Ely, Nevada - The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the nation's oldest animal welfare organization, and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, today released a video documenting the inhumane treatment of young mustang foals during the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Triple B roundup currently underway in northeastern Nevada.
"Tiny foals are being chased by helicopters for miles in the extreme desert heat," said Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty. "Once captured, these young, unweaned babies are separated from their mothers and forced to stand in the hot sun for up to seven hours without access to water. These horses are living symbols of our nation's history, and it is shameful that the agency charged with protecting these iconic creatures is recklessly chasing young foals to death."
The video taken August 2-4, 2011 by Deniz Bolbol, on behalf of the ASPCA and AWHPC, shows a helicopter relentlessly chasing a tiny foal who becomes exhausted and unable to run farther, even as the helicopter hovers menacingly. Other foals fall behind and are roped by wranglers.
In a letter to Dean Bolstad, Acting Division Chief for the BLM's wild horse and burro program, the animal welfare groups noted that the majority of horses who have died in the Triple B roundup to date have been foals. They called upon the BLM to implement a moratorium on all roundups pending the results of a National Academy of Sciences review of the troubled federal program. Barring that, the groups demanded an immediate suspension of all summer roundup activities to avoid the stampeding of tiny vulnerable foals, as well as other horses in the high temperatures and low water conditions of the desert at this time of year.
"Tiny foals are still developing and their hooves are tender and vulnerable," said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Campaign Director. "The trauma inflicted on these babies during the helicopter stampede and as a result of separation from their mothers can be deadly. For the survivors, the damage can last a lifetime. Wild horses are protected as national symbols of freedom and their mistreatment at the hands of the federal government must end immediately."
The Triple B roundup began on July 20, 2011. As of Sunday, August 7, 2011, 846 mustangs have been captured and nine horses have been killed, including six foals. The BLM is targeting 1,726 wild horses for permanent removal from the range. The roundup will leave just 472 wild horses in this vast, 1.7 million acre public lands complex. Meanwhile, the BLM authorizes nine times that number of privately owned livestock to graze these public lands and continues to violate the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which was passed to protect wild horses and burros from capture and preserve the land used by them.