land Management. After a long helicopter chase, he ended up in a government-run holding facility for years before being adopted by Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. Not all horses rounded up by the BLM are as lucky.

Over the past four decades the BLM has eradicated or moved to holding facilities more than 70 percent of the country’s wild horse population.Over the past four decades the BLM has eradicated or moved to holding facilities more than 70 percent of the country’s wild horse population. (Photo: Bureau of Land Management – Utah)

The majority of captured equines remain stuck for years, if not for the rest of their lives, in cramped holding facilities that are quickly running out of space. As of July 2015 the facilities held 47,000 wild horses, and the BLM’s holding capacity is set at 50,929. Yet the agency is planning to remove another 2,739 wild horses and burros this year at a taxpayer cost of $78 million.

An example of an emergency holding facility for excess mustangs is a cattle feedlot in Scott City, Kansas. In 2014, a BLM contractor leased the feedlot, owned by Beef Belt LLC, to hold 1,900 mares. The horses were transported from pasture to corrals designed for fattening up cattle. Within the first few weeks of their arrival, at least 75 mares died. Mortality reports acquired from the BLM through the Freedom of Information Act show that as of June 2015, 143 more horses had died. The facility is closed to the public.