Baker County, Georgia 

Baker County, Georgia

Monday, December 10, 2012

Small One of Bethlehem
(A Christmas Story)

by Carol Knight Watson
(LuAnn Perone sent this story to Amberwood Sanctuary in 1999.)
     Once upon a Christmas time, many miles and years from here, there lived a small donkey. He was 14 unhappy years old, and he had worked hard and long for at least twice 14 masters. He was battered and scarred, and his tail was like a piece of limp rope, unraveled down at the end. One of his ears stood straight up like a cactus plant, while the other ear hung down like a wilted cabbage leaf. Yes, and his off hind leg had a decided limp. His name was Small One. His present master was a woodcutter, who also owned four younger and, therefore, stronger donkeys. 
     The woodcutter’s son cared for Small One. He saw to it that Small One always had dry straw for his bed and that the load of wood to be carried to town wasn’t too heavy for Small One’s aging back. The boy and the donkey were very close friends.
     Well, early one morning, in that season of the year when even the sun itself seems loath to rise and thrust a shivering beam into the cold of the valleys, the woodcutter called his son to him and said, “Son, I wish you to take the old donkey, the one you call Small One, to a shop just inside the town gates. They will give you one piece of silver in exchange for the animal.”
     “You mean...?” There was sudden alarm and fear in the boy’s face. “You don’t mean you’re going to sell Small One?”
     “He can no longer do his share of the work. Why, even when carrying half the load of other donkeys, his worn-out legs tremble and his sides heave like a bellows! An old donkey is of no use to anyone! One day soon he might drop dead on us up in the hills—a total loss. It’s better to take the piece of silver now and say good riddance to the beast. You will start at once.”
     The boy, striving to hold back the hot tears, nodded his head.
     The father went on, trying to speak lightly as if it were a matter of little consequence, “The shop where you will take the donkey is the second shop on the left as you pass through the town gates.”
     “The second on the left?” The sudden realization of the fate in store for Small One turned the boy’s grief into horror. “But... but that’s the tanner’s!”
     The father spoke gruffly to cover his own discomfort. “The beast’s hide is old, but it will make good leather.”
     “But he’s been faithful! He’s worked hard! He’s done his best!” The boy’s face was convulsed with misery and despair. “You can’t sell him to the tanner to be killed!”
     “Come now, I’ll have no tears!” The father hardened his heart and made his voice stern. “Shame on you, crying over a miserable donkey! Now, hurry, be off with you! If you start at once, you can be home before nightfall. And remember, take good care not to lose that piece of silver or you’ll do without supper and be punished besides!”
     The boy picked up the old strap that was Small One’s single earthly possession and placed it around the little donkey’s neck. Following the wood path to the road, the small boy and the small donkey began their sorrowful journey to the town. People along the way wondered why the small boy was crying. They couldn’t know that he was listening to Small One’s hooves on the road—and the hooves seemed to beat out the words: “Going to tanner’s... Going to tanner’s... Going to tanner’s.” And all along the miles, the boy tried to think of some way to save his friend.
     It was late morning when the small boy and the small donkey went through the great town gates. It was market day and suddenly he remembered there was a horse market on the square! Yes, and if he could sell Small One to some new and kind master, the little donkey wouldn’t be killed and yet his father would still receive his piece of silver! There was no doubt at all in his mind that it would be easy to find an eager buyer for such a superior animal as Small One. Only one piece of silver? Why Small One was worth 50, yes, a hundred pieces of silver!
     The boy and his donkey were swallowed up by the crowd that moved in a steady stream, under the watchful, unsmiling eyes of the guards of the gates, toward the shops and markets of the town. It was high noon when the boy and Small One came to the horse market, a place filled with the shouts and loud voices of men and the acrid-sweet smell of leather and horse sweat. Tied to a long rail were all the animals to be sold: 20 sleek, beautiful mares and stallions, long of mane and tail, rubbed and brushed and combed until their coats glistened and shone in the sunlight like burnished copper or polished ebony.
     Holding tightly to Small One’s rope, and with his face streaked with dust and tears, the boy pushed his way to the platform of the shouting auctioneer.
     “And what am I offered for this fine animal, my friends? A mare whose sire was so famous that naught but princes ever sat his back! Strong of limb! Sound of wind! Who’ll start the bid at 50?”
     “Fifty!” The bidder’s voice rose shrill over the din of the market place. 
     “Fifty it is! Who’ll make it 55? Do I hear 55? Come, come, my friends, are you going to let such a fine animal go for such a paltry sum? Fifty is the bid; will someone make it 55 before the owner cuts my throat?”
     The auctioneer sliced at his neck with a thick finger and cried to see his imaginary head rolling in the dust. The crowd laughed at this pantomime, and the boy, taking advantage of this interruption, led Small One toward a man near the auctioneer’s platform.
     “Please, sir...” his voice quavered and the words seemed to stick crosswise in his throat. “Please, sir, would you like to buy a fine donkey?”
     “What?” The man looked down at the frightened face. “What did you say, boy?”
     “This donkey. He’s for sale. Strong and very willing. And the price is very cheap! But one piece of silver!”
     “No!” The man turned away.  “No, I have no use for a donkey.”
     The boy moved off, holding fast to the strap around Small One’s neck. The voice of the auctioneer rose again over the sounds of the horse market. “Fifty-five is the bid! Thank you, my friend, for you are a friend, I assure you! Now, could I hear 60? Sixty would be music to my ears! Won’t someone say 60? Has anyone got 60? Come on. Turn out your purses and let’s count it together! Who’s got 60 pieces of silver?”
     The crowd laughed again. The boy, leading his small donkey, approached a bearded farmer, who sat on a box of fat geese. “Please—this donkey—he’s for sale. Would you like to buy him?”
     “What?” The farmer turned around and frowned down at him. “What is it you want, boy?”
     “This fine donkey! He can be bought for only one piece of silver!” The boy was desperately eager. “Isn’t that a great bargain?”
     “Go away!” The farmer scowled and spat into the dust. “Go away and don’t bother me.”
     “But they’ve already bid 55 for the mare, and I know she can’t do half the work of Small One! See, he’s very strong!”
     “Go on!” The farmer swung his ox whip. “Go on or I’ll lay this across both your backs!”
     The boy and the donkey hid themselves in the crowd, and they were pushed and shoved until they were close by the auctioneer’s platform.
     “Sixty pieces of silver! Sixty is the bid. Do I hear more? Will anyone say 62? Won’t anyone say 61? Very well, then. Sixty, once! Sixty, twice! Sold to that lucky buyer over there for 60 pieces of silver. Now, who has the next animal to be offered for sale?”
     The boy, surprised at his own courage, lifted his hand and tugged on the auctioneer’s robe. “Please, sir, this small donkey’s for sale!”
     “Eh? Go away, boy, go away!”
     “But he’s a very fine donkey! He’s not nearly so old as he looks. And this ear, the one that doesn’t stand up straight as a donkey’s should, that was the fault of a careless master! He’s very strong and he eats very little!”
     “This is a horse market, boy!” The auctioneer tried to shake off the hand that held tight to his robe. “I haven’t time to waste on a miserable donkey!”
     “But, please, please, wouldn’t a small donkey take such a small amount of time?”
     The auctioneer burst into a mountainous roar of laughter that shook the platform. “All right! All right, my boy, since you insist!” Then, lifting his voice, he addressed the crowd, “Gentlemen, your attention, please! This is, indeed, a day of days, for I have a wonderful bargain to offer you! Just feast your eyes on this strange object in front of my platform. What is it, do you ask? Well, the owner assures me that it is a donkey, but to my poor old eyes it has the appearance of an animated pile of shaking bones!”
     The auctioneer paused while the crowd laughed its approval of his statement. “Look closely, my friends, and you will observe how the moths have been at his hide! And the tail! Is it a tail? I believe it’s only the stub of an old broom, worn out from sweeping the courtyard!”
     The market place echoed with shouts, howls, and guffaws of the men. “A true and rare museum piece, my friends, moldy with age and loose in the joints!”
     “He’s not!” The boy’s outraged voice rose over the din. “He’s not like that at all!”
     “Ah!” The auctioneer struck a pose of mock humility. “But it is not seemly to laugh, my friends, because—so his proud owner assures me—because this ancient ruin is distinguished enough to share a stall with the king’s horses!”
     “Don’t say those things about him. They’re not true!” The boy’s voice was almost drowned out by the rolling waves of laughter. “Maybe he isn’t so handsome as all your animals, but he’s better!” He hugged the little donkey’s head close to his breast, and his angry tears fell on the rough, brown hairs of Small One’s nose. “Yes, and he is fine enough to be in a king’s stable—and maybe someday that’s where you’ll find him!”
     “All right, all right, my boy!” The auctioneer was anxious to get on with the bidding while the crowd was in a good mood. “Take your precious donkey and move along. We’ve used up enough good time on you! Go on, hurry up!” Then, lifting his voice, “Now, gentlemen, now that we’ve had our fun and disposed of the king’s donkey, I wish to call your attention to those fine Arab stallions! Suppose we start the bid at 200 pieces of silver. Do I hear 200? Will someone say 200?”
     And so, with the auctioneer’s fading voice in their ears, the boy and his donkey left the market place. The hours were slipping swiftly by, and before long he must start for home; and when he arrived there, he must have the piece of silver for his father.
     Two small weary legs and four old ones began a dogged, despairing journey through the town. A frantic childish voice called to people as they hurried by on the streets. A trembling whisper spoke of a tremendous bargain at doors that were angrily closed with a shouted, “Be off with you!” No one in all the town desired to buy an old, tired donkey.
     It was close to sundown when the boy and Small One returned to the town gates and stood outside the tanner’s door. The boy’s hand fondled the rough brown nose, caressed the drooping ear, and patted the worn coat for the last time. Then, just as he lifted the latch of the tanner’s door, a voice spoke to him from the street.
     “My son…”
     “Yes?” The boy turned hopefully. “Yes, sir?”
     A bearded, poorly dressed man detached himself from the crowd that was moving toward the town gates.
     “Tell me, are you the owner of this small donkey?”
     “Yes, sir.”
     “I have a long journey to make and my wife is not well. I have a great need for a strong, gentle animal to carry her safely.”
     “Oh, Small One is very strong—and very trustworthy!”
     The man looked from the donkey’s old eyes to the two young ones. “Oh, yes, I can believe that. Would you be good enough to sell him to me?”
     “Oh, yes, sir!” The boy’s heart sang at the miracle. “The price is but one piece of silver!”
     The man was looking at Small One’s drooping ear.
     “Is that too much, sir?”
     “Too much?” The man smiled down at him. “No, indeed! Why, that’s very reasonable for such a beautiful animal.”
     The boy was almost overcome by this unexpected appreciation of Small One. “Well… well, he’s not really very beautiful, but he’s good.”
     The man took a worn leather pouch from his belt, a pouch that was so flat that its contents could be only a few coins. “What is it that you call him?”
     “Small One.” The boy watched the man’s fingers explore the bottom of the pouch. Suppose the man was only joking like the auctioneer. Suppose he didn’t have the piece of silver.
     “Ah, yes, Small One.” The man held out a shining piece of silver and dropped it into the boy’s hand. “There you are, my son, and I promise you I’ll be very kind to him. Come, now, Small One, we have to hurry! It’s near to sundown, and the guards will be closing the town gates!”
     The little donkey seemed puzzled at the tug of a strong hand on his strap, and then he started slowly but obediently off at the side of his new master. The boy watched them disappear into the crowd, standing on tiptoe to catch a last glimpse of that one long ear that stood up straight as a donkey’s should. His happiness at having saved Small One’s life was now lost in the dreadful pain of losing him.
     Suddenly his legs started to run, carrying him through the crowd in swift pursuit. He overtook Small One and his new owner just a few steps from the great town gates.
     “Please, sir…” His breath had been left far behind at the tanner’s door. “Please, may I watch you through the gates? You see, Small One and I…”
     “Why, of course!” The man nodded his head in understanding. “You want to say goodbye to your friend. You can do that while I see my wife safely on his back. Easy now, Small One.”
     Standing in the shelter of the wall was a woman wrapped in the folds of a heavy traveling robe. There was suffering in the deep shadows of her face. Yet, as the boy’s eyes met hers, it seemed to him that a bright radiance shown about her head. It must have been his imagination or some strange and momentary reflection of the setting sun because this radiance faded away almost immediately.
     Then, as the man went to her side and took her arm to guide her slow footsteps, the boy whispered his last goodbye to Small One. “Goodbye, Small One. You must be very faithful, and this isn’t forever, you know. When I grow up and earn many pieces of silver, I’ll buy you back. Then you’ll have a fine stable and nothing to do but eat and sleep. Won’t that be wonderful, Small One?”
     “All right, my son.” The man’s hand touched his shoulder. “We’re ready to start.” The old donkey lifted his head at the pull on his strap and moved slowly and carefully toward the gates.
     Suddenly the voice of the guard called out a sharp command. “Wait! One moment, traveler!”
     “Yes?” The man’s voice was patient. “Yes, soldier?”
     “Didn’t you know the gates close at sundown? By all rights I should make you remain here the night! However…” The guard shrugged his shoulders. “Your name?”
     “My name is Joseph.”
     “And your wife?”
     “They call her Mary.”
     “Your destination?”
     The man looked toward the hills beyond the gates. “We journey to Bethlehem.”
     “Pass, traveler.”
     And so Joseph and Mary and Small One passed through the town gates, and the donkey’s hooves rang sharply on the stones of the road, and the sound was very much like music.
     The boy called a last farewell into the gathering dusk. “Goodbye! Goodbye, Small One! Be gentle and sure of foot and carry her safely to Bethlehem.”
     And so, Small One traveled the many weary miles to Bethlehem. There, in a stable, he saw a king born, a king of men—of centuries—of life—of death. Yes, and Small One’s tired old eyes saw the Wise Men and the shepherds who came to pay homage to his small master. His dim old ears heard the voices of angels rejoicing, and the notes they sang were the very ones his own small hooves had rung out on the stones of the road.
     Then it came to pass that all those who had laughed at his ragged coat, and his limping gait, and his drooping ear, envied Small One, for he had traveled the road to Bethlehem to become a part of a great miracle. Oh, this was a long, long time ago, but even today, all small donkeys stand and dream—especially at Christmas time—dream of Small One, Small One of Bethlehem.

~                        ~                        ~                        ~

A Very Merry Christmas
and Happy New Year to Everyone!

“Our tummies are full ... It’s siesta time.”


Monday, September 17, 2012

Nevada Wages War
Against Wild Horses

by Carol Knight Watson
2nd Annual
Georgia Week for the Animals

October 20 - October 28, 2012

Thousands of dogs have done nothing wrong, have never
committed a crime; yet, they are sentenced to a punishment worse
 than death: life at the end of a chain or in a pen.
Dogs do so much for us.
 They do not deserve to spend their lives in prison.

Stop the Roundups
of Our Mustangs and Wild Burros!
     The Wild, Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed in 1971, finally gave these enduring animals a chance for the freedom to live in their own way without constant threats to their lives by humans. The main provision and intent of the act is to protect the mustangs and wild burros who inhabit our public lands from any unauthorized capture, branding, harassment, or death. Under the authority of the act, the Bureau of Land Management and the U. S. Forest Service are to manage, protect, and control wild horses and burros, but they have operated in a manner that promotes mainly the interests of the livestock industry. Amendments to the act, in almost every case, have diminished the intent of the act. Almost from the time of enactment of the Wild, Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the very program created to protect them has been and still is manipulated for political considerations rather than managed on sound ecological policy. 
     If greed and prejudice could be set aside, we would find that truly there is no overpopulation of mustangs and wild burros on our public lands. A main objective in Amberwood Sanctuary’s stated Purpose is:
     “Promote decisive actions on behalf of the wild burros and mustangs living on our public lands under the protection they have been afforded through the 1971 Wild, Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act: 
a. Require improved accountability methods by the Bureau of Land Management and U. S. Forest Service officials in their management of the Wild Horse and Burro Program to ensure adherence to the main provision and intent of the Act; 
b. Encourage increased public review of the program’s management;
c. Promote legislative action to rescind politically-induced amendments that jeopardize the intent of the Act;
d. Encourage the introduction and passage of legislation that would increase the level of protection given to wild burros/mustangs and allow them to remain free on public lands in greater numbers.”
     Join us, and many other organizations, in our quest to allow the American mustangs and wild burros their freedom on our public lands.
~                        ~                        ~                        ~
In Memoriam: Betsy Hutchins
(August 4, 1941 - July 2, 2012)
Co-founder of the American Donkey and Mule Society
Betsy was always willing to share her knowledge of
donkeys. In learning how to care for Amber, we would
call Betsy, and she gave us just the information we needed.
~                        ~                        ~                        ~

Daybreak at Amberwood Sanctuary: “Hey, Mama, where’s our hay? 
      Late-breaking news from the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) indicates events in Nevada parallel the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wild horse and burro roundups. An e-mail from EWA states, “From what I can gather, NDOA (Nevada Department of Agriculture) is he** bent on removing as many Virginia Range horses as they can under the guise that they have become a nuisance to the locals (just as BLM is doing under the guise of emergency removals). The horses are going to ‘sale authority’ and we all know what that means.”
     Three links in this e-mail further detail continuing incidences of killing our wild horses and burros:
Charges Filed Against
 Wild Horse Foundation
from and KRNV (Reno, Nevada), September 14, 2012:
     VIRGINIA CITY, NV —  A local wild horse preservation foundation is facing three misdemeanor charges filed with the Storey County District Attorney’s office this week. The criminal complaint lists the Let ‘Em Run Foundation with failure to brand or mark animals grazing on open range, abandoning an animal, and causing or allowing an animal to be unjustifiably injured and/or to be deprived of necessary food or drink—all misdemeanor offenses.
     According to a report done by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, eight horses were adopted by the foundation in Carson City in December 2011. Those horses were transported to property owned by Lance Gilman in Storey County where they were let out on what was supposed to be properly fenced-in private land. Ed Foster, spokesperson with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, says the horses should have been branded by the new owner and were not. He also says one of the horses got out and they found him near McCarren and Clear Water Way in Reno.
     Lacy J. Dalton runs the Let ‘Em Run Foundation. She was not available and did not return our phone calls prior to the airing of this story. Willis Lamm and Shirley Allen are also listed as defendants. They were in Carson City today during a demonstration against the capturing and selling of Virginia Range wild horses. They say this complaint is unjustified.
Horse Advocates Protest
from the Nevada Appeal (Carson City, Nevada), September 15, 2012:
by Wheeler Cowperthwaite
     Two dozen protesters held signs on both sides of Carson Street in front of the legislative building on Friday to bring attention to the trapping and potential sale of wild horses. The advocates held signs that said horses should not be sold for slaughter and do not belong “in frying pans.”
     About 20 horses have been trapped so far on private and state land, known as the Virginia Range, a 284,000-acre area that stretches from the Carson River to the Truckee River.
     The Nevada Department of Agriculture declared the horses a nuisance, and they will go up for auction on September 19. They’re being held at the Stewart Conservation Camp’s horse area.
     If the horses had been on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land, they would be under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Because they are on state and private land, they are considered to be feral or estray, which means they’re under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. By law, the department can send the horses to the livestock sale in Fallon after advertising them in the county they were captured in, said Ed Foster, acting public information officer for the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
     In 2011, horses started coming down from the hills in September. That same behavior started in April of this year, Mr. Foster said. The traps have been set because landowners have complained that the horses are becoming nuisances.   
     According to the department, during the past 45 days, the Nevada Department of Agriculture has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of complaints regarding the Virginia Range estray horses. The majority of the complaints involve private property damage and horses in roadways. 
     The latest Virginia Range estray horse interaction with an automobile happened on August 21. A mare and foal were crossing U.S. Highway 95, six miles south of Fernley at 10 p.m. A pickup hit both horses. The driver was not seriously injured, although both horses died.
     Motorists traveling on Highways 50, 95, and 395 should use caution driving, especially at night. 
     Kathy Barlaskey, who lives in Hidden Valley, held a sign on the sidewalk in front of the legislative building. She said she used to be able to see horses from her kitchen window but hasn’t recently. “I’m here so we can talk them into not slaughtering horses,” she said.
     Terri Farley came out to protest because she said she thinks letting the horses go to the livestock sale would mean they may be bought for slaughter and that would lead to a downturn in tourism. “I don’t think we should be feeding people in Belgium,” she said. “Some immigrant groups eat horse but that isn’t who we (Americans) are.” 
NDOA Attempts to Muzzle Advocates
from the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates, September 7, 2012:
Issue: “Trap and toss” horse management 
Lies and possible illegal activities surrounding
 the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s plan to dump
 Virginia Range horses at the livestock sale
     The Nevada Department of Agriculture has embarked on a new strategy aimed at suppressing criticism of its Virginia Range horse activities, claiming that the advocates are abandoning horses.
     A complaint was leaked to KRNV Channel 4 just prior to the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates’ September 14 demonstration in Carson City. The charges are that Lacy J. Dalton, Shirley Allen, and Willis Lamm dumped eight horses on the Virginia Range.
     The issue appears to involve a band of eight horses who were purchased at a state sale by the Let ‘Em Run Foundation and were turned out with the permission of the landowner on over 100,000 acres of private range. The allegations reportedly involve failure to provide food and water, abandonment, and a brand violation. One of the horses, a pinto known as Dickie, recently turned up in South Reno.

     Since none of the three individuals have actually received a summons, they were advised not to comment until attorneys got to the bottom of this situation.
     One person who would comment was Mike Holmes, a former Nevada Department of Agriculture employee who managed the Virginia Range herd for 9½ years. His position was eliminated due to the state’s budget crisis, and there has been nobody assigned to the position full time since then.
     When asked about the food and water issue, Mr. Holmes replied, “You’re kidding me, right? That property is over a hundred thousand acres out there. The department used to turn out horses out there. You think we would do that if there was no food or water?”
     Regarding the branding issue, he explained that the department provides individual animal identification before any horses are sold, and that identification is supposed to be recorded in the name of the purchaser. People don’t typically register brands for a handful of horses, so the horses are provided with NAIS-compliant RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, also known as microchips. (NAIS: National Animal Identification System)
     One of the defendants, Willis Lamm, chairs a town committee tasked with looking into the Virginia Range horse situation. Speculation is that these charges may have been an effort to dilute the impact of any committee report, as well as to provide a distraction from the horse advocates’ September 14th demonstration.
     Meanwhile, South Reno residents report trailer loads of horses being removed by the department from the surrounding areas.
What You Can Do!
     Here are actions that you can take to protect the Virginia Range horses. Please remember that these horses fall under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture and Governor Brian Sandoval. Below is contact information. You are encouraged to express your opinion in this matter. If you call, try to speak with someone in authority. Let’s fix this business before more horses go to the kill buyers, and we experience another tourism boycott!

Governor Brian Sandoval
775.684.5670 (Carson City office)
702.486.2500 (Las Vegas office)
Agriculture Director Jim Barbee
     The Virginia Range horses are not protected by any federal statute. The involved wild horse groups are just about all that stands between them and the kill buyers. Funds are always needed to protect these horses and to find homes and sanctuary opportunities for those who have been taken off the range.
     Every contribution counts. The groups are all staffed by volunteers so the money donated actually goes to pay the expenses for these horses. Please help! ~Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates~
An Aside Regarding Willis Lamm
 (a defendant in the Nevada case: see above)
from Willis Lamm (a 9th generation great-grandson of John Alden)
~Tyranny: Absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly.
~Confronting tyranny does not come without personal risk.
~Tyrants do not usually consider themselves as such as they are often absorbed in their own agendas.
~If our Founding Fathers had not confronted tyranny at great personal risk, Americans would still be under a king. However, they did confront tyranny and produced the greatest democracy on the planet.
~                        ~                        ~                        ~
...and here at Amberwood Sanctuary —
    After a lengthy delay in the renovation of our “old” barn in our holding area, we are back on course and have made a lot of progress, as you can see. Our most sincere thanks to Coy Baird for the wonderful job he, his sons Adam and Timothy, and nephew Josh are doing in finishing the work on our much-needed and historic barn.   

August 2011
August 2012

   Here is Danny, our newest family member. 
He is a really sweet boylikes a lot of attention.

     When shopping or searching online, please be sure to click on GoodSearch or iGive for Amberwood Sanctuary. It doesn’t cost you a thing and the extra money helps feed and care for our donkeys. Recently, we received checks from both groups ($22.32 from GoodSearch and $10.09 from iGive.) That’s not a lot but, hey, it will buy five bales of hay. Now, that’s dinner on the table!
     Your financial help, as well as your volunteer help with our programs, all to help the donkeys, is so necessary to keep things moving along, if only at a crawl.
     Talk to you next time. . .

Monday, July 30, 2012

“No Overpopulation of
Wild Horses and Burros”

by Carol Knight Watson

From left, Diego, Starlin, Jim, Eliza, Gabrielle
Amberwood Sanctuary

     As a biologist and advocate of the wild horses and burros in the American West, I have had the experience of observing and studying these creatures in the wild, both in Montana and Nevada.  These intelligent and very family-oriented animals are not just a beautiful example of freedom and all that entails but are an absolutely necessary component of ecological balance on the range.
     I have witnessed the effort on the part of the Bureau of Land Management to remove thousands of wild horses and burros from legally designated herd management areas. This removal is based upon unscientific methods and false data, motivated by the cattle and sheep industry and old prejudice. In virtually every environmental assessment made public to explain the need for a roundup, the BLM will cite what it calls the Appropriate Management Level. This it does to impress upon the public what it considers overpopulation of these creatures, always stating that the removal of wild horses and burros is to maintain a thriving ecological balance.
     In truth, there is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros, nor has there ever been such a state. I can assert, as a biologist, that almost every wild horse and burro in the BLM holding facilities, approximately 50,000 now, could be released back into the wild from which they were taken without having any negative impact on the land. Their presence would help to bring balance back to the range.

                                                                 Robert C. Bauer
                                                                 New Albany, Indiana

Trapper Shoots Horse as Bait to Trap
Last Breeding Wolf from Toklat Pack
     DENALI NATIONAL PARK, AlaskaHunting guide Coke Wallace, of Healy, has acknowledged walking an aged horse to the Stampede Trail near the northern boundary of Denali National Park, shooting the horse, and setting snares around the carcass. The snares killed the last known breeding female wolf from the Grant Creek packthe pack that roams the area made famous by the 1996 book by Jon Krakauer and 2007 feature film Into the Wild, about the 1992 death nearby of 22-year-old would-be survivalist Christopher McCandless.
     The Grant Creek pack, also called the Toklat West pack, is among the three wolf packs most often viewed and photographed by Denali visitors. The pack has been continuously studied since 1939, first by Adolf Murie until his death in 1974, then by Gordon Haber from 1966 until his death while spotting wolves from a light plane in 2009, and currently by Anchorage conservation biologist and former University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner.
     One of the dead wolves was equipped with a radio collar attached by scientists. She was the only female from the pack known to have raised pups last year,” reported Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles TimesThe packs only other known breeding female was found dead near the packs den, probably of natural causes. A third wolf, also snared near the horse carcass, was a male who may or may not have been part of the Grant Creek pack, according to Denali National Park biologist Tom Meier.
     Wallace contended that the female wolf he snared was emaciated. “Coke’s wolf was in a trap for a week and was scavenged by a wolverine before he ever even saw it,” Meier responded to Murphy. “These wolves aren’t starving.” Meier pointed out that wolves are normally lean in spring, after enduring the harsh Alaskan winters.
     The Denali National Park wolf population has declined since 2006 from 103 wolves in 15 packs to 70 wolves in nine packs, a 20-year low, Meier said.
     “The snares were within the former protected Denali buffer, where trapping and hunting of wolves was prohibited from 2002 to 2010,” 
e-mailed Steiner.
Ignoring several proposals to expand the no-take Denali wolf buffer zoneincluding a proposal from Denali National Park itselfthe Alaska Board of Game instead eliminated the protective buffer and imposed a moratorium on future consideration of any Denali wolf protection buffer proposals until 2016.
     The Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game said Wallace had not broken any laws, but downstream residents David and Susan Braun told the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation that the rotting horse carcass had contaminated their drinking water.
     Friends of Animals and Defenders of Wildlife amplified appeals for the Denali buffer zone to be restored.
     Amid the controversy, acting Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation Director Doug Vincent Lang on May 1, 2012, told Dan Joling of Associated Press that the agency would do a year of further study before implementing a recommendation by the Alaska Board of Game that wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears should be culled on the Kenai Peninsula to boost the numbers of moose available to human hunters.

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      When I began this website, I surely had no intention of neglecting it. I did, however, and still do, have some reservations about the amount of time necessary to research and write articles that are interesting and helpful to anyone reading our material. 
     Well, as with everyone, things happen! I have had a long bout of various misadventures, but I do hope Im back on a steady course. 
     Everyone here at Amberwood Sanctuary is doing well. Jake, our oldest donkey, is beginning to show his age. When he turned 25 in March, he seemed to be his usual self. But then he began looking poor. The vet didnt think there was anything wrong with his teeth, and the lab work didnt show anything abnormal. I think possibly, because hes not as aggressive as some of the other donkeys, he was being pushed away from the hay. In June, I began penning him up so no one can push him away from the hay, and hes getting lots of sweet feed for seniors. He already looks a lot better.
     We have two new residents at Amberwood Sanctuary. In May of this year, Danny was brought to us. His people no longer wanted him. He is very gentle, but his demeanor suggests that he possibly has been beaten. Last October, Ortez was rescued from just down the road. There didnt seem to be enough money for feed for him and the many goats with whom he shared a small pen. Necessity is the mother of invention: He would escape the pen and go into a nearby field to eat. Of course, the farmer who owned the field was not happy about having part of his crop eaten. I began noticing him frequently wandering along the road. When I stopped and talked to the children who were in the yard where he lived, one of them told me to take him, that they didnt want him, that he kept getting out of his pen. Now, he has all he wants to eat.
     Great News: We have received a grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for repairs to our “old” barn in our holding area. This is the first grant we have ever received and were really thrilled to get this help. 
     Talk to you next time... (and I hope it wont be as long as it was this time.)
P. S. If there is any way you can help us here at Amberwood Sanctuary in any manner, we really need some help!