This past weekend the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began rounding up 1,200 federally protected mustangs in Elko County, Nevada. These roundups are conducted using helicopters to gather herds together and then chase them into holding pens. Often the horses are run for miles to get them to the temporary corrals.
The roundup of 228 wild horses ran some of the horses for almost two and half hours in blistering heat over difficult terrain. As a result of the roundup seven mustangs died – 5 horses from exhaustion and dehydration and two who suffered broken legs in the holding pens and had to be humanely euthanized. The BLM was originally scheduled to round up 1,400 horses in Elko County, but has issued a press release saying they are suspending the roundup while they investigate the deaths.
The Director of the Cloud Foundation (www.cloudfoundation.org), a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of wild horses on public lands, Ginger Kathrens, stated, “These horses died at the hands of the agency meant to protect them. 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.”
Summer roundups are known to be dangerous, especially to young foals. The mustang foaling season ends in late June, thus conducting roundups in July and August mean that foals of one and two months are being run, sometimes for miles. BLM planning documents from a 2009 roundup state “…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.”
The Elko County roundup, scheduled to bring in 1,400 horses, will leave approximately 400 mustangs in an area of 455,000-acre area. One of the reasons given by the Bureau is “damage to livestock fences.” Approximately 4,000 privately owned cattle are grazed on these same public lands that are home to the mustangs. Often the home range of mustang herds find 10 or 20 times the number of cattle grazing them than horses.
Currently, the BLM has 37,000 mustangs in holding pens around the country at an expense of $29 million to the taxpayers.
Links of interest:
Herd-Watch: Public Eyes for Public Horses’ http://bit.ly/9Wvh58
Roundup Schedule- updated July 12, 2010 http://bit.ly/roundupschedule
BLM Wild Horse and Burro Management Handbook http://bit.ly/BLMhandbook
Proposed Roundup of CA Wild Horses Criticized – Sacramento Bee 7/5/10 http://bit.ly/SacBeeMustang
The Mustang Conspiracy: Sex, Drugs, Corruption, and BP – investigative report http://www.abovetopsecret.com/mustangconspiracy/