American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
Nine mustangs have died in the first week of the Bureau of Land Management roundup in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area (HMA), southwest of Burns, Oregon. The helicopter stampede and capture operation aims to capture 100 percent of the estimated 361 wild horses living in the HMA and permanently remove 265 horses, leaving just 96 mustangs on the 475,000-acre range.
Among the victims of this roundup: a stallion who broke his neck and died after charging the fence. The November 6 tragedy occurred one month to the day after the death of the stallion we call Braveheart in the BLM’s Silver King, NV roundup.
Animal Rescue Unit investigator Brogan Horton observed the roundup and wrote this report on the death of the stallion advocates now call Blue Moon.
“The stallion, later to be honored with the name, ‘Blue Moon,’ was with his mare and filly, running down the hill with the helicopter hot on their tails. The helicopter intensely chased the family into the corral and took off. . . .
The wranglers brought out crops and sticks with bags on the end. The stallion stood before his mare and filly, against the wranglers as they whipped the bags and crops in front of them, causing a frantic panic in the pen that lasted five minutes. The family kept going for that one corner panel where there were no wranglers, throwing their bodies at the panel, trying to go over it, under it, or through it. The mare finally got chased into the separation corral, leaving the filly and stallion, who were frantically throwing themselves at the panels, searching for freedom.
The beautiful blue roan stallion gave one final attempt at going through the fence, throwing himself head first into the unpadded steel bars, while the whips and bags cracked behind him.
Out of fear, the stallion broke his neck trying to escape the intense pressure that was applied to him. He fell back, nearly missing the traumatized filly, who just witnessed the entire event.
He staggered to the left, sat on the fence, and finally fell on his side, kicking out and desperately trying to lift his head as the wranglers snapped a crop at the filly, causing her to jump over her father’s shuddering body.
At this point, the wranglers decided it was more important to cover the corral with jute to block our view, than attend to the dying mustang. Our cameras were able to capture the entire tragedy in great detail. Their next move was to pull the trailer in front of the struggling stallion, further inhibiting our view. The contractors attempted to bring more horses into the trap, though the dying Blue Moon was still in the capture pen.
We were then approached by a wrangler on horseback telling us they were done, followed by the BLM employee telling us to pack up. From the moment of impact until we all cleared out–30 minutes or more–the stallion lay there absolutely terrified, dying in agony and fear.”
The Warm Springs roundup is being conducted by “Sun J Livestock,” a new BLM contract wrangler company from Utah. As of November 9, they had captured 246 horses and the roundup is scheduled to continue until all of the estimated 361 Warm Springs horses are brought in off the range.