Horse News

Wild Horse was Driven over Rocks to His Death During Recent Owyhee Roundup

By Maureen Harmonay ~ Equine Advocacy Examiner

BLM Helicopter Stampede Casualties Continue to Mount

BLM Helicopters drove Wild Horse off Cliff ~ Photo by Katie Fite

An independent observer who recently returned from scouting the Herd Area in north Elko County, Nevada where the Owyhee portion of the Tuscarora Gather took place has photographic evidence that one of the wild horses appears to have been driven to his or her death over rocky cliffs, presumably by Cattoor, the BLM’s helicopter contractor.

Though no such fatality was ever reported by the BLM, Katie Fite, a Biodiversity Director for the Western Watersheds Project, was able to document it during her visit to the area on July 25th and 26th.  Her photograph depicting a horse lying dead on the rocks near the Owyhee River was submitted in support of Laura Leigh’s legal motions against the BLM on the Tuscarora matter, the most recent of which was filed on Friday, July 30th.

Ms. Fite explained:

“I noted evidence that horses had been driven down the river bed and held in temporary corrals.  Also noted a horse that appears to have been driven onto the rocks.”

Ms. Fite’s photographs were taken at the South Fork of the Owyhee River, north of the Owyhee roundup trap site, where she observed four places at which wild horses have access to water, contrary to the BLM’s prior assertions that because no water was available to the mustangs in this Herd Area (HA), an “emergency rescue gather” was justified and necessary.

Another observer, wild horse advocate Sandra Longley, also visited the Owyhee roundup area on July 16th and 17th, to document forage, water sources, cattle, and gates.  She reported:

“I stood there on the Owyhee on July 17th amidst fields of wildflowers, water pouring out of the sides of mountains, and springs with water running down and alongside of roads.  There was nothing but cattle, but over a few hills, many wild horses were dying. . .No horses could be documented except an ecosystem littered with the dead bodies of horses, who had suffered heat stroke at the hands of Sue Cattoor, the helicopter contractor.

There is so much more to come.  We have yet to get the total of horses who died or were ‘rescued’ with a bullet out on the desert where they were stumbling around suffering from heat stroke from being pushed by the helicopter.  Many of those would have been foals. . .By not counting those horses as ‘gather’ deaths, but due to drought, the BLM is allowed to escape being blamed for the largest massacre during a roundup.”

It is true that the BLM has never acknowledged, or reported, the deaths of the fallen horses Ms. Longley describes, but their stories must be told.  In a press release issued today, the agency admits that 34 wild horses have died as a direct result of the Tuscarora roundup, but it’s clear that the actual number who have perished at the BLM’s directive is much, much higher.


You can support ongoing legal efforts to stop the BLM’s inhumane roundups of America’s wild horses, and to make sure that the carnage of the Tuscarora Gather is not repeated, by contributing to the citizen-funded

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29 replies »

  1. That photo breaks hearts. Imagine one of us did this. Oh would they all be up in roar about it and we would march to jail. But Abbey and his consorts …. one can wonder if anything will ever pull that “untouchable” status from them when it comes to the cruelty inflicted on the mustangs. Cattoor and BLM – the American secret animal abusers wearing government badges. Is it a wonder they don’t want the public ? This is so outrageous, it’s hard to believe this is America. If the judges don’t wake up now – what then ?


  2. so one would guess from this evidence, the horses were doing quite well on this hma. plenty of water down in the riverbed, ample grass.

    Then in the days before official round-up- the contractors? moved the horses along the riverbed, corraled them (removed some?stole some?) pushed the rest up to waterless area and blocked them from water.

    besides the cattle ruining waterways in the desert lands, what nerve of the BLM to actually damage a riverbed using it as a place to run and corral horses.


    • To Laura Houston,

      And all this activity, and I presume, waaay up on the range: moving wild horses here and there, corralling them, building corral/corrals… And yet, at the beginning of the Tuscarora roundup, the BLM said the horses were so dehydrated but there was no way to get them water, as the horses were soooo far away. The BLM could not reach them so to “save” them, needed Cattoor with “joy stick,” to roundup. But! Eventually, after a lot of “public opinion,” the BLM did manage to deliver water. Photo, water truck.

      All the above is obvious, noted before, but again, do as they please by the BLM.
      My head is spinning trying to keep track of BLM statements, rewording, denying, lying…

      I wonder how many horses went over the cliff…and how and why.
      Horses get confused, weakened fast with heat exhaustion/stroke along with terror of the whirling helicopter and deafening noise. But then again, we do know Cattoors would purposely torment horses during a roundup. So “joy stick” not a pun. Could be for real. They get their kicks…and just might take their “frustrations,” anger over the gains, accusations made by advocates, out-on-the-horses.


      • We used to live near Randolph Air Force Base. Sometimes a helicopter would come over the riding ring. The noise was awful. As it got close, the whirling props sounded just like gunshots and you could feel the compression. I’m sure that was no where near as close as Catoors came to the Mustangs.


      • Yes and buried in all the feel good stuff..sues statement…” I believe excess wild horses should be killed”…guess she is trying to make that dream come her own words


      • Good ole Sue Cattoor … wild horse populations grow by 18% every year, meaning that herds double their size in 4 years. She and BLM dum-dums must have taken the same math classes …


      • Priceless quote from the article:

        “If you want to learn something about wild horse gathering, spend a day in a mustang capture corral in the middle of wild horse country in Central Nevada with Dave and Sue Cattoor and their crew. You will get an education on what wild horse and burro capture is all about from people who spent a lifetime, watching, following, and catching these animals throughout the west!”

        This quote was followed by the Cattoors contact information.

        I’d absolutely LOVE to spend a day watching the Cattoors. Think they’ll let me if I contact them?


    • Another-Legal Cause of Action-BLM maintained the gather would have” no impact”on environment and “Endangered Species” Lahoaton Trout..This is where WWP gets them..they put those gather pens next to the river banks, a no no, trucks stampedeing horses helicopter blades and noise pollution..pick this up Laura, and add it to the pile!


  3. The Owyhee horses have been put through hell under our noses, on our watch when we were told to stay away. We said this would be bad and now it is the worst. If we had been there it may have made a difference. But the manner in which BLM/Contractors work is by doing a pre-gather driving of horses and preparing. This backfired this time. Horses died who were set up to be taken quickly but who had been driven to exhaustion. BLM is maintaining a cover up. Where are the horses that were down and to be euthanized? How many died and where are they? These are gather related deaths. They must be counted and recognized and accounted for. This incredible display of arrogance and deceit must be made an example of. We will not let the Owyhee horses go. mar


  4. Laura, I hope and pray that this suit is successful, if this evidence doesn’t sway the judge, than we are beyond dispair.
    and of course, this will be another death not “gather-related”!


  5. Yeah Jan, you are right, Mr A.Kane APHIS vet will perform an autopsy and will conclude, that the poor horse had some “pre-existing brain defect” and lost his balance and stumbled to his/her death, conclusion: non-gather related! Those heartless bastards! I am about at the end of my rope here. Listening to their idiotic comments, depicting the Wild Horses as some brainless mongrels, that need constant “Human” intervention to save them, so they could be put out of their misery by the BLM…..of course so humanely!!!! I called the White House and I will be calling every day from now on. I also start sending a letter every day addressed to “DISHONORABLE KEN SALAZAR”!!


    • Well becareful how you address the envelope. I remember once writing to President Carter and I had some nasty title. The opened letter came back to me stating “Unknown address”


      • LOL, sometimes the temptation is overwhelming…and cannot be resisted..There is so little to laugh about these days..I find most of my humor now to be dark and sarcastic..We will all heal when the horses are safe and able to safely breathe.As long as we stay in the fight we have a chance of winning…and our odds look better every day…and in soooo many ways..


  6. Sorry to hear this attack on the lawyers you have been working so closely with. To play a bit of a devil’s advocate, I was in a lawsuit due to construction defects on my home. It was the most miserable 1 1/2 years of my life–when all looked like it was going well I was elated, when it wasn’t–well my attorney must have gotten their degree at WalMart. It’s hard to be neutral as an advocate when you wear your heart on your sleeve and unfortunately this causes us to jump when we should be thinking. And of course us outside the suit only know a small amount of the happenings, Yes unfortunatley it is easy to jump to conclusions which must be maddening to you who know the complete story and know the quality of the attorneys representing you. It was so miserable I vowed I would never sue anyone again. I so appreciate what you are doing for the horses and so hope this works out well both for you personally and mostly for the horses. Being in a suit really takes over your life and I am so grateful that you are willing to be the one who is there. Thank you. I was thrilled when I saw you were able to refile–this shows the attorneys are on top of things. We are with you for sure but really don’t know the inner workings or how all consuming this is. On an aside that lawyer that I sometimes thought was a bum–turns out he was known as one of the best construction defects attorneys on the west coast. Go in peace


  7. It is hard to know whether our elected officials even read their emails or letters, but they cannot claim that they have no kowledge of these atrocities when we have kept them informed.


  8. C’mon folks…surprised? Really?!

    Let’s see…. how much do I get for a dead cow/steer versus a mustang or wild burro?

    Simple math, as disgusting as it is.

    I’ll post this again. What are the contract requirements to bring in healthy, nondying wild equines versus deaths? If you kill ’em via massacre or intermediate holding, do those dead equines reduce your contract reimbursement? What is the incentive to bring ’em back alive?…or is there any incentive or bonus?

    I’m not SH*TTIN’ YA HERE! If there is no bonus for live healthy or penalty for dead or dying, you have them on management intent overall and with regard to the enforcement of the 1971 Act.


  9. Ok. evidence..we have 2 documents the first ‘the internal secret-Alternatives management document, where the BLM individuals discuss ways to kill excess wild horses gathered, we also have the document from the Catoors website, with Sue stating She favors killing excess wild horses, now we have a large number of wild horses deemed excess- killed on the Owyhee..sounds like 2 “great minds” came together on the Owyhee, to perform the same act..NOT rumor or suspicion but by their own words..If someone threatens to kill you and you come up dead..WHO is the number 1 suspect?


    • OK, the next question has got to be..Why are these parties- who hold these kinds of opinions- in charge of the health and well being of our wild horses????


    • Policy begins at the top and flows downhill. Salazar stating the wild ones have no place on our public lands (does anyone have a copy of that speech?) to the BLM secret internal document to Dave Cattors’ conviction to Sue Cattors’ statement. Who knows how much more evidence could be added to the chain?

      I’m sure there are BLM and ex-BLM “whistleblowers” out there who could fill in some blanks, but what would be the personal repercussions for them? There were testimonials of harassment, demotions and dismissals of people who dared to question DOI/BLM actions on the DOI “Ideas” website, but has anything come of their complaints? The government has guaranteed protection for those turning in misdeeds. The question is are they standing by their promises?

      I’m also sure there are caring BLM folks who are trying their best to do right by the wild ones, not only at the capture sites, but also in holding and at adoption events. I’d be willing to bet most of them are “boots-on-the-ground” and not mid to upper-level management. If things were right on the range, why would the BLM explore counseling for folks who either are ordered to put down or witness the killing of healthy horses?

      We all know jobs are hard to come by and government jobs come with perks like good healthcare and pensions. It would be a tough decision to put your and your family’s future in potential jeopardy. Reporters can be pressured to reveal anonymous sources, but most are willing to go to jail to protect that right and the resulting publicity often does allot of damage to those who put the pressure on. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. Truth to power!!!


  10. Thank you Laura for all you do, and all the advocates in court and out there in the field – I know there are many that have not even been named – you are all the best souls on earth.


  11. The question that stays in the forefront of my mind is: HOW can we be MOST effective in this fight to save the Wild horses and Burros? WHAT is the BEST method we as grassroots activates / advocates can use to support you who are on the front lines of this battle for their lives and freedom? Does it make any real impact for us to call (and keep calling) legislators, sign petitions galore, and publicize/share on social media?

    We are more than willing to do all of the above if it truly helps, but if we are just spinning our wheels, let’s find the thing that will really help the most, and then everyone concentrate on that.

    How many years has this been dragging on? And how many hundreds, or thousands of horses and burros continue to be harmed, captured, tortured and killed? We have to stop “playing nicey-nice”, and get those murderous thugs stopped immediately, if not sooner. Just tell us how.

    As torturous as it is for us to hear of the things the horses and burros suffer, our hearts breaking for them, it’s unimaginable how they have even survived as much as they have. We just can’t let it drag on and allow them to continue the equine version of the Trail of Tears. It’s TOO TOO MUCH for them to bear!!!


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