Over the last year we have had media, and other special guests, out on the range and at roundups. Most media we had on range is working on what they call “long form stories.” Long form stories can take months, or even years, to publish. An example is Chris Ketcham’s “All The Pretty Horses Must Die,” where the interviews and trips were primarily in 2015 with a fast follow-up right before publication in 2017.
A film crew for Danish Public Broadcasting (DR) was just at the Fish Creek roundup operation. They had contacted us, as one of many, they intended to interview. They had seen the video Andrew Ellis created for the New Yorker and wanted to include our founder in that same manner, yet in a broader piece. (You will see her repeat some of the same scenes for this crew, yet they are interpreted slightly differently.)
Yesterday, the piece aired on TV in Denmark and surrounding regions. As they experienced the “story of a roundup in the American West” we became more of a central figure in telling the tale.
It is very interesting to see how the issue, the people, the wild horses, are weaved into their narrative of the American West as seen by the rest of the world. Often journalists in the US write about wild horses as if they are not part of the whole of politics, the land, or human relationship with the land and politics.
US politics have impacted the world, on issues such as climate change, in big ways right now. The rest of the world is watching us destroy our wild places and not care much about how our impacts are global.
You can see how a visit to two roundups, one right after the other, is seen by the US press, Washington Post HERE, and then contrast to foreign media below.
Below is a special version provided to WHE to distribute with english titles.
Some of the other long form stories are still in the works. We will update you when they publish.
For those of you in the US ready to call your representatives, we have a piece that can help you get started. HERE
Help Keep us in the Fight.
When stories appear in news venues that feature us there is often a massive blowback.
To address some of the nonsense before it gains ground:
In 2009 – 2012 roundups were often accompanied by threats of arrest. One time we headed to the trap with a court order to allow observation, yet were chased and threatened with arrest instead. That stopped as BLM Rangers got to know the us, and often the day at observation was not confrontational in any fashion. As we won litigation (which is where we take actions that are impeded from being addressed on the ground), yet remained very easy to interact with on ground, you might even call the conversations at trap “pleasant.” We did not discuss or argue the program itself, just the needs of observers and personal chit-chat. In fall of 2016 that began to change, rapidly.
At Fish Creek it felt like we were standing back in time; threatened, treated extremely poorly, access an inconvenience and both given without equity. At one point Leigh asked him (the cameraman) to turn off the camera, she was wearing a mic almost 10 hours that day, because she was moved to tears by how badly she and her volunteer, who has never broken a rule no matter how absurd, was treated. Particularly after working so hard to create other options for that herd it was completely unwarranted. After asking about flight paths, after getting witness reports of activity in the neighboring HMA, the next morning the contractor tried to pick a fight in the parking lot.
We spent years engaging as a stakeholder to develop a data collection program to fix historic flaws at Fish Creek, do darting of temporary fertility control. When the plan was to begin, the county blocked the release of wild horses and fought in court to stop the project. When they lost, they resorted to other methods, including threats. This operation was forced through backdoor channels involving changes to water use and more. This could have been a place of fair management. Instead that chance was destroyed. The scientifically unjustified parameters set in a land use plan over three decades old, were forced through once more. This herd has been left in remnants.
Yes, the BLM lead PR for NV has always worn the gear of the non-profit rodeo she volunteers for, not BLM gear. Yes, there was another org there that was treated very differently than we were because of backdoor deal making. At one time they sat together and made fun of our worry over foals (at Fish Creek 3 foals died, our worry justified. you can see reports HERE) Today, this is a very simplistic example of how BLM answers questions (repeating a line, denying a FOIA, etc.).
In fact, another journalist headed directly from Fish Creek and went to Utah for Onaqui. He described his treatment as “night and day.” We will let you know when his story publishes.
The roundup footage includes two distinct days at the trap, two distinct locations. The first day we were so far away we missed a run. The second day we were the last to see horses heading into the valley. The BLM ranger began giving us a heads up because we could not see exact direction from our position. (thank you) We will discuss BLM’s actual access IM in a future article. At Fish Creek the county ran the operation, not the federal government.
A podcast series called “Bunkerville,” by Leah Sottle and Ryan Hass, was recently released by NPR, the station that came was also public broadcasting. This chapter in American Western history is often forgotten by the US press. The rest of the world sees these events as a very real undercurrent influencing much of what has happened in the last 4 years in the west. When you travel the west extensively, and the journalist that did this piece has, that undercurrent is palpable for someone with a foreign accent where a US journalist might choose to ignore it.
“Painting a piece of the big picture” this broadcast is not focused on the rapidly changing details of the Appropriations debate for 2020. When we spoke in explicit, technical, details about management in the US it was not appropriate for them to edit into this piece. Just because you do not hear it, does not mean we did not say it. So do not make the assumption we did not talk “devils in the details.”
All in all, this crew representing DR was a pleasure. Intelligent, polite and fun to be around, we hope they come back and do another story in the future.