Horse Health

Pictorial: Day 12 Wild Horse Checkerboard Roundup ~ Lost Freedoms, Families and Futures

Eye Witness Observations by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Today was a very tough day for me for a number of reasons. But no matter how tough it was for me, I always keep in mind, it is a thousand times tougher for these horses who lose everything dear to them, their families, their homes and their freedom all at once.”

Waiting to head out to the next observation point for the Checkerboard Roundup. It is a little later in the morning. I will be posting updates if I have cell service out there.

We have been waiting for almost 2 hours at the Point of Rocks exit for the Cattoors to come and set up the next trap site. Now we moved to Bitter Creek Road and the helicopters are looking for a trap site for the last few horses in the Great Divide Basin Checkerboard area. I was told they are waiting for an archeologist to come and clear the site and it may be another 2 hours before the helicopters fly driving the horses into the trap. We are headed to a coal mine where apparently about 16 horses have been living for many years within the fenced area around it. Why on earth I wonder, do they have to remove these horses? How are they disturbing the operation of the mine? It is a huge area.

The BLM vehicle speeds up Bitter Creek road so fast that dust billows up in spots, because it is so dry here. Several times I slow, and fall way behind the vehicle in front so that I can see. The road is so dusty following the BLM to the trap. I am concerned I might lose them because I have no idea where we are going, but I am more concerned that I do not fly off the road into the steep ditch next to it because I cannot see it. At one point I could not see anything at all except the boiling dust, so I stopped because I was afraid of going off the road into the ditch, and suddenly there is a bang, and the Ranger’s truck behind me rear ends my car. We stop and get out to see the damage. We keep going to a junction in the road where we still have cell service and then wait for the county sheriff to come and file a report on the accident. This was not at all how I thought this day would go.

We headed finally to the trap in the mine area. We missed 4 horses coming in while meeting with the county sheriff but there are at least 12 more they are trying to get. It is wild and beautiful and quiet out here with gorgeous view of Black Rock and the surrounding mountains.

After we arrived to our observation point a half mile way but with a view of the trap for a change, I observed the longest chase I have ever seen, over an hour, of 8 wild horses by the helicopter in the coal mine area. These eight wild horses including a foal were running up and down steep hills and ridges in the hottest part of the day. They finally went into the trap with lots of close pressure from the helicopter at the very end. He had to circle back to get a line black horse trotting slowly who almost ran back out but finally went into the trap. By this time I was pulling for the horses to finally be caught and end this for the sake of their health. Never before in all my years as an advocate and in the 10 years I have been observing roundups have I been pulling for the horses to go INTO a trap, just to make it stop.

There seems to be a major problem with this trap, despite the fact that the archeologist Ok’d it, the Cattoors don’t seem to have selected it wisely to conform to the landscape and make it easy for the horses to enter as they usually do. The hills are so very steep, and the horses are heading up this one ridge which overlooks the trap, and naturally when they see the trap, they do not want to go in, they run off, and then the helicopter has to chase and chase and chase to get them to approach it and go in.

Helicopter just drove in a family of 6 the brave red stallion in front who kept looking back at his family and three foals and two mares came in after going up hills down in the mine up ridges down valleys and up on a really scary ridge where luckily they stopped then turned around. The red stallion finally led his family into the trap and I sighed with relief I did not want to see them run any more when the intention is to get them all.

We are told they are leaving the two horses who are still in the mine there, and we think they might be done for the day.

But suddenly the helicopter flies out in a direction I have not seen him head, behind us, and we see a family of four pop up over the ridge. The bay stallion is in the back, sorrel mare and foal in the middle, with a black mare leading, and they are running very fast. They fly across the terrain. They are finally driven on top of the ridge near the trap, and they run right by it. The helicopter chases them around the ridge and finally at the top of the ridge they wheel and turn, the helicopter wheels too and from our angle it looks as though it might hit them, but our perspective is distorted, and it is hard to see in the dust. It looks as though they were all going in the trap, but it is only the elegant black mare, who trips somehow and flips over. She gets up and continues into the pen at the end of the trap. On the other side of the hill the foal pops out, and I wonder if he has become separated from his family, but no his mother joins him. The stallion runs as fast as he can in the opposite direction, and I hear that they are letting him go. The helicopter pulls up and flies off, and the exhausted mare and foal slow to a walk, and we wonder, is it really over? Can they actually go free? Down below the Cattoors are packing up the trap, which seems to be answer enough. We watch the bay stallion top a ridge, and pause, looking down, as if he is wondering if it is safe. He trots down to his mare and foal, and they trot up to join him. It is such a very bittersweet moment. I am feeling joy for this small family, that at least the three of them are reunited and will live at least for now in their home in Great Divide Basin. But it is a harsh and cruel reminder of all the horses like the black mare in their family who will never roam free there again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

31 replies »

  1. “Today was a very tough day for me for a number of reasons. But no matter how tough it was for me, I always keep in mind, it is a thousand times tougher for these horses who lose everything dear to them, their families, their homes and their freedom all at once.”

    Yes, it is sickening. But may it give us the strength to continue to help them. Thank you!

    Like

  2. We have got to speak up every day and not stop long after the atrocities committed in Wyoming have ceased. These criminals have got to be made accountable for the ongoing assault on wildlife, especially federally protected horses and burros. We will all be next because they are ruthless narcissistic personalities and many of them. As far as they are concerned we can all go to hell, the American taxpayer and all who cherish the earth and view it an organism for which we all play an important role. We cannot stop. I am going to make an appointment with Senator Blumenthal when he is next in CT. An early signer of the SAFE Act. Senator Murphy is the only CT member of Congress not to sign. Outrageous! CT has the largest number of horses per capita than any state in the nation. And that’s the other thing, Wyoming is the 9th largest state with the smallest population yet no room for wild horses!?

    Like

  3. Anger and sadness, this entire roundup… The loss of their freedom; deaths of the few. The selfish greed, of the property owner. The “divine power,” will pay him back! Pray that those who were captured, find good homes.

    Like

  4. Dear Carol thank you , I am in awe of your courage ,these murdering rampages the BLM is on has to stop…………………………………………………….there is Absolutely NOTHING GOOD THAT CAN COME FROM IT !!!!!!!!!!!! Therefore the US and its citizens cannot tolerate it any longer we must BOND as a Nation and get rid of the BLM>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Like

  5. Not that the BLM would take it into account it seems, but it has been hot here (around 80 degrees F.) a few hours south of Rock Springs. The horses here and in the photos have already grown some of their winter coats… so running them incessantly in the midday heat is more exhausting of their reserves than it might appear. This is the time of year, for example, domestic horses tend to colic as riders overdo it on these bright autumn days. Will these horses mysteriously die in holding of “stress” as is so far the only explanation of those dying in Kansas holding? Snow is due in this area Monday so it is likely we will see a repeat of what happened in the Rock Springs holding pens last November… no shelters from the blazing sun then a sudden blizzard dropping temps rapidly. The captive horses cannot escape the weather at all there and only some of the pens have strips of plywood mounted to part of the panels.

    I’m also wondering why there are no signs of cattle or sheep in any of the photos here – were they already rounded up and removed, too, to keep them from the stress of helicopter predation?

    Like

  6. Washington, DC (September 18, 2014)….The Public Employees Environmental Responsibility (PEER) this week released an analysis that exposed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for scapegoating a relatively small number of wild horses on western public lands for range damage caused by vastly larger numbers of livestock. Specifically, the PEER analysis highlights the agency’s skewing of a 2013 report on the factors influencing the decline of the sage grouse, a ground dwelling desert bird under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
    The PEER report found that BLM considered all wild horses and burros as factors in sage grouse habitat destruction, while it counted livestock as factors only if the livestock grazing allotments failed the agency’s Land Health Standards for wildlife. Meanwhile, PEER found that livestock are cited as a cause of failure to achieve land health standards 30 times more often than wild horses and burros. PEER concluded that if the agency had used the same standards to evaluate livestock as it did wild horses, the “area of influence” of livestock on sage grouse habitat would be 14 times larger than reported by the BLM, and six times larger than the area of influence for wild horses.
    http://wildhorsepreservation.org/media/environmental-report-confirms-blm-scapegoating-wild-horses-range-damage-caused-livestock

    Like

  7. Denver, CO (September 10, 2014) – Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied an emergency motion to block the Bureau of Land Management”s (BLM) wild horse roundup in the Wyoming Checkerboard. The motion was filed by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom and wild horse photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl.
    The one-sentence decision by the Tenth Circuit does not address any of BLM’s admitted violations of the Wild Horse Act and clears the way for the roundup of more than 800 wild horses from public and private lands in the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas.
    The helicopter capture operation is scheduled to begin this week after being twice delayed by the lawsuit filed by the wild horse preservation groups and advocates on August 1, 2014.
    http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/images/pdf/Wy9.10.14DecisionDenyingEmergencyMotionPendingAppeal.pdf (Before HARTZ and GORSUCH, Circuit Judges)

    https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/09/10/greedy-welfare-ranchers-dictating-public-land-use-wyoming-wild-horse-roundups-to-begin/

    Like

  8. WYOMING
    Decisions made that allowed this roundup to take place.

    Those who made those decisions and those who initiated this roundup are responsible for this.

    They should not be forgotten in the annals of history:

    The association’s president (RSGA), JOHN HAY, of Rock Springs, declined to comment Thursday

    U.S. District JUDGE NANCY FREUDENTHAL

    Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
    http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/images/pdf/Wy9.10.14DecisionDenyingEmergencyMotionPendingAppeal.pdf (Before HARTZ and GORSUCH, Circuit Judges)
    JUDGE HARRIS L. HARTZ
    JUDGE NEIL M. GORSUCH

    Ranchers, BLM settle suit over Wyoming wild horses
    U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal in Cheyenne
    approved the settlement Wednesday. The settlement requires the BLM to round up horses to meet the new herd target numbers. Roundups will occur this year through 2015, or 2016 if the population objectives aren’t met by then.

    Like

  9. There were decisions made that allowed this roundup to take place.
    Those who made those decisions and those who initiated this roundup are responsible for this.
    They should not be forgotten in the annals of history:
    The association’s president (RSGA), JOHN HAY, of Rock Springs, declined to comment Thursday
    U.S. District JUDGE NANCY FREUDENTHAL
    Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
    JUDGE HARRIS L. HARTZ
    JUDGE NEIL M. GORSUCH
    Ranchers, BLM settle suit over Wyoming wild horses
    U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal in Cheyenne
    approved the settlement Wednesday. The settlement requires the BLM to round up horses to meet the new herd target numbers. Roundups will occur this year through 2015, or 2016 if the population objectives aren’t met by then.

    Like

  10. There were decisions made that allowed this roundup to take place
    Those who made those decisions and those who initiated this roundup are responsible
    They should not be forgotten in the annals of history

    ROCK SPRINGS GRAZING ASSOCIATION
    JOHN HAY /President of ROCK SPRINGS GRAZING ASSOCIATION
    JUDGE NANCY FREUDENTHAL/U.S District Judge
    JUDGE HARRIS L. HARTZ/Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
    JUDGE NEIL M. GORSUCH/Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

    Like

    • They should go down in history as some of the most corrupt and immoral people of the lowest form having no compassion, rather greed and criminal conduct as they betrayed the American public and these most noble and majestic wild horses.

      Like

  11. What else is there to say. The BLM is like a cancer that seems to be winning every battle. When will the horses ever be safe? But we can’t ever give up.

    Like

  12. Thank you for being there to document this war on our wild horses by the BLM, the cattle ranchers and our government. I know it took all of your strength and courage to witness this most horrifying, unjust and incredibly sad destruction of these noble wild horses. It was a very long week filled with sorrow for these beautiful horses as we watched their lives being violently destroyed each day of the terrifying helicopter round ups. Each day the death toll rose during the stressful roundups. Babies were killed during the night as they broke their necks in the confusion. Mares were heard screaming as their foals were taken away from them. Stallions fought furiously and courageously to protect their mares and foals. The scenes were beyond anyone’s worst nightmare. As the horses were stripped of their dignity and hastily crammed into trucks and hauled away I felt waves of gut wrenching pain for their demise. It is one of the most cruel and barbaric events in American history. The people responsible for this devastation are ruthless, filled with greed and are some of the most corrupt and shameless humans on earth. Our government allowed this incomparable cruelty to be thrust upon the wild horses and ignored the public and advocate’s pleas to stop the bloody war on our wild mustangs. So many of these magnificent horses have died already and more will be bought by the kill buyers and die a most tortuous and horrifying death in slaughter houses. Others will be stripped of their families and freedom to languish in stark and barren corrals with no shelter or proper care. A darkness has spread across our country and will remain forever for what has occurred during this most horrific week. The images of the terrified horses being run for miles off of their land and destroyed will remain with me for the rest of my life. It is those images that will compel me to move forward and join in the battle to save the few that are left. It is going to be a difficult journey, but we must continue to fight for them and to honor those who have already lost their lives, families and freedom. We cannot let their story end with extinction. We have to save them before it is too late and they are gone forever. You inspire is to continue the fight and that is the only light I have seen through the darkness of this week. Thank you..

    Like

  13. It makes me cry to think of how the horse lives will be forever changed, so incredibly sad for them. Especially the stallions, how hard, how devastating for them to watch those they have devoted their lives to protecting, those they have fought for, given their lives for being treated in such a horrific way. Then they are separated likely to never see their best friend, their most beloved mate ever again. It breaks my heart. Not to mention how they will be treated, have to fight for space with another males and then possibly be gelded by uncaring hands, that will cause physical pain, suffering and possibly death, but death may be more humane for some. To loose their freedom, their loved ones… it may be more tragic in some ways to survive knowing there is nothing you can do to help this you love.

    Like

  14. This is just so sad to see more of our horse families torn apart and never to be free again. This is heart breaking. Carol thank you for your attention to detail and reports. Thanks for witnessing this horrible truth. It just makes my blood boil to know our wild ones are split apart.
    These horses should have been left alone and free. We see these round ups are so devastating to our wild horses. We have to stop this to save our last remaining wild horses and burros from being exploited and abused. Keep them free.

    Like

  15. Mustangs are the Heart and Soul of America they are essential to each and every one of us either directly or indirectly , none the less they belong , are needed and loved !!!! We must do whatever is needed to quarentee safety and secure their protection !!!!!!!! we must find a way to instill this fact in every American possible !!!!!!!

    Like

  16. blm SAYS there are 14 dead, but since we know that the truth means nothing to them I personally don’t believe that it is only 14. And if it is 14 that is 14 too many. And there will no doubt be many many more that die in feedlots or being smuggled out to slaughter by these government thugs…and yet they continue on, smug with the knowledge that they truly ARE beyond reproach. They are untouchable, above the law. If you don’t believe that just look at the atrocities that they have committed and the laws they have broken and have NEVER paid the price for. We scream and yell and nothing changes. How long has it been now??? Decades? HOW MANY wild Ones have died??? Lost their freedom so that people and corporations with no right to their land can have bigger profits? And the blm just smiles and pockets that under the table slaughter money and bribe dollars….every employee that works for the blm is a part of this and is personally responsible for what is happening. As is Sally Jewell and Obama….they ARE aware of it, they would have to be totally brain dead to have not seen or heard what is happening. They are ignoring the very people that they serve. I’m going to say it again….what we are doing IS NOT WORKING. We need fresh ideas and some ACTION or we are going to fail miserably in our efforts to help these horses.

    Like

Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.