Sparks, Nevada (February 13, 2017). . . . As first reported on ABC7 News, San Francisco on Friday, February 10, dozens of federally protected wild horses have died at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Palomino Valley Holding Corrals in Sparks, Nevada after being captured in the agency’s Owyhee Complex roundup, which took place between November 1 and -December 4, 2016.
The BLM has reported just 18 deaths associated with the roundup. However, records obtained by the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that 30 additional horses captured at Owyhee died between November 7, 2016 and January 26, 2017.
- A dozen horses were found dead in their pens of unknown causes.
- 10 horses died from traumatic injuries, including broken necks and fractured limbs sustained as terrified horses crash into gates, panels, fences and each other.
- 2 horses died from colic.
- 6 horses were “euthanized” for what BLM categorized as “pre-existing conditions.”
“The BLM rounds up these majestic wild horses with helicopters and throws them into feedlot pens, robbing them of the two things they value most: family and freedom,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHC. “We know about the deaths and injuries of wild horses at the roundups themselves. These records prove that the trauma inflicted on wild horses as a result of the BLM’s mismanagement only begins with their capture.”
The BLM’s Owyhee Complex roundup was the largest of 2016. The BLM reports that 1,832 wild horses (704 studs, 773 mares, 355 foals) were captured in the roundup. Of these, 1,433 were permanently removed from their homes on the range, 18 horses died or were euthanized, and 399 were returned to the range after the released mares were treated with the PZP-22 vaccine.
The records obtained through FOIA document the dozens of wild horse deaths in BLM holding pens that go unreported by the agency. AWHC said the deaths of Owyhee horses will continue in holding as stallions are gelded, the horses are forced to live in feedlot conditions without shelter from the elements, and/or are loaded and shipped to other holding facilities.
“This cruel treatment of wild horses is out of step with what the public expects for the management of these national icons,” Roy continued. “We know where the American people stand on this issue, and we are hopeful that the Trump Administration will stand with us to address federal mismanagement and protect these national symbols of American freedom and greatness on our Western public lands.”
AWHC advocates for implementation of humane and scientifically proven birth control as a humane population management alternative to the roundup and removal of wild horses from the range. This approach was recommended by the National Academy of Sciences in 2013, but the BLM continues to spend less than 1% of its budget on this humane, publicly-acceptable management tool.
AWHC previously obtained death records for roundups that showed dozens of deaths following other large BLM roundups including the agency’s 2014 Checkerboard roundup in Wyoming and the 2010 Calico Mountains roundup in Nevada.
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) (formerly known as the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.