Monday, July 11, 2011

Feds Launch Roundup of Famed Kiger Mustang Herd in Southeast Oregon

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

July 11, 2011 by admin

Preservation Group Warns Against Plan to Remove 120 Wild Horses, Calling Action Dangerous and Wasteful of Tax Dollars
Burns, Oregon (July 8, 2011). . . The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) yesterday launched a controversial roundup of the prized Kiger Mustang Herd in southeastern Oregon. In response, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, warned that the BLM’s plan to permanently remove 120 of the estimated 210 Kiger horses that remain in the wild will further erode the genetic viability of this historically significant herd and waste tax dollars.
Kiger Stallion Free No More. Photo by Laura Leigh
“We’re disappointed by the BLM’s plan to permanently remove 120 mustangs from this historically significant herd,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Campaign Director. “The allowable population levels that the BLM has set for the Kigers are already so low that they compromise the health and genetic viability of the herd.”
UPDATE: The Kiger roundup is complete. For eyewitness account, visit Wild Horse Education blog.
The Kiger mustangs are prized for their genetic lineage that links them to the horses brought by Spanish conquistadors to North America in the 1600’s. The BLM website <> states that “There is no other horse in America is quite like the Kiger Mustang. . . Since the Kiger Mustangs may well be one of the best remaining examples of the Spanish Mustang, their preservation is extremely important.”

Yet the BLM allows a maximum of only 138 Kiger mustangs to live in the Kiger and Riddle’s Mountain Herd Management Areas (HMAs), which span nearly 55,000-acres. Meanwhile, the agency allocates five times more forage to privately-owned livestock than to federally-protected wild horses in these HMAs, authorizing the equivalent of 688 cattle to graze the area.
“It’s disheartening that the BLM is unwilling to manage 200 horses on the range. These roundups and removals waste tax dollars, traumatize and destroy the natural diversity and development of the wild herds,” observed Neda DeMayo, founder and CEO of Return to Freedom, who spearheaded the creation of the AWHPC Coalition.
DeMayo, whose sanctuary houses the famous Kiger stallion “Spirit,” the inspiration for the computer animations in the Dreamworks film of the same name and the offspring of Kiger Mustangs, added that the BLM has over-managed the Kiger herd to produce desirable horses for adoption/purchase, selecting for color and conformation instead of allowing natural selection to take its course.
Just-captured Kiger mares and foals in BLM holding pen. Photo by Laura Leigh
“We appreciate that there are reputable Kiger breeders and enthusiasts who actively participate in the adoption program and have created private Kiger breeding programs, however, we feel strongly that the free roaming herds on public lands should be allowed to live in viable herds allowing natural selection and diversity to develop. This is such a small herd already,  minimally intrusive management could easily replace costly and traumatic roundups.”
The AWHPC is calling on the BLM to increase the allowable population for the Kiger Mustangs to genetically sustainable levels, reduce livestock grazing in these federally-designated wild horse habitat areas, and utilize fertility control, if necessary to manage the horses on the range to minimize or avoid costly removals entirely.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Supported by a coalition of over 40 organizations, its grassroots campaign seeks:

* A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review;
* Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on those rangelands designated for them;
* Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling wild horses in government holding facilities.

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