Antelope Roundup a Disaster for Wild Horses

Foundation asks that BLM "scorched earth" removals be stopped immediately Reno, NV (February 4, 2011)--Cloud Foundation Volunteer Executive Director and Emmy award-winning producer, Ginger Kathrens, attended three days of the Antelope Complex roundup in Northeastern Nevada last week. Kathrens recorded the events taking place in a just released video. She filmed her first roundup in this same area in 1994 and the differences between then and now are striking. In 1994, BLM only removed horses five years and under that would be the most appropriate animals for the Adopt-A-Horse program. Now BLM is  removing every animal they can catch even though their handout for observers states that “The BLM is gathering more wild horses than it is removing so it can apply fertility control and release the appropriate proportions of males to females to achieve a sex ratio that is 60 percent males to females.

“Not true,” states Kathrens. “This is a scorched earth removal of every wild horse they catch, even those over the age of 20 who are suffering terribly in dead-of-winter runs far in excess of 10 miles.”

“The roundup crew is chasing horses down mountains miles away and across huge valleys—then the mustangs double back and are run over the same ground again by a helicopter pilot who appears to have no idea what he is doing,” Kathrens explains.

Sun J Livestock of Vernal, Utah was contracted by BLM to remove more than 2,000 wild horses from the 1.3 million acre Antelope Complex—an area far larger than the state of Rhode Island. This controversial roundup is the largest scheduled roundup for 2011. Questions remain why the large contract was awarded to an inexperienced company which only began rounding up wild horses last fall.

Alan Shepard, the BLM lead for wild horses and burros in Nevada, is supervising Sun J Livestock. When questioned, Shepard justified running an old mare who collapsed in the snow near the trap site. The mare is the focus of Kathrens’ just released YouTube video.

BLM’s public relations officer in DC, Tom Gorey, indicated that Sun J’s pilot had been spoken to about this incident. Those still monitoring the roundup have seen no change in Sun J’s performance. The contractor is paid $350 per horse captured. At that rate, Sun J stands to pocket $700,000 taxpayer dollars for one month of work.

“There was so much cruelty going on, it was hard to select what to edit for a two minute clip, “ Kathrens continues. “Horses were run for what seemed forever, then driven into a narrow alleyway where gates were shut behind them. All the horses we saw were sweaty and many had no room to turn around. They were forced to stand crammed in one position for hours. Other mustangs were run into the alleyways and within five minutes—before they could even settle down— were loaded into a trailer and hauled over bumpy roads on their way to a temporary holding area.”

The only known fatality in Kathrens’ three days of observing and filming the roundup was a mare who apparently fell during the trailer ride to temporary holding. She fractured her hip, and was shot.

BLM—in their Antelope handout--states they are doing a "selective removal".

“They are not performing ‘selective removals’,” confirms Kathrens. “BLM is removing all the horses, including rare paints and duns as well as old horses in their twenties who should be left on the range for the remainder of their lives. They cram multiple bands in the same trailer so the stallions fight like crazy. The mare who was shot was probably trampled in the chaos. This shameful, careless behavior on the part of the BLM and their contractor must stop now.”

Kathrens questioned Ben Noyes, the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Specialist for the round up, about the excessive distances the horses were running and he indicated there were no limits. In the past, 10 miles was considered the maximum safe distance to run the mustangs.

“Apparently there are no rules this time around,” Kathrens stated. “The BLM says that only 427 horses can live in this beautiful area. What about the thousands of head of sheep and cattle out here? Why is there room for livestock but not room for a viable herd of wild horses on their legally designated range? This roundup needs to be shut down right now. BLM must be held accountable for what they are doing to America’s wild horses at taxpayer expense."

Wild horse advocates and concerned taxpayers are asking for a freeze on BLM spending for roundups and removals as well as Congressional hearings regarding the management of this costly program which, they insist, is unnecessary, taxpayer-funded animal abuse.

Press ReleasesJesse Daly