Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Horseback Exclusive: Laura Leigh’s Report From the Field – Another Death at Calico

Horseback Magazine

December 1, 2011

By Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine, President, Wild Horse Education

Yesterday, 11/29/2011, at the Calico Complex roundup in Northwestern Nevada a mare broke her neck on the panels.
THE CALICO COMPLEX, Nev (Horseback) – The young grulla mare’s death came after she was captured, separated from her family, processed, corralled, reprocessed and PZP treated. She was the last horse to load for the day to be released back to the range. The mare was agitated. She hit her head on a panel, broke her neck and was euthanized.
Operations in what BLM is referencing as the “Tri-State Calico Complex Gather” plan on the removal of 1,300 wild horses and 140 wild burros. The press release from the agency says that as many as 350 may be released back to the range with as many as 115 mares receiving the 22 month contraceptive, PZP-22.
The title “Tri-State Complex” has created some confusion among the public. The Calico Complex itself is not located in three states, but resides within Washoe and Humbolt counties within the state of Nevada. The label of “Tri-State” was added as an alleged symbol of interagency/inter district  management between Sheldon National Wildlife refuge (USFWS) to the North into Oregon, the High Rock Complex of Western Nevada/Eastern California (BLM), Twin Peaks of Nevada/California (BLM) as well as the Calico Complex of Nevada. However in practice the only “change” has been a dialogue about decreasing population numbers based on alleged populations of adjoining areas.
No operational procedures are “joined” and even basic protocols in field offices during roundup operations remain separate events.
Release procedures during the High Rock roundup included mixed sex group releases and stallions receiving a brand, prior to release, to identify them in the future to gain more information on population movement after the disruption of the roundup. At the “Tri-state” operation 50 stallions were released in a single sex group without any mark back into the range where a trap was still located and in use.
When questioned as to why the same procedure was not being followed at the “Tri-state” Complex Gene Seidlitz, district manager over the operation replied, “They did that?”
Serious questions arise about any designation of this “Tri-state” complex creating any management strategy other than a justification process for increased removals. If this complex system were designed for “management” why is there no infrastructure in place to to gain credible data for true management?
Serious questions arise when the “birth control” options do not take into account the stressors that a wild population would undergo as they enter the most fragile time of year on the range, winter. Family bands are hard wired for survival dependent on the structure of “the band.” Why is there no effort to release groups in even the most limited pretense of band structure, mixed sex release?
As operations continue through the end of the year, in this supposed “Tri-state” complex that proposed a “new” form of cooperation, it has yet to demonstrate anything but an acceleration of the “old” forms of communication and protocol.
Contact: Laura Leigh is founder and president of Wild Hore Education and is an accredited  journalist/photographer  for Horseback Magazine on assignment in the West to cover activities of the federal Bureau of Land Management and other agencies of th U.S. Department of Interior.
By Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine, President, Wild Horse Education


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