Wild Horse Education

Triple B_Day 42 (release, those lost forever, hotshot)

Fast notes: LLeigh

On the last day of Triple B, I went with one of our team members to the release of some older studs back to Triple B. I wanted to see who was going home. I also needed to go because things have gotten a bit intense, as they usually do, at these long operations where WHE is documenting to do an assessment to address the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP). We are not just here to say we are here, socialize or just take a couple of pictures. We are here to perform a function guaranteed by the First Amendment: oversight of federal actions. It gets tense.

We arrived at holding and within minutes I noted that hotshots (electric prods) were being used to speed up loading. At no time was there an event that demonstrated “human or equine safety.” The hotshot was being used because no one wanted to deal with the pace caused by the palpable fear the wild horses experience that causes them to move slow and with caution.

Manufacturers of hotshots do not approve them for use in equines and never (in cattle or swine) near or in the face. However, UC Davis (when they took grant money from BLM to help write the first CAWP policy to show the judge) approved the use of hotshots on wild horses when there was a situation that involved human or animal safety.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yes, we have even more pictures and video as well.

When you are watching something like this, one of the only ways to stop it is to vocalize (to yourself, but loud enough for others to hear) that you can see it. We can see clearly the moment they are notified that the hotshot was seen. Not sure if it was a public affairs officer or another member of the public that told them… but at least someone did. It is kinda comical, in a very tragic way. We made up the name “Carl.”

I haven’t edited a video with captions like this since I sat, with a concussion, in the office with Elko District Manager Ken Miller (with a court order in my hand to be able to see the roundup) and instead, was chased around the desert and threatened with arrest. Did you know they offered me “red carpet access” to the trap but I had to leave the others representing other orgs behind? I spent the next 6 years fighting for everyone to have equal access… (Access some are willing to throw away today, that they NEVER actually fought for but benefited from. A camera on a chopper won’t show you half of what a trained onsite observer can find out; a camera on a chopper is fine, but not in place of observers onsite. But that article is for another day.)

But I guess if the program is going back to the “old days,” holding hands with their preferred partnerships, I have to as well? I cannot begin to tell you how ill it all makes me.

The IC (the guy in charge of the whole operation) and the COR (the guy in charge of the loading that day) are all right there. If you point out these things to the public, the way you are treated onsite can change dramatically. Why? because you want to stop undue stress and abuses to wild horses? Well, golly.

What people at home seem to forget; the people running the roundups are the same people writing the Gather-EA, supposed to be doing the mitigation for wild horses from livestock and mining, writing the agreements for “partnership.” Yup… these are the ones with the “power” to decide how a law is carried out. They write those EAs in the same way they use hotshots; if you can’t see it… they will keep doing it the way they always did.

One of the things Newark Valley in Triple B is known for are the gorgeous cremellos. During the trapping portion I saw almost every band I know taken from that valley. Not one cremello was released back to the valley. They were all shipped to off-limits to public facilities where I can’t even get a tag number to try to get any of them to sanctuary or adopted.

When asked how BLM chose the 25 wild horses for release the answer was basically: age, color, conformation, genetics.

I think in BLM speak genetics is defined as “there is a lot of color on the trailer and we did not really pay attention to what was out there before,” possibly?

I am really glad some of those old boys were released so they can end their lives the way they lived it, free (kinda). Their homes are rapidly being fenced, dug, carved up by roads, big truck traffic, water tables drawn down… and BLM does as much to protect wild horse habitat as they do to protect them from undue stress from an electric prod. These boys will probably live out their natural life before the end of the  2017 plan that created this removal.

BLM said they will ship 25 more older studs back when they return the 40 (or so) older mares they will give 2 doses of GonaCon; in about 40 days (2 doses of GonaCon, particularly in an older mare, results in a high probability of permanent infertility). Older wild horses are the most vulnerable to the “sales program” that is still running rampant as the public has shifted attention to the new “Adoption Incentive Program” that is landing young wild horses in the kill auction. These older ones are also really vulnerable as the overcrowding of holding facilities caused by the 2020 plan (Path Forward) has them talking about simply outright killing the oldies again due to the cost of feeding and limited housing (feeding and housing that would suit the private subsidized livestock overpopulating public lands much better).

During the operation in the north BLM shipped all the horses to holding facilities. During the release, one trailer went back to the trap site… and the other went to the north side. Did that other trailer even take horses back home? or were these old men dropped in an area they are unfamiliar with because “wild horses just figure it out?” I mean, that is basically what BLM puts in a mining EIS when they cut the HMA in half, put a big road right through critical habitat and threaten the water supply… wild horses are not damaged, they will “figure it out.”

The fight to “keep wild horses wild” is not a debate on what kind of population growth suppression the feds should spend money on. The fight begins with protecting the herd and habitat and only when that is done first, is any debate on how to slow growth even remotely appropriate. But even herd reduction could be done by making wild places actually wild again (stop killing predators to make wild places domestic places). Those things need to come first. They need to come first, not just for our wild horses. We need to start healing the natural systems of the wild place… before it is too late. 

The politics bought and paid for by the Path Forward and partners is so hard to break through. We have done what we can, get pushed back, try again.

That was what was on my mind as I watched some of the oldies try to run back home. I knew where a few of them would go. It really is powerful when you follow a horse you know, that just went through another roundup (the 4th in 5 years), go search for any family members that might be left and not find one… not a single one. 

I have a lot more to say about Triple B. I’ll get to it tomorrow. 

I think I have said enough to generate enough angst, hate mail in my inbox and controversy for one day. 

Totals for this operation:

1,897 (654 Stallions, 908 Mares, and 335 Foals)  wild horses captured.

1,849 (623 Stallions, 897 Mares, and 329 Foals) to off-limits facilities where we do not know which days shipped to which locations. shipped to Axtell or Sutherland in Utah, off-limits to the public facility and/or Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes) off-limits to the public.

Deaths: 23

Listed as non-roundup related:  year old Brown Mare put down: blind, missing right eye; 7 year old Bay Mare euthanized: blind, missing left eye; 20+ year old Dun stallion: blind, missing right eye; 3-year-old bay mare put down: club foot. 20+-year old stallion; poor condition unable to improve. 20+ yer=old mare, poor condition, unable to improve. 20+ year-old Sorrel mare euthanized: severe tooth loss; unable to maintain or improve a BCS 3. 3-year-old Sorrel mare euthanized: blind. A 10-year-old Sorrel mare was put down because she had club foot. 4 month old Dun foal : pre-existing fractured right front leg; 4 month old Bay foal: pre-existing deformity — congenital lax flexor tendons.; 2-year-old bay mare died unexpectedly. Necropsy conducted and found compromised lung (respiratory pneumonia).; 5-year-old bay stallion euthanized: pre-existing, sway back; 5-year-old bay mare euthanized: pre-existing fractured back.

Listed as sudden, roundup related: 3 year old Sorrel Stallion died unexpectedly: broken neck.; Bay foal euthanized:: left leg broken after being kicked by another horse. 1 year old Sorrel filly: colic. 7 year old Bay mare died: broken neck. A 6-year-old Palomino stallion broke his neck; 20+ year-old sorrel stallion euthanized: pre-existing fractured right front leg.

You can view team reports from 7/15-8/9 HERE.

From 8/10 and ongoing HERE. 

Help keep us in the fight.

Categories: Wild Horse Education