Horse hit with helicopter
Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the long awaited report on its internal investigation into allegations of inhumane treatment in connection with the Triple B wild horse roundup that occurred in Nevada during July and August of this year.
The documentation, and subsequent lawsuit filed by Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education (WHE) and Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), resulted in a court order directing BLM pilots to temporarily stop their aggressive and harmful attacks on wild horses. The court’s order was in response to videotaped evidence of BLM helicopters actually hitting horses to frighten and force them towards capture. The legal action, filed by attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno, documented multiple additional acts of abuse and aggression by BLM towards the wild horses, including deprivation of food and water, use of electric cattle prods to shock the horses, and cruel handling at various stages of the capture.
The BLM report admits that it saw “specific instances of inappropriate, aggressive handling” and that wrongdoing had occurred, and provides recommendations for future roundups. The report acknowledged the dangerously close helicopters, excessive pursuit of individual and small groups of horses, the use of rags as whips around horses’ heads, and “kicking, slamming of gates, pinning in gates, twisting of tails during horse loading processes.” But despite all these admitted acts, BLM refused to agree with “animal welfare experts” that the horses were treated inhumanely.
“I find the report encouraging,” states Leigh, “however it is of interest that no document filed by the BLM in the course of litigation admits any wrongdoing occurred. And the recommendations in the document are not in effect on the ground. At the recent Calico roundup I have witnessed several instances of inhumane treatment that are in conflict with the recommendations. There is no excuse for not having a standard in place before any further helicopters fly.”
Judge McKibben’s pending ruling will address the request for a postponement of the roundups until a policy is in place that outlines handling and a system of consequence for violations.
“The idea of sane and sensible management starts with honest conversation,” states R.T. Fitch, author and president of WHFF. “We have attempted to discuss these policies of treatment of the horses before, during and after their capture with BLM, but the possibility of productive dialogue was ignored by the BLM until litigation became a necessity. A federal agency that insists on operating in such a manner is breaching its obligation to the public.”
Links of interest:
BLM report: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Communications_Directorate/public_affairs/news_release_attachments.Par.51335.File.tmp/TripleBReport.pdf
helicopter hits horse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObXB0Wq3nRE
baby roped: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyM9a11ihLs
Contact: R.T. Fitch, President WHFF, 713-632-4573
Laura Leigh, Vice President WHFF, 800-974-3684