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
But wait, it gets worse. The reintroduction of horse slaughter plants in the United States comes with a hefty price tag, much of which goes to line the pockets of people in other countries who own these dens of incalculable abuse. The way it works is that ever since 2005, there has been a section of the Agriculture appropriations bill that de-funds (to wit, bars the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars on) a program for the USDA to inspect foreign-owned horse plants. Now that the de-funding law has been deleted, supporters of the grisly, completely inhumane process of horse slaughter will go back to lobbying Congress for millions of dollars annually to run the inspection program. Without inspection, it is illegal to transport horsemeat across state lines. Once they succeed, horse slaughter will resume here.
Let's forget for the moment that candidate Barack Obama in 2008 pledged to keep the ban on horse slaughter permanent (another promise to voters reneged?) Let's forget, too, that American horses are not bred or raised for consumption. Let's forget that the few countries where horsemeat is consumed (France, Belgium and Japan among them) are ignoring the outright cruelty to horses that raises the hackles of right-thinking Americans. The simple question is: do we want our tax dollars spent to inspect horses who were slaughtered in incredibly cruel fashion (a bolt through the forehead that doesn't kill them immediately) so foreign owners of slaughter plants can profit? In the midst of a recession when other crucial programs such as Medicare and education are suffering deep cuts, the answer is a resounding, "no."
Supporters of horse slaughter say the reintroduction of slaughter plants in the U.S. will create jobs. An article in the Desert Independent in Blythe, Calif., this month noted, "Horse slaughter plants operating until 2007...never created a total of more than 178 jobs." The kind of jobs they do create are of dubious economic value to the individuals who take them and to the communities where slaughter plants are located.
The Independent quotes Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas, where a horse slaughter facility operated for years as saying, "Horse slaughter means very few, very low wage jobs, meaning workers and their families overtaxed local resources like the hospitals and government services. This so called business brought in virtually no tax revenues and local governments incurred substantial enforcement costs in trying to regulate these facilities. The standard of living dropped during the time horse slaughter facilities operated. Having a horse slaughter facility drove away good businesses."
Studies have shown that when slaughter plants are opened in rural areas, violent crime quickly rises. Think about it. Horses are sometimes cut into pieces while still alive and screaming. What kind of person would accept the minimum wage to engage in this horrific behavior? The question answers itself.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., sponsored the de-funding amendment in the House version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill. He said he regrets voting for the overall bill (which did not include the de-funding language) but felt compelled to do so, to keep the government operating. He said the only alternative is to assure passage of a permanent ban on horse slaughter, which he and other compassionate members of Congress are working to do. Let's wish them success.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)