Between December 29, 2009 and February 4, 2010, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted one of the largest and deadliest helicopter roundups of wild horses in U.S. history. The location was the Calico Mountains Complex, located in the remote and pristine Black Rock Desert in northwest Nevada. By the time it ended, 1,922 horses had lost their freedom. The number of horses captured was 600 fewer than targeted, raising questions about the accuracy of BLM’s population estimate of 3,040 horses in the five Herd Management Areas that comprise the complex.
More than 100 horses died either as a direct result from the helicopter stampede, or in the aftermath during transport or at holding facility in Fallon, Nevada. In addition to the deaths, 30+ pregnant mares aborted their late-term fetuses, raising the death toll even higher
The poor little foal pictured was euthanized after suffering from lack of nutrition when his mother could not produce milk for him. Since the agency is not recording births of foals or the fates of these foals until they reach several months of age, the public would not have known about the fate of this little horse, had he not been noticed by public observers visiting the facility.
Photo By Laura Leigh, Wild Horse Education
For more information on the Calico horses in holding, click here.
Nearly one year after the brutal roundup, the last 74 of the captured Calico horses were scheduled for transport to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest until Return to Freedom American Wild Horse Sanctuary offered to take them in instead. Return to Freedom already cares for 19 stallions captured from the same areas as the mares and will reunite these wild horses and recreate family bands for them.