Dear Friends of America’s Wild Horses,
These are remarkably trying times, considering the recent deaths of our wild horses in the West. Despite a public outcry against the massive and dangerous roundups of these treasured animals, the Bureau of Land Management is pressing forward, leaving the broken bodies of our mustangs in their wake. When we have unpreventable disaster like earthquakes and hurricanes, it is indeed frustrating to watch a man-made disaster unfolding on our public lands in the West against innocent wild animals who only want to live in peace with their families.
Despite our anger at being ignored by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, we must not let our emotions get the best of us. Any thoughts of violent actions or illegal behavior of any kind need to be put out of our heads. Instead, we must focus on legal methods to make a difference. Here is what you can do right now, today, and for the weeks and months that follow.
Please take some time today and in the days to come to call your Representative and Senators and send them a message via our “Stop the Summer Roundups Petition.” Ask them to call on the Interior Department and President Obama to freeze BLM’s summer roundups. 6,000 more wild horses and burros are slated for removal in the next three months alone.
You are some of the most caring people in the world. I value your commitment to our just cause. We are truly on the side of the angels and we will prevail in the fight to protect our magnificent mustangs. Our most recent press release follows.
Seven Mustangs Die in NV Roundup, Observers Barred Access
Public Calls for Permanent Stop to BLM’s Inhumane Summer “Gathers”
Reno, NV (July 12, 2010) — The Cloud Foundation and the public learned yesterday that seven wild horses died after being rounded up on the first day of the Tuscarora (Owyhee Complex) roundup in Elko County on Saturday, July 10. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) contractor, Cattoor Livestock, rounded up 228 horses in less than 2½ hours over dangerous terrain. Choosing to begin the roundup on private land, BLM prevented the public from observing the first day’s roundup and the condition of the horses after they were captured. The Foundation strongly advises that humane observers be present at all times during roundups and processing to ensure the humane treatment of America’s iconic herds.
“In light of yesterday’s devastating news, we call for an immediate stop to summer roundups,” states Ginger Kathrens, Director of The Cloud Foundation, adding, “Tuscarora is another example of BLM’s reckless agenda.”
BLM issued a press release announcing that the roundup had been suspended to assess the situation.
Upon hearing of the BLM’s proposed July Tuscarora 1,400 horse roundup, the Cloud Foundation, the public, mustang advocates as well as animal welfare groups sent comments to BLM asking the agency to postpone the roundup because of high temperatures and the obvious danger to foals only weeks old. BLM ignored thousands of public comments including warnings by wild horse experts. The agency forged ahead — despite the dangers and public outcry.
In response In Defense of Animals and Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and Cloud Foundation Board Member, represented by the leading conservation group, Advocates for the West, filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) to stop the BLM roundup on July 8.
On July 9, the Cloud Foundation’s Herd-Watch Program Director, Laura Leigh, filed suit to stop the Owyhee Complex roundup in Federal District Court in Reno. Yesterday Leigh’s attorney filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the Tuscarora/Owyhee Complex Roundup.
“This is what we feared and this is what we wanted to stop,” explains Leigh. “BLM’s agenda absolutely disregards the welfare of these horses — unconscionable and unspeakable. It’s a shame. More horses have paid with their lives due to BLM’s unwillingness to listen to the public and allow us to participate in management decisions and observation of our wild herds.”
Secretary Salazar’s BLM Director and stand-in Mineral Management Services Director, Bob Abbey, temporarily halted the operation after one horse broke its leg and four horses were found dead on July 11 in the capture pens and others were “exhibiting signs of colic and brain swelling.’ Helicopter roundups during this time of year are known to be dangerous and cause dehydration of adults and young mustangs alike. Foaling season is defined by BLM as ending June 30 and the agency advises waiting until mid-August to begin helicopter roundups. The Cloud Foundation is requesting that independent humane observers be allowed to view the trap-site area and the wild horses as they come in, and that BLM immediately cancel the remaining 2½ weeks of this roundup.
“These horses died at the hands of the agency meant to protect them,” states Kathrens. “This is all driven by a removal schedule and contractor availability. What about the welfare of the horses? We’re asking the public to call their Representatives and Senators and urge them to ask for a freeze on BLM’s summer roundups.”
Based on past experience and the current rush to remove 6,000 wild horses in three months, The Cloud Foundation believes that the BLM’s priorities are based on contractor availability rather than the humane treatment of wild horses — especially foals — some of whom may be only weeks or days old.
BLM is aware of the danger to the foals. Their 2009 Calico Roundup planning documents stated: “…Not only are young foals in summer months more prone to dehydration and complications from heat stress, the handling, sorting and transport is a stress to the young animals and increases the chance for them to be rejected by their mothers.”
If not cancelled, the Tuscarora roundup will decimate three herds, Owyhee, Little Humboldt and Rock Creek, living in a vast 455,000-acre area about 90 miles northwest of Elko, Nevada. “Damage to livestock fences” is cited as one reason to remove the horses. BLM plans to leave only 400 wild horses in an effort to reduce the range damage caused by 4000 cattle allowed to graze the same area. In 1990, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report underscored that wild horse removals did not significantly improve range conditions and pointed to cattle as the culprit for public lands damage. Despite GAO noting the lack of data provided by BLM back 20 years ago, the public has seen no improvement in the piecemeal management of an agency that favors welfare cattle over legally protected mustangs and burros. Herd areas containing 10 to 30 times more livestock than horses are the norm rather than the exception.
Given the clear lack of accurate range censuses and the presence of over 37,000 wild horses in government holding at enormous taxpayer expense, advocates continue to call for an immediate freeze on the costly roundups. Congressional hearings are needed to discuss the shortcomings of an out-of-control program that threaten the future existence of wild horses and burros on lands set aside for their use in the West.
“Clearly this agency is out of control. They were warned and advised not to move forward. Now at least seven horses have died,” states Craig Downer. “It is time for Secretary Salazar to stand up and stop this disaster in the making — the lack of good leadership in this agency is causing the death of America’s treasured mustangs.”
The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905