Thursday, December 8, 2011

Breaking News: BLM Issues Report on Inhumane Wild Horse Roundup Allegations

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Update by Laura Leigh and R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Report Admits Wrong Doing Yet Splits on Inhumane Charges

Sun-J Chopper still proving to be a threat, not only to horses but to humans during the current Calico stampede...where are the changes? ~ photo by Laura Leigh
HOUSTON, (WHFF) – Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the long awaited report on their internal investigation into allegations of inhumane treatment in connection with the Triple B wild horse roundup that occurred in Nevada during July and August of this year.
The documentation, and subsequent lawsuit filed by Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education (WHE) and VP of Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), resulted in a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by U.S. District Court Judge Howard D. McKibben against pilot conduct. The legal action, filed by attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno, addressed multiple areas of humane concern. Documentation presented to the Court included: lack of food and water, lack of dust control, hotshot use, inappropriate handling during loading and sorting, as well as the helicopter pilot allegedly bumping a wild horse with the skids of his aircraft.
The BLM report admits that wrong doing had occurred, yet does not concede to inappropriate behavior. The report states “External animal welfare experts, as well as BLM employees, split on whether or not horses had been treated inhumanely…”.  With all internal investigations conducted by the agency in the past, the “experts” have consisted of either BLM employees or BLM “friendly” personnel.  Wild horse advocates have consistently questioned the validity and objectivity of such “in-shop” investigations.
“I find the report encouraging,” states Leigh “however it is of interest that no document filed by the BLM in the course of litigation admits any wrong doing occurred. The recommendations in the document are not in effect on the ground.  At the Calico roundup I have witnessed several incidences of concern. There is no excuse for not having a standard in place before the helicopters fly tomorrow morning.”
From the report:
The review team and outside animal welfare experts did, however, note specific instances of inappropriate, aggressive handling and operational procedures in some of the videos that were reviewed, such as the following incidents:
  • Helicopter operating too close to single horses
  • Helicopter pursuing small groups or single horses too long
  • Excessive and inappropriate use of electric prod, based on the opinions of the animal welfare experts’ review of the videos
  • Excessive use of wild rags as whips, especially around the head
  • Kicking, slamming of gates, pinning in gates, twisting of tails during horse loading processes.”
The suit is currently awaiting a ruling on Injunctive Relief that asks that roundups be postponed until a policy is in place that outlines handling and a system of consequence for violations. A ruling is expected any day from the Honorable Judge Howard McKibben of Reno’s Federal district Court.
“The idea of sane and sensible management starts with honest conversation,” states R.T. Fitch, author and president of the funding WHFF, “these were areas where productive dialogue was a real possibility yet it was ignored by the BLM until litigation became a necessity. An federal agency that insists on operating in such a manner is not one that gains public trust.”
Links of interest:
BLM report:
helicopter hits horse:
baby roped:
more Triple B video:
Video from current Calico roundup:
Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered, Texas non-profit corporation with 501(c)3 status pending.  WHFF puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction through targeted litigation against governmental agencies whose documented agendas include the eradication of wild horse and burros from public, federal and state lands. WHFF is funded exclusively through the generosity of the American public.

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