Selective roundup removes 1,400 horses from Antelope Complex, only 31 horses returned
Wells, NV – On Friday, Feb. 25 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abruptly canceled the controversial wild horse roundup in Northern Nevada known as the Antelope Complex, while the following day the agency released twenty chemically sterilized mares and two studs back onto their federally protected public lands, nine had been released earlier in the roundup.
Equine journalist and Director of Habitat for Horses Advisory Council R.T. Fitch, who has been present at the roundup the past week with his wife and noted equine photographer, Terry Fitch, stated:
“Although we are elated for the remaining horses that will not be subjected to the horrors of the stampede and forever ripped from their rightful homes, we remain devastated by the unnecessary cruelty the captured 1,400 horses suffered at the hands of the BLM’s contractor.”
“Watching near full term pregnant mares being chased over hills and across rocks by an inexperienced helicopter pilot gives an entirely different meaning to animal cruelty”, he added.
The early conclusion of the roundup leaves the BLM nearly 600 horses short of the projected number they had planned to remove.
Speculation as to why the BLM abruptly concluded the roundup was verified during the release when BLM officials stated that the helicopter was bringing in far too many pregnant mares and the risk of injury or death had suddenly escalated. On site observers stated that their careful documentation of the event was, in part, the reason for the early shutdown.
“It’s quite troubling that more than 1,000 horses had to be callously and unnecessarily removed from the Antelope Complex before the BLM decided to heed our appeal,” said Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Anti-Cruelty.
Bershadker added, “We hope the BLM’s recent decision to reevaluate their failing practices will allow the agency to focus their vast resources on ensuring the National Academy of Sciences has the access and assistance it needs to provide a careful study of the wild horses, resulting in a more humane, sustainable management program.”
Of the 1,400 horses removed from the Antelope Complex, the BLM has only released a total of 31 horses back to the range. The agency has confirmed nine fatalities.
“I am stunned that while the roundup was still under way hundreds of private cattle were being introduced to the very same range that only hours before our proud national icons once grazed”, stated Terry Fitch photographer for Horseback Magazine. “We couldn’t even leave the herd management area due to the huge bovine mowing machine that blocked the road and covered the range.”
Earlier this year, several animal welfare, horse advocacy, and environmental protections groups joined forces to urge the BLM to postpone the Antelope Complex roundup and pursue a plan to construct holding facilities for the horses on private lands adjacent to their home range.
“Although we want this entire inhumane and barbaric process to stop”, added R.T. Fitch, “We will take every little victory for the horses we can get. Today we celebrate the token release, tomorrow we will continue to fight for reform of this tragically broken and inhumane system.”
- BLM halts Nev. wild-horse roundup short of goal (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- BLM Captures 1,400 Wild Horses: Releases 31 (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- BLM Called Upon To Halt Wild Horse Roundups Until “New Normal ” Policies Enacted To Ensure Humane Treatment of Mustangs (yubanet.com)
- A Nation full of Anger, a Corral Full of Wild Horses and the BLM Hits the Replay Button (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- BLM Boss Not Engaged with Wild Horse Range Reality (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Interior Department Urged To Remove Official Responsible for Cruelty During Wild Horse Roundup (yubanet.com)
- Cloud Foundation Demands BLM Call Off Massive Winter Mustang Roundup (rtfitch.wordpress.com)