Saturday, February 6, 2010


Humane Observer: Elyse Gardner




                                ©Photography by Elyse Gardner              FROM HERE...

"Sure is a gorgeous day.  Where is everybody?"

                                ©Photography by Elyse Gardner                       ...TO HERE
Fallon stallions, soon to be gelded.
©Photography by Elyse Gardner

The Calico roundup is over.  The bells toll for the casualties, at least 59 and counting, from the gruesome culling of 1,922 native horses from their homes in the stark, beautiful mountains of Nevada that I've grown to love in my weeks here.  In that figure I do not differentiate between the late-term, spontaneously aborted foals who never had a chance to breathe on their own and the other horses who died or were killed or legitimately euthanized.  If a pregnant woman is in a car accident and spontaneously aborts, a wrongful death case can be filed for the loss of that infant's life...  

I will not go on and on about this, but I at least want to say that the deaths are only the tip of the iceburg.  Imagine the suffering and injuries we hear nothing about.  I want to acknowledge the loss and injuries to those quietly trying to heal in these strange pens and wondering what exactly their purpose is anymore.  

Used to be to protect and keep the family together, to find the food, get to the water, go visit that lovely mare who's ready for me now; protect the youngsters, be alert for young whippersnapper bachelors sniff'n around, check out who's been to the stud pile and deposit my calling card, check today's paper by way of sniffing the wind for visitors (ah, I smell the coyotes not far...), go to the watering hole, greet that band stallion over there, stand on alert when two-leggers get out of those noisy wheeled things to stare at us, run and spar and play, snake the band away...   

But here, what's our purpose here? 

Suddenly, the roundup is over.  Gene Seidlitz assures me that horses are still there.  They are "confident" that 600 horses remain, but they don't know where, exactly...  They don't have a number for the horses that remain in each of the five Herd Management Areas ("HMAs") that comprise the "Calico Complex" although they had specific numbers they wanted to remove from each area.  

They don't have specific numbers for those that remain.  They stopped very suddenly.  It was admittedly by BLM a first-come, first-serve roundup.  They saw horses, they took them.  Until they got to their idea of AML ("appropriate management level"),  it was indiscriminate horse-taking.   Colors, personalities, genetics, scoop it all up.  They were to start administering PZP (a contraceptive drug given to mares -- more on this another time) to mares they would release once they reached their target of 2500 to 2700 horses.  

It never got to that.  The very sudden cessation of this roundup is alarming to me.  And I am convinced it never got to that because I believe suddenly, the roundup contractor simply could find no more horses.  Oops, better quit. The BLM believes the horses migrate great distances and that the horses are probably in California.  They did round up a horse with a California mark, probably a mare that has a brand indicating she was captured, PZP'd and released in California.  BLM Nevada will begin doing coordinated fly-overs and horse management in conjunction with BLM California.  Gene Seidlitz tells me in a couple of months they will do some flyovers to assess where the horses are...  

We are looking now at a monstrous roundup in the Ely District of Nevada.  670,000 acres now housing only 600 horses.   BLM says the Appropriate Management Level is only -- get ready -- 100 horses.  That's about 7,000 acres per horse.  I will be following that closely and endeavor to show up for the horses wherever man threatens to take them.  We cannot allow the in-the-dark removal of our nation's mustangs any longer.  If BLM is going to take them, it needs to be in front of a camera, in front of our eyes.  Accountability is key.

I am in California for a few moments to regroup and take care of some personal business. Thank you to all who came to my impromptu talk on Thursday night, making it a great success.  I cannot tell you how much your dear faces, hugs, and commitment to our horses refresh my spirit.  

Stay tuned.  I will continue to update these blogs and post pictures as well as update you as I learn of developments.  

I will say that a four-wheel drive vehicle is something I don't have.  We were scrambling for rides every day we went out on the roundups because a four-wheel drive was required, and it will be the same in the future...  Someone suggested that I put that need out here, so here it is...  

I hope you will read the article linked to my blog at the top right when you first arrive.  (HERE.)
Ivanpah to have no adverse impact on the burros because... they are zeroing out the burros!  What a concept.  

To be continued...

I remain,
For the wild horses and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner

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