©2009 Photo by Elyse Gardner
BLM claims to be saving the horses it is driving to death in the heat. "Look how badly I beat you up. Gee, you must have been in bad shape." What insidious, skewed logic.
As of this writing on Tuesday night we have 12 horses dead from the first day of a roundup. Completely predictable, completely avoidable, but BLM holds its own counsel and has doggedly proceeded with this destruction in the face of all reason, compassion, or prudence. We celebrate the lives of these horses and mourn their loss and the loss of heir families:
A 2-month-old colt, a 4-month old colt, a 5-month-old colt,
A 2-year-old colt, two 3-year-old stud colts, two 4-year-old studs, a 5-year-old mare, two 6-year-old mares, an 8-year-old mare.
This suffering and loss of life happened out of sight of the public who care about these horses because BLM has locked up observation. Leigh vs. Salazar is challenging this lockdown in court. This will be heard on Thursday, July 15, 2010, at 2:30 p.m. God save our country and our right to free speech. Help us to keep our government accountable to its citizens.
I want to be there the first day of roundups. What do these horses look like when they arrive in the traps? Could it be that BLM doesn't want cameras to see sweaty, gasping horses?
It really galls me that we are barred from seeing any part of the roundup. It's bad enough during "viewing days," often all we can see is the last few hundred yards, giving rise to questions about what takes place in the miles before that point.
When a government entity gets to write its own ticket by completely barring public access to events of great public concern and scrutiny, handpicking the few choice members of society who can watch, we have a real problem and challenge to our rights under the First Amendment. I am thrilled to see Laura Leigh and Attorney Gordon Cowan take this to the Court. I have long felt a burning outrage at this. I am an American, and I feel it as a true violation of my rights as an American to witness my public servants' handling of this prized animal. There is a deep injustice in the banning of public observers, and its core is the violation of my precious First Amendment Rights, the very basis of my American heritage. Thank you so much, Laura and Gordon, for articulating this for me, for us.
The First Amendment is what allows me to be truly free; it is what I count on to hold my government from running out of control. BLM must not be permitted to continue to deprive me as a journalist or individual of these rights.
In the quiet of the Owyhee range, 228 peaceable wild horses. Beating loud helicopter monster. Loud bird monster. Run! New vulnerable babies to protect. Fear. Rough, rocky ground, mile upon mile. So hot, so thirsty. Adrenalin, hearts and lungs pumping pumping pumping. Eyes white, wide, burning chest, burning lungs, keep breathing; keep pumping the legs. The foals can only think of one thing: just keep up with mom and dad. Run. Can't swallow, chest burns, but run! Feet are so painful, so painful, but run! Run! Every step hurts... Zigzag, follow, run...
The stallion gives his all to protect his family: Stay in the back, position myself between the glass monster bird thing and my family. No, better run up ahead to lead them... burning chest, pumping pumping, run up ahead of everybody to lead them to safety... but the monster is too close; better drop back, protect family from the monster...
Eight long miles of this. As I quoted in an earlier blog, the Twin Peaks EA states (page 28)
The BLM has considered postponing the gather until September and October 2010 to allow for cooler temperatures, and less risk to the horses from heat stress. However, this timing would place the gather in the middle of the mule deer hunting season.
The entire section:
2.2.7 Alternative: Gather in the Fall of 2010
In other words, to accommodate the mule deer hunt, they are proceeding to do the gather early (in August) and risk the heat stress as well as grave injury to the young foals and pregnant mares -- much like the Tuscarora massacre -- rather than wait till September.Past experiences with helicopter gathers during this prime hunting season have shown a significant conflict between the two activities. Hunters complained that the nuisance and noise from personnel and machines dramatically reduced the quality of their hunting experience. The BLM will implement stipulations to reduce heat stress to the horses and burros during the proposed gather, as discussed in Section 2.1.1. For these reasons, this alternative was dropped from detailed analysis. (Emphasis added.) (Section 2.1.1. states they can keep the horses cool and dry by asking them to walk or trot. Personally, I think it would be more reasonable to get a giant fan. -- Elyse)
The horses and burros would be gathered at a slow pace, with animals moving at a walk or slow trot. The animals would be gathered into capture sites constructed of portable panels, and kept at these sites for up to one hour, before being transported to temporary holding facilities (see Map 1). Up to 100 animals at a time would be kept at a capture site for a short duration.Well, in Tuscarora, that was about as successful as de-sliming okra, i.e., it can't be done. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different,
BLM and its contractors should have easily known these deaths and injuries were an obvious, probable consequence of helicoptor "gathering" these horses in this manner at this time, especially since they claim to have observed a shortage of water for the horses. (I have trouble using the term "gather"; such a benign-sounding term for the suffering these people have just inflicted on these horses.)
Are there projects diverting water there, or is it all available to the wild horses? And what are the cows drinking?
And who shoulders the responsibility for proceeding under highly questionable circumstances?
I've heard a good suggestion. We need to give incentives. As in any good training, make the right things easy, the wrong things hard: The roundup contractors are paid per horse, generally.Is the BLM willing to assess a fine of $5,000 each to the contractors for every dead horse, and $5,000 each for every lamed horse?
Are BLM and its contractors ignorant, or callous? Pick one -- no, on second thought, I say both. Either way, if you are the one in charge of a living treasure, neither is acceptable.
BLM has displayed, once again, its chilling lack of compassion in nearly every aspect of its "management" of the sensitive wild animals it is charged with defending and protecting.
228 horses rounded up in the first hours the helicopters took to the air. 192 of those horses ran eight miles. Eight miles is a long way. Mustangs are in good shape, but they're not in the habit of sprinting eight miles a day. They walk, graze, stand around and doze, race, fight, play. But a forced, sustained eight-mile run to escape a predator in the hottest part of summer is an infliction of cruelty.
And these deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. How many are suffering miserably who will survive it, but be permanently injured? Or at the very least, experience great suffering and trauma?
Loss of freedom, loss of family, loss of trust, loss of friends, loss of hope... We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Today (Thursday, July 15) at 2:00 p.m., a hearing in Leigh vs. Salazar will determine if these summer roundups will proceed.
Pray for a suspension of the summer roundups.
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,