Monday, April 19, 2010

New Report from AWHPC: BLM Calico Complex Roundup: A Case Study of a Broken System for Horses and Taxpayers

Cloud Foundation Blog

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign News Release
New Report on BLM’s Calico Mustang Roundup Highlights True Costs to Wild Horses and Taxpayers Mounting death toll attributed to stress and trauma, as rising cost exceeds $1.3 million in less than four months
Reno, Nevada (April 19, 2010). . . Stress and trauma lie behind the majority of the 86 wild horse deaths (to date) stemming from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Calico Mountains Complex roundup in Nevada, a report issued today by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) concludes. The report estimates the cost to taxpayers through April for the roundup and warehousing of horses in short-term holding facilities to be at minimum $1.3 million.
“The Calico wild horse roundup was one of the most controversial and closely watched BLM actions in decades, but it is a far cry from the treatment that Congress envisioned when it passed the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act to protect these iconic animals from harassment and death,” said Suzanne Roy, Campaign Director for the AWHPC.
Of particular note:
• 43 percent of deaths due to diet and metabolic failure, a condition related to the physiological changes induced by stress and trauma;
• 22 percent of deaths due solely to “poor condition,” with a majority involving 20+ year old horses, raising humanitarian concerns about the ethics of stampeding elderly and ailing horses up to ten miles with helicopters before capture, separation from family and confinement;
• 19 percent of the deaths due to traumatic injury either at the capture site or in the holding pens, including broken necks, spinal and pelvis injuries, fatal hoof and leg damage sustained in the helicopter stampede;
• A high number of spontaneous abortions (at least 40), which are directly related to the winter roundup when heavily pregnant mares are subjected to stress and trauma. “The body doesn’t distinguish between a fight-or-flight situation, like being chased by a helicopter, and a psychological stressor. That means the bad news for wild horses only begins with the gather,” wrote Dr. Bruce Nock, Associate Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine and expert on the physiological effects of stress on animals, in a report prepared for the AWHPC.
“Everything about captivity is stressful to one degree or another to wild horses, especially when it begins with the traumatic experience of a gather. It is extremely detrimental to their long-term health and soundness.”
In addition to the high cost to the horses, the AWHPC notes the expense of the Calico roundup, which will cost taxpayers at least $1.3 million through April, and $1 million a year to warehouse the non-adoptable horses over their 20+ year lifespans. This costly policy, which relies on expensive roundups every four years, is pursued while cost-effective, on-the-range management strategies are ignored. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Its grassroots efforts are supported by a coalition of over forty organizations representing over 10 million citizens nationwide. The full 39-page report, including Appendices, is available upon request. For more information, please see
BLM Calico Complex Roundup: A Case Study of a Broken System for Horses and Taxpayers (includes “Wild Horses- The Stress of Captivity” by Dr. Bruce Nock, PhD)
Photo above by Craig Downer

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