Horse News

UK’s Take on the Twin Peaks Wild Horse Stampede

By Sarah Smith of the UK’s Channel 4

Park rangers say using helicopters to round up wild horses in California is humane and necessary. But animal rights activists tell Channel 4 News’s Sarah Smith the practice is barbaric.

Click on Image, below, to View Video

Utah based Cattoor Livestock Helicopter on top of stampeding wild horses at Twin Peaks

On the Twin Peaks in range in California, just north of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the wranglers really do wear Wrangler jeans. They have Stetson hats, checked shirts and lassos as well. These guys are the real deal.

The most high-tech piece of equipment I saw them using was a shredded plastic bag attached to the end of a stick. A bit of kit that doesn’t even have a proper name, which they use to frighten wild horses. Mustangs don’t like the rustling noise.

The whole scene looks as though little has changed here since the first settlers brought first horses onto this range in 1870.

Until a very loud, very shiny, very modern helicopter crashes into view, chasing hundreds of wild mustang horses across the range. A bang up-to-date version of a buckaroo.

The helicopters are here to round up two and half thousand wild horses over the next six weeks. The largest wild horse round up in America. A highly controversial exercise that some argue is essential to the welfare of the horse, and others think is both cruel and unnecessary.

Animal rights activists come out to watch the round-up every day, distressed that the horses are being chased by these noisy machines. Dozens have died in previous round-ups – over 100 were killed in Nevada last winter.

But park rangers insist it’s perfectly humane, saying a skilled helicopter pilot can move the animals slowly and accurately toward the pens prepared for their capture.

Wild horses have almost no natural predators, so land managers say the horse population has grown far too large for the range to sustain them. Once every one of the wild horses has been caught, just 458 will be selected to be released back into the wild.

But before they go, most of the mares will have to be sterilised. These round-ups are now so controversial that the rangers are very much hoping that from now on contraception will do the job for them instead of helicopters.

Wild horses are such an iconic symbol of the wild west they can tug on American heartstrings like no other animal can. So nationwide protests against the round-ups gain plenty of public support. There are even now moves in congress to have the whole programme stopped.

Bill Phillips is 83 years old. You can tell by the date of birth he has engraved on his silver belt buckle. As he took me off into the range to find mustangs grazing wild, he explained that it is essential to reduce their numbers in order for the herd to survive.

There is such meagre vegetation and so little water the land can’t support the numbers of wild horses currently living on it. Unless they are rounded up and captured, a slow death from starvation or dehydration awaits many of these beasts.

For 2,000 formerly wild horses here in northern California, a different fate awaits. Some will be adopted for just $125 and either put to work or kept as pets.

But adoption rates are falling just as round-up numbers are increasing. So more than few of these animals will end up in early retirement in the midwest, grazing fertile pasture at taxpayers’ expense for the rest of their days.

Protesters are convinced that some end up slaughtered in Canada or Mexico. But the Bureau of Land Management insists that not one healthy animal is ever killed.

Some deeply committed rangers told me they care about these horses every bit as much as the activists do. And they truly believe they are doing what’s best for the horse population.

But they have clearly not convinced the activists who say watching the round-up on the range is the most distressing sight they have ever seen

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91 replies »

  1. I would like to know who these park Rangers are who said that rounding up horses via Helicopter is Humane!!!….I would like a list of their names!!! If it is Humane….please explain to me why horses are dropping dead and their hooves falling off…because I would truly like to know how this is Humane!!!

    Further more….how do we know the Park Rangers REALLY said this…or is this MORE LIES from the “BS Machine” of the BLM.

    So Parker Rangers…the ones who said using Helicopters to round up horses is Humane….would you PLEASE STAND UP!!!


  2. Our humane observers need uniforms. People automatically look to “officials” for information. The public has been trained to do that. Most people automatically go first to a ranger or someone who looks to be in charge. Security guards wear uniforms. Our humane observers need something that identifies them, so that THEY will be the ones interviewed on “media days”.


    • Apparently we need to wear thongs or go nude because the only way we can get the media to pay attention is to act like a nut job…


      • I want to thow this idea out there..My ranch borders a main highway from california through oregon to washington..I want to put a banner up on hiway 97 on my property like I did when i was campaigning for hillary Clinton..something that will inform people who are driving by to the plight of the mustangs ..get their attention in a brief catchy way..any cost me 80 for hillarys banner, it was all weather..I also purchased a kit with yard signs, from the campaign headquarters..Is this something we could start immediately thru cloud or herd watch..We need to inform as many as possible works for politicians…it can work for us…People were always honking and giving me a thumbs up when they passed, everyone should consider doing this where they never know where your next supporter will come from..America needs to be informed and they will start asking questions..tell your family there will be no christmas presents unless they put one in their yard too…twist arms and legs if you have to! I did alot of research on line checking for prices for my organization”cowgirls for clinton”..lets get rolling on this..herd watch could do this as a means to raise funds, we just need to raise some seed money to get it started…start thinking of the possibilities!


      • Sandra, check out cafe express (is that the name? Get to it from TCF or Herd Watch). I don’t know if they make large banners, but I think they do make little yard signs (and bumper stickers, etc). I can’t put those in my Townhouse project – but a great idea for anyone that can.

        I think the idea of coordinated tee shirts to wear at roundups is a great marketing idea. All wear Herd Watch one day and Conquistador the next – decide on color coordination for pants (even hats?). If its cool wear same color long sleeves under tee shirts. Or think of having water repellent wind breakers made availalbe at Cafe Express.


    • What a wonderful idea. I think a nice creme denim shirt with a Mustang rearing and striking at a helicopter would be great. Then dark pants. I love it. I’d contribute. Maybe we could find a company that would make such a shirt.


      • I live up a dirt road so a banner wouldn’t be seen there but when working for the passage of the anti-slaughter bills I put up one on the main road. Unfortunately the property changed hands and the new kids on the block are afraid of controversy. They graze cattle hmmm. But another banner will be going up on my property, maybe I’ll get a stream of cars coming up to take a look–people love to gossip up here, would give them something to talk about instead of each other. How about the banners they used in the protests? Could we use that picture of the wild horses and just change the wording? I’d pay for my own.


      • . . . when we used to drive “down in the country” as kids the barns all had advertising on the roofs!


    • *UNIFORMS the best idea! For one, that way we look organized. (Not only “tree huggers”:) Two, gives the message there are lots of us. Three, a uniform DOES get noticed. A place we could order one if we went to a roundup…and also to wear around town.

      Banners are a great idea too. I have a 6’x 2.5′ vinyl banner that says
      “Stop the Slaughter- Save the Horses.” Color photos of horses…looks like wild horses on the range. I don’t have a visible yard now…so (!) I bring it to the beach and lay it alongside my blanket. Lots of people notice and we talk.
      I ALWAYS wear a “Stop the Slaughter-Save the Horses” wristband. They sure get noticed. I have many and give them away after speaking of what it is all about. I carry fliers on horse slaughter (not graphic) and wild horses.

      My car is a horse mobile, but not overdone. Bumper sticker, “Americans Against Horse Slaughter.” And bright & beautiful orange magnetic thingy with silhouettes of 3 black horses on the range, “Save the Horses,” in my rear car window.

      I am not here to push a sale, but bought from B. Grimmett on Facebook and Alex Brown Racing.

      Thing is, need EXPOSURE. Need more about wild horses. Even if I do not have a conversation about wild horses, slaughter, etc., just seeing this stuff, it is imprinted in on the brain, then is recalled when horses come up in another way. Knowledge builds.
      Not “earth shaking,” but small steps we all do and can do.

      The public does-not-know. Geez, most don’t know about the DOI! Salazar, forget it. So now with the BP Gulf oil disaster, this is a good way to bring in DOI, BLM, wild horses… And people are SHOCKED!

      I have found there are many ways to get a conversation going “when you least expect it,” lol. And I am not “pushy.” This is a turn-off.
      Yesterday at the beach I saw a huge object way offshore. I asked a man if he knew what it was. He said a gas rig. Welllllll, all I needed to hear.
      From rig to Gulf oil gush to DOI/MMS to DOI/BLM>>>SalaCzar>>>Wild Horses & Burros. And Cloud, PBS works! Many have seen the episodes.

      It would also be great if we could do the rally protests around the country, again. But this time, ALL on the SAME DAY, all across America. I think this would be powerful.

      It is unbelievable what the public does NOT know. But then, I had no idea horses were slaughtered until Barbaro. My life has been forever changed.

      Just some thoughts… Yes, need to put the anger energy into action!


      • I like the ideas we are coming up with. I wear the Conquistador tshirts from the Pryor Mt raid and it gets noticed Didn’t know about all this other gear, I will check it out. Every person we educate in turn educates someone else and next thing you know they are on the phone to legislatures, doing research, calling BLM.


      • All good thoughts Ronnie-I think public awareness of what is going on is so limited and we need to get that message out somehow..yard signs work for politians..its tried and reaches many people every day..not just those that see a protest?rally..I checked into price…the signs are cheap $100 for 100, its the metal stands that stick in your yard that are expensive, $16 ea for a 100, wonder if some politican would have a fire sale on left overs-or something on e-bay..I will check that out too, banners would be easier and cheaper to send through the mail-less packaging and more bang for your buck…could tie to your fence, or as I did-put in 2 -7 ft metal fence posts- I am thinking if I put..FREE, the wild horses, with a website to go to..the word Free-immediately catches the eye of the passing traffic, and they may pull over to read what is free…LOL


    • Herd watch has some nice shirts, some long sleeve. When one wears them in public it does open discussion.

      I don’t know if it’s a good idea to have visual ID when around the BLM and their friends.


  3. helicopters are used because they are fast, and these roundups are ALL about fast! ALso, the pilots really seem to enjoy scaring the hell out of these animals from flying so close to these horses with no risk of injury to themselves, using horses to roundup would even the odds out a bit, bait and water trapping are WAY too humane for these guys. Seems to me the rangers are more of the same good ol boys, the “we’re doing it for the best of_______(insert horses, native americans, whatever here)” government justification is getting way too old.


    • Humane? My a**. I wish on this piece it was mentioned the total number of horses in pens waiting death. That speaks volumes. People need to hear big numbers to make them pay attention. So they are saving the horses, I’ll bet they take an ambulance out to the range if a horse breaks a leg or contracts some illness…..or maybe they just will always do like they do in the pens, just ignore them. Leaving them wild on the range to die is “not kind” but ruining their lives AND causing terror, death and injury is a joy to behold. What crap


    • back in ‘the day’ The state parks would give 30 day notice for any local ranches to remove their horses. Then the BLM with park service? would shoot all the wild horses.

      Guess they miss ‘the easy times’


  4. The stock companies can afford helicopters because of the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been paid to them under government contracts. Wonder how much the wranglers are paid?


    • Louie, the Catoors themselves said, in an interview, that they get “$150-$500” for each horse. No telling how much else!

      Now, in another article, BLM claims it costs them $500 a year to manage one wild horse for a year. Tell me, if you can, how that math (alone) works out!

      Yes, the contractors are making a killing (literally) … and just WHO is getting the REALLY big bucks??? THEY are the ones that need to be exposed!


      • Here’s a thought I’d like to throw out there. Since the blm won’t name the owners of the land that the LTH is situated on and since we know the Cattoors are horse killing millionaires many times over (my momma told me you got punished for bad deeds!) is it possible that the Cattoors are also owners of LTH facilities even if under a different name and are making money on both ends of this murder? Don’t have any evidence at all but would it surprise any of you?


      • Morgan, I don’t know how one has a government contract and remains anonimous – not at city, county or state level anyway (in AZ). So how is Fed that much diferent?

        I suspect that they are keeping these secret is like the “no fly” issue. We just have not figured it out yet.

        Tom Gorey said last week on NPR to come and visit all the holding facilities – once you have an address it is public record who owns the peoperty.


      • That’s the major problem, they won’t reveal the exact location of the LTH areas so we dn’t even have a location. Even with a FOIA they can state privacy as the law states they don’t have to list info that would ID a private party.


      • file:///Users/roger/Pictures/iPhoto%20Library/FacRpt0210%20holding%20facilities.pdf

        This is the facilities list with Long and short term etc. We have talked about getting the ‘live’ version of Google “I” Maps and finding these places… We do know where some are but need addresses. This is needs people working on it until the answers can be found, County clerks may be able to assist in pin pointing places. mar


      • Morgan, I speculated on this as well, I can see this coming as they have such a cozy relationship with the BLM..After what happened on the Owyhee, and given their statements made public on their website, they should NEVER be allowed to care or handle any wild horses..I can see this as their retirement package once the have run themselves out of business rounding up all the wild horses


      • I wonder if DEAD or ALIVE……the way it looks like they might get the $500 for the “dead horses”. I the contractors would not get paid for injured or dead horses, then they would have to be more careful!


      • Anne-Marie, I have asked in writing several times for the answer to that question: is the contractors per head price qualified? Do they receive payment whether dead or alive? No response from BLM except that these contracts are not public. Probably more no-fly zone BS….


  5. Unfortunately “Ranger Rick”..has no experience or background to offer an educated opinion on the subject of wild horses..we have all seen plenty of evidence with our OWN eyes that there is plenty of water and forage for the horses..And there certainly is plenty of water and forage for cows in all these HMAs, as I have studied every EA on these HMAs, and as someone who raises horses, lives in the high desert, has worked on cattle ranches with BLM allotments, and familiar with wild horses..I want to be perfectly clear…YOU ranger Rick-are full of BS…smoky the bear aught to eat your A##…thats right ranger rick-I am a plainspoken western cowgirl..and I know you don’t have to take an IQ test to wear wranglers.


  6. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – Interact
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state website includes biographies, newsroom, policy/issues, webcasts, videos, blogs, interactive video forum, email alerts, appointments, contact … – Proxy – Highlight – 1 more top result from this site


    • I’ve written the butt since he got into office–never received a reply yet. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Obama er make that Schwarzenegger to step up to the plate and do something. Perhaps if we told him the wild mustangs would make a great backdrop for his next movie.


  7. The link didn’t post right, but you can get on this web page to email and find mailing addresses for California’s governor.


  8. Is is not the U.S. Forest Service that intends to put a TWO MILE fence right through the Pryor Mountain grazing area, thereby obstructing the grazing path of Cloud’s herd? That land has been untouched for decades–is that correct?


    • The picture showed an old wooden snow fence which is broken down in places so the horses have always had access to using it for migration..I say they are grandfathered in…by adverse possesion..who says real estate laws only apply to humans..the land has rights that belong soley to the property not to humans and or possibly government. This approach should be tried in is an untested legal theory…


  9. Humane? Just the beginning is NOT humane. The helicopter is tooooo close to the horses backs!!!! Then! Shoved, whacked, yelled at, gates slammed into horse, baggies flying, horses screaming, rearing… This is only the beginning of a horror day…w/o water, food, rest. Just TERROR.

    HSUS you are needed. This is what you do. HUMANE Society. A press release is not enough. Get your people out there! And get your high power lawyers to work. And if you have a contraceptive deal with the BLM, that is your problem. Most importantly, your organization is to stop this horrible cruelty, dying, deaths happening on an unprecedented MASSIVE scale!!
    What is holding you back, HSUS? I am shocked.

    OK…I vented.



    • We have every reason to be venting -while those with influence and power stand on the sidelines…It’s getting to the point where I go off like “old faithful” on a regular basis!


      • I’m with you there Sandra. Seems everyone who could push the issue has their back turned. I don’t understand it and it makes me furious. 54 members of Congress signed a letter should have been a whole lot more. Pacelle went on Oprah to state how the chickens and veal cows were stuffed into spaces too small but where is he when our horses are dying left and right. Why aren’t one of these Congressman coming unannounced to view a “gather” or sending aides with video equipment? Maybe to them it is a small issue but to me it is huge, its life and death. As far as Gov. Schwarzenegger well you all notice how well that bill he signed keeping CA horses out of slaughter has worked–there’s never been an arrest yet–that’s what happens when you don’t fund it, what a joke!




  11. They rangers / BLM always fail to mention the thousands of cattle and sheep that outnumber horses sometimes 300 to 1 , there is always enough food and water for them – but not the horses-ummmmmm


    • yes that would fill the void left by all the stars in rehab>>> Portland oregon has a huge bicycle NUDE ride around the city..and ALL the media turns out..makes the evening news..LOL


  12. Seems this UK reporter, err trash peddler didn’t do his/her homework and bought the wild equine killers’ tripe hook, line and sinker! Oh what a surprise….even uses the term “activist” repeatedly. Hmmm…bought and paid for???? Looks that way.

    Morgan, you are correct, CA is so screwed up right now….wildlife is the last thing on good ol’ Arnolll’s mind. I too sent and received NOTHING back. Of course, I get the same from my idiot, special interest Fed trolls too.


    • She uses the term “animal rights” too.

      Though we do need to consider how words have different meanings in different countries. Her use of term “Ranger” may be what Brits use and understand – she may very well have been talking to BLM.

      Can we post on this article site?

      We should try to correct this article, politely – lets not insult a reporter who just needs education, and who we might be misunderstanding ourselves due to language differences.

      Main thing we got an Article in the UK – that will get people to do more research – many will figure it out.


      • PS I would add that ONE article is not necessarily the whole of the UKs take on anything.

        Didn’t they have a rally in London for our wild horses?


  13. Sandra Longley,

    Great idea , the banner on the highway on your property!
    Please check this out……
    I am pretty sure they did the banners for the protest rally in Vegas, organized by Arlene gawne, when Obama was in town in Vegas.

    Appreciate your brilliance, dedication and strength in the advocacy! : )
    Write to Arnold, we need him to be our hero in the real world. Stop Twin Peaks now!


  14. about having american flags made with a mustang on it for peoples yards..Know any websites for that? Would be best if we could give these things away to people but need one specific logo to go with…how is cost affected when you ad a picture ..I used hillarys background logo on my banner in keeping with the theme…got Bill to autograph my book when he came to town to give a speech..I made sure his entourage knew where to look for the banner.. I kept it up thru election day..I am not a quitter! !LOL even in lost causes…Of course I never see a cause as unwinable until you quit.Hand out american flags for laborday???


    • Labor Day with Flags…most appropriate! Labor Day is to honor the laborer.

      Our horses labor & labor for humans. On their backs, plow, pull…
      Got this off an educational website: “Labor Day celebrates contributions workers [HORSES] have made to the strength, prosperity & well-being of our country.”
      Wild horses are an American icon! Just to see them on the ~God Bless America, Land of the FREE ~ range, is such magnificent beauty…a nostalgia… to go back to before horses major contribution to our country. To pay tribute…a thank you to wild horses…& burros…burros, they sure pushed & heaved & pulled. And such little guys.

      I googled: wild horses logo photos. Ooodles came up. And the classic with the black stallion in front of American flag. LQQK SEE.

      But maybe logo with a {{{{HELICOPTER}}}} !!!

      Yes Flags! I could pass out many!


  15. There’s also a lengthy article in the Lake County news today. Attached is an article on IDA’s lawsuit so both sides are presented. However, there is nothing about the condition of the horses reported by the observers on Thursday. I’ve tried three times to post a comment but can’t, probably because I’m on at home on dial up. Could somebody please go to that article and comment? Thanks!


  16. Seems Ms. Smith’s UK4 wesite doesn’t allow comments and does one better…provides a link to her trash with only the BLM link.

    Good job Ms. Smith…journalism at it’s finest (nasty, sarcastic inserted here). And I don’t want to hear from anyone that thinks it’s just a cultural misunderstanding. This is bona fide propaganda on an international forum.


    • Thats a great shot and an ideal poster mustang!! This one gets my vote. Also like the one of Freedom gallantly galloping away in the distance……


      • Me too, I found Freedoms escape to be the one bright momment in the Calico debacle..I did not see him in any of Craigs photos when he was out there counting horses and think we need to send a search party out to find him…give a prize to the person that gets a picture of him…he was spotted once- a month or so after the roundup alone on the edge of the calico, this person almost hit him on the dirt road..I have nightmares about BLM shooting him out there..maybe when i go to twin peaks i will go over and look for him.


    • My vote too! Freedom the Black Stallion.

      (Too bad THE helicopter can’t be seen. People are horrified at that!)

      But Freedom is powerful. Hope he is safe!?


  17. When media are present, our humane observers need something that lets the press and public know that they are THERE so that they will be the ones interviewed and on camera–at least give equal time.


    • Absolutley – this is exaclty what we need – “marketing”.

      Look the authoritative part – people respond to uniforms – take it as far as you can – hats, shirts, jeans.

      I come from the fire department – some agencies cut uniform allowances for inspectors and inspection quality goes down.

      I still contend we need a Mission and Vision statement that stresses “non violence” so anyone crossing the line (not judging – just keeping it real for the good of all) is NOT representing “advocates” as a whole – we would not want to tarnish that tee-shirt image.


      • Since the other side is committing all the violence and packing the guns…geez- I would hate to think I would be excluded from the club-if i got shot…lol..but then being a lone wolf is more my style


  18. So the BLM wants us to believe that they are gathering horses for the good of the horses. Really? And we keep barn cats around because cats make good companion animals for horses, right?

    Do people who work for the BLM check their brains or just their hearts at the cattle guard?


  19. OK, so we all need to go t the website “great american outdoors” because this goes straight to P. Obamas ears, and comment, no wild horse people are commnting..lets go get em! I’ll go look for a link to put up


    • This is Michelle Obamas theme also – we should be spending some time promoting wild horses on her website (I’m guessing she has one – will chek cit out).


  20. Great ideas on shirts, banners, etc… !!! Education is a huge part of getting Americans to support the freedom of wild herds — and there’s no better way to start that conversation than a cool t-shirt, a bumper sticker, or a billboard.


  21. Looks like our governments idea of the Great American Outdoors is BLM issuing permits to off-road truck racing in the Mohave Desert. Isn’t that the same desert where the burros were removed? This morning’s news brought the story of 8 spectators being killed and more injured while watching one of these races that was being held on our Public Lands by permit. I wonder how much it costs to get a “permit” to run these trucks in “for profit” races on Public Lands while ripping up the habitat? And remember how the BLM was concerned about the safety of observers watching the “gather” activities. Guess they are not that concerned about truck racing and spectators on Public Lands let alone the destruction of the habitat by truck racing.. Geezzz



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