Category Archives: Animals

A Kind Vet Helps The Native Horses on Standing Rock

“Arlene Grey Bear took Lucky and Rue and Kennedy to the rodeo grounds in Fort Yates, N.D., on the Standing Rock Reservation — Lucky and Rue, her ponies, for a checkup, Kennedy, her 16-year-old granddaughter, to help. And to learn…Ms. Grey Bear is a Lakota teacher at an elementary school nearby… if a lot of our kids don’t know our language, it gets lost. That concern about heritage, and what might get lost, extends to teaching the children about horses. In our culture horses are well respected…We’re supposed to take care of our horses the right way. We teach our kids: You take care of your horse first. The horse’s needs before yours.”V. J. Blue, The New York Times

On a ranch in Mandaree, N.D., stallions in a corral await a visit from the vet.Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Excerpt: The Horses on Standing Rock Get a Checkup, By Victor J. Blue The New York Times

But how do you take care of the horses if there isn’t a vet nearby? There are no full-time veterinarians on the Standing Rock Reservation, let alone specialists in equine health.

Dr. Davis wants young people in Standing Rock to get involved, and perhaps even see veterinary medicine as a career.Credit V. Blue NYT

Enter Dr. Eric Davis, a veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, and the director of Rural Veterinary Experience Teaching and Service, a program that has since 2011 sent veterinary students to clinics at farms, rodeo grounds and homes to provide free or reduced-cost care for horses. ‘We seek out places where other people don’t go,’ Dr. Davis said. ‘I think that you have the opportunity to do the most good if you go to a place that has the least resources.’

There are no full-time veterinarians on the Standing Rock Reservation, let alone specialists in equine health.Credit V. Blue NYT

The care the volunteer vets provide is essential: treating wounds, fixing teeth and trimming hooves — key to keeping the horses healthy on the Plains. Dr. Davis and his students also geld stallions, which can become uncontrollable without the procedure. For the students, Dr. Davis said, it is ‘hands on, get blood on your gloves’ training.’

Dr. Davis uses a headlamp to check the teeth of a pony on a farm on the Standing Rock Reservation.. Credit V. Blue NYT

The goal is bigger than just providing care, though. Dr. Davis wants young people in Standing Rock to get involved and perhaps even see veterinary medicine as a career.’I would love it if I can help get students, reservation youth, more interested in doing things with horses,’  he said. But he added that doing that when ‘you are the old white guy on the reservation,’ can be difficult:  ‘I don’t know what to say or what to do or how to act. And I’d be faking it if I tried to, and I can’t fake stuff.’ He hopes that will change next year, as the first Lakota recruit will join the program from the Cheyenne River Reservation. He also wants his students, many of them from urban areas, to see what rural practice is like.

Dr. Victor Urbiola anesthetizes a horse on a farm in Bottineau, N.D. Credit V. Blue NYT

On a Friday evening after a day of work earlier this year, the students headed to a powwow at Porcupine, on the Standing Rock Reservation. They bought fry bread and tacos and sat in the stands, taking in the traditional Lakota dances. ‘We have very few students that come from a background of farming, where people have to work and struggle,’ Dr. Davis said.

The care the volunteer veterinarians provide is essential- treating wounds, fixing teeth and trimming hooves — key to keeping these horses healthy on the Plains. Credit V. Blue NYT

Credit V. Blue NYT

‘I can give students the chance to look,” Dr. Davis said. “Whether they see or not is kind of up to them.”


Category: Animals

Don’t Miss The Seneca White Deer Tour This Month!

“Bus tours of the former Seneca Army Depot, are about to get going again. The people taking the tours will likely be looking for a particular attraction…it is the white deer, of course, that have generated so much chatter and photos online in recent years.” R.  Gorbman, WSKG-NPR

Seneca White Deer-photo- wikipedia

Excerpt: Seneca Army Depot Tours Begin Later This Month, Randy Gorbman, WSKG-NPR

“The former army depot in Seneca County hasn’t been used for military purposes in a number of years but a local farm equipment company owner, Earl Martin, bought several thousand acres of the former depot and created Deer Haven Park, which he hopes will be a tourist attraction, since there already is a lot of interest in the white deer herd, an unusual genetic variation located at that site.

Seneca White Deer-photo: Ithaca Journal

Dennis Money is president of the organization Seneca White Deer. He says last time they did a count a couple of years ago, there were about 75 white deer, and the number is likely less than that now. But he says tour-goers still have a decent chance to see them.

‘We don’t guarantee you’re going to see a white deer, and I tell people, this is not a Walt Disney movie, we don’t have them tied to every tree. This is real life, some days you’re going to see a bunch and some days you’re going to see one,’ Money told WXXI News.

Money says the whole idea of the tours, which were last held about five years ago, is to not only showcase the white deer, but the rich military and civilian history of that property.

The Seneca White Deer are rare.

“We’re going to be creative, we’re going to come up with different ideas, we’ve already talked about having biking trips and photography trips and teaching classes in wildlife biology.”

The tours begin on November 16. You can get more information at


Category: Animals

Using Wild Horses to Tame Wild Inmates

“There’s a term in the horse world known as ‘gentling.’ It refers to working with a wild horse until it becomes responsive to a trainer’s commands, meaning that it no longer wants to kick you in the face. If handled properly, it even bonds with its trainer. Gentling happens every day at the Silver State Industries ranch in Carson City, Nevada…. Up to 2,000 wild horses are corralled there at any time; a good number are trained for adoption. The ranch is part of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, a medium-security prison that also houses minimum-security inmates. Twelve to 15 inmates, most of whom have little or no experience with horses, work under the instruction of a cowboy named Hank Curry. It is the inmates who do the gentling.”S. Kurutz, The New York Times

Gentling refers to working with a wild horse until it becomes responsive to a trainer’s commands. Sometimes the trainer and the horse bond. Credit Ryan Shorosky for The New York Times

Excerpt: Wild Horses and the Inmates Who ‘Gentle’ Them, by Steven Kurutz, The New York Time

John Harris, an inmate who is taking part in the program, grew up on a family farm in Northern Iowa, so he wasn’t a stranger to livestock. A mustang is not a barn horse, however. Often they are terrified, skittish and incredibly strong willed from having survived in the wild.

The inmates work under the direction of Hank Curry. Credit Ryan Shorosky for The New York Times

When he started in the Wild Horse Program at the prison two years ago, ‘I was a lot more aggressive with my training,’ Mr. Harris said. ‘I wanted something done now. That don’t work. You have to take your time.”’

He credited Mr. Curry for his softer approach: ‘Hank had to kind of gentle me.’Mr. Curry, who is 67, no longer sees his job as strictly horse trainer, as he once did. Instead, he said, ‘I’m a counselor, a teacher, a horse trainer. You establish pride in the guy and pride in his job, he’s going to be a lot more successful when he gets out of here.’ Most of the inmates he works with are nonviolent offenders, with sentences of two years or less, and they signed up for the job.

Inmates train their assigned horses at the Stewart Conservation Camp in Carson City, Nev.

‘I’m fortunate,’ Mr. Curry said. ‘I don’t have to deal with big-time punks.’ Everyone involved in the program recognizes the symbolism: the way the horses and the inmates are both penned up and how through the training process they rehabilitate one another.

Wearing dusty Levi’s, work boots and hand-me-down chaps, the inmates clean stalls and repair gear. They water and feed the horses and undertake the slow process of earning a wild animal’s trust. It’s dirty, bruising work in blazing heat. The Wild Horse Program at the prison isn’t unique. There are programs like it in Arizona, Colorado, California, Kansas and Wyoming.

It’s one of the ways the Bureau of Land Management is dealing with a population of mustangs and wild burros in the Western states that, after the 2017 foal crop, could be as high as 86,000.

Wild horses in Navada.

The inmates’ work culminates every four months with an adoption day for the public. The inmates put on a big rodeo intro, waving flags and riding around a roofed arena, showing off to the bidders in the bleachers their horses and, by extension, their equestrian skills. They have a competition as to whose horse will fetch the most money ($15,000 is the record).

There’s a lot of guys, they wish they could adopt out a horse themselves, because they’ve got that bond with them, said Mr. Harris… Me, personally, I just like seeing them getting adopted out.  ‘I look at them like us: I helped the horse become a better person so he can make parole.”

Category: Animals

Natives Fight Back for the Grizzly!

“When Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species list in late June, at least seven environmental groups filed notices of intent to sue him. But nine Indian tribes have beaten them to the punch, citing violations of religious freedom.” L. Lundquist Courthouse News

Excerpt: Indian Tribes Take the Lead in Fight for Grizzly Bears by Laura Lundquist courthouse News

“Zinke announced on June 22 that he was removing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from protections of the Endangered Species Act. Conservation groups filed notices of intent to sue June 30, but must wait 60 days under the Endangered Species Act to give the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an opportunity to respond.

Native Americans have other avenues of recourse, and sued the United States on June 30 in Federal Court. The four-count lawsuit, filed by nine tribes or their representatives, plus three spiritual societies and spiritual leaders, claim the defendants failed to consult with them in developing the delisting documents, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the delisting violates their religion and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…As Fish and Wildlife proceeded to work with other federal and state agencies to delist the Yellowstone grizzlies, tribes were not represented in the meetings.

Mama Grizzly and cubs

Had they been present, tribal representatives would have cited the religious importance of the grizzly bear, according to the tribes’ 34-page lawsuit. The spiritual leaders say grizzly bears need to be allowed to expand throughout their historical range for tribes such as the Hopi to freely express their faith. They say that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Fish and Wildlife should not take action that prevents grizzlies from repopulating their homeland, such as allowing states to conduct trophy hunts.

Education- image windigotravel

‘It’s not surprising, but it’s not acceptable for our tribes to be ignored of our needs and our requests. We wanted full consultation, meaningful consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service. But even though they promised us, that’s not happening,’ Ben Nuvamsa, former chairman of the Hopi Tribe, told the Public News Service…The tribes seek an injunction against the delisting until Fish and Wildlife properly consults with them and considers their religious needs.

The nine tribes and their representatives are just a fraction of more than 120 tribes and nations in the United States and Canada that have signed a Grizzly Treaty in the past year to protect the bear. On July 4, some of those tribes met in Rapid City, South Dakota, to renew their opposition to the delisting, among other issues.

However, the tribes do not comprise a totally unified front. On the Blackfeet Reservation in north central Montana, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council supports the delisting, though it opposes trophy hunting on the reservation. But in a June 17 letter to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Crazy Dogs Society of the Blackfeet Nation said the Business Council did not have the authority to speak for the tribe on matters related to the grizzly bear, and Society leader Leon Rattler questioned whether the council had conflicts of interest. Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project expects grazing leases to proliferate on federal land occupied by grizzlies and the resulting conflict will mean more dead bears.

‘The Yellowstone region is one of the last places where grizzly bear still occupies its natural place as the king of the mountains,’ Molvar said. ‘But the livestock industry continues to push sheep and cattle deep into the mountains, causing conflicts with grizzly bears and other native wildlife in their natural habitats. Turning grizzly bear management over to trigger-happy state agencies without guarantees that the bears will be protected turns back the clock to the dark days when predator killing was the rule and grizzly bear populations were eliminated.”

Category: Animals

Meet The New Baby Bison!

“A bison calf has been born on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation for the first time in 130 years.”Casper Star Tribune

The first wild bison calf in 130 years. Billings Gazette

Excerpt: First bison born on Wyoming reservation in 130 years — Casper Star Tribune

“The Casper Star-Tribune reports the baby bison was born Wednesday into a herd of 10 animals reintroduced to the reservation last fall.

Jason Baldes with the Eastern Shoshone tribe says the bison calf is ‘an honor bestowed upon us by the Creator.’ White settlers nearly eradicated bison from the West in the 19th century.”

Do You Know the Difference Between Buffalo and Bison?

“It’s easy to understand why people confuse bison and buffalo. Both are large, horned, oxlike animals of the Bovidae family. There are two kinds of bison, the American bison and the European bison, and two forms of buffalo, water buffalo and Cape buffalo. However, it’s not difficult to distinguish between them, especially if you focus on the three H’s: home, hump, and horns.

From top to bottom: A bison, an Asian water buffalo, and an African Cape buffalo.

Contrary to the song “Home on the Range,” buffalo do not roam in the American West. Instead, they are indigenous to South Asia (water buffalo) and Africa (Cape buffalo), while bison are found in North America and parts of Europe. Despite being a misnomer—one often attributed to confused explorers—buffalo remains commonly used when referring to American bison, thus adding to the confusion.

Another major difference is the presence of a hump. Bison have one at the shoulders while buffalo don’t. The hump allows the bison’s head to function as a plow, sweeping away drifts of snow in the winter. The next telltale sign concerns the horns. Buffalo tend to have large horns—some have reached more than 6 feet (1.8 meters)—with very pronounced arcs. The horns of bison, however, are much shorter and sharper. And, if you want to throw a B into the mix, you can check for a beard. Bison are the hipsters of the two animals, sporting thick beards. Buffalo are beardless.”


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Warriors and Wolves

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a tough problem and it’s not just a problem for veterans. We just think of veterans when we think of PTSD…their families get the PTSD problem stacked on top of the other issues. Lockwood Animal Rescue Center near Frazier Park, California refers to their PTSD work as Warriors and Wolves.” S. Russell, ICTMNlockwood-animal-rescue-center

Excerpt: Warriors and Wolves; Disappearing Nooksacks By Steve Russell,ICTMN



“I’ve always thought it makes sense to worry about the effect of combat on veterans because even if the government lied about the reasons for fighting, the GIs often think they are fighting for us and they always think they are fighting for the GIs to their right and their left caught up in the same battle. LARC rescues wolves and wolf-dog hybrids who face an automatic death sentence in ordinary animal shelters because they are thought to be too dangerous for pets.

untitledAt LARC, they are allowed to live like wolves, but they do appear to bond with a human caretaker. In the Warriors and Wolves program, the wolves make the decisions. LARC just provides the opportunity by bringing in combat veterans as caretakers. According to LARC, the wolves have been excellent judges of character and the veterans find that bonding with a wolf levels out fight and flight impulses better than conventional therapy.”


Category: Animals, Healing