Wild Horse Education

Transport Safety (Accident at Roberts Mountain)

Temporary corrals, Roberts Mountain

In light of the horrific accident during transport of wild horses from Robert’s Mountain (near Eureka NV) temporary corrals to the off-limits to the public Axtell processing corrals, Utah (About 5.5 hours from temporary corrals) we feel the need to present an article addressing the use of motorized vehicles and the lack of enforceable welfare standards that includes transport. 

BLM stated: “A contracted semi-truck transporting horses gathered during the ongoing Roberts Mountain Gather in Nevada to Utah’s Axtell Holding Corrals turned over on its side on Highway 50 outside of Delta, Utah, on October 30. The truck was transporting 36 horses. Three horses were killed in the accident, four were humanely euthanized due to their injuries, and many suffered minor cuts and bruises. BLM transported the 29 remaining horses to a holding facility in Delta where they continue to be evaluated and closely monitored by the on-site veterinarian. The driver was not injured. The cause of the accident is under investigation.”

It should be noted that BLM does not consider these deaths “roundup related.”

“I have followed many semi-trailers to holding facilities. These drivers need to make a round trip temporary corrals to facility and back again. At roundups like Surprise and Calico, drivers often made 2 round trip runs a day.” stated Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education. “I have clocked semi truck drivers going as much as 15 miles over the speed limit in places, and in bad weather, where taking a passenger car that fast is dangerous. The entire roundup machine is built for expediency, not safety. That is why we have had to take BLM back to court to force the creation of enforceable rules. Rules they themselves are fighting hard in court to deny they are even needed and that we have no right to even demand them.”

The fight in the courts to gain an enforceable welfare policy, that includes transport, is being carried solely by Wild Horse Education and is active in the courts now.

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Issues involving transport safety are widespread. These issues are not related to a single contractor or roundup operation. Violations of existing policy often appear as “noncompliance” in the BLM’s own internal Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) assessment such as gaps between trailer and loading chute. However, BLM does not consider this a major infraction and therefore ignores the existence of this part of the policy as it results in absolutely no consequence.

During the Surprise and Calico Complex roundup we repeatedly reported on injuries after transport from trap to holding (rough roads, dirty trailers) that ranged from bashed faces to missing eyes. Overly rough roads, driving too fast and not cleaning trailer floors are already against BLMs internal policy that they fail to enforce and, many times, personnel are not even familiar with the specifics of the policy even though they claim to be “trained in CAWP.”

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These injuries became easily documented as the Calico operation shipped to Palomino Valley Center (north of Reno) that is one of the few facilities where the public can observe and included a beautul dun with her eye freshly missing.

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It is required under law for BLM to hold a “Motorized Vehicle Hearing” in every location where wild horses and burros will be captured. In recent years, BLM holds one hearing via “Zoom.” That hearing, just like all the rest, is basically a time for the public to raise valid concerns and BLM is supposed to address them.

Not one hearing has EVER resulted in even a single change or report. 

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“In 2016 I witnessed the aftermath of processing and a stack trailer accident at Owyhee before a release of mares treated with PZP and then captured an removed permanently 2 years later,” Leigh continued, “I cannot imagine a semi filled with 3 times as many wild horses rolling over going high speed.”

“It absolutely sickens me that BLM will not create enforceable welfare standards. They have done nothing to officially stop abuses like rough roads, dirty trailers, speeding, etc. How can you believe this agency cares at all? I have read their reply brief in our case against abuses that could be prevented if they just made enforceable rules. We are working on our response this week.”

You can read our Complaint HERE

While we take this important lawsuit forward, you can help.

Demand Congress add a line item to the budget to take the failed internal policy through the rule-making process so we can gain enforcement and oversight to prevent tragedy.

You can add your name  by clicking HERE.

Our wild ones should live free on the range with the families they hold dear. Our wild ones should also live without abuse.

WHE carries ongoing litigation to force BLM into open public process to create an enforceable welfare standard for our treasured wild ones. WHE carries ongoing litigation to hold BLM accountable. Our wild ones need data-based on-range planning (BLM has scant data, science and basic management planning) and transparency. 

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

We have a matching donor that will cover the initial costs, but we will need your help to carry the costs of the case as it moves through the courts. All contributions up to $10,000. will be matched dollar-for-dollar from now through November. 

Categories: Wild Horse Education