Starting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, the BLM is launching a massive capture of 1,400 horses in Oregon. Born wild, these animals will lose their freedom and their families in this roundup. Some will lose their lives. Most will be sent to holding facilities where nearly 50,000 wild horses and burros are stockpiled.
The BLM had intended to allow the public to see just three days of the 10+ day roundup, but after receiving a demand letter on Monday from attorneys for both the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and our founding organization Return to Freedom (RTF) threatening legal action if the BLM did not provide meaningful observation opportunities throughout the duration of the roundup, the BLM reversed course and informed the groups late yesterday that it will now allow the public to observe each day of the capture operation and will ensure that such observation is meaningful.
Day 19: Sunday, November 22, 2015 - FINAL DAY: 21 animals were captured, 62 were shipped and there were 2 deaths on this day: One 4-month-old colt with a preexisting medical condition (gathered 11/20, necropsy pending) died and one 4-month-old filly with old rib break, spinal injury and Body Condition Score of 2.5 was euthanized. The final count of horses removed from the range was 1,070. The death toll climbed to 16 wild horses.
Day 18: Saturday, November 21, 2015: 54 wild horses were captured today.
Day 17: Friday, November 20, 2015: No flying today. Aerial surveying was done to move trap site.
Day 16: Thursday, November 19, 2015: 12 horses were captured and shipped 61 horses on the Beaty Butte wild horse gather in Oregon. The wind came up early in the day so the operation was shut down. There were 5 deaths on this day: One 2-year-old blind mare, one yearling filly, one 4-month-old blind filly, one 8-year-old mare with an old break in the right hind leg and one 4-month-old colt with an old break in the left hind leg.
Day 15: Wednesday, November 18, 2015: 64 wild horses were captured and 34 were shipped to holding.
Day 14: Tuesday, November 17, 2015: The helicopters were grounded most of the day. 31 wild horses were captured.
Day 13: Monday, November 16, 2015: The helicopters did not fly today due to inclement weather.
Day 12: Sunday, November 15, 2015: The helicopters did not fly today due to high winds. 117 wild horses were shipped to holding.
Day 11: Saturday, November 14, 2015: 70 wild horses were captured and 92 were shipped.
Day 10: Friday, November 13, 2015: 51 wild horses were captured and 124 were shipped to holding. The BLM euthanized 3 horses: One 2-year-old mare, one 3-year-old mare, and one 4-month-old colt—all albino and blind.
Thoughts from AWHPC observer Carol Statton:
I was really blown away by the Beatys Butte horses; blown away by their incredible beauty, spirit and adaptability to their whole world being turned upside down. There were the few that made the contractors really have to work harder; the ones whose spirit was not going to be taken without every effort to evade the predators in the sky. But most ran as directed and once within the confines of the corrals, stood watching and trying to figure out the new reality they had been thrust into. With human beings standing just on the other side of these foreign rails, the horses didn't lash out as I would have expected. Tired and without understanding, they waited as they were separated and loaded. It was only when they were being hauled away that I heard the sounds of fear and resistance return through hooves hitting side panels of the trailers.
I came away with two words, two directives- redeem and protect. We must redeem those who have lost their freedom permanently and we must protect those that should be the rightful residents of the land without "human" threat. I do believe in management and stewardship- we have a conscientious responsibility to be mindful and ethical stewards of earth and it's inhabitants. Just as we see that a small bird can garner game-changing protections, so too should our wild horses. These horses can adapt, survive and thrive in even the most limiting of environments... our interventions, when required, must be better than they have been.
Day 9: Thursday, November 12, 2015
Report from Grace Kuhn
We arrived at the BLM Lakeview office at 5am. We drove to the new trap site, and on our way, we saw our first wild horses free on the range. It was around 6:30 a.m., the sun was just coming up and we could see their silhouettes on a distant ridge. It pained me to think that they had no idea what was coming for them in a few short hours.
We arrived at the trap site at around 7:00 a.m. The helicopters had already taken off, and we had to wait before we hiked to our observation point. They brought in the first run around 7:10 a.m. where it looked to be about 10 or so horses. We hiked to the very top of a hill that was approved for observation. It was actually a fairly decent view as we were able to see the helicopters from behind, in front, and on either side of us. There were 7 more runs this day: 7:30 a.m., 7:40 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 8:55 a.m., 9:04 a.m., 9:50 a.m., 11:15 a.m.
They had two helicopters working in tandem most of the day. A helicopter would be pushing horses from the left, one from the right and they would bring together large stampedes of between 30-40 horses.
The most heartbreaking of the day were the foals. The helicopters are running these horses from very long distances, and often foals just can’t keep up for as long as the rest of their herd. At one point, a jet black foal was stranded all alone on the vast landscape and one of the contractors had to ride out on horseback to take him in. Surprisingly, he was patient with the foal and went at his own pace. Even still, it was devastating to think that this baby was without his mother and all alone.
There was also a solid white foal that had initially come in with a very large group. He ran as fast as he could the entire time, but it was not fast enough to keep up with the rest of the horses. He could see his family ahead of him in the distance and headed in that direction to the trap. He was roped, and struggled -- we could hear him screaming from our observation. They roped all four of his legs, and after he calmed down, they slid him under the gate to the small pen where his family was.
The estimated total captured was around 130 horses, and there were 0 deaths.
This portion of the Herd Management Area (HMA) is directly on the Nevada border and butts up against the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge with a single road between them. As we were pulling out of the HMA, we noticed a lone stallion standing on a low cliff dwelling on the Sheldon side, just starting out at the HMA. He didn’t move, just peered out onto his home. We couldn’t help but think that he was sadly reflecting on the devastation that was occurring.
Day 8: Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Report by Grace Kuhn
The helicopters were not flying today as the trap site was being moved. The final count of horses yesterday was 85, and 0 deaths.
Volunteer Toni and I met the BLM at the Lakeview Field Office and drove to temporary holding to watch loading. We arrived as the first truck was finishing loading, and watched the entirety of the second loading, and stayed until the trucks were driving away. The horses were being shipped to the Burns facility. There were 6-7 yearlings who were going to be placed in the BLM's training program.
After temporary, we drove and waited for the prior trap site to be removed. We then drove to the new temporary site, which was quite a bit further. There was plenty of horse sign in this area, but not a horse in site. The forage was good, and there were at least two watering holes that I saw. Based on this, I imagine tomorrow will be a big number day.
I worked with the BLM to get the best possible observation. We decided on a large hill that overlooks the trap site. We should also be able to see horses from behind us and either side as they come in.
Day 7: Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Report by Grace Kuhn
I met the BLM officials at the Lakeview Field Office in Lakeview, Oregon at 5:30 am. There were three observers today including myself.
We arrived at the trap site at 8:25 am, and the helicopter contractors were not flying yet.
The Beatys Butte Herd Management Area is 437,120 acres. We had to hike out from our trucks to get to the observation area, and as we were walking, I looked all around at the vast landscape that went on farther than the eye could see. It was so quiet, remote and wild. It seemed like a cruel joke that they would actually go out of their way to remove what is, in reality, a small number of horses from such an expansive area.
There were two helicopters flying, and 12 runs:
After the last run, we drove to temporary holding where the wild horses captured from the day were being held. The horses are sorted in different pens by stallions, mares and foals. It's heartbreaking to see them pace back and forth and even worse -- to hear them crying out for their family members.
Day 6: November 9, 2015: Helicopters did not fly today due to inclement weather.
Day 5: November 8, 2015: Photographer Mike Lorden was in attendance of the roundup. 23 horses were removed from the range, and 127 horses were shipped to holding.
Day 4, November 7, 2015:
AWHPC's Deniz Bolbol was on the ground but was only able to view the second run of the day. 149 horses were rounded up, bringing the three-day total 415.
The helicopters did not fly today but 122 were shipped to a BLM holding facility. Contractors moved trapsite.
3 deaths were reported.
146 mustangs were rounded up today. There were 2 deaths. According to BLM, there were "2 leppy foals gathered today with BCS 2 on both."
Whole Foods Beef Supplied by Ranchers Behind Massive Oregon Roundup, November 10, 2015
BLM Forced to Allow Public to See Massive Mustang Roundup, November 4, 2015
Massive Roundup of 1,500 Wild Horses Begins in Oregon This Week, November 2, 2015
Tens of Thousands of Citizens Oppose Massive Oregon Mustang Roundup, October 27, 2015
Wild Horse Roundup Nets Hundreds in Southern Oregon, Public News Service, November 11, 2015
Federal Government Begins Large Wild Horse Roundup, Associated Press, November 2, 2015
Federal Wild Horse Roundup in Progress (Photos), CBS 13 – KVAL
Wild Horse Advocates Challenge BLM Roundup Plan, Oregon Public Broadcasting, October 28, 2015