Americans are wondering what BLM is hiding as processing of nearly 1900 wild horses begins in Nevada. Protests continue to save an American icon as President Obama heads West
THE CLOUD FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE
Colorado Springs, CO (February 17, 2010) — The Cloud Foundation objects to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) severe limitations placed on viewing of the wild horses captured in the controversial Calico Wild Horse roundup. Despite the enormous cost to the American taxpayers and the controversial nature of the roundup, the BLM and the Department of Interior (DOI) are denying requests for independent humane observers during the processing of nearly 1900 mustangs over the next few months in preparation for their long term holding or adoption. During this dangerous time for the mustangs, the public will be denied an opportunity to view BLM running the animals through alleyways and into chutes where they will be freeze-branded, inoculated and neck-tagged.
“I’ve been watching the processing of mustangs on and off for 15 years. What is the big deal this time?” Asks Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, “There’s something very wrong when it’s easier to crash a party at the White House than go view our wild horses being freeze-branded in Nevada. Makes you wonder if there’s something to hide out in Fallon?”
49 horses have died as the result of the roundup. This does not include the 30 plus mares who have aborted their late-term foals in the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada. The 4% death rate is over eight times the BLM expected level for a helicopter roundup. Foals are now being born in the pens and the public is not permitted to confirm young, sick and old animals are being humanely treated in a timely fashion.
BLM says that the shut down of the facility is a safety issue due to the horses being continuously in facility alleyways during the preparation process. Given the high level of interest The Cloud Foundation asks BLM to figure out a way to safely allow the public to observe.
“Processing our wild horses in secret does nothing but promote suspicion on the part of the public who simply request to have independent representatives present to verify that our horses are being treated humanely,” said Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and Nevada wild horse advocate. “Denying American citizens the right to watch over their horses is a very disturbing trend, and simply throws fuel on a spreading fire.”
1922 wild horses were captured in the 40-day dead-of-winter helicopter roundup which stopped weeks early and over 600 horses short when BLM discovered fewer wild horses than anticipated in the huge 500,000 acre Calico Mountains of northwestern Nevada. The horses are now being housed at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $75,000 per week while the death toll continues to rise. One stallion was euthanized on Monday, however, vet reports are now being withheld so the official reason for killing the stallion is unknown.
Despite Wild Horse and Burro Chief Don Glenn’s promise that the public is welcome “anytime” to view the roundups, the BLM conducted the Calico roundup with limited access. Now BLM has repeatedly denied official requests from the Cloud Foundation and others to allow even two members of the public to be present during processing of horses which began February 15. Ed Roberson, Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning with the DOI told The Cloud Foundation in an email last week not to worry about the horses as “we have a licensed vet on site during the prep work to ensure humane treatment.” Given BLM’s reticence to release vet reports from Fallon this is no consolation to the concerned public.
By disallowing access to any independent humane observers, BLM’s “bunker” mentality appears to have trumped any requests for transparency. “If American citizens are willing to travel to Fallon, Nevada to check on and observe wild horses that have been removed from public lands against the public will by a federal agency, why is this access being denied?” asks RT Fitch, Texas author of the popular book “Straight from the Horses Heart.”
Meanwhile the captured Calico wild horses, many still with swollen joints and injuries from being run over sharp volcanic rock by helicopters, stand in pens without windbreaks. “Topography credited by the BLM as a natural wind break is a joke. I’ve been to Fallon and I’ve seen the conditions these horses are exposed to—no cover, no windbreaks except for some of the ‘hospital’ pens”, explains Terri Farley. The celebrated children’s author of the Phantom Stallion series, based on the Calico mustangs, visited the holding facility on February 11th with a professional photographer whose photos will soon be posted at http://www.thecloudfoundation.org.
To combat the continuing roundups of America’s wild horses and burros, Nevada is planning two protests in coming days to gain the attention of a visiting President Barack Obama. On Thursday, February 18th, protestors will unfurl over 50 banners along Las Vegas Boulevard calling for a stop to the roundups which will remove half of Nevada’s wild horses this year. On Saturday, February 20th the public will gather in Carson City, Nevada to further protest the tax-payer funded destruction of America’s Wild Horses and Burros.
According to Wild Horse and Burro Chief, Don Glenn, the facility is charging the government around $5.75 per day/per horse. That amounts to over $10,000 taxpayer dollars per day to house the mustangs. The cost of the Calico roundup alone was at least $1 million and holding of horses will cost taxpayers additional millions.
While nearly 2,000 Calico mustangs languish and die in Fallon, thousands of privately-owned cattle still graze the Calico wild horse herd areas, bringing in revenues to the BLM of around $40,000 per year. The cost to administer the grazing program for the Calico area is six times this amount based on the national average for the program as calculated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO reported that yearly revenues from the national public lands grazing program are $21 million per year, while the costs to administer the grazing program are $144 million per year, resulting in a yearly loss to the American taxpayer of $123 million. This taxpayer subsidized grazing program is often referred to as “welfare ranching” due to the small fees charged to livestock permittees. The rate is currently the lowest allowed by law—$1.35 per cow/calf pair per month.
Links of interest:
News Story on Calico, rising death toll & skewed numbers from George Knapp (KLAS- Las Vegas): http://bit.ly/9f1DYb
Humane Observer blog http://humaneobserver.blogspot.com/
Court Case: In Defense of Animals and Craig Downer v. Secretary Salazar http://bit.ly/d6wOUQ
Good Morning America at Calico http://bit.ly/bXtwd5
New York Times “Horses Die in Roundup” http://nyti.ms/atZqF5
Feds Deny Gas Pipeline Related to Wild Horse Roundup http://bit.ly/buLfh5
Ruby Pipeline: The Smoking Gun? http://bit.ly/c4pfOA
Wild Horse Emergency PSA with Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortenson http://vimeo.com/8441353
After campaigning for Obama, Sheryl Crow at odds over his administration’s wild-horse plan (Associated Press)
Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.
America’s Disappearing Wild Horses – A History
Frequently Asked Questions on Wild Horses
Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now (http://www.lasvegasnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=11285225)
Unified Moratorium letter and signatories
Roundup Schedule- updated January 11, 2010
Photos, video and interviews available from:
The Cloud Foundation