Wild horses symbolize US freedom


By Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) – 07/28/10 07:01 PM ET

The image of hundreds of wild horses freely roaming the open terrain in the American West is reminiscent of times past and our country’s trailblazing heritage. However, on July 10, the 200 wild horses galloping frantically across a breathtaking Nevada plain, with dust swirling around their sweaty bodies, were running in fear. With dry summer heat reaching 95 degrees, these horses were forced to run for miles over rough volcanic rock in an attempt to escape the government’s low-flying helicopter in pursuit. It is foaling season and many of the mares and foals were weak from their recent pregnancy or from giving birth.

The offending helicopter was part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) effort to round-up and relocate 1,200 of our nation’s wild mustangs from this area. It is just one of dozens of planned roundups to permanently remove and relocate thousands of our wild horses.

The BLM states that the wild horse population is expanding rapidly, and it needs to relocate these animals to prevent the exhaustion of the region’s resources. The BLM has been stating this for more than a decade now, but has yet to implement a sound management plan.  In 1971, when the National Wild Horse and Burro Program was created, there were 54 million acres for wild horse and burros. Now, only 27 acres remain. And in every year since the BLM was entrusted with this program, populations have exceeded the agency’s appropriate management level by thousands of animals, reaching over 60,000 at one point. Enough is enough. It is time to find a more effective management plan for these horses that does not result in the careless death of so many.

As a result of the July 10 and July 11 roundups, 13 mustangs died.  Although horse advocates fought for a suspension of the roundups, their efforts were overruled and they continued the next weekend. The death toll now stands at 17.

The bloody tale of the recent roundups in Nevada is not unique. Last winter, during the 40-day BLM Calico Hills Roundup, the government captured 1,800 horses and about 80 died, some during the roundup and others at the holding facilities. Additionally, dozens of pregnant mares suffered miscarriages.   

A report issued in April 2010 by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign found 43 percent of the deaths that resulted from the winter Calico roundup were due to diet and metabolic failure that was brought on by stress and trauma.

Currently, more than 32,000 horses have already been removed from the ranges and are being forced into overcrowded and inhumane holding facilities. Not only is this not a safe or desirable solution for the animals, but also it is costing the American taxpayers more than $30 million a year. There are an estimated 37,000 mustangs and burros that live in our Western states. We now have nearly that amount in custody, and the BLM plans to remove an additional 12,000 wild horses from the ranges at a cost of millions to the American taxpayer.

The actions of the BLM are contrary to The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971’s original intent to manage the wild horses and burros in their natural state and to protect them from capture and harassment. I have repeatedly called for an end to these roundups until a more humane and cost-effective solution has been put in place. The Obama administration should be ashamed that this is happening under its watch.

Congress took an important step forward last year when the Interior Appropriations Bill, at my request, directed the BLM to develop a new comprehensive long-term plan for wild horse populations by September 30. I was joined by Congressmen Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) in writing to Director Bob Abbey of the BLM urging a moratorium on the roundups that have caused so many horses unnecessary pain and suffering. We are making long-overdue progress, but more must be done.

The wild mustangs are living symbols of our country’s history and pioneering spirit. Anyone who has had the privilege of watching a wild herd graze freely and calmly understands what majestic animals these wild mustangs truly are. It is hard to fathom that hundreds of our wild horses have died at the hands of the federal agency entrusted to protect them. I will continue to urge the BLM to stop the inhumane roundups and work to find a better legislative solution.  Letting the death toll of America’s mustangs continue to rise is simply not an option.

Sen. Landrieu is the senior senator from Louisiana.


18 Responses to “Wild horses symbolize US freedom”

  1. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    The year she gave BLM to get it right is coming up this fall. Looks like she may want the horses and burros away from these madmen. mar

  2. Donna Buscemi Says:

    Can’t the Justice Department get involved in light of the fact that the BLM has been breaking the law since 1971? Or are they just as unreliable, unreasonable and corrupt as the BLM & Interior?
    What ever happened to the FBI Calico Investigation?

  3. Karen L. Says:

    It’s great that Mary Landrieu continues to write, work, and lobby on behalf of the horses at this difficult time for Louisiana. Her commitment to animals is solid. Her Appropriations directive last year should soon reveal whether any progress has been made in the interim.


    The BLM is a rogue agency that is “above the law” and must be stopped. Slowely, our American heritage is being destroyed and our beautiful wild horses. If people in America don’t start waking up they will have no country left. The BLM is leting the Lobbiest and Cattle Barons dictate to them as they have the money to put up. The horses have no one to speak for them but the People and we must keep doing that. Contact your Representative and Senators in Washington to listen and step forward for the horses like Senator Landrieu and her Associates are doing. DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT.

  5. Linda Says:

    A couple of comments to the original letter that call for Senator Landrieu, members of Congress and the press to witness actual captures. Not such a good idea from my point of view.

    Their visits would prompt sanitization by the BLM & contractors. “See how the nice horseys trot into the trap and we shoo them into spacious trailers for a pleasure ride to the equine spa?”

    Somebody courageous, powerful and well-connected has got to get down and dirty with this. Anderson Cooper, where are you?

    • Linda Says:

      Don’t get me wrong. I commend Senator Landrieu on her stand for the wild ones and this eloquent message. My point is while she wouldn’t be snowed by a BLM & contractor cover-up other members of Congress less familiar with the issue might be.

    • Linda Says:

      And somebody PLEASE correct the “27 acres” before it comes true!

  6. Good News: Animal Welfare Groups Laud House Panel on Horse Transport Ban « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

    […] Wild horses symbolize US freedom (thecloudfoundation.wordpress.com) […]


    I sent Senator Landrieu’s letter to my senators

  8. sandra longley Says:


    video of Owyhee, provided to Reno TV station…notice the cows in the roundup. What was the testimony given in court..NO cows on this HMA..how many times did we hear that from BLM..thats what happens when the public is not allowed in..Lies…geez they must have forgot they told that one in court when they released their propaganda film of the owyhee massacre..pass this video on..I am posting it everywhere

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  14. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Off Topic Remark:

    From my Custer County e-newsletter:

    August 18-23
    Crow Fair in Crow Agency . . . As the many visitors come from all over the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world, the Apsáalooke Nation cordially invites all of you to the largest modern-day American Indian encampment in the Nation, and one of the largest gatherings of the year for the Apsáalooke Nation. The evening pow-wow grand-entries present the beauty of all Tribes in attendance, and the celebration displays traditional bead work, buckskin and leather work, music and dance competitions, and an INFR sanctioned All-Indian rodeo—a stunning experience of beauty and culture.

  15. Just Because Congress is Taking a Break Doesn’t Mean We Can! « Straight from the Horse's Heart Says:

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  16. Sheila Morlas Says:

    In case you haven t noticed, our freedoms are going by the wayside, as our beloved Mustangs are. Very Sad.

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