Tuesday, January 26, 2010


In Defense of Animals

BLM Accused of Secrecy, Denying Full Public Access To Roundup And Gives Only Glimpse of Deaths & Suffering

Washington, DC – January 22, 2010 – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now revealing that two more wild horses have died and up to 25 are under treatment for injuries as a result of the helicopter stampede and roundup currently underway in the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada.  In response, In Defense of Animals (IDA) is calling for full investigation of these deaths and full and ongoing access for public observers to all aspects of the highly controversial roundup and capture operation.
The latest victims of the BLM roundup include:

* A small colt was run so hard and long that he was killed due to “multiple hoof sloughs from the capture.”

* A mare who went down in the trailer transport truck after being stampeded by helicopter for miles into capture pens and loaded onto a trailer. No help was available for this downed mare on the 4-5 hour drive between Calico and the Fallon holding facility. She was still down on arrival and died shortly thereafter.

* 20 to 25 horses at the holding facility who are receiving “treatment for various injuries or lameness.”
“These latest tragic and unnecessary deaths document beyond doubt that the BLM helicopter stampedes violate federal requirements for humane and minimally-intrusive management of wild horses,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, president of IDA.

“In Defense of Animals is calling for a full and independent investigation of these and other fatalities and injuries caused by the Calico roundup,” Katz continued. “Further, we reiterate our request for full and continuing access for public observers to witness all aspects of the capture operation. Only then can full transparency of BLM’s activities be achieved.”

BLM is tightly controlling public access to the roundup and the Fallon feed lots where the horses are being held, thus no independent verification is available to document the conditions surrounding the continuing fatalities and injuries of horses in the roundup.
In November 2009, In Defense of Animals, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley, represented by Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney and lead counsel William J. Spriggs, filed suit in federal court to stop the roundup. In December, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that the BLM’s plans to stockpile the majority of horses at holding facilities in the Midwest likely violated federal law. The BLM proceeded with the roundup, despite Judge Friedman’s suggestion that it be postponed.

Wild Horse Facts:

- The Obama Administration plans to remove 12,000 mustangs from their Western ranges in FY 2010. Most of these horses will end up in government holding facilities.

- The number of wild horses in government holding facilities (35,000) now exceeds those left in the wild (33,000 by BLM estimates).

- The wild horse population today is smaller than in 1974 when the BLM conducted its first census after Congress protected the horses due to their dwindling numbers.

- Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1.

- The BLM manages more than 256 million acres of public lands. Cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres, while wild horses are restricted to 26.6 million acres of land that is shared with cattle.

- Since 1971 when Congress protected wild horses as “living symbols of freedom” and important parts of our national heritage, the BLM has removed over 200,000 horses from the range and taken away 20 million acres of wild horse habitat.

- The BLM frequently increases livestock grazing allotments after removing wild horses. Horses are also displaced for the benefit of other commercial users of public lands, including mining, oil/gas and other extractive industries.

- The Obama Administration proposes to spend up to 500 million tax dollars to purchase private lands in the Midwest and East to warehouse wild horses removed from public lands (which the taxpayers already own) in the West. In response to IDA’s lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L.  Friedman ruled that these holding facilities are likely illegal.

- The mustang has spent hundreds of years acclimating to the arid, rocky terrain of the west and their presence on that landscape is part of our national heritage. Not only are they ill-suited to the wet, lush Midwestern climate but their absence from the west is an affront to our cultural history.
For Immediate Release

Contacts: Suzanne Roy, 919-697-9389,  Deniz Bolbol, 650-248-4489

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