Critics of the agency’s wild horse program used the January helicopter chase in Nevada to bolster their argument
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Bureau of Land Management officials say their investigation of an attempted wild horse capture in Nevada concludes that Sun J Livestock, one of the BLM’s wild horse gather contractors, did not violate existing BLM policy or procedures.
The incident was videotaped and widely spread via the web by critics of the BLM’s wild horse roundups. The video showed a mare that fell, got up, and was subsequently pursued by the contractor’s helicopter during the ongoing gather of wild horses at the Antelope Complex, located in Elko and White Pine counties, Nevada.
“The BLM review team was asked to look into this incident to see whether Sun J violated any existing BLM policy or procedures relating to the gathering of wild horses from the Antelope Complex, an overpopulated Herd Management Area in Nevada. The team found that no such violation occurred,” said BLM director Bob Abbey.
Here is the video embedded from YouTube:
The four-member BLM review team concluded that the mare had stumbled or tripped and fell when she lost her footing in a small snow drift. She was not over-driven and did not collapse from exhaustion, the review team found. Following attempts by the helicopter to herd her into the trap, she ran off uncaptured.
“This finding does not mean that the BLM is satisfied with its existing policy and procedures dealing with wild horse gathers. We will carefully review our policies, consider advice from experts, and continue to look for ways to improve and minimize the risks to animals.
“Since 1976, when Congress first authorized the use of helicopters in the gathering of wild horses, capture techniques have steadily improved. But we must advance as far as possible in ensuring the humane treatment of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range,” Abbey said. “The ‘old normal’ for doing things is not good enough for our agency. We need to take a hard look at existing gather policy and procedures, make any and all needed improvements, and then create a ‘new normal’ for doing business.”
The full text of the team’s report can be found at http://www.blm.gov/xm5c .
The agency is about to release a new wild horse management plan, with public input meetings already set. Click here to get more information.