Why are we here?

I was asked that question by the New York Times videographer Clare Major as she was held back at the “public observation” area and not given the same access as her colleagues just days before.

I let her know that even though I had submitted press credentials prior to the gather, and was present the day her colleagues were there, yet I was NOT allowed access. That on the day she was there my editor, Steven Long of Horseback, had resubmitted what BLM now called credentials and if she got access… so would the Team from Horseback.

That day only two horses were gathered. Two geldings from a supposed previous gather that I have not seen since.

Here is the NYTimes video:


Here is mine.

I finally did get access. But it took me 12 days and an awful lot of gymnastics. I still have not been allowed to approach the gather pens that the Times footage shows they did. 12 day… it took the NYTimes 24 hours.

During that twelve days Jeff Fontana (BLM) and I had a dialogue that began every morning that started like this… “So Jeff, let’s start the dance.” I have to say that Jeff was in a tough spot. He had pressure from every side, but he continued to try. That’s more than I can say for most Field Offices.

This week we are back in Nevada… no more California.

Tom Gorey of the BLM has been out here. He said he is going to work on a National observation protocol and try to use California as a model. Yet of course he added the “disclaimer” that it “will take time.”

Time we don’t have. Not with the current “I know the brakes don’t work but I’m hitting the gas anyway” mentality in the bureau right now. If this years gather schedule completes and what we see shaping up for 2011… Salazar will have pushed his “few treasured herds” proposal through without Congressional approval.

We NEED this protocol to STOP. A Moratorium MUST accompany any study done on a 30 year old program based on guesswork that has flawed data plugged in to create irreversible damage to our symbol of American Freedom.


IDA Calico Press Release

Some Updates on the Calico Lawsuits from IDA.

From the Horse online

Lawsuit Seeks Mustangs’ Return to Range

by: Pat Raia
April 07 2010, Article # 16137

A group of wild horse advocates have asked a federal judge to order the return of 1,800 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs to the Calico Mountain Complex range in Nevada. The BLM relocated the horses from the range to holding facilities during a controversial gather earlier this year.

In a brief filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., March 31 by Atty. Bill Spriggs, In Defense of Animals, ecologist Craig Downer, and Terri Farley asked Judge Paul L. Friedman to order the BLM to return to the horses to the range on the grounds that long-term holding violates the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The Act places wild horses and burros under BLM jurisdiction.

A hearing on the case is slated for April 30.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey declined comment.

View Free Version of 20 minute documentary in 2 parts Here.

Latest Press Release From In Defense of Animals on the Calico Horses

SAN RAFAEL, CA (IDA) – In Defense of Animals’s lawsuit to stop the roundup of wild horses in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwest Nevada proceeds. Last week, our generous pro bono legal team at Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney in Washington DC filed the final brief in the case. We continue to highlight the illegality of the government’s practice of removing wild horses from the wild only to stockpile them in government holding facilities in the midwest. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 30 in Washington DC, and the court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of May.

The roundup of the Calico horses exemplifies what is wrong and illegal with the government’s management of wild horses.

The tragedy of the Calico horses began with the helicopter stampeding of horses into traps and the separation of family members. It continues today at the holding facility which confines these wild horses in unnatural, zoo-like conditions. Of the reported 1,922 Calico horses rounded up, from December 28, 2009 to Feb 4, 2010, at least 83 have died from roundup-related problems. More than 40 heavily-pregnant mares have spontaneously aborted, and an uncounted number of foals born at the facility have died. (The BLM does not report foals born at the facility who have died.) The government officials claim this is the typical cost of a roundup and they make our point for us – it is too high a cost. It is an unnecessary cost. It is wrong and it must be stopped.

The Calico horses are kept at a newly-built, feedlot-like facility in Fallon, Nevada – approximately 200 to 300 miles from their home range. They are forced to stand and lie in their own waste. The horses are stressed from the confinement, being kept with unfamiliar horses, separated from their family members and the boredom.

Stress tends to weaken immune systems, which can increase susceptibility to health problems that could otherwise (under healthy, stress-free conditions) be warded off. The government recently revealed that a highly-contagious bacterial disease called “pigeon fever” is present at the holding facility. This bacteria, which lives and multiplies in dry soil and manure, is spread by flies and creates large, open intramuscular abscesses on the horse (the abscesses can also be internal). The government states between 50-100 horses are currently infected. This is just the latest misery to befall these innocent victims. We will continue to monitor this situation and let you know how you can help.

More Spin than Maytag

Wanted to add this before Horseback moves on to the next story.

If you read the other three… here’s the next soap opera installment to “How the Horse Turns…” Or “Days of the BLM.”

The Big Story

BLM Spins as More Horses Die

Photo by Laura Leigh

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management’s Washington spokesmen, Tom Gorey, is one of the best in the business. He’s able, articulate, savvy, and to use a term often bandied about in the nation’s capital, a master of the fine art of spin. On Thursday, he spun a web worthy of the fictional Charlotte herself.

For the better part of a week, Horseback Magazine has featured a series of articles on the missing credentials of two veterinarians attending the captured horses of Nevada’s Calico Mountains. Thus far, at least 115 have died, including miscarried foals. Horseback has repeatedly asked for the credentials of the vets who have set such a dubious record of death on their watch. Gorey finally complied, albeit in a round about way, dodging five questions drafted for the magazine by a physician and academic veterinarian and submitted to the agency.

The vets in the spotlight are Dr. Richard Sanford, the vet in charge of the BLM holding and processing facility at Fallon, and Dr. Albert Kane who is not licensed in the State of Nevada.

“Between them, Drs. Kane and Sanford have more than 40 years of experience
as equine veterinarians and over 30 years of that includes working with
wild horses,” Gorey wrote. “They each have all the qualifications, credentials, and
licenses that are appropriate or required by law. The BLM is fortunate to
have such experienced and dedicated professionals working in the agency’s
Wild Horse and Burro Program.”

But you didn’t answer the questions, Tom. Medical and veterinary professionals have questioned the sudden dietary switch from sparse desert grasses to rich hay in captivity as a likely cause of the deaths. In fact, the BLM’s published reports frequently mention the gastrointestinal condition, colic.

“The diagnosis for most of the Calico mares that have died at the Indian
Lakes facility is hyperlipemia characteristic of metabolic failure
attributed to re-feeding syndrome, he continued. “This condition is a result of the very
thin body condition of some of the horses because of starvation conditions
on the range, in combination with the late-pregnancy status of some mares.”

Horses in hundreds, if not thousands of photos shot by activists show fat healthy horses, not animals on the brink of starvation as BLM continues to spin.

The pregnant mares Gorey mentioned were stampeded for miles in the dead of winter by a roaring helicopter hired from a government contractor. Two foals were put down after painfully shedding their hooves after the stampede, which Sanford earlier acknowledged was caused by the chase.

“What Tom is conveniently neglecting to recognize is how the actual stress of the helicopter roundups and subsequent confinement and change in diet, placement in truly overcrowded conditions, etc. pushed these wild horses over the edge,” said Craig Downer, a famed wild horse expert on assignment for Horseback Magazine.

“Diagnostic and other information on the horses has been posted to the BLM’s
Website at http://www.blm.gov,” Gorey continued. “The BLM will continue to post updates on its Website under the Calico gather links as the horses continue to improve and
are readied for adoption.”