Hundreds of Private Cattle Remain While Protected Wild Horses are Removed
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s emergency roundup about 50 miles west of Winnemucca started Friday and has been disputed throughout.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz, became the most recent critic Friday writing a letter to BLM suggesting they should consider “less dangerous alternatives” than helicopter roundup during foaling season.
The BLM gathered 107 horses — 19 of them foals — in the 283,000 acre Jackson Mountains herd management area Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The roundup continued Monday and is expected to run through the next three to four weeks, BLM spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said.
More emergency roundups could happen this summer, given the drought conditions, Worley said Monday.
Three horses were euthanized Sunday because of poor health conditions established prior to the roundup, Worley said. No other injuries have been reported.
The dispute stems from the BLM’s decision to move the roundup date to Friday during the foaling season. BLM had planned the roundup start date after the foaling season in July.
“We are noticing that there aren’t as many foals out there as there should be and what that tells us is they may not be surviving,” BLM spokeswoman Heather Emmons said. “There just isn’t enough water out there.
The foals being brought in are very thin, Emmons said.
“Moms and babies are struggling,” she said.
The BLM said its goal is to reduce the estimated Jackson Mountain horse population of 930 to fewer than 270 because of a lack of forage and water.
Horses are corralled by a single helicopter contracted by Sun J Livestock Inc., of Vernal, Utah and transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley, 17800 Pyramid Highway. Gathered horses are gentled and put up for adoption.
But the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, along with Grijalva, said the BLM’s decision is inhumane and their emergency efforts are disingenuous.
“Jackson Mountain (roundup) is very different,” American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign spokeswoman Deniz Bolbol said. “We have business as usual, but this is taking it to a whole new level. This is one of the most egregious BLM decisions.”
Bolbol said she received a phone call from the BLM in April. The bureau told her that drought conditions created an escalating situation and that the it would start filling troughs in the region with water, Bolbol said.
Advocacy groups asked to help with water trapping, but the BLM ignored them, Bolbol said.
Worley said water trapping, where horses are lured into a corral by water, is ineffective because skittish wild horses react before they can be corralled.
She said “over the years the BLM has found that using a helicopter to herd groups of small horses into capture site or corral is much more effective.”
The BLM attempted water trapping in the Jackson Mountains earlier this year without help from advocacy groups, but horses scattered and none were corralled, Worley said.
Environmental assessments — including three wildlife cameras that exposed malnourished wild horses — concluded that the emergency roundup was necessary, and delay could lead to poorer horse conditions before the scheduled July 1 gathering, Emmons said.
Horses have also neglected seeking new water outlets and often stayed at the same source, sucking mud from the ground in the same spot they once had water, she said.
Bolbol said the BLM is “stuck in its ways,” has exaggerated the situation and is opposed to alternative forms of horse gathering.
“This is a situation that does not develop overnight,” she said. “A drought does not even meet BLM’s decision of an emergency. Emergency is something that is unexpected. When you have a drought situation you know well in advance….They should have worked with us all along.”
BLM Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz said he organized a meeting May 4 to discuss the Jackson Mountain horse roundup. All six of the advocacy groups he invited did not attend, he said. Bolbel said she had prior arrangements that day.
Worley attributed much of the outcry against the roundup to the expanse of social media.
“More people are aware of it so we hear from more people through social media,” she said. “As far a congressional interest, that’s similar to what we’ve seen in the past.”
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