Deadly Owyee Roundup Leaves 12 Mustangs Dead

The BLM apparently caused the deaths of at least 12 mustangs in their roundup this week, in the Owyee Complex in Nevada.

In the deadliest BLM roundup this year, the BLM rounded up 228 horses, most of them stampeded by helicopter for eight miles in searing summer heat. BLM later reported at least 12 mustangs, died so far, 7 of them suffering gruesome deaths from dehydration-related causes, including brain swelling and “water intoxication.”

The dead mustangs included colts 2 to 4 months old.

A lawsuit and a separate administrative appeal warned BLM of the dangers of proceeding with this summer roundup so close to the foaling season.

“The Department of Interior’s mismanagement of our public resources, so tragically revealed in the Gulf oil spill, extends to our nation’s treasured wild horses and burros.”

Stuart G. Gross, of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy.

A new lawsuit has been filed in California, to stop another BLM roundup, this time, of 2,000 horses.

“The Department of Interior has a policy of removing mass numbers of wild horses from the range without supporting its conclusion that such drastic measures are ecologically necessary,” said environmental attorney Rachel Fazio. “They completely ignore current scientific information regarding the harm associated with their proposed roundup, refuse to provide the public with documentation and data to support their conclusions, and utterly disregard the damage done by livestock. This circumvents the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act to fully inform the public and take a ‘hard look’ at the consequences of their actions and that is why we were forced to proceed to court.”

Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Currently the BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands of which cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres; wild horses are only allowed on 26.6 million acres of this land, which must be shared with cattle. The Obama Administration has accelerated the removal of wild horses and burros from public lands in the past year. There are currently more than 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.