Wild Horse Education

29 Days (Antelope Update)

Foals leaving trap for temporary holding

As we prepare for a hearing in Reno Federal District Court, on the 29th day of the Antelope Complex roundup, at the north trap portion, 30 wild horses were captured. This is the first time during this operation the number of foals was 20% or higher (the rest of the operation demonstrating around 14%). There were zero deaths. 

We met at 2 p.m., a very unusual time for trapping in the Antelope Complex. 2 p.m. is the usual time for a walk around tour at the end of the day, not trapping. When asked if the meet time represented only a tour, BLM did not reply to the question. It was a surprise to be taken to a capture location where active trapping began about an hour later.

Many of you are used to hearing an “airspace restriction” stated by BLM in Utah near Dugway or in Reveille when the navy pilots are training. Here, BLM said there was an airspace restriction that we have yet to define. In all of our years documenting capture in this area, we have never been informed of any such restriction. Active capture went until nearly sunset when our observer went to temporary holding.

Below: After a reminder from the courts that they would be looking at First Amendment claims, north trap offered access near the trap wing mouth that provided the ability to assess condition of wild horses and pressure at the trap mouth.

After the first run (and a very smart stallion) the trap wing was adjusted. Subsequent runs demonstrated a hesitancy further into the wings that we could not see to evaluate. However, we did not see the impatience that had become a daily part of Antelope to date. This was the hardest run of the day (above).

Our heart aches for this band who fought so hard; lost freedom and family will be fractured and never be a unit again. We worry about their journey now that they have left their home.

Below: After trap wing was adjusted.

Our engagement in on-range planning knows that no underlying (and standard) process was completed to even justify the removal. Those processes in the wild horse program are treated the same way BLM treats the welfare policy. However, the underlying issues are where the focus should be in a country that makes any claim to be an “advanced and civilized nation” and not on “don’t drag a horse by the neck with a rope and run foals in a dangerous heatwave.”

WHE should not have to go through what we went through to get to day 29.

Why do we have to take extraordinary measures of emailing, letters from attorneys, more emails and requests, international uproar in the media, until finally filing litigation that initially results in an acceleration and the need to file for a restraining order, just to see this type of access and run to trap in the State of Nevada? 

The answer is simple: The welfare program was never turned into an enforceable rule by BLM. A universal rule that removes some of the discretion and places it in the hands of individuals that simply seem to not care much. This needs to change. 

Day 28 was an intense contrast to day 29. Wild horses run incessantly back and forth across the valley all day long. Babies falling behind. Only 8 (3 Stallions, 4 Mares, and 1 Foals) captured.

As we try to argue that current welfare standards must be made into enforceable rules and the issues with underlying planning, why do we have to have an extra hearing just to try to get some restraints applied to capture methods in the interim? Why does this fall to the public to do?

Because BLM never made the welfare standard and enforceable rule. They just really stopped any work after adopting a test policy and then just shuffled papers.

Because with all we have seen, a day like day 29 will continue to be rare until all the horses are captured and we will be pushed back and BLM will hit that accelerator again. It seems it is simply what they do when the eyes of the court on are not imminent.

Shouldn’t the goal each day during capture to be to ensure that trapping does not result in injury, death, illness or the loss of a foal? Why does it always seem like BLM has an office pool somewhere that takes bets to see who can complete a roundup in less than the time approved and funded? Antelope was approved to run from July 9-August 22. Just a little over 400 wild horses remain of the combined 3,107 targeted.

Our fight to gain an enforceable welfare standard continues.

Today is the day Federal Court Judge Larry Hicks has set for BLM to respond to allegations. We will update you as time allows.

Our fight to gain sane and sensible on-range planning, that includes data-based decisions and preserving the habitat critical to the survival of our herds, also continues.

UPDATE: We have gotten word from our observer that access to watch loading from stock trailers onto semi-trucks is being blocked and that access to view trapping is practically non-existent. 

We knew it couldn’t last. 

Thank you for keeping us in this fight!

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Categories: Wild Horse Education