I-Team: More roundups planned despite pleas from Congress

Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp and Chief Photojournalist Matt Adams
Posted: Sep 02, 2010 5:54 PM CDT

LAS VEGAS — Government contractors have fired up their helicopters for yet another roundup of Nevada wild horses. The latest gather targets a remote area north of Ely, Nevada.

Four more roundup operations are on the schedule in our state this year. They will not only thin the herds, but wipe them out altogether.

2010 already ranks as one of the most aggressive in the history of Bureau of Land Management horse roundups, with a lot more to come. Operations which proved deadly for the herds have already scooped up thousands of mustangs from public ranges, but with no commensurate reduction in the number of private cattle allowed to stay.

The next round seems are designed to wipe out the horses altogether.

The Moriah Herd area near Ely will result in the removal of every one of the 72 horses living on thousands of acres. Two other Nevada herd management areas will be completely zeroed out of horses, and two others will see more than 90-percent of the mustangs taken away, even though federal law set aside those ranges as places where horses could roam forever.

Critics of the program say it looks as if BLM is in a race to grab every horse it can get before the program gets shut down, which is exactly what is needed according to a letter sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and signed by 54 members of Congress, including Nevadans Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus.

The letter harshly criticizes the roundups, calls for an immediate moratorium, and seeks an outside study of the science behind the gathers, or lack thereof, by the National Academy of Sciences.

BLM says it will cooperate with such a study, but Director Bob Abbey told Congress he has no intention of stopping the roundups.

“We signed the letter because we need to stop the roundups and the slaughter so we can study the policy. It hasn’t worked and they know it, we know it, the horses know it. We asked that they allow for a study but they won’t stop and I worry because these studies can take years,” said Rep. Titus.

Titus worries that by the time the study is complete, more herd areas could be wiped out by BLM. The roundups themselves can be deadly to horses.

“You see these pictures of them running to death and the colts and it breaks your heart,” she said.

A separate review of the horse program is already underway. The inspector general of the Interior Department is actively soliciting information from the public, including horse advocates, about all that’s wrong with its implementation — a review that can’t be seen as good news within BLM.

On another front, philanthropist Madeleine Pickens is hoping to move forward with her plans to build a sprawling horse sanctuary in northern Nevada. Pickens has already put millions of her own money into buying a large ranch near Elko and now has an agreement to buy a second property as well.

She will need the cooperation of BLM if she wants to put captured mustangs on the land so she can open an eco-tourism attraction, although BLM has said in the past it does not wants the horses to remain in Nevada, even in a sanctuary.

Director Abbey has agreed to meet with Pickens this month to talk about her plan but has made no promises.

Titus says she has already introduced legislation to force BLM to use options other than roundups, such as more adoptions, birth control, and a program to encourage ranchers to allow horses to graze on private range. But BLM continues to use roundups as the primary focus of the program.

Here’s a list of recent gathers:

Herd Area

# of Horses

# Removed








Silver King

600 545

5 thoughts on “I-Team: More roundups planned despite pleas from Congress”

  1. Thank You Elizabeth , well said………………….. Now we all need to take the bull by the horns !!!!!!


  2. My God, the BLM is just beyond the Law! They are decimating and annihilating our Western and American Heritage. Again, how can they break the law and get away with the horrendous cruelty of these roundups. So many horses die or are maimed in these terrorizing helicopter chases over hard volcanic desert and rocks.. For what – so more cattle can take over the land. We don’t need more cattle on Public land, there are already thousands and thousands more cattle than Wild Horses on public land.

    The Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 Set these public lands aside FOR THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS FOREVER!! This does not allow for public grazing of commercial/privately owned cattle or sheep, nor does it allow for oil or gas companies to buy up leases on this public land for drilling for profit.

    There is absolutely no reason why oil or gas drilling has to eliminate the existence of the Wild Horses and Burros who belong on the land by order of law. The horses certainly won’t bother the oil or gas drillers or the equipment.

    Someone should clean house at the BLM from the Top (Ken Salazar) to Bob Abbey and all in between and around. They people are on a power hungry, ego trip that beats anyone in Hollywood. What gives them the right to break the law and get off without even a slap on the hand. They should be chased down with Helicopters and herded into small pens with hundreds of other BLM workers and contractors who are breaking the law under contracts with the BLM and fed food they are not used to and not allowed to be with their families or friends. Then they should be hauled off in hot metal trucks to far off places without food or water and placed in a new strange pen till they are adopted by a new family or die.

    (There are 30,000 or more of these wonderful broken hearted wild horses and burros in these new strange holding places.) Now how many of them do you think will get adopted for new families – certainly not 10% and the rest will die of illnesses or lack of proper care that they wouldn’t even need in the wild. They are no starving or dying of thirst. It has been proved that there is plenty of food and water out there for them. However the BLM in all their law breaking methods has allowed the cattle ranchers to fence the water for their cattle only. This is public land designated by law for the Wild Horses and Burros – not for cattle or sheep.

    Now remember that this is all being done on YOUR DIME – TAXPAYER PAID FOR. YOU are paying for these unnecessary and cruel roundups that the BLM is benefiting from. Come on people, stand up for your rights and the rights of the wild horses and burros. They can’t stand up for them selves. With the Economy in such a drastic state, why are we unnecessarily rushing to spend millions upon millions of dollars on each roundup. The total spent on these roundups not including the money to support the existence of the Department of the Interior of which BLM is a part, will soon total Billions of dollars to roundup, transport, and store these animals in holding pens. Wouldn’t this money be better spent on health care for the unemployed, homes for the homeless, job training and support of Social Security for our Senior Citizens.

    You must speak up to stop this, not just because it is horrific, cruel, and unnecessary, but because it is costing taxpayers untold millions and millions of dollars needlessly and because it is a true tragedy that our Western/American Heritage is being cruelly destroyed and eliminated.


    1. I can truly understand your anger & frustration!!! We must keep speaking up for these innocent wild horses and demand accountability from the BLM and our present administration……..(It is not the Obama administration’s fault that this is currently happening…. it has been going on for a long..long time)….. but this insanity must be stopped…..
      There are major corporations who wish to totally wipe out the herds, (without a second thought), in order to access the natural resources to provide fuel for our country….. The uniformed Americans, no doubt, would be happy to learn of a new program for the USA to develop natural resources, and not depend on Foreign Oil from the Middle East…….
      It is up to us advocates to let America know what is going on here……If we do not speak up for these innocent horses, they will (no doubt) become extinct, and our future generations will never, ever have the opportunity to witness these majestic herds…….They will be gone forever……………………
      Oh My Gosh, This is insane!!!! Think about it, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Speak Up For These Innocent Ones!!! Thank You Elizabeth!!


      1. Kathleen, you are right about the anger and frustration. However, putting all emotion aside, and looking strictly at the law, it is not being upheld, it is being violated, and seriously. We will see what sort of justice we get for our wild horses and burros.


  3. The BLM continues mindlessly to destroy our Wild Mustangs………………………Why is it do they get away with there devastation tactics, does nobody have jurisdiction over them????? Is everyone afraid of them………..????????/They were started therefore they can be stopped! Who can put their foot down??????/ What method can be used to terminate them???????? (The BLM)……………………………………


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