Update for the week of Nov. 19-25 (fast)

There have been several folks (public and BLM) that have noticed that I have not updated the blog as I have in the past.

It has been a week of “roller-coaster” activity in several areas. I will try to give you a fast update on the avenues I have been working on.

Calico begins, first week breakdown

Of the seven days of operation (11/19-11/25) there have been six days of roundup operation. Day 2 was cancelled due to weather. Of the six days of operation I observed horses at the roundup site 3 days and in holding 4 days. (There was also a two day release of horses in the Fox Hog area of High Rock during this time, more on that later).

One group taken on Thanksgiving, 2011 before the wind kicked up.

First I would like to note that the atmosphere at the roundup so far has been relatively pleasant among those observing (including all government personnel). That said there are still access issues that include what appears to be a miscommunication among staff. Not one animal has been observed during proicessing. As animals are transported the “observers” are held on the range and are not even permitted to travel down a public road to wait on a public road (where processing could be observed, but limited) while staff sorts animals at holding. I have made a request to leave the trap site early and go to holding during my next visit. I had planned on being there today but my need for sleep had me fall out yesterday at 6 pm and not rise until 7 am this morning. (I will use the time to check on horses in short-term and get video up). Of note is that there have been 3 animals euthanized at the temporary facility: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/TriState_Calico/gatreports.html

However it is “of note” that BLM’s gather report will look like this:

BLM "gather report" for Monday 11/21

Of note is the phrase repeated on just about every day “no incident.” If you follow the reports posted “incident” on the BLM page only translates into “fatality.” A change of terminology for the sake of accurate dialogue is in order. “Fatality” should be used as many “incidents” do occur.

If you look at the dictionary definition of the word it really does not apply. If they use the word “incident” things like horses being trampled or coming in exhausted should be included. So should each horse that is left behind and requires roping or any horses that show signs of injury to legs, face or appear sore. Perhaps they should change the vocabulary. It would be a shame if the public interpreted such omissions, in conjunction with the choice of words, as an attempt to mislead.

Not an "incident," even though one of the horses demonstrates a hip issue at temporary.

There are some observations that are “of note.” First, the pilot (from limited observation) has a different “signature.” This was also noted during the last day of Barren Valley in Oregon. BLM will not disclose the name of the pilot. However at this roundup I was told it is not Josh Helyer.

This is an interesting “observation” as in Court documents BLM admits no wrong doing nor addresses any issues that have been brought forward in the case that lead to the TRO to pilot conduct at Triple B and is ongoing to conduct. IF BLM has taken steps to rectify an issue shouldn’t the public be notified? If mistakes are made and admitted to… and an issue actually being addressed… shouldn’t the BLM make the public aware even if they have to admit that a mistake was made in the first place? This agency  has a long history of discounting public concern and this would help create an area of public confidence instead of perpetuating the “veil of secrecy” that instills public distrust.

Second observation “of note” is that the tarps are still present in the loading area of the trap. The excuse that it helps horses “settle” is completely discounted through observation. Horses do not “settle” in the area of loading. Horses are being loaded most often immediately after capture with no “settle” time. If “settle” time is actually afforded it is done at the area on the opposite end of the trap. The only thing the tarps do is block the actual time of “handling” of the horses during loading.

Can you see how many horses are being crushed as they are flagged INTO the fence?

There is every indication that loading is still occurring in the manner it has in the past. Flagging at the opposite end of the pens still demonstrates a lack of understanding of equine behavior. Animals are often literally flagged into the panels instead of down the alley. Fast and hard flagging can still be observed (yet not the actual contact with animals as they are hidden) as the go down the alley. If you watch the horses feet (only part of them visible) you can still see the crowding of the alleys. Horse have been observed (in the area blocked by the saddle horses) “going down” during loading immediately after capture.

Observations as to the “drive” itself: Animals are coming in at between 1.5 hour to 2.5 hour intervals. The BLM line for this is that horses are being moved in “slowly.” However observations made can discount this assertion. On more than one run animals arrived at the trap visibly exhausted and “hot.” Animals were observed stumbling. Of note is that this trap location has now been used for 7 days. It would be logical to assume that animals are being brought in from greater and greater distances. BLM will not install GPS trackers nor cameras into contracted helicopters to confirm, nor dispel, their assertions.

Exhausted horses, video taped stumbling, reach trap area

Animals transported to the short-term facility (Palomino Valley Center) are not all in public view. Of those documented there are observations of note: Of the mares PZP treated at the roundup two years ago we have evidence that there have been late season births. This is evident in the body condition of several mares. At this time of year animals begin to conserve resource (in other words they travel fewer miles, slower speeds and “foaling season” has already past). Several mares have very young foals present and the resource used to give birth and nurse a young foal are evident. Also please remember the movement occurring in the areas due to construction for pipeline and geo-thermal and the adjoining roundup location. Many of these horses have travelled a lot in the last six months.

The majority of horses arriving at the facility appear in good health. A few arrived with superficial shipping wounds.

Observation of animals at holding and during roundup operations will continue.

High Rock Release

Also in the last week there was a return of horses into the Fox Hog area of High Rock. This is the first release and others are planned. I will update as I get info. But this almost did not happen… pat yourselves on the back. If we must address as distinct events than it works both ways.


Jeff Fonatana of BLM has provided me with brand ID’s on horses released and has promised to notify me as other areas are prepped for release.

However horses were released by sex, not in mixed sex groups nor partial bands.

Fox Hog release (Fontana, BLM)

Last Reply Brief Filed in the Humane action case

Late on the 21st of November the last reply brief went to the Court in the Humane care case. This statement from my Declaration sums up my feelings

“I am astounded that the BLM reply in this case does not outline concrete action being taken to rectify this type of conduct. I am fearful of the capabilities of such an agency that will continue to skirt every attempt to address the lack of standard. It literally causes pain that my government would rather argue my right to address this issue instead of creating a policy to carry out the most basic premise in the 1971 Act.”

The last reply is in and we may get a hearing on the Injunctive Relief or a ruling from the bench. The Complaint is still active. BLM’s reply does not address the issue itself at all. It attempts to tie this case to a case brought by another organization in the same Court (it is not associated) and simply my right to address the issue.

When you have staff at the roundups going out of their way to try to “give a better show” it is an implied admission that something went wrong. When you have a different pilot, it is an implied admission. When Dean Bolstad comes out of the NAS meeting to have a smoke an assures me that there will be a policy in a year… it is an implied admission it is needed. But not one area is addressed by BLM in any of their replies.

Triple B, Do we stand for this?


I am working on several areas of research as well that may bear some very interesting fruit soon… more on that later.

Calico 2011.... history repeating itself?

Smokin' ... (Every once in a while you catch a very "interesting" image.

I started this post at 7 am and just finished… had to stop and stop… more tomorrow…

Please donate if you can…. http://wildhorseeducation.org Without you this work can’t continue.


7 thoughts on “Update for the week of Nov. 19-25 (fast)

  1. Mar Wargo says:

    You have been very busy but you are doing an admirable job out there. I will send you some funds by the end of the month. Get in touch when you can. Must discuss a few things. Great post, Laura.

  2. hoofhugs says:

    This is a great post Laura. Isn’t it amazing that the BLM stands by the theory that you never ever admit making a mistake rather than admit that it still has some learning to do and is making every effort to improve their practices in light of what is currently understood to be best practices in equine welfare. I identify with your literal pain—the unnecessary infliction of suffering and destruction of these beautiful animals.

    It must be very difficult to carry around all that your eyes have seen, your ears have heard, and your intuition fills in for you.

  3. Mar Wargo says:

    What I think I am seeing again and again is criminal and it seems to be escalating. Is it from your viewpoint? These pileups have always been a hallmark but they seem to be more frequent and worse. Is this the MO of another old contractor? If there is a change in personnel it may very well be. CAyuse man from Wyoming who was at Twin Peaks in 2007? The one in his video bumping the exhausted horse that I sent to Elyse?

    Everything is congenial but they are ever covering up. Indirect admissions may mean some shuffling to come. I am sure it would be for the worse for the wild ones and not for the better. BLM is not changing course.

  4. Barbara Warner says:

    How is the trampled foal, Laura? I will donate to get him and his mom out of that hell hole.
    Let me know.

  5. arlene says:

    Laura, I will also donate, Let me know too

  6. Margaret says:

    I don’t understand the rush for gathering. If the pens hold 40 horses (example) you don’t bring in 100. Why are they crowding them to this extent??? Don’t they see the pileups???? Are they getting their rocks off watching this???

    Now just how long did BLM have that older mare before they killed her??? One day maybe two??? Did they offer her a chance to calm down before flagging her onto some trailer to God knows where????

    I think BLM just likes to think there God, they can kill at will whoever they please and no one can stand up to them. That kind of thinking and action is scary.

    Sorry to Laura and my fellow advocates for abrupt language. It’s late, I’m tired and BLM sometimes just goes looking for getting a verbal tongue lashing. Come to think of it, the judge in the Michael Jackson case verbally lashed Murray…

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