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Wild Horse Roundup

By Laura Allen, of Animal Law Coalition

Nevada federal District Court Judge Larry Hicks has issued an injunction prohibiting the Burea of Land Management (BLM) from proceeding with the Tuscarora roundup. BLM halted the roundup after public outcry over the deaths of horses.

Judge Hicks set a hearing on July 14 on a motion for a restraining order filed by plaintiff Laura Leigh, a journalist, author, artist, and wild horse advocate, to delay the roundup until August and compel BLM to allow access to the roundup by the media and the public. The judge explained that he was then informed that BLM Director Bob Abbey had issued an order for an emergency roundup of the horses prior to the hearing.

Based on this change in the BLM’s position, “the court finds it necessary to grant an immediate injunction preventing the Tuscarora gathering of wild horses until further order by the court,” ordered Judge Hicks.

In proceeding with the roundup on July 10, BLM basically ignored thousands of citizens who submitted letters and emails in protest during a period of public comment on the planned roundup. An appeal of BLM’s decision to round up wild horses has been filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals by In Defense of Animals and Craig Downer, a wildlife ecologist.  BLM, however, can resume the roundup while the appeal is pending.

Dehydration, Death, and Cruelty
Once again, BLM hired Dave Cattoors to round up wild horses. Cattoors has a federal conviction for aiding and abetting the theft and sale of wild horses for slaughter. He has made millions as a BLM contractor rounding up wild horses and burros.

As summer temperatures soared on the first day of the roundup, Cattoors ran down approximately 228 horses in a matter of a few hours with a helicopter. Most of the horses were forced to run for miles. Many of the mares had just given birth or were about to do so. It was a tragedy in the making, and 7 horses died during the first day of the roundup while another was euthanized in the holding pen after breaking a leg.

BLM’s Rationale for the Roundup
Buried in its Environmental Assessment, BLM says that to “leave …. wild horses on the range, could lead to negative impacts on livestock grazing management.” Agri-business does not want wild horses and burros on public lands it uses for livestock grazing. And neither does BLM.

Long time rancher, now Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has said wild horses do not belong on public lands. BLM is an agency within the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Follow the Money
Fees charged for cattle or sheep grazing are $1.35 per animal under 18,000 grazing permits and leases on 258 million acres. Grazing livestock on public lands is a $132 million loss to the American taxpayer each year and independent economists have estimated the true cost at between $500 million and $1 billion a year.

BP’s Involvement
Investigative reporter George Knapp revealed that plans to build the Ruby oil and natural gas pipeline likely facilitated the mass removals of wild horses. The pipeline will extend across northern Nevada. It is no surprise to find BP involved. BP and another DOI agency, Minerals Management Service, have operated as one and the same under DOI Secretary Ken Salazar.

Leigh Lawsuit
Leigh filed her lawsuit in Nevada federal District Court to delay the Tuscarora roundup until after foaling season and a period of rest for birthing mares. Leigh also seeks an order requiring BLM to allow the public and media access to the horses during the roundup and after they are placed in a holding facility.

Leigh says BLM violated its own policy that prohibits helicopter roundups until at least six weeks after peak foaling season ends on or about June 30. According to her Complaint and affidavits, observers confirm a number of mares have given birth in recent days or are about to do so. Leigh says the roundup during the summer virtually during foaling season violates the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act’s requirements for humane treatment of the horses.

Leigh’s other claim is that BLM’s closure of 27,000 acres of public lands in the area of the roundup constitutes a violation of the First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press. Leigh says the BLM is censoring information and denies the media the ability to observe and report on a government action.

You Can Help
Join Animal Law Coalition and thousands of organizations and citizens and call on President Obama to order a moratorium on wild horse roundups. The numbers is 202-456-1111.

For more information, read Laura’s full story.

From Me–Michele of Pet News and Views
Just in case you don’t know me, I write this blog. I called the White House, and it just took 2 minutes.  The line can be busy. I hope you will be patient and call.

13 comments to Wild Horse Roundup

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Robert Davis, Doggy Bytes. Doggy Bytes said: Wild Horse Roundup http://bit.ly/cmD5IA via @michelechollow […]

  • http://www.rgj.com/article/20100715/NEWS/100715060

    Here’s a link to the latest decision of Judge Hicks. This is another roundup that could be called DEAD ON ARRIVAL. BlM created the emergency – by poor range management.

    Tragically the BLM’s lack of management of range management of habitat and water leaves them a day late a dollar short with an endless trail of dead horses. Now they’re either run to death from dehydration, and their bones and spirits are broken as they’re chased beneath helicopters in scorching desert heat. Most are coraled to die slowly in long term warehousing. Now in some of the ranges that horses have been forced onto they may thirst to death on land where water, the life blood of the west, has been allocated to paying customers, including the bargain basement deal, livestock ranchers pay. The BLM refuses to work with private sectors who have the means and will power to develop sustainable solutions for the wild horses to stay free roaming in the western landscape. GET RID OF KEN SALAZAR and Bob Abbey whose boots are filled with horse blood and suit pockets jingle from their personal holdings in the livestock and extractive range land business.
    These federally appointed employees of we the tax payer deserve to be striped of all their entitlements, sent without water or food to the desert for a couple of weeks and then chased at close range by a helicopter. Wonder if they’d cry uncle then?

    A moratorium on round ups is a step but with it must come a consortium of experts with financial means and hard working hands to restore range land and implement humane “management” strategies for the horses, until habitat legally there’s is restored and rehabilitated. Wild Horse politics is like a strip mine that rapes soul and life from the land and is a metaphor for setting all of us on Cormack MacCarthy’s apocolyptic journey, “The Road.”

  • Among the many attributes horses have that people don’t is “horse sense” so no wonder even in dire thirst they don’t take water from the enemy about to run them into hell. I’ve been working on a film series about America’s wild horse for about a year. Today’s news is one of those days, when I can’t hold back the tears and anger this horror is causing.

  • AbbyTabby135

    Get rid of salazar, blm & doi most of all GET RID OF BP EXECUTIVES SITTING on the board of blm & doi! Then you may have departs you can work with, mind I will not hold my breath but MAYBE. After all we know what bp thinks oof everyone. everyone is “the little people”. Perhaps they think people not as rich as them are not as smart boy do they have another thought coming! Get the cattle, the poisen from the mines take down the fences put UP BY THE BLM TO KEEP HORSES OUT get rid of all that return the land TO THE PEOPLE IT WAS STOLEN FROM & return the horses & burros. Oh & get the natural gas pipelines of public land to!

  • michela






    So very very sad.. this is all just insane.. what are they doing?!! Good Lord.. so sad.. Angel hugs to all of the beautiful horses who perished, and Angels protect those who stand in horror of their future. Pray for deliverance of this insanity. Obama is such a dissappointment !

  • This situation is heart breaking. Thank you for sharing the information on how we can help.

  • Maryloree

    My sentiments include all of the above. Are there protests taking place to make our outrage visible? This has to be stopped.

  • […] first story I posted, by Laura Allen of Animal Law Coalition, is an in depth read about the wild horses and burros that are being rounded […]

  • Sheila

    I hope all that took the time to leave a comment took the time to call. I did.

  • Thanks Sheila for calling!