BLM Wild Horse Roundup at Calico Ends

BLM Wild Horse Roundup at Calico Ends

Horse struggling in trap pen at Calico on January 2, 2010. photo credit Craig Downer.

Horse struggling in trap pen at Calico on January 2, 2010. photo credit Craig Downer.

The BLM announced today that it has ended the Calico roundup, with 1,922 horses captured. This is 600 fewer horses than the BLM had targeted in its capture plan, which had estimated the horse population in the five Herd Management Areas (HMA’s) at Calico to be 3,040.

According to its press release, the BLM now estimates that 600 horses are left in the Calico Mountains Complex. If correct, this means that the BLM’s original population count was off by over 500 horses, raising serious questions about the validity of the horse census data upon which the agency is basing its management decisions.

The death toll from the roundup is 39 horses and counting, as the fatality rate at the Fallon holding facility has risen sharply in the past two weeks. Deaths not reported before in this blog include a four-year old sorrel mare who was kicked in the head while being transported from the trap pen. According to the BLM gather activity updates, her “eye globe was ruptured with complete prolapse of the iris. This eye could not be saved and would remain a serious physical defect. She was euthanized as an act of mercy.” Other deaths include mares euthanized at Fallon due to injuries to spine and pelvis, and failure to adjust to feed.

An additional 20-30 pregnant mares spontaneously aborted. Although the BLM has claimed that poor nutritional condition of the mares led to these miscarriages, equine veterinary sources disagree.

“Nutritional deficiencies have not been associated with abortion in mares. In general, if mares are in good condition (body condition of greater than 2 on a scale of 0 to 5, where 5 is very fat), they will carry a foal. Mares that are too thin, however, will not cycle or conceive.”

Equine veterinarian Don Hoglund states: “20-25 abortions in captivity are not likely due to range conditions. Infections, vaccination reaction, but most likely stress is the cause. In fact, that many abortions are cause for concern, anywhere.”

Thanks to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign for these resources.

The Calico roundup has taken a terrible toll on the horses who have lost their lives due to the trauma of the helicopter stampede and capture, and on the horses who survived the capture but have forever lost their freedom. The legal case over the illegality of the Calico roundup continues in federal court, and the Department of Justice has agreed that the Calico horses will not be moved from the Fallon holding facility until the case is resolved. In addition, lead counsel William J. Spriggs of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has notified the Department of Justice that he is ready to sue again if the BLM proceeds with plans to round up 495 mustangs living in the Eagle Herd Management Area in eastern Nevada. Stay tuned.