Ignoring public outrage, government hits milestone: number of wild horses in BLM warehouses exceeds those left on the range

Washington, DC (January 19, 2010) – Ignoring growing public outrage over the unnecessary mass roundups of wild horses, the Obama Administration has announced its next victims:  2,000 mustangs living in two herd management complexes in eastern Nevada . According to In Defense of Animals (IDA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s newest assault, when combined with the ongoing roundup of horses living in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada, will eliminate nearly 4,500 horses, or a quarter of the state’s estimated wild horse population.

The BLM recently announced that it is taking public comments on the next targets for capture and removal:

* 550 horses living in and near the Eagle Herd Management Area (HMA) in eastern Lincoln County (50 miles southeast of Ely), beginning mid-February and leaving only 100 horses in the 625,000 acre public lands complex; and

* 1,506 mustangs living in the Antelope Complex (east/southeast of Elko), leaving just 471 horses behind on more 1.3 million acres in a roundup scheduled for late summer/early fall.

“President Obama may go down in history for presiding over a deadly milestone for these living legends,” said William J. Spriggs of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney, which filed a pro bono lawsuit to stop the Calico roundup on behalf of IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and popular author Terri Farley.  The case is ongoing in federal court.

“Under his watch, the number of wild horses stockpiled in government holding facilities has surpassed the number of mustangs left free and wild on the range. By reducing the number of horses to dangerously low numbers, the Obama Administration is placing the viability of these historic and unique herds at great risk,” Mr. Spriggs concluded.

Since December 28, the BLM has captured nearly 1,000 horses in the Calico Mountain Complex killing at least seven of them.  That roundup proceeded despite a December 23, 2009 ruling by federal court Judge Paul Friedman questioning the legality of the BLM’s long-term holding facilities and suggesting that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.

More information on the Eagle roundup is here. Follow news of the Calico roundup and other important wild horse news on IDA’s  blog and get updates on Twitter.

Wild Horse Facts:

- The Obama Administration plans to remove 12,000 mustangs from their Western ranges in FY 2010. Most of these horses will end up in government holding facilities.

- The number of wild horses in government holding facilities (35,000) now exceeds those left in the wild (33,000 by BLM estimates).

- The wild horse population today is smaller than in 1974 when the BLM conducted its first census after Congress protected the horses due to their dwindling numbers.

- Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1.

- The BLM manages more than 256 million acres of public lands. Cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres, while wild horses are restricted to 26.6 million acres of land that is shared with cattle.

- Since 1971 when Congress protected wild horses as “living symbols of freedom” and important parts of our national heritage, the BLM has removed over 200,000 horses from the range and taken away 20 million acres of wild horse habitat.

- The BLM frequently increases livestock grazing allotments after removing wild horses. Horses are also displaced for the benefit of other commercial users of public lands, including mining, oil/gas and other extractive industries.

- The Obama Administration proposes to spend up to 500 million tax dollars to purchase private lands in the Midwest and East to warehouse wild horses removed from public lands (which the taxpayers already own) in the West. In response to IDA’s lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L.  Friedman ruled that these holding facilities are likely illegal.

- The mustang has spent hundreds of years acclimating to the arid, rocky terrain of the west and their presence on that landscape is part of our national heritage. Not only are they ill-suited to the wet, lush Midwestern climate but their absence from the west is an affront to our cultural history.

Contacts: Suzanne Roy, 919-697-9389,  Deniz Bolbol, 650-248-4489

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals' rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi. _________________________________________________________________________________

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048


  • edith abramczyk wrote on 19 January, 2010, 14:41

    Please Mr. President
    STOP your special interest groups from destroying our history, the AMERICAN WILD HORSES MUST REMAIN FREE!

  • Karen Gauthier wrote on 21 January, 2010, 11:20

    Mr. Obama,
    You say that you believe in CHANGE, yet you continue Bush’s plan to remove wild horses and burros from OUR public lands! Our wild horses are outnumbered by cattle on the PUBLIC lands! If the land is over-grazed, reduce the number of cattle! Please don’t let these “ranchers”, aka large, profit-making companies – reduce our herds of wild horses!!

  • arlene orlando wrote on 21 January, 2010, 11:36

    Secveral phone calls and letters later, no Comment from President Obama, these are exceptionally hard times right now for everyone…..and there is a lot before Our President, but the blm issue with its lies and deceit needs to be dealt with immediately, THEY have BETRAYED A NATION with their needless Round ups of our Spirit and our Heritage OUR WILD MUSTANGS, they are Americas Heros the Mustang, they ARE the very Core of America , the BLM is a DISGRACE to ALL of America, and should be HELD accountable for their ASSUALTS on OUr WILD MUstangs Americas Icons How dare they spend tax payers money on something that does nt need to be done….. They terrorize our Mustangs daily , Again the BLM is a Disgrace to All of America…………… The WILD MUSTANGS are a SYMBOL of Americas Greatness……… STOP THE BLM IMMEDIATELY< AND HOLD ALL OF THE BLM accountable for Their Actions………………… The American People will no longer stand for their lies and deceit………………………………………….ASK AMERICA HOW THEY FEEL ………..

  • Marge wrote on 4 February, 2010, 16:12

    Wherever man has left his footprint
    In the long ascent from Barbarism to Civilization we will find the footprint
    of the horse beside it.

    {John Trotwood Moore}

  • Deborah Simpson wrote on 5 February, 2010, 11:58

    BLM ( our federal government ) has mismanaged our Horse & Burro program for many years and our government will not stop the brutal round-ups. Ken Salazar proposed slaughter for our horses moving them Eastward bound. How can the American people have faith in our government to protect our horses? we can’t!

  • Diane Collis wrote on 17 February, 2010, 18:07

    Instead of sending comments to each of us that want to see something done. Why don’t we all write to the president and threaten to tell his daughters how their dad could stop horse slaughter in the USA. Maybe his little girls should know how their daddy is letting the BLM kill horses. Wether its by helicopter roundup or being sent to Mexico for slaughter. Their dad is ultimately responsible. I know I sound radical but he is not listening.

  • Sharon Kennedy wrote on 19 February, 2010, 7:42

    Mr. Obama,
    What is a charitable heart? It is a heart burning with love for the whole creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts–for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes being filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart; a heart which is softened and can no longer bear to see or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain being inflicted upon a creature. That is why such a man never ceases to pray for the animals..moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united with God—-St. Isaac the Syrian, cited in Animal Theology by Andrew Linzey

    Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Jackson and Kennedy would have saved the horses — now it is your minute to prove your compassion.

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