By Steven Long
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Federal law enforcement ran afoul of a federal court ruling Sunday in an incident involving agents of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when they detained two observers, including a videographer filming a wild horse “gather” and helicopter stampede. An advocate who works to protect the North American Mustang breed in the wild was also held for several hours.
BLM has said the two will be charged with a crime.
The filmmaker was sent to the hospital after being overcome by desert heat while he was confined in a law enforcement vehicle. Both were eventually released. The man’s equipment was damaged when it was thrown to the ground.
Both were manhandled by the agents.
The incident comes in the wake of an enormous First Amendment free speech and free access victory in California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Leigh vs. Bureau of Land Management, which found the press and public could not be prevented from observing BLM wild horse round-ups. It is not the first time the agency and its law enforcement arm has ignored court orders.
The Arizona roundup is being managed by longtime BLM helicopter contractor, Cattoor Livestock Roundups of Nephi, Utah. Critics say the firm stampedes horses into a trap and that many have been injured or killed over the years in the process.
Kathleen Hayden, the advocate, and Carl Mrozek, a New York videographer were held and then released. The cameraman was taken to the hospital and his equipment seized. The tape he was making was not returned to him.
The incident occurred at the BLM Cibola-Trigo Herd Management Area bordering the Colorado River. Both were threatened, and both face charges, according to the agency’s Chief Washington Spokesman, Tom Gorey.
“On June 10, 2012, two public observers were contacted by BLM Law Enforcement Rangers outside the designated viewing area. One of the individuals (MROZEK-MALE) had been previously asked on numerous occasions to leave the viewing area based on his failure to comply with instructions from law enforcement officers.”
According to Gorey, Mrozek was asked to leave the viewing area, and then when he was out of the area, he was arrested because he wasn’t in the area designated by the BLM.
“The other individual (HAYDEN-FEMALE), who was in a restricted area, was asked repeatedly to move to the designated viewing area, for her safety and the safety of those involved in the gather operations, and she refused to comply. Rangers had to make physical contact with both individuals to gain compliance. Both individuals were detained pending charges. Both individuals were placed in air conditioned law enforcement vehicles. Both individuals requested medical attention. Ambulances were called at their request. One individual was transported by ambulance. One individual was evaluated and released at the scene. Charges are pending against both individuals.”
Sources close to the incident told Horseback “BLM believes there is a conspiracy to disrupt and has intensified law enforcement at the HMA.”
Sources in Nevada told Horseback Monday that security was tightened at a roundup near Winnemucca as well.