The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

HSUS Answers FAQs Re: Calico Gather – April 02, 2010

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on April 15, 2010


The Calico Wild Horse Gather

Questions and answers

The Humane Society of the United States

Background

In late December 2010, despite pleas from wild horse advocates around the world to stop the senseless removal of mustangs from the American landscape, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began the process of gathering more than 1,900 wild horses from the Calico Complex Herd Management Areas (HMA) in Nevada. Since then, the Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS) has received numerous complaints about the methods used to conduct the removals, which may have resulted in the injury and death of several animals, as well as the treatment of animals held at the short-term holding facility in Fallon. To address these concerns, the HSUS has been in constant communication with the BLM regarding these allegations and sent an equine veterinarian associated with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) to inspect the Fallon facility. The following article addresses some of the most frequently asked questions and expressed concerns regarding the Calico gather and the treatment of animals at the Fallon facility. 

1. Why is this wild horse gather so controversial?
2. Wouldn’t the animals starve if left on the range?
3. If the BLM waits until starvation begins to occur, isn’t that too late?
4. If the horses are scattered over 250,000 acres, how could BLM feed them on the range if range conditions begin to deteriorate?
5. What’s wrong with gathering the horses and removing them now, and then beginning a contraception program when the horses aren’t so far over AML?
6. Are the Calico horses being well cared for?
7. If adopted or moved to a preserve in the east, won’t the horses suffer from a severe change in diet that they will have difficulty adjusting to?
8. Are BLM’s gelding procedures humane?
9. Didn’t the BLM drive colts to death during the gather by running them so hard their hooves sloughed?
10. Didn’t several horses die after the gather from being provided feed that was too rich?

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36 Responses to “HSUS Answers FAQs Re: Calico Gather – April 02, 2010”

  1. sandra longley said

    Horses do not live to be 25 years old under starvation conditions…period..there is no counter argument to this fact..these horses are the first to go..they don’t make it throught the winter…domestic horses need special care at that age or sooner to make it through winter..Craig downer made a trip through the calico complex-knows the area has spent years in that country, knows where to find the bands..covered the area..found about 40 horses, and 1 skeleton that had gotten trapped in a cattle gaurd…and a few fresh droppings in an area..Before any horses are adopted out-I want a verifiable total from the BLM not a guesstimate as to how many horses are left on that range.I have again contacted my senator Ron Wyden, who is on the appropriations committee, asking for a complete and full investigation into this process, denying of funding for this program, and to get the ROAM bill to the floor and change the language in the bill to disallow the funding to permit moving the wild horses out of their native lands..I told him I was embarrassed-that none of our western senators had stepped up to save the wild horses that are a part of our western treasures-with the exception of Barbra Boxer..and that I would not be campaigning for or donating to any senator except those who step up to the plate to stop it.

    • The estimation of 25 years old has been a point of discussion many times in the conversations I’ve had with several veterinarians. It is possible that the horse is not actually 25 years old but appears to be so due to the deterioration of the teeth, bone structure, BMI, etc – the things we would look at to estimate the age of a horse – as a direct result of the starvation conditions. And yea, they were “the first to go”… The horses that were in such poor condition (BCS 2 or less) and subsequently either died or were euthanized were all “of advanced age”.
      If funding is denied to this program, what will happen to the horses who are currently being cared for with those funds?
      And well said about the Western States Senators… It’s about time they stepped up.
      T.

      • sandra longley said

        Its also possible they are 30, why would one think their teeth are more worn than domestic horses? They are not eating rebar, chewing on wood fences, eating hay with rocks in it out of feeders that collect rocks and dirt in the bottom..why do you think they are more susceptable to wearing down of the teeth than domestic horses? They have apparently been aging horses for 60 years at the BLM facilities as they like to point out..who could possibly have MORE experience than them at doing this???

        • Due to the nutritional deficiencies… Without proper nutrition, teeth (along with other body systems) will break down faster. As for their experience… Well… I think that one goes without saying.
          T.

          • sandra longley said

            Amazingly wild horse have better access to the minerals they actually need out in the wild than the what you find in a tub in a feed store, they have natural mineral licks they go to..You are going on the assumtion these horses are actually starving out in the wild..I have not seen any proof of that..Nor was I told that by Dr. Kane who was there for the gathers..So I guess its all in who you are talking to or want to believe.
            Do I think it is possible that horses have and will starve out there? damn straight i do..they are being fenced in..and out of areas they need for forage-and there is plenty of proof of that within BLMs own documentation.

          • So then yea, they could be having nutritional deficiencies on the range.
            The point I was trying to make was that the horses BLM claimed were 25 years old may not actually be 25 years old. They may actually be younger – they just appear to be older because of their body conditons.
            Yea, they have way better minerals and probably much better nutrition than what we have for our domesticated horses. But I am not assuming they are starving in the wild. We all know that they do in fact starve in the wild. Add to that the fact that these particular horses were gathered in the winter time when forage was sparce anyway and yea, this could definitely be a possible.
            T.

          • sandra longley said

            So they have steel hard feet but soft teeth? Soft bones, that can hold up on miles of running a race horse would break all 4 legs on? I would expect pregnant and nursing mares, to have more of a drain on their minerals..and yet I see nornal healthy foals being born. alot healthier than those domestic foals being born with joint deformaties from all the minerals their mothers are being fed..as well as being fed too much and overweight..and probably all those 25 yr. old mares hadn’t had foals in a while. I want to see PROOF, not hypothesis

          • LOL proof would be great! But we both know that proof just ain’t gonna happen any time soon. BLM either doesn’t have the information because they haven’t thought that far ahead yet, or they just don’t have the desire to publish it. Additionally, the studies are just not there. We need more studies on wild horses that are body system specific. With something specific such as this, we wouldn’t have to go on hypothesis. We would have the proof and evidence we need to make better decisions for the wild horses as a whole, not just the ones in question currently.
            T.

          • sandra longley said

            I think there is plenty of proof in the pictures,the horses were fat and sassy in the fall pictures in Oct..and I might add no sign of pigeon fever at the normal season-or strangles evident, all I ask for is more pictures, If someone runs across a band not in good shape..we need those pictures and a location so someone can go into the field and find out why..I don’t care about seeing sad faces, I want to see proof that can stand up in a court of law..a handful of old horses, that are thin out of 1900 horses..is not a semblence of any kind of proof of anything..its a natural process..Are horses being fenced off of water holes..yes-proof–skeletons on the other side of that fence.are horses being fenced in or out of their hmas? proof-fences torn down by the horses trying to migrate in or out. Testimony in the WWP lawsuit on the calicos.. metal water troughs damaged at springs-proof-the testimony in lawsuit..replaced by troughs the horses cannot damage-why were they damaged-because there was not water in them due to leaks..I think there is a long list of “proofs” and then there is the “pattern of behavior” in relationship to BLM actions and documentation..I have a legal background, and a horse background, and there is enough “proof” to satisfy me that the horses are being mismanaged-the land is being mismanaged, and that it is intentional, not accidental..and its being done because there is no oversight that is knowledgeable..They ignore much of the science that is offered to them by the USGS, because they do not want to put the effort into it when they have the “solution of choice” get rid of the horses.

          • Yes, there are pics of horses who are “fat and sassy” – as we say down here. There are also pics of horses who are not fat and sassy. I never said that all of the horses were nutrionally deficient – only that some were. I agree about the information of a band in bad shape and appropriate actions being taken.
            Bad management? Bad allocations of lands available? Poor judgement? Poor decision making? Cold hearted people? Etc, etc, blah blah blah… Yes.
            Everyone who is anyone in BLM and the Cattlemen’s Association guilty as well? No. Guilt is not guilt by association. Guilt is proof. And again, I agree that we do need the proof.
            T.

      • sandra longley said

        I saw thin mares that were obviously not 25 years old..How a 25 year old ran through those mountains in the dead of winter in that shape is a testimony to how tough they are..personally I don’t think my domestic horses can hold a candle to them, with the exception of my Herd lead mare, I was without her for 2 years and my herd was a chaotic mess, constant fighting, and no leadership..I worry each year will be her last..

      • sandra longley said

        Turn the horses back out on the land, PZP a portion of the mares..they are obviously not rebred for 2010(as was the point of the winter gather) had nothing to do with “lack of forage” they-claimed it was a water problem, they were going to die of thirst, but as Dr. Kane pointed out to me they cannot bait trap because there are TOO many water sources available for the horses..and yet if they fed at low elevations in the winter..they could bait trap large numbers of horses easily to PZP mares and take care of any problems.Within a couple of years most horses would migrate to those areas to look for the hay..I don’t need a 5 year study to figure this stuff out.

        • That is actually an awesome point! The mares who are at Broken Arrow currently are NOT rebred for the 2011 foaling season because they’ve been separated from the studs! And it is actually the perfect time to administer the PZP dosage – prime time actually.
          T.

        • reveil39 said

          There are too many water sources until they start mining. Then the perennial sources will be dried out. The possibility of the horses dying of thirst might be a result of that projection.

    • sandra longley said

      I am fricking tired of hearing what the BLM “can’t do”..That philosophy doesn’t fly on my ranch..so you screwed it up in the past..today is your opportunity to make it better..you are deep into the american taxpayers pockets..and we refuse to give you money to remove “our” horses from “our lands”..start there and develope a new plan that we will accept, and I gaurentee you, we will help with the process.

  2. sandra longley said

    If the BLM can’t find where the horses range in the winter-they should consult with Craig Downer, as he seems to know. Once you start dropping hay, the horses will find it in the same way the elk find it in Jacksonhole. If you want to figure it out. It does not take a genius. It just takes the desire to find a solution that involves leaving the animals on the land. otherwise it just sounds like whining.

    As far as PZPing… It should have been done on this roundup… that was the intention. They just couldn’t find anymore horses to bring in. These constant roundups are a significant disturbance to the horses-jeopardizes their health-horses die or are maimed in the process-horses have to reorganize their family herd status, lead mares are separated. younger horses do not yet have the skill set to lead a band of mares. these horses thrive and live according to those skill sets of which the lead mare is critical to survival. None of this makes any sense in my world of “common” sense.

    • Please do not try to compare the elk in Jackson with a hypothetical supplemented feed for wild horses. The elk should not be fed and this is mismanagement that there is a long running argument about and it includes ‘chronic wasting disease’ which the elk in the wild will not carry and it won’t take hold as it does in the fed elk at the refuge.

      This was a mild winter. The older horses were not allowed to stay behind with the pregnant and nursing mares. This was extreme. Any sickly horses that were not meeting BLM criteria were shot. They should not have been there but they did represent the very healthy range we can all see in Craig’s latest video where I see a beautiful range that has fed and sustained these horses in larger numbers than the experts ever realized because there was no degradation to this range at all. Despite the yappy complaints of a rich rancher about the horses destroying water holes where his cattle had the only hoofed animal tracks found there!

      • sandra longley said

        Jackson hole is not the only place elk are fed to keep them from starving in winter..If the horses have a bad winter then you get your butt out there and take them feed..whether they are elk, buffalo deer or antelope..otherwise you shoot them. Chronic wasting disease is a huge problem with mule deer in Colo..and it has fanned out from there..It has nothing to do with the feeding of elk or wild horses in the wild..it is a neurological brain disorder..The elk in oregon who get winter feed do not have the disease.

        • No, it has nothing to do with wild horses in the wild… my point. And it has been a problem in Jackson and it has been a problem in elk in Colorado, as there are many pockets of ‘farmed elk’. “Mad Cow’ is also a neurological disorder but it also was traced to feed.

          In severe times feed the wild herds but not every year. It is unwarranted. mar

          • sandra longley said

            That feed contained dead diseased animals..first it was dead sheep(with scrapie) fed to cows(then downer cows ground into feed for cattle and pets. that is the transmission for variant CJD, there is also sporadic CJD,CWD. BSE and Scrapie all forms of the prion disease- seperate but related..I have done alot of recent research on this because my brother died of sporadic CJD this year..They do not know the exact cause of any of these diseases in the intial phases, contamination comes from the brain stem and fluids and those parts went into feed stuffs for farm animals..Its no longer legal..but it takes years to incubate before the proteins start folding.

          • sandra longley said

            CWD is 1% in elk and 5% in mule deer in colo/Wyo

          • Not good… it is difficult to wipe it out as it stays in the bodies and affects reproduction and offspring. Our friends hunt and eat it and gift it to us. It is still a scary thing. mar

  3. Linda said

    Overall, I think this is a very good synopsis of what went wrong at Calico, and what’s wrong with the BLM WH&B Program in general. Wonder if the BLM will publish THIS on their website?
    Could this be included in the upcoming IDA case?

    I don’t agree with the statment about alfalfa, since we can’t find alfalfa that’s consistant within our COUNTY, never mind across the country. We feed pelletized alfalfa. We do feed some alfalfa along with grass hay in winter, but it comes from a single source.

    Yes, there were (mostly older) horses that would and could have died on the range. That’s the way of things. To quote Jim Morrison, “No one here gets out alive.”

  4. sandra longley said

    AMLs are arbitrary numbers established by the BLM, as shown by the lawsuits they have lost, They set those AMLs by who exherts the most pressure, they have to deal with the cattlemen on a day to day basis-they are their neighbors and friends..They only run into us when things get totally out of hand-so they think they can get away with lowering amls for the horses while raising amls for the cattle and adding allotments where the horses are, so that it cuts down on available food sources for the horses..if animals were starving on those lands..then tell me how they can add allotments for cattle on the same lands..200 years they have been using the exact same argument..and the horses continue to adapt and survive-despite being managed by the BLM-not because of it..after tearing into all these scoping comments and EAs and HMAs I have all the proof I need to condemn the way the horses are being excluded from the land.

  5. LOUIE COCROFT said

    AS FAR AS CHALLENGES THAT THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS FACE IN THE WILD, THAT IS WHAT IS KNOWN AS “THE PRICE OF FREEDOM”. THEY SEEM TO HAVE MET THESE CHALLENGES WITH MARKED SUCCESS. IT IS THE HUMAN INTERFERENCE THAT THREATENS THEM. IT IS OUR OWN SPECIES THAT NEEDS TO BE MANAGED. THIS IS WHY WE ARE STEPPING IN.

  6. LOUIE COCROFT said

    I SEE THIS AS OUR GOAL:
    SELF-SUSTAINING HERDS LIVING ON LAND THAT IS LOCKED IN, PROTECTED AND OVERSEEN BY A “BLUE RIBBON” PANEL OF STEWARDS.
    WE ARE ALL AIMING FOR THE SAME GOAL, I BELIEVE, AND THAT IS AN “IN THE WILD MANAGEMENT” PLAN TO BE IMPLEMENTED AND CONTROLLED BY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND TRUSTED PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE ANIMALS’ BEST INTERESTS AT HEART.
    FIRST–THERE MUST BE A HALT TO THE ROUND-UPS
    THIS IS HUGE. IT IS GOING TO TAKE WORK AND DEDICATION
    IT CAN BE DONE
    THAT IS WHY I CAME TO THIS PARTY. LET’S KEEP IT ROLLING.

  7. LOUIE COCROFT said

    CHECK OUT THE LATEST POST ON AMERICAN HERDS

  8. LOUIE COCROFT said

    TIME TO RAMP UP THE LAWSUITS

  9. jan said

    WHAT THE HECK WAS POINT OF HUSUS QUESTIONS – THEY DID NOT ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF OVER 40 MARES ABORTING THEIR FOALS NOR THE FACT THE HORSES HAVE PIGEON FEVER – SEEMS THEY MISSED THE MAIN POINTS OF WHY I HAVE BEEN BUGGING THEM TO GET OUT THERE AND CHECK ON THESE HORSES – THEY SEEMINGLY JUST KISSTED UP TO THE BLM

  10. betty said

    Didn’t most of the horses who were in poor shape come from the Black rock gather where the water had been fenced off? that was what I thought I read at one itme.

  11. LOUIE COCROFT said

    INFORMATION ON AMERICAN HERDS LATEST POST IS VERY PERTINENT, HAVING TO DO WITH HOW ALLOTMENTS ARE FIGURED (OR NOT)—SENT THIS ON TO ONE OF MY SENATORS–THE ONE THAT WILL PAY ATTENTION. WILL GET TO THE OTHER ONE NEXT. ALSO, THIS INFO SHOULD BE SENT TO SENATOR LANDRIEU.

  12. LOUIE COCROFT said

    GELDING PROCEDURES–WONDER WHAT THE MEN THINK? WOULD THEY CARE TO TRADE PLACES?
    ADULT, MATURE STALLIONS-WILD-HELICOPTER ROUND-UP FIRST CONTACT WITH HUMANS-SQUEEZE CHUTE?-ANESTHESIA?
    GELDING SHOULD BE DONE WHEN COLT IS STILL YOUNG–UNDER CARE AND SUPERVISION OF OWNER WHO CARES ABOUT THE WELFARE OF THE ANIMAL AND WHO CHOOSES COMPETENT VETERINARIAN.

  13. LOUIE COCROFT said

    I DON’T HAVE ANY CONFIDENCE IN THE HSUS. I THINK, PERHAPS, THEY MIGHT DO SOME GOOD IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, BUT NOT IN THE OVERSIGHT DEPARTMENT. DID THEY GIVE ADVANCED ANNOUNCEMENT OF THEIR ARRIVAL? THEY WERE NOT, TO MY KNOWLEDGE, AT THE ROUND-UP. ANY OVERSIGHT THAT HAS BEEN DONE HAS BEEN BY VOLUNTEERS. THIS ORGANIZATION HAS A HUGH BUDGET AND COULD REALLY BE HELPING. THEY PROBABLY DO SOME GOOD THINGS, BUT THEY ARE NOT TAKING A STRONG ENOUGH STAND ON THIS AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED.

  14. LOUIE COCROFT said

    I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO SEE HSUS STEP IN AND HELP WITH THE LAWSUITS.

  15. LOUIE COCROFT said

    LOOKING BACK THROUGH ALL OF THE DATA THAT I HAVE COLLECTED, I FOUND THIS–WELL WORTH READING
    To Move an Ocean by Tim Findley
    Search in Category: Business: Agriculture and Forestry: Livestock: News and Media
    http://www.rangemagazine.com/specialreports/05-fall-move-an-ocean.pdf – Proxy – Highlight

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