Horse News

Rising Wild Horse Death Toll Story goes Mainstream, but with a Hitch

News Commentary by R.T. Fitch author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

News Story Does Not Go Deep Enough and only Promotes BLM Propaganda

Calico Wild Horses, healthy upon capture - Photo by Laura Leigh

On March 19th, 2010 the Associated Press (AP) released a bare-bones story on the number of Wild Horses that continue to die in Nevada while under the care of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The article speaks to the fact that the BLM acknowledges the deaths of 77 wild mustangs, 7 during the controversial round-up in the Calico Mountain Complex and another 70 have lost their lives since being taken to the Fallon holding facility.  There was no mention of the 39 aborted foals or the disproportionate number of elder mares that have been dispatched by the BLM’s vets.

The article quotes BLM spokeswoman JoLynn Worley as saying that that most of the deaths could be attributed to poor body condition of the mares when documented video and pictures taken by major news organizations does not indicate any horses to have been in “bad” shape.

Advocates, medical and veterinary professionals have expressed deep concern over the management of the wild horses feeding program, hence, the high number of deaths.  Yet, again, no mention of this serious problem which has only been exaggerated, this week, by the uncovering that one if not both attending vets are not licensed to practice in the state of Nevada.

So many questions, so few answers and only a trickle of information out of the AP who obviously hasn’t learned how to speak “BLMiese”, yet.

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23 replies »

  1. I read the article. “Bare-bones” is an understatement. More sketchy reporting and failure to cross-check information/sources. Papers will pickup from AP, and folks will have no idea as to the details and scope of this mismanaged tragedy.


  2. Absolutely riveting; Post reporting at it’s finest. Detailed, no-holds-barred investigative journalism – both sides of the issue presented objectively. Thank goodness JoLyn Worley was there to present both sides. Thought provoking expression of the issue.
    However – no idea who authored this hot-button story, and no method I could find of including comments or opinions on the story. This fine, informative Beacon of the Truth appears to not want dissenting views expressed or it’s reporters called to account.
    Sorta like a DC version of the National Enquirer. The print version of this ‘newpaper’ will make a fine addition to our nation’s Compost Heap, if, of course, DC knows anything about recycling.
    Or perhaps recycling is strictly a Western States sort of thing.
    Disenchanted? Jus’ a l’il bit.


      this is also an article out of fallon you may want to read and comment on, also discussing the worms and ticks in relationship to the wild horses..Just keep demanding proof..I scoured all the videos and stills of calico, and could only find 7 mares in one pen that were in bad shape..My understanding is that the majority of those in bad shape were from the Black Rock desert HMA..if so we need to know WHY that is the case..keep asking questions…why is there no PROOF provided by the BLM as to the condition of those mares at the time they photos no video nothing..they are surely not so backward as to think their word is sufficent._when in fact they never made that claim initially-only now 2 months later..I have heard that the mares in general are in poor shape now..after being in their care for 2 months..when they should have been picking up in weight–th ey have lost weight..They are trying to shift blame to cover themselves


      • The most disturbing thing about this article is the fact that BLM will be ’emptying’ Palomino Valley so it will be able to receive newly captured horses.
        Where is BLM planning to take the hundreds at Palomino Valley?? This means many horses will be moved. This is no more acceptable than the roundups continuation. We must not slow down the letter writing, emailing, phone calls and comments online at blogs and News sites. This week while the advocates who can go to DC join RT and Ginger, please UP the out put of all you have been doing. Do more. We must back up the people in DC with a Loud Call for the Moratorium on Roundups. The horses need to remain where they are and not be shipped further from their ranges. mar


  3. Will check it out and leave a comment, although you ladies and gents do a much better job at putting these people in their place than I do!! Thanks RT another media ^%$#up.


  4. WildHorse Anni
    03/20/2010 11:22 PM
    What has happened to jornalism -it doesnt take much digging to discover that BLM- Brutal Lying Murderers are so corrupt and have reeked astronomical damage to our land, wildlife and water as well as inflicting brutal cruel abuse to our National Treasure, our wild horses and burros. With so many honest competent Americans why hasnt the BLM, Dept. Of AG , F & G, Dept. of Forestry which are also all corrupt and not protecting our lands, wildlife and water all prosecuted and cleared out ? Having BLM in charge of our beloved majestic American Wild horses & Burros is like putting MIchal Vick in charge of our countries dogs !


    • Shari, investigative journalism is all but dead. It is too expensive for the corporate owners of the “news.” They prefer taking AP reports off the wire and very little reporting at all. What the wild horses really need is their modern day version of Woodward and Bernstein and I see no courageous journalist stepping up to the task.


      • Publishing and communications took a huge hit when Wall Street screwed up. The ability to do justice has been falling away. But we do have Steven Long and George Knapp and they have stuck by us and want to make a difference with what they reveal. I am very pleased with their persistent work and I know they will do more. That means a great deal in this fight. mar


      • There are two ladies I see often also, Carrol Abel and Maureen Harmony? I know there are others and because they are horse people they understand and write with detail and insights others do not have. We are very lucky we have all of these special journalists at a time when science writing and investigation is being left out of the stories. mar


  5. AP also published a longer version with of this article. When I come across it I will post the link here. In the more in depth version Makendra from The Cloud Foundation was quoted. Most newspapers seem to have picked up the shorter version you are speaking about here. Just thought you would like to know that AP is reporting but ultimately it’s what the papers want to print: the longer version or the shorter version. Even with the shorter version getting into the papers I’m grateful that it’s getting picked up in mainstream press to keep the issue fresh and to let the public and politicians know the American wild horse issue is still a hot topic that needs their attention.


    • Hi Ann…we have posted AP’s expanded version, this morning. Although it gives the Advocates point of view there is so much more to tell in that story. Great comments and insights.


    • I agree getting some sort of story out was a good thing. No news is bad news, and I suppose we should be grateful for any crumbs tossed our way. After one news cycle, it’s “old news” – water over the dam. Keeping it “fresh” will require new, different, and hopefully more shocking articles.

      In my opinion, adding “in Nevada” to the first sentence implies it’s a regional rather than a national issue. I consider including what JoLynn Worley said (notice no direct quotes), and omitting what Makendra said (as well as her credentials) bad journalism.

      I believe AP violated its own “News Values and Principles” by not “identifying all sources of information”, as well several other areas. Here’s the link:

      Essentially, this story was rewritten, not edited.

      I was surprised the Washington Post chose to print the “short version”, and wonder where they put it. At least they provide “Who’s Blogging – Links to this article” should anyone want a bit more information “directly related” to the article. R.T. – this post and your next post are included.

      Most newspapers have become no more than advertising vehicles and dedicate column-inches accordingly. TV and radio outlets choose “sound bites” due to time constraints. Thankfully, we have the web – 24,400 posts so far, traditional media overwhelmingly the rewrite. Maybe folks will do more research.


  6. This story is also being run by the Nevada Appeal. Paulick Report (racing blog) has a link. Nevada Appeal allows comments after registration.

    The shortened version is certainly something less than sketchy, at best.


  7. BTW, seems we have horse hater, cattle worshipers on the Nevada Appeal comment thread.

    The horses could use some help with comments.


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