Wild Horse Roundups Resume; Horses and Foals Die in Summer Heat and Arid Conditions

July 27th, 2010 by Nicole Meyer

Wild horses gallop in the Rocky Hills HMA, southeast of Battle Mountain, Nevada.  PHOTO CREDIT : USAToday

Wild horses gallop in the Rocky Hills HMA, southeast of Battle Mountain, Nevada. PHOTO CREDIT : USAToday

Despite tremendous public opposition and legal actions the Department of Interior is moving forward with the ill-conceived plan to remove more than 6,000 wild horses and burros from our public lands by October 2010. The Obama Administration’s policy has proven to be both deadly and devastating for wild horses. The Calico Complex roundup, which IDA fought in federal court, has to date taken the lives of 186 horses including 30 foals who have died and 40 spontaneous abortions as reported by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
On July 10, 2010 the BLM began this horrific roundup of wild horses in the summer desert heat in northeast Nevada – the Tuscarora Complex roundup. (See USA Today article.) The BLM reports, given the lack of public access to observe there is no way to verify any BLM-provided information, that 22 wild horses have been killed at the trap site and three have died at the holding facilities. After a lawsuit was filed by Nevada horse advocate Laura Leigh, the BLM began to claim the first part of the Tuscarora roundup (in the Owyhee herd management area) was a “rescue” operation – claiming there was not enough water on the range and that horses were dehydrating. Just last week, IDA had a representative on the ground in Owyhee and observed water, cows and plenty of fencing in and around the Owyhee area.

If dry conditions were so severe one would expect wildlife and cows to be suffering from the same dehydration – yet this was not the case. Rather only wild horses were in need of “rescue.” As one local rancher told IDA – antelope and other wildlife can get under and over fencing, but wild horses cannot. If a need to “rescue” horses occurred – it was clearly a BLM-created problem.

Indeed, in mid-May, the BLM conducted an on-the-ground observation at Owyhee; the promotional video resulting from it, actually titled “Extreme Terrain Requires Extreme Diligence,” stated among other things that There is little water available to sustain more than 800 horses.” (Also see transcript.) Meanwhile, the BLM warned in its own Environmental Assessment that Given the dry conditions and the expanding wild horse numbers, along with the limited perennial water sources in the Owyhee HMA, the BLM has a very strong concern that wild horses could suffer from dehydration and possible death in the Owyhee HMA this summer” to justify the disastrous July 10 roundup.

Clearly, the BLM should have taken actions (i.e. fence removal, water delivery, etc.) to mitigate any possible problems. The Tuscarora situation is a classic case whereby the BLM refuses to conduct on-the-range management and reverts to the roundup-removal practice which has already been acknowledged by the Interior Secretary to be an unsustainable practice.  In the case of the horses at Owhyee, just like the horses at Calico, the result is needless suffering and death. Thanks to this broken system, we have more wild horses in government holding facilities (36,000) than free on the range (33,000).

In addition to the BLM-created problem in Tuscarora, the BLM proceeded with using helicopters to roundup these horses in summer-desert temperatures while foals continue to be born. This means newborns and weeks-old foals and still-pregnant mares were run up to eight miles in desert heat. IDA has called for a moratorium on summer roundups and filed an administrative appeal to stop the Tuscarora roundup. We recently received the denial on the appeal and are reviewing our legal options.

We knew fighting the deeply-entrenched BLM would not be easy. We pledge to all the wild horses and burros who have lost their lives, families and freedom that we will continue to fight until these magnificent beings are truly protected and finally given their fair share of our public lands.

Stay tuned for our next action alert – another step in this long fight to bring about the change these animals deserve and need.

9 Responses to “Wild Horse Roundups Resume; Horses and Foals Die in Summer Heat and Arid Conditions”

  1. April 15, 2013 at 6:35 am, Vickey Wingo said:

    Many thanks for your Great Contest. Would like to win!!


  2. December 09, 2011 at 9:09 pm, mark harner said:

    I am very interested in learning more about the issue of horses on public lands. I have observed the destruction caused by livestock, including horses, and I wonder what other solutions should be tried.


  3. September 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm, Ann Lawrence said:

    ..and the BLM horse harvesting machine rolls on. Thank you IDA for all the Save the Wild Horse petitions you have been running. And please do not stop–because BLM is not stopping! Where is the President on all this? How can BLM continue to “gather” and ware-house all these “free roaming/federally protected” horses. Why isn’t the science community in an uproar–these endangered animals carry the genetic history of our country
    ( Barbs/Spanish/cavalry). Once they’re gone–they are gone! Oil/cattle/minerals— and the horses (and burros) are driven off their guaranteed lands. So wrong. As a taxpayer I am disgusted.


  4. August 19, 2010 at 1:21 am, Anne said:

    Actually; my opinion is: The BLM is engaging in a “kick back scheme; imo;
    the USDA pays the Cattoors 1 mil. $ for each roundup

    and then the Cattoors “kick back monetary payments to certain blm officials

    this will be the investigation I present before US Law authorites very soon;

    that “and the BLM leaves downed mustangs in pens for days with no hay/water;

    if leaving a downed animal in a sand pit with no feed is not overt animal abuse

    then pray tell what is? anna usa 1951 Vegetarian who eats eggs and drink milk


  5. August 04, 2010 at 10:08 am, Fernanda Litt said:

    There are more than 800,000 people in the Facebook Group “Boycott BP” who are aware of the link between oil and gas companies (most notably BP) and the wild horse roundups. They would like to know what they can do to most effectively protest these roundups. Can you please post information on their group wall?

    Thanks so much!


  6. July 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm, Ron & Marian Glass said:

    The News is horrible…. What will they do with those 6,000. horses????(and this is just the beginning)
    Will they become like the FARM PIGS, CALVES & CHICKENS??? OMG??? HELP US.
    I for one will be glad when I leave this cruel horrid world!!! This oil will be our ruin. Contaminating the ocean AND Land…. Heaven Help us….


    • August 19, 2010 at 1:23 am, Anne said:

      yeah; what will the BLM do with 6,000 extra Mustangs when their corrals and correctional center facilites are overbrimming…

      no make that what will the BLM do with 12,000 Mustangs pray tell…?


  7. July 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm, Carryl Edwards said:

    When will IDA file a new lawsuit against the Blm? We are losing horses and new born foals eveRy day. Our wild horses and burros can NOT afford to wait any longer. Time is extremely Urent for them. Please put more pressure on the Blm! The more time that passes the more foals and horses will die. TAKE BLM TO COURT WITH A NEW LAWSUIT AND A LEGIMATE LAWYER NOT ONE THAT WORKS FOR USHS. PLEASE STOP BLM NOW!!!


  8. July 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm, Gillian Lauder said:

    Please help these animals and do not go on killing spree.


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