MEDIA RELEASE: Pregnant Mustangs & Foals Forced To Run for Their Lives in 90-Degree Heat in Piceance-East Douglas, CO
MEEKER, Colo. (July 26, 2022) — A controversial roundup of wild horses in the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (HMA) is well underway, despite calls from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Congressman Joe Neguse, In Defense of Animals, and other influential individuals and organizations to halt or delay the operation.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) initially scheduled the roundup for September. However, the BLM used an “emergency” designation to expedite the operation, which is now underway on the hottest days of summer. Newborn foals and heavily pregnant mares are being forced to run for many miles into traps. To date, 657 out of the goal of 1,050 have already been captured.
The BLM has called an “emergency” roundup citing horses in poor condition, yet facts, photos, and an independent ecological assessment of the Piceance East Douglas Herd Management Area show healthy horses in good condition, with healthy foals.
At the same time the BLM declares the range in the Piceance basin to be in such poor condition that they must remove the majority of the wild horses, it continues to authorize the livestock grazing that is the primary cause of the degradation of our public lands.
The BLM’s true motive for expediting this roundup is likely an attempt to avoid extra scrutiny after Gov. Polis, First Gentleman Marlon Reis, and Congressman Neguse all called on the BLM to halt the costly, inhumane roundup. Their pleas follow the deadliest disease outbreak at a BLM facility in Cañon City, killing 145 wild horses who should have been vaccinated.
Healthy wild horses during the Piceance-East Douglas roundup in Colorado on July 19, 2022. Photo: In Defense of Animals
“Chasing terrified horses with helicopters over miles of rough ground is cruel and dangerous in any weather; doing it when Colorado is experiencing record heat with temperatures in the 90s makes it even more so, especially for young foals and pregnant mares,” said Ginger Fedak, Wild Horse and Burro Campaign Director for In Defense of Animals. It was extremely difficult to witness these horses lose their freedom, especially knowing they are only being removed to benefit special interests.”
In Defense of Animals has observed and documented five consecutive days of the Piceance roundup despite intentionally obstructed public observation sites. Per usual, there were major challenges for viewers who were told where they could and could not stand. At one site observers were only 500+ feet away from the trap, but horses could not be seen running from the helicopter until they actually entered the trap; tall sagebrush, shrubs, small trees, fencing cover, and a well-placed trailer blocked the view of all but the horses’ heads once they were in the trap. At that site, the horses could not be seen running from the helicopter until they actually entered the trap. At another site, public observers were kept about a mile or more away from the trap, and had to climb a dangerous cliff with falling rocks and loose scree to bear witness to the mustangs’ last moments of freedom.
In another blow to transparency, the BLM and its helicopter contractor put temporary holding pens on private property where the public was not allowed. After capture, the horses were quickly loaded into trailers and whisked away to the temporary holding pens on private land, without the public being allowed to see them.
At other wild horse roundups, the public may view the trap site and temporary holding pens after the helicopters have completed their runs for each day. In this way, the public can view the horses and their condition before they are trailered to the short-term corrals where they are “processed.” When BLM staff were asked why the temporary panel pens were not set up at the trap site where the public could go see the horses, instead of on private property where they could not, the staffers had no answer.
Also reprehensible is the terrible road to and from one site, which will likely further injure horses during transport. It was so rutted and washed out in places that it took out a skid plate in our representative’s SUV. The horses in the trailers, especially the foals, were banged and thrown around on that eight mile stretch of dirt road. It should be standard procedure to grade any roads that will be used before a roundup begins.
The public is getting wise to the BLM’s false narrative, especially when the “emergency” reasons for removing wild horses keep changing when inaccuracies are pointed out.
In Defense of Animals stands firmly with and for America’s wild horses and burros. The general public has no idea about the abhorrent situation these iconic and cherished animals find themselves in.
“Our own government agencies have put the interests of private livestock operators above those of federally protected wild horses and burros, to the detriment of both the wild equids and our public lands,” added Fedak.
Images (free to use with credit): https://bit.ly/PiceanceEastDouglasRoundup
Contact: Ginger Fedak, email@example.com, 415-448-0048 x217
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/wildhorses
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