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BLM’s honesty questioned, public outcry grows over neglect and death of mare and foal


By Jetara Séhart, Love Wild Horses July 12, 2015
(WARNING Graphic Photo Below)

On Friday morning, July 10th, at approximately 7:00 a.m., Patty Bumgarner, a Nevada resident and wild horse photographer, arrived at the BLM’s Palomino Valley Center (PVC) and discovered the body of a young mare with an unborn foal partially protruding from her birth canal.

Bumgarner shared the story and photos with Love Wild Horses’, and it went viral reaching more than 50,000 people in 24 hours.

The story of this mare and foal has caused a huge public outcry.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., John Neill of BLM’s Palomino Valley facility contacted Channel 2 KTVN News to respond to the incident. KTVN ran a story including the following:

“Photos surfaced online Saturday of a mare that passed away during childbirth overnight Thursday at the Palomino Valley Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro holding facility. John Neill of the Bureau of Land Management confirmed that the 2 year old mare was found deceased when workers arrived early Friday morning. The mother and foal were removed from the pen and the foal was successfully delivered. The foal was taken to Northern Nevada Correctional Center where the BLM has an orphan care program.”

See KTVN News Report

The graphic photos taken by Bumgarner show a wild horse mare laying lifeless on the ground, her body stiffened with an apparent and visible light pink birth sac unbroken and protruding. The dead animals were inside a pen with living mares and foals.

The young mare and her undelivered foal were unattended and unaddressed for over an hour by BLM personnel, who busied themselves distributing hay for the living horses. After an hour, they brought a backhoe to take away the mare’s body.

At approximately 11:00 a.m. Coleen Denson, a Nevada resident, contacted the Northern Nevada Correctional Center and who informed her there were no new born foals present.

Coleen shared the following:

“I was transferred 3 times, before I was connected to “Kevin”, in the Stable Division. Kevin hadn’t heard about a Foal and dead Mare from Palomino Valley on Friday. He told me, that all they had in the Foal care program were 1 month andolder, no one day olds, or newer born foals.”

We contacted Dr. Lester Friedlander BA, DVM, regarding the possibility that the foal (called “Hope”), could still be alive, as BLM PVC’s Neill stated. Dr. Friedlander stated “In my Professional Opinion, when the mare dies and she is in foal, the foal might live 1-2 minutes. The foal needs the oxygenated blood to survive.”

Author Terri Farley of Nevada is a frequent visitor to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse holding facility and shared these thoughts regarding the deaths of the mare and foal:

“Is it possible this young mare might have died in wild? Until there’s a necropsy, we don’t know. We do know that wild horses taken off the range are dependent — breath to breath — on human care and kindness.”

John Neill’s report to Channel 2 News KTVN is also in direct conflict with the information the correctional facility provided to Denson.

We reported the discrepancy to KTVN Channel 2 News and requested a further investigation be conducted into the whereabouts of the foal — now called “Hope” — that Neill claimed was saved.

We were informed that “the BLM PVC Facility was closed until Monday”. At 4:47 PM, Channel 2 KTVN News announced:

“We are continuing to look into this matter. The story was removed after we received conflicting information from multiple sources. More parties have become involved than originally thought so until we can speak with all of them and get a clear understanding of what happened we will refrain from posting about the matter. Thank you for writing, we will do our best to look into this further.”

Concern within the community and social media continues to grow regarding the seeming misinformation provided by BLM’s Neill, for the blatant disregard for the well being of this mare and her unborn foal and for all the wild horses assigned to this facility.

For two years, there has been much controversy and public outcry over the lack of shelter and additional water troughs that are needed for the many wild horses warehoused at this BLM facility.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that dishonesty and discrepancies have been discovered in BLM PVC reports on the number of wild horses and burros and how they have died there.

In May of 2013 a FOIA requested by the organization Animals’ Angels discovered:

“In addition to the contract itself, our FOIA request obtained all records of deceased horses and burros sent from the BLM holding facility to the rendering plant from January 1, 2010 through May 31, 2012.

During that time frame the BLM itself reported in the official Palomino Valley Mortality Detail Report that only 241 horses and burros died at the Palomino Valley facility and 50 at the Fallon facility.”

However, the records from the rendering plant tell quite a different story.

According to the Nevada By-Product invoices for that same time period, a startling 577 dead horses were received from the Palomino Valley Facility.

This is a shocking difference of 286 animals (336 horses if Nevada By-Products does not render the horses from Fallon), a number simply too large to ignore.

See Horse Deaths at Palomino Valley Center More Than Twice as High as Reported Rendering Receipts Reveal.

Adding insult to injury, poor public relations heightens for the BLM due to BLM Staff negotiations with The Burning Man Festival’s Management, requesting the building a $1,000,000 compound for BLM personnel, including 24/7 ice cream access and other luxury amenities.

The BLM’s wild horse and burro Palomino Valley and Indian Lakes holding facilities are located in the desert.

Thousands of federally protected wild horses and burros suffer, some dying, due to BLM’s failure to simply install needed shelter and more water troughs.

Approximately two years ago, at this same BLM facility, advocates found a young filly they named “Lil Angel” deceased upon the searing hot ground. This prompted a large public outcry for shelter and aid to be provided.

Instead of addressing the urgent need there and then, the BLM held a wild horse “Comfort Workshop” to discuss whether or not wild horses preferred shade.

In June, 2013, Dr. Lester Friedlander, BA, DVM, President of Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, requested BLM’s management to act, warning that:

“If the wild horses and burros do not get the proper protection from the environmental elements, found in that area, countless animals will be lost to disease, infections and heat related deaths. There is no adequate shelter found there and the wild horses and burros have no place to find shelter from the blistering heat.”

Yet BLM management continues to ignore veterinarian opinion on how to protect these wild horses and burros which has resulted in their death and disappearance at the hands of the BLM.

The Bureau of Land Management is charged by Congress and the American people to protect — not harass, harm, or cause death of — America’s federally protected native wild horses and burros.

Instead of helping America’s wild horses and burros survive in the wild and taking proper care of the ones held in their holding facilities, BLM procedures are making their survival extremely difficult and managing them to extinction.


A backhoe being moved in by BLM employee to take away the body of a wild mare and her undelivered foal, now both dead due to neglect and care. Photo: Pam Bumgarner.
A backhoe being moved in by BLM employee to take away the body of a wild mare and her undelivered foal, now both dead due to neglect and care. Photo: Patty Bumgarner.



Please contact your federal legislatures and the White House and request that the following immediate action be taken:

• Step in to save the wild horses and burros remaining on public lands
• Provide shelter and human care for the 58,000 wild horses and burros currently held captive by the BLM
• Release and return wild horses and burros currently held by the BLM to their natural habitat
• Increase the protections of America’s wild horses and burros so circumstances like these never, ever happens again

Find your Federal Legislators »
Contact the President »
President’s Comment Line 202-456-1111

Featured Image (page top): Wild mares exposed to the blistering heat with no shelter in the BLM holding facility at Palomino Valley, Nevada, in 2013. Nothing you see has changed.

4 thoughts on “BLM’s honesty questioned, public outcry grows over neglect and death of mare and foal”

  1. It’s ludicrous how they expect adopters to give these horses acceptable care, if not, treat them like royalty while they refuse to walk their talk. The BLM are the present day Pharisees when it comes to the treatment of America’s wild horses. To add insult to injury, they milk the taxpayers to fund their negligent and cruel management instead of using those funds to take adequate care of the animals they are supposed to protect. Government hypocrisy is a cancer and the BLM is far from immune to it.


  2. Is anyone able to get in touch with the media about this??? How about this picture to a newspaper or tv station out there, any chance???


    1. I expected George Knapp to pick this up and run with it. Perhaps he is. The television station involved in this already are going to do nothing further it appears. Scared of the BLM and their “friends” the cattle ranchers perhaps?


  3. What a sad state of affairs BLM must in, forcing the removal of thousands of horses from PUBLIC land and then failing to adequately care for them. Someone should go to jail on animal cruelty charges. This just makes me sick.


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