Thursday, February 18, 2010

BLM Responds to Critics of Wild Horse Roundups with a Shroud of Secrecy

BLM responds to critics of wild horse roundups with a shroud of secrecy

Obviously stung by vocal public criticism of its cavalier treatment of the wild horses it captured from Nevada's Calico Mountain Complex, the BLM is literally circling the wagons in a desperate effort to prevent news of how the horses are faring from leaking out.

The last straw seems to have been the I-Team investigative journalist George Knapp's critical report of the Calico gather and its aftermath:

"A massive roundup of wild horses in northern Nevada turned out to be one of the deadliest in the history of the wild horse program.

Contrary to assurances from the Bureau of Land Management, dozens of horses were killed during the Calico roundup. What's more, the horses are still dying inside government corrals because of injuries suffered during their frightening run across tough terrain.

If a private citizen were to kill dizens of wild horses, that person would go to prison. Yet the government has been killing mustangs for years, with the promise that it's all for the horses' own good."

The best available information indicates that at least 49 Calico horses have perished since the end of December, and another 30+ in-utero foals have been lost--a shocking 4% mortality rate among the 1900 or more horses who were captured from their native ranges.

In just the last few days, the BLM announced it would severely curtail visitors to the Indian Lakes Road short-term holding facility near Fallon Nevada, where the mustangs are being corralled; only 10 observers will be permitted to see the horses on chapteroned "guided tours" during a two-hour period on Sundays, when the actual "processing" (branding, gelding, vaccinations) will be temporarily suspended.

And on Wednesday, February 17th, the BLM quietly took its "Calico Gather Daily Updates" offline. There have been no official reports of fatalities, miscarriages, injuries, or births since Thursday, February 11th, but you can bet that many have occurred. We do know that another stallion was euthanized on Monday, February 15th, but we don't know why. The BLM apparently thinks that the furor over the fallen horses and foals will quiet if it sequesters them behind closed doors, but if anything, the agency's stonewalling is having quite the opposite effect.

Craig Downer, a wildlife ecologist and longtime wild horse advocate, agrees:

"Processing our wild horses in secret does nothing but promote suspicion on the part of the public, who simply request to have independent representatives present to verify that our horses are being treated humanely. Denying American citizens the right to watch over their horses is a very disturbing trend, and simply throws fuel on a spreading fire."

Indeed, recent visitors to the Fallon holding pens have painted a disturbing picture of what's happening there. Terri Farley, the noted author of the Phantom Stallion series of children's books, was one of the last private observers allowed into the site, on Thursday, February 11th. "I've seen the conditions these horses are exposed to--no cover, no windbreaks, except for some of the 'hospital pens,'" she said.


You can "talk back" to the BLM by using its comment form to ask questions, or make complaints or comments.

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

No comments:

Post a Comment