Oregon Wild Horse Herd Next on BLM Chopping Block

BLM aims choppers at American mustangs and young foals

Portland, OR (August 18, 2010)—The Stinkingwater wild horse herd of Southeastern Oregon is slated for a near complete removal in a summer helicopter roundup scheduled to begin today. Concerned citizens in Oregon and across the country have been calling for a stop to this unnecessary and costly action. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to roundup all 214 wild horses and young foals they claim live in the area and release back only 40, leaving 20 stallions and 20 mares. At least one mare with a less than two-week-old foal are in danger from this roundup. Horses will be pushed over miles of rugged country criss-crossed with barbed wire fences in this roundup planned to last five days.

“The range is beautiful with abundant water and forage but it is managed as a cattle ranch- not as a wild horse range”, explains Cloud Foundation Associate Director, Makendra Silverman, who visited the range last week in a Herd-Watchcapacity. “I found a less than one-week old foal and named him Pluto, assuming he is the last foal of the season. Running Pluto over these sharp volcanic rocks and rough terrain even a mile could be fatal.”

Although outnumbered 20:1 by privately-owned livestock in Stinkingwater, BLM has determined that only 40 wild horses may live on this 133 square-mile range. Minimal genetically-viable levels are set at 150-200 adult horses. Not one Oregon herd, including the famous Kiger mustangs, have herd levels set above 150.

“We’ve seen this again and again,” explains Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens. “BLM sets their ridiculously low “appropriate” management levels at non-viable numbers and then turns around and zeros out the entire wild horse or burro herd for being ‘too small to manage’—the American public wants our wild herds preserved, not destroyed.”

Advocates fear that deaths will occur in Stinkingwater as a helicopter runs panicked horses and foals through a maze of barbed-wire fences.

“In 1990 the Government Accountability Office Report underscored that wild horse removals did not significantly improve range conditions,” explains Kathrens. “The report pointed to cattle as the culprit as they vastly outnumber horses on BLM-managed public lands and reported that wild horse removals are not linked to range conditions, noting the lack of data provided by BLM. Oregon has lost over half of the original wild horse and burro herds designated for protection in 1971.”

“I hope that I might return to find Pluto and his family safe in Stinkingwater- enjoying the precious freedom granted to them by Congress but so often dismissed by the BLM” concludes Silverman.