Report exposes abusive conditions at BLM wild horse holding facility in Utah
Cloud Foundation asks Congress to reform Wild Horse and Burro Program
WASHINGTON (April 8, 2011)—The Cloud Foundation received a written report and video documentation from Lisa Friday after her tour last month of BLM’s Butterfield Short Term Wild Horse and Burro Holding Facility (aka Salt Lake City Wild Horse & Burro Center), outside Salt Lake City. Friday was shocked to find wild horses living in unhealthy conditions that would that raise concerns and charges of abuse if they were observed in private facilities.
“When government is facing a shutdown, tax dollars cannot be used for animal cruelty,” states Anne Novak spokesperson for The Cloud Foundation. “We ask Congress to defund the roundups and use that money to help Americans in their time of need.”
The video contains disturbing images of once-wild horses penned in areas where they were unable to navigate out of a knee-deep mixture of mud, manure, and urine. Friday, a wild horse adopter and long-time horsewoman from Richmond, VA; reports of seeing 30 horses laying down in mud and excrement for the entire three hours in which she was at the facility. “They never got up,” she states.
“I saw more than 10 horses in one pen alone trying to escape the quagmire but their legs were suctioned deep into the mud,” explains Friday.
“Seeing wild horses in this kind of squalor is heart-breaking,” says Ginger Kathrens, Director of The Cloud Foundation who has spent 17 years documenting the wild lives of horses in her Cloud productions for PBS. “I don’t understand how BLM can justify the removal of these animals from the safety of their wild homes, only to dump them into these hellish conditions. I seriously doubt that the American taxpayers want their money used for this kind of cruelty.”
In her report, Friday describes conversations with BLM facility employees who acknowledge that wild horses are not given the required three opportunities to be adopted, but are regularly sent to long term holding for life after only one advertised event—which may be nothing more than one exposure on the internet.
Friday noticed a young mare that was extremely emaciated. The BLM told her the female was a three-year old from a roundup in the Moriah Herd Area of Nevada. The mare was captured 8 months ago; raising another red flag about the care the animals receive in the BLM facility. Friday asked where the sick pens were and was told, “Any pen, which contained a sick animal was a sick pen”. She was told there were pregnant mares in the pens. She asked why she hadn’t seen any foals. The employee replied that there was one foal born. When Friday asked where it was, the employee changed the subject.
“Besides their horrible living conditions, it was disturbing to see how cruelly BLM interacted the horses,” explains Friday. “I was horrified to see horses being moved from pen to pen with the help of a ‘Bobcat’ (small bulldozer).”
“Perhaps this is natural horsemanship, BLM style?” asks Kathrens, a wild horse adopter herself. “Anyone who interacts with our wild horses should be required to go through classes to learn the contemporary techniques taught by so many wonderful clinicians. There is really no excuse for this kind of aggression toward already terrorized animals.”
The Cloud Foundation is sharing Lisa Friday’s report with Congress, asking for an investigation of all holding facilities—especially those on private property that are currently off limits to the public. The Foundation demands that BLM follow the law and allow all young wild horses five years and under three legitimate opportunities to find adoptive homes, before being housed for life at taxpayer expense.
The Cloud Foundation and 200 other organizations continue to call for Congress to withhold money for more roundups until BLM undergoes an overhaul of its broken Wild Horse and Burro Program.
The BLM is currently asking Congress for an additional $12 million to conduct their scheduled summer roundups. More than 40,000 wild horses and burros are housed in holding facilities throughout the US at huge taxpayer expense. The Cloud Foundation estimates that less than 15,000 wild horses remain in the wild. Caroline Betts, PhD, predicts wild horse extinction in 11 years if BLM is allowed to continue removing massive numbers of horses from their legally designated ranges in the West.
“The only way to save the water, land and last wild horses in the American West is to remove the government’s incessantly corrupt Bureau of Land Management…” says Academy Award winner Michael Blake, author of Dances with Wolves.