Wednesday, August 25, 2010


  Some, including myself, took issue with the description of "bloody roundup."  I'm reconsidering.
(To enlarge photos, just click on them. —EG)
      (For instructions to make a tax deductible donation to this field work, please go to the bottom of this blog.  Thank you).
          ©Photo by Craig Downer
       Craig Downer said he observed blood dripping from this horse's nostrils in the trailer shortly after being driven in by the helicopter.  The horses -- young, old, sick, healthy -- often must travel great distances under pressure from the helicopter.
                     ©Photos by Elyse Gardner
STEEP, ROCKY gather route on 8/14 on 8/15 at this Rush Creek
trap site in the Skedaddle area,  my first two days present.

Trap site at Shinn 2 8/20/10
All about family...
      In the same pen, this was going on just behind Atticus, who was pacing around as the video depicts.
©Photos by Elyse Gardner                          
8/16/10  Eyes white and wide with fear, this terrified sorrel in very cramped quarters is unmercifully harassed by dominant black who would not let go of this young stud's neck.  The crowded conditions precluded the sorrel from escape. 
                         ©Photos by Elyse Gardner   
 While the black harasses the terrified sorrel with the blaze, all this handsome big bay stallion I call Atticus could think about was his family, who had arrived on a trailer in the the last few minutes.
 Once their calls to each other had been answered and they had connected, they maintained constant verbal contact.  His mare and foal were calling regularly to him, and he answered every time.  Video to follow.   The poignancy of this tragic situation was not lost on us as this civilized, magnificently healthy stallion was subjected to the crassness of the people and some of the stallions around him.  The black tried to harass him at one point, and Atticus shrugged it off as if to say, "I haven't time for this."  He had nothing to prove; his focus was completely on his family.   Those of us aware of what was happening were in tears listening to their anxious, eager calls.
      Pandemonium reigned everywhere that day.  All this took place during processing.  Timothy J. Harvey, the new Humane Advocate (wearing hat, back to camera) stood astride the catwalk peering down into the chute watching the contractor and BLM innoculate, brand, and "process" these frightened, baffled souls who've just been driven out of their peaceful mountain homes into crowded pens, stripped of family, plastic-bag-whipped into all kinds of enclosures, and poked with needles and shaved with loud electric clippers.  All of this within six hours of their capture.  

We've seen a lot of facial injuries.  Tim Harvey said the horses were coming in fine; there were very few facial injuries in the trap pens.  The horses were seen crashing around in the temporary holding facility, colliding with the metal panels as they rear and panic in the unfamiliar confinement.  We watched a mare resisting the squeeze chute entrance rear and smash her face against the metal, resulting in a bad laceration bilaterally around her orbital area.  The issue of padding was raised, and we were relieved that the contractor is willing to install it in at least some places.
       These horses did a lot of crashing around, and it was often pandemonium during processing.  These animals are completely disenfranchised.  They are equipped to live in harsh climates and take beautiful care of themselves.  They are helpless in the face of the helicopter and our flagwhips because, by their very nature, they are gentle prey animals, and the predator that is man is not respecting their right to live even in the corner of the world we had once called their legal Herd Area.  Cows and sheep natural gas and steam power plants are taking water over even in their Herd Management Areas (HMAs).  

      They maintain a vigilant, expectant waiting now in this phase of their captivity.  In a few weeks following their captivity, the Calico horses became depressed and seemed to lose hope.  They became irritable and started picking fights at the feeders.  
           ©Photo by Craig Downer
 Both of these horses have facial injuries near the eyes, as do many others.
 Mr. Harvey is observing.  I tried to get his attention so he would turn around and see the fighting among the stallions.  It's one thing to hear them shrilly scream warnings to each other in the stallion way, which is often a ritual which does not lead to violence.  It's another thing entirely when they actually engage, and there was a lot of engaging going on.
      Mares slotted for release are shot in the right hip with PZP twice (a shot and a booster) making it a two-year treatment.  Mares can go as long as five years with no foal, and some in Cloud's herd have not foaled in seven years.  Many horses rear and back quickly up crashing around in the small area before entering the enclosed chute.  
      A yearling stallion reared, smashed his head, flipped over, and died from the impact.  
Californians are outraged about this roundup and the loss of over half of our wild horses and burros, as are many non-Californian Americans.
          Finally, is this a "bloody" round up?  Warning:  some graphic photos
©Photo by Elyse Gardner
This older stallion had an old, healed injury.  He was being aggressively attacked by another stallion.  I alerted staff, but they were busy and didn't separate the horses in time, and he was reinjured.  Nowhere to run; nowhere to hide.  Vet said he will recover.  He had a bloody bite wound on his neck, also.  All this just after being chased by helicopter.  If this isn't government subsidized animal abuse, what is?  I believe more upsetting than this injury for this horse is being trapped in a pen with an aggressive stallion.  When staff first "separated" them, they unfortunately put him in a pen alone with the aggressive stallion. I want to thank and acknowledge the Litchfield staff; they were trying and are working hard, but the horses were still let down.  Let's try a little harder, please, everyone.  
©Photos by Elyse Gardner
©Photos by Elyse Gardner
©Photos by Elyse Gardner

          BLM personnel have been polite in my presence, accommodating except for the most important thing to me:  Access to the horses at some critical times, like when they arrive at trap pen and then when they arrive at holding facility.
         Lest we forget, the issue is not making roundups humane, but in ending this myth of wild horse and burro overpopulation by looking at the real numbers and animals and special interests in the HMAs couched in the spirit of "multiple use."  
         Overcrowded pens are thrust on the horses, which forces them into nerve-wracking awkward situations with each other. 
          What is left?   There are pitifully few areas where the horses are the "principal but not necessarily exclusive" presence as mandated by the unanimously passed 1971 Act.  Consequently, they are being systematically squeezed off our lands in escalating speed and numbers.  There is no time to lose. 

          A real investigation is vital and will demonstrate this a BLM-created overpopulation in name only, and our last viable herds are being drastically, dangerously, unnecessarily reduced.  BLM chooses to call the wild horses "excess"; they can just as easily label the cows "excess."  Let the horses have their puny 26.6 million acres; why must they take a back seat to livestock on their own HMAs (herd management areas) ?
         Apparently my senator's office went and sent an aide to see one day of this roundup but spoke to no advocates about what she/he was seeing.  Without talking to experienced advocates on the ground, I fear it will be BLM-speak and business as usual for my senator.  How savvy is this person?  Time will tell.  I am pleased that Senator Feinstein has a finger on this pulse.
         Senators, California voters who care for wild horses and burros need you badly right now.  Senators Boxer and Feinstein have been a big force for change in many arenas; we are looking to them here.   I love my home state, and I want it to prove different than the others.  
      What I'm asking:  stop this roundup now, before we are down to the scant 450 horses for which BLM is targeting.  I know there is a plan in place.  I know about the legalities.  I also know that hundreds of wild horses and burros are losing everything, and they don't know how to read.   
Released stallion
©Photo by Elyse Gardner
It was very nice, and it is the right thing to do:  California BLM actually released a 15-year-old stallion it captured after he spent a couple of hours in the trap pen.  I'm told BLM used to do this on site with the age 10 and older horses.  This is more like it, BLM.  But this is only one, and it is rare.  
       California BLM have been courteous and somewhat accommodating, but as usual, the process is terrible for the horses.  This is not about personalities; it's about the horses. 
     I still want to have five minutes to document the horses upon arrival to determine not only their general condition, but to pinpoint when injuries are occurring.  Tim Harvey did that briefly, but he is no longer on site.  The contractors have agreed to pad some areas of concern (the metal bars on the chute and perhaps the trailers). 
      It simply is not right that no representative of the public can see what's happening if a member of the Board isn't there.   I am an officer of the courts, an equine science major, and I have a great camera.  I simply want five minutes close up at the pens to document condition; then I walk away.   Someone needs to do it if not I.
    To see the Twin Peaks horses in their natural environment go the Linda Haye's new blog.  She's been documenting these horses for many years.   
I remain,
For the wild horses, captive and free,  and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner

To make a tax deductible donation to my field work, please go to DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary.
Click "Donate," and as you go through the process, you will have the option to earmark your donation as you wish.  
You will see, "Add Special instructions to recipient."  There you can insert, "For field work," or, "for Humane Observer," or, "1/2 for Sanctuary and 1/2 for field work" (whatever you wish) and it will go where you specify.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


      TWIN PEAKS roundup continues daily.  Over half of California's wild horses will be removed from their mountains.  (Click twice to view in "Youtube" if the video doesn't play properly. -- EG )
    I have put together a video of this day's events.

I need to make a statement here:  I am alarmed at some of the threatening comments people are posting on my blogs.  These comments reflect the frustration, pain, and feelings of impotence most feel about the decimation of our wild horse herds.  Nevertheless, this needs to stop, please.  We may hate what the BLM is doing, but they are human beings with families carrying out policies that need to be changed from the top down.  The BLM are increasing security at the roundups, and who can blame them?  
    No one should get hurt, nor should we speak of such things.  They solve nothing.     Please continue to take the high road and refrain from violence and violent talk, even though the following information about the policies toward our wild horses reflect wrongs that run deep.  Let the frustration and unfairness of such disproportionate allocation of range resources drive us to greater contacts with lawmakers; drive us to make that long trip to participate in BLM meetings, public participation where our input will matter.  The pen truly is mightier than the sword.  Let it be a slow, effective burn, not an explosive expletive that just generates more fear and distrust in the world.  
    So here's more frustrating news:
     In this HMA (Herd Management Area) three-fourths of the burros in this HMA will be removed.
     At the end of these six weeks, how will we find any wild horses with only 448 left out of 2,303 on 798,000 acres?   How will we find any burros, with a mere 72 wild precious burros left out of 282 on 798,000 acres?   
     I don't know about you, but I am a Californian, and I've objected.  This is in my state now, and it's even more personal.  I've participated in the process and done my best to protect the horses and the mountains that will miss them, and the Bureau of Land Management continues in its relentless execution of its land use plan which removes 1,800 of our wild horses from my home turf.
    I don't like to sound rabid about all this, but, honestly, it has the feel of the the Terminator movie our Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in: No matter what we do, no matter how many thousands of people submit their well-reasoned objections, no matter how much we ask for real science and re-examination of the land use allocations between wild horses, livestock, mineral rights, and other uses on this wild horse and burro legally mandated HMAs (herd management area), the BLM just keeps coming like some giant relentless terminator machine tearing up the ground and pushing the wild horses and everything else off as it goes on its immutable terminator way.  If you overcome it in one great battle, why, it resurrects and grows another arm and leg and mouth and eats up some more...  
     However, this isn't the movies.  And with a change in leadership and/or policy, things can indeed change.  
     Even if one conceded sometimes wild horses should be removed if conditions truly warrant,  these numbers are absolutely staggering.  
     This is how I'm feeling as I've stood and watched these scenes unfold.
     I wanted to get you some information.  We are a constant presence for these our horses, and the horses need you, too.  Please show up for them however you can, whether here, responding to alerts, whatever opportunity presents.  
     I will have nice photos for you one day.  Today you get to share some sorrow.
     However, not to be entirely discouraged: A Humane Advocate position was one of three positions added to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board at the last meeting in Denver, and Timothy J. Harvey,  from New Hampshire, the new appointee to that position, is at this roundup.  He appears to be taking his new responsibilities seriously.  We are talking; he is talking to everyone.  This position would never have been created had we not been showing up in force for the horses.  The position is a good one.  We'll see if Tim makes the difference he hopes to make for the horses.  If he makes suggestions and findings not the BLM's liking, the question is what will they do?  
    Twenty-seven stallions were released today.  Some mares will be released tomorrow (Wednesday) after being PZP treated.  Release is a good thing.  Puny numbers, but I confess it's a relief to know at least some are going back, but so hard to hear them calling so anxiously to each other and know most will be returning without family.
     I will get you video and film soon.  
    A lovely young woman and her dad were there today, studying this issue, finding out firsthand.  She and her peers are tomorrow's protectors of the horses and burros.  She loves the mustangs.  Dad looks like he's agreeing to an adoption.  This is a good thing.  
 ( Photo to be added.)  
     The trap site on this day was located on the bottom of this long flat mesa.  
     We arrived at the trap site at 7:05 a.m.  
                    ©Photos by Elyse Gardner
The helicopter crested the ridge of the mesa at 7:46 a.m.   After a few minutes, we saw a large group of horses running along the top of the mesa.  Usually they disappear over on the other side of ridgetops and reappear at the base of the rise.  I always thought they would just find a flatter way down.
   ©Photo by Elyse Gardner

Wnen they reached the edge of the table, I thought they would be guided to a less steep place to descend. I was gripped as the helicopter hovered and the horses started descending rapidly right there.  
                    ©Photo by Elyse Gardner
   ©Photo by Elyse Gardner

    ©Photo by Elyse Gardner

They didn't want to come down, and turned in different directions, starting to run one way and then another, not knowing which way to go.   The consistent behavior of the wild horses is they always try to go back up, always wanting to return to the safety of the mountains. 
              ©Photo by Elyse Gardner

 A woman watching a roundup for the first time was crying, feeling the obvious stress of the horses,  the inevitability of the waiting trap and the permanent loss of freedom these horses were now minutes from.  She wasn't alone.  
             ©Photo by Elyse Gardner

   ©Photo by Elyse Gardner

©Photo by Elyse Gardner
The final push into the trap, and it's done.
We are visiting these horses at Litchfield holding facility where they are being taken.  
      A broken leg was reported in an earlier article by someone else, but that horse had an injury to her hock which is being treated.  I'm told she was returned to the general population pens.  A horse that was colicking has recovered.  
     It is my fervant prayer and hope we can find a way to let these horses be, to live free.   I have a lot more to share, but I'm at Starbucks using their wi-fi to get this to you, and I have to go get ready for tomorrow when they are going to release m, so for now, I remain,
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends, 
Elyse Gardner
To make a tax deductible donation to my field work, please go to DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary, click "Donate," and as you go through the process, you will have the option to earmark your donation as you wish.  
You will see, "Add Special instructions to recipient."  There you can insert, "For field work," or, "for Humane Observer," or, "1/2 for Sanctuary and 1/2 for field work" (whatever you wish) and it will go where you specify.  Thank you.

Friday, August 13, 2010



             ©Photographs by Craig Downer  {CLICK ON PHOTOGRAPHS TO ENLARGE)

  After the roundup activities had ceased on the first day of the Twin Peaks roundup, Craig Downer and Chrystie Davis went looking around on our public land to see what they could see, and what they could see was this dead baby, approximately two weeks old.   I am now free to release these photographs for you.  An investigation is under way.  I've reposted The Cloud Foundation's press release and added photographs provided by Craig Downer. 
       Thank you all for hanging in.  Tell a friend about our wonderful wild horses.  Tell them that Texas hasn't a one anymore, not one single wild horse, unless it's an adopted mustang from another state.  Tell them there's only one herd left in Montana on 40,000 acres, and the Bureau of Land Management wants to keep that herd at only 120 horses (and they are starting to build a fence to keep those horses out of a part of their customary range because it's in our National Forest and not technically BLM land.  What happened to Mr. Abbey's and Mr. Salazar's promises to work with other agencies for the benefit of the horses?).  Tell them this is serious.  And tell them where they can go to join their voice to the millions insisting on appropriate true protection and an end to the helicopter madness.   
        I know people get  particularly emotional over issues concerning foals.  Let's remember:
       Whoever did this to this innocent in Twin Peaks, it goes to remind us that these animals need our protection. Please be clear that just because this baby's body was found in the Twin Peaks HMA doesn't automatically mean the BLM did this or that the contractors did this.  The wild horses have been targets for all manner of abuse, including the men in Nevada who just pled guilty to shooting the five horses they were charged wilth killing (six were actually found).  The BLM are the ones who led that investigation and gave the prosecuting attorneys the evidence they needed to charge these men and obtain guilty pleas.  
     The issue we need to stay focused on is restoring a rightful share of the range to the wild horses and burros and examining BLM's determinations on Appropriate Management Levels, as well as the methods of removal and the skewing of sex ratios.  These are the issues, lest we forget. We want to protect the wild horses and burros and their wild society.
     While I take great issue with the BLM's methods of managing our wild horses, I want to see what this investigation reveals before pointing any fingers.  My thanks to the officials launching an immediate investigation.
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner
Humane Advocate Observer

Two-Week-Old Wild Horse Shot and Killed Before California Roundup
Advocates ask for investigation

Sacramento, CA (August 13, 2010)—The body of a wild horse foal was found near the site of the Twin Peaks roundup Wednesday by Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and Cloud Foundation Board member, and Chrystie Davis, wild horse advocate. Davis, an experienced horsewoman, examined the foal for any broken bones. What she found was an apparent rope burn on a rear leg as well as a gunshot wound.
 “It seems as though the foal was shot in the gut,” Davis states. “It looked as though the foal was abused, lassoed around the hind legs and dragged.” 

                             ©Photographs by Craig Downer

The foal, approximately 2 weeks old, was killed prior to the start of the controversial Twin Peaks Herd Management Area roundup in Northern California. When Davis told BLM officials about finding the gunshot foal, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee, Carman Prisco, told Davis she must be confused and the dead animal was an antelope. Photos taken by Downer confirmed that this is indeed a wild horse foal.

Photographs taken at the capture site, set on sharp lava rock, reveal blood stains within the trap.

Mustang advocates ask BLM law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation into the abuse and death of the federally protected wild horse—killed before independent contractor, Cattoor Livestock, began rounding up wild horses with helicopters.

Field reports from those on the ground noted a severely injured white stallion that suffered head trauma supposedly from fighting with other stallions in tightly packed transport vehicles. Even though the injury was serious, the BLM contractor was quoted as saying a vet “might need” to be called. The whereabouts of that stallion are currently unknown. Another stallion was off loaded into a pen with eight mules that attacked him, causing traumatic injuries. This incident was also brought to the attention of the BLM by public observers.

Advocates were told yesterday that there were no injuries, yet when they went to look at the horses in holding, the area was blocked off. They were told that they could not access the area because the “injured horses” needed to rest.

Injuries are not uncommon in roundups and underscore the need for public access, says Ginger Kathrens, Director of the Cloud Foundation and EMMY Award-winning producer.

“Access is absolutely essential and is granted by the Constitution,”  says  Kathrens. “The ‘acceptable’ suffering of these horses is simply not acceptable to the caring public.”

Laura Leigh, Cloud Foundation Herd Watch coordinator, agrees.

“If this is what we see when the BLM actually allows us in, what happens when they black out their actions to the press and public?” asks Leigh,  plaintiff for the Tuscarora round-up that ended July 20 in Nevada, “The time for real Congressional intervention is long overdue.”

The recent round-up in Tuscarora, Nevada—also run by Cattoor Livestock—resulted in the deaths of thirty-six wild horses.

Links of interest:

Wild Horse Roundup Begins in California

PR Firm Hired for the Destruction of America’s Wild Horse and Burro Herds

‘Herd-Watch: Public Eyes for Public Horses’

The Mustang Conspiracy: Sex, Drugs, Corruption, and BP – investigative report

Wild Horse and Burro Act

Disappointment Valley... A Modern Day Western Trailer- excellent sample of interviews regarding the issues

Fact Sheet on Wild Herds & The Salazar Plan

Past Cloud Foundation press releases


           ©8/12/10 Photo by Craig Downer   {CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE}

These horses are being forced off this lush 798,000-acre region
                    Twin Peaks is losing her horses. This promises to be a massive roundup unless the President or the Congress steps up with the moratorium now actively requested by 54 members of Congress and millions of people.  The individuals at the Bureau of Land Management plan to take every one they can find, PZP every single mare, and release up to 500 horses back, skewing the sex ratio to 60 perent stallions, 40 percent mares.  We will only have 72 burros on all this vast acreage of 798,000 acres.
                    People who have gone out and appreciated these wild horses for years are in angst over this roundup.   Mr. President, Mr. Abbey, Mr. Salazar,  with only 448 wild horses left on 798,000 acres, do you realize how challenging it will now be for Americans to even find wild horses on Twin Peaks?  And the burros:  with only 72 burros allowed to eat the precious forage on this their HMA, what a rare sighting a burro will be.  
                   ©5/21/10  Photo by Elyse Gardner
Are these horses we saw living in Twin Peaks on May 21 
the horses attempting to flee the helicopter above?
     After what Craig Downer describes as a "valiant fight" running back and forth, the horses were drenched with sweat and exhausted, and some bore obvious injuries.  Unlike many of the horses I've seen rounded up, Craig reports that these horses knew full well they were running into a trap and tried everything they knew to evade entry.  
                ©8/12/10 Photo by Chrystie Davis
      At this point I have seen a great many horses being pushed by helicopters, and usually they will falter a bit, hesitate, but follow the Judas horse into the trap in a split-second decision to trust one of their kind who is confident and sure of the way. (Cloud ignored the Judas horse during his last roundup, however.)
     During the very small portion of the Tuscarora gather I saw (just two days, a couple of hours each day), the horses there, too, were trap savvy.  They tried determinedly to refuse the trap, but the mechanics of the helicopter nearly every time will trump the pounding of hearts, churning of strong but tired legs, and heaving lungs.  
     Imagine sitting around and watching TV with family.  You live with your entire, multi-generational family.  Grandma Jane is very sprite and lively, and you are always surprised to realize how old she really is. But Papa (Grandpa) has some serious health problems, but he does well by staying around the home taking it pretty easy, not much exertion. And then there's your little sister and brother, who are only 2 and 4.  
     Now imagine foreign invaders have come and raided your home.  Everyone is rushed out the door.  No one knows why.  The invaders are not to be trifled with.   They intimidate everyone, frightening everyone to keep moving, don't get bogged down;  quickly, keep moving. Your family is frightened so they are running.  
     ©8/12/10 Photo by Craig Downer
     Everyone must go three miles although they don't know it at the time.  It is terrifying all the way.  And mom and dad are fine, but the little ones, and grandma and Papa, are struggling.  Somebody breaks a leg.  Papa has a heart attack.  
    You get the picture, I trust.  
     Three miles isn't far for a human, right?
     But for which human?  Three miles to mom is not the same as three miles to little sister or to Papa.  Wild horses live in families, and some are not able to endure the marathon required.  A horse is not a horse is not a horse...  
      I'm using three miles as a loose human equivalent of eight miles to a horse.  That is a very long way for any horse to be in flight mode.  For older or younger horses, it is asking too much.
    As you can see from Craig Downer's report, below, these horses were extremely stressed.
                ©8/12/10 Photo by Chrystie Davis

Today, Thursday, August 12, 2010, we observed ca. 300 wild horses and a few burros, rounded up from the Twin Peaks Wild Horse Herd Herd Management Area (wh hma) in the same general vicinity as yesterday and at the same trap site.  This is in the Bull Flat area to the east of the Skedaddle Range.  Today, however, I was able to get quite close to the trap with BLM's guidance so as not to startle the bands.  This turned out to be an anguishing thing to witness as the approximately 25 wild horses who were brought in had been chased by helicopter over a long distance strewn with sharp lava rock, I would estimate at least a dozen miles with all the back and forth they made in their attempts to escape.  
The particular thing about these few bands of horses is that they repeatedly resisted going into the trap, and the Judas horse had to be employed again and again, and the helicopter had to repeatedly drive the horses in.  The distant observers from  the other side of the trap saw that 20 horses did in fact escape during this valiant flight to retain their freedom.
The wild horse advocate observers agree that the horses had been worked long before the public observation to bring them around the trap from far reaching areas so as to herd them in to the trap in large numbers, and many of the horses were soaking wet and bleeding in various parts of their bodies.  Some had big contusions on the hips. Others were bleeding from the nostrils. 
This was not an easy thing to observe, especially considering how very unfair the BLM-set Appropriate Management Level established for the wild horses in this vast area, ca. 500 horses within ca 800,000 acres, 82% of whose forage has been allocated to livestock as the wild horses are marginalized, claimed to be overpopulated ( i.e. in "excess"), while in fact they are being excessively reduced to very underpopulated levels. Their broken families will exacerbate uncontrolled reproduction in the few that remain and set back the generations-old process of ecological adaptation.
      While I celebrate the escape of the 20 horses, we should do so guardedly.  It is more than likely that the Cattoors, the roundup contractors, sent wranglers out to rope and drag these horses in.
       What Craig Downer is referring to, when he states, "Their broken families will exacerbate uncontrolled reproduction," is often referred to as "compensatory reproduction," where a species increases its normal reproduction rate because its survival or population is threatened. This increase in reproduction is in order to "compensate" for the loss of life and population and insure the survival of the species. What a brilliant creator we have. Hence, the title, "compensatory" reproduction.
         Good, honest science indicates that BLM's policy of roundups, even if only every five years, is actually creating an artificially increasing population, which triggers more roundups, which triggers more compensatory reproduction, which triggers more roundups... you get the picture.
         See the below report by J. Kirkpatrick, whom I understand to be the inventor of PZP, and a man highly respected by the BLM and the HSUS.  This is from the Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 55, No. 4 (October 1991) pp. 649-652, published by Allen Press, Compensatory Reproduction in Feral Horses
The Maryland herd consists of approximately 150 horses living on Assateague Island National Seashore, and, in keeping with National Park Service policies of nonintervention, management is minimal.  The Virginia herd consists of approximately 200 horses inhabiting Chincoteague NWR; these horses are intensively managed through the annual removal of approimately 80% of the foals, a practice dating back >30 years.  In an 8-year study of reproduction among the Assateague Island horses conducted between 1975 and 1983, Keiper and Houpt (1984) reported an annual foaling rate of 74.4% among sexually mature mares on the Chincoteague NWR.  In contrast, the foaling rate for the unmanaged Assateague Island NS horses was only 57.2%, with an age-specific range of 40-70%.  Since 1986, the Assateagu;e Island NS foaling rate has dropped below 50% (J.F. Kirpatrick, upubl. data).
Maybe it's time BLM started applying some science to its decisions about the wild horses.
For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends, 
  Elyse Gardner

Friday, August 6, 2010


     The internet "adoption" of the Calico complex horses has concluded. These few horses we've come to know and love have landed safe, a teeny teeny drop in a huge bucket. Keeping wild horses free on the range is best. Finding good homes for all horses who have been taken from the wild is the goal, and many good people in and out of BLM are working hard to rehome these disenfranchised animals.  ("Disenfranchised':  to deprive someone of a legal right or privilege, especially the right to vote.)  Let us consider the horses' experience.
These horses forever left their stark, beautiful mountain homes in January and February of this year,  helicopter-driven off their land in a final frightful run that left them without freedom, without family, without home, without purpose.  Most escaped with their lives intact. Many have succombed -- 111 as of this date -- having animated and contributed their beauty, elegance, and grace to a world which in large measure did not have the eyes to see them nor the will to maintain their space for them.
                      ©Photo by Craig Downer   (CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE THEM)
Lightning (with Dusk and his two mares) accepting Bob Bauer in his living room. 
 Craig and Bob visited these horses in October 2009, two months 
prior to the start of the infamous, deadly Calico roundup.  
      I find the photo of Lightning observing Bob, above, touching and deeply troubling.  Lightning has demonstrated why he is a successful, high-ranking band stallion, revealing his acumen and intelligence. He has discerned correctly and accepted these two kind human males into his world, finding no present threat.  He has not signaled his band, or those of the other stallions, to flee, nor has he charged to chase Bob and Craig away.  He has extended a welcome by accepting these humans into his world, who endeavor to keep a respectful 50-foot distance.  The way we humans returned his courtesy by helicopter invitation has proved him wrong and leaves me ashamed of my species. 
     Here's what Bob just wrote me:
            Hi Elyse,
Yes I remember this, although I didn't know Craig was taking a photo of it. It was very beautiful... Lightning and his band were very accommodating. I went back out to some of these areas in early June, Black Rock West, The Calico Mountains, Warm Springs and the east side of Granite Range, I think. All empty. Elyse, I can't describe the ache inside and sadness at seeing nothing out there, as I tell people, nothing but the sound of the wind. Take care. Robert 
©Photo by Craig Downer
Lightning (on the right) with two other bands:
Top, Left to Right: Lightning's son Baltic and his blue roan mare;
Bottom,  L-R:  Two sorrel mares, and their bay stallion, Dusk
      Independent to captive.   Every one of the 1,922 wild horses who were driven off these mountains went from being self-directed, independent individuals who took care of themselves and made their own decisions about every aspect of their lives.  Most were in excellent condition even in the dead of winter (January and early February); they knew very well how to live in these stark mountains and took excellent care of themselves.  Within the well-ordered structure of horse society, they chose their own paths, made their own decisions about what, when, and with whom to eat, when and where to drink, when and where to sleep, with whom to socialize and play.  They were free, self-directed, independent individuals.
                ©Photos by Elyse Gardner
        In one day they went from being free, autonomous creatures to being captives deprived of all but the most basic choices.  Everything now is dictated to them: told what trailer to step in, what pen to go in. They are spray painted, prodded, pierced, pushed, drugged, castrated.  They are killed for "deformities" even when they have survived years on the range, overcoming these challenges.  Their famlies are removed immediately.   They do not understand why these things are occurring, which brings me back into today...---
             The internet "adoption" event of these horses, is done. Seven of the above stallions are going to Return to Freedom.  A number of the mares are going to DreamCatchers.  Craig Downer and an experienced horseperson have rescued Lightning and will be providing a home for him and attempting to reunite him with family from his original band. All of the older horses (10 and older) were sold/adopted/rehomed.  None will go to kill buyers.  Return to Freedom is undertaking to reunite stallions, where possible, with their family bands.  For more information, go to their link
          Return to Freedom will do updates on the stallions,  and I'll tell you more later after the mares are settled at DreamCatchers.  Click on these links to donate to DreamCatchers and to donate to Return to Freedom.  At the appropriate screen, just put a note, "Calico Horses." Donations to these wonderful organizations are always appreciated, especially now as they undertake to care for these animals for the rest of their natural lives.
        To be more proactive and give a voice to a horse, the major effective thing I do is get on key mailing lists and receive guidance from trusted organizations who keep the public apprised of opportunities to comment, and I take action in this small but incredibly powerful way. They make it simple and efficient to do so, and they do not give or sell my personal information.
       For example, I am on the mailing lists of The Cloud Foundation,; In Defense of Animals at IDAUSA.ORG; and the coalition Wild Horse Preservation, at This is not an exclusive list; there are many other good sources. For what it's worth, I personally know the people involved and trust these organizations.
       Please realize that only about 82 out of 1,811 horses from Calico were offered on this internet adoption.  There are 36,000 horses in long term holding.  Boggles the mind.
     And (UPDATED INFO)  Wednesday, August 11,  BLM plans to start the roundup and permanent removal of 1800 more horses and 210 burros, planning to leave only 448 horses on 798,000 acres, and only 72 burros, removing 210 burros. 
      I am preparing to go and document this upcoming Twin Peaks roundup. I will do my best to bring you with me. If you can make arrangements, please plan on attending. It will take five to six weeks, and they have daily escorts to the trap sites. Basically, meet every morning at 6 a.m. sharp at the Litchfield holding facility corrals, and BLM will be escorting people to the trap site. Be sure to check the previous day to confirm if the helicopter will be flying. I'm told they will be posting something daily. Look for "Twin Peaks" gather information.

         Here is what just happened during BLM's Tuscarora roundup.  Only after the photo below of the dead mare at the rocks became public did the Bureau of Land Management acknowledge the tragic death of this mare and her foal.  You can see the flesh wound(s) down to the bone on her front legs, especially the front left. 
      In order to explain the (top) photograph of her dead body at the rocks, BLM made her photo public, taken moments before euthanizing her.  
   Photo by Katie Fite

Injured mare trapped on a cliff moments before she was shot by 
BLM contractor.  Her foal, who had broken her leg on boulders 
while being herded down a steep cliff, was shot as well.
           Now I understand why BLM risked contempt charges to keep us away from the roundup activities.  I think the terminology would be "being given a runaround." I felt something very bad had happened, and here I see that it had.  
        The roundup contractor talks about finding 28 horses stranded on a rocky area where the helicopter was "guiding" the horses.   The hint at "28 stranded" horses is something to which we need to pay close attention.   I would like to see photos of that and of the condition of those horses.   Hear me:  I believe these present photos are just the tip of the iceberg.  Here is what the Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather states:

Two additional wild horses (a mare and foal) that were not being gathered were also found on the range during reconnaissance activities and were humanely euthanized because of life-threatening injuries.  The contractor found the two animals while rescuing a group of approximately 28 wild horses stranded on a steep cliff as he guided the horses down the steep mountain.
The BLM did not report these two deaths as part of its daily mortality log, because that log documents mortalities for wild horses that are gathered. BLM Nevada is modifying its reporting methods to better document all wild horse deaths that occur or are found during gather operations. 
         Are we to believe that the helicopter pilot just happened upon 28 stranded wild horses that this pilot was heroically trying to rescue from a steep cliff?  If you want to help horses stranded on a steep cliff, you sure as heck don't approach them with a helicopter. 
       How did these horses get stranded?  They aren't beached whales.  The horses would likely have become stranded in response to a stimulus, such as running from the helicopter whether the helicopter was just "doing reconnaissance" or intending to round them up.  
       The helicopter sometimes attempts things it shouldn't.  If you're supposed to round up horses and they are up in dangerously high places, or in otherwise dangerous places, go find some other horses.  Do not threaten the lives and limbs of these animals just because they are in front of you.  
       But I digress:  there is every appearance that BLM was trying to avoid ever disclosing the lives and deaths of these animals, and that is not all right.  
        Here is the clincher:  To say the deaths of this mortally wounded mare and foal are unrelated to the gather is to stretch the truth beyond all credulity, and I hold BLM utterly in contempt for such cheap manipulation.   I am loathe to speak in such terms, but I am angry; I am outraged; we are not idiots, and I believe BLM is to be absolutely distrusted because it continues to peddle such nonsense.  The test is this:  had your contractors not been assaulting the peace with their helicopters, would this mare and foal, and these 28 horses, have been in the situation in which you found them?

          And you feign concern with this disingenuous statement:
BLM Nevada is modifying its reporting methods to better document all wild horse deaths that occur or are found during gather operations. 
i.e., we know it sounds bad, so let's just say we know we should include these horses but the system didn't allow for it, so we will work on the system.
        And it's all a bunch of hooey because you made up your system to find a way to not have to report all horse injuries and deaths. You are unbelievable, and even I cannot believe anything you say. That's sad, because I've been known to be trusting and gullible, and if I don't trust you at all, you are really in bad shape. 
       Where is Congress? Are you really going to put up with this in-your-face, disingenuous poppycock? Congress, look at your Department of Interior.   Look at your BLM.   Save America's integrity: revamp the BLM.
     To my legislators:  BLM is in your face, Congress.   How can you hold your heads up and allow this agency to continue with business as usual? They are like the rebellious teenager that is now brashly leaving his beer on the table at night, daring you to do something about it.  
       Similar risk at Twin Peaks:   I have been to the Twin Peaks HMA.  The footing is anything but level.  It is rocky, full of hard, sharp lava rock.  It abounds with steep, rocky areas.  We saw few, if any, "trails."  We also saw few horses, only 74 in an entire day in which we covered several hundred miles.
                       ©Photos by Elyse Gardner
                                 ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
Non-Wild Horse Annie cattle guards exist throughout this HMA; that is, they are not reinforced with rebar, posing a risk to fleeing horses whose hooves and legs would go through.  Horses who get stuck in cattle guards usually break legs and require immediate help or euthanization.  The alternative is a slow death or death from predators.  Cattle guard accidents are not as rare as BLM likes to say.  Craig Downer documented the remains of a horse in a cattle guard in the Calico Mountain HMA, seen below.  Responsible pre-roundup preparations would suggest reinforcing cattle guards as was done in Wild Horse Annie's time, to take precautions to protect frightened, fleeing animals from this possibility.
                       ©Photo by Craig Downer  taken in a revisit to the Calico Complex post-roundup
Terri Farley is holding the broken leg of this horse at a cattle guard 
in the Calico Herd Managment Area, whose skeleton was only months
 old and whose death coincided closely with the timing of the Calico roundup.
              ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

Steep, rocky terrain characterizes much of the Twin Peaks HMA.
                       ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner 

                ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
             ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner 
An example of some of the very rocky footing, excellent to keep
 hooves naturally trimmed; hard on feet when run on for miles, 
brutal for baby feet whose hooves have not yet hardened.
             ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner

BLM's definition of wild horse overpopulation.
  (Sorry; I couldn't resist...)

Any "trails" we encountered were a brief but welcome relief similar to this, 
only about 30 feet long, before they disappeared into the rocky ground
 again.  Most of the area was uneven and without obvious
 trails. I'm in pretty good shape, and I was surprised at how arduous
 just walking along this  lovely area was, considering that it wasn't terribly steep.  
More typical rocky ground.  This was early May, and grass was growing 
abundantly.  The range was in excellent, lush condition.  
                          ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
There was no food or water shortage evident, as 
ecologist Craig Downer also noted.

                        ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
               ©5/7/10 Photo by Elyse Gardner
Where will these horses be, whose photo I took on May 7, on September 7? 
     My request to BLM:   I am asking BLM for access to fulfill what the public has asked of me:  that I document the condition of the wild horses within five minutes of their arrival at the trap site by videotaping them from within 20 feet of their pens, uninterrupted for three to five minutes (depending on the number of horses) and taking stills, as well.  I then request to be given the same access 20 to 30 minutes later to document recovery rate in a rudimentary way. 
     I am in the process of replacing my vehicle, which was totaled by a drunk driver on July 9, so I can get up to the Twin Peaks roundup. While on the way to try to document the Tuscarora roundup, Laura Leigh and I and her dog were rear-ended by a drunk young man on the freeway. We are grateful to be alive, albeit bruised and bumped. Thank you all for your concern.
        I hope you will add your name to lists as suggested above.  The American public, and wild horse lovers from all around the world, are being heard. The more people weigh in, the louder our voices.  Join with us in calling for a moratorium on all roundups pending a Congressional investigation of the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro program. 
     Additionally, we are calling for mounted video cameras for any gather-related helicopter with uninterrupted live feed to officials and public observers any time it takes to the air. 
      We will never know how many tragedies have already taken place.  Let's help stop this now.
       Here is one more look at Lightning and friends filmed by Bob Bauer the day of the photograph above.  (If you have trouble viewing properly, click inside the viewing box; it will take you to the Youtube)

For the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner
Humane Advocate Observer