Debbie Coffey   Copyright 2011  All Rights Reserved

Investigative reporter/PPJ

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While many Americans have lost their homes or worry about losing their homes, and worry about finding or keeping their jobs, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seems to be spending your hard earned tax dollars like high rollers. 

The BLM has its hand out at appropriations hearings asking for even more money for their mismanaged Wild Horse and Burro Program.  Where’s your money going?

Look at one example.  Troy Adams/Broken ArrowUSAhas the contract for theIndian Lakes Road(AKA Broken Arrow) short term wild horse and burro holding facility inFallon,NV.  How does a guy fromCalifornia, who sold a cloned cow, get enough knowledge in wild horse behavior, and enough ability in safely handling wild horses, to win a bid to manage a facility that can hold up to 3,000 of our wild horses?

Troy Adams/Broken ArrowUSAcontract with the BLM is for 5 years (1/01/2010 to 12/31/2015):

Base year (2010 – 2011) – $2,525,000 with an option for “additional labor” for $127,920 ($24.60 per hour, per laborer) to FREEZEBRAND, RETAG, TRIM FEET, ETC. (same tasks apply to years below)

Year 1 (2011-2012) – $3,640,875 with an option for “additional labor” for $130,468 ($25.09 per hour)

Year 2  (2012 – 2013) – $3,759,500 with an option for “additional labor” for $133,068 ($25.59 per hour)  

Year 3 (2013 – 2014) – $3,832,500 with an option for “additional labor” for $135,720 ($26.10 per hour)

Year 4 (2014 – 2015) – $3,905,500 with an option for “additional labor” for $138,424 ($26.62 per hour)

So, the estimated 5 year TOTAL is $17,663,375, with optional “additional labor” adding $665,600 to that the total is ($18,328,975).  (Note: The money in this contract is based on estimated feed days.  See details of this at the end of the article.) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Over $18 million in 5 years.  And since Troy Adams supplies the land, pens and corrals the first year, and it’s not an expense every year, why is there such a huge increase in the amount of money for in the remaining years of the contract?

The contractor (Troy Adams) supplies: land, pens, corrals, feed, salt, minerals, water and  personnel for general tasks.

The BLM: pays for veterinary care, a farrier, hoof care (hey, are we paying for this twice, since TRIM FEET is listed above?), the working chute (squeeze chute), and prepares the paperwork for shipment of animals to other locations, prepares all wild horses and burros prior to shipment and paperwork related to vaccination or “other action taken.”

One surprising item in this contract, on Page 5 of 15 (7 a.) is that this facility had to get permits required for a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) according to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.  So, in more ways than one, it seems that our wild horses are considered to be, and are being treated as, livestock.

IS THERE BREACH OF CONTRACT?

In record keeping:

The contract stipulates on Page 4, (section 3 e.) that the contractor (Troy Adams/Broken Arrow USA) Provide regular observation on a daily basis of horses and burros on site and a record keeping system that documents the frequency and results of observations.”  

Note that on Page 9 G.2 – CONTRACTING OFFICER’S REPRESENTATIVE (COR) AND/OR PROJECT INSPECTOR   “The COR or PI does not have the authority to modify or in any way amend the terms of this contract.”  (The COR is John Neill, BLM manager  of Palomino Valley and the PI is BLM employee Ross Ruf.)

In a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), I asked for records that the BLM contract with Troy Adams requires that he keep.

In a July 15, 2010 letter of response from Amy Leuders (she’s now the Acting Nevada BLM Director), she stated that “Formal records for daily observations have not been required or maintained.  Verbal communications on facility updates and animal observations are conducted daily to the COR by either the facility veterinarian, project inspector or facility contractor.”

There are veterinary reports.  But, are the only horses Sanford observes daily the sick horses in the sick pens?  Does Richard Sanford walk around the entire property every day to look at all of the horses, or does he just make a quick stop at the sick pens?  (On tours, it took us about two hours to walk around and observe about 1,900 of the horses on the property, and even then we felt rushed.)  Richard Sanford is also hired as a vet for horses at the BLM’s Palomino Valley facility, and the drive between the two locations takes about an hour each way.

To my knowledge, I haven’t received any documents with any notes or any observations by Troy Adams.  Does Troy Adams notice anything, and if so, what is it?

Page 4 of 15 (3 g.) states: “Death of animals must be recorded with each animal’s identification number and physical description, or if the brand is unreadable, a good physical description.”  

Online, it  looks like the facility didn’t start recording the freezemarks of dead horses until May 28, 2010, and the veterinary reports didn’t start recording freezemarks until May 22, 2010.  Just  a gender and age doesn’t seem like a “good” description.  It doesn’t take a huge effort to add something like palomino or roan or bay.

Even if updating this information online had become too much of a task, there should have been more detailed records available for a FOIA request.

Also, Page 4 of 15 (3 f.) states that the contractor “Provide a record keeping system that identifies the pen location, sex, age group and quantity per pen of inventory animals.  The contractor will update the form on a bi-monthly basis.”

In handling and safety of the horses:

The contract stipulates:

Page 4, (3 j.) Contractor is to provide personnel that are intimately familiar with the health requirements of equines.

Page 4, (3 k.) Have personnel with knowledge, skill and ability to safely handle wild horses and burros.

Page 4 (4 a.) All horses shall be handled, treated, and maintained in a humane manner.

Over 200 horses have died at this facility in less than 14 months.  Descriptions seem vague, so it’s difficult to get exact counts of how many horses died of certain causes, but, just a quick estimate in general of some of the causes: it seems like about 40 from hyperlipemia/general metabolic failure (trouble adapting to hay) with about another 32 from poor condition/unable to maintain weight.  About 27 died from spinal/neck injuries, of which about 8 spinal/neck injuries happened IN THE SQUEEZE CHUTE.

About 15 euthanized because of leg/shoulder/pelvis fractures.  There are about 40 “unknown” causes of death.  About 9 foaling complications, about 6 gelding complications (3 of these were pulmonary hemorrhages from anesthesia) and about 5 deaths related to criptorchid (euthanized for this or after surgery for this).  Why would the BLM even geld horses with criptorchid?  (Criptorchid means the testacles haven’t descended and they don’t produce fertile sperm.)  About 12 deaths from pneumonia and respiratory infections.  About 5 were euthanized due to club foot.  About 3 with sloughed hooves.

It’s important to note that neither the BLM nor the contractor seem to keep any documentation on individual foals until they’re 4-5 months old, when the foals are given a freezemark.

There’s a small house on the front of the property at theIndian Lakes Roadfacility, and when I attended tours, it looked like this house was used to house some of the workers.  Judging by the vehicles outside, it appears they could’ve been seasonal workers or wranglers.  There’s a lot of unemployment inNevada, so were seasonal workers or out of work cowboys paid $24.60 an hour?

More importantly, seasonal workers who might’ve been living on the property, or any other people living in that house, have access to our wild horses 24/7.  Were any criminal background checks done on those seasonal workers or people living on the property?  What oversight is there by the BLM of workers who have access to our wild horses?

The online weekly facility reports stopped giving the cumulative deaths for horses around August 21, 2010, giving the reason for stopping as “due to the fact that it no longer reflects only Calico horses.”  Are they keeping track of horse deaths according to Herd Management Areas?

There is no longer any public access to this facility, even though your tax dollars are paying for it.  It seems that photographs and video documenting what the public saw on tours caused the BLM a negative “image” problem.  Troy Adams signed contract modification 0002 on 3/22/2010, for public tours for 5 years (until 2015), so was it a breach of this contract that the tours were stopped?

It seems like on most days, Troy Adams gets paid a lot of money just to (maybe) walk around and look at the horses once a day, call John Neill (unless the vet or PI call John) and maybe order hay and supplies.

Sweet.  I want his job.  How did he get so lucky?

There is little accountability by and NO public access to the Indian Lakes Roadfacility.  These issues are part of a First Amendment Rights lawsuit filed against the BLM by Laura Leigh in LEIGH v. SALAZER.

(Note: original BASE YEAR contract dated 5/27/09 was for $25,000, with a modification for base year dated 1/19/2010 for an additional $2,500,000)

The money in this contract is based on estimated feed days.  The contractor is reimbursed based on the actual number of feed days per month.  A feed day is defined as: “The price to feed one animal for one day, except mare pairs, which count as one animal feed day.” (mare pairs are a mare and her foal).  The contractor is paid for a guaranteed minimum quantity of 137,500 Animal Feed Days, and the maximum is 4,562,500 Animal Feed Days for the life of the contract.

To learn more about our wild horses:

http://rtfitch.wordpress.com/

http://www.wildhorsepreservation.org/

http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/

SOURCES:

Daily & WeeklyIndianLakesWild Horse Facility/veterinary Reports (1/26/2010 – 5/28/2010)

Indian Lakes Road Facility Weekly Updates  http://ww.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/wh_b/Indian_Lakes_Facility.html

Broken ArrowUSAcontracts;

Contract # LO9PC00202 date issued 5/27/2009

Contract # L09PS00482 date issued 5/27/2009

Amendment/Modification No. 0001, effective 1/19/2010

Amendment/Modification No. 0002, effective 3/22/2010

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