Horse News

George Knapp’s I-Team: Nearly 80 Wild Horses Dead After Roundup

Reported by George Knapp of Las Vegas Channel 8 KLAS

Secret BLM Agenda Revealed

Dying Calico Foal who's hooves were run off in deadly helicopter stampede - Photo by Laura Leigh

LAS VEGAS — The Calico Hills wild horse roundup has been characterized by the Bureau of Land Management as a huge success. But wild horse advocates say it was a disaster, and one that grows worse every day.

The roundup ended months ago, but the horses are still paying the price — many with their lives — according to animal activists.

The case for the Calico wild horse roundup continues to deteriorate months after the government spent nearly $2 million to capture every mustang it could find in the rugged and remote terrain adjacent to Nevada‘s Black Rock Desert.

From the beginning, the BLM claimed the gather was for the good of the horses and the good of the range, but it doesn’t appear either of those justifications were on the up and up.

First, there weren’t nearly as many mustangs on the range as BLM predicted. The roundup of about 1,900 mustangs fell short of the target by about 700. Second, the vast majority of the horses gathered were in good shape — not starving or emaciated.

BLM manager Gene Seidlitz said his agency was trying to avert a disaster down the road when food might be more scarce. As it turned out, the roundup itself was a disaster for the herds.

Horse advocates tried to stop the operation by arguing in court that chasing horses across miles of rocky terrain in the dead of winter was dangerous. BLM replied that it was safer than normal since snow on the rocks would cushion the damage to hoofs.

Calico BLM Pens by Elyse Gardner

As of April 15, 2010, a total of 79 of the horses captured from Calico have died — some as a result of injuries suffered during the capture, such as a foal which literally ran its hoofs off. The rest because they could not adjust to eating the rich hay fed to them at a new holding facility in Fallon. In addition, at least 40 mares suffered miscarriages during or after the roundup.

The total number of horses that have died is more than four times what BLM projected, ranking as one of the deadliest operations in the history of the program.

“That’s unfortunate, but the percentage that died due to the gather itself is still a low percentage,” said Seidlitz.

Wild horse advocates don’t see it that way. They are outraged over the deaths, even more so now that an outbreak of a disease known as pigeon fever has been noticed among the horses penned up in Fallon.

Another recent development puts the Calico roundup in a different light. Horse advocates were suspicious of the reasons for the roundup, as if 2,000 horses could not live on half a million acres. The suspicions were heightened when BLM memos showed the horses were not having a major impact on the range just a year before the gather was approved, which is when BLM quadrupled the amount of cattle grazing allowed on the same range.

A massive pipeline project, the Ruby Pipeline slated for the same range, was suspected as a possible reason for the roundup. On its website, BLM states categorically that the pipeline has nothing to do with the horses. Now horse advocates have obtained documents from February 2009 which show pipeline backers intended to work with BLM to “minimize wild horses and burros along the pipeline right of way,” adding that BLM horse experts were consulted about this plan.

Two weeks ago, a Washington D.C. law firm filed a suit in federal court on behalf of the group In Defense of Animal, asking that the remaining 1,800 horses being held in Fallon be returned to the open range on the grounds that warehousing the mustangs for the rest of their lives is not only costly, but illegal. We will keep you updated as that suit works its way through the courts.

portions of Laura Leigh’s video was used in I-Team Report

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32 replies »

  1. Thank you George for staying on top of this, thank you R.T for posting these updates;
    Another informative site is
    There is a request for his opinion on the stress caused by roundups to wild horses, if you scroll down to announcements you will see the request, click on : read Bruce’s reply” to read quite an indepth account of what takes place during and after a roundup.


  2. Not fer nuthin’, partially off-topic and because I find I truly enjoy a good ‘dance’, the below link is the ‘offcial’ observation & explanation of the seeping little discharging abcesses currently afflicting the Calico Captives.

    Now, I have to wonder, if the ‘experts’ during the initial roundups, transport & processing ‘noticed’ all those weeping wounds months ago, how’s come none of the Observers during that same timeframe did not? And the above ‘report’ comes directly on the heels of Elyse’s observations & documentation, months after the roundup ceased.

    Again, the Bureau mantra of ‘CYA’ at the expense of the Horses. This report becomes part of a permanent record for future generations but for this group of Advocates, it’s the same ‘dance’, a truly lame attempt to smooth over a deeply rutted road.


  3. Lisa, because there was nothing on the wild horses when they were rounded up, none of the initial reports, neither of the HSUS vet reports, NO ONE says anything about old abcesses, current abcesses, NOTHING,
    after Elyse and others reported and documented the swelling sacs on the horses, then the BLM vet reported that o BTW, we noticed old healed abcesses when these horses first came in, meaning that the horses came into the facility with PF, not that they caught it there. Now, after the outcry as to : treatment, isolation, and the awful pictures of these poor horses suffering, they are really hematomas caused by rubbing on the feed bunks, even though there is no sign of rubbing on any of these horses, just swollen sacs and when they’ve burst, blood and pus draining down horses’ legs.
    I will be interested in the latest observer posts after today’s visit, to see what spin the BLM will throw out next.


    • laura, I do remember that mentioned in his report, the concern was for Strangles, so this horse was isolated, also, going back through the Calico updates page, wasn’t the BLM vet report about PF on there, if so, it is not there now. Spinning your wheels always causes more friction and very little progress, when is BLM ever going to realize this, also that a lot of people are now keeping track of what they say.
      It will be interesting to see if any of your questions are answered as well as what the latest spin is.


  4. So many commercial interests are eyeing that area of the country. I’m still following Lithium, and there’s ever-increasing interest among (mostly foreign) investors. I think there are a couple of pilot programs already up and running.

    As for the the Ruby Pipeline, are there wildlife corridors along the route? I think proven and/or creative mitigations could lessen the impact on wild horses and wildlife. It will cost money, but could foster goodwill with not only wild horse advocates, but environmentalists and the surrounding communities.


    • This is a pipeline underground. We have heard that the reseeding will be done with plants the wild horses do not eat. I wonder what else will not eat them? There is planning here, very aggressive and specific that is wild life and wild horse unfriendly… this doesn’t necessarily serve any one at all in this scenario. It is just pigheaded. mar


      • So if Ruby is underground (except for monitoring/cleanout stations, I assume) what’s with the planting? Around here people drive on paved roads over underground pipelines, and, to my knowledge, nobody plants anything noxious.


  5. Linda :So many commercial interests are eyeing that area of the country. I’m still following Lithium, and there’s ever-increasing interest among (mostly foreign) investors. I think there are a couple of pilot programs already up and running.
    As for the the Ruby Pipeline, are there wildlife corridors along the route? I think proven and/or creative mitigations could lessen the impact on wild horses and wildlife. It will cost money, but could foster goodwill with not only wild horse advocates, but environmentalists and the surrounding communities.

    If I’m not mistaken, adjustments were made for migratory wildlife in Alaska. Granted it was little effort by the resource sucking trolls, but the environmentalists did get them to raise the pipeline in key locations to accomodate wildlife for the pipeline. And of course, we all know now that the resource sucking trolls now want the Artic National Wildlife Preserve (Park?) opened up to “drill, baby drill”! But pipelines can be designed for the wildlife…the trolls just hate paying for it (even though they get tax breaks for raping our resources and pay little to nothing in royalties and corporate taxes). Anybody hear what Exxon paid in Federal income tax? Last I heard (because the tea baggers are screaming too many taxes) a investigative report said nothing for 38 billion (?) in 2009 profits. Boy, could I use a deal like that.


    • Exxon pays no taxes to the US federal government. They use offshore wholly owned subsidiaries to funnel their obscene profits throught.

      P.S. Foreign owned slaughter houses pay no fed income tax either. Often we subsidize them.


    • Exxon and how many others? It’s time to reel them in and REALLY reduce our taxes. Of course, that would also reduce return on investments, and investors would be screaming.


  6. Thank you for this update and all you do to try to help wild horses.

    Would really love to see somehow the exact numbers Cartoor is paid for to round-up, to see the real loss numbers.

    other than the foals born that blm seems to not brand or count, I understand Cartoor has been paid.”by the head’ for over 30ish years?


  7. Yes, There was a Calico Complex roundup in 1984 by the Cattoors, and it was reported here by a Nevadan and friend to an eyewitness, that 30 foals died in a winter roundup and a truck trailer loaded with horses overturned and those injured horses were destroyed. Nevada wild horse advocates asked for an investigation then. These contractors have a long bloody history beginning in ineptitude, in my opinion… mar


  8. The amount the Cooks and Cattoors are paid (by the head-foals definitely counted) is public knowledge as they are paid with US taxdollars. They were paid a combined total of $2.7 million in 2009 for their gov’t contracts with round ups.


  9. One of my dreams was to see the wild musangs and burros in their natural environment out west. I guess now it will never happen. I am heartbroke.


    • Myra Kay, I’m with you. You and I WILL see the wild horses in their natural habitat one day. Do not dispair. Instead join the fight. There used to be hundreds of us. Now we are in the thousands and the fight has gone international. This cannot be ignored. Read all the Articles on this web page and read all the blogs. Visit The Cloud Foundation and find out what you can do to help. Isten to the radio spots linked from The Cloud Foundation. Spread the word. Contact Congress and President Obama. Never give up.


  10. Craig Downer went out to the Calico Mountains with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Craig knows where the water holes are, where the different horse bands graze, where the bachelor wild horses usually can be found. He has seen or was familiar with most horses in the Calico mountains. When Craig when out a couple of weeks ago looking for wild horses, he could only find 46 horses, after spending hours, looking for evidence of wild horses. He glassed for hours and what he found was 46 horses. I think maybe we should all make a donation, even if it is only a dollar or two to hire a helicopter for a count. Get ready for court. We somehow need to organize even tighter.


  11. Debra:

    I’m not sure a helicopter would be the best choice. But I definitely think chipping in for a fly over (fixed wing) with Craig documenting would be fantastic!

    Good idea….wonder if Ms. Pickens would think about making a donation?


  12. OK…anyone willing to intelligently approach Ms. Pickens with an expedited plan to do a scientific population count research project? It has to be done quickly and without parochial egos. The data would be critical for suits and meeting/round-up comment periods.

    I don’t have those kind of contacts. Would Craig be willing to work with her or vice versa?

    I say, Craig?…how much would you need for a fixed wing aircraft and how many days (including inclement weather) would you need? How quickly could you pull the report together? What entity or person would be compatible as a second party observer/validation authority (something/one with serious science credentials)? What about asking WWP?…particularly regarding these areas (Sheldon/Calico) resourced by Ruby Pipeline interests and the water they may be utilizing (thereby, reducing wildlife access) to persue this project?

    Just a thought.


  13. Helicopter or plane. Ginger Kathrens has a fly over in one of her promos for Cloud in Pryors in a helicopter and with the right camera they were able to be so far up that the horses did not even know they were there. We do that Ms. Pickens has access to helicopters (probably anything she wants actually). Just a thought. Best wish R.T. on your contact to her.


  14. Initially I suspected it was The Pipeline. If you map the Pipeline Route it follows the Mustangs, and is scheduled to blast straight through a major spring watering hole. The thing that still is in question for me is.. Why just the horses? What are all those cows going to do, or when will the cows be next? Other wildlife? Just does not add up completely.
    I would hate to be on these lands, once they start laying pipe. This is not water.. THIS IS GAS.. and this company has blown one up already.. and there were deaths and injury. I have asked this before, and got zero response.. what else is approved for these states? SOI did a little digging. I can tell you, it is NOT just the Ruby Pipeline… It’s The Ruby Slippers. This is Greening of America, and there are MANY projects approved for these lands. Listen to the Senate hearings, and Google the energy projects for all over this country. East coast is going to suffer big time. It’s already starting with Coal Mine deaths, and OIL rigs blowing up. The West.. we know what is happening here. Don’t people remember why we closed the NUKE PLANTS, and HALTED OIL production on our soil and CLOSED THE COAL MINES? History sure has a way of repeating itself. Be mindful of the whole country and the master plan these folks have for us, East and West North and South, Human and Horse.


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