Nine wild horses have died in BLM’s highly publicized Calico Complex roundup in Nevada. The roundup, arguably the most widely scrutinized in history, has had comparatively more details made available to the public. Gather activity updates from the BLM web site report:
- Dec. 30 – 20 year old + mare euthanized: poor condition.
- Jan 10 – Colt dies as it was being brought in: necropsy shows pre-existing pulmonary condition.
- Jan 7 – 20 year old + mare put down on site: poor body condition.
- Jan 11 – mare found dead at Fallon facility: dietary feed change.
- Jan 13 – 12 year old mare found dead at Fallon Facility: arrived four days prior in poor condition.
- Jan 14 – Observer notified BLM of downed mare in transport truck. Driver corrected the situation.
– Two mares found dead a Fallon Facility: dietary feed change.
- Jan 21 – Mare that was downed in transport truck euthanized at Fallon facility: weak on arrival & did not recover.
– Colt with multiple hoof sloughs from capture euthanized at Fallon facility.
– 20-25 horses at Fallon facility have received treatment for various injuries.
Though one could reasonably accept the deaths of the older mares as an act of mercy ( Lisa Ross, BLM public affairs specialist, understood one to be a 30year+ male with worn out teeth), their advanced age brings other thoughts to those who are watching this roundup closely. Willis Lamm, Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates, states,” BLM says that the range can’t ‘survive’ a roundup moratorium until a more practical horse management strategy is worked out… The presence of elder horses indicates that in fact there is enough forage to go around. While it still may be arguable that range populations need to be regulated, it doesn’t seem to be the dire situation that BLM is portraying.”
Of the four found dead at the Fallon facility from the inability to adjust to an oat / grass hay diet, Lamm said,
Finding four horses dead in a BLM contract facility is an ominous sign. clearly the ‘observation strategy’ for horses making the transition from the range to holding facility conditions warrants improvement. If a horse starts to colic, it’s promptly reported and the veterinarian tries and fails to resolve the problem, then the contractor and BLM did try to take the appropriate action. Yet it seems contradictory for BLM to euthanize horses on the range that they deem to be in mortal condition while a contractor lets horses colic and die in his corrals. If BLM is going to bring in these horses, the responsibility for mitigating the risks associated with gathering must extend through BLM to its contractors.
The standard format in BLM gather statistic reports classify deaths in two categories: those due to gather activities and those not due to gather activities. The higher echelons of BLM management have recently stated that the number of deaths involved in the gathers is less than 1%. It has not been confirmed which of the figures management is quoting. Heather Emmonds, BLM public relations for the Calico gather, confirmed that, of the 9 deaths reported at the Calico roundup, only one will be considered as ” due to gather activities”. John Neill, BLM facility manager at Fallon, confirmed that deaths due to feed change are not considered to be unusual, however the percentage of deaths is very low. It is uncertain if deaths at holding facilities such as the Fallon facility are logged in standard gather statistics.
A curiosity in the gather update page is the apparent loss of 82 horses. Of the 1,195 horses reported as gathered, only 1,113 are accounted for.
Notes of interest:
- Emmonds reports a handful of albinos have been captured in addition to some rare “curly” horses.
- George Knapp, channel 8 Las Vegas Now, reports the black nick named “Freedom” who esscaped from BLM corral has been recaptured. video
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