December 2011 Highlights


The first phase of the Calico Complex (Tri-state Complex) is complete.

Today saw the small band that often crosses the Highway (34) outside of Gerlach removed.

Stud released 12-17 Calico Complex

21 studs and 11 mares were returned to the Warm Springs/Black Rock West HMA’s.

To date apox 1050 animals have been removed in the planned operation. The BLM website states “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District, Black Rock Field Office will gather approximately 1,300 wild horses and 140 wild burros, of which as many as 350 wild horses would be released back to the range following the gather. “

BLM’s gather status reports can be found here:

Leap back “home”

At the High Rock Complex roundup (prior to Calico and part of the supposed Tri-State Complex) all animals were returned to the range with a hip brand marking their home ranges. During the Calico portion of the operation in this proposed Complex with the stated purpose of “cohesive and coordinated” management no studs were marked prior to release.

If we are to truly have a discussion based on the best options for actually managing this population as intended under law than the data to support decisions needs to exist. Currently decisions are based on theory not hard facts.

The request was made to Gene Seidlitz the Winnemmuca District manager (one of the men involved in the construction of the Tri-State Complex) and it was not acted upon. Seidlitz had no knowledge that the adjoining district took steps to facilitate actual tracking capabilities. When informed he took no steps to facilitate (all equipment was present and required very little extra time).

One has to wonder what the purpose of a “Tri-State” Complex is that operates simply as it always has: a non-cohesive guesswork machine.

At present no cohesive plan exists that actually has the behavioral habits of the animal the agency supposedly manages as “wild  and free roaming” in actual “fact,” only “estimate.”

Observation at the roundup portion of todays operation did not promise to facilitate a good viewing location and the release was observed.

Mare from the “Gerlach Bunch” taken 12-17

One mare was observed with a laceration to her face and possible eye injury and the stud from todays group had some apparent superficial bleeding of the pasterns (most likely from the run over rock).

A hiatus for the holiday will last until January 3 when operations will resume on the Eastern side of the Complex.

Note: There has been much talk about the implementation of a humane care standard (with ramification for violation) as well as training protocol and communication improvements.  But at this stage of the “game” it is only talk… nothing has changed. (Behavior was better as a representative from DC arrived. But we have seen that “show” before).


Post will be added in the am. For now just a few pictures from the Calico Complex roundup 12-15-2011, the 40th Anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

Day started around the 20 degree mark… 12-15-2011

Part of the first group… video will be published as soon as tech difficulties are handled

Awaiting sorting at temporary holding

Beautiful stud heading to PVC soon

Candle in the range in honor of the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, “a vow renewed” (photo by Elyse Gardner all others Laura Leigh)


Calico roundup December 2011

BLM Issues Report on Inhumane Wild Horse Roundup Allegations

Report Admits Wrongdoing Related to Inhumane Treatment

Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the long awaited report on its internal investigation into allegations of inhumane treatment in connection with the Triple B wild horse roundup that occurred in Nevada during July and August of this year.

The documentation, and subsequent lawsuit filed by Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education (WHE)  resulted in a court order directing BLM pilots to temporarily stop their aggressive and harmful attacks on wild horses.  The court’s order was in response to videotaped evidence of BLM helicopters actually hitting horses to frighten and force them towards capture.  The legal action, filed by attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno, documented multiple additional acts of abuse and aggression by BLM towards the wild horses, including deprivation of food and water, use of electric cattle prods to shock the horses, and cruel handling at various stages of the capture.

The BLM report admits that it saw “specific instances of inappropriate, aggressive handling” and that wrongdoing had occurred, and provides recommendations for future roundups.  The report acknowledged the dangerously close helicopters, excessive pursuit of individual and small groups of horses, the use of rags as whips around horses’ heads, and “kicking, slamming of gates, pinning in gates, twisting of tails during horse loading processes.”  But despite all these admitted acts, BLM refused to agree with “animal welfare experts” that the horses were treated inhumanely.

“I find the report encouraging,” states Leigh, “however it is of interest that no document filed by the BLM in the course of litigation admits any wrongdoing occurred.  And the recommendations in the document are not in effect on the ground.  At the recent Calico roundup I have witnessed several instances of inhumane treatment that are in conflict with the recommendations.  There is no excuse for not having a standard in place before any further helicopters fly.”

Judge McKibben’s pending ruling will address the request for a postponement of the roundups until a policy is in place that outlines handling and a system of consequence for violations.

“The idea of sane and sensible management starts with honest conversation. I have attempted to discuss these policies of treatment of the horses before, during and after their capture with BLM, but the possibility of productive dialogue was ignored by the BLM until litigation became a necessity.  A federal agency that insists on operating in such a manner is breaching its obligation to the public.”

Links of interest:

BLM report:

Some observations since Triple B


Callaghan Roundup Temporary Holding December 2010, Sun J contractor. Standing water as temperatures dipped below freezing overnight and excessive debris in pens.

Wild Horse Education has completed an Analysis of BLM’s report on conduct at the Triple B roundup.

This analysis includes two documents released by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) titled “Triple B Wild Horse Gather Team Review” and “Triple B Response to Recommendations.” This analysis also includes observations of operations prior to, and post, the Triple B “gather.”

After thorough analysis of the report (and upcoming BLM roundup schedule) the concluding recommendation is as follows:

Suspend operations until a care standard has been defined and consequence for violation of that standard clearly outlined. Any protocol put in place could be amended, expanded or changed during a prescribed implementation period.”

BLM’s report can be read here:

Read Wild Horse Education’s Analysis of the report by clicking the image below:


At the holiday season family and friends come together to make special memories.As you gather together with your loved ones, remember our wild horses as the struggle continues to gain actual protection for them on our public land.

Cards and packages are sent by many this time of year. This is a video letter “home” to Laura Leigh’s family. (End of video is Calico 2011)

Laura’s “Letter to Mom,” from 2010

May this holiday season bring us closer to sane and fair management of America’s treasure, wild horses and burros.


Videos are being posted as the links go “live.” There are issues with equipment and they will be posted in no particular order.

Thanksgiving day at Calico:


Wishing you all peace… and a year of progress ahead toward sanity of managent of our wild ones.

Seasons Greetings


Attempts have been made to upload video today. Most of them unsuccessful. The ends of video are being cut off or links not going “live.” We are working on getting the issues (most have to do with inadequate internet and overloaded equipment) resolved and the other videos loaded so you can see.

This video loaded with some success:

Please be patient as we work with “hamster and wheel” technology. Your support is needed to keep observations going. Link is to the left, top of column. Thank you.