We take a moment to go head-to-head with the three most prevalent myths making the rounds: Roundups result in less than a 2% death rate, BLM adheres to a humane policy and BLM has to remove wild horses and burros because they are managing the range to achieve a “natural ecological balance.”
1. BLM roundups are safe and result in less than 2% mortality.
The statement is created by selectively manipulating data.
In some cases, the data is so skewed that deaths are not reported or they are misrepresented. Such was the case at the Pancake roundup where two foals suffered life ending injury on the first day. One of the injuries could not be denied as the horrific event happened clearly in the view of observers (colt snapping a leg). However, the other injury took several hours to cause death. Either BLM failed to report the death entirely, or they changed the age of the colt to “3-years old” to avoid disclosing the death of another youngster while the news media was airing footage of the first injury. Vet reports identify the second injury as a colt, but the BLM never discloses the death of a second colt (examined by the vet in a report with the same date as the first). More HERE.
What is a “roundup-related death.” Two basic scientific statistical principles can be applied. First, when we look to create any scientific statistic, the phrase cause and effect is often applied (in science, the cause explains why something happens; the effect is the description of what happened). Second, in scientific evaluations a chain reaction is analyzed (a series of events so related to each other that each one initiates the next; a number of events triggered by the same initial event).
The roundup is the trigger that creates events that would not exist if it did not occur.
When you look at the number of deaths that would not have occurred without the triggering event: immediate deaths that result from capture, handling at capture location, transport to facilities, handling in facilities (including lack of disease prevention), gelding, etc., during just the first six months the statistic rises to about 12% (on average). (more HERE)
2. BLM closely adheres to a Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) to ensure the safety of wild horses and burros.
BLM internal assessments and compliance have proven to be inconsistent and woefully inadequate. The BLM internal assessment team will observe less than 30% of operations for less than 10% of any given operation. An operation could have over half a dozen violations of BLM’s own policy and the agency will give them an “excellent” rating (during the two days the assessment team is present and they are on their best behavior).
In fact, these reports can be so ridiculously absurd that they may even be published before a roundup even ends. In the case of the massive Triple B operation last summer, BLM published an assessment that gave the operation an “excellent” rating (based on two days at the beginning) a month before the operation even ended.
3. BLM manages the range for a “Thriving Natural Ecological Balance” and wild horses and burros are destroying the range.
Nope, not even close.
BLM prioritizes private industry. Wild horse and burro advocates are not even given a chance to identify habitat critical for the survival of wild horses or burros through management planning (Herd Management Area Plans are skipped and BLM calls gather plans management). The acreage listed for each herd is not contiguous acreage; the acreage is a series of fenced grazing pastures for livestock, fenced off areas for mines and reaching resources such as food and water are like navigating a rapidly increasing maze for our herds. There is absolutely nothing “thriving” or “natural” about how BLM fragments public rangeland for private profiteers.
You can take a peek at how livestock impacts overwhelm a range where wild horses and wildlife are left with scraps in our report on Pancake Complex HERE.
When mining expands, BLM does not mitigate damage to the range to help maintain a “thriving natural ecological balance. They use it as an opportunity to expand livestock impacts further into a Herd Management Area (HMA). BLM has recently done this at Pancake, Stone Cabin, Triple B and on and on. We are working on a site-specific report so that you can see we are not just making a claim, we can show you.
You can keep up with some of our investigations and reports on our resource page to help you as you engage your own advocacy.
WHE is going head-to-head in the courts. Help keep us in the fight.