The Big Story, Horseback Magazine
Exclusive Interview By Steven Long, December 28, 2009
HOUSTON, December 28, 2009 (Horseback) – When the Bureau of Land Management began their “gather’ of Wild Horse on private land on Monday, Horseback Magazine asked to go along on horseback with a reporter and photographer. We promised to be unobtrusive. We were politely turned down and told the agency would allow no press to witness what has turned into a brewing scandal for the Obama administration. We interviewed BLM spokesperson Heather Emmons.
HORSEBACK: Federal Judge Friedman last week advised against this gather. Why is the agency doing this against his advice?
BLM: Uh, well the judge ruled in our favor that we could actually go ahead and gather.
HORSEBACK: But he advised against it.
BLM: Well, all I know is that we were given the okay to go forward so we started our gather this morning.
HORSEBACK: Whose decision was it to start the gather against the judge’s advice?
BLM: Well, once we got the ruling, you know, from the judge, that we could go ahead with the gather – we went ahead with the gather.
HORSEBACK: Was it Mr. Abbey’s decision? Whose decision was it? That’s what I’m asking.
BLM: Well, I can give you the name of someone to talk to with regards to that. I can’t really talk to that.
HORSEBACK: Can you find out for me? I don’t necessarily need to talk to them. I just want to know who made the decision to go against a federal judge’s advice.
BLM: I sure can.
HORSEBACK MAGAZINE: What is your plan for allowing the media access to the roundup?
HEATHER EMMONS, BLM: We are going to be on private land. We are planning specific dates where we can escort media it to the gather, and then out…
HORSEBACK: We don’t mind being escorted, but what we have in mind though is to have full access with our people on horseback. We don’t object to having one of your people on horseback next to us but we want to be able to see everything that is going on.
BLM: That’s what I’m trying to convey to you. We can’t let you have full access with this one.
HORSEBACK: What are you hiding?
BLM: We’re not hiding anything, sir.
HORSEBACK: It sounds like it.
BLM: The reason we have parts of it on private land is because it is the only way to have access to the horses for certain areas. They are really rough areas to get to. The private land is the only way we can get in there and get to them.
HORSEBACK: Isn’t it a fact that the BLM always prohibits the press from coming in and having full access?
BLM: We like to work with people and take them in with escorts only because it’s so remote out here.
HORSEBACK: In other words, you like to control the situation.
BLM: Well, we like to be able to explain what’s going on, make sure people are there for people with questions to help them out.
HORSEBACK: We’ve been covering this for months. Some people have been covering it literally for years. We, and they, are perfectly aware of what’s going on. We want to be able to photograph it. We want to see the horses if they are injured. We want to count the horses that are injured. We want to know the nature of the injury. We want to see how the injuries happen.
BLM: Okay, well we are going to have public days that are going to happen. There are parts of the gather that will be on public land and anybody can go on that. We’ll let people know when those parts of the gather will occur on our website.
HORSEBACK: How much of the gather will be on public land? How many days?
BLM: Oh, about half of it.
HORSEBACK: Will you keep people in an observation area, or will they be able to go anywhere they want?
BLM: Well, we’ll probably put them in an observation area depending on where it is and how we set it up. As you probably well know, horses spook very easily, so we can’t have people roaming around for the safety of the attendees because the horses spook if they see any movement whatsoever, they turn around and run the other way.
HORSEBACK: I run a horse magazine. I’m perfectly aware of horse behavior. What we have in mind specifically is not to do anything that would spook a horse – but have someone on horseback standing still within a hundred yards of where the gather is taking place – standing very still and not spooking.
BLM: They’ll see you, and we don’t know exactly where the helicopter is going to guide the horses.
HORSEBACK: Was anyone from the press and public out there today?
BLM: I don’t believe they were out there today, no. Again, we talked to the land owner and the land owner did not want to have the public out there today at all.
HORSEBACK: Who is the landowner by the way?
BLM: You know, in this case, I’m not sure of the names of them but I know our Horse and Burro people have spoken with them.
HORSEBACK: Could you research that for us please and get us contact information?
BLM: I sure can. We are doing a media day on Wednesday of this week.
HORSEBACK: What is going to take place at the media day?
BLM: We’re going to have everyone meet at BLM in Winnemucca at 6 AM on Wednesday morning and do a briefing to explain to people what they are going to see, what we intend to do, how it works. Then we are gong to caravan out to the site and watch horses be gathered for a few rounds.
HORSEBACK: How long will the media be out there?
BLM: We’re anticipating maybe five hours.
HORSEBACK: And how many media days are you planning?
BLM: We don’t know at this point. We’re just going to kind of gauge the interest.