Eye witness report by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/Director of HfH Advisory Council
A Few Moments in the Day of a Wild Horse Stampede ObserverThe day goes something like this: we hear the distant sound of helicopter rotors. Across the valley we see a small cloud of dust as a family band of wild horses runs to escape an overhead helicopter. The cold, frozen wind roars in our ears as we watch the seven horses run one way and then another trying to escape the noise of the pursuing chopper.
Dozens tick by and watch the small group of horses grow larger as the run for their lives. They disappear behind a bluff but we can still see the chopper hovering over their position. But one lone head breaks over the bluff running for his life while the chopper stays on the bulk of the herd. The escapee stops on top of the bluff, turns to his family and screams but no one can hear him over the roar of the deadly chopper blades. He turns, runs and then calls again. Frantic, he runs towards us but behind the lurking trap. Down across the gully floor then up on top of our observation bluff. He turns, looks at us, cries and runs away towards the trees as the chopper stalks his family.
We continue to watch the chopper move towards the mouth of the gully, unable to see the remnants of the family beneath him. Once near the entrance to the gully we see the chopper twist and dive, it attacks to the left and then dive bombs to the right out of site as another ridge blocks our view. We see three horses break over the edge of the ridge and head to the south, the chopper lunges like a combat aircraft and attempts to cut them off, they are having none of it. Lost, the inexperienced pilot turns off to the north and repeatedly dives at the remaining unseen horses. Moment’s later three lathered horses appear in the mean holding pen as we cannot see the approach to ugly trap or even the trap itself. One tries to climb the fencing, they all scream.
The horses are met with plastic bags tied to short whips and are beaten into the end of the holding cell. An open slat trailer is backed up to the pen. The screaming horses are smacked in the face until they are caught in a small area only a few feet wide behind the trailer. Over and over again they are hit, they lurch forward and they fall and trample each other while the contractors converge on our side of the pen to obstruct our view and camera lenses.
Loud bangs and the sound of hooves on unmated slippery floors echoes across the gully and the trailer is quickly pulled away down a dusty, rough back road for 45 minutes then an hour trip down the high way at 70 mph for more cruel handling at processing an hour down the road. The ambient temperature is 28 degress, the wind is blowing 30 miles an hour, standing still the wind chill is below zero, the horses are wet.
Meanwhile, the survivors are scattered, terrified, lost, soaked and exhausted yet still running for their lives. Then we hear the sound of a helicopter across the valley and the destruction of yet another family begins. The cycle of terror continues all day, and day after day after day.
The wild horses of the Antelope Complex in Nevada are no more, they are finished.