Thursday, January 20, 2011


 (Click on photos to enlarge.  Some will enlarge more than others. -- E.G.)
 ©2010 Curt Golgart
 This is at a rate of up to 20 times faster than if dry.
 We do need to make our voices heard right away since the Antelope roundup is now scheduled to start January 24.   To take action, there's a link provided at the end of "The Antelope Roundup" section below.   


1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act           Public Law 92-195   
To require the protection, management, and control of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands.  Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.  
  Repeating:   to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.
©1/6/10 Elyse Gardner
   "I wonder why I'm integral but my family isn't?"

         Since when do we take an integral part of the natural system of the public lands and forcibly pry it out of its home and stick it in an overcrowded pen?  BLM, what part of "integral" don't you understand?   ©2010 Elyse Gardner
        Did Congress find and declare cows and sheep to be an integral part of the natural system of the public lands

       No, they did not.  
         So why, then, are there grazing allotments for 7,700 cows and sheep on a monthly average, but only 407 horses on the 1.3 million acres comprising the Antelope Herd Management Area, which is bigger than the state of Delaware?  Again, what part of "integral" does BLM not get?
           Excitingly, more and more scientific evidence verifies that the modern day horse did in fact have his beginning in North America, and they are in fact native as evidenced by, for one, the fossilized hoofprints in Death Valley of a whole herd of horses.  The patina on the stone has been dated back two to three million years.  So they are declared integral by Congress, and they are in fact a returned native species.
         The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall consult with respect to the implementation and enforcement of this Act and to the maximum feasible extent coordinate the activities of their respective departments and in the implementation and enforcement of this Act. The Secretaries are authorized and directed to undertake those studies of the habits of wild free-roaming horses and burros that they may deem necessary in order to carry out the provisions of this Act.  Section 11, par. 2  (Emphasis added.)         
                Does anybody see Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack working together in this manner to protect the horses and burros FROM CAPTURE, BRANDING, HARASSMENT,  AND DEATH? -- i.e., to avoid roundups and holding facilities?  
               Where am I going with this?
                ROUNDUPS AND HOLDING SHOULD BE THE VERY LAST RESORT OF BLM.  Instead, it has become BLM's stock answer for every HMA (Herd Management Area) in every year.
               If these Secretaries were accused of conspiring to protect wild horses and burros and treating them as an integral part of the natural system of public lands, would there be enough evidence to convict them? 
               Looking at the law, the very reason they are granted special, protected status as "an integral part of the natural system of public lands" is to ensure such protections for them.  Notice:
to accomplish this [policy that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death] they are to be considered ... as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.
          The tragic irony is we all know, I think, that the purveyors of capture, branding, harassment and death are in fact the BLM because of their insistence on using roundups as their primary managment tool and minimizing the "protection" mandate given them.
     So Congress, before the Appropriations Committee continues to throw money at this failed BLM "management" system, please exercise due diligence in discovering whether Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack have looked at zeroed-out HMAs in Forest Service lands and elsewhere on our public lands to repatriate the 40,000-plus wild horses and burros stockpiled in holding facilities.  (Zeroed-out HMAs means areas initially designated for wild horses and burros where BLM or the Forest Service has had all wild horses and burros removed therefrom.) 
            2011 is declared THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FOREST

FROM THE Forest Service Web site: "Planning Rule: The collaborative development of a new planning rule has been in full-swing (sic) since the publication of the Notice of Intent in December 2009. The Forest Service has received more than 26,000 written comments on the notice, more than 300 blog comments and hosted more than 40 public meetings throughout the country. The agency is currently finalizing the proposed rule with an expected publication date in early 2011. Upon publication, the Forest Service will offer a formal comment period and will host additional public meetings and collaborative opportunities for the public to discuss the rule."
         I do not see horses or burros on this emblem, so let's be sure to remind the Forest Service that they, too, are charged with the mandate given by Congress on behalf of our wild horses and burros, and perhaps we can start with the Custer National Forest in the Pryor Mountains where a fence has recently been constructed barring the Pryor Mountain wild horses from a significant portion of their seasonal range.  This fence is currently under litigation.  
        The Forest Service seems to have forgotten or rejected its part as a historic home for wild horses and burros in the natural system of the public lands. Let's be sure to watch for opportunities to offer additional comments and attend meetings to state we want as part of the planning rule for each Forest Service area to be looked at for potential repatriation of wild horses and burros, paying particular attention to the Custer National Forest in Montana. More on this in the future. 
The Antelope Roundup

(Please note that these photographs were taken by Craig Downer at the Eagle roundup on January 5, 2011. They are not the Antelope area, which has not as of this writing (1/18/11) started.
©1/5/11 11:21 a.m. Craig Downer [Click on photos to enlarge.) 

Freshly rounded up, a large group of steaming wild horses fearfully peruse the tiny enclosure they are forced to enter.  The man 

in the green jacket is freezing; look how he's standing. 

This Antelope HMA roundup promises to be very ugly. This will be the largest roundup in recent BLM history, and it will be done by their brand new contractor.

         Please let's not do a repeat of Calico.  But that is precisely what awaits the horses and the observers in the Antelope Herd Management Area, only potentially more extreme.
2010 Kurt Golgart
        What we see in the top photo, which I've taken the liberty to zoom in on here, are beautiful horses sweating profusely in below-freezing temperatures.  You can see the sweat starting to freeze.  This situation -- heavy sweat in freezing temperatures --  often results in very sick horses if the horse is not cooled down properly.  This was the Calico roundup 2010.  It was below freezing.
            This was a BLM-hired photographer, given close access to document the horses, who later pulled the rest of his striking photographs from his website and from the public because people soon realized what these dramatic, steaming photographs depicted were freezing, terrified horses. And BLM realized they did not want these photographs circulating.

Below are excerpts from Louisianna State University's School of Veterinary Medicine, Equine Health Studies Program, Equine Health Tips, by Dr. Patrick Murray and Dr. Lais R. R. Costa:

              Pneumonia is defined as an inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, fungus, viruses, and chemical irritants. The predominant type of pneumonias in adult horses is bacterial in nature. ... 
Bacterial pneumonia in adult horses often times occurs following a predisposing event such as viral infections, general anesthesia, athletic events, transportation, overcrowding, poor nutrition, or inclement weather. (A roundup qualifies, and factoring in tremendous stress and adrenalin only adds to the equation. Emphasis added - E.G.)                  . . . 

             The cause of pleuropneumonia is believed to involve the same factors that suppress the pulmonary defenses and cause bacterial pneumonia and cause bacterial pneumonia.  Transportation, exertion, and inability to lower the head to clear the air passages result in inhaled organisms. Normal bacterial inhabitants of the upper airway such as Streptococcus zooepidemicus are usually isolated in this disease also. 
               Horses with pleuropneumonia can exhibit increased respiration (rate and effort) with decreased lung sounds ventrally, and substernal edema. Pleuropneumonia can be very painful; therefore horses may stand with adducted elbows or appear painful while moving, and are reluctant to cough.
           And below is a photograph taken just two weeks ago at the Eagle roundup in sub-freezing weather.  Craig Downer reported it was 12 degrees below zero.
©1/5/11  10:53 a.m. Craig Downer               Eagle HMA  Roundup, Nevada
We are seeing the steam coming off the sweating horses.  It's below zero.  This is very bad for the horses.
 Freezing weather is the worst time to cause a horse to sweat, which can lead to serious chill and equine pneumonia.
 ©1/5/11 Craig Downer     Another drive into the trap, more steaming, sweating horses

    At first Craig thought the "smoke" to be from a "smudge pot," an old oil-burning heater used in orchards to prevent frostbite to the fruit. But he soon realized this was steam from the horses themselves.
1/5/11  Craig Downer  (Remember:  Click on the photo to enlarge. EG.)
The trailers are moving now, the horses still not yet dry from their exertion.  You can still see the steam even while the trailers are moving.
          We continue to call for specific protective parameters around the use of helicopters in roundups, (e.g., mounted live-feed video camera, GPS coordinates, specific distance ranges, civilian representative for starters).
          BLM has been rounding up horses and sending them directly to Broken Arrow, where we never can see them again.  There is zero  transparency here.  "Transparent" means see-through.  Well, these closed facilities are a stone wall, transparent as -- yup -- mud.
         I've selected excerpts from an article by Heather Thomas Smith, a respected rancher of many generations, How Horses Cope with Cold:
          Horses readily adapt to winter weather. Cold temperature in itself is not a problem for a horse if he's had a chance to prepare gradually by growing a winter coat as fall temperatures drop. Wind and wet weather are the factors that can chill a horse. In windy regions, horses need some type of shelter to protect against the wind chill that can whip away body heat.  
 (There are no overhead shelters or windbreaks in any BLM holding facilities. Of course horses are dying in these facilities and contracting respiratory illness.  This is not rocket science.  More on this later. - EG.)
          Long winter hair traps a layer of warm body heat between the skin and the cold air. When it's cold, tiny muscles in the skin make the hair stand up fluffy, increasing the insulating effect, and blood vessels near the skin constrict, conserving body heat by keeping the blood closer to the warm interior of the body, not allowing heat to escape from blood vessels near the skin surface.
         A well fed horse can manage at temperatures down to 30 or even 40 below zero Farenheit if there's no wind and he's not wet. Wind ruffles the hair and destroys its insulating quality. The downward direction in which the hair grows (along with the oil glands that waterproof the hair) help keep a horse dry in rain and snow. The density of the hair coat and the directions in which the hair grows make such a good overcoat that snow can form ice on the outer surface of this coat without the skin becoming chilled.

          ... A wet horse loses body heat up to 20 times faster than a dry horse, because the moisture flattens out the hair and eliminates the air spaces between the hairs, greatly reducing the insulating effect. Even a warm winter storm (rain instead of snow, or snow that immediately melts) can be hard on a horse, if he gets soaked and then gets chilled by dropping temperatures before he has a chance to dry off.  (Emphasis added  - EG)

            And of course we know that sweat starts at the level of the skin and works outward.  By the time we can see a horse's sweat in a heavy winter coat, that horse is soaking wet. 
            FACT:  HORSES  R U N  FROM HELICOPTERS much of the time no matter how close or far back the helicopter remains back.  At roundups the horses often end up drenched, just as the photographer captured in the above photograph.  Even if the helicopter goes slowly, often the agitated horses run.  Pilots will rest them at times, but in freezing temperatures it is nearly impossible to keep the horses dry. 
            EVEN IF THE HORSES TROT, trotting a mile or five or ten will work up a real sweat.  
            "Minimal management" this is not.  
   ©1/5/11  Craig Downer           Another run of drenched, steaming, frightened horses.
                      Look at all that steam, all that warmth leaving sweaty hot horses on this very cold day
The steam is a visual depiction of the heat leaving their bodies at a rate up to 20 times faster than dry.  Added to that they are then forced into open trailers which travel up to and over 50 mph as the horses are transported to their next set of fences.  
        Being seven months pregnant, chased by a predator whom you fear the most, being soaked with sweat and riding in the back of a speeding pickup truck freezing or near-freezing temperatures for five or more hours, maybe nine hours, is not my idea of "minimal" or "humane" management.  Many of these mares are ripe with foals.   
        BLM documented 40 mares who spontaneously aborted their foals in the last January mountain roundup.  
  ©1/26/10 Elyse Gardner (click on photo to enlarge)
This poor mare is painfully miscarrying her foal right in the middle of a crowded pen as we toured the Broken Arrow facility.  Thanks to her, advocates learned of this tragedy occurring in so many mares. Before we saw her, BLM never mentioned these things in all the years of roundups.  I call her "Revelle," for she revealed to the world the suffering of her sisters, yet another grim consequence of helicopter roundups done wrong: Run too far, too long, too cold, when wild horses need their reserves just to carry their foals and get through the winter.

         BLM has a plan.  Madeleine Pickens also has a plan, and what I prefer about Madeleine's plan is the horses will stay on their own range area.  The horses in the eco-sanctuary Madeleine is planning will be accessible, visible to me, to you.  The money Madeleine is paid by the government to house these horses will go back into the foundation.
         BLM has told advocates they are monitoring the weather, and the weather will be considered daily as to whether they round up the horses.  
         At this time we have learned that conditions are very muddy on Battle Mountain, and the roundup is postponed for a few days, having been scheduled to start on January 20.  Apparently the contractor is busy, finishing up elsewhere.        
           Advocates are calling for a postponement of the Antelope HMA roundup till fall of 2011 so the horses don't have to suffer this anguish and trauma.  And if BLM will consent to simply postpone this roundup, a simple delay, we will almost certainly spare 40-plus mares and foals the fatal sorrow of spontaneous abortion and possible hemorrhage of the mares.  
         BLM postponed the Ely roundup last February, it stated, due to late-term pregnancies.  Well, we would ask them to postpone the Antelope roundup for that same reason, among others..  
           HOWEVER, in addition, THE HUMANE OBSERVER is calling for a new Environmental Assessment and re-determination of the AMLs in the Antelope HMA.  The new circumstances (Madeleine Pickens ownership of the ranches and the cessation of cattle grazing on the allotments) actually require a postponement of this roundup since at least some horses previously determined to be "excess" will no longer be excess even by BLM's hazy standards.  
           My position is this:  Since the purchase of the new Pickens ranches/soon-to-be wild horse eco-sanctuary is in the Antelope HMA, there has been no livestock grazing or use of the livestock AUMs on the cattle grazing allotment there since June 2010.   
            Conditions have changed in a big way since the BLM planned this roundup, and the changes strongly indicate that the AML ("Appropriate Management Level") for wild horses and burros should be adjusted up in a big way.  A new Environmental Assessment should be done before any roundup is done.  Leaving only 407 horses on this HMA of 1.3 million acres when AUMs for livestock are not being used as in the past is clearly inappropriate. 
          I do not consider Madeleine Pickens' sanctuary a reason to remove more horses, and neither does she.  Neither she nor her sanctuary should be viewed by BLM or anyone else as an excuse to remove more wild horses.  I want to see BLM make a gesture of good faith by working with the advocates and working with Madeleine Pickens by:
      1)   postponing the Antelope Roundup; and, 
      2)   by re-evaluating its AMLs for this Antelope HMA.
  Tell BLM you want them to postpone the Antelope roundup and keep these horses in the west.

It is  past time to reopen this facility to the public.  Nine deaths just last week (1/8 through 1/14): 
              4 spinal neck injuries: Something needs to change.  These animals weren't euthanized; they all "died due to spinal/neck injury."  This is gruesome. 
              2 ten-month-old colts were euthanized "down and unable to stand on its own,"  little 2984 and 2606  
                     9-month-old colt euthanized for a broken leg, little 2045;
                     Unmarked 25-year-old was euthanized, "down on truck upon arrival body condition 2."
                      I can understand some sick horses, some broken legs.  But the constant barrage of broken necks is alarming and cries out for investigation.  Is this normal at other facilities?  Or is this just Indian Lakes?  It is time to convene a study of these facilities.  
         Horses from the Calico roundup as well as others are still dying of the "minimal levels of upper respiratory disease" BLM reports in its Indian Lakes updates (just click to view the actual Updates).   Advocates, myself among them, documented the serious respiratory illness among the foals in May and June 2010 just before Indian Lakes closed to the public. 
          ©5/16/10 Cat Kindsfather
          BLM always, without fail, calls this "minimal" respiratory illness.
         Two "weaned foals" died of this the week of January 7.  Right up until they die, BLM either reported they had "minimal levels" of respiratory illness, or was silent about them altogether.  Please note that "weaned foals" could mean anything from four months to a yearling.  They were making no effort to isolate the sick foals with their mothers. It has been my experience that BLM personnel consistently minimize and marginalize the horses' injuries and illnesses when in their holding facilities. 

Wild Horse and Burro Program Chief Retires
             Finally, big news:  Wild Horse and Burro Program Director Don Glenn has retired.   Don, I will probably see you around.  I wish you peace in your retirement, and it is my fervant hope that perhaps the wild horses and burros may now have some themselves.  
            BLM has as yet made no announcement as to his retirement or his successor. 
            Let's ask BLM to postpone this roundup at Antelope.   Who knows?  Maybe things are really looking up for our wild horses and burros this year!  I would dare to have some real hope for working together with BLM if they will do this (postpone this roundup).   We soon will see.          
  Other Up-to-the-Minute News
              Reports are coming in that BLM has "placed on the table," to be considered among other things, 
"...making sure that Herd Management Areas are appropriately designated; this includes revisiting land use planning decisions which had zeroed out wild horses in difficult to manage herd areas." 

 (In plain English, this means BLM is looking at returning wild horses to areas they once legally occupied but were totally removed by BLM.)   
               These were BLM Director Bob Abbey's statements at a recent major pro-horse-slaughter meeting, greatly appreciated by wild horse advocates but very disappointing to the voracious pro-slaughter group headed up by Sue Wallis, Republican representative from Wyoming.  
             Additionally, this considered repatriation of wild horses to the wild was stated again by Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, at the major Resource Advisory Council ("RAC") meeting on January 20, 2011, in Reno, Nevada.
            Dean Bolstad is also reported to have said that BLM is open to re-evaluating AMLs (Appropriate Management Levels) set for the different HMAs (Herd Management Areas).  This is excellent news, and there is no time like the present to get on this.  As I stated earlier, the AMLs in the Antelope HMA need to be re-evaluated since no livestock now graze on the ranch acquired by Madeleine Pickens for her planned Saving Amerca's Mustangs eco-sanctuary,  and it would be counter to the 1971 Act to round up horses that are not, in fact, excess.  

            Will BLM repatriate ("restore or return to the country of origin, allegiance, or citizenship") captured wild horses in areas now empty of these wild ones?  Will they do that in more than token numbers?  Yes, BLM, there is hope for you.  These are encouraging words from Dean Bolstad and Bob Abbey.  Let us consider these good words and watch expectantly for the actions to follow.  Change has to start somewhere; perhaps this is it. 
 I remain,
for the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
Elyse Gardner
in memory of Mouse 

©4/24/10 Elyse Gardner                                                 


  1. Don (Mr. Transparency) Glenn has RETIRED! GLORYOSKY!

    Great post, Elyse. I will certainly be giving the BLM my opinions.

  2. Excellent report as usual, Elyse. I always have to take a deep breath and brace myself before clicking on your blog. Also, now 18 deaths in 2 weeks at Fallon. 9 per week. Time for an intervention alright and the vet needs to start treating horses and stop shooting them.

  3. Thank you Elyse, an excellent and timely post. Very important to postpone the Antelope roundup. Can we pull Kudo in on this?

  4. Roundups in below freezing temps should be unlawful. This is so wrong!

  5. Elyse, BRILLIANT, INFORMATIVE, COMPASSIONATE, FACTUAL! Bless you for being the honest, brave TRUE Wild Horse Advocate you are!! Keep up the great work our cherished Wild Ones!

  6. But if they did return horses back to some of the HMAs wouldn't these be sterile herds with gelded stallions? Why not just call a moratorium on rounding up and altering any more mustangs until a complete review of each HMA can be done? That way if it is determined (by the BLM) horses still need to be removed from one area, they could be re-located unaltered in anyway to another HMA. So much damage is going to be done this FY2012 to the remaiming horses.

  7. It's called bait and switch, They use it on US with great effect using Sue Wallis and Madeline Pickens, we watch with great intent thinking Madeline will lead our horses out of trouble like some messiah while we sit on our rumps and blog, We pay attention to Sue Wallis like she is the devil incarnate when in reality she is just some noisy hick they don't tell to shut up because we focus on her like she is the leader of the pro slaughter and anti mustang power houses. Then whammo we loose a Madeline's zoo ( the same thing we reamed Salazar for suggesting) for our horses and while watching Sue they'll do something else. Lets blog more about it people shall we? Actions speak louder then words on the internet. you care then get off your rumps and get organized nationally into a single voice NOW. Send that $5.00 every month to a central organization and add your name to their list of members. Excuses are like dead horses there will be thousands of them, are you one of them? IF not then start acting like you really care and get out and do something, take a chance and stopped being so scarred of the "man". YOU or YOUR small groups are meaningless, this is NOT a grass roots fight anymore, not that it ever was. Elyse, Laura, Craig, and several others are in their faces daily, every day taking this fight to them. Just when do you all think its time for hundreds if not thousands of us to step up at least behind them in person if not beside them?