Horse Health

Captured by BLM: Wild Horses Continue to Die

written by Maureen Harmonay

Stressed Wild Horses are Dying in the bleak Feedlot conditions supplied by the BLM

Terrorized and Frozen, the Horses of the Calico BLM Roundup - Photo by Kurt Golgart/Bureau of Land Management

Even though the Calico Mountain Complex roundups were concluded by the BLM on Friday, February 5th, wild horses who are now being held in the Indian Lakes Road facility near Fallon, Nevada, are continuing to perish at an alarming rate.

In just the last three days, four more horses have died, and another mare suffered a miscarriage.  The unofficial tally of wild horses lost now stands at 43 (the BLM says it is 37), with the number of spontaneous abortions estimated to be around 30.  Two live foals were born on Saturday, and according to the BLM, they are “doing well.”

The latest fatalities include three stallions:  one was a six-year-old “in poor condition,” who was listed as having “died.”  We don’t know how, but it’s likely that this horse’s “poor condition,” like that of the other horses in similar straits, was the result of having been mercilessly chased by helicopters for miles and miles over unforgiving terrain, beyond the limits of strength and stamina.

Two other stallions and one mare were “euthanized” (read: “shot”) because they were deemed to be suffering from “hyperlipemia,” which, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual, is the result of “poor feed quality or decrease in feed intake, particularly during a period of high-energy requirement. . .hyperlipemia is usually a primary disease process associated with obesity, pregnancy, lactation, stress, or transportation.”  In other words, the extreme stress of the helicopter chase, combined with an enforced radical change of diet, is putting these formerly healthy horses into metabolic failure.  Left to their own devices, out on their native range, they would have continued to thrive.

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40 replies »

  1. It would be humane to get mares with foals to some natural area with shelter and maybe mares due, too. I realize that many foals have been born in BLM holding over the years and they are now existing in a legal limbo that does not befit any horses in our country. But it would be humane to allow these mares and foals to be adopted out now. They do not belong in this circumstance. None of the mares about to foal should have such poor ground and no choices of their own as they are accustomed to in the wild. This roundup has allowed all of us a look at the inadequacies, faults and abuses the horses are facing daily. This must not continue this way nor ever happen again. mar


    • Mar one of my friends who is an advocate for wild ones as well as other issues suggested that someone from the rally in Vegas, with a sign, lay down in front of the Prez vehicle. He says it will get national media attention and as long as the person/s does not resist security picking they up out of the way, they don’t even arrest you anymore. The point is however, the film will be rolling and it’s sure to make the national news.


      • NVK, You just told them so they can change their route… there are others in front and behind etc.
        What film?? This does not sound well thought out… just a stunt. I do not recommend this… mar


      • You most certainly would get arrested and it is a stunt and does nothing to help the cause. Not recommended.


  2. I wonder how many deaths will ever be attributed (Haah!) to mares that aborted and retained after-birth.

    If these deaths, injuries and poor round-up, holding practices aren’t enough to get a legal injunction on further round-ups, I don’t know what the principles of legal relief are. Hell! Our legal system is just down right broken…just like these suffering mustangs and burros.

    Heart breaking and infuriating.


  3. The death toll rises, just as we all predicted. More fuel for our unjustified equicide fire, more sadness for the horses and the people who care so deeply for them. This winter is proving to be the worst in recorded history, and I’m not just talking about the weather. Dark days are coming.


    • I’ve had some thoughts about “semi-wild” safe environments. I fear most for the horses in LTH (especially)those who are ‘aging out’ of the system and subject to the sell ‘without limitation’ rule. I’m sure the horses create family-like bands in LTH, adopt out one semi-domestic band at a time. People may be willing or able to take take care of a small herds of horses. Like foster families? Instead of trying to find a zillion acres for all of them. The BLM should pay the people to take care of them instead of people paying the BLM. They are paying big ranchers to keep them, why not pay individuals or small co-ops? I’m just throwing out ideas here….


      • ALSO, these semi-wild environments would have to be monitored by advocacy groups, not just the BLM- no more 3 Strikes your in HELL for our horses!


      • I would love to go visit the wild horses in a safe, semi-wild, protected environment like Pickens is proposing, than have them languish or end up in the wrong hands like they often do now. The BLM refuses (so far) to subsidize the care of the horses on Pickens Sanctuary, preferring instead to pay 100% as they do now for the 33,000 in captivity. Return to Freedom is a semi-wild sanctuary where the horses live in relative freedom in family bands. The Pickens plan is similar.


      • Have Madelane get the 501 non profit money all the football stars have their account and rescue the horses.

        Wealthy people complaining that the government won’t subsidize them is appalling…personally if I had their money and ranches, I could careless about how much I had to spend, those horses would be free roaming again!


      • Savewildhorses- Please don’t get me wrong. I am 100% behind Madeleine and ANY other person or organization who is willing and able to help our wild horses. I only want what is best for all of them, the 3 Strikes Ranch was supposed to be a wonderful place, but look what happened. The BLM does need to help her accomplish this dream.


    • Hi, tried to sign the “Pickens letter” posted by “Savewildhorses” but was refused because not having a valid US zip code! I also tried to sign some other petitions: same thing. Is it new that only US people can fight for the horses? Because I signed petitions for the mustangs a couple of months ago and never had a problem!?


  4. I keep thinking that I cannot hate what is happening more or the people who are doing this to these horses and burros but every time I read an update I find my level of hatred rising towards these individuals from the lowest level of the participants to the highest level.

    Keep the pressure on is all I can say and I am letting that hatred drive me to keep doing what I am doing and praying that our efforts will be rewarded and it will all stop soon. 😦


  5. I’m so angry. I fear the deaths and miscarriages will continue. I suspect the miscarriages and deaths that were not reported until several days, even weeks, into the holding were the results of the first days of operations. So we have not yet even begun to see the effects that accumulate, and I hope I am wrong. To say a horse died because of poor body condition does not tell me the body condition when they entered the chute! Did any observers see horses in poor body condition when they entered the chutes, or what percentage were – this could be equated to probably death tallies.

    Then the vet report slants horses not adjusting to food as somehow their fault! WOW!

    Cattor should get a deduction for every dead horse! Double for babies! Triple if the horse was not in poor body condition when it entered the chutes! If a horse was not in poor body condition when it entered the chutes, and subsequently, due to devolved condition afterward, died, that is a death caused directly by Cattoor.

    They stopped operations early, supposedly they left the target of 600 horses on the range (I don’t believe that either) – that tells me they could have worked at a much, much slower pace, had plenty of time to put up windbreaks and even overhead covers – the poles are already there in the pictures. Which is another issue, BLM acutely said they could not put up overhead protections because the horses would injure themselves on the poles, while at the same time we are seeing pictures of poles! They can’t keep track of their lies! Another reason they gave was the horses would not go under the cover – how do they know that? Put it up and pretty soon they will figure out that it is drier and warmer there.

    But too little too late now – the real damage was done during the running and for the immediate hours and days following, but the consequences of that damage took, and will continue to take many more days, even weeks to become evident.

    Rant concluded! (for now)


  6. This morning I was up at 4 lot’s of snow here. I started to write the BLM a nice email instead of a poison pen letter. Asking them to please put horse advocates on their board, give back the 286 million acres they took and together find a solution for our wild horses, changed my mind, I am heart broken and furious over this. I rather protest, to get them investigated, so sick over their cover ups and lies.


  7. We need to get the captive horses out of the BLMs hands and into advocates care. Each day that they are in holding, a little more of their spirit dies. Please support this petition and share with others. Pickens wants to begin taking horses from captivity and returning their spirit and dignity to them. She has money for land, she needs our help to get Salazar to take her seriously. The BLM ignores every single good idea presented to them. They are the most obstinate and arrogant agency we have.


  8. Go to the humane observer(Elyse Gardiner)’s blog on TCF blog site, she has just posted that her last allowed day to observe the Calico horses at Fallon is sat, 2-13, after that no one from the outside will be allowed near the facility as the “processing” of these horses may begin as soon as next week, the hydraulic chute they use to do this is already in place. Thought I was angry before, nothing compared to this, now NO ONE is there to monitor our horses as they are freeze branded, castrated and who knows what all, no one to monitor more abortions, the 2 new little ones, all the hospital horses. Some, perhaps many, will be lost forever, and we won’t know. So much for transparency and cooperation,


    • How will the mare who are with foals handling the branding. Won’t this just be trauma upon trauma? We need to demand that the public has every right to view the daily operation paid for with our money.


  9. General proceedure for ‘processing’ of horses does not include mares with tiny foals. they generally wait until the foals are weanlings until they do that, up until which time the ‘pairs’ as they call them will be in a seperate pen and mares will have tags on them rather than being freeze branded. This is a critical time for ‘pairs’ as BLM can ship them off without being traced.

    As far as geldings, it’s pretty barbaric so their is no doubt in my mind why they are keeping the public from viewing. Even though state Vet Rich Sanford is a good vet and cares about the horses, gelding of OLDER stallions can go very wrong. I’ve seen dead stallions at PVC due to gelding.


    • So, I’m assuming that they don’t use any anesthetic prior to gelding? that is pretty barbaric, Mar and R.T. they didn’t geld the Pryor stallions before that adoption event in September, do you know why?

      Some good news to pass on; the orphaned foal from Calico has been rescued, so she(yep she’s is filly) is out of the pens at Fallon, I will get the link here.


      • Jan, they have never let me witness gelding the stallions so I am not sure if they are indeed using any seditives other than local and ropes for restraints … but I know when they do it, the pens are emptied out, and days later the stallions are ‘draining’, and swollen, and I have found some dead shortly there after.

        From a horse persons perspective, I know that gelding older stallions can have severe complications. When I had my 4 year old stallion gelded he came out of it okay but it was much easier and less painful on my colt done at 6 months. I recall my vet being very particular with the handling of my newly ‘aged’ gelding for several days after the proceedure. I also recall him telling me it was harder on the older stallions, and horses over age of 3 tend to have more difficulty recovering.


      • Jan, Ginger had requested that the Forest Service horses of the Freedom Fund be kept in tact. This was because of the plan to keep them together. It was lucky that they were left alone. But others were gelded at Pryor in the weeks after the roundup and before the sale. If this is not so, someone tell us. I am pretty sure the ‘processing’ included gelding… mar


      • Mar, I know Stiles was gelded, but that was after the adoption I think, and I think I remember from Image and ember’s blog that they decided to geld him, so I don’t know if all the stallions and stud colts were gelded or not there, does anybody???????

        Also, R.T. FYI, Sue Wallis is coming to my home state of Illinois to give her expert testimony on horse slaughter and why the legislators who represent ME, should vote to reopen the Cavel plant.
        Great, huh???!!!!!


  10. Mar, did you contact George? If you didn’t I sent him the press release anyway so he and his news film crew can be there interviewing people.

    As far as the ‘stunt’, that is what it is intended, to get media attention…anyway it was an idea by someone else I thought I would throw out there. lol don’t know if I would be the one to block the procession, I have a family to feed!


  11. also of news, Cattor made almost $3,000,000 last fiscal year from us, you and me and our tax dollars, to do this inhumane handling of our mustangs, nice, huh?

    my thought for the day,
    “members of congress should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their corporate sponsors.”
    keep up the fight, all you wonderful warriors for OUR horses.


  12. r these people crazy i own a mustang the best little horse if i were stuck on an island i would prefer him over most people i know this fellow mcnabb i’v heard good things about him i can’t belive he would do or let this happen maybe he forgot how he got where he is ” hello ” HORSES


  13. Stress of roundup also causes: A Deficiency of The B-Complex Vitamins; esp. Vit. B1
    this causes : Lack of appetite; lack of Sodium (Salt blocks: cause “dehydration…

    The Horses @the pen are getting neither the B-Complex or Salt Blocks; nor RiceBran;(Rice Bran has high Vitamin/Mineral content; esp. Vit. B1 ! Anne


    • Anne, It is good that this scrutiny has brought these facts out. If the horses need these things how can we get them to provide them? Maybe one of our Vets who has come through here could write to the operator of the facility and demand that this be done. It is like a cascade effect; a healthy horse on the range comes through the roundup and begins to feel the effects of so many changes over the weeks that it can kill the healthy horse. Those not as strong or pregnant or older then have to struggle harder with these changes. This capture and captivity has never been done by BLM in a manner that safeguards the horses at all. Public awareness should continue to make them responsible for the lives of the wild ones. mar


      • Hello; I just read this reply; thank u

        I have been writing to the BLM Nevada continuously telling them about “Rice Bran;Rice Bran oil; and Vitamin B1…

        In Oregon a BLM Mustang Orphan filly “had not eaten in 10 days; the Foal could not stand up; so I contacted the Rescue and they contacted the BLM; the BLM Vet in Oregon got the Vitamin B-Complex shot for the Foal; the Rescue gave her 2 B-Vitmain shots and the Mustang Foal stood up and drank her milk; she is well today about 3 years old; so I already know the Vitamin B-Shots can revive a downed Mustang; I have other cited cases; they don’t use the B1 shot because they don’t want the Mustangs to live ! they use “the failure to adjust to hay as an excuse;

        This Vitamin shot basically restores the ability for the Mustangs to eat and digest Hay; known since 1856 !

        Rice Bran has this Vitamin; mabye I could write to the Vet. in Oregon and tell him to insturct the Vet. @ Fallon to begin to use Vitamin shots;



  14. NVKate :Have Madelane get the 501 non profit money all the football stars have their account and rescue the horses.
    Wealthy people complaining that the government won’t subsidize them is appalling…personally if I had their money and ranches, I could careless about how much I had to spend, those horses would be free roaming again!

    I know what you mean, she upsets me aswell. I understand MP is doing a great job and does love wild horses. However I wish with ALL MY HEART, MP would buy one lot of 100- 3 strikes mustangs that are up for sale to the meatman. And get those 100 FREE on some decent size range.
    Start small, show how the plan works..please for Gods sake START saving some before they are all gone.


    • It is not unreasonable to start at some point and do this and show that there is land prepared and the proper fencing and begin with a small number of horses. Titled mustangs, purchased mustangs, any ones available that can be put out on acres similar to their range. I agree this should be going on Right Now… mar


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