Activists: BLM’s wild horses inhumanely treated
FALLON (AP) – Wild horse protection advocates already upset about the federal roundup of hundreds of mustangs in Nevada say the Bureau of Land Management is mistreating the animals once they are put in temporary holding pens.
The activists say the BLM has refused their requests to put up windbreaks and shelters for more than 1,000 wild horses being held in Fallon, 60 miles east of Reno.
“This is another example of the dismissive attitude the BLM takes toward the wild horses,” said Elyse Garner of the Cloud Foundation, who has been monitoring the agency’s winter roundups of up to 2,500 wild horses in the Calico Mountains and Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno.
“They are choosing expediency over being humane,” she said.
BLM officials say the horses are fully capable of withstanding the elements while awaiting transfer to adoption centers or permanent pastures.
Garner agreed the horses “know how to fend for themselves” on the range.
“But being chased by a helicopter, penned up and transported miles to these corrals is a shock to their systems. They are hardy animals, but when they are penned up, they need a windbreak,” she said. She said the agency’s own rules require people who adopt horses from the BLM to have three-sided shelters in their corrals.
“So what’s good for one horse isn’t good for 1,000 horses?” she asked. “Where’s the logic?”
The Fallon facility, run by a private contractor, is new and has several large corrals. Some of the corrals include hills where horses gather on the leeward side when the wind picks up.
Dean Bolstad, deputy division chief for the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Program, said the Fallon corrals are temporary pens where the horses are held for weeks or months before being sent out to adoption centers or more permanent corrals or pastures elsewhere. He said the national standards are for the nation but might not be needed in some areas.
Managers have built windbreaks in 12 of the smaller holding/sorting pens used for sick or lame animals, but not around the main pens.
He said Fallon is not prone to winter rains followed by freezing winds, which take their toll on horses’ health, adding horses tend to chew up plywood and tarps, and support poles can be hazardous if animals crash into them.
“These horses have the ability to deal with the elements,” Bolstad said. “Their coats are very heavy in preparation for the winter. In eight years, horses in the previous facility in Fallon had no climate-related health problems.”