RENO, Nevada, Feb. 11, 2011 - Today the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) called on the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to halt all wild horse roundups until the agency establishes what agency director Bob Abbey said is the need for "new normal" roundup policies and procedures. The acknowledgment by Director Abbey that current procedures are not sufficient follows tremendous public outrage over video of a mustang collapsing during the wild horse roundup in northeastern Nevada.
The roundup is still underway in the Antelope Complex and is the largest BLM capture operation of the year. It aims to remove 2,000 mustangs from public lands.
The AWHPC call for an immediate halt to all mustang roundups was issued in response to a report released by the BLM this evening finding that the helicopter stampede of the compromised mare did not violate current BLM regulations.
Video clearly shows an apparently older mare collapsing after being stampeded for miles in a helicopter chase, being forced to her feet by wranglers, then chased again by the helicopter. The video shows the mare visibly exhausted, breathing hard with steam blowing from her nostrils and sides heaving.
AWHPC noted that all the members of BLM's review panel for the incident were responsible for various aspects of the roundup in question, so the conclusion that the treatment of the mare did not violate existing BLM policy and procedures and was not cruel or inhumane is expected.
"BLM director Bob Abbey has acknowledged what we've known for some time, that an improved standard is needed for the handling and treatment of mustangs in government roundup operations," said Suzanne Roy, director of AWHPC. "Until the BLM establishes new procedures that prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment of our wild horses, then it must cease all operations to roundup and remove these federally-protected animals from our public lands."
The costly Antelope Complex roundup aims to remove more than 2,000 federally-protected wild horses from a 1.3 million-acre public lands area leaving behind approximately 427 horses in the same area where the BLM allows 12,800 livestock to graze (2,400 privately-owned cattle and 10,400 privately-owned sheep). The BLM proceeded with this capture operation despite a cost-effective alternative that was offered by businesswoman and philanthropist Madeleine Pickens. Instead of housing them on Mrs. Pickens' ranches adjacent to their home range, on lands destined to become part of a wild horse eco-sanctuary, the BLM will ship captured Antelope horses thousands of miles to Midwestern holding facilities, at great cost to the taxpayers and the horses themselves.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. The campaign's grassroots efforts are supported by a coalition of over forty historic preservation, conservation, horse advocacy and animal welfare organizations.
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