BLM to begin new wild horse roundups in Northern Nevada

Cross-posted from the Reno-Gazette Journal


(Nov. 16, 2010) — Federal land managers this week are scheduled to begin the first of three wild horse roundups aimed at reducing the number of mustangs in Northern Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday plans to gather and remove about 94 “excess” wild horses from a site south of the Lahontan State Recreation Area in Lyon County, about 35 miles east of Carson City.

“We think there are up to about 150 horses in that (Lahontan) area, and there’s supposed to be about 10,” said Mark Struble, BLM spokesman in Carson City. “We don’t always know an exact number. In that area, the horses are often down under the trees along the river and can’t be seen (from airborne surveys).”

The gather is expected to be completed in two to three days. It’s part of an effort to remove up to 12,000 mustangs from the West this year.

The agency said there are too many horses on the range, and the herds must be culled to ensure ecological balance and forage for the remaining horses, wildlife and privately owned cattle. Wild horse advocates said the BLM exaggerates the number of animals and harms the genetic viability of herds by indiscriminately removing animals. Read full story >>

I was surprised to see this article. I didn’t realize there were any wild horses left in Nevada to round up. -Ed.

Wild horses: Calico roundup case dismissed

Cross-posted from the Nevada Sun


Calico colt in the freezing cold.
Wild horses rounded up from the Calico Complex in northern Nevada earlier this year in wintry conditions left out in the cold for good as federal Judge Paul Friedman dismisses case to protect them.

A federal judge Monday officially dismissed a lawsuit brought by animal rights activists over a big wild horse roundup in northern Nevada, saying the case was moot and plaintiffs lacked standing.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington, D.C., who in December denied an injunction to prevent the roundup, said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has already gathered 1,922 horses from the Calico Mountains Complex north of Reno, therefore challenging the use of helicopters was moot.

The group In Defense of Animals, wildlife ecologist Craig Downer and children’s author Terri Farley also claimed in their suit that shipping horses removed from the range to long-term holding corrals in the Midwest is not permitted under the Wild Horse and Burro Act.

But Friedman said the plaintiffs failed to show how sending the horses to other facilities would cause harm to themselves. Read all >>

Related reading:

  • OPINION, In Defense of Animals et al vs Ken Salazar et al, Civil Action No. 09-2222 (PLF), US District Court for the District of Washington, May 25, 2010

Image not filed with original story.

Wild Horse Red Rocks April 25 Rally Report

Advocates Tell the BLM: Don’t Take My Balls

April 26, 2010

Every wild horse volunteer knows how hard it is to steal a bit of time from the demands of career and family and stand up for those wild herds that desperately need our protection. Yet 30 people showed up this fine spring morning, Sunday, April 25, 2010, in magnificent Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas, Nevada, in sympathy with the suffering of the approximately 1900 Calico Mountain wild horses held in the aptly named Broken Arrow facility near Fallon Nevada. Quadruple that number of people wished they could have come because last week the BLM painfully castrated all Calico stallions under 4 years of age, thereby stealing the next generation of horses – before a Federal judge could rule on a lawsuit demanding the horses be returned to their native range. So for a few hours, we became the Voices for Horses.   
We volunteers know that Red Rock Canyon is the perfect place to protest the pillaging of our wild horse heritage by Washington bureaucracies. This National Conservation Area was recently home to some of the West’s most beautiful wild horses and gentle burros – a superb example of the heritage herds that have adapted amazingly to the poorest bits of American public land left to them by faceless bureaucrats, self-centered politicians, careless cowboys, energy and mining companies, and greedy bottom-line agribusiness. We have reason to be angry.
American taxpayers are paying over $10,000 a day just to hold these captured Calico horses at the Broken Arrow holding facility. Processing that includes freeze-branding, inoculating, tagging and castration adds thousands more to that cost. BLM has denied repeated requests for observers to be present during processing and only allow public visits by reservation for two hours once a week. They must not want us to see how they spend our tax dollars; they certainly don’t want us to fire them. But we will.

We stood this Sunday and heard passersby honk, cheer and stop to sign petitions. Over and over, locals said they used to hike or ride by magnificent horses and burros, but now they only see a few burros and never see a wild horse. “Why is that?” they ask. We tell them all the reasons and ask them to vote out of office the politicians who will not force these Federal agencies to give our wild heritage herds their fair share of public lands. 

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All images by Arlene Gawne

We have an anthem for those wild stallions whose bloodlines may be lost:

Read Full Report here >>

Alarm at BLM’s surprise start to castrate Calico Mustangs as death toll rises


New report on equine stress released as Foundation denied access to view the captured Calico wild horses in Nevada

Reno, NV (April 23, 2010)—Unexpected castrating of captured male mustangs, four years old and younger, by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) started behind closed doors on Friday, April 16th in the Fallon holding pens of Nevada. Many depressed horses with swollen scrotums have been observed. The public understood that the castration of the Calico wild horses would not occur until the In Defense of Animals court case was heard in May as there is a possibility of returning the wild horses to their protected public rangelands.

For months, requests for daily monitoring by humane observers have been repetitively denied at the new private facility contracted by the BLM. Now a request to visit the feedlot-style facility by Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation and Emmy-Award winning filmmaker, Ginger Kathrens, has been denied as well.

Outraged members of the public will hold protests in multiple cities because of the BLM’s lack of transparency and cruel roundups. The first rally is planned for Sunday, April 25th near Las Vegas at Red Rocks Park from 12:00- 2:00 p.m.

BLM seems determined to create a missing generation of mustangs” states Terri Farley, an award-winning children’s author and a plaintiff in the Calico case. “In their care, 86 horses have died, more than 40 mares have aborted their late term foals and now they’ve castrated an undisclosed number of young stallions.”

On April 19th Ginger Kathrens, was denied access to visit the private wild horse holding facility in Fallon, Nevada. BLM holds fast to its policy of restricting viewing to Sundays for a few hours— a time when the horses are not being handled by the BLM. An email to Kathrens from BLM Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, Dean Bolstad, he stated in part “The facility (Fallon) is not staffed adequately to host visitation on a daily basis or upon demand. Each time we conduct a tour, staff have to travel from Reno or Palomino Valley.”

Kathrens responded that, “Since visitation is denied except for a brief two hours on Sundays, it causes your ‘management’ practices to appear less transparent. Consequently, this restriction/limitation ends-up being counter productive to your educational and public relations efforts. I hope that this practice will change in the near future so people such as myself can fully view the facility and the horses — and feel like we’re invited and informed partners in the care of our national wild horse treasures.”

According to a newly released report by Bruce Nock, PhD entitled “Wild Horses, The Stress of Captivity” the deaths and abortions can be attributed in part to the sheer stress of the roundup. This report was released in conjunction with “BLM Calico Complex Roundup: A Case Study of a Broken System for Horses and Taxpayers” a report by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC).

Dr. Bruce Nock, Associate Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine and expert on the physiological effects of stress on animals, wrote: “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, as gathers [roundups] are routinely done in the USA, if a wild horse doesn’t die straight off from the immediate devastation and commotion, it compromises him/her physically and mentally, putting him on a path of accelerated deterioration.”

Even during the limited once a week visits, members of the public have observed the horses being fed moldy hay, which can cause serious illness and death to horses of all ages. The feeding of the moldy hay was noted and photographed on the automatic feeding trucks most recently on Sunday, April 18. Other photographs underscore the lack of cover for the horses, the extreme dust during frequent windy periods, and the presence of sand and even small rocks in the hay being fed to the once wild and free roaming Calico horses. A serious illness known as sand colic results from ingesting sand and has been known to be fatal in many cases.

The reports we get from citizens able to get in to see and document the captive wild horses during the once a week staged tours are awful. This shameful taxpayer funded nightmare behind closed doors must stop!” states Kathrens.

The Calico Mountain Complex wild horse roundup has drawn intense public attention worldwide. BLM went forward despite historic public opposition and a recommendation from US District Federal District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to postpone the roundup. Despite the increased scrutiny, the roundup has been a disaster for the nearly 2000 federally protected mustangs.

In late December government contracted helicopters took to the air, rounding up every horse they could find on the vast 500,000 acre Calico range—an area designated principally for wild horse use since 1971 but grazed by thousands of privately-owned, government-subsidized cattle. The roundup and short-term holding of the Calico mustangs has cost at least $1.3 million to American taxpayers while causing injury and death to hundreds of wild horses.

The 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act placed the authority for managing wild horses and burros primarily in the hands of the BLM. 54,000 wild horses and burros comprised 303 herds throughout the West when BLM conducted the first population census in 1974. Since that time, over 100 herds have been completely eliminated and the current range population is believed to be less than half what it was in 1974. This roundup and removal policy is fast leading to the extinction of wild horses and burros in the West.

At the same time the BLM strips federal land of wild horses and burros it is supposed to be protecting, it props up a public lands grazing program that costs American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year” states Rob Pliskin, a BLM volunteer and wild horse supporter.

36,000 wild horses are currently in holding facilities instead of roaming in the lands designated for their use. Over 24 million acres have been withdrawn from wild horse and burro use. The BLM “welfare ranching” practices continue—allowing the land to be leased primarily to corporations at minimum fees of $1.35 per cow/calf pair or per five head of sheep per month along with land leases to extractive and energy industries on Western public lands.

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Media Contacts:

Makendra Silverman
Tel: 719-351-8187

Anne Novak
Tel: 415-531-8454

Photos, video and interviews available from:

The Cloud Foundation
107 S. 7th St. – Colorado Springs, CO 80905
719-633-3842 ~

The Cloud Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.