Org Takes Legal Action: BLM Shuffles Horses Into Disputed Facility

While still under construction, BLM began moving horses into Broken Arrow in 2009/10. Image of foal dying in a pen still under construction with no windbreaks or chute for medical care. BLM is repeating the past with the Winnemucca facility.

Press Release: BLM Moves Horses Into Disputed Facility; org takes legal action

(Reno) Today, Wild Horse Education (WHE) took action against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) secretly funneling wild horses into a facility in Winnemucca, Nevada, that has been the subject of litigation for over a year.

In November of 2021, Wild Horse Education appealed a BLM decision to approve a private contract to JS livestock. The facility would house up to 4000 wild horses and burros on 100 acres north of Winnemucca, the largest off-range wild horse and burro corral in the country, in an area known for seasonal flooding. In addition, the facility would be taxpayer-funded, house a public resource (wild horses and burros), but not allow the public to view the conditions the animals would be housed in. (In August of 2022, Friends of Animals filed an additional case is U.S. district court.)

At an unrelated meeting this month, WHE discovered that BLM has already begun to ship wild horses into the facility. The most vulnerable wild horses (mare/foal pairs and pregnant mares) were shipped to the JS facility in October.

“If I were not at the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council meeting, we would not even know BLM had begun warehousing in Winnemmuca,” said Colette Kaluza, WHE correspondent. “The lack of transparency from BLM, lackluster reporting from media and few advocates tracking wild horses demonstrates the importance of our vigilant advocacy.”

BLM failed to update the court hearing the WHE case of any change in circumstances. WHE found out purely by accident while listening to BLM update livestock interests. More money and more space are needed to keep the roundup machine running and livestock happy. While reassuring livestock, BLM noted that they had begun to utilize the new facility, but failed to mention that the facility was still a matter in front of the courts.

“We know these wild horses from the range. We were there during capture. We really care about these living beings,” said Marie Milliman, WHE volunteer and Appellant, “Thinking of these foals standing in a foot of mud and filth is unbearable.”

Mare/foal pen at BLM Butterfield facility (now closed down after reports of unsanitary conditions)

Heavy winter snow, rain and no shelter create the exact conditions advocates had hoped to avoid. In addition, the contract BLM approved requires that the pens only be cleaned 4 times a year.

“In 2010, we watched BLM begin to cram wild horses into a facility that was still under construction during a roundup of the Calico Complex. The conditions were horrific and the death and miscarriage rates appalling,” said Laura Leigh, President of WHE. “BLM kept trying to hide what was going on and eventually shut the public out. They are doing it again. If this facility provides humane housing, why won’t BLM let the public in now?”

BLM has confirmed there will be no tour of the facility. If they schedule one in the spring or summer, after the flooding season ends, they will let the public know. BLM had no comment as to why they did not inform the court.

“BLM has always ignored the public and often ignores the decorum of courtesy to the courts. Instead, they seem to rely on creating an action, rapidly moving forward and then only disclosing that action when it is harder and more expensive for the private sector to stop them.” Leigh continued, “They are not named the Bureau of Livestock and Mining, at least not officially. This is not how a public land management agency should operate.”

In 2022, strangles, pigeon fever, equine flu virus and pneumonia were rampant in BLM facilities.

In 2022, issues of extreme concern involving speed of disease, noncompliance with vaccinations and record-keeping plagued all of BLM facilities throughout the country. BLM has not fully addressed the issues program-wide.

WHE is asking that the court halt any further shipments of horses or burros into the facility until the matter can be fully adjudicated.

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Categories: Lead