August 10, 2018
A wild-horse advocacy group has called for an investigation after photos showed a horse hitting a barbed-wire fence during a roundup in Utah.
Photographer Steve Paige, an observer affiliated with the American Wild Horse Campaign, said photos he shot Monday depict one horse tumbling hard, hooves in the air, after striking a fence as a chopper hazed a band toward a trap, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
"We call on the (U.S. Bureau of Land Management) to suspend the roundup underway currently in Utah by grounding the helicopters while an investigation is undertaken of the animal welfare violations documented by our observer," said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. "Nearly hitting wild horses with helicopters, repeatedly causing them to crash into barbed wire, and stampeding horses in a manner that leaves foals behind is unconscionable."
The complaint targets the practices of Bureau of Land Management contractor Sampson Livestock.
The federal agency acknowledged that horses hit the fence while a helicopter pursued them.
This month's roundup in Utah's West Desert is the latest in a series the Bureau of Land Management is staging around the West to remove horses that officials say exceed the capacity of the lands they occupy.
The gather concluded Wednesday after the removal of 250 horses, 50 over the number the agency had originally targeted for removal.
The horses were sent to the Bureau of Land Management's corral in Delta, where officials plan to adopt out as many as possible.
It is likely most will join the thousands of others held in on-range pastures for life. In contrast with past Utah roundups, no horses are expected to be returned to the range.
U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, a Republican whose district covers much of the state's wild-horse territory, is advocating more frequent roundups and surgical sterilization of mares that would be returned to the range.
Stewart repeatedly has noted that the West's wild horses and burros far exceed the 27,000 the Bureau of Land Management has established as the "appropriate management level." He says many horses are starving on the range, their numbers depleted by drought and overgrazing.