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BLM Temporarily Suspends Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather After (7) Die from Dehydration, July 12, 2010

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on July 12, 2010

Don’t forget… BLM to Initiate EIS for Proposed Arturo Mine Project – Tuscarora FO Comments due July 21, 2010

(Elko, Elko Municipal-Harris Field, United States – Past Hourly Weather Observations for July 12, 2010 pdf)

For immediate release: Monday, July 12, 2010
Contact:  Heather Emmons, 775-861-6594,

BLM Temporarily Suspends Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather

Reno, Nev.–The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it is temporarily suspending the Tuscarora wild horse gather operations in Elko County, Nev., after BLM staff determined that gathered horses were dehydrated after seven gathered wild horses died from dehydration-related complications because of insufficient water in the area.  The BLM also announced that the Tuscarora gather operations, aimed at removing horses from overpopulated herds, will remain on hold until an assessment has been completed to determine how to best proceed in light of the current condition of these horses.

“Our agency is committed to the humane treatment of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range,” BLM Director Bob Abbey said. “Toward that end, I am suspending further Tuscarora gather operations until the situation concerning the initial stage of the Tuscarora gather is analyzed and thoroughly understood, and the options for minimizing mortality of horses weakened by dehydration can be assessed.”

The Tuscarora wild horse gather encompasses the Owyhee, Rock Creek, and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas (HMAs) located in northern Elko County.  The BLM initiated gather operations in the northern portion of the Owyhee HMA at 6:30 a.m., Saturday, July 10.  By 9 a.m., the BLM contractor had gathered 228 wild horses, consisting of one group of approximately 32 horses located within a mile of the on-site temporary holding corrals, and a second group of approximately 196 horses located about eight miles from the corrals.
On arrival it was noted the horses were “drawn up,” or lacking fill from water.  They were, however, generally in good body condition with most scoring 4 to 5 on what is known as the Henneke body condition scale. The horses were provided with hay and water through the afternoon and evening. 

One horse was euthanized shortly after being gathered due to a fractured leg that occurred in the temporary holding corrals. The morning of July 11, four horses were found dead in the pens and several horses were exhibiting signs of colic and brain swelling which was subsequently attributed to water starvation/dehydration and subsequent water intoxication. 

Gather operations were stopped at that point, and BLM staff, specialists, the gather contractor and the on-site U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian began treating the horses. So far, seven horses have died from complications related to water starvation/dehydration or subsequent water  intoxication.  It was determined this was a direct result of a lack of water in the immediate areas occupied by the horses.  The BLM brought in extra water, tank trucks and troughs to the temporary holding site to ensure that all gathered animals have ample water available.  Electrolytes were provided in each pen and affected animals were examined and treated as indicated by the veterinarian on site.
The private contractor conducted an aerial flyover of the immediate area Sunday morning, July 11, and located two large bands of wild horses. One band, approximately 100 to 150 horses, is staying close to a nearly dried-up water hole.  The second band, approximately 150 to 200 horses, is located approximately eight to 10 miles from the nearest water source.  Both of these bands are presently at risk of mortality from dehydration if they do not reach other water sources.  The BLM is unable to bring water into this area because the area where these bands are located is not readily accessible by road.  The BLM will carefully monitor the two bands of horses during the next few days to determine whether they are independently moving to other water sources or can be encouraged to reach such waters on their own.  The BLM will also continue to provide food, water and veterinary care for the animals in the on-site temporary holding corrals.
As more information becomes available it will be posted at the website:
For further comments and questions, the public may call 1-866-468-7826.

47 Responses to “BLM Temporarily Suspends Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather After (7) Die from Dehydration, July 12, 2010”

  1. reveil39 said

    Let the public observe the round ups!
    This is turning into a horror show.

  2. reveil39 said

    I don’t understand the speed at which these gathers are conducted. By 9 am, they have already over 200 horses. How many helicopters are used? Is there any way to find out?

    • I was on the phone with Sue (Cattoor) this morning around 9am CST trying to get some details and facts… Unfortunately – as I am all too well aware – cell service sucks out there! Hopefully when they get in tonight we’ll be able to catch up. Sure would like to know just a teensie bit more than the BLM news release…


    Beautiful, beautiful news. So sad though that horses had to die to proved a point to the BLM. I am certain they were afraid that more lawsuits would be filed and maybe they will. Let pray they realized the people are out there to fight to the end for the wild horses and we will only get stronger.

  4. Roxy said

    Ever hear of Helicopters with fire fighting troughs full of water hanging from them?

    I don’t beleive any of this anyway – I beleive the horses were and are fine on the range and they were run to death in the heat. And no one will ever change my mind. BLM should have allowed observers!

    Why can’t and why don’t these helicopter round up bunch provide photos?

    • Roxy,

      Before I ask this, I want to reassure you that I am not patronizing you or trying to be in any way rude or smart-a**. I really do want to know your answer because these types of questions are how we “bounce”. (“Bounce” is what we do when we bounce ideas back and forth off of each other.)
      In your opinion, what would observers have been able to accomplish with their presence other than photos and an accounting of the events?


      • Morgan Griffith said

        I think documenting the conditions would be all that could be done but at least there would be evidence. We told them this would be the result of a midsummer gather yet they stubbornly went ahead and sacrificed 7 lives so that they could turn around to the public and proclaim themselves such great and caring humanitarians. What a farce!!! But I think that pictures of these horses ARE needed. This needs to be seen, there needs to be a permanent record of these atrocities. We owe it to each of those horses that died for the convenience of mankind to document that they lived and in what horror they died. I cannot fathom the pain these horses went thru before their deaths. That they lived needs to be seen and honored.

        • Agreed.
          My first thought when I got the news was How did seven horses die before they realized that there were dehydration problems?
          I mean, I promise I’m not trying to be smart-a**ed LOL, but it ain’t rocket science! Did you click on the pdf at the top of this post? The weather in Elko County today was in the 90’s all day! Granted there was a wind but those horses are indeed dehyrated from a lack of water on the range – for whatever reason – therefore, YOU DON’T PUSH THEM! Again, it ain’t rocket science.

          • Lisa LeBlanc said

            Even if we HAD been allowed unencumbered access, there is nothing we could have done to stop this. The sad & factual truth is we would have had to Observe, and nothing more. Action anywhere near the roundup would have done NOTHING to help the Wild Ones and put lives in unecessary jeopardy.
            I tried jumping in front of my Shane once after he pulled off the top off a hitching post. He was banging himself in the forelegs with a six inch round, six foot long piece of wood, scared out of his mind, and all I could do to help him was the Lord’s Prayer. And Shane LOVES me.
            The only reasons for Public Observation are to document the proceedings the best we can, and pass on what we see. It isn’t a pleasant thought, but whatever we discover, either the Bureau or the media see it, and maybe next time, there ISN’T a mid-winter roundup of heavily-pregnant mares. Or the Wild Ones are rounded up with bait traps, using water, instead of stampeded across the desert by helicopter, terrified, in 93 degree heat, without taking ‘lack of available water’ into consideration.
            I’m not the Director’s staunchest cheerleader, but I have to give him his props, both for reasonable disclosure of this and suspending it for further study.
            I think there’s a granite mindset within the Bureau that they know best, and suggestions from Advocates are so routinely pooh-poohed no veracity is given to what could very well be good advice.
            As adversarial as our opinions of & relationship with the Bureau is, I would have walked in the front door at the Elko Bureau & offered just about anything if it would have kept these irreplaceable Horses from dying.
            And that is also a sad & factual truth.

          • No, I would never expect anyone to put themselves in harms way. Always, always safety first!
            However, you’ve brought up a very interesting point… Yes, an observer can report what they see and take photographs to supplement their accountings of any events.
            But the adversarial relationship that has been forged between some advocates and the BLM has cost quite a price for a lot of advocates who do not wish to have the same type of relationship as others. And because of the actions and words of other advocates, most all advocates are “guilty by association”.
            As you stated, it is the sad and factual truth that there are those among the BLM and WH&B personnel who have been burned so often and so badly by adversarial advocates that they wouldn’t give a second thought to slamming the door in an advocate’s face even if they had the perfect solution to a seemingly impossible problem.
            I’m with you… do just about anything to show that there is a better way!

  5. “Toward that end, I am suspending further Tuscarora gather operations until the situation concerning the initial stage of the Tuscarora gather is analyzed and thoroughly understood, and the options for minimizing mortality of horses weakened by dehydration can be assessed.”

    I thought that was the purpose of the unbelievably long Preliminary Environmental Assessments and the Final Environmental Assessments…


  6. BLM roundups and their justifications conceal mu;ch that is going on to undermine the wild horses’ position of the public lands, like over fencing and depriving of public waters!

    • Morgan Griffith said

      My thoughts exactly Craig, how close is the nearest fenced off water? The horses are to be held prisoner on private land–bet they have water.

      • reveil39 said

        They should work on making water available to the horses. Not removing the horses. Big difference. The easy way out is to say there is no water for the horses.

    • Aleta Pahl said

      This is part of this whole conspiracy to eliminate the Mustangs. This is what needs to get to the Press.

  7. Linda said

    I wonder if they could use helicopters with the big buckets – the kind used to drop water on forest fires – to get water into that shrinking waterhole or tther catchment basins. I know it would be disruptive, but if the other copters (2?)could be used to SLOWLY herd the horses to a safe distance while the water was carefully dropped, maybe it could work.

    Firefighters have been very successful using this method on the bosque fires along the Rio Grande. Of course, they have the river as a source to pick up water. Are there any bodies of water within a reasonable distance?

    There are allot of buckets with different capacities. This company manufactures some of the largest, but it also takes the proper sized helicopter for pickup and delivery.

  8. Barb3000 said

    Does anyone have any idea how many cattle are in these areas? These horses could have been fenced off from any water that was out there, that’s been done before.

  9. Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather


  10. Jan said

    if horses have been fenced off frm water then that is the blm and ranchers doing – did the blm know about this before they started roundup – cant they drop water from helicopters like they do in fires – makes sense to me – give these poor horses water or will blm just let them die

    • I can’t believe that they would let them die… Not with all of these eyes on the situation. I wonder about the helicopters dropping water though… Would the helicopter itself trigger the flight response and cause more harm to the herds than help?

      • Linda said

        I would imagine the horses would flee. The question is how far? If they weren’t being brutally chased, I would think they’d stay fairly close to a know water source. Or perhaps there are dried up catchment basins not too far away that could be filled.

        Also, it was mentioned there are other water sources in the area. I don’t know what they mean by “encouraged to reach such waters ‘on their own'”, but since there have been statements that the contractor’s helicopters can bring the horses into the traps at a walk (Has that ever happened?), this is their chance to prove it. Just walk those horses to water, and I don’t care how long it takes you to do it!

      • reveil39 said

        They are no eyes on the situation. No observers are allowed.

      • Linda said

        About bringing the horses in at a walk – wasn’t that from the Cattoors, themselves? Something about walking the horses the last two miles? If they’ve ever done it, they certainly haven’t posted those photos on their website. Just terrified horses running full tilt ahead of the death machines.

        • reveil39 said

          I remember reading that too, but I have never seen any video showing this procedure. Instead, horses are always coming in at full galloping speed.

          • Morgan Griffith said

            Oh but according to Chris Hanefeld at the Ely office the Cattoors had their copter up and back and the horses just trotted in. Like it was some thing of beauty. We know better. Even if they walk them the last 2 miles (ha!!) how hard did they run them the first 10?

        • reveil39 said

          I guess observers would have been able to notice if horses were brought in at a gallop or at a walk.

    • Morgan Griffith said

      what about dropping the fences and allowing the horses to build themselves up? You know cooperative action in the best interest of all?

  11. Heather said

    I just had a thought. I was looking at the range maps and the maps provided by the Ruby Pipeline project, the line will run directly through the elko area. On one map it says “Potential Water Discharge Point*. I dont know what they means exactly, but Im beginning to wonder if maybe the pipeline will interfere with water sources. Maybe Im just reaching…

    And you would think that the supposed horse experts would be able to tell them that this is not a good time to gather due to the heat stress. Why the rush? Their body scores were good.

  12. Linda said

    Posted by the HSUS two hours ago:


  13. jan eaker said

    4 more horses are dead, so the # is now 12, update on the blm website:

    Gather operations continue to be suspended. Two more animals died and two were euthanized because of complications related to water starvation and water intoxication.

    Gathered: 0, Deaths: 4, Total deaths: 12
    4-year-old stud, 4-year-old stud, 4-month-old colt, 3-year-old stud

    that 4 month old baby, running to keep up w/mama,
    yes there is a whole long video on BLM about how careful they would have to be out there because it’s so hot and the terrain is awful, blah, blah, blah, and 12 horses are dead.

  14. jan eaker said

    evidently, once again, they ignored it; the number of injured is unknown, but 2 babies are dead, the horror of the last moments of their lives is beyond description and comprehension, what kind of people can drive, drive, drive babies to the point of death?

  15. sandra longley said

    First, I have to say in response to the statement made by the BLM that one water hole was nearly dry..horses do not dehydrate on “NEARLY” dry..This all plays into “the we have the potential for drought” theory they keep throwing out there..they are going to twist this “to the public” as a “see we were right”..”the horses need to be removed for their own good”..Now those of us that live in the high desert know there is more water than any recent spring..we also know the BLM has been routinely fencing off water sources from the horses, and I believe a full investigation needs to be done…This district is “atrosious” in their management and lack there of-of the wild horses..The ‘we know best people” obviously -donot know best…beware the spin coming out of this..estray “feral” horses, moving herds of horses from HMA to HMA, and one of the coolest wetest spring/summers on record..out here we called it Jun-u-ary.

  16. sandra longley said

    As far as advocates and photo journalism is concerned..for you “pups’ who weren’t around during Vietnam..were it not for the “pictures” by photographers..the government would still be passing that war off as humane and necessary..3 cheers for the photographers..or you can buy the BLMs line of crap if it makes your life easier…

    • sandra longley said

      Did the pictures themselves stop the war..NO..but the people who saw them protested…and the pressure put on the politician from those protesters stopped the war..Government has no reset is the responsibility of citizens to bring it to their attention.

      • jan eaker said

        yes, SAndra, and the pictures and videos of babies srtuggling to keep up w/their Moms and laying in the dirt dying will do more to arouse AMerica than all the words in the world. I think this is why HSUS and ASPCA finally jumped in, 3 babies dead in 1 day!

  17. sandra longley said

    Does it seem to anyone else..if water is so scarce..thait BAIT TRAPPING would be fairly simple??if that were really the case..

    • Morgan Griffith said

      It seems like this would be the common sense approach. There is a river there that they already admitted they had to throw the campers off of. Use the water source. Makes sense that the horses are going to go to the nearest water source–weren’t they claiming some 50 mile trek, can’t remember the distance they posted.

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