PIOCHE, NEVADA (January 10, 2020)... Today, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, sent a legal letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) asking for the postponement of a wild horse roundup scheduled to begin on Monday, citing a violation of the public’s First Amendment rights.
The BLM’s Caliente and Cedar City Field Offices, sent a news release on the afternoon of January 9, stating that the offices would be conducting a massive helicopter roundup of 1,700 wild horses from the Eagle Complex near Pioche, Nevada scheduled to begin on or about January 13th.
The BLM did not list this roundup operation on its public schedule, only provided 3 days’ notice, and is not planning to provide observation until possibly the second day of the roundup, January 14th. These parameters are a major shift in the agency’s own practices.
“It’s critical that public observers be onsite to document BLM wild horse roundups, especially since Congress’ funding for these operations is contingent on the agency’s adherence to its animal welfare policies,” said Brieanah Schwartz, Policy Counsel for the AWHC.
“The extremely short notice makes it impossible to get humane observers on site, particularly given the remote location of this and most roundups. This impedes the public’s First Amendment right to observe these government operations and prevents the public from holding the BLM accountable for how it’s treating federally-protected wild horses,” Schwartz concluded.
Helicopters last descended on the Eagle Complex less than two years ago when the BLM removed 303 horses from the 743,000-acre habitat. AWHC filed a complaint after photos and videos surfaced showing violations of the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) which included,
- Relentlessly chasing a mare who was in a clearly compromised state as blood was evident leaving her vaginal cavity possibly experiencing a miscarriage.
- Driving wild horses at a distance and speed that caused young foals to fall behind and become separated from their bands. Leaving orphaned foals on the range to fend for themselves after runs were completed.
At the time of this release, the BLM had not responded to the letter asking for a postponement of the operation.
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.