Court Gives BLM Green Light to Destroy Colorado’s Historic West Douglas Wild Horse Herd

Zeroing out entire wild horse herd not viewed as constituting “irreparable harm.”

                                                                        

Washington, DC (Sept. 15, 2015) – Today, Federal Judge Christopher R. Cooper denied a Preliminary Injunction to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from carrying out its decades old quest to remove the entire West Douglas wild horse herd. Tomorrow the BLM will begin a helicopter roundup and removal of wild horses in and around the herd area with the ultimate goal of zeroing out the herd (area).

The lawsuit was brought by The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (CWHBC), Dr. Don Moore and Toni Moore of Fruita, CO., and Barb Flores of Greeley, CO, to protect this herd and the neighboring Piceance East Douglas herd. “Sadly,” states Toni Moore, “the courts did not view the loss of an entire herd of wild horses as ‘irreparable harm.’ “

“Wiping out the West Douglas herd erases a whole distinct set of genetics, separate from nearby East Douglas horses,” states Linda Hanick, TCF Board member who testified in the Sept. 11 hearing on the case.  “The roundup disregards the importance of the historic recorded documentation of these horses since Sept 1776. This roundup closes the door on an important piece of Colorado’s wild horse history.”

“We’re very disappointed of course,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of TCF. “Wild horse families that have shared a history with this rugged Colorado landscape for hundreds of years will be swept away, while the real public land destroyers, the thousands of head of welfare livestock remain.  It is terribly unfair, but we continue to fight for those wild herds that remain!”

“Rangeland impact of livestock in West Douglas is greater than 10 times the impact of wild horses,” states Barb Flores, plaintiff in the case who also testified in the Sept. 11 hearing. “Both use the area year round. While cattle are moved from pasture to pasture, wild horses migrate throughout the herd area on their own.”

“The BLM does not consider mortality rates in its population estimates,” Flores continues. “While we all expect the death of old, sick and injured wild horses, research shows that foal mortality is often 50%, and in many herd areas it is even higher. This means that less than half the foals make it to their first birthday. Shockingly, BLM’s 20% population growth rate assumes all foals live and no wild horses, of any age, die.”

“To add insult to injury, the helicopter contractor chosen to round up the West Douglas herd, is noted for their cruelty,” adds Hanick who personally witnessed a roundup in 2010 conducted by Sun J Livestock in which 12% of the horses were killed.  “We will hope for the best and attempt to record what happens this time around if granted adequate access.”

“Sadly, we did not prevail in stopping the BLM from proceeding to zero out the West Douglas Herd,” states Carol Walker, Director of Field Operations for WHFF. “We continue to fight the mismanagement and decimation of our wild horse herds. Our voices count, and are the only hope they have.”

R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation responded: “For years the American public has attempted to keep these herds free on their rightful range and with a stroke of a pen their freedom, families and lives have been shattered. Once again American taxpayers have been betrayed by big government, big agriculture and big business; it is shameful.”

“I feel a deep sadness for any wild species on the brink of disaster,” concludes Kathrens. “These lovely wild horse families have no idea that the end of their wild lives is coming.  They are simply the innocent victims of greed and power.”

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Media Contacts:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation

843-592-0720

paula@thecloudfoundation.org

Carol Walker

Director of Field Documentation

Wild Horse Freedom Federation

303-823-6642

www.LivingImagesCJW.com

www.WildHoofbeats.com

 

LINKS:

 

Legal Documents andPrior Press Releases

WestDouglas Herd Area Final EA 

BLM PressRelease July 29, 2015

 

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a Texas based registered 501(c)(3) non profit which puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction.

 

 

The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (“CWHBC”) is a non-profit Colorado corporation, organized to educate the public and wild horse and burro adopters about wild horse issues and to protect wild horses and burros

 

Ms. Toni Moore is a resident of the state of Colorado and is the Secretary/Treasurer of CWHBC and the Special Projects Coordinator of The Cloud Foundation, Inc. (“TCF”).

 

 

Dr. Don Moore is an equine and small-animal veterinarian and has live in or near the WDHA and PEDHMA most of his life.

 

Barb Flores, a resident of Greeley, Colorado is chair of the Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition and has photographed and documented Colorado’s wild horse herds for over 20 years.

BLM Plans Annihilation of Colorado’s Historic West Douglas Wild Horse Herd

Remnants of Ute Indian ponies have 300 year history in the area

“The owners of these cattle pay the government $1.69 per cow/calf pair per month. At the most, the BLM receives $15,656,” Moore states. “The Federal Livestock Grazing Program costs American taxpayers $123 million yearly.” Removing the cattle would actually save taxpayers money. The plannedhelicopter removal of wild horses will cost nearly 10 times more than the revenues received from livestock grazers. “The continual damage to the land from cattle and sheep grazing and the yearly drain on taxpayers who foot the bill for welfare ranching has to stop,” Moore concludes.

BLM’s Jan. 2015 Environmental Assessment, states “that all wild horses within or adjacent to the WDHA meet the statutory definition of excess animals, and therefore, consistent with the authority provided in 16 USC § 1333 (b) (2), the BLM shall immediately remove excess animals from the range.” This would reduce wild horse herds in Colorado to four, and the number of horses to 1150, compared to the many thousands of mustangs that once roamed the state.

“We have battled the destruction of this historic herd in the courts for decades,” stated Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of TCF, a Colorado based non-profit which advocates for the protection and preservation of wild horses on public lands.  “As recently as 2009 the courts ruled against the BLM when District Court Judge Collyer enjoined the BLM from removing any wild horses from the herd,” she states. “BLM’s historic scapegoating of wild horses is a smoke screen,” continued Kathrens.  “Western rangeland damage is caused by millions of head of privately-owned livestock, not our publically owned and theoretically protected wild horses.”

“Grazing of livestock on public lands is considered a privilege, not a right, and permits can be reduced or revoked per BLM Regulations (43 CFR § 4710.5).” mentions Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF. “Until the BLM finds the courage to address the real culprit – an overpopulation of welfare livestock – our historic wild horse herds will continue to be managed to extinction.”

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Links:

BLM PressRelease

West DouglasHerd Area Final EA

Media Contact:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation

843-592-0720

paula@thecloudfoundation.org

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.

The Cloud Foundation Denounces BLM Wild Horse Research Plans

In support of the Cloud Foundation and our American Wild Horses we are re-posting this press release from the Cloud Foundation

Press Release:  For Immediate Release – July 8th, 2015

The Cloud Foundation Denounces BLM Wild Horse Research Plans
BLM sterilization studies spell doom for remaining wild horses on public lands

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, (July 8, 2015) – “The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement of plans for managing wild horses on public lands is not only disturbing but highlights their commitment to managing wild horses to extinction,” stated Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF).

Four of the seven proposals being researched at taxpayer expense include permanent sterilization of stallions and/or mares. While the BLM claims they are “committed to developing new tools that allow us to manage this program sustainably and for the benefit of the animals and the land,” and “for the enjoyment of generations to come,” their proposed solutions are contrary to that goal.  Permanent sterilization of wild horses on the range would continue to undermine the already threatened genetic viability of our remaining herds.  Under current plans, BLM would manage 78% of herds at a level below that required to ensure genetic viability (150-200 adult horses.)

Permanent sterilization is inconsistent with the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act which requires managing for sustainable herds. Permanent sterilization is counter to that mandate and would damage the social band structure that has allowed wild horses in North America to thrive.

Earlier this year representatives from several wild horse and rangeland preservation organizations met in Washington, D.C. with BLM Director Neill Kornze, and BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, Mike Tupper, to discuss possible solutions to BLM’s ongoing dilemma regarding management of wild horses and burros.  The proposals presented included strategies for increasing the number of mares vaccinated with PZP to a level that will begin to impact population growth rates, and measures to authorize and encourage voluntary livestock grazing permit retirement in Herd Management Areas.  The groups also recommended repatriation of wild horses in BLM holding facilities to Herd Areas that have been zeroed-out. These proposed solutions would provide an immediate savings to the BLM.

Mike Tupper promised to respond to TCF and the other organizations regarding the proposals but has failed to do so.  “Advocates are more than willing to work with the BLM for sustainable management of wild horses on the range,” stated Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF. “Thus far the Washington, DC BLM is unwilling to consider creative options that would benefit both wild horse herds and the American taxpayer. “

“Safe and effective birth control for wild horses has been available for years but BLM has chosen to use it on only a token number of mares,” continued Kathrens. “The Pryor Wild Horse Herd in Montana, the McCullough Peaks Herd in Wyoming, the Little Book Cliffs and Spring Creek Herds in Colorado are managed using PZP, a reversible remotely delivered vaccine. All these herds are nearly to the point of achieving a balance between reproduction and natural mortality.”

“Unlike the national BLM offices, these local field offices are working successfully with the public to create a situation where future wild horse removals are unnecessary,” concluded Kathrens. “Stonewalling of advocates and the American public by the National BLM office is counter-productive to successful management of wild horses on our public lands.  I fear that their actions would lead to the extinction of the North American wild horse.”

Links:

BLM Announces New Research to Curb Population Growth and Improve Health of Wild Horse and Burro Herds

BLM Wild Horse and Burro, Science and Research, Fertility Control

 

Media Contacts:
Paula Todd King
The Cloud Foundation
843-592-0720
paula@thecloudfoundation.org

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.

Journey Back to Freedom

written by Michaele Dimock

Mariah and Saint Patty are two mustangs that share much in common. Both mares grew up on the wide-open spaces of Wyoming – Mariah in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area (HMA) and Patty in the McCullough Peaks HMA. Both were gathered by helicopters, transported and placed in crowded corrals of the BLM Rock Spring’s horse holding facility, and both wanted a ticket to freedom.

Each year I make an annual pilgrimage to the Rock Springs corrals to select 6-10 untouched mustangs from amongst the 700-800 residing there, thanks to a fostership agreement I have with the BLM. I then transport the horses back to my ranch where they become participants in Anna’s ‘Reach Out to the Untouched Horse’ course. In 2010 I selected Patty, and in 2012 I chose Mariah.

It was hard to ignore both Patty and Mariah in the selection process. They positioned themselves right in front of me as I peered out into the corrals to get a good look at all the horses contained within. When I moved… they moved… making sure I took ample time to admire their good looks and suitability. And so the two were selected and came home with me.

Mariah in BLM Rock Springs
ROTH student Janne Jensen did a stellar job gentling Patty in 2010 and would have loved to adopt and take her home – if it hadn’t been for the 6000 mile distance to Denmark! It was easy to see that Patty enjoyed Janne’s attention too, especially the scratching. But with subsequent training, it was also easy to see Patty’s uptight, up-headed, suspicious nature whenever anything new was introduced. Though compliant, I don’t believe that Patty ever really enjoyed or fully engaged in the courses that followed, so she was eventually taken off participant roster and became more of a pasture ornament.

The nature of Mariah was quite different. She let it be known from the very first day that she had no use for humans. She was reactive, fearful, distant and unwilling to participate on any level. Anna suspected that she had been abused – probably roped – sometime between her capture from Adobe Town, temporary housing at the Honor Farm in Riverton, WY, and final destination in Rock Springs. During the next two years I did make several attempts to reach out by offering hay from a bucket; and while she was able to approach to within a few feet, it always felt like a potentially dangerous situation. She became alarmed at even the slightest ‘surprise’ movement and would spin on a dime or jump away, leaving me to believe that this raw, reactive behavior would get me injured or killed some day.

Mariah & Lloyd - clinic session
Discussions about finding a wild horse sanctuary for Mariah, where she could spend her life in freedom, was never far from my mind. During the ROTH get-togethers, it was one of our regular topics while standing by her pen. And while inquiries had been made to various rescues, all was at a standstill until a village of generous individuals stepped up to make it happen.

This past July I met a very special ROTH student, Val Israel, who told Anna and me that she would make the financial commitment to sponsor Mariah at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Val contacted its Director Susan Watt and had Mariah placed on their waiting list. About that same time, an anonymous donor from the east coast told Tricia Hatle (friend, BLM wild horse specialist for the McCullough Peaks, and fellow ROTH student) that she would like to sponsor a McCullough Peaks horse if a sanctuary situation was needed. So when Susan Watt asked if Mariah would be coming with a traveling buddy we could enthusiastically answer, “Yes”! In the days that preceded the journey, Saint Patty bonded instantly with Mariah. I believe they knew the importance of this relationship, their destinies would now be aligned, and they needed to make every effort to make it happen too.

Patty & Mariah bonding
There was only one large hurdle to climb before setting out on our trip. Both Mariah and Saint Patty had Coggins Test results too old for transport. (In the state of Wyoming, horses need a health certificate, a Coggins Test showing negative results from within a year of the blood draw, and title of ownership from the Brand Inspector in order to go over the state border). We knew that drawing blood from Patty wouldn’t be a problem, but Mariah would be extremely stressed and here’s why…

Soon after arriving at my home, Mariah’s BLM identification tag (suspended from a cord wrapped around her neck) pulled over one ear and became so tight that it caused a sore spot along her cheek. It may have even affected her breathing. With dart gun in hand, Tricia sedated Mariah in order to remove this tag but the ordeal did not go well. The veterinary clinic had given Tricia a concoction of sedatives which caused Mariah to struggle horribly in the process of falling asleep. For forty-five minutes she fought against the drug by struggling to get up whenever she fell down; and when she was finally sedated there were only a couple of minutes for removing the tag before the whole ugly ordeal happened again in her awakening. At one point Tricia was fearful that the mare might kill herself. So as you can imagine, both Tricia and I dreaded the idea of drawing Mariah’s blood sample either through sedation or by forcing her into a chute (given her volatile nature and limited chute options available in the area).

Again the stars aligned when Tricia contacted the State Veterinarian for Wyoming and explained the situation. He in turn contacted the State Veterinarian for South Dakota and they discussed the possibilities for transport. Since Mariah was extremely untouchable, both mares had lived on my property for years without illness, and both had previously tested negative for Coggins, they were given a one-time special clearance for transport – provided we go directly to the sanctuary.

One week before our trip, I parked my stock trailer in front of the mares’ open corral gate and offered them hay in the trailer and just outside of it. Though they managed to lean far into the trailer to snatch the hay, they never had the courage to actually enter; but that was okay with me because I just wanted them to get used to its sight, smell and sound. Tricia & Michaele after a successful loading
The morning of October 5th was beautiful with warm temperatures and blue skies. Tricia and I have become experts in loading untouched horses; so with our strategically positioned panels and a little bit of pressure, the girls quickly hopped aboard. Thus we were on our way to South Dakota.

I wish I could tell you that the release into the sanctuary was magical… with the mares galloping off in the distance – manes flowing, tails standing tall, whinnies of joy – but it wasn’t. It was quiet and peaceful, as Patty and Mariah jumped off the trailer and into an initial holding corral. We were told that after a day or two they would be moved to a large ‘kindergarten’ area (surrounding the corrals) where they could meet other members of a selected band with whom they would hopefully bond. Most likely they would remain there throughout the winter until time came when all would be released into the 12,000 acre sanctuary.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to see that wonderful day, but my heart will rejoice when my beautiful mustangs, Saint Patty and Mariah, return to the freedom that was once denied them. Be free my beauties!
Black Hills Sanctuary holding corral

Tribute to Scout – A Salt Wells Mustang

IMG_0440On Wednesday, September 17th, ‘Scout’ (a.k.a. ‘Salty’) died from colic (a twisted gut) while in my care at my Cody ranch. Scout was born in 2013 in the Salt Wells HMA (one of the Horse Management Areas in Wyoming) – he was barely even a year old. He was a timid soul who found the Untouched Horse clinic difficult. Though he received the best of training, patience, and respect, he just couldn’t quite connect with his handlers and this new domestic setting. So by the end of the clinic he remained virtually untouched.
It is truly heart breaking to witness an episode such as colic. Though I was successful in giving him Banamine (when he was laying down) and he did make a poo (which I saw as a sign of improvement), the condition unfortunately worsened as he insisted on rolling, despite my best efforts to keep him up and walking in his pen. I just couldn’t save him…
These situations weigh heavy on my mind. For the last five years I have signed an agreement with the BLM to foster gathered mustangs, provide for their proper care, arrange for their training, and attempt to find them homes with qualified adopters. To date, over 30 mustangs have come to my ranch and participated in Anna’s Untouched Horse clinic. During this clinic they learn those valuable skills which allow them to successfully transition from wild to domesticated life. The program has been so successful that this year a Wyoming BLM manager practically begged me to take more than the 6 mustangs that I signed up for… which made me chuckle because in the past major hurdles had to be jumped to get the fostership going.
You might wonder what happens to them between the time they are rounded up from the range (by either helicopter chasing or bait trapping) and the Untouched Horse clinic. This is where my knowledge starts – at the BLM holding facility in Rock Springs, WY – where I select several horses each year from amongst the 700+ living – or more accurately ‘existing’ – there. Once they’ve been hazed into the loading chutes and my trailer I make the 5 hour drive back home and unload them into my corrals, giving them a month or more to acclimate to their new environment.
While my ranch is a quiet peaceful place, I can tell that stress remains with some of them for quite a while. In the first year, almost all the mustangs had diarrhea and snotty noses (and I was glad that they were in an area isolated from the rest of my herd). Sand colic almost took the life of my dear mare ‘Topa’. I discovered that mustangs have the tendency to ‘vacuum’ up every bit of hay from the ground (along with the grit underneath). In the wild, they graze on standing grass and are constantly moving, especially in arid, desert-like terrain where forage might be in short supply. When offered cut hay tossed on the ground, they stand still and eat everything in front of them so sand colic is a very real threat to their health. That same year ‘Radar’ resorted to cribbing and wind-sucking to sooth his nerves. Then there was a year when all the horses chewed on each other’s tails. Sadly, some mustangs never settle in, which can be said of the mare ‘Mariah’ and this little gelding ‘Scout’.
But I will forever be in awe of the mustangs’ ability to adapt to their new surroundings. By the time the annual clinic starts nearly all are ready and willing to learn the lessons presented. So now I ask myself, “Can something be done to more quickly ease the stress they feel upon arrival?” Homeopathic sprays such as Dynamite’s “Tranquil” and “Relax”, as well as Bach “Rescue Remedy” are certainly possibilities since they can be given in the water and do not involve touching the mustangs. Non-invasive healing techniques such as Reiki should also be considered.

Finally, as a tribute to Scout, I would like to encourage each reader to consider adopting a gathered mustang and supporting the efforts of those fighting to keep America’s mustangs wild and free on our ranges. There are over 50,000 horses in holding facilities across the nation and my story about Scout should not deter you from giving one of these beautiful animals a loving home. In my experience Scout is the exception, not the rule. Through Anna’s trust-based training which teaches the language of Equus and help from the above-mentioned healing modalities, adopted mustangs can grow and thrive as wonderful partners, capable of enriching a caregiver’s life with joy and wisdom. As for the mustangs still in the wild… well, they’re just healing for the soul.

BLM Breaks Their Promise to Congress and the Public to Protect America’s Wild Horses and Burros

ROTH is sharing this Release sent to us by The Cloud Foundation. Make some time to call or write the people in your districts to let them know how this does not meet up with their promises.

BLM budgets millions for helicopter contractors to round up last of the wild horses and solicits for sterilization of mares and stallions in the wild.

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (Feb. 8, 2014) For twenty years Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, has documented wild horses for PBS/Nature’s award-winning films, making her the country’s leading expert on wild horse behavior.

Upon hearing that the BLM budgeted two $6 Million contracts for helicopter roundups in 2014 and $1.5 million for plans to sterilize the stallions and mares she said, “The BLM is breaking their promise to Congress and to the American public. The case can be made that this is their solution to rid the range of our wild horses. They have made a mockery of the Wild Horse and Burro Act, an Act designed to preserve, not destroy wild horse families.

The Cloud Foundation advocates for economical, sustainable methods for managing wild horses and burros “on the range,” many of which were recommended in the June 2013, National Academy of Science (NAS) Report: Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward. The report states: current BLM Management practices (helicopter roundups and removals of horses from the range) are facilitating high rates of population growth.

BLM is on a collision course with reality.  It appears they intend to continue inhumane and expensive helicopter roundups and removals of wild horses and burros when long and short term holding corrals are filled beyond capacity.

Will BLM simply castrate stallions and spay mares then return them to the wild, creating dead end herds and destroying the rich and complex society that Kathrens has documented over the years?  In Oct. 2013 the BLM issued a request for information for Wild Horse and Burro Sterilization or Contraception: Development of Techniques and Protocols, inviting research project ideas for the permanent sterilization or contraception of either male or female wild horses and/or burros in the field.

Does the BLM intend to showcase the few herd areas where PZP is effectively controlling population growth with the intent to annihilate the rest by creating non-reproducing herds?  Maybe this what Ed Roberson, BLM’s assistant director of resources and planning referred to in The Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2014 article U.S. Looking for Ideas to Help Manage Wild-Horse Overpopulation.

“This is my fear,” Kathrens says. “It is a fact that there are few mustangs left in the wild. The majority of our wild herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable. The charge of overpopulation is a joke aimed at hoodwinking the media and the public.

“Rather than spend $1.5 million for further studies the BLM needs to use the tools it has.  Effective use of the proven and reversible fertility vaccine PZP will curtail population growth in an economical, sustainable way with no need for helicopter roundups. On the range management is being practiced in the Pryor Mountains of Montana, the McCullough Peaks of Wyoming, the Little Book Cliffs of Colorado, and it is being considered for the Onaqui wild horse herd in Utah,” said Kathrens.  “PZP has successfully controlled population in the Assateague National Seashore where wild horses have been darted with the drug for decades.   Instead, the BLM treated only 332 mares of the 4702 wild horses rounded up in 2013.”

The Cloud Foundation contends that BLM’s management of wild horses and burros on our public lands is wrong on every level:
·         It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
·         It cheats the American public of the opportunity to experience these inspiring wild animals.
·         It violates the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. 
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Links:
Helicopter Flight Service – Wild Horse and Burro – Contract D13PC00091
Wild Horse and Burro Flight Services – Contract D13PC00079
Original Herds in 1971 – This map from the BLM shows all the Herd Areas in the US–where all wild horses were to be protected in 1971 when the law was passed.
Herds Today
BLM Completed FY 2013 Gathers

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands

BLM Warehousing Wild Horses in Rock Springs Holding Without Adequate Windbreaks or Shelter

Fears build for foals and adults in subzero temperatures and wind

ROCK SPRINGS, WY. (Dec. 10, 2013) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) helicopter roundup of Wyoming’s Salt Wells wild horses in the snow and cold is over, but the inhumane treatment of the over 668 captive mustangs is continuing according to eyewitnesses to both the roundup and the corralling of the horses.

After being driven into traps with two helicopters, most stallions were shipped 300 miles to the Gunnison Prison Wild Horse Program in central Utah, while the mares and foals were sent to the BLM’s Rock Springs corrals, according to Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, Jay D’Ewart. Neither facility has adequate wind breaks or shelter for the captive animals, and eyewitnesses in Rock Springs reported bitter cold and battering winds.

Noted wild horse photographer Carol Walker described the conditions: “Mares and foals seemed frozen in place, resigned, unmoving. There is no shelter for these horses in Short Term Holding Facilities and although they have heavy winter coats, these horses have nowhere to get out of the biting, stinging wind. In their natural setting, they would be out of sight in low areas, gullies, next to cliffs, sheltered from the wind.”

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) questioned the BLM in Rock Springs about whether there were windbreaks for the horses warehoused there. BLM responded by email that the horses do have windbreaks.

“Look at my pictures and see if you see adequate windbreaks,” says Carol Walker. “The temperature was below zero with the snow blasting through the pens where the horses were huddled together for warmth.”

TCF also requested an accounting of how many wild horses are currently being held in the Rock Springs corrals. The BLM public information officer told Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of TCF in an email to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for this information.

“Responses to FOIA requests typically take months and then the government may simply deny the information requested,” stated Kathrens. “Why is this information being kept secret? Have horses already died in these frigid conditions?”

Unless TCF gets a count immediately, there may be no way to determine foal survival rates since BLM, shockingly, does not count young horses less than six months of age. At the BLM National Adoption Center in Palomino Valley (PVC) foals that die that are less than six months of age are not counted and their bodies are shipped to local renderers with no paper trail documenting that they ever existed.

BLM was criticized for its lack of transparency in the recent National Academies of Science (NAS) review of the troubled Wild Horse and Burro Program but no recommended changes have been announced or implemented. The NAS also concluded that massive roundups, like the one just completed in Wyoming, are counterproductive and stimulate increased breeding among the remaining bands.

The Cloud Foundation is calling on Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to weigh in on the situation. “First the horses are rounded up in the bitter cold, and now they are trapped in small corrals that do not offer the horses any protection from the elements,” states Rachel Reeves who attended and photographed the roundup. “It is heartbreaking to see these wild horses being held captive in such inhumane conditions. I especially worry for the small foals, some of whom were less than two months old when they were rounded up and removed.”

Many advocates are disappointed with the continued lack of attention by Jewell, despite continued criticism from Americans all over the country. “As adopters, we must have adequate shelter for our BLM mustangs,” states Lisa Friday, a Virginia wild horse adopter and advocate. ”Why is the government not held to the same standard? It is long past time for a change!”