BLM helicopter roundup to begin despite presence of vulnerable young foals

BLM starts dangerous roundup, violating their own protocol designed to protect wild horse babies


Foal lies in Fallon pen, dying.
Calico foal lies in Fallon, NV pen, dying. Extreme heat. No mother. No shelter. No help. Laura Leigh, who captured this image and named him Hope Springs Eternal, tried to intervene. It was too late. Hope Spring Eternal died.

Elko, NV — (Jul. 8, 2010) Over 1,400 federally-protected wild mustangs are to be rounded up beginning tomorrow, July 9, in the Tuscarora area of Elko County Nevada during the hottest month of the year. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is violating their own set-protocol for waiting six weeks after the main foaling season, defined as March 1-June 30, so that young foals can escape the inherent danger of a high-heat summer roundup. BLM will dispatch privately contracted choppers to run the Tuscarora mustangs over miles of rugged terrain in a taxpayer-funded roundup expected to last three weeks and result in the removal of some 1,100 mustangs. Only last month, Oregon BLM wild horse managers postponed a planned roundup that would have started the day after foaling season—opting to begin instead in mid-August for the horses’ safety.

“If allowed to go forward this will be a massacre,” states Anne-Marie Pinter who rode the Pony Express Race through the area on her Spanish Mustang and saw small foals. “It is covered with razor-sharp, volcanic rock that will rip up the feet of these poor foals. Before riding the area, our event veterinarian strongly recommended that we put thick rubber boots over the metal shoes of our horses—the rocks are that treacherous. We experienced triple digit temperatures and had to constantly work at keeping our horses hydrated. I can’t even imagine the toll on terrified small foals and even the adult animals at the hottest time of the year. This amounts to horrible animal cruelty and no one will know what is going on because BLM has closed the area, even the roads.”

Last winter, during the deadliest BLM roundup in memory in the Calico Mountains of Northwestern Nevada, at least two 6-9 month foals suffered a horrible death. Their hooves literally separated from their leg bones after running over similar terrain. Yet, BLM justified the dead-of-winter roundup by stating in their Environment Assessment: “Fall and winter time-frames are much less stressful to foals than summer gathers. Not only are young foals in summer months more prone to dehydration and complications from heat stress, the handling, sorting and transport is a stress to the young animals and increases the chance for them to be rejected by their mothers. By gathering wild horses during the winter, stress associated with summer gathers can be avoided.”

“Let’s be honest. What is driving these roundups has very little to do with concern for vulnerable foals and everything to do with contractor availability and using up taxpayer money before the end of fiscal year 2010,” states Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens, who has spent over 16 years documenting the lives of wild horse families. “With only two helicopter contractors available to round up the horses, scheduling becomes tricky, especially when the goal is the removal of 6,000 wild horses before the end of September. So, the rush to rid the land of mustangs trumps humane treatment. Disgusting.”

The Cloud Foundation is asking that humane observers and the public be allowed to document the roundup and any injuries and deaths which occur. Currently BLM has arranged for a near total lockdown of roundup activities, including a widespread closure of public roads around the area. Access will be extremely limited despite promises made by top BLM officials to the contrary.

“Having a ‘media day’ during the operation is certainly not the same as having humane observers on site at all times during the operation,” says Elyse Gardner, who has documented the Pryor and Calico roundups. “A sanitized version of BLM activities is not transparency in dealing with the public’s horses. If anything, rather than transparency, BLM is closing the door on public observation because of what our cameras have already revealed about these roundups.”

If allowed to proceed, the Tuscarora roundup will decimate three herds, Owyhee, Little Humboldt and Rock Creek, living in a vast 455,000-acre area about 90 miles northwest of Elko, Nevada. Over 4,000 cattle are allowed to graze on the Tuscarora designated wild horse herd management area while only 337-561 mustangs are welcome. In 1990 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report underscored that wild horse removals did not significantly improve range conditions and pointed to cattle as the culprit for public lands damage. Despite GAO noting the lack of data provided by BLM back 20 years ago, the public has seen no improvement in the piecemeal management of an agency that favors welfare cattle over legally protected mustangs and burros. Herd areas containing 10 to 30 times more livestock than horses are the norm rather than the exception.

“Damage to livestock fences is cited as a reason to remove the horses in Tuscarora. Give me a break,” states Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist, former BLM employee, and 3rd generation Nevadan. “How about removing the fences, reducing the number of cattle and starting to manage wild horses as principal members of their ecosystems, as well as celebrated symbols of the American West? BLM’s habit of operating behind a veil of enforced secrecy is completely unacceptable.”

The Cloud Foundation opposes the further manipulation of the Tuscarora mustangs through the use of experimental infertility drugs in combination with skewed sex ratios. The result will be increased turmoil among the highly social wild horse family bands. Given the disastrous management and the lack of accurate range censuses and the presence of over 37,000 wild horses in government holding at enormous taxpayer expense, advocates continue to call for an immediate freeze on the costly roundups. Congressional hearings are needed to discuss the shortcomings of an out-of-control program that threaten the future existence of wild horses and burros on lands set aside for their use.

“BLM has responded with its classic bunker mentality, abandoning any transparency efforts and placing at risk the lives of these small foals that have never even had a chance at life with their families,” states Kathrens. “We pray that BLM will show some compassion and ground the helicopters. With all the uncontrollable disasters in the world, why is BLM determined to create one in Tuscarora?”

13 thoughts on “BLM helicopter roundup to begin despite presence of vulnerable young foals”

  1. Everyone keep writing and calling:
    Director Bob Abby and those concered:,Mike_Pool@blm,,,,,,,,

    Attention: Director Bob Abbey and those concerned,
    You MUST STOP the todays Nevada Wild Horse round ups and others to come.
    I just read this from the BLM site:
    [ BLM Director Seeks Input for New Direction in National Wild Horse and Burro Program: Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey today announced that the agency is taking the Federal Wild Horse and Burro Program in an unprecedented new direction, and is seeking in-depth public comment on a Strategy Development Document implementing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s Wild Horse and Burro Initiative.

    “It’s a new day, and we need a fresh look at the Wild Horse and Burro Program,” Abbey said. “As part of this effort, we want all those with an interest in wild horses and burros and their public lands to consider our initial ideas and offer their own.”

    The BLM will consider the public’s input as it prepares a long-term strategy for the management of America’s wild horses and burros. The BLM’s strategy will be presented in a detailed report to Congress later this year. Etc, etc]
    Is this a JOKE? Have you actually been to those BLM public meetings for the Wild Horses. It’s a SHAM. They may listen to the public but they don’t take heed of what the Americans say about the plight of the Wild Horses. You are not helping them one IOTA! You still keep removing them of their homeland, to soon their extinction. Why do you insist on this madness? How can we help our Wild Horse if you don’t take us seriously?
    Stop destroying the Heart of America’s lands and the People and Horses on it.
    A concerned Citizen

    ( second try sorry)


  2. Long Live,The Beautiful Magestic, Proud American Wild Mustang. Stand up for him, as he stands up for you !!!!!


  3. I have taken the entire morning writing to all, Senator Reid of Nevada, The President, and Bob Abbey….


    1. Good on you Arlene. I hope everybody is contacting someone even if they are not saying they are here. What if all it would have taken was one more voice, and that voice was yours, but you did not use it? As stated elsewhere, our telephone and computers are our weapons in this battle. Let’s use them!


  4. Copy of letter written to Director of the BLM
    Dear Mr. Abbey, just wanted to know if you the difference between Constructive and Destructive obliviously not !!! do you know how to thank and respect take care of a Wild Mustang????? If a Wild mustang could talk I am sure he would ask you that !!! Also he would tell you, that he helped fight to win you your Freedom. he is your ally in all that you need, he laid down his life to bring and show you Freedom, and ask nothing from you in return except your protection. He also brings Honor and prestige to you as he escorts you to your final resting place, if you are lucky enough to have him there for you!!!!! you return his honor to him , by viciously murdering his foals and mares, pumping his mare with fertility drugs so they will never bare another foal, terrorizing him all needlessly. Mother Nature handles the balance efficiently. She needs no help from you or your kind, she is meticulous in doing her job so should you be and if you have forgotten what your job is. It is to preserve and protect her Magnificently perfect Wild Mustangs. YOU are Paid hard earned tax dollars to do this !!!! Because America Loves the WILD MUSTANG. I also would like to know if you sleep at nite very well with the blood of innocent foals and mares and stallions on your soul, all needless. You disgust me and I am sure anyone else who knows you !!!!!! I think you should redeem yourself in the eyes of The Wild Mustangs.


  5. Yes I did, I sent that letter last night to the President, right after reading Vivian’s blog on BLM new Nevada’s Wild Horse round ups. And I sent several more afterwards with the listing Vivian provided on her new July 9th blog, Thank You Vivian. You’re a Dear Soul. Our pens, computers and phones are our freedom of speech and weapons. We cannot just sit by idly and watch the terrors being committed by our government and let them think it okay because it’s NOT!!! Everyone please write and call today!!!! Praying for the Wild Horses. Thank you Vivian for keeping the Wild Horses alive in our hearts and minds! Now please call everyone!!!


  6. I agree broken hearted, I am so hoping you e mailed that to every offical in our government !!!! and also to bob abbey at the BLM, also most importantly to our President !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They all need to search their very souls and show our wild ones the mercy…and respect they have earned for all they have done for us………..


  7. Dear President Obama,

    BLM, oil and gas corporations are destroying America the Beautiful the People and her Animal Friends.

    I cannot understand why the people cannot not use masks respirators in Louisiana while doing clean up on the beaches and marshes! In Alaska the last big spill 20 years ago many people died who did the clean up, it will happen again. Why is BP so in charge yet neglecting the people’s health. They don’t care about our oceans the life in it nor the people of America but money. Get rid of them. Help our people.

    Oils and gas companies are destroying America the beautiful, our precious Gulf, our wetlands our seas and the valleys and mountains our animals. And you are allowing it to happen. I’m so disgusted.

    Please you must do the right MORAL thing. I voted for you and now I’m regretting it every day.

    I cannot understand why you allow our Wild Horses to suffer so much. You and BLM Right now have over 37,000 wild horse in Federal pens. They are dying. Many are not well and will not make it through the harsh summers. They need their freedom to wander they don’t need our help. We are killing them. Tomorrow BLM will round up MORE horses in NV and now there are fouls, they will not make it through the round up it’s to harsh a terrain and the weather is too hot. I’m so stricken with anger and sadness that I voted for you and now BLM is doing there best to eradicate all the Wild Horses for GAS called Ruby Pipeline, minerals and cow grazing and your letting them do it.

    You should watch GASLAND, gas is destroying our America and killing our people destroying our clean waters and our animals and stealing the homelands for the Wild Horses. America is becoming a wasteland of death and pollution it’s horrible how you are allowing BLM, the government, oil and gas companies to destroy America’s beautiful public lands the life on it, our oceans and now you want to kill our horses as well. When will You start standing up for out country, when there is nothing left to fight for???

    Our Homeland is not secure anymore because the government is destroying America miles by miles, sea to sea, because of greed for oil and gas and money. Why can’t we go GREEN? I ask why is this so difficult? It will be far more difficult to fix a toxic America, you will never retrieve the life that has already been lost, the fertile lands and pristine waters because already so much destructions and death has occurred, all due to reckless managing of our sacred resources and GREED!. You can’t just keep taking from the earth and keep dumping poisons on her and expect her to bounce back. It’s killing our Animals on the prairies and the Humans that have to live on those lands. It’s already the 11th hour. Please stop the insanity!

    May God have mercy on your soul and the People of America, our Wetlands and our Wild Horses.


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