Horse News

Why do our tax dollars pay to chase wild horses to death?

Opinion by Jennifer Caudill as published on the Reno Gazette Journal

Thousands of horses are chased violently by helicopters into captivity in already overcrowded corrals to await a fate that, even in 2019, could end in slaughter. ..

Last August in Wyoming’s Red Desert, across approximately 700,000 acres of public land federally designated as a wild horse habitat, the Bureau of Land Management conducted what it refers to as a “wild horse roundup.” Using low-flying helicopters, government employees chased wild horses away from their high desert homes and into captivity. For miles upon miles, in the grueling summer heat, the horses fled the helicopter, only to be corralled into crowded pens — leaving their freedom behind them in a cloud of dust.

During this particular high-speed chase, a foal was unable to keep up with his mother as their herd fled in terror. Over the miles and the heat, he was exhausted. It was 94 degrees outside, legal to conduct the capture by only one degree. Eventually, his mother realized he was no longer at her side, and so she bravely turned back to find him. When a wrangler circled back for the pair, the mother valiantly faced off against the helicopter to defend her baby, who had at that point stopped moving altogether.

The next morning, the tiny black foal was dead. He was curled into a tiny heap on the bare dirt. An observer was told he’d been checked out by a vet, doused with water because he was clearly overheated, and then essentially left to die.

This isn’t an isolated case. It isn’t even rare. Roundups like this happen across the western range, including Nevada, summer through winter each year. Thousands of horses are chased violently by helicopters into captivity in already overcrowded corrals to await a fate that, even in 2019, could end in slaughter. Perfectly healthy mustangs, young and old and all ages in between are susceptible to injury, illness and death due to the brutal, unnatural tactics involved in capturing them by the thousands. It’s literally shocking.

During the Red Desert roundup last August, 10 horses died, six of which were tiny foals. Several perished from what’s known as “capture myopathy” — death by extreme stress or exertion. Translation: They were run to death. Others died from broken limbs. The horses were just babies.

In Nevada, the first roundup of the year begins July 8 in the Triple B Herd Management Area. They’ll chase and capture 800 wild horses. And — to the shock and outrage of many Americans — we pay for this with our taxes. The American Wild Horse Campaign works to change these cruel and inhumane policies and hold the BLM accountable. There is a better way, with proven methods to preserve and humanely manage our nation’s iconic wild horse populations.

While the justification of wild horse roundups will never be acceptable, needless deaths for the most vulnerable like this case in the Red Desert can be significantly reduced. For starters, veterinarians stationed on-site at the roundups should be provided with emergency “foal kits,” which include a small nasogastric tube and funnel, electrolytes, and milk replacer to help counteract myopathy. This suggestion actually originated with an animal and plant health inspection service vet reporting after a roundup in Oregon last summer. Likewise, since millions upon millions in taxes already pay for umpteen yearly wild horse roundups, the least the BLM could do is offer a basic wellness protocol while they’re at it. Foal kits, for instance, are packed with essential supplies to prevent foals from suffering and death, and they cost just a few hundred bucks.

Stories such as this one shouldn’t be common, but until we demand change, broken government policy deems wild horse deaths as normal. Foals shouldn’t die this way, but they do. The public needs to know the gory details at the end of their tax dollars, and they need to know they can do something to change the fate of our great symbols of freedom — America’s wild horses. .. (CONTINUED)

15 replies »

  1. I am ashamed.

    We have been set up, my friends. These mass capture and killing of thousands of our wild horse and wild burro proposals are not something that just popped up today. This has been the strategy of BLM for many years. There is documentation of this fact.

    And who do we suppose gave the congressional committee the lies about the wild horses and burros? And why has the BLM been publishing bogus population figures and increases for so long – such as one herd increasing 775% in ONE year which means that 40 burros had 270 successful surviving foals in ONE year and there are many more examples of this ind of fraud. And why has BLM not put video devices on the helicopters when they do aerial population counts? Because it would prove that there are NOT the bogus numbers that they put in their bogus population reports – that’s why. All lies… the only thing that BLM does well is lie.

    There is NO reason for these wild horse and burro removals and destruction procedures … because there are NO excess wild horses and burros on their legally designated land. In 1971, when Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, these animals were found roaming across 53,800,000 million acres. That amount of acreage could support more than about 250,000 wild horses and burros.

    And why do you think that BLM has been crying about the cost of housing our wild horses and wild burros in their filthy feed lots when it costs us taxpayers nothing for the wild ones to live on their legal lands? And why do you think that when BLM’s Sally Spencer was proven to have sold our wild ones to a kill-buyer that it was covered up? And why do you think that when Spur livestock (a BLM holding contractor) was proven to have sold our wild horses to a kill-buyer that it was covered up?

    And why do you think that everyone associated with the BLM has been pushing sterilization and pesticides for our wild ones? And did you hear at a recent BLM advisory board meeting that our wild horses are considered by them to be valueless if they cannot be trained? So, in the BLM’s mind, if there is any wildlife that cannot be made to jump hoops then it is valueless? But BLM has thrown big money toward training these wild horses and burros instead of training humans to value them for what they are … which is wild for the value of being wild. Wild is wild and should remain wild for the value of being wild.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty sad that this country has made NO attempt at re-wilding areas – we, who are the “most advanced democratic” country in the world – are only focused on REMOVING wild species so we can USE their homes for our own profit & greed. Yet other countries – who we look at as not as advanced – have made great inroads at making areas available for re-wilding wild species & its habitat. Giving them safe places rather than grabbing up every open space for development, mining, drilling – oh yes – AND to make sure the ranching lobby and the allotment “holders” can destroy any little bit thats left. The wild horses “management” areas have never been used ONLY for wild horses – never! Remaining wild for the value of being wild? Absolutely more important than our petty dollars & cents!
    When we have destroyed & eradicated all other species of life – exactly what is left? Us?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think we can forego the talk about us being the most democratic country. Any more we arent. And this has been going on for how many years now? Maybe 10-20 years of worry about horse slaughter? Congress supposedly put a stop to that, only to have it re-litigated once again. Why? Because the energy corps, big ag, the de-regulationists, the anti-environment lobbyists are winning. Stop voting Republican, no matter what part of the human population you hate. Because this isnt working out well. folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Its well over 50 years, actually, since all this was going on to an extent that Wild Horse Annie spent years of her life pursuing justice and eventually (with a lot of public support) succeeded in getting a unanimous act of Congress passed which is our current (though much amended) legal protection framework.

      I am dismayed that our country, in which so many purport to value even unborn life, allows and pays for such wanton destruction of innocents, though will gladly punish any human who aborts for whatever reasons. We seem also to have little concern for the lives of children at our borders, who also have no say in what the adults in the room decide. I refer to the Pope and his Encyclical on care for our common home, which reminds us the gifts we have inherited we did not earn but which require of us a higher standard of care than what the wild horse and burro program insists is normative. It is not and cannot be acceptable to any Christian or any person of conscience, period.

      It’s also worth keeping in mind that all wild horses and burros are “born in the USA” so this cruel mismanagement we all pay for is doubly damning. That seems to include all of us, including congress, unless we can build on Wild Horse Annie’s model and enough people demand meaningful change.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes amanda I agree – the current hype of how perfect this country now is? Baloney! And if we ALL dont vote out the current placeholders in DC in 2020 – not just our country, but our whole environment will be destroyed. That appears to be the goal these jerks are shooting for.



    The American Wild Horse

    The American Wild Horse examines the politics behind the Bureau of Land Management’s controversial policies regarding wild horses on public lands and questions the fate of America’s wild horses.

    The film explores who benefits and who pays the price for the different bills currently under consideration, including pending legislation that would permanently block the Burns Bill, H.R. 249, and H.R. 503 and S.311, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

    Filming locations included a recent round up conducted by BLM in Disappointment Valley, Colorado of the Spring Creek wild horses. David Glynn was on location August 30th and provides a detailed daily account of his experiences before, during and after the wild horses were removed.

    One of the most revealing aspects of his narrative include interviews with Dave and Sue Cattoor, operators of Cattoor Livestock Roundups, Inc., one of only two outfits BLM consistently contracts for wild horse removals via helicopters as well as often being contracted for other government agencies such as National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

    Cattoors operations have often faced controversy, which have included the disastrous June 2006 wild horse removals conducted in the Sheldon Hart National Wildlife Refuge that American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign posted extensive photo documentation of (Reality of Roundups – Attempt at a Cover Up) as well as pleading guilty and serving probation for inappropriate use of an aircraft to capture wild horses in the 90’s.

    David Glynn’s interviews with the Cattoors stated “they are strong advocates of killing, in their words “a humane way to dispose of excess horses,” and support the Burns Amendment.”

    Cattoor Livestock Roundups, Inc. were referenced throughout the newest Draft Management Plans recently released by U.S. Fish & Wildlife for the Sheldon wild horses and burros and it appears they will probably contracted to remove wild horses within the Refuge again. The Cattoors were also the sole source of the financial data that projected helicopter round ups were more cost effective than any other capture methods.

    Wonder how they came up with that conclusion?

    Wishing James and The American Wild Horse’s debut the very best and praying our elected officials will finally be moved to action on repealing the Burns Bill and enacting The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

    Liked by 1 person



    Since mailboxes seem to be a hot topic with me these days, there was something else I found in it that was as completely unexpected as the ONDA/Ruby Conservation Agreement I received last month.

    It was a letter from Sue Cattoor inviting me to watch Cattoor Livestock Roundups, Inc. remove wild horses in the Red Desert of Wyoming.

    Her letter spoke of us finding common ground on the subject of wild horse and burro removals, how the services her company performs protected wild horses and burros from dying on drought striken and barren ranges and she offered encouragement for us to begin a dialogue about how to best help the wild horses and burros still left.

    While I could not accept her invitation to stand witness to more removals of the Red Desert wild horses, I was able to respond to her offer to begin a dialogue about what is REALLY going on in the Wild Horse & Burro Program.

    Though my response is now a year old, with more wild horses being removed from the Adobe Town/Salt Wells HMA in Wyoming and BLM gearing up to sweep the last of the Moriah herds forever from the range – one of the last legs of the Ely Districts progressive march towards the wild horse and burro cleansing campaign they began so many years back – I couldn’t help but feel my letter to Sue was just as valid today as it was a year ago.

    It also seems that Sue wasn’t really interested in us beginning a dialogue after all as she never did respond….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was excited when I started reading this, only to realize it’s fifteen years old! I guess progress isn’t even measurable anymore, it’s so small and so infrequent.


      • IchSpots, when you think about the 50 plus years that it’s been going on….the fact that there’s ANY wild horses or burros left is a testament to the tenacity of the true-blue advocates. Of course, if they wiped all of them out then they will have “killed the goose that laid the golden egg”. The Wild Horse & Burro program has been a very lucrative gravy train.


      • Wonderful letter. I have come to understand the motives of people that support what is happening. They only understand authoritarian rule and when facts, evidence and so much reason is given to them it creates confusion in their minds. This is than interpreted as a threat to upset their security, thus confirming to them what they are doing is right. The US is based on Laws, democracy is made by the people. But, those who exploit our lands are experts at manipulating the minds of people .. . so the supporters resort back to the authority that promises to take this dissidence away. Sorta like what is happening today in many areas, to much information with a repressed ability to reason is disgusting, much better to have a strong arm to rid them of this even if the strong arm is disgusting in him/herself. —- what to do , what to do…. reasoning skills, something left out of the set curriculum. no more if/then and let’s investigate and see if something can be supported or is there another way to think about this so we can base what we do as right and what consequences for the future. —-


  6. Once again, this is sickening to my heart! I totally agree with everyone’s comments here, and thanks to all who are voices for the innocent ones who suffer needlessly at the hands of man. We must keep up the fight to stop this! Never Give Up The Fight for Them!! Many tears for them ALWAYS!!

    Liked by 1 person

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