written by Cheryl Hanna
What was promised by the Bureau of Land Management to be a completely transparent wild horse roundup of 2500 horses has been treated like a covert security operation with no accountability; compliments of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. To date, BLM reports that 1195 horses have been gathered, 1193 have been moved to the Fallon holding facility, 2 horses have been euthanized at the gather site, 1 death of a foal because of a pre-existing condition, 1 horse escaped and 6 deaths at the Fallon holding facility.
Repeated requests to observe all aspects of the government operation have been consistently denied, despite continued requests from In Defense of Animals and The Cloud Foundation.
On January 21,2010, the BLM’s Daily Gather Update website announced, “One colt with multiple hoof sloughs from the capture was euthanized at the facility.” No further information was provided. When asked how the colt was euthanized, no answers have been forthcoming. BLM has reported two mares were “euthanized,” and only later to learn that these mares were killed by gunshot rifles. On the veterinarian report for the colt, the method of euthanasia was not mentioned. One would have expected the veterinarian to have reported he humanely euthanized the colt.
Spokeswoman Jolynn Worley for the BLM stated, ” The colt’s hind feet abscessed, and the outer hoof wall did separate.”
The BLM’s own Daily Gather Updates web page is suspected of deliberately creating confusion due to the highly censored information provided to the public. On January 21,2010 the BLM’s account of the colt was changed on the BLM’s web page to reflect a different gather date of January 6, 2010 ( versus January 21 ) and presumably from a different roundup, namely the Black Rock East HMA ( Herd Management Area). Horse advocates question why, if the colt was being treated for two weeks as the BLM site now contends, why weren’t these reports ever made public especially in light of such a contentious program that BLM is trying to convince the public is so necessary and humane for the preservation of the future of wild horses?
” For the BLM to withhold for four days information that the roundup inflicted such severe hoof trauma on a colt that he was killed is yet another example of the lack of transparency of this agency,” states Deniz Bolbol, a humane observer. “There is no excuse for the BLM to omit this type of information from its daily updates – unless they needed four days to create their story. We have repeatedly requested to be allowed to observe all aspects of this taxpayer-funded operation, but the BLM refuses and only provides a charade of public observation which is heavily restricted to a few hours a week.”
In addition the BLM veterinarian Richard Sanford, DVM states in his report, “The cause of these hoof abscesses/sloughs was most likely hoof trauma from the gather operations.”
In the latest roundups, horses and their foals have been run up to 10 miles on rough, hilly, volcanic rock terrain; an inhumane practice to run a foal or any horse in these conditions especially during the winter months.
More confusion continues with a report from George Knapp, an investigative journalist from Las Vegas stating Freedom, the wild stallion that managed to escape from the BLM’s trap site and crashing through barbed wire enclosures, had been recaptured. BLM, who were the very agency initiating the story, will no, now, confirm or deny the story.
The public will not be allowed to observe any more roundups until Tuesday, January 26, 2010 despite what was originally on the BLM website. It read as follows, and this information has since been deleted,
.” The BLM will rendezvous with interested members of the public in Gerlach at 8:00 AM and caravan to the trap site………. The observation days will last approximately 5 hours, leaving the trap site around 1:00 PM on the following dates: January 6,8,11,13,16,18,20,23,27,30.
Humane observers report that the ” approximately 5 hours ” includes driving up to 2 hours each way to the trap site; thus reducing the observation time to approximately 1 to 2 hours. Calls by the Cloud Foundation to Assistant Director of Renewable Resources and Planning, Ed Roberson and BLM Director Abbey have not been returned.
Information has been constantly withheld. Why aren’t wild horse advocates, citizens of the US or anyone interested in wild horses not allowed to make unannounced visits to the taxpayer holding facility at Fallon? Humane observer Elyse Gardner was denied access to Fallon this past week because it was not a “designated” day.
Americans deserve answers.