Broken Horses, Broken Promises
The Bureau of Land Management has pulled the plug on the massive roundup of wild horses in the Calico Complex. This remote and starkly beautiful area in northwestern Nevada was home to one of the largest wild, free-roaming herds of wild horses in the United States. 39 horses are reported dead as a result of the winter roundup. This does not include the 25-30 mares that have aborted their late term foals in the feedlot style facility outside Fallon, Nevada. The death toll is expected to rise as BLM begins preparing and processing the horses next week (freeze-branding, gelding of stallions, etc.). However, the public may not know what happens from here on out, as BLM has decided not to provide veterinary reports on the cause of death in the new Fallon facility, according to BLM manager, John Neil.
Despite a public statement by Don Glenn (December 7 at the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Reno) in which he said that the public is welcome to view the roundups at any time (hence no need for a humane observer), the public was allowed only limited access to watch the Calico roundup. Viewing was limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays by appointment only. Only 10 observers were allowed on any one day. Even on the days the public was allowed to attend, viewers were required to leave between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, even though the Cattoor contract crew and helicopters continued to round up wild horses. Close access was denied for the last two weeks of the operation and injuries could not be detected or documented. BLM has referred to the visitors as “anti-gather advocates”. The contractors admitted that 30 wild horses captured on January 31 were left overnight in a crowded capture corral without water due to muddy conditions which prevented trucks from accessing the capture sight.
Now BLM sights are set on the wild horses of the Eagle Complex in the mountains of eastern Nevada. The area is larger than the state of Rhode Island, yet the number of mustangs allowable according to BLM is 100. At the same time, the number of privately-owned welfare cattle allowed is over 2,700