January 19th, 2010 by Nicole Meyer
The BLM is reporting that a total of four horses have now died at the Indian Rivers Road holding facility in Fallon, to which the Calico horses are trucked after being stampeded into capture pens near their homeland. The agency is attributing three deaths to “dietary feed change” and “failure to adjust in change in feed” and not reporting the cause of death for the other mare.
This brings the death toll for the Calico roundup to seven. Meanwhile, BLM contractor Sue Cattoor reports 122 more horses were caught on Saturday, January 16, when public observers were allowed to observe the helicopter stampede and capture for just one hour and 40 minutes of a ten hour day.
The unofficial total for the Calico roundup since December 28 is just under 1,000 horses. We are awaiting the BLM’s official capture count this week.
This video was taken on Saturday by IDA’s observer Deniz Bolbol. Kept at a distance, Deniz could hear the ominous thundering noise of the helicopter on the far side of the mountain, which obscured her view of the stampede.
When the horses came into view, several bands were being herded together by two helicopters into capture pens. On the video you will see one horse who evaded the helicopters path and remained free. When his horse comrades were stampeded into the traps, Deniz could hear the horse on the ridge call to them. They called back. She believes the back and forth calls occurred four or five times before the horse ran off to freedom, leaving his band behind. One can never know for certain what the horses were communicating, but Deniz felt that the captured horses were letting their friend know that they were trapped and urging him to run on and leave them behind.
Deniz reports witnessing the helicopters descend within a few feet of the horses, nearly touching them. Horses arrived in the pens covered in sweat despite the cool temperatures, meaning that they had been run great distances at swift speeds. Even after an hour in the trap pens, the horses remained sweaty.
Elyse Gardner, another horse advocate and public observer reported that Thursday’s roundup brought the cruelty of the Calico capture sharply into focus. Although the observers are being kept at a distance, Elyse reported seeing the horses valiantly fighting capture, charging back toward the helicopters trying to run back to the hills. Elyse reports one particularly heartbreaking scene where a stallion, loaded into a trailer packed with other horses, managed to turn himself around to look out at the hills as he was driven off, never to see his homeland or his family again.
It is a tough job to observe this brutality first-hand, a job that is made more difficult by the BLM’s restrictions, which prevent observers from witnessing the full activities of the BLM’s contractors as they stampede horses from ranges afar into trap pens situated on private lands.
Before the Calico roundup even ends, the next BLM offensive will begin . . . — a roundup of 550 horses in the Eagle Herd Management Area in eastern Nevada, scheduled to start in Mid-February. Public comments to oppose this roundup by January 27. Take action here.
More on this roundup and the proposed capture of 1,200 horses in the Antelope Complex also in Eastern Nevada soon.