Movie Week: Tuesday Tribute (Calico remembered)

Movie week continues with a “tribute” to the wild horses and burros captured at Calico. The tribute spas from the 2009/2010 roundup operation and ends with a short piece to “One Stallion” captured only on video at Calico 2012.

Two colts from hospital pens at Broken Arrow, bandaged feet. (Laura Leigh 2010)

Two colts from hospital pens at Broken Arrow, bandaged feet. (Laura Leigh 2010)

In 2009/2010 a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup operation occurred at the Calico Complex in northwest Nevada. That removal operation took 1,922 wild horses from the range and resulted in more than 130 deaths (youngsters that died at the facility, spontaneous abortions or miscarriages are not included in death total). Unlike BLM’s death statistic, ours includes the wild horses that died in the holding facility.

The Broken Arrow BLM facility, now called “Indian Lakes” and was once only referenced as “Fallon,” was still under construction as it began to take all of the wild horses captured from the Calico Complex. It appears that the fact that the operation was contested in court was a factor in allowing the limited visitation (by appointment, then twice a week and then once a week tours) were given to the public. (note* We continue to call the facility Broken Arrow. The sign on the facility uses that name. Indian Lakes is the road it is on and Fallon is the town. Both of those names were ONLY used after search engines began to yield the images captured at the facility. The facility is the Broken Arrow).

Images of the roundup and from the facility began to circulate via social media and news broadcasts. The reaction from the public to images of capture and holding was disapproving to the BLM. Images included the long distances travelled over significant volcanic rock, foals that could not keep up; in holding images of potential pigeon fever, various injuries, gelding with no pain medication in after care and even a foal whose feet literally sloughed (fell) off.

The Calico operation of 2009/2010 had mares and studs all go to the same facility. As that facility was new (even though at the onset there was no chute to run animals through or windbreaks in hospital pens) the public got to know these horses and gave many of them names. Many were adopted or sold and have gone to private homes and sanctuary. Yet many of the animals are still at the facility (that is expanding).

Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes) was closed to the public after litigation ended (lost primarily on standing, not issue) and BLM officials became concerned with the reputation of the managers and BLM.

“Attached is the requested abbreviated and updated briefing paper regarding my request and proposal to phase out of and terminate public tours at Indian Lakes. I request your concurrence by May 28th so a timely press release can be issued that will announce final tours in June. We now have a favorable Calico Court decision and we need to seriously consider the toll that these tours are taking on our employees,our resources and the damage that is being done to BLM’s image as a result of the tours,” ~ excerpt of email from Dean Bolstad requesting the tours at Broken Arrow end.

Roundup after roundup, beginning in fall of 2010, wild horses from other areas began to join those behind the closed doors of Broken Arrow. All request to follow animals from the range into the facility were denied. (last third of video is about one black colt from Eagle, the conversation you hear is a voicemail request to enter the facility, after a 5 hour drive from the range).

Litigation to access wild horses and burros from range through ultimate disposition, meaning sale or adoption, has been ongoing. Recently a hearing in the case that spans more than 2 1/2 years of Plaintiff Laura Leigh’s life, recently had another hearing in Federal court and is awaiting a ruling. The issues at Broken Arrow were a big part of the record created before the court. The original case was claimed “moot,” meaning because the court had not moved to a ruling before the end of operation it was no longer an issue, lost in the lower district court. However on 5/26/11 Leigh and her attorney filed an Appeal in the Ninth Circuit (can be read in WHE newsletter) that won a landmark victory for press freedom in the United States. The case created a published opinion and it is cited in several cases on civil rights active in the US court system. MORE HERE>>>

In 2012 another roundup occurred at Calico. This time Calico has a new name “The Tri-State Calico Complex,” that in truth is just a name. No coordinated management exists in practice. No data on movement, plans presented to address the issue ignored, and each state and district continues to create their own policies. The designation appears to be no more than a new justification to remove more animals through an assertion (not data) that they “move” throughout and genetics are not an issue.

We want to end our “Tribute Tuesday” with the video “One Stallion.” This video is edited to show the distance travelled, the many attempts at capture and the spirit of one stallion. When we feel alone or under extraordinary odds… remember him and his tenacity.

calico wild horse roundup/ one stallion from Laura Leigh on Vimeo.


Help keep us in the field and the courtroom!

Help keep us in the field and the courtroom!