On January 18th Wild Horse Education (WHE) did a blog post on the BLM Diamond wild horse roundup. The post gives basic information and background on the EA and drought issues that we the topic of a hot debate this summer: http://wheblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/diamond-roundup-begins/
This piece is a fast update on the operation itself.
WHE has been in touch with observers on the ground (and has an observer in the area that will head into the operation) and it appears that the Court ruling in the Owyhee Complex Federal court case has had some effect on operations. The Owyhee suit shut operations down and only allowed them to resume after Judge Miranda Du made it clear that she had an expectation for humane handling. (note: the Owyhee case is ongoing with a Preliminary Injunction hearing expected soon and BLM’s reply to the court expected by Friday. Owyhee is a ten year operation plan),
Observers report that the operation (to date) has gone in a slower fashion. That handling and removal (with the exception of one run) have been paced better and done with more care than observations at recent BLM operations in Nevada. Temperature issues are still of an extreme concern.
BLM posted on their website during Owyhee that they had a “new” guideline of 10 degrees F as a low and 95 degrees F as a high. Most experts agree that anything below freezing raises concern. Most often BLM makes a claim that populations are compromised in one way or another as a justification for removals. This raises the concern on temperature issues as any stressor raises the likelihood that complications such as respiratory distress can occur.
Concerns are also raised as BLM still operates under the “discretion” of COR, IC and the on-site APHIS vet that observers note spends considerable time in a warm vehicle during operations that often being in sub-zero or single digit temperatures.
Yesterday it was reported to WHE that it was -5 as observers traveled to their location. BLM reported on Twitter that 4 groups were brought in at temperatures of 7 degrees F, or below, as BLM did not note the temperature prior to 9:55 and the helicopter had been in the air since 8:30 am.
Another concern about accurate communications concerning humane care come when you look at BLM’s website updates on the operation. Link: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/battle_mountain_field/blm_programs/wild_horse_and_burro/Diamond_Complex.html During the Owyhee operation (ONLY AFTER litigation was filed) was a “leaders intent” for care published on the page. That intent statement was a watered down version of the “intent” that came from the state office and presented in court in another case involving inhumane treatment, Triple B (where BLM earned a Restraining Order and subsequent Injunction to pilot conduct). Now on the Diamond page we see a “leaders intent.” However when you read it you see it is not specific to this operation and in fact one published during Jackson Mountain (yet another area that gained itself a Restraining Order from the courts).
Litigation in two of these cases continues to move forward as no enforceable standard for humane handling for wild horses and burros has been implemented.
WHE is encouraged by some of the reports so far: The trap appears to be moving more often (the trap going to horses instead of horses going to the trap greater and greater distances), the pace of loading and sorting is not rushed, the pace of animals coming to the trap appears more controlled.
However we will continue to have observers on the ground and in the field.
~~~ of Note is the trap site adoption event scheduled in Diamond at the end of operations on February 2. Yearlings will be made available to approved adopters and may be transported directly from the range to your home. This option is not for everyone but gives an adopter an opportunity to control stimulus presented to their horses as the horses will never enter a processing facility.http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/battle_mountain_field/blm_programs/wild_horse_and_burro/Diamond_Complex/adopting.html
A new Valentine?