Calico, then and now

I have several things on my plate at the moment but want to take a minute to focus on “where you are needed.”

High Rock holding 11-8 "Satanta"

Please continue to FAX

The release at High Rock to “Low AML” will happen. The plan to wait to see what quota is at Calico has been scrapped. However… the game is ongoing. Today we have a flyover of the Complex to determine how many to release toward low AML. If you remember 1300 were in the Complex and a few more outside the HMA’s (but remember HMA’s are manipulated boundaries from the original lines). So now we will get “numbers” of horses still in the Complex and the release will be adjusted by the numbers they give. So we will still have a release (brands and descriptions have been requested as well as access to photograph the horses released so we can actually get some data on what happens AFTER a population has been disrupted). BUT that also opens the door for a “number” to then reflect horses that will be taken during Calico. The flyover map and corresponding data will be requested. (Remember these will be handwritten numbers on a map… not hard photographic “evidence.”) We will keep a close eye on that.

If you can continue to ask for a partial release of related horses (ie. partial family bands, stallions with familiar mares that will be PZP treated… again we need to know how PZP really effects the ability of band structure to resemble anything “natural” in a wild population).

Requests should go here: and FAX :  530-279-2171 attention Allen Bollschweiler


Calico, 11/2011

Calico 2011, Setting the Stage….

High Rock is part of the now dubbed “Tri State” Complex. Long convoluted evolution here and I will explain the history in a later post. But for now you need to understand that Sheldon (done this summer) High Rock (just completed) Calico (just beginning) and the Granite HMA’s (planned for later this winter) comprise a clean sweep of the North Western quadrant of Nevada.

To begin to comprehend (and I will expand on this later) you need to recognize that we are disrupting these areas in a way we have never impacted them before. We have geo-thermal, expanding gold mines, moly mines and the well-know Ruby pipeline. Horses are always the fist to pay the price for any interest that moves in… but the neighborhood is being over-run.

Horses are moving.

In the most easy to illustrate example it goes like this….

Ruby pipeline gets approval. (we wont touch on the state legislator that made a deal to give the pipeline access through his private property for an undisclosed sum of money at this point… but it’s always good to remember these things).

BLM creates a new “boundary” line called the Tri-state Complex. Legal action against USFWS has to be dropped because of a need to re-craft and lack of public support (Fall, 2009). WWP makes deal with Ruby for wildlife corridors, pisses off ranchers and state legislator that made the deal. Ruby never talks more than superficially with wild horse groups.

Construction begins after Calico and Sheldon are rounded up.

Roads are being widened and high speed MASSIVE trucks bring in construction equipment.

Mental picture time: Pristine wilderness where very few humans travel… now has dirt roads that can accommodate two way traffic of these monster vehicles. Dust is kicked up from those roads that has fallout that extends half a mile that literally covers plant life to an almost unrecognizable state. Springs located near these roads have heavy dust accumulation… horses flee the areas… North and South. (Also located in or near these areas we have a Moly mine, expanding gold mines and geo-thermal…)

Fast forward, 2011…

We now have a concentration (called “over-population”) of horses in a number of areas. Roundups are called for through new EA’s because the RMP’s call for the expansion of these other “public interest” projects.

In Sheldon horses are taken from north of the highway… AND I can tell you that the traditional herds (like Fish Creek) are non-existent to how they once were. The horses moved North to get out of the way.

In Calico we have movement as well. Horses moved into High Rock and South in Calico. In Calico we now have an “off-HMA” population that will be taken through “authority.”

Can you say “duh?”

Heading right at me, pipeline construction truck 7/11

We create the problem and “blame the horse.” We create a situation without giving an alternative but the same old “dig those heels in” management that we have always done with our horses.

But today is different from yesterday… we are driving this mandated interest into bankruptcy. We are forcing a non-viability onto these populations without addressing any alternative. We are treating the “living symbol of the pioneer spirit of the West” as if it is simply a “bottom line” corporation being run out of business because the “profit” line has bigger fish looking to “industrialize” public land. This is aiding Salazar and Obama in furthering an agenda they have labelled “green” and “good for us.”

Are you starting to feel like a battered child? It’s the same psychology.

Don't forget Hope...

Lessons from history, Calico 2009

The Calico roundup of 2009 (in my humble opinion) was the birth place of a new kind of advocacy. It became the beginning of the “show me” (and I am not going to stop until I see it) school of thought.

Calico (for me) was the beginning of my “marathon” here on public land. The access games as images hit the public. The outright screaming matches that occurred (I am not kidding) from BLM employees because I disclosed images to the public of what I had seen. I had advocated for change prior (Sheldon lawsuit and anti-slaughter issues) but Calico was my “baptism of fire” into standing with the horses… wherever they are.

At Calico what we as an advocacy community witnessed was a herd of horses that were not “showcase.” We witnessed the handling on the range and tracked animals into the black hole of holding. The restrictions on documenting the facility were tightened and tightened as horrific images surfaced into the public dialogue. The facility was then closed to public viewing citing reasons that have never been validated. The only reason ever validated was that the public outcry was so great, it had to be stopped. (These issues and all ongoing access issues are the subject of the case that will be heard in the Ninth Circuit on January 9, 2012 and has taken a massive amount of work).

The images were so poignant that I edited (and then re-edited) a piece to tell as much of the story as could be told simply through picture. I added footage from other advocates and simply listed contributors alphabetically… that piece can be viewed here as it was made available free to the public:

Among the images captured were those of an eight month old colt… whose feet literally began to fall off… and he was euthanized. His story, and the “bed of lies” he died in, can be read here:

At this juncture in time we are doing no better in recognizing that at the center of this program lies a beating heart… the beating heart of a living, breathing, wild horse.

BLM still denying the pilot made contact

Fast forward summer 2011 and Triple B, a small victory

Since Calico I have documented more roundups, wild horses ranges, horses in holding than any other government personal or single private citizen. This is not a “chest thump” nor brag, it is a testimony. It is an unbroken chain of gut wrenching situations that are not isolated events. Every day that I spend with our horses I witness something that  begs questions. Many of those questions are so contrary to common sense it makes your head spin. The obstinate adherence to outdated process is unbelievable. Many days I feel like I have been transported in time back to the days prior to the act and am watching the “mustangers” of old.

Among the acts documented was the striking of the horse with a helicopter skid at Triple B. This roundup has many outrageous occurrences from lack of water, hot shot use, no dust control, barbed wire at trap locations (caused fatality), pilot conduct and foals, foals, foals being run in the desert heat in July (with tragic consequence). (Note: these issues have also been documented at other roundups but many pieces need to be in place prior to having the ability to filing a legal action).

I filed in Federal Court and was granted a TRO to pilot conduct. The Judge leaving the Injunctive motion open to new evidence, if it arose. Well… low and behold the conduct did not abate, only the ability to document it. But enough has been captured to raise the question: Why, in an Agency tasked with humane care for 40 years, is there no care standard when the need for one can be so clearly documented?

In this action the Agency has not replied that it is providing any remedy… only challenging my right to address the conduct programmatically. Why they haven’t just said… “Ok. We made a care standard that we will review in six months” and we can all move on… is beyond me. It goes back to that obstinate adherence and an inability to address directly any area, even the simplest of issue.

That case should have a decision by the end of the month.

Lights, curtain, Action… Calico 2011/2012

Calico EA and final record of decision here: I can tell you that my comments were not addressed in the response to the public.

The roundup schedule has Calico starting 12/1. The flyover to locate populations is happening now in conjunction with the population survey at High Rock.

Calico will begin this weekend.

This is the BLM schedule:

we can call this section a “public service announcement” …. PLEASE take note that the same type of operation (state sweep) is occurring in WY. I am not in WY and I hope someone can get there and document the activities on the range that not only include the horses… but the impacts of the other interests on the land. It is imperative that kind of documentation be done in WY. ALSO note the Ely/Elko roundup for this winter of Pancakes. That will complete the sweep began last year of horses up and down the Eastern side of the state and set Ely/Elko in the same danger of genetic bankruptcy we will see on the Western side of the state. It is my expectation that Pancakes will also begin ahead of schedule and hope someone is watching that area. That EA was not based on range conditions but had a very strong influence of fiscal consideration to any future action in that area. It also borders areas where we may have extreme change in water table due to extractive interests very soon. ALSO of note (to those of you still following me… is that we had Paymaster (Tonapah) brought to an AML of 3!!! and the Silver King heartbreak (trying not to swear) and a huge chunk of that land was just leased for natural gas exploration… and PLEASE note the CA heliostat project in the mojave. I have been hollering about that one for some time… WATCH anything labeled “green”and think toxic not safe.

General, no longer free, Soldier meadows holding

I need YOU!

This work is not funded by any large pockets. None of the groups that have grants and funding have ever offered to carry the fiscal needs of this. BLM shakes their head at the vehicle held together by duct tape and wear and tear on my equipment and body… “don’t know how you do this,” they say. I say “People care.”

Calico is my personal “ground zero.” It was my “baptism of fire.” My General, Commander and True boy came from Calico and are still safe because of Neda DeMayo. This area of the state from Sheldon to Reno… is my “home.”

PLEASE help me to watch over them…. I try to make my actions match my words… if I see it, I get it to you as fast as I can… if I can create a lawsuit I work my fanny off with my attorney and we file… if I see an area we can make a difference through public pressure I tell you exactly who to contact… I am trying very hard to be your eyes as we stand there with them and take that information forward… But I can’t do it without you.

I want to head in and stay like I have done before. I have situated myself where I can watch roundup, holding and transport to facility. I have an “extra set of hands” to post reports if I can’t… last time all I had was a borrowed camera and my cell phone… this time I have all of you.

Here we go again…


20 thoughts on “Calico, then and now

  1. Paula Denmon says:

    I read every word, and understand the issues and the urgency. I feel like you are making progress both on the public opinion front and certainly on the legal front. Your very success is making BLM move everything faster in my opinion, because they are afraid of the outcome of your efforts in exposing their “scorched earth policy”. My only conundrum is how to get more funds into your hands and how to make the impact of all the Wild Horse Supporters speak with a huge voice. And how to make more money in this crazy real estate business so that I can help more financially.

  2. Mar Wargo says:

    Wonderful synopsis of your experience and work, Laura. The gold dust is in the details but this overview, despite not containing the Owyhee massacre, is a must read. This will tighten up folk’s views and help them see the Big Picture in Nevada. It is still the state where policy gets set and used and abused. We are watching the wild horses and burros go from our land. This is a terrible mistake and done all wrong and means we have to fight all out to get this brought to an end. God read, thanks, get better and keep thinking outside of the box!!

    • Mar Wargo says:

      Laura Leigh and Cat Kindsfather were at Calico today. There were 51 horses removed. One mare has a knee injury they are treating before shipping to PVC? (I am not sure where they all will go yet.) LL said it is cold. They are returning to Reno and she will have something up for us ASAP. “Just so you know!”

  3. Laura… I have committed to a regular monthly donation.

  4. Leslie Peeples says:

    Calico is starting next week, 2 weeks early!

  5. Mar Wargo says:

    Will be sending some gas help…

  6. Mar Wargo says:

    Get a mailing address so you can forward from your PO Box and so we can help you directly? I hope you will rest MORE! before you go.

  7. savewildhorses says:

    God speed. Will try to send a little donation. Also, can you name that image of that horse at the top of your blog when you have a free second? It really affects me, don’t know why and may need to reference it later. thanks.

    • Laura Leigh says:

      savewildhorses… I have used his pi several times… he effects me, too.
      What about Satanta, kiowa chief… “If you kill me, it will be like a spark on the prairie. It will make a big fire – a terrible fire.”

      • savewildhorses says:

        Sounds fitting. When I look at it I see half horse, half native american. There is something about that horse. We need to save him somehow ungelded. Where are they shipping him?

  8. Louie Cocroft says:

    That Fire has already started. It could, just possibly crown to the top

  9. savewildhorses says:

    I would like to start a mission to save Satanta and his family band and get them released back to the range. How does one go about this? Second choice would be to save him and get him to a sanctuary like Return to Freedom. Any ideas would be most appreciated. I cannot bear the thought of him languishing somewhere out of sight for the rest of his days.

  10. […] visit the blog of the foremost wild horse advocate and witness of the BLM brutality Laura Leigh at For more general facts and numbers about the wild horses, please visit […]

  11. […] read:  for background information on what is happening in the […]

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