The Jackson Mountain capture of 300 wild horses by BLM began this weekend. The method used for the current capture will be a bait/water trap.
BLM has made a claim that due to Covid-19 there will be no observation. Over the last few years trying to observe capture has slid backwards. Our litigation opened roundups to “meaningful access.” In the last few years what we are receiving is meaningless access under the new BLM leadership.
BLM could make viewing simple; bring the horses to Palomino Valley and place them in a pen visible from the road. Instead BLM is transporting wild horses to the “off limits” facility Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) where they would need to schedule a tour. BLM wont let the public walk around that facility, they want you on a wagon and they control where you go and how long you get to stay there. They are also not scheduling visitation to the temporary corrals or trap pens.
We have sent BLM a request for information on where the recommendation came from. In Nevada, where the Jackson roundup will take place, casinos and brothels are open for business “following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health authorities.” We asked for documentation to demonstrate how people wearing a mask and keeping distance from each other, as they look at captured wild horses, poses a greater health risk than a casino or brothel.
We will let you know what the response is. We expect to be told we would need to file a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. Over the last few years BLM has failed to answer many questions and refers the public to FOIA. We have FOIA requests that we filed 118 days ago, 167 days ago, 262 days ago, 323 days ago, that all should have been answered as the information is not proprietary and is vital to informed public participation. Yet each day BLM seems to have another protocol or complaint that they forgot to notify us about, delaying their responses to the FOIAs already on file.
Unfortunately, it seems like BLM is simply saying “litigate or we wont do anything we are mandated to do.” We will update you on outstanding issues with FOIA later this week.
Update 6/15/20 at 11 am.
We received a response from BLM. Nowhere in the response do they reference Covid-19 as they had on the website and press release; the sole reason for “no meaningful observation.”
Instead BLM is now going back to the old argument that the facility is closed to the public, regularly, and a “tour will be scheduled some time in the fall.”
We reminded them that is not meaningful access to assess wild horses after capture. Any deficits in handing will have long been shielded from public view. BLM has several other options available to them. They are choosing the least transparent.
We will continue to update this story as issues of transparency have become a fast accelerating problem in BLM from range through capture and beyond.
The last operation at Jackson Mountain was an horrific event where BLM claimed there was a water emergency and they had to stampede new born foals throughout the entire HMA in the heat of June. BLM’s protocol states that helicopter roundups can not start until July 1. But BLM claimed the emergency was so dire that they had to hit the entire HMA in June and remove as many as 900 wild horses using a helicopter.
The “water emergency” was not an issue facing the entire HMA, only a small corner. As wild horses were being run, babies being lost and dying, hundreds of domestic cattle grazed the “emergency” zone. On more than one occasion wild horses were run through groups of livestock and one morning BLM was delayed due to livestock grazing literally inside the trap wings.
We took them to court. We shut down the operation and gained a critical legal tool. The court ruled BLM did not justify running babies in the heat, particularly if they were stressed further by any “emergency.” BLM can also no longer use a small area of an asserted emergency to roundup an entire herd. (more here)
This victory was another critical win in the fight against abuse at roundups.
Our field teams need support to document and fight abuse. Can you help us?
The wild horses at Jackson were also the victims of an extreme case of salmonella after a capture in 2007 and at least 159 died in the holding facility. (More on salmonella from the Horse: “Horses do not exhibit true carrier status, which occurs in cattle and some other animals, says Peek. He notes that certain types of Salmonella that affect species like cattle can cause an animal to be infected for life. “This does not happen in horses with the Salmonella types encountered in the U.S.,” says Peek.”)
Are the wild horses more susceptible to widespread and extreme cases of salmonella due to the constant overgrazing of the range by the domestic cows in that corner of Jackson? Why remove them in June when the population is so vulnerable and not back in February if this was a spot they were concerned about? The cows are always out in summer in these allotments, they are out now.
The history of Jackson Mountain makes this herd one of the focal points of concern when it comes to handling and care. This makes access to view captured wild horses “of extreme public concern.”
Maybe BLM should just take them to Palomino Valley?
Another disturbing fact about Jackson Mountain is that BLM has no management plan. The first step in managing wild horses (as outlined in the BLM handbook) is a Herd Management Area Plan or HMAP.
We have 177 active HMAs in the US; only 7 of them have an HMAP. In the state of Nevada we have 83 active HMAs; only one has an HMAP.
Congress is getting ready to make a determination on the release of an additional $21 million taxpayer dollars to fund BLM roundups through October 7, 2020.
Please take action today to stop the release of additional funding.
If you have the time to make a call? this issue is urgent and calls directly from you will be the most effective. (more on what you can say HERE)
Our teams are busy with outreach to Congress, in field and ready to roll to continue our fight against abuse.
Categories: Wild Horse Education