AWHC Calls On Congress to Put a Moratorium on Roundups and Investigate BLM’s Routine Violations of Its Own Animal Welfare Standards
Eureka, Nevada (September 17, 2020) - The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, has documented the ongoing abuse and inhumane treatment of wild horses at the hands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The latest incident occurred on September 14 at the Diamond Complex outside of Eureka, Nevada, where shocking footage captures a small, young bay horse being trampled while trying to escape a crowded trap pen during a routine BLM helicopter roundup. The goal of the roundups is to drastically reduce the wild horse population on public lands in order to maximize commercial, taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing. In the first week of the roundup, 11 deaths have occurred, including a 5-month old filly with a neck or spinal fracture and “no prognosis for recovery,” a 2-3 year old sorrel stallion euthanized due to a “displaced cervical survey” and a sorrel stallion who “collapsed and expired” at the end of a helicopter chase.
The AWHC is calling on Congress to put a moratorium on roundups, investigate the BLM’s routine violations of its own Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy for helicopter operations, and pass the fiscal year 2021 appropriations legislation that includes a House-passed amendment that requires the BLM to spend $11 million on scientifically recommended fertility control as an alternative to cruel roundups.
The September 14 incident is just one of dozens of gut wrenching abuses that AWHC has documented this summer. In July at a helicopter roundup in Utah’s Swasey Herd Management Area, the same helicopter contractor also chased horses into a poorly configured trap, despite warnings from advocates on the ground that the design of the trap was too small and could lead to the animals breaking their necks. This caused the wild horses to struggle and crash into the bars of pens that were too small, causing injuries, including a five-year old mare who broke her neck and died.
The documented handling practices violate the BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy for helicopter operations as the BLM accelerates its assault on wild horses as part of a plan to remove virtually every wild horse and burro living today from public lands over the next five years. Additional roundup reports with documented abuse from this past summer alone include:
- Diamond Complex, NV (ongoing)
- Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory, CA (ongoing - U.S. Forest Service)
- Sulphur Roundup, UT (ended 8/26)
- Shawave Mountains, NV (ended 8/24)
- Swasey HMA, UT (ended 7/24)
- Range Creek, UT (ended 7/6)
“Unbeknownst to most Americans, we the taxpayers are funding the federal government’s brutal round up and abuse of our majestic wild horses, symbols of the American West. It’s wrong, it’s unnecessary and it has to stop," said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Today we’re calling on Congress to act definitively to rein in the BLM’s wild horse roundup program. There’s a way to humanely manage wild horses, and terrorizing them with helicopters and removing them en masse from public lands is not it.”
Congress recently released an additional $21 million dollars in appropriated funds for the BLM’s wild horse and burro roundup program with the understanding that the horses would be treated humanely. Until the BLM is held accountable for their protracted inhumane treatment of the wild horses and burros, the suffering will continue.
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 in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.