Controversial Roundup of Wild Horses Underway

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A controversial roundup of 2,500 wild horses from public and private lands in Nevada began on Monday amid protests from activists who call it needless and inhumane.

Contractors in helicopters and on horseback herded some of the mustangs into corrals in the Black Rock Range, a chain of mountains 100 miles north of Reno, according to a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM said the capture is necessary because the area cannot support its estimated 3,000 horses. The population must be reduced to protect the horses and the environment, the agency said.

Animal activists dispute that assessment, saying that the horses are healthy and that cattle and other grazing livestock do more damage. The roundup, they say, will frighten the horses and could injure or even kill many of them.

“It’s a brutal process no matter how they do it,” activist Elyse Gardner said. “Legs get broken, horses get sick, foals can’t keep up and get separated from their mothers.”

Horses with broken legs typically are euthanized.

Gardner, who monitored a BLM roundup on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Montana last summer, said she was alarmed that Monday’s capture was held on private land, where the public could not watch.

Once the horses are captured, they will be trucked to Fallon, Nev., for veterinary care, Emmons said. Some horses will be offered for adoption. The rest will be transferred to pastures in the Midwest.

By law, they cannot be sent to slaughter.

More than 30,000 wild mustangs are already in captivity, and adopting them out has not been easy. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said the U.S. has spent $50 million on its wild horse program this year.

An animal rights group, In Defense of Animals, sued to try to prevent the roundup, contending that the mustangs are vital to the ecosystem. A federal judge rejected its request for an injunction last week.

A group of celebrities, including singer Sheryl Crow and actor Viggo Mortensen, objected to the roundup in an open letter to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last week.

Obama — typically, had no comment, but a spokesman for Reid said Monday that the senator was disappointed with the BLM’s handling of the horses.

“The BLM has failed to properly manage these herds for many years, requiring the large gather,” said Jon Summers, Reid’s spokesman.

In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, granting federal protection to wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” The horses were introduced to North America by the Spanish conquistadors. Some of today’s wild mustangs are descendants of escaped Spanish horses.

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14 Responses to Controversial Roundup of Wild Horses Underway

  1. Rock says:

    I admit I’m no expert on this, but I’m not happy with this roundup. In the back country where I live, we have wild horses running free on private and public land and they’re beautiful to watch.

  2. Estacada says:

    Why am I not surprised Obama hasn’t gotten involved in the issue? He’s a true master of the path of least resistance.

    America’s wild horses are a symbol of an America long gone but somehow, more than 30,000 of these magnificent creatures endure. The idea that rounding them up could result in injury and death is simply horrendous. Leave them alone.

  3. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    In the modern world, I’m surprised there are 30,000 wild horses left. Demands on land, coupled with lack of water and pollution, makes their lives a struggle.

    At very least, they can’t be herded up and sold for food.

  4. Fran says:


    And this week, an official in Argentina confirmed that two gay men wed in the southern province of Tierra del Fuego on Monday. It’s believed to be the first legal same-sex wedding in all of Latin America — the whole continent!

  5. JollyRoger says:

    I actually find it a bit perplexing that we can eat cows, but not horses.

    Anyone who has grown up around them (as I have) generally doesn’t have a high level of appreciation for the intelligence of either species. If we could feed some hungry people with horse meat, I don’t have a problem with it.

  6. Jim says:

    I say leave the horses the hell alone. At the very least, any such round-up should be supervised and in full view of monitors.

  7. Rachel says:

    Eat horses? What the fuck is wrong with you, Jolly? That’s as sick as eating dogs. Is it necessary to put everything in our mouths as food? The older I get, the less meat I eat. In fact, I eat meat (chicken) about twice a week nowadays and I’m thinner and healthier.

  8. VicoDANIEL says:

    I think the largest market for horse meat in the world is Japan where it’s very expensive and eaten mostly by older, well-heeled consumers.

    In the U.S., for millions, the horse is a mythological creature who represents a symbol of a bygone era in time. The horse is the very symbol of the Old West and for most, the notion of eating one isn’t much different than cannibalism.

    Personally, I would never eat horse meat. Having been fortunate to ride them during my childhood years, I remember their dark, soulful eyes and my summers spent brushing and feeding them. If I were rich, I would have a property large enough to have a couple horses.

  9. bradfrmphnx says:

    Personally, I don’t think there should be a roundup at all. Let nature take its course with these wild animals. The strong and healthy will survive, the weak and old won’t. Putting them to pasture, and separating them from their herd seems more inhumane to me.

    I’m not sure why the president needs to be involved with this. He can’t micromanage every problem that comes up.

  10. Dixie Cameron says:

    The President needs to be involved because he appointed the head of the Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar. Who is a former rancher and in bed with the fat cattlemen who want the grazing rights of the Mustangs rightful land. Since this is Obama’s man he has to hold him accountable. The whole damn outfit is corrupt! The DOI is overseer’s of the BLM who is blatently in your face breaking the law. If Obama dosen’t ride heard over his own appointee’s who the hell does? At this point NO ONE!

  11. Cattle grazing has been increased 300% in the Calico Complex so it’s not true that these wild horses are in danger of starving. That is unless some welfare rancher has fenced them away from forage. These ranchers get subsidized with a half billion of our tax dollars and a 1991 GAO study proved the millions of cattle–not the few thousand wild horses left–are guilty of over-grazing and destroying riparian areas. The DOI/BLM is breaking the 1071 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burros Act by “managing for extinction” instead of preserving and protecting these wild horses as the Act mandated. Criminal charges need to be brought against the heads of these agencies IMO and a Congressional hearing needs to be held. There should be an immediate moratorium on the cruel and costly roundups.

  12. Saeed Khodr says:

    Horses have been on earth for many generations befor. And it is very inhumane and selfish to incaptive, harm, or even indager the life and home lands for no reason other than us humans being selfish and agreassive.
    Horses are the most beutiful and most magestic animals that walk on earth, as well as the fact that they have had a large possitive effect on all nations and all history of mythological stories and tales. Ex: Unicorns in some mythological stories.
    Those creature repressent love and piece, and they have faught witgh humans in manny battle and didd humans no harm so it is very wrong to harm them for no strong reason.

  13. Sympathizer says:

    I think that if the land managment buerau had done regular matinence of the horse population this mass round-up would be unrequired. The buerau needs to do more often adn smaller round ups.

  14. Ed Cooper says:

    HEY!!, I hear ya, it’s easy to find fault, easier to say leave them alone, but deep down something needs to be done. There are, I must say, thousands of horse lovers out there, what if someone organized a Nevada roundup to take, say 2 months, invite horse lovers, be it on horseback or 4×4’s, ATVs grab their camping gear and slowly push the smaller herds into catch pens, process them, neuter some, vacinate, administer contraception meds. The drivers could be put on a schedule as to a time and place to meet their team leaders who will familiarize them with an area and a game plan. This way the divers could feasibly camp on their wild herd’s trail, keep them moving until they reach the holding pens. this would be a lot calmer having far less stress then chasing them with choppers. Then the Horse Lovers and the Govt. could work together with no need for spying and lying, a cooperative venture. This could then be used in other locales wanting their Wild Horses taken care of. Who knows maybe some of the horses held across the country could be swapped out with new horses freshly caught, thereby keeping the genetics at it’s optimum. The horses already caught are branded and have some info with them as to age, where caught, which band etc. Horses could be rotated in and out of confinement 1st to give them back a taste of freedom, secondly to permit the breeding of fine wild Mustangs. Would it be so bad to release back into the wild the older horses that no one wants, where they could live out their final days dying of old age, wolf, bear, cougar,coyote killings, where Mother Nature can make use of them. C’mon People, these are Magnificent Creatures and they need MORE from us!!!!

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