Monday, September 7, 2009

Independent Humane Observer Elyse Gardner: Preliminary Report and Update

From CLOUD blog

Independent Humane Observer, Elyse Gardner:

Elyse is a Court Reporter, and an Officer of the Courts of the State of California, an Equine Science Major and a horsewoman. She is here for the horses. She represents the American public. As such Elyse is the only objective observer who does not have an ongoing or previous working relationship with the Bureau of Land Management. Elyse has no conflict of interest when writing reports for the public or making recommendations for this and current BLM roundups.

After initially having been given close access to witnessing processing (working horses into chutes, freeze branding, PZP application, health inspection etc.) her access has decreased dramatically yesterday following some unfortunate incidents in the processing area that she witnessed. After the crew was unsuccessful in pressing an extremely frightened and reluctant horse (Floyd, a 5-year-old blue roan bachelor stallon) to go into the narrow shoot, one of the contractors said to Elyse that he could get that horse in there in 30 seconds but wouldn’t do so in front of a camera. He wanted to use a hotshot. Because Elyse was there this method was not employed and Floyd was successfully processed where he planted his feet rather than in the typical location.

Elyse was then not surprised when she was denied access to the processing area the following day.

As a result Elyse has been told by Field Manager Jim Sparks that in order to be allowed access to the processing area, she would be required to sign the Individual Volunteer Services Agreement, which is a document of the Department of Interior: Bureau of Land Management of the United States. Upon signing this document Elyse would essentially be made a volunteer employee of the BLM for the duration of this roundup. This Agreement details that the release of any film, video or reports- any work product- Elyse compiles automatically becomes the property of the United States of America. Elyse has therefore declined to sign this document thereby losing access to any meaningful view of what is going on in the processing area.

Elyse’s objective simply remains to be the eyes, ears and voice for the horses- someone who has nothing to lose when advocating for their safety. Elyse was granted full access to the processing area for the first two days of the roundup when media and larger numbers of observers were present.

Currently Elyse is allowed approximately 30’ closer than the general public on ‘greasewood knob’ which overlooks the corrals. However she is still 150-200’ from the horses being processed and can not see well enough to observe all the horses and humans in that area. At this time (11:35pm) band stallions have been put together and are fighting in the corrals.

Elyse’s concern remains getting to see the incoming horses from the helicopter drive as soon as they arrive, or within ten minutes to assess their condition as well as being allowed to observe horses being processed.

BLM officials have stated that they will “do what they can” to give Elyse close access to observe. Elyse is grateful for the access given to her after the last group of horses came in yesterday afternoon and she was allowed a walk-through of the corrals.

Thank you all for your support and prayers for these horses and for Elyse.

The following is a preliminary report:

For a multitude of reasons it is clear the BLM is doing its best to make this an exemplary roundup. This only proves the point that roundups in and of themselves are brutal and destructive to horses and their families. This is a terrifying experience for them. Nevertheless, BLM and the contractors are to be commended for their efforts. This is the very reason why an independent humane observer must be present at every roundup of our American wild horses.

BJ Star or “Sand”, daughter of Red Raven and Blue Sue with a scraped face. The crew blotted the wound with a cloth (photo at blog coming)
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Great Star (b. 2006) came out of the chute window and was hung up. This is ten minutes after another horse in Trigger’s band did the same thing. After this incident the roundup crew began using a cotton rope around each horses neck in the chute.

On Friday September 4th, “media day”, the temperatures down low were in the high 90’s (F) and the helicopter was grounded before noon because of the heat. On Sunday, September 6th the temperature was about 97 deg. F and the helicopter went back up to the mountaintop after the first group came in to continue bringing horses all the way down the mountain until 3:10pm.

Elyse’s presence deterred the roundup crew from using a hotshot (cylindrical cattle prod) later on the five-year-old blue roan bachelor stallion, Floyd, who would not go into the chute. PHOTO COMING OF FLOYD

The video below shows the 1997 mare, Cassidy’s respiration rate after coming down the mountain and waiting in the corrals. She and her 11-year-old band stallion, Stiles, are slated for removal. VIDEO UPLOADING

Photos/Video by Elyse Gardner except where noted.

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