There are several disturbing reoccurring issues with this contractor. From water, feed and pilot conduct. To access to witness actions facing further restrictions. Many revolve around simple carelessness.
This horse was driven into a chute that had the side panel open. He makes a break but the neck rope is in place. The struggle is impressive and on video. The contractors that should be on the opposite side of the chute are not present and the one wrangler is left to call for help.
Video will be up by Wednesday evening. I have to prep for tomorrow. Please donate to help this documentation of the management practices of BLM and their chosen contractors to continue.
Carelessness could have been a disaster
WEEK OF 11/19-11/25 (FAST BREAKDOWN)
It has been a week of “roller-coaster” activity in several areas. I will try to give you a fast update on the avenues I have been working on.
Calico begins, first week breakdown
Of the seven days of operation (11/19-11/25) there have been six days of roundup operation. Day 2 was cancelled due to weather. Of the six days of operation I observed horses at the roundup site 3 days and in holding 4 days. (There was also a two day release of horses in the Fox Hog area of High Rock during this time, more on that later).
First I would like to note that the atmosphere at the roundup so far has been relatively pleasant among those observing (including all government personnel). That said there are still access issues that include what appears to be a miscommunication among staff. Not one animal has been observed during proicessing. As animals are transported the “observers” are held on the range and are not even permitted to travel down a public road to wait on a public road (where processing could be observed, but limited) while staff sorts animals at holding. I have made a request to leave the trap site early and go to holding during my next visit. I had planned on being there today but my need for sleep had me fall out yesterday at 6 pm and not rise until 7 am this morning. (I will use the time to check on horses in short-term and get video up). Of note is that there have been 3 animals euthanized at the temporary facility: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/TriState_Calico/gatreports.html
However it is “of note” that BLM’s gather report will look like this:
Of note is the phrase repeated on just about every day “no incident.” If you follow the reports posted “incident” on the BLM page only translates into “fatality.” A change of terminology for the sake of accurate dialogue is in order. “Fatality” should be used as many “incidents” do occur.
If you look at the dictionary definition of the word it really does not apply. If they use the word “incident” things like horses being trampled or coming in exhausted should be included. So should each horse that is left behind and requires roping or any horses that show signs of injury to legs, face or appear sore. Perhaps they should change the vocabulary. It would be a shame if the public interpreted such omissions, in conjunction with the choice of words, as an attempt to mislead.
There are some observations that are “of note.” First, the pilot (from limited observation) has a different “signature.” This was also noted during the last day of Barren Valley in Oregon. BLM will not disclose the name of the pilot. However at this roundup I was told it is not Josh Helyer.
This is an interesting “observation” as in Court documents BLM admits no wrong doing nor addresses any issues that have been brought forward in the case that lead to the TRO to pilot conduct at Triple B and is ongoing to conduct. IF BLM has taken steps to rectify an issue shouldn’t the public be notified? If mistakes are made and admitted to… and an issue actually being addressed… shouldn’t the BLM make the public aware even if they have to admit that a mistake was made in the first place? This agency has a long history of discounting public concern and this would help create an area of public confidence instead of perpetuating the “veil of secrecy” that instills public distrust.
Second observation “of note” is that the tarps are still present in the loading area of the trap. The excuse that it helps horses “settle” is completely discounted through observation. Horses do not “settle” in the area of loading. Horses are being loaded most often immediately after capture with no “settle” time. If “settle” time is actually afforded it is done at the area on the opposite end of the trap. The only thing the tarps do is block the actual time of “handling” of the horses during loading.
There is every indication that loading is still occurring in the manner it has in the past. Flagging at the opposite end of the pens still demonstrates a lack of understanding of equine behavior. Animals are often literally flagged into the panels instead of down the alley. Fast and hard flagging can still be observed (yet not the actual contact with animals as they are hidden) as the go down the alley. If you watch the horses feet (only part of them visible) you can still see the crowding of the alleys. Horse have been observed (in the area blocked by the saddle horses) “going down” during loading immediately after capture.
Observations as to the “drive” itself: Animals are coming in at between 1.5 hour to 2.5 hour intervals. The BLM line for this is that horses are being moved in “slowly.” However observations made can discount this assertion. On more than one run animals arrived at the trap visibly exhausted and “hot.” Animals were observed stumbling. Of note is that this trap location has now been used for 7 days. It would be logical to assume that animals are being brought in from greater and greater distances. BLM will not install GPS trackers nor cameras into contracted helicopters to confirm, nor dispel, their assertions.
- Exhausted horses, video taped stumbling, reach trap area
Animals transported to the short-term facility (Palomino Valley Center) are not all in public view. Of those documented there are observations of note: Of the mares PZP treated at the roundup two years ago we have evidence that there have been late season births. This is evident in the body condition of several mares. At this time of year animals begin to conserve resource (in other words they travel fewer miles, slower speeds and “foaling season” has already past). Several mares have very young foals present and the resource used to give birth and nurse a young foal are evident. Also please remember the movement occurring in the areas due to construction for pipeline and geo-thermal and the adjoining roundup location. Many of these horses have travelled a lot in the last six months.
The majority of horses arriving at the facility appear in good health. A few arrived with superficial shipping wounds.
Observation of animals at holding and during roundup operations will continue.
High Rock Release
Also in the last week there was a return of horses into the Fox Hog area of High Rock. This is the first release and others are planned. I will update as I get info. But this almost did not happen… pat yourselves on the back. If we must address as distinct events than it works both ways.
Jeff Fonatana of BLM has provided me with brand ID’s on horses released and has promised to notify me as other areas are prepped for release.
However horses were released by sex, not in mixed sex groups nor partial bands.
- Triple B, Do we stand for this?
- Humane action
Late on the 21st of November the last reply brief went to the Court in the Humane care case. This statement from my Declaration sums up my feelings
“I am astounded that the BLM reply in this case does not outline concrete action being taken to rectify this type of conduct. I am fearful of the capabilities of such an agency that will continue to skirt every attempt to address the lack of standard. It literally causes pain that my government would rather argue my right to address this issue instead of creating a policy to carry out the most basic premise in the 1971 Act.”
I am working on several areas of research as well that may bear some very interesting fruit soon… more on that later.
I started this post at 7 am and just finished… had to stop and stop… more tomorrow…
Please donate if you can…. http://wildhorseeducation.org Without you this work can’t continue.
CALICO, DAY 1
Calico report (11/19/2011)
please note operations 11/20 were called due to weather
Calico Complex 2011, Day 1
PLEASE read: http://artandhorseslauraleigh.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/calico-then-and-now/ for background information on what is happening in the area.
Calico Complex Roundup, November 19, 2011
Operations in this Complex began in the Granite range. Granite shares a border with the now “complete” operation (release to low AML in that area still to occur, update soon).
This trap site is but a few miles from the last trap used at High Rock.
Present at the “public briefing” were Gene Seidlitz (district manager for Winnemuca), Lisa Ross (public relations Winnemucca), Leslie Coakley (public relations, Elko district), the Wild Horse and burro specialist, several BLM rangers, five members of the public and one from the media.
Four loads were brought in on the first day of operation. The public briefing began late and did not allow observation of the first load of six. Three more loads were brought in that were observed.
Temperatures of observation began at 23 degrees. Light snow was present in the area but the day was relatively clear and cold with little wind.
Observation report is limited to the very last part of the drive with trap mouth hidden from view behind “gravel” mound. Observation of horses in the trap pen limited to the very first portion of the trap pens as view was obstructed by saddle horses tied to the pens and tarps draped over the loading area. Handling during loading could not be observed, although the vantage would have allowed some observation were tarps not present.
Note on tarps: tarps are a new addition to the traps used by Sun J. The appearance of tarps came after the filing of legal action at Triple B. The documentation released to the public and filed in the Courts included the use of hotshots during loading as well as other disturbing images of handling during loading. Since the documents were filed no loading practices have been documented.
The “excuse” given for the tarp is that it helps animals “settle.”
This statement is disputed through observation as animals are most often given no time to settle and are loaded within minutes of capture. Most “settle time,” if any, is in the larger pens at the other end of the trap. Observation of movement of staff indicates the same practices and issues are occurring, but blocked from view.
Requests to place a camera at the alley end to capture the handling have been refused.
Each group brought into the trap (observed) took considerable time to reach vicinity of the trap.
First group observed entered the trap without incident that can be reported from the limited vantage. This group was immediately added to the first six and loaded for transport to temporary holding.
Note: District manager Gene Seidlitz was quick to say “isn’t it better” to me in reference to the pilot conduct. This comment was made in reference to the current litigation efforts that have final reply due Monday. Allegations in that case include inappropriate conduct by the pilot. Among the most egregious actions documented was contact between the helicopter skid and an exhausted animal:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObXB0Wq3nRE
Current reply documents filed with the Court from the BLM do not address the conduct or any steps taken to address conduct. The attorneys for the BLM continue to ignore that issue in favor of bringing other arguments before the Court.
Yet repetitive statements that are made to “assure” that conduct is being addressed are constantly asserted by personnel on the ground. Yet those statements only address those actions taken that are witnessed with no written assurance that policy or protocol affords animals any differing treatment when public is not present. AND imply admission of wrong-doing in the past.
The second group observed, third group of the day, to arrive at the trap was “hot” enough to exhibit sweat and steam in the cold. This group reached the trap at aprox. 1 pm and was the “warmest” portion of the day. The steam was not as heavy as that demonstrated during operations at the Eagle Complex (January 2011) in Eastern Nevada. (Operations noted to begin at days of sub-zero temperatures. Video report view here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw8iX7LO8g0 ) Temperatures and weather conditions do not have operational parameters within the context of wild horse roundups. Note that this agency has been documented flying in temperatures below zero and winds in excess of 30 mph. Again please note that no humane handling protocol, including temperature guidelines, has been offered in spite of public comment, petition and litigation.
Communications between the observation area and the trap were kept at minimum and radio communications were not heard. However after the above mentioned run it was documented that Gene Seidlitz did have communication with an unknown entity where he said “everything is going just fine except that group was sweaty.”
Fatigued horses reach trap, 2.5 hours after helicopter leaves operation area
The third group (observed) arrived two and one half hours after pilot had departed the operation area. Seidlitz was not present for the final group as he had left the observation area.
This group arrived at the trap location fatigued. Several horses were documented stumbling, one horse twice.
Once in the trap these animals were prepped for loading. An older palomino mare was so exhausted that she was knocked into the panels as staff flagged animals into the loading alleys. The older mare had difficulty pushing back against the other horses and demonstrated her fatigue clearly, even with limited observation.
Exhausted mare hits panel after loading begins minutes after capture
Decreasing sunlight halted operations for the day.
Of extreme concern is the COR decision to keep trap location in this area for at least another day, if not more. The time differential and condition of animals arriving at the trap indicate that animals are moving considerable distance. This location is also very near the border of the operations that concluded just days ago in adjoining Complex. Animals being taken may have recently expended resource fleeing previous operation area. Direction the horses came from indicate that they may be coming from the adjoining Complex area. As BLM refuses to install GPS tracking or cameras into operation helicopters only speculation of distance and terrain can occur.
However this location has proven to be convenient to contractor equipment and vehicle traffic. It is of extreme concern that apparently this location does not serve the horses supposedly being “protected” by the agency tasked with humane care by Congress for forty years.
At the temporary holding location we were informed that transport to short-term would not occur until Monday. COR was advised by Palomino Valley Center (PVC) in Sparks that the facility needed to be “cleaned.” Observations of PVC in the last week showed that facility to have a minimal population left of horses from the Triple B roundup and a few Wyoming youngsters on the current internet adoption. Also note PVC is not normally staffed for anything resembling “clean up” on Sunday.
One mare (injury to knee) was noted with information supplied that she will receive banamine and antibiotic prior to transport to PVC on Monday.
Of note at holding were the same verbal reassurances that horses were receiving food and water (in Court complaint) as no written assurance of policy has been afforded to the public.
Processing of horses was complete prior to arrival of public and no notes can be made of handling at this time.
This report is supplied by Wild Horse Education: http://wildhorseeducation.orga registered Nevada non-profit supported solely by the public devoted to documentation toward honest dialogue
Donations are appreciated to keep our observer Laura Leigh in the field.
UPDATE: HIGH ROCK RELEASE
UPDATE on the Update:
Horses will receive the freezemark AND an HMA mark… more tomorrow. Maybe they will try to release a few partial bands? Are we really asking too much? No way. It is the very least that can be done as AML is so dangerously low AND we are not following up these drastic reductions with any behavioral data.
Horses will be released at High Rock, not dependent on Calico numbers and prior to the end of Calico.
I have been told horses will be going to their “HMA’s” and the assumption is that the horses will be released in the areas they were taken from (not like we have seen at other operations). But I will follow-up on this.
I have not been notified if horses will receive a full brand and not just a PZP mark. I have not gotten any confirmation on making an attempt to release studs with their mares.
Working on getting more info.
Operations will continue for about two more days and “off” HMA horses are now being taken.
Please keep in mind that prior survey noted 1300 animals, we are now above that count. Horses are now moving because of the roundup operation and disruptions in the North due to construction…. more on that later.
PLEASE keep asking for those brands and that an attempt be made to return at least partial bands to home ranges.
CALICO BEGINS, FAST POST
Calico 2011 begins 11/19 c 2011 Laura Leigh From Leigh: Granite range, 51 taken today. One injury to a left (?) knee on a mare. They will banamine and antibiotic before transport to PVC. Cold but no wind. Upper teens and twenties… more weather moving in.Uploading more files… Calico has officially began… and I have a lot to say about it. Full report soon.
HIGH ROCK HORSES (LITCHFIELD HOLDING FACILITY)
This is just a quick update on the Litchfield facility:
Horses from High Rock are being taken to this facility. Ability to assess horses is extremely limited at this facility. Most horses are in corrals that are not easily visible. This trip I was able to see primarily studs only.
I will return when youngsters are moved for vaccination.
Processing is not visible and access to view was denied.
Woke up to hit the road and it is snowing. Forecast calls for snow all day so I will leave tomorrow… I can’t wait any longer. Much of the travel was worse last year and the dog, the truck and I made it through just fine. I know they will be flying… and I sit here and review documentation and log and file and send… and look at each face. I will leave tomorrow while it’s light and not chance the overnight drive… I know they will be flying.
But wanted to share this again… fuel for fire that will keep me warm…
Made this in June before the July roundups began…
no one sings it like Maria Danes…