The Checkerboard Roundup Day 7 – Great Divide Basin
by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
The Checkerboard Roundup 2017 is taking place right now and is expected to take 4-6 weeks. The BLM is removing 1560 adult horses and we don’t know how many foals from three wild horse areas: Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin. The total area of these three herds is 2.4 million acres.
This morning I drove out following the BLM and as we arrived at Bitter Creek Road, the fog moved in. We sat in our cars because it was bitterly cold and then we followed the contractor Cattoors and the BLM up to the trap site. We slipped and slid on the muddy mess the road had become and I worried if it rained we might get stuck trying to get out. When we arrived within view of the trap, we learned that the ideal spot to watch and photograph was on private land. Serena Baker, Public Information Officer insisted that they call John Hay the President of the Rock Springs Grazing Association and ask permission to have access to his land for observation. To my surprise and delight her agreed to let us be there. As we set up our cameras it began to rain. We covered ourselves and our cameras, and about half an hour later it began to clear. We heard the helicopter and he had a large group of horses.
As they got closer I saw a black stallion in front. As they approached the trap, they veered off. The helicopter came back, and the black stallion charged at it! He was so spirited. The Bay roan stallion behind him followed him. The group went over the hill, and then as they came down, he charged again! Then the whole group after one more attempt ran off, fast. The helicopter went to refuel and they added more jute to the wings of the trap. It was clear oto me that these horses have been rounded up too many times and they were not having it.
As another group came in a bay stallion broke away and watched he horses go into the trap. I wondered where his family was. Soon he was calling to the horses in the pen behind the trap. That answered my question. He ran around behind the trap, and we could see him watching the pen. We watched him, and when half his family was loaded onto a semi and drove out, he watched it and called to his mares. Then he would go around and call to his family members in the pens.
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