Dear Friends and Supporters,
Unfortunately, the BLM summer roundups have resumed and the current death count of the horses at Tuscarora is now nearly two dozen. However, on the upside, it has been a really busy week in the media for our horses getting the attention they deserve. Saving America’s Mustangs’ spokesperson Jerry Reynoldson and I spoke on the Thom Hartmann Radio Show about the BLM roundups yesterday. The link to the video of the interview is below. Also, George Knapp did a fantastic investigative report into the Tuscarora Roundup. Please take some time to view both and please keep generating awareness to each and every person that you can. Already this month we have had 10,466 letters sent out to President Obama and our government officials imploring them to suspend the roundups. Thank you all so much for joining us in this special cause! Let’s set a goal of 12,500 letters sent by the end of July. Please keep forwarding the Take Action links on www.savingamericasmustangs.org to your friends and contacts. The American horses need us to prevail… and we will do just that!
ELKO COUNTY, Nev. — A wild horse roundup in northern Nevada has ended, for now. Phase one of the Tuscarora Gather captured 636 horses, but 21 mustangs died during the operation, mostly from a combination of stress, heat, and dehydration.
Now, the Bureau of Land Management is ready to start phase two of the roundup, unless wild horse advocates once again head to federal court.
BLM now says this was an emergency rescue, not a routine roundup, though there was no emergency, and no dead horses, until the roundup started. Critics ask: why couldn’t this wait for a month or so, until the horses could be watered and the temperatures weren’t so hot?
One reason is the BLM’s contractor, Sue Cattour, who is being paid more than $1 million, is already booked up later in the year. Also, a delayed gather might be easier on the horses, but could interfere with deer hunting season.
Either way, BLM is ready to spring into action again, though horse advocates might try to stop it.
In the high desert of Elko County, water is precious, but not that hard to find. The Chimney Reservoir located in one of the two herd areas next on BLM’s list was spotted by wild horse advocates Laura Leigh and Elyse Gardner as they flew over the range with the I-Team.
Will BLM argue there isn’t enough water here for wild horses, as it did in the Owyhee area? A roundup there caused 21 mustangs to die, so far.
During a hearing in federal court, Nevada wild horse boss Alan Shepard testified that water in Owyhee was limited, that none of it was fenced off from the horses, and that there were no cows on the range, statements which could cause problems later.
For instance, the sprawling desert ranch reservoir is in Owyhee. But, BLM says, while it is on public land, the water is privately owned. That’s why there are fences around it, though the fence has a few gates for access.
Horse advocates say the main reason horses can’t get to water out here is the BLM has allowed ranchers to fence off many of the water sources on public land.
The overall message is: there is water, just not for horses.
Prior to the flight, we mapped out a course with pilot Matt Jahnke to make sure we would be flying over Rock Creek and Little Humboldt, the next targets on the roundup list. Once in the air, it became clear there is a lot of water and greenery in these herd areas. The landscape is punctuated by small creeks and ponds.
There are barren areas as well, and if someone wanted to paint a bleak picture, it would be easy enough to edit out the good stuff. Photos released by BLM of dried up water sources in Owyhee are authentic, but hardly accurate since they don’t paint the total picture.
Laura Leigh scouted Owyhee prior to the roundup, saw plenty of water, lots of fences, and, not surprisingly, cows everywhere.
“We didn’t see any horses. We saw a lot of cows,” she said.
And that’s what we saw from the air: lots of cows. Everywhere there was water, there were cows. We also saw bands of horses, running across pastures, kicking up clouds of dust on desert trails. It’s hard to tell from the air, but they didn’t look like they were dying.
The BLM says the public range can support around 4,000 cattle but only 400 or so horses. The Bureau vehemently denies it is removing horses to benefit cows, but the fact is the two do compete for resources. BLM will allow the cows to remain in the herd areas, but the horses must go.
“We saw multiples of cows and water. I saw horses today, but not a quarter as many as cows. You see cows hanging around almost every water source,” said Elyse Gardner.
Critics have good reason to doubt BLM’s recent characterization of the Owyhee Gather as an emergency resource. The roundup was original scheduled for last year, but BLM surveyed the land and horses and found both in good shape, such good shape that they re-authorized cattle grazing and then put off the gather for a year.
In a film produced by BLM, the agency acknowledged some water holes in Owyhee would run dry by this June. If the water holes would be dry in June, why does BLM wait until the heat of mid-July to start its roundup, critics ask?
BLM news releases never characterized the gather as an emergency. There were no dead horses at all, not until contractor Sue Cattour started running the mustangs over many miles and saw them die in her corral. Only then did it become an emergency. If it really has been monitoring horses and the land, how did BLM not know what would happen?
“If it’s an emergency gather as they’re claiming, where they are going from zero dead to 75 percent of the herd dead in three days, that’s another indication something is not right here,” said Leigh.
Horse advocates point to a massive gold mine right next to the herd areas. It uses millions of gallons of water every day, suggesting there is enough water that BLM could drill a well and supply the horses, at least through the rough spell, and then remove them later when it is safer.
Cattour doesn’t like that idea. She says the horse advocates are to blame for recent deaths because they delayed the roundup for a few days by going to court. Cattour thinks the press and public should back off the BLM and let it do its job without so much scrutiny.
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Saving America’s Mustangs
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