Horse News

The Mustangers of the BLM: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Guest OpEd by Bonnie Kohleriter

Americans Pay for the Abuse

"As the days warm up we do not see babies like this. Horses go into the trees as it gets hot and babies sleep… they also can’t keep the distance nor pace this pilot flies… How many don’t make it in? It is a VALID question. Particularly as you evaluate the way this pilot fractures every group, no exception, that he pushes." ~ Laura Leigh 8-11-2011

The BLM agency of our United States government is an eye-sore to the values of our country.  The staff of this agency is “lying” to the public and the contracted employees are engaged in acts of blatant animal “abuse.”

Triple B—a round up initiated on July 20th, 2011, in Ely-Elko Eastern Nevada—2200 horses with some 220 babies—on 1.2 million acres of alkali desert

This is foaling season.  The BLM says that is March to June, but come July the foals are what?  1 week old, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, tiny bodies with weak legs. That, according to the BLM, is not foaling season?

The BLM reports to you the temps are 85 degrees.  That is a “lie.” The temps were as high as 94 degrees at eleven o’clock on an hour long run July 29,2011.  Temps during runs given by the BLM out in the field were 08-02, 90 degrees, 08-03, 85 degrees, 08-04, 87 degrees, and 08-05, 89 degrees. The altitude and alkali soil of this area serve to intensify the effects of this heat.

The BLM reports the animals run about 5 miles.  Would you run your foals at a constant walk or trot 5 miles in 85-90 degree heat on rough uneven rocky terrain? 5 miles or less is a lie. The horses are being arguably run as much as 10-20 miles at times as confirmed by the local ranchers and by watching the helicopter in the sky.  And

Josh Hellyer who horrified the observers at Antelope in January is continuing to run the animals sideways and forwards and sideways adding to the distance and isolating and harassing individual horses.  “It’s a learning curve” say some of the BLM employees. Next time my children are out learning to drive and hit a pedestrian, I’ll simply say to you “It’s a learning curve.” I’m sure the public will be okay with that as well.

Few one to four week old babies are coming in on their own. Where are they? The independent observers can see the bands are being fractured as they are driven into the pens.  Nine babies have died, an unusual amount taking into account other gathers.  Their deaths are due to “preexisting conditions,” or have they died from sustained injuries during the run?  The young that make it in are limping.  Their soundness likely will be compromised for the rest of their lives and they won’t be adoptable.

Following long runs adults and young foals once in the pens are not being given water to suit their size.  “It’s not in the contract,” says Jody, a contract employee. The horses are left for long hours in a confined pen with no water in the hot sun before they are transported to temporary facilities.  A protocol is not set up so that the mares can be matched with their foals so you notice desperate cries from foals and mares in temporary as foals seeking help are kicked.  The chutes, ramps, and trailers are not properly construed so that the heads of a few horses are being pinned between the trailer and chutes with frightful attempts to rectify their extreme positions.  Horses are being driven down the pocketed dirt roads from the trap site to temporary at 60 mph.  Once at temporary they are not given adequate water either. Probably one of the most egregious behaviors witnessed is the use of not flags to move the horses but of unacceptable tools uses to beat, shock and jab the horses.  This behavior toward the animals is “abuse.”

It is time for the BLM to rework gather schedule time,  July is too hot (85+ degrees) to gather, and foals are too young to go the distance, and January-February where deep snow prevails and it is too cold (-32 degrees) to gather, and

pregnant mares, weak from lack of winter’s forage, should not be asked to go the distance either.

The behavior of the Sun-J contractors is “abusive”,  inhumane.  The contract should be called,  No excuses, “It’s a learning curve,” And No thoughts like “ It’s inconvenient.”  Inhumane is inhumane.  Sun-J should be gone.

Bob Abbey, Dir. Of the BLM, Dean Bolstaad, Division Director, Alan Shephard, State Lead, Gary Medlyn and Brian Fuell, Field Managers, Ben Noyes and Bruce Thompson,  Wild Horse and Burro Specialists, and above all, Sun-J contractors all need to be held accountable for the lies and the inhumane treatment of our wild horses.  They were charged to manage and protect our American Wild Horses, not to abuse, maim and kill them.

For video documentation visit,, Laura Leigh, SFTHH and to help put a stop to it Wild Horse Freedom Federation

12 replies »

  1. ‘We MUST stand strong AGAINST the HATE CRIMES that BLM regularly commits against the wild horses and burros… fully funded by tax dollars.’

    This is my new mantra and insight… what BLM is doing is committing HATE CRIMES against the horses! I believe it fits the criteria of hate crime. I hope this insight will help give us new footing in protecting and preserving the horses and burros who are clearly targeted because of BLM’s personal hatred / bias of their personal characteristics, and their species.

    Wikipedia: A hate crime is a legal category used to described bias-motivated violence: “assault, injury, and murder on the basis of certain personal characteristics: different appearance, different color, different nationality (species), different language, different religion.” etc.

    BLM is committing “ethnic cleansing” based on hatred and bias toward the species. It is the devaluing of living beings to the point they feel they can use any brutal method to harm and destroy them. The exact same concept has been used through the ages against people groups and other living beings who a certain group of people felt justified to carry out their evil destructive plans to wipe them out.

    Call me crazy… but it just might be an insight that we need to express loudly, which could help in saving the hate crime victims – the wild equine (horses and burros).

    ~ Save-the-horses-Sue C.~


  2. It is criminal for sure no matter what kind of crime it is. There needs to be a follow-up to find the foals left behind. Perhaps a few are still alive.


  3. Just how much time does Josh Hellyer need before he figures out what in heck he’s doing? As many stampedes he has been the driver of you would think that he would have figured out one or two things by now. Oh ya, to learn Josh must have 2 things going for him. He needs to care enough about the horses to help minimize their trauma and the desire to learn. Apparently he has neither.


    • But it doesn’t matter what the pilot desires. The BLM allows it. They are 100% responsible. And without strict round up protocols in place or enforced, these contractors can do pretty much what they want. If it doesn’t matter to the boss men paying the contractors, it sure won’t matter to the contractors.


  4. If the BLM insists on doing roundups during foaling season, the very LEAST they should do is allow rescue groups to come in behind them and search for any fallen or lost foals left behind. Of course they will say that they have wranglers who do this…and it’s obvious from the recent video just how these people cruelly handle these babies. These babies being left to die out in the heat is just one of the horrible travesties of these inhumane roundups. How far from the roundup sites is the public barred? And for how long are we barred?


  5. Why are BLM employees even at the roundups if they aren’t going to watch out for or speak up for the welfare of the horses? Josh Hellyer should never have been allowed to fly in the FIRST PLACE up in Oregon – what was Hellyer’s previous “similar experience” to rounding up wild horses, that the BLM requires? Hauling equipment? Crop dusting? And what about the BLM letting a contractor drive 60 m.p.h. down a bumpy dirt road with a load of horses?!


  6. There are no records kept on the horses that are lost that these pilots, above all, know are out there. Because none of the horses left injured or dead in the field are counted as roundup related losses we have no accurate counts of losses. Nothing BLM tells us about numbers matters when so many animals affected are not even counted!!

    If observers were allowed closer scrutiny they may be able to see how many wet mares come in and whether the number of foals corresponds with them. But this is not done on any regular basis. There is no data that is accurate and BLM uses no science to work up numbers to show what is really happening out there. This neglect to accuracy helps to protect BLM and the contractors from the public scrutiny they need to be under and held accountable to. This ‘lousy record keeping’ is another protective omission on the part of BLM and the contractors. I am surprised that the contractors are not paid for all the ‘accountable horses,’ including the dead and dying in the field that the contractors are aware of. After all, they are paid for those horses they have caused the deaths of who have reached the pens.

    This is just the most carelessly run ‘Program’ that has ever been allowed to go on for 40 years that is actively managing wild animals. It is the most violent on going program in existence for non predatory wildlife outside of Predator Control!! Shall we compare the WH&B Program with agency Predator Control??? How many have died that are no longer in need of ‘management’ from the removals tearing through the populations of protected species!

    Remember, our wild horses have never been properly studied in the field for themselves and their relationship to their range and other species. It has always been studies from the ‘other side’, of other animals and other range uses that have included some data on wild horses. The ’71 Act encourages independent study and there has never been any done that BLM uses. For BLM to take on the removal and incarceration of tens of thousands of wild horses without ever attempting to study them and apply that missing but possible knowledge to what could be called ‘ground breaking’ new and creative management for them, is totally irresponsible towards the wild horses and burros and the nation who they belong to.

    This Program is a sham at this point in time as it has no sound scientific basis for the decisions being carried out. Everything is based on the monetary values BLM puts on their partners in ‘multiple use’ and ignores the law that was created to prevent exactly what is happening to the wild herds today; harassment, death, destruction of viability, removal and slaughter.

    We have to stop this juggernaut from the continuing removals and the waste of lives and money gone when NO OFFICIAL DECLARATION for the need for these actions has ever been made. Instead, as the populations in the wild disappear we are told the lie that BLM is not trying to manage our wild herds to extinction!! Whatever gave us the impression BLM would do that to the much loved wild horses and burros of America?


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