October 2011 Highlights


High Rock, 10-30

Yesterday, Oct. 30, the Bureau of Land Management’s contractor Sun J was unsuccessful in removing the last few horses left in the Woodruff trap site area.

The horses were driven to that location after being moved by helicopter for at least 2 hours.

Because the agency is incredibly reluctant to place gps tracking devices and/or cameras in the contracted helicopters the exact distance the animals travel remains unknown.

At the time of (our) arrival the trap was noted to have several areas where issues (accidents) were possible to occur dependent on the direction horses were driven from. This included noted observation of a fence line that contained barbed wire that was potentially in the path of travel. This despite the fact that this roundup, as well as previous ones, have had fatalities associated with the presence of barbed wire.

It was observed that one of the possibilities noted at arrival did occur and is demonstrated at this video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlXzyA1_fUo

Also of noted concern at the trap was evidence that the pilot had brought in members of unrelated bands indicating that fracturing of family groups continues. Of the six that made the vicinity of the trap 4 grouped together and as the other 2 attempted to join them for safety a stallion gave warning for them to keep their distance. Also of note is that the group consisting of a  mature stallion with three mares had no youngsters. Again because of the agencies reluctance to outfit the contract helicopters with cameras only speculation can occur (it raises serious questions as to what happens to animals when they are out of sight and why the agency is so adamant in their refusal).

However it is noted that apparently the COR operating that particular day at the Woodruff site did call off the pilot from continuing his pursuit.

Observation of operations continued at the temporary holding facility located on Highway 34 in the Complex.

Horses that had been captured in previous days were present. As no new animals were removed handling during processing could not be observed.

The animals removed from this roundup are primarily of good flesh for this time of year. The only horses observed that are below a 5 on the Heinekke scale are those that appear to have dropped colts in the spring and are of more advanced age. (One exception observed was a young mare that may have an underlying illness or anomaly).

Observations noted wounds of various degrees on feet and legs.

Trap site was moved to Texas Creek area (area was included in the public tour pre-roundup).

Horses were observed in the operation site area. Forage and water was noted to support population present. No underweight or distressed animals were observed. Of population noted 12% were estimated at one year of age or younger, (Includes observation of two apparent bachelor bands).

Observation of the trap noted that a small canyon would be used to hide the entrance to the panels. This area was strewn with sharp rock and large sage.

Assessment of the area indicated that the terrain was likely to increase injury to feet and legs. This information was noted in a fast post on the blog last night.

In BLM’s report today they note “no injuries.” Please keep in mind that none of the photos documenting injuries from puncture wounds to faces, severe lacerations to legs or bloody feet have never been listed in BLM’s update. BLM only notes injuries that lead to fatality in both facility and roundup reports.

Of particular note: BLM has stated that there will be no more animals released into any of the HMA’s of the High Rock Complex until the Calico Complex roundup has been completed. If numbers are not reached at Calico, no more animals will be released into High Rock. The reasoning is that the HMA’s share a boundary line.

So even though the public must continue to comment and address the AML’s of each of these areas through differing processes of public comment, the BLM now considers the populations fluid. This is an increasing trend and dilutes the public’s ability to address the system (utilizing their rights guaranteed under law) toward effective advocacy for this primary user (wild herds) as defined by the Federal Land Use Policy Management Act (FLPMA).

As I was informed that another observer would be present 10-31, I did not attend todays operation. The time was utilized condensing reports into a cohesive format for the NAS and actually taking a shower (the dog told me I stink).

Back into the field…


High Rock (Buzan)
Youngster with eye injury (Leigh)


On October  6th, 2011 the Honorable Judge Howard McKibben ordered that the Motion for Injunctive Relief in the matter Laura Leigh v. Ken Salazar addressing “Humane Treatment” be answered.

The matter addresses alleged inhumane conduct at Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse roundups. Late in August the parties met in a Federal Courtroom in Reno Nevada. There Judge McKibben granted Plaintiff aTemporary Restraining Order (TRO) to pilot conduct demonstrated at the Triple B roundup in Eastern Nevada.

Included in documentation presented to the Court was video footage taken by Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education (WHE)  that showed a BLM contracted helicopter pilot coming into contact with a horse and his aircraft. That footage was considered so intense that it was deemed to be age-restricted based on “inappropriate” content by YouTube. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObXB0Wq3nRE)

At the hearing for the TRO Judge McKibben left the matter for Injunctive Relief open stating that the ruling would stand identical unless new information is presented to the Court. The Complaint itself is left active.

“At the Barren Valley Roundup in Oregon BLM did all they could to restrict the ability to assess pilot conduct,” stated Leigh “ yet every indication was observed that identical conduct continued. There were finally two runs (one day) where I was restricted, yet was able to catch seconds of the push and I saw the pilot, again, come in close proximity to the ground, the trap and the horses.”

Leigh returned to Reno (before heading out to the roundup again) and amended the Complaint to include the documentation she had of pilot conduct, conduct at holding, the lack of an upcoming roundup schedule and still no written humane handling protocol or consequence.

“It is amazing that an agency that will claim to care about the horses has no real standard for accountability for handling of animals,” states Leigh “Instead it is left up to arbitrary whim that has no consequence. That’s not how you handle something you care about.”

Since the Complaint was amended BLM announced an “internal” investigation into “alleged” activity  at Triple B. There was an internal investigation into the same type of conduct at the Antelope roundup that cleared the contractor and blamed “telephoto distortion” and “angles” of photographs. The outcome of this “investigation” is expected on October 12.

Since the Complaint was amended BLM has now issued it’s roundup schedule.

According to the briefing schedule set by Judge McKibben the case for Relief could be heard before the Court by the end of next month.


The newsletter is finished!

It contains some “moving forward and looking back” items. It also has a new fundraiser for October!

Click Here: WHE_News_Fall2011


Join us this Sunday for the online Premiere of “Hold Your Wild Horses!”

Over the last 18 months Laura Leigh has been attempting to document the “hands on care” of wild horses. She is compiling the information into a series of videos to condense and share the information with the public.

“Some of the documentation has been released as it happens,” said Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse  “however I have found that the ‘bigger picture’ is often hard to follow through the updates. So I am attempting to edit the pieces together in a way that is easier to comprehend.”

Leigh intends to release the videos in one hour segments that focus on areas of concern. The first segment, available for viewing this coming Sunday, will focus on the documentation of the removal of horses from public land and the ongoing battle to obtain meaningful documentation. Subsequent segments will cover the history of herd management (under differing jurisdictions and the public confusion that creates) as well as a segment on the possible future of wild herds on public land if protocols continue unchecked.

“There are many film projects out there,” states Leigh “the objective of this project is not an award at a film festival or nationwide distribution. The objective of this project is simply to raise awareness and the needed funding to keep the documentation and supporting Litigation going.”

To view the film on Sunday simply make a donation to Wild Horse Education or Wild Horse Freedom Federation of $25.00 or more and you will receive an email password good for viewing the feature at your leisure anytime on Sunday, Passwords will be sent by 12 am pst Sunday and are good until 12 am Monday.

The BLM has announced their roundup schedule. Ms. Leigh needs work done on the truck to make it safe for winter travel in Surprise, Calico and Pancake. The goal of the initial fundraiser is $800.00 to facilitate repairs and pre-roundup research. Ms. Leigh has done preliminary surveys in several of these areas during her travels in spring and summer. Progress on the fundraiser will be posted on this blog.

Thank you, in advance.

(edited “by Laura” to add: there seems to be a “sensitivity” to the way I worded this. The intent is that I am NOT competing with others. I traditionally go out, get documentation and share it immediately. I am NOT asking for funds to enter a “competition” against other film makers. Those projects are valuable, but this project is not in competition with them, nor is it done for the same purpose. I need help to keep getting the documentation out in the immediate, basically free, and used by many sources including free to the other film makers. I am editing the pieces I have into a cohesive version and asking for help to keep doing it. I hope that clears things up).

“Premiere” Fundraising Poster