Equine Rescue

Fixed Wing Aircraft Disrupts BLM Wild Horse Helicopter Stampede

(The News as We See It) by R.T. Fitch ~ President and Co-founder of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Mystery Aircraft Raises Many Questions

Unknown Plane ~ Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

On Friday while a legally scrutinized helicopter harassed wild horses over Barren Valley, Oregon another Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contract helicopter was, itself, harassed as it attempted to stampede wild horses off from their rightful range at Spring Creek Basin, Colorado into awaiting traps for either adoption or long-term obscurity in public funded compounds located in the Midwest.

The BLM stampede did not begin until Friday afternoon only to be interrupted an hour into operations by an unknown plane.

Dale Rodebaugh of the Durango Herald Reports:

“BLM officials halted operations when a Cessna 182 D repeatedly flew over the corral and on one occasion passed close to the helicopter as it coaxed mustangs toward the mouth of the corral entrance.

As a safety measure, the helicopter landed whenever the plane appeared. A BLM spokeswoman said the pilot will file a report about the incident with the Federal Aviation Administration.

‘It’s a safety issue,’ she said. ‘And it stresses the mustangs.’

The tail number on the Cessna indicates the plane is registered to Don Colcord of Nucla. A person who answered a telephone call at the Colcord residence said Don Colcord owns the plane but was not flying it Friday. BLM officials talked to him about the flight over the roundup area.”

This occurred almost year to date after investigative journalist, Steven Long wrote an article last August in Horseback Magazine exposing the fact that the BLM’s secret “No Fly Zones” over their aerial attacks on native wild horses is a figment of their own imagination, proving that America had been duped for years by the malevolent federal agency.

Press and public alike have always taken the BLM’s warnings at face value but under questioning by Long a Washington-based BLM Spin Master gave a polished up answer:

“…we did consider a TFR for the Nevada gathers, but the field staff learned from the Federal Aviation Administration that gather operations (roundups) currently do not meet the standard criteria…”

Click (HERE) to read more

But if said plane came within 600 feet of the horses, personnel and the helicopter it could clearly be jeopardizing the safety of all involved, violating FAA regulations and be subject to fines and prosecution.

This incident comes on the heels of a swirl of rumors surrounding the possibility of extremists initiating covert operations against the BLM in an effort to upset operations with total disregard to prosecution and the impact on the safety, health and well-being of the horses involved.

Most mainstream wild horse and burro advocates insist that even though they openly and vehemently oppose the unnecessary roundups they will abide by the rules so that they will be granted access to observe, document, comment and even interject suggestions to improve the conditions for the horses as they go through a traumatic and often injurious BLM roundup.  Even whispers of covert disruptive activities could be enough for the BLM to close down observation and cut off the only means insightful advocates have for the gathering of documentation and evidence to further the fight for sane and humane management of our national treasures, the wild horses and burros of the United States of America.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the fixed wing flyover is under investigation with the results to be published upon clarification and verification of the facts

70 replies »

  1. Yes. BLM is soooo concerned about “stressing the mustangs”. That quote made me laugh out loud!

    Bravo to whomever did what we all wish we could do- make those blasted BLM helicopters land! I’ll pitch in some gas money to keep that fixed wing Cessna in the air over every round-up ever scheduled from now till kingdom come! Just tell me where to send it.


    • Elaine, I joined you in ROTFLOL, in fact just brushed myself off. In my heart I am cheering this plane as we have all wanted to do this. In my head I know this will bite the advocates in the behind somehow. So I’m still wrestling with if I should tip my hat to this pilot or mutter GRRRRR.


      • As long as the pilot remains 600 feet or more away from the gather sight, the only problem the BLM should have is one of making sure they do the round up humanely. Clearly, having eyes in the air for the mustangs and burros is to the advantage of the advocates. This pilot has not broken any laws, unless they can prove he flew within 599 feet of the gather.

        I have long felt we should be utilizing the air space to get accurate information on distances traveled, unreported accidents, and cruelly pushed foals and mares. This is how it is done. As long as the pilot follows the rules, the BLM should get used to their entire roundup from start to finish, being recorded and documented. I applaud the pilot, and the intent, however it is imperative that they remain within FAA guidelines.


    • And I gave a loud derisive snort….The BLM could give a rip about stressing the horses. If they did they would not be doing the roundups ! ! Do they really think people are that stupid? My hat is off the the pilot of the Cessna as well. I have dreamed of doing a whole lot worse for they leave us no other alternative. They are a well oiled machine that runs on pepetual fuel and that fuel is the Federal Government that has no regard for the sanctity of life of our wild ones. Extreme situations require extreme action. I hope the pilot stayed within the law for all our sakes though.


    • CELEBRATIONS…thank you so much to the people who flew the plane..big hurrah for you !!!! love this action and more may need to be done everytime the BLM harrasses and tries to hunt and hurt our wild mustangs. The actions of the BLM are unacceptable and I encourage acts such as this. Trying to negotiate with the BLM morons does not work…but direct action does. And if they get arreste..MORE exposure for the cause! Good work!!!


  2. lol at Elaine! I agree totally!

    I bet the fixed-wing never got within 600 feet of the mustangs! Its just a ploy by the BLM to try to get the plane grounded/the pilot in trouble! Now that we all know that the air above a round up is open for planes, the BLM will try anything to prevent planes from getting close and gathering evidence of violations by BLM!


  3. I have lodged a complaint about the blm’s helicopter flying with the FAA as it clearly contravenes the FAA pilots regulations. The FAA replied that the BLM were enabled by the 1971 wild horse act, Which is total Bovine excreta as no where dose it give them the right to contravene the flying regulations which clearly state that a Helicopter must not be operated closer than 500feet to a person, property or structure. A BLM operative is still a person a wild mustang is still a property and a catch chute or holding pen is still a structure whatever spin the BLM would like to put on it.


  4. What do you bet they are going to try to fine the pilot of that bird 10K even tho they themselves violate FAA rules on a regular basis. I was not there but I’d bet that Cessna never flew outside FAA regs. Who’s to say that wasn’t some lookie-loo wanting to see what was going on, on the ground and flew in closer for a better look? It’s not like they make it WELL known when they are going to do these roundups. Most people don’t go to their site to see what they are doing. Talk about paranoid! The BLM will do and say anything weather it be a lie or the stretched truth to get public viewing banned from their abusive roundups. Who do they blame without even finding out if the pilot is or isn’t an advocate? The advocates! Hey BLM…… We are there to make sure YOU follow the rules. That YOU don’t abuse the regs, that YOU don’t neglect or mistreat these great animals! Just because some unknown flew into YOUR roundup, doesn’t mean they were an advocate! Get off your soapbox and stop throwing useless accusations at those who actually care about these animals! What a waste of MY tax dollars!


    • As an afterthought…. Didn’t they claim they stopped the roundup due to weather?? Now they are saying it was a cessna? I think they really need to get their story striaght. Every time they open their mouths, they lie about something.


  5. The BLM probably staged it themselves so that they could close access to observers. That is the really big downside to this, whoever it may be that did this, they are playing into the BLMs hands and we and the horses will suffer as a result when they close the doors to us!! A case of we are damned if we do and we are damned if we dont. I think we all know by now that we are the only ones who are expected to follow the rules, the BLM breaks the law every single day and they don’t face any repercussions, I also know this is very frustrating for the advocates but I don’t think that this type of action is good for anyone in the longrun.


  6. Interesting…the fixed wing aircraft stresses the Mustangs, but the helicopter does not? Do these people listen to what they say?


  7. OK, let me just begin by saying WAAAAHOOOOO !!! I LOVE IT !!! WAIT; does that make me a terrorist ??? NO, the terrorist actions have been clearly compiled on the BLM, OUR GOVERNMENT for too many years !!!! How do you like being chased around BLM, not a good safe feeling is it ? WTG airplane guys, WTG !!!!


  8. While I support and applaud all the “legal” pathways that are being taken to save our beloved horses (have not doubt, my full support is in this arena), I applaud the “balls” of these people who had the courage to fly over the roundup site and give the BLM a taste of their own medicine. We should hire a fleet of Cessnas and fly over every roundup site until the death and destruction of our wild horses is stopped forever. I know that this type of radical behavior is frowned upon but it is what it takes most of the time when you have an enemy as insidious as the BLM.


    • Jo, I don’t think it is radical at all! If they were swooping down, and trying to change the course of the horses, THAT would be radical or extreme. However, what I am reading here is that this pilot merely stayed within a distance that allowed for observation, which we are clearly entitled to do. We should have been doing this all along. The horses, and burros would benefit from the cleansing light of truth.


  9. Since when has the BLM ever been concerned about what stresses wild horses? Never. Not even when a 2 ton helicopter rides literally on top them them for miles and miles or when the hooves are run off brand new foals or when the skids are used as a weapon to flip over a burro or even when a helicopter causes stress by extreme close contact at Warm Springs most likely resulting in the death of a stallion or not even when wild horses are trucked all over by killbuyers or when mustangs end up in a killpen heading for slaughter or even when severe stress and suffering is caused by starvation in captivity whether in BLM holding facilities and a brand new foal starves right under their noses or by dubious adopters who should have never been allowed to adopt our horses in the first place or even when horses abruptly start keeling over from water intoxication like at Owyhee. The list really is endless of the areas that DO NOT cause the BLM concern.


    • Wow…that Durango Herald story is very, very good.

      Some stuff is poop, but I figured that Mr Kleinhart’s presence was the “problem”.


  10. American Energy Fields, Inc. Enters MOU With American Nuclear Resources LLC for Purchase of Colorado Plateau Mining Properties

    Wednesday, February 23rd 2011
    American Energy Fields, Inc. is pleased to announce it has finalized a memorandum of understanding to acquire from American Nuclear Resources LLC a significant portfolio of properties on the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah and southwestern Colorado.
    The portfolio includes past producing properties in the Uravan Mineral Belt, located within 50 miles of Dennison Mines Corp.’s operating White Mesa mill, and within 16 miles of Energy Fuels Inc.’s proposed and newly permitted Pinon Ridge Mill. The Uravan Mineral Belt has produced over 100 million pounds of U3O8 to date. In addition to past production, Yellowcake Mining conducted a drilling program on the Uravan properties in 2008.
    The portfolio also includes properties in the past producing Marysvale District, the Henry Mountains District, White Canyon, and the Cottonwood Wash area.
    The total portfolio consists of more than 8,000 acres of unpatented lode mining claims on Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) land and a Utah State Minerals Lease consisting of over 1,500 acres. As some of the properties have produced uranium in the past, the infrastructure is in place to commence near-term production, contingent on fulfilling permitting requirements.
    Company President and CEO, Joshua Bleak, stated, “We are excited to acquire this portfolio of past-producing uranium properties. The entire Colorado Plateau region has a significant history of uranium production. As past producers, we hope to bring these properties into near-term production, capitalizing on the vicinity to operating and proposed uranium mills.”


  11. well, well, mustang rangers! it looks like our precious wild horses have a vigilante on their side!!!! i can’t condone illegal behavior, but i must say our horses need a super hero!!!!way to go vigilante mustang ranger! you’ve got my admiration!!


  12. Wish we had more small planes out there to film what the BLM is doing to our wild horses. All of them should be jailed. This shit has got to stop!!! Lets hope they keep flying and keep those helicopters out of the air. All they do is abuse and kill the horses.


  13. I condone and applaud this Cessna pilot, i also will send money to keep him in the air !!!!!! Action always speaks louder then words………could ever………..Bravo to this Brave Pilot !! and his Cessena 182………………


  14. Agreed, if BLM cared so much about stressing the mustangs, why do they repeatedly remove them from their rightful territory, run them to the ground, or run them until they fall and die with broken legs, etc, plan to permanently sterilize herds, allow slaughter/killers to purchase them and ship to Mexico/Canada (please don’t try to convince me they “don’t know” and “can’t control” who “buys” the horses) – how many more ways shall we mention the BLM stresses the horses themselves – esp. by using the helicopters! By the way “within 600 feet …” – doesn’t the helicpoter fly closer than that to the horses they chase down? If so, the helicopter operators and staff are already in violation of the FAA laws. BLM should be forced to stop the roundups and the operators sent to jail for ignoring FAA rules.


    • Re: 600-foot safe zone for “capture craft” (helicopters) … I think we have all seen the pics of the BLM contractor at VERY close range to their own personnel on the ground at the trap sites. I would be surprised if they were even 60 feet from those people let alone 600 feet. Funny that OSHA (fed safety) didn’t reply to anyone (that I know of) a few months back when this was pointed out to them … and I think the law says OSHA MUST respond/investigate all safety complaints. Wonder what happened with that? Another piece of the law swept under the rug?
      So who are the laws for … for the people who would do the correct thing to start with? Talk about the good guys and the bad guys in the old western movies! They had nothing on this true-life good guy, bad guy scenario!
      And … by the way, what BLM employee had the “lack of understanding” (trying to say this nicely) to say that the plane in the air (and not the helicopter chasing, terrorizing and hitting the animals) might “stress the mustangs”? Obviously it was someone who doesn’t know one end of a horse from the other and has never seen a horse during or after a BLM capture. Do these BLM mouth-pieces not know how stupid they sound with comments like this? Do they get extra donuts at Monday morning’s BLM staff meeting?


    • This is the same organization that was going to spay and neuter wild horses in the field! A barbaric, frankenstein plan that certainly shows no concern or compassion for sentinent creatures.


  15. Great article! Yes, the No Fly Zones are “a figment of their imagination”……..a gross attempt to hide the abuse, terror, harrassment and death of our wild ones at the hands of the BLM! The only people jepordizing any saftey regulations is the BLM itself! According to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act of 1971 “It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where they are presently found as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands”. BLM = Criminal Abuse!


  16. Well, with Louie’s post and the research I have done, DOESN’T SOUND LIKE MULTIPLE USE TO ME…but maybe that is the point with DOI/USDA.

    btw..the wild equine killers can shut down foot traffic, but they can’t with the air….yet.


  17. Is water use an issue in this area? There is also this:
    Potassium (potash) Prospecting Permit EA Scoping.
    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Dolores Public Lands Office (DPLO) is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate Potassium (potash) Prospecting Permit Applications and an associated exploration plan submitted by RM Potash. The following link to the scoping letter describes the proposed exploration. We are soliciting comments from the public through Friday, July 29. Link to PDFs: Potassium Prospecting EA Scoping Letter; Permit Application Boundary Map Comment period closed.


  18. I totally agree with some of the posts. Amen to this unknown pilot. Its about time the playing field was equaled out. Its very sad to say everything has been done to the letter of the law – filings, court cases and the input from Congress. These morans defy the law and Congress. Kudos to Mr. Pilot..Too bad all the roundups couldn’t be covered..Care about the welfare of the horses and burros, what a joke.!.The more I read about the use of our lands the more I see its all about the money…


  19. I wish this had not happened at this HMA. I wish it were about to happen up at East Douglas and Piceance which I believe are going to be zeroed out. Spring Creek Basin will survive because it has an engaged community and a wild horse guardian who records photos and encounters with these horses weekly All Year Round. This is a herd, like the Pryors who have all been named and followed and loved. They do need more land and they need their water developed. They have friends trying to see that roundups will end and locals will dart pzp and minimum adoption would balance it out.


    • Yes, the East Douglas/Piceance Creek Roundup begins as Spring Creek roundup end–the Cattoors just move a little north for this one. I’m even more concerned about this one. This is a forgotten herd–the horses aren’t named, but the locals love and follow them. A couple of photographers like to photograph them, and they need the attention. I hope to go and I don’t know of anyone else going. Is there anyone else out there? This herd is going to disappear without anyone knowing it, and that makes it much too easy for the BLM.


  20. WOW a real live Mustang viglilanti! I say Bravo , I only wish there were thousands just like him,…………………………. Kinda nice to see the stressor getting stressed right back !!!!!! A small dose of their own medicine and they whine like the true murdering cry babies they are…………………


    • Exactly right!

      The fixed wing plane didn’t stress the horses- the helicopers stress the horses. The fixed wing plane stressed BLM!

      Their arrogance is simply astounding!

      I haven’t checked, but I hope there’s a comment option on the Durango article- and if so, all advos go make comments!


  21. It’s good to know that some Herds have on site protectors. The Utah Wild Herds don’t seem to get much press until they show up in squalid holding facilities or in slaughter trucks. Are there people there trying to fight for them, too? There was one wonderful person there, who was trying, but we never heard any more. I wonder whether she ever got any help.


  22. Someone has to defend the Mustangs against the big blood sucking mosquito’s.,
    Now what we need is a hotair balloon to take Laura up to observe without any obstructions such as hills or trailers.


  23. CORTEZ, Colo. — A small plane flew dangerously close to a helicopter that was rounding up wild horses in southwest Colorado, prompting a one-day postponement of the effort, federal officials said.

    The incident occurred Friday in Disappointment Valley about 75 miles south of Grand Junction, the Cortez Journal reported (http://bit.ly/qzNsEu).

    It wasn’t clear how close the aircraft were. No injuries were reported.

    “We’ve never before seen anything like this. It was truly a danger to the pilot, the horses and the public,” said Wayne Werkmeister of the Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Junction office.

    “It was completely inappropriate behavior,” he told the newspaper.

    The name of the plane’s pilot and the plane’s registration number weren’t available.

    BLM spokeswoman Shannon Borders said Saturday that she could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but that the since the incident involved aircraft it had been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

    A regional FAA official who declined to give her full name earlier in the day said the incident had not been reported.

    Disappointment Valley is part of the 34-square-mile Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area. BLM policy calls for keeping the area’s wild horse herd to between 35 and 65 animals. It currently has about 90.

    The BLM planned to gather about 60 horses and offer 25 to 30 for adoption in Cortez on Sept. 24.


  24. I’ll bet the only reason the copter landed when the plane was around was because the plane may have had a camera trained on the copter.

    George Knapp, was that you??


    • I think this incident involves Mr James Kleinert (sp?)…he has a fantastic film out formerly called “Disappointment Valley” and now renamed “Mustangs and …” (can’t remember the exact change title).

      I think Mr Kleinert is the so-called “disruptive” warrior at Spring Creek.


  25. “We’ve never before seen anything like this. It was truly a danger to the pilot, the horses and the public,” said Wayne Werkmeister of the Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Junction office.
    “It was completely inappropriate behavior,” he told the newspaper.

    This video shows the true dangers to the horses and it is the utter lack of concern for the horses by the BLM that is inappropriate. They don’t even check the path of the round up prior to running the horses. That is out and out negligence and dereliction of public duty. And this round up is not even necessary.


  26. The hay thing is going to become a SERIOUS issue for all Americans.

    Growers use public systems for water, etc and have now decided that (for obvious reasons) exporting OUR F**KING HAY is more profitable.

    Where is the USDA on this…Mr Vilsack??????????????????

    Cr*pitalism at it’s worst.


    • p.s. if you have animals that rely on forages…start stocking up…NOW! It is going to get ugly…sooner than we think because of exports, drought, etc.


  27. I totally agree with what Save Wild Horses said about how the BLM never seems concerned about stressing the wild horses or the public. It would be great to have to have aerial video documentation of range conditions to invalidate the BLM’s EIS statements. Imagine video of HMA’s that could actually verify numbers in an area, water sources, fencing off of water sources, etc. There is probably technology that will time and date stamp an area and perhaps even supply coordinates, so the BLM can not dispute the findings in court. Imagine the perspective of a pilot videotaping the helicopter bullying horses, splitting the herds, running into horses with the helicopter, littering the range with videos of orphan foals, old mares crippled and unable to keep up, not to mention, the bodies left behind. Imagine aerial photos of the bodies on the ground before the renderers or carrion birds arrive. Remember the video George Knapp did of the Owyhee area where we saw all the lush green grass and water that was not supposed to be there?

    I will believe that the BLM is concerned about wild horse welfare when they quit making blaming thirsty horses for drinking all the water they planned to supply when the BLM gathers the horses in the heat of summer. If a horse drinks an average of 15 gallons of water a day, them they should multiply that by the number of horses they are gathering and supply that much water. Too bad if they get lucky, and find more horses than they expect.

    I will start to believe the BLM when they schedule their WHB Advisory meetings in conjunction with the IEC rather in such a manner than it appears to be dismissive of the advocates.

    I will believe they are concerned about stressing the horses when they use their wild horse and burro specialists to do the kind of work that the specialist at Corolla does. He knows every horse. He knows where they go under different conditions. Why are we paying some of these so called specialists more than $100,000 a year to continue the same practices that kill and stress horses such as failing to gradually adjust the diets of wild horses when they are taken to short term holding.

    Employees of this agency are either totally incompetent or they are deliberately increasing the stress level of these horses in the hopes that as many of them die of “natural causes” as possible. Either choice is unacceptable.

    Heck, the Cessna grounded the helicopter thus decreasing the stress to the horses.

    Denise, I am going to Ag agent about the hay thing. I board at a large barn, and our hay is bought in volume from somewhere in New York even though a great deal of hay is produced locally and in this region. I don’t know if this has to do with price or quality.


  28. Remember, how Laura kept repeating FBI, FBI, FBI…well, something happened. We may never know what, but something got triggered. Just because we got one response is not a reason to stop. On the contrary. If possible when you make a report include as much specific detail in relation to the 1971 law, and the BLM’s stated or written policies. We need to hit every front we can.

    Even if it seems we get no response, we may start a ripple, and who knows where it will end.

    There is much to do.


  29. Random thoughts:
    The horses are clicking the “Like” button!
    Well, this certainly does give BLM something to fume about!
    Thanks Cessna riders!


  30. “Violations are punishable as a Class A misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $100,000 for an individual or $200,000 for an organization and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.” This is the warning on the bottom of the press release regarding the Spring Creek Roundup, but where is this law written? Is this some statute that has been passed, as I’ve never seen it before.


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