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Rawlins, Wyoming, August 13, 2018 – The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) today called for a halt to a Bureau of Land Management roundup of wild horses currently underway in the Red Desert Complex on public lands in Wyoming, charging that helicopters are running foals to death.
Just days after releasing photographs of a BLM helicopter hazing wild horses and causing them to crash through barbed wire at a roundup in Utah, the group released harrowing new video of foals being chased relentlessly by helicopters and a mare trying to defend her foal, who had been run so hard that he died by the next morning.
In a letter to Mary Jo Rugwell, BLM Wyoming State Director, AWHC cited evidence of inhumane roundup practices that appear to violate the BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy, their agency’s own own Standard Operating Procedures, BLM’s Wild Horse Handbook, and the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
On Saturday, AWHC’s observer documented a young foal that was struggling to keep up with his herd – visibly exhausted. After his mother bravely came to his aid, and valiantly chased off BLM contractors, he was roped and brought into the trap. This foal was found dead yesterday morning. Earlier this week, AWHC showed video of a tiny foal lagging behind his family as two helicopters drove him into the trap.
Four foals died in the first six days of the roundup. In addition to the foal found dead on Sunday, two foals died from “capture shock” indicating extreme exertion, struggle, or stress, while another foal broke his leg and was euthanized.
“The BLM is literally running tiny and fragile baby horses to death” said AWHC Executive Director Suzanne Roy. “In all of our years documenting this program, we have never seen so many tragic deaths of foals. BLM is driving these horses too fast and too far in high summer temperatures. We are calling on the BLM to suspend the roundup while an investigation is undertaken.”
Other violations cited by AWHC include:
- Driving wild horses and young foals faster than the slowest animal in the group.
- Driving wild horses at a distance and speed that is causing young foals to fall behind, be separated from their mothers, and eventually die from exhaustion and capture shock.
- Roping a mare who went back for her foal who fell behind to capture her and get her into the trap.
- Driving horses for long distances in temperatures as high as 94 degrees fahrenheit.
AWHC also noted in the letter that the wild horses being rounded up in Wyoming are coming off the range in Body Conditions of 5 and above – very healthy scores for wild horses that even border on being overweight — dispelling the propaganda that wild horses are suffering from mass starvation on the range.
On August 7, AWHC sent a formal complaint letter to Ed Roberson, BLM Utah State Director, whose helicopter contractors were seen flying dangerously close to terrified wild horses, and along barbed wire fence lines, causing horses crash through the fencing. That roundup ended the following day.
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.