Friday, October 10, 2014

The Final Days of the Checkerboard Wild Horse Roundup, Part I

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Eyewitness Account by photographer Carol Walker – Director of Field Documentation at Wild Horse Freedom Federation
“Carol Walker has been back out in the desert, along with others, witnessing the total destruction of Wyoming’s wild horse families and their freedom.  It’s a tough thing to witness and even tougher when the BLM and their contractor make it all but impossible to photograph.  This is done so that when horses are killed, and there were many, there will be no photographs taken which would/could verify and document the cruelty rained down upon these helpless creatures.  Today Carol gives us the beginning of the end with a scheduled closeout article, tomorrow.  ‘Thank you for being there for us and the horses, Carol.  We appreciate your dedication and compassion.'” ~ R.T.

Destruction in the Desert

Day 23
We are out waiting for the trap to be set up near Sand Butte and Pine Butte across from the Eversole Ranch in Salt Wells Creek and unfortunately last week I saw the most gorgeous families with many very colorful Appaloosas which I have not seen anywhere else in the wild. They are expecting to get 200 wild horses here and said it is the last trap site of the roundup.
We are at least 3 miles from the trap site in Salt Wells Creek and the Cattoors selected this site obviously to keep us as far away as possible. I would NOT call this access. We have to use binoculars to see the wings of the trap and we cannot see the trap itself at all. The horses are so far away that they look like ants, and the best way we can find them is when there is a huge cloud of dust from the helicopters. The wind is howling and Ginger and I set up our cameras between two cars to provide a wind block.
We have watched several large groups coming in some with 20-25 horses and since we are facing directly into the sun it is hard to tell the colors of horses beyond grey, palomino and dark. The horses look like little ants as they approach the trap because it is so very far away, if it were not for the blowing clouds of dust we would not be able to see the horses at all. The two helicopters work together squeezing them into the trap. We see one stallion escape. There is a huge group ofPronghorn Antelope, maybe 200 who are also running from the helicopters. We have seen about 75 horses captured in the last hour and a half. My eyes are straining to make out the horses in the dust and wind.
The helicopters have finished chasing the horses for today, they are done by 11;30 which is early, because the horses were in relatively large groups, unlike the horses in Great Divide Basin. We pack up our gear and are heading to temporary holding pens to see the horses once they have gotten food and water.
We waited for 2 hours to go see the 76 horses that had been captured today in the temporary corrals. There were some gorgeous stallions, most notably a very proud bay roan who was clearly the dominant one in the pen, and a lovely pinto stallion with a mostly white body, dark bay sculpted head, and a brown shield on his chest. He was hanging back away from the other stallions. The horses were very quiet, and they all looked very tired, they had run a long way today. There was a group of weanlings who had been separated just a couple of hours ago from their mothers. The littlest one was running around crying for his mother. He looked to be about 3 months old. Some of the horses are whinnying for their families and it is a heartbreaking sound.
The adult horses will be shipped to Canon City tomorrow and the weanlings, yearlings and two year olds will be shipped to the Axtell Burro facility in Utah since they are running out of room.
The total removed so far is 1088 and there is at least one more day to go. The original number of horses that were to be removed was 800 – 950, but that amount was exceeded days ago. When I ask why so many more, the BLM tells me they are mandated by the Consent Decree to remove all wild horses from the Checkerboard Area. That is actually not true, they are mandated to remove all wild horses from private land, but that is how they are interpreting the ruling, it is impossible to separate the horses which are on public land from the horses on private land in the Checkerboard Area, so their solution is just to remove all of them.

Click here for the most beautiful photos!

More images by Carol Walker

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