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Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Captured Calico Wild Horses Denied Shelter from Storms
Captured Calico Wild Horses Denied Windbreaks
BLM’s double-standards leave nearly 1000 captured mustangs in the cold
Fallon, NV (January 19, 2010)— 956 wild American mustangs rounded up off public land by helicopters in the past two weeks now stand in a feedlot-style Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contracted holding facility outside of Fallon, Nevada on private land. The new Fallon facility is not equipped with shelter, windbreaks or protection of any kind for the horses. High winds, rain and snow are expected to continue through the end of the week. In Calico, herds can move to sheltered canyons for protection from the harsh winter weather. Yet, in Fallon, they are deprived of adequate protection despite recommendations from wild horse advocates. This is in direct opposition to BLM’s own standards.
“I’m confused by the double standard. Before members of the public are allowed to adopt a wild horse from BLM we must prove we have adequate shelter. Why doesn’t BLM have to meet the same standards?” asks Ann Evans, adopter of three mustangs.
Yesterday, members of the public reported an inhumane lack of windbreaks. No apparent effort has been made to tie canvas tarps on fences to block the howling wind and the anticipated driving snow. On Friday January 15, advocates asked local Nevada BLM staff, Directors and top-level Department of Interior (DOI) under-secretaries to intervene on behalf of the horses by creating wind blocks.
"Those that care about the welfare of the wild horses or burros are asking for minimal protection for these vulnerable animals. Wild horse families are being ripped out of their natural environment where they can take care of themselves, separated from their family members and incarcerated on a windswept plain outside Fallon where they have no ability to protect themselves from the elements. BLM then tells the public their actions are for the good of the animals,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (named for the famous wild horse Kathrens has documented for the PBS/Nature series)
The DOI and BLM responded that at the just constructed Fallon facility “weather is not that extreme to require wind breaks for healthy horses. . . they do not require protection from the elements to maintain good health. . . .there is nothing to be concerned about from an animal well-being standpoint.” Thus, no actions to protect the captured horses have taken place, not even for foals or sick horses. Advocates contend that the horses are more prone to strangles (equine distemper) due to the lack of adequate protection.
“When these horses were rounded up, some where limping and wet with sweat. They are now terribly traumatized, depressed and confused. Their immune systems are compromised, making them more vulnerable to illness, like strangles (equine distemper) and death,” explains Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist, third generation Nevada native, and witness to the Calico roundup.
“BLM continually tells the public and the media that the wild horses are starving and must be removed from the range. Yet, the BLM provides them with no shelter in dangerous weather conditions where the horses will burn fat reserves attempting to keep warm. No reputable rescue would place any horses in a situation like Fallon,” stated Hilary Wood, President and Founder of Front Range Equine Rescue..
When asked about the lack of windbreaks the BLM indicated that the contractor who built the facility was not asked to provide any shelters or windbreaks. BLM zeroed out a portion of the Dishpan Butte wild horse herd in Wyoming solely on the basis that the wild horses did not have cover according to BLM Program Chief Don Glenn.
“We owe so much to these mustangs—it’s a dishonor that our government does not provide wind protection from the harsh elements,” said Elyse Gardner, humane observer, Calico and Pryor Mountains roundups
The Cloud Foundation and the public call on Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, to stop the Calico roundup and take immediate action against the cruelty and mismanagement of the BLM's wild horse and burro program. Canvas tarps are affordable and readily available at various outlets in the Reno/Fallon area.
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