Legal Action Taken to Halt Wild Horse Roundup in Nevada
1,200 Wild Horses To Be Stampeded For Miles in Desert Heat Creates Unnecessary Fatality
Risk for Young Foals, Weak and Older Horses
Washington, DC (July 9, 2010) – Yesterday, In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, and ecologist Craig Downer, represented by Advocates For the West, a leading conservation group, filed an Appeal and Petition to Stay with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Owyhee Complex roundup scheduled to begin today.
The Appeal and Petition for Stay states that the planned roundup – scheduled to begin only nine days after the BLM’s identified “peak foaling season” which ends on June 30th – unnecessarily subjects newly-born foals to life-threatening conditions including the helicopter-created chase, or stampede, of horses for miles over rugged terrain in desert summer temperatures. The Appeal and Petition to Stay further challenges the agency’s determination that the Owyhee Complex horses are “excess” and therefore must be removed. The scheduled roundup, which indiscriminately rounds up wild horses without any regard to age, condition or health, would include young foals, some of whom may have been born within the last week or so, creates inhumane conditions which would expose the vulnerable youngsters to life-threatening health problems and possibly death. BLM acknowledges that “summer gathers pose increased risk of heat stress” and “death can result.” In addition, running young foals can cause a multitude of physical health problems including hoof, skeletal and development issues.
The Appeal and Petition for Stay seek to postpone the roundup until at least after August 15.
The BLM’s Tuscarora Field Office, despite receiving written opposition from thousands of Americans, decided to move forward with the roundup and removal of approximately 1,200 wild horses from what is called the Owyhee Complex – which includes three herd management areas comprised of 482,000 acres north of Elko in northeastern Nevada. The planned roundup only leaves behind only 337 wild horses on the 753-square-mile area. While severely restricting the number of horses on the Owyhee Complex, the BLM allows private ranchers to graze thousands of cattle in this same area through livestock allocations.
“The BLM’s refusal to even postpone roundups knowing the life-threatening nature of conducting them during the hot summer months in desert country is yet another example of this agency’s unwillingness to change,” said Eric Kleiman, research director for In Defense of Animals. “We’ve heard a lot of talk from the BLM about change – yet their actions continue the same ill-conceived, business-as-usual attitude. It is well-documented that conducting roundups in July unnecessarily subjects young foals to life-threatening conditions, yet once again the BLM ignores the science.”
“BLM’s wild horse program is another symptom of the Department of Interior’s fundamental mismanagement of our public lands and resources,” said Todd Tucci, Senior Staff Attorney at Advocates for the West. “There is a clear pattern that Department policy is driven by special interests, not the public good. Owyhee is a case in point of this mismanagement and of the violation of laws and regulations.”
The BLM plans to roundup and remove approximately 6,000 wild horses in the next four months. Currently there are more wild horses (36,000) in government holding facilities than free on the range (33,000). Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has repeatedly stated the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable given that tens of millions of tax dollars are spent annually on the warehousing of wild horses in government facilities – yet the Secretary continues the same broken cycle of roundup-removal and stockpiling of wild horses contributing to the programs problems. In Defense of Animals continues to work with ecologists, wild horse experts and others to push for on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.
Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Currently the BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands of which cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres; wild horses are only allowed on 26.6 million acres this land, which must be shared with cattle. The Obama Administration plans to remove nearly 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands by October 2010. There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Todd Tucci, Advocates For the West, 208-342-7024, ext. 202
Eric Kleiman, In Defense of Animals, 717-939-3231
Advocates for the West is one of the leading conservation groups working to protect and restore public lands, water, and wildlife in the American West. The non-profit public interest organization is located in Boise, Idaho.
IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048
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