More News from the Calico Roundup

January 29th, 2010 by Nicole Meyer

Downed mare struggling to rise at Fallon 1/26/10

Downed mare struggling to rise at Fallon 1/26/10 Photo Credit – Craig Downer

Mare having spontaneous abortion at Fallon 1/26/10

Mare who had spontaneous abortion that day at Fallon. Photo taken 1/26/10 by Craig Downer

Since we posted this item, the BLM has reported the deaths of four more horses at the Fallon facility, bringing the total number of deaths to 26 horses. In addition, several people have raised questions about some of the horses looking very thin in the video below. Here is what a wild horse expert has to say about this situation:

“A horse’s condition is more compromised in the winter, especially older horses, pregnant horses or those nursing foals. The additional stress of roundup, capture and separation only adds to their fragile condition. What is so sad is that not only do many of these horses have to endure a helicopter chase, capture and transport…some will be euthanized in the end. Some horses are too stressed out to eat hay or drink out of troughs when they are in corrals. These free ranging herd animals suffer more than we can see. They are wild horses, they are not even ‘tamed’ wild horses. They are born, live and die on the range and I am sure if they could speak they would prefer to live out their lives…season to season, on their range with their herd”

Neda DeMayo
Founder, CEO
Return To Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary

News of brutality and suffering  continues to stream from the BLM’s wild horse holding facility in Fallon  Nevada, where the death count from the Calico Mountains Complex roundup  now stands at 22 horses. New deaths include a mare who crashed into  a gate and broke her neck, and more horses — including a stallion and  a 12 year old mare — found dead in the Fallon holding pens. Many of  the latter deaths are being attributed to “failure to adjust to  dietary change,” raising the likelihood that these horses suffered  horribly due to colic before dying, separated from their families, at  the Fallon holding pens. (See complete fatality summary below.)

According to John Neill, the BLM employee in charge of both the Fallon and Palomino Valley holding facilities, 15-20 mares suffered from spontaneous abortions. The trauma and terror that the BLM has subjected these pregnant horses to is likely to have played a role in many or most of these miscarriages.

BLM is also reporting that 20-25 horses are being treated for injuries and lameness caused by the roundup.

IDA observer Deniz Bolbol witnessed the suffering of the horses first-hand when she visited Fallon this week and saw a downed mare struggling to stand and another mare in the midst of a medical emergency, appearing to be having a spontaneous abortion but being unable to expel the calf. The BLM has since stated that the horse suffered a spontaneous abortion earlier in the day and was passing the afterbirth (apparently with difficulty) when Deniz took the video.

Deniz’s video below shows the horrible reality in which the Calico horses now find themselves. Only weeks ago, they were running free on the range with their families. Now, after enduring the trauma and terror of a helicopter stampede, they are interred at the BLM’s feedlot in Fallon, stallions separated from their mares, mares separated from their foals, horses going down and dying from colic, or maybe just giving up in the face of their sad fate.

The mounting Calico death and injury toll illustrates quite clearly the inhumanity of the BLM’s wild horse and burro program. If this was being done in an emergency, such as after a fire where the horses were demonstrably starving, then we might be able to say that the fatalities and injuries are unfortunate, but the action was necessary to save the horses. But the BLM’s entire wild horse management policy rests on these massive roundups, removals and stockpiling of horses. The program subjects horses and burros to this trauma every 3-5 years in most herd management areas.

The policy doesn’t make sense. From a financial perspective, it’s a train wreck. The Calico roundup alone is costing taxpayers $1.7 million, and the annual tab for BLM’s roundups and maintenance of horses in short-term feedlots and longer-term holding pastures exceeds $50 million. Reform is what’s needed and needed now.

Americans are speaking out in unprecedented numbers to save the wild horses, whose existence free on the Western range strikes a deep chord in so many people.  Protests continue. Last week saw rallies in Sacramento, where advocates braved pouring rain, to speak up for the mustangs (see TV report here) and Tucson, where pro-wild horse citizens lined the streets.This week advocates will take to the streets in Phoenix and Boulder.

Help us save the horses. If you can organize a rally or educational event in your community contact And be sure to take action here.


(Taken from BLM “Gather Activity Updates” and fatality report )

NOTE: Although the BLM reports 19 deaths at the Fallon holding facility, it has provided information only on 17 deaths. Three deaths have occurred at the trap site.


One filly found dead of unknown cause
Three mares of poor body condition killed; one spinal injury and one sole abscess and pelvis injury

One stallion was found dead, cause of death unknown

One mare crashed into a gate and broke her neck
Two mares killed due to poor body condition; not able to transition to new diet
One mare found dead in corral

One mare downed on transport truck arrived at facility; subsequently died
One colt suffered hoof sloughing as a result of the roundup; killed by injection after treated for 12 days

“About 20 to 25 horses at the facility have received treatment for various injuries or lameness.”

Foal born on 1/14 was killed on 1/15 because s/he could “not thrive”

Two mares and one stallion found dead; attributed to “failure to adjust to a change in feed”

One 12-year-old mare die after being at facility for four days; “weak and poor condition”

One mare found dead over the weekend; “result of dietary feed change”

*One 20-year old mare was killed; “poor body condition that was unlikely to improve”

*One colt run to death; “pre-existing pulmonary condition”

*One 20-plus-year-old mare  shot by riffle at the trap site; “unlikely her condition would improve”

*Indicates death at trap site.