A roundup, for whatever reason – emergency, PZP, sickness, whatever – should have clear guidelines so we can objectively determine and protect these horses with no ambiguity about what is humane.
How can we trust someone who refuses to even acknowledge wrong?
To effect a roundup approaching a truly humane scenario as far as possible when using a helicopter, we are calling for the implementaton of these things to be included in the roundup contract:
1) A mounted video camera on the helicopter (this was also recommended in the report of BLM's handpicked observers, which tells us this is truly a minimal requirement) with a live feed to observers on the ground, including person(s) not just selected by BLM;
2) A daily reporting of the GPS coordinates of each and every trap site along with (A) the time, and (B) the GPS coordinates (place) where each band or single horse, as the case may be, is picked up to begin the drive to the trap pen;
3) A set maximum distance and speed bearing in mind the makeup of the band as far as possible
4) A strictly enforced requirement that the helicopter:
(A) Never touch an animal unless it is to save his/her life;
(B) Maintain a distance no closer than 50 to 100 feet unless it is necessary for the safety of the horses, as in diverting them from a ledge;
5) Water be made available at all trap pens if the animals are in the pens longer than 45 minutes, bearing in mind that these animals have just experienced a sustained exertion exceeding any natural movement they do in the wild;
6) Create a review team, to include members of the public not handpicked by BLM, for the purpose of determining whether injuries are gather related at each day's roundup.
7) Levy financial fines to include possible forfeiture of that animal's payment to contractor for animals determined to have sustained gather related injuries.
8) Allow the interested public true access in witnessing roundups.
9) Allow wild horses to remain free who have monumentally struggled, jumped, or otherwise regained their freedom. These animals are truly wild, retaining attributes we want on the open range. The contracts are set up so the contractors get paid for bringing them in. Please direct them (contractors and BLM staff) to leave them be.
10) Open the doors to Broken Arrow, all short-term facilities, especially so the public can see horses freshly rounded up. Often we don't get to see them at all at the trap sites, and we only sometimes get a cursory look at them in temporary holding if we are lucky. It helped tremendously to be able to go to Broken Arrow during the Twin Peaks roundup (correction: during the Calico roundup, not Twin Peaks. Broken Arrow was closed to the public for the duration of the Twin Peaks roundup-EG) and visit the horses. I strongly request and urge that you reopen Broken Arrow, certainly at least during roundups so the public can actually see the horses BLM is removing.
11) Open the doors to long-term holding by making reasonable accommodation for the public to visit at least occasionally. I need to see for myself where our Calico mares, shaken up in that recent trailering accident, are living.
I want to get this blog posted, so I will stop here. I may have forgotten important things, which I can add later or do another post.
Setting aside the reasons, I acknowledge that there are times wild horses and burros need to be rounded up although I disagree with this as the primary management tool of BLM.
Reasons for roundup aside, on behalf of the wild horses and burros, it is my aim to work with BLM to create a truly humane scenario for this to occur.
This is a new year: I earnestly ask the BLM to please stop offending the public and the animals by declaring the present state of affairs to be "humane" and therefore acceptable. Until BLM is willing to admit and accept that these things need changing, we will continue to distrust it, and it will remain nearly impossible to accomplish real change on behalf of the horses and burros, and the country.
I must now take a few moments to address the numbers and how BLM skews the facts in favor of cattle.
Alan Shepherd makes misleading remarks on TV about, “We can’t cheat everybody else for the horse,” when it’s everybody else who’s cheating the horse out of his fair legal share of the range resources in his legal HMAs, his tiny percent of what’s left of his little pie.
Originally, the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act committed 51.3 million acres to the wild horses and burros. That is down to 26-some million acres now.
Out of that 26 million, the wild horses and burros only receive 25% of the resources, yielding the predominance of range resources to livestock grazing even in their own Herd Management Areas.