Chicago, IL – December 30, 2009—American wild horse and burro advocates, The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and the Chicago-based Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) are organizing a peaceful gathering today in Chicago. The public will assemble at noon in front of Senator Dick Durbin’s office at 230 South Dearborn in Chicago asking the Senator to help halt the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) massive roundup of thousands of mustangs living in the half million acre Calico Mountain Complex area in northwestern Nevada. The wild horse capture began Monday, December 28, despite a federal court ruling recommending that the action be postponed.
“We’re having this peaceful assembly to tell our government we want to stop this unprecedented winter Calico roundup. It will assault the last stronghold of America’s wild horses. Despite federal law that protects them, they have been relegated to the most inhospitable areas of the range. Still, they have adapted and survived. The BLM is handling an American treasure callously, without regard for what Americans want. We want Senator Durbin’s help to pass a moratorium on all roundups, including Calico, until the American public and Congress can craft a sustainable future for our legendary wild horses and burros.” —The majority of wild horses captured are in good condition. Despite federal protection, wild horses have been relegated to the most inhospitable areas of the range. Still, they have adapted and survived.Susan Sutherland, Chicago Area resident and Cloud Foundation member.
The Cloud Foundation and over 190 organizations, authors and celebrities, including Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortenson, Lily Tomlin, Bill Maher and others, are calling for an immediate moratorium on roundups until the American public works with Congress to craft a sustainable plan that protects and preserves wild herds on public lands in the West.
The BLM has acknowledged that at least half of the Calico roundup will be held on private land where the public will be unable to view the roundup. The Cloud Foundation discovered this two days before the roundup’s scheduled start. Despite a public statement to the contrary by the BLM wild horse and burro program chief Don Glenn on December 7, 2009, the public is prohibited from viewing.
“All of our gathers are open to the public. The public is invited to come watch all the time.” Said Don Glenn of the BLM. Glenn delivered this message to wild horse advocates as an unannounced planned roundup was already underway in Northern Nevada.
“We are hopeful that Senator Durbin will see through the BLM lies and deception and stop this unnecessary and cruel winter roundup. It insults the democratic process if BLM gets away with this. They have betrayed the trust of the American public.” —Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation and filmmaker for the popular PBS Nature programs detailing the birth and life of Cloud, the pale palomino stallion well-known to Americans.
In his December 23, 2009 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman recommended that BLM postpone the Calico roundup of 2,700 horses in the more than half million acre Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada. BLM will instead, move forward to remove 80-90 percent of the estimated 3,000 horses living in the Calico Mountain wild horse complex. Low-flying helicopters will chase the horses over dangerous winter terrain into traps and temporary corrals. Respiratory illnesses, permanent injury and death are expected as horses are run, possibly over long distances, and foals are separated from their mothers.
“This is a devious ploy to displace the wild horses from their legal herd areas. It is very vicious and must be exposed and stopped.” —Craig Downer, Nevada Wildlife Ecologist and member of EWA
The government agency entrusted to manage our public land shows their disregard towards the U.S. District Court by going ahead with the roundup. In denying public access to the Calico roundup—one of the most controversial roundups—BLM also shows their disregard towards the public right to observe, by carrying out the largest-ever wild horse capture, defying what federal law requires: notification, transparency and the public right to offer comment. The public insists that BLM has gone too far.
“To start this large-scale roundup on private land where members of the pubic are forbidden to attend, allows the BLM to hide the suffering and death that will happen during the capture of the mustangs. The public outcry over this roundup has been massive, but this government agency is behaving as though they are accountable to no one, not the public, not even Congress.” — Mark Traverso, Chicago area resident and advocate.
Little trust is left in the agency that has been charged by Congress to manage what many call the living history of the American West. Protests are being organized around the globe with the San Francisco event expected to be the largest.
“The whole world is watching—people are outraged by the latest assault on America’s wild horses. Protests are springing up worldwide: San Francisco ,London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boulder, CO and Sun Valley Idaho, so far.” —Makendra Silverman, Associate Director of The Cloud Foundation
The Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance that represents over 85 organizations and hundreds of individuals throughout the US, Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia will be represented at the assembly.