White Mountain Roundup & Spaying Scoping – The More You Know

Well, the day I have been dreading for over 3 ½ years has finally arrived.  I suppose I should be thankful they waited so long instead of having it show up in August, but really, I would have been perfectly fine waiting forever only to have it never show up.

What am I talking about?  The BLM has released a scoping statement for the White Mountain Wild Horse Herd.  This is the first step of the process.  Basically, they are announcing their intentions.  The public has the opportunity to comment, at which point the BLM goes back and write a more detailed Environmental Assessment.  There is another comment period on the EA.  After that the BLM, having done their bureaucratic due diligence, proceeds to do whatever they want.

vimes band

Vimes’ Band.  Left to right: Striker, Guinivere, Saran, Chasma, Bink, Nova

Exciting prospect, I know.  The short version is that the scoping period (now) is the time when the public has the best chance of influencing the BLM in their decisions. Anything after that point generally requires lawyers and a strong constitution to wade through all the BS the BLM likes to fling.

I am going to (hopefully) break everything down for you.  From there, you can email your personal thoughts and comments to:   blm_wy_whitemtn_littleco_hma@blm.gov.  The subject line should be titled “WMLC Scoping Comment”.

The BLM’s plans for White Mountain involve a research project performed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).  The USGS is actually planning similar studies in another 5 HMAs in the West, though I do not know which ones yet.

0 Lou Diamond

Lou Diamond

Here’s what it looks like:

Step 1: Helicopter Roundup this summer/fall.  The BLM plans to remove horses in White Mountain and their neighboring herd Little Colorado, bringing White Mountain down 205 horses and Little Colorado down to 100 horses.

Step 2:  The USGS will be putting radio collars on some mares and tail tracker tags on some stallions in both herds, and then releasing them.  From there the USGS will be studying the horses, their movements, birth rate, death rate, etc.  The BLM will be doing… whatever the BLM does when they’re not removing horses.  This is the USGS’s show.

Step 3:  A second helicopter roundup would be conducted in White Mountain in 2017.  30-50 mares will then be spayed and released. The “ideal” number will be roughly 50% of the mares in White Mountain.  Little Colorado will be left alone.

Step 4:  The USGS will study birth rates, death rates, etc. and determine the “effectiveness” of spaying horses in the wild.

Yeah.  I wasn’t too thrilled either.

Now that you know the plan, I’m going to break it down further.  You can find the FAQs on all of this here.  Please note that some of the information in this blog does not show up in the BLM’s fact sheets.  I had a telephone conversation with Jay d’Ewart, the Wild Horse Specialist for these herds, and he is the one who gave me the scoop on said details.

northern wm band

Joker’s band

Before I really talk about radio collars and spaying methods, though, I want to talk about White Mountain itself.

By my estimate, there are 230-255 horses in this herd.  That number does count 2015 foals (BLM data generally does not).  How do I know this?  Well, my Math loving friend, I’m glad you asked!

My love affair with White Mountain started in 2010.  In 2011, I got serious, and have been tracking White Mountain ever since then.  I have spreadsheets.  Ohhh do I have spreadsheets.

Right now there are 210 horses that I have located and can actively track on a yearly basis.  Broken down, this amounts to 130 stallions/colts, 79 mares/fillies, and one random gelding.  I consider that 210 to be a generous number since it includes multiple bachelors stallions who I suspect, but cannot verify, have died.  Bachelors can be sneaky that way, so it’s better to play it safe and assume they are hiding out somewhere.

So how does that 210 horses turn into the 230-255 number?  The BLM inadvertently made my life very easy when they freeze branded every mare they released in 2011.  Yep, all 51 of them have a clear marker.  This gives me an accurate measure as to how much of the herd I can actively find and keep an eye on.  Specifically, I know how 86% of this herd rolls, because I know 44 of those 51 PZP’d mares (41 of whom are still alive).

From there we just take the 210 horses that I know, and estimate that the remaining 14% have a similar reproduction rate and tada! Roughly 244 horses are roaming around if you assume a lower than average death rate.  I suspect the number is closer to the 235 mark, personally, but that’s just me.

The other thing that you should pay attention to is the part where there are 130 stallions versus 79 females.  In the last roundup, the BLM performed a sex ratio adjustment, in which they released 98 stallions, but only 51 mares.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, every single year since then White Mountain mares have given birth more colts than fillies.  In 2014, for example, there were 21 foals born, and only 6 of them were girls.  I don’t know why or how, but clearly it is a problem that ain’t getting better anytime soon.

Rosa and Harry Potter

Rosa & her colt.  Since 2011, Rosa has raised 2 colts & 1 filly.

If I am getting long-winded about the numbers because it is important to me that everyone reading this understands that when it comes to White Mountain, I know my stuff.  I know these horses both as individuals and as statistics.  I firmly believe it is essential for wild horse advocates to use both our hearts and our heads if we are to help these horses – we need sentiment and logic.

At the same time, I am… emotionally compromised, compromised in a way that I could only ever be with White Mountain.

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Hurricane, Praetorian, Nebraska, and Omaha

 

Okay not back to the details of the scoping.

Let’s start with the roundup.  While the EA does not mention removing horses in White Mountain, Jay reports that they are planning to do this.  The goal is to remove enough horses to put the herd at their low “Appropriate Management Level”, 205 horses total.

Some of the removal plan is the BLM being, well, the BLM because God forbid they not remove horses at every opportunity.  Some of it is because they are trying to fix their sex adjustment mistake in 2011 and get the mare to stallion ratio closer to 50:50 (it’s currently around 62:38).

In order for the USGS study to be accurate, they need the herd to be as close to natural as possible.  I’m skeptical that reaching 50:50 is possible because frankly, there aren’t 100 females out there right now.  When I pointed that out to Jay, he didn’t disagree with me (and boy is it a freaky Friday when a BLM employees agrees with me) and said the USGS mentioned that concern as well.

Here’s what that means:  If there is to be a removal, then the BLM cannot take a single mare.  From the oldest swaybacked, denture-wearing lead mare to the littlest filly, the females are simply more important right now.  This would be true even if they were only planning your typical roundup without any of the other drama.

trance and frostbite

Mother daughter pair Trance & Frostbite

It could also be a problem.  Sue Cattoor has explained to me in the past that they do not release mares who have foals at their side.  Her explanation was that the ensuing chaos of the bands reestablishing themselves can cause injury to the youngsters.  While that may be true, it is equally likely that they like taking foals because foals “don’t count” towards their numbers, meaning that the BLM can take more horses and get away with it.

Let’s go with the injury to foals part, though.  Every mare would need to be released, and in doing so, it will be essential to keep this as safe and stress free as possible.  It’s not just for the sake of the horses (though let’s be real, that’s all I really care about), but also for the sake of science.  If the USGS wants to study a herd in a natural setting, they need to remove as many variables as possible, in order to ensure the study is not biased.  Having two helicopter roundups in a row?  Taking everything with a baby?  That’s going to upset the balance of their study and will impact their results.

Now shocker, this is where I advocate for bait trapping.  One of the USGS’s stated objectives is to study “band fidelity”.  That will be impossible with a helicopter roundup. Following the 2011 roundup, only one band (Hephaestus and his ladies) got back together again.  The rest were scattered and went to completely different stallions.

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Hephaestus

08

Flame, Flame’s Colt, Hepaestus, Kerosene

Bait Trapping is safer, more humane, and effective. White Mountain is not your average anti-social group of horses.  Are they more skittish than a herd like the Pryors or Sand Wash?  Sure! But not by much.  A little more time and effort on the part of the BLM and the Cattoors would help lower the stress levels of the horses and keep the current bands in-tact. All they would need to do is catch one band at a time, collar the horses they want to collar, and release them.  Easy peasy.

At the very least, if they are bound & determined to do a helicopter roundup – and trust me they always are – then efforts should be made to keep the bands intact and released as a whole.  The 2016 roundup is not going to be a big one.  At most, they would be removing 50 horses. Even with a helicopter it would be very feasible to capture, tag, and release.  Put a little paint on their booties so Mr. Cattoor and his posse leaves that band alone the next day and it all works out.

If all that sounds like I’m giving up, then don’t worry, I’m not.  I am approaching this blog post by assuming all this will happen.  We are going down that rabbit hole.  If you understand what is at stake, and how the BLM’s thinks their plans will go down, it puts you in a better place to explain why they’re dumb.  Just sayin’.

spitfire headshot

Spitfire

Okay!  Moving on to radio collars.  Weirdly, I don’t have a problem with this.  The BLM tried this back in the 80’s with some Nevada herds and even they admit it was an unmitigated disaster.  I won’t get into the details but… yeah.  Not good.  Because of this, a lot of advocates are understandably nervous about this idea.  Heck, my gal pal Lauryn had to calm me down when I first heard it.

Recently, they have developed a different style of radio collar specifically for horses which is much safer (info here).  It was field tested and those wild horses didn’t get stuck in things and die in mass that time around so… progress!  Also, Jay told me in no uncertain terms that he would tranquilize the horses and cut the radio collars off before he would let a horse die over it and I trust him.  I don’t trust the BLM, and okay, ¾ of the time I don’t trust what Jay is saying either, but at the very least I do trust Jay on that point.

The plan to put tail trackers on the stallions is also a precaution.  The way stallions fight make even the best radio collar a potential hazard.

In an ideal world, radio collars would not be necessary because the federal government would act like grownups and more time would be spent on in the field monitoring instead of roundups.  This is not an ideal world.  If a few radio collars means that the BLM starts doing a little more research and they can be worn without posing a safety threat to the horse wearing it, then what does it really hurt?

With that said, I personally would strongly advocate that any collars have a breakaway feature.  Why risk a single mare getting snagged in the taller sage in the draws or stuck on a gas line post when she goes to itch herself?  Again, this herd really isn’t that hard to keep an eye on.  Seriously.  If one girl from another state can keep track of them on her free weekends, I think the BLM and USGS can manage with a few escape artists finding a way out of their collars.

I cannot accept a single mare dying as a result of a collar.  Breakaways would help take that risk away.

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Maclaurian & Chubs

 

Then there’s the elephant in the room:  spaying.  Oh boy is that a terrifying word.  There are two reasons why spaying is the stuff of nightmares for a wild horse lover.  1. Mares not surviving the procedure and 2. Once this can of worms is opened, there’s no going back.

We will start out with the spaying itself.  Spaying a horse is not as simple as a cat or dog.  The classic method of spaying is a surgical procedure that removes a mares ovaries entirely.  It is dangerous with a long recovery period and a high risk of infection and other problems.  To prevent those risks, spaying domestic mares is typically done in a sterile area with very careful monitoring and follow-up for weeks afterwards.

Crazy enough, when we are talking about doing this with wild animals, a safe surgical environment and proper aftercare aren’t really options. Spaying experiments were performed on the Sheldon wild horse herd some time ago.  The details on those experiments are kept quiet and shady, and for good reason.  What we do know is that at least 10% of the mares did not survive the procedure.  The mares who did live through the surgery were released within a couple days of the ovariectomy being performed, so the reality is that nobody knows how many died of infection and sepsis.

There is a different method of spaying that has seen some technological advancement in the last few years, which uses laparascopy (a camera) as part of the procedure.  The short version is that instead of surgically removing the ovaries, they use the camera to find & cut off blood flow to the ovaries, making the organ non-functional.  From what I’ve read online, the mares should still be kept under observation for at least a week, but there is a much lower risk of infection or other complications.  It’s also described as “more comfortable” which I would buy, since, y’know, they aren’t sawing into the mares or trying to take her ovaries out through her hoohah.

With that said, a procedure like that is only going to be as good as the vet who is doing it.

 

I also cannot find any research that discusses how spaying using either method would affect a pregnant mare, and what risk it might present to the unborn foal.  In theory, the uterus would probably be just fine and the foal could develop without problems.  But I’m not a biologist and I just don’t know.

There is also the question of how this will affect their wild behavior.  With PZP, the mares still go through their heats.  If a mare is spayed, that won’t happen anymore.  I don’t know what that would mean for the band structure.  Will stallions still fight to keep mares who never go into heat?  Will mares have a reason to stay with a stallion or will they go it alone?  Form their own anti-stallion, mare power groups?  Who knows?  It’s impossible to say.

Now the scoping document says that they want to spay 30-50 of the mares out there.  What they actually mean is that the plan is to spay 50% of the mares.

orion and makenna foal

This is the part where my big mouth is about to get me in trouble.  Again.  Oh but I do love this part…

If we knew that the mares could be spayed with no loss of life, if I trusted the BLM to use this responsible, and if I knew they were going to be very selective in who they spay, I could almost live with this.  Yeah, I know.  Please don’t tar and feather me.

There are mares in White Mountain like Elaine and Makenna who have foaled every year since 2012.  That happens sometimes when PZP is introduced into a herd.  The “producers” end up foaling more frequently than they usually would because they have to pick up the slack for all the barren mares.  As the herd is now, both those mares are well represented with sons and daughters.

The analytical part of my brain recognizes if neither of those mares foaled again, it wouldn’t hurt the genetic viability of the herd any more than if they continued to foal but the BLM constantly removed all their kids.  There is no happy solution to maintaining genetic viability either way – not with the BLM in charge.

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Makenna with Ariadne

The problem is that this isn’t a magical fairytale world where Rachel calls the shots.  I could make a list of mares like Elaine & Makenna, sure.  But the BLM?  They’re flying blind.  They don’t know who is related to whom out there.  The selection process for spaying would be completely random.   The odds are good that they wouldn’t just spay Elaine.  They’d spay her, spay both her daughters Verity & Helen, remove August and her 2015 colt, and call it a day.  Her legacy would be eradicated from the range.

Similarly, I know that they will totally spay mares like Sil or Ponderosa.  Because the BLM doesn’t know that those mares have not had any surviving foals from 2011 to the present.  Or they’ll spay Dakota Rose and take both her boys, never knowing any better.

sil 2012 headshot

Sil

So in other words, on a purely intellectual level, I can almost understand the argument for careful, selective spaying of mares if it could be performed safely with minimal risk to said mare.  However, I do not trust the BLM.  This is an extremely powerful tool with no take-backs.  If a mare is taken off of PZP, there is a chance she will be able to foal again.  If a mare is spayed, it’s over.  If there is a drought, a brutal winter, if the BLM “accidentally” spays too many… we can’t go back and fix it to help level the population out.

This carries over into the fact that we must take a good long look to see the forest through the trees.  This is about more than White Mountain.  If this study is successful, it will impact every wild horse herd in the West.  Maybe they will use spaying responsibly in White Mountain.  They want this study to go well, so at the very least I know that they will be extremely careful.  But in Nevada?  In Utah?  They’ll spay everything they can catch.

In a world where we are still fighting over the idea of having a non-reproducing herd in a designated HMA, this could be endgame.

Is it worth saving “my” herd if it means the end of so many others?

04 (2)

Gladiator

And truly, this is where I must lay my soul bare and confess that I don’t know how to stop this.

I don’t have the answer.  I don’t have a call to action, or instructions on what you should say to the BLM.  The original Consent Decree said they were going to spay and geld every single horse in White Mountain.  I can fight that.  I’ve spent 3 ½ years preparing to do so.  This?  Not so much.

Maybe it’s because Divide Basin & Salt Wells broke me more than just a little.  I’ve been to roundups.  It’s a terrible thing to witness.  There’s chaos and squealing and injury.  The horses lives are turned upside down, shook to pieces, and yet somehow those that remain pick up and carry on.  It’s ugly and messy but some horses are released and eventually, normalcy returns.  No matter what you see, you can still hold on to the hope that some of the horses you know and love do get to go back.  It doesn’t make you feel better, exactly, but it’s something.

Salt Wells wasn’t like that.  Salt Wells was watching every horse I’ve known, photographed and enjoyed, and hundreds more that I’ve never met driven into a draw where they hit a trap that meant the total end of life as they knew it.  Nobody was released.  It didn’t matter if you were a bright eyed yearling or noble older stallion, lead mare or foal.  Everything that was there was just… gone.

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A Salt Wells Family, 2 months before their capture and removal

And I don’t know if my heart could survive is the same thing happened with White Mountain.

I didn’t know the Salt Wells horses half as well as I know the ones in White Mountain and still, the mere memory is still making me tear up.  White Mountain was condemned for the same reason that Divide Basin & Salt Wells were condemned.  The horses had the nerve to born on checkerboard land, an outdated idea from a time long forgotten by anyone who isn’t a Sweetwater County rancher getting fat on our public lands.

I know this is a bad plan.  If you found my blog, then odds are good that you know this is a bad plan too.  It cannot be allowed to happen.  We kill all the predators and then maim all the prey and for what?  To put European sheep in the middle of a high altitude desert.  Cover-up all your screw ups by making even more mistakes.  It doesn’t matter what you do so long as the ends justify the means.  Isn’t that the true American dream?

At the very least, now you have the facts and hopefully a better understanding of the BLM’s schemes.  Comments are due by Thursday January 14th.  So you don’t have to go scrolling up through my blog again, I’ll reiterate to email your comments to  blm_wy_whitemtn_littleco_hma@blm.gov with “WMLC Scoping Comment” in the subject line.  Please try to find the time to make your thoughts and opinions known.  The horses need your help.

 

z3

 

 

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22 thoughts on “White Mountain Roundup & Spaying Scoping – The More You Know

  1. Abbie says:

    Thank you for putting so much time and effort into this blog, I know how tough it must have been for you to write it. My heart is heavy because, like you, I fear there is no good option available to us and the horses.

    The radio collars certainly scare me, but if they were made to be break away and the horses were closely monitored then it might not be the worst thing in the world. Personally, I don’t think it is ethical to put any collar on a horse, especially a wild one, that isn’t a breakaway! So, hopefully that won’t be too much of an issue.

    Spaying, however, I just don’t think I could ever get on board with. As you point out, there is a HUGE risk of complication with the procedure and recovery. Behaviour will surely be changed, and the lack of intent research into the herd doesn’t bode well for maintaining genetic diversity!

    Not to mention the other major issue you pointed out: spaying is 100% irreversible. What are they going to do if, 10 years down the road, they realise that this plan is going terribly wrong? And, just how many herds do they intend to spay? Caught between a rock and a hard place doesn’t even begin to cover this plan 😦 I will be writing to advocate for the horses!

  2. puller9 says:

    Thank you Rachel for breaking it down for the average person. You provide wonderful information for people to write to BLM about. Let’s saddle up and ride. 😉

  3. puller9 says:

    I have to say, I am 100% against spaying any wild mare at this point. It is the endgame. BLM (our gov’t) is not sophisticated enough to know what they are doing or where they are going (other than total annihilation of wild horses on public lands) and it will be a death sentence to wild mares across the U.S. I cannot support or endorse that. If you think 10% of removed stallions dying from evisceration as a result of gelding is a bad ratio, WAIT until they start spaying mares. The conditions reflected in the PEER White Pages was horrific. It was a butcher shop. NOBODY followed up on those poor animals who were released within days of MAJOR surgery. That was unconscionable. Okay…well you can see I have a STRONG opinion of this experment and it is not favorable.

  4. Vicki Oneill says:

    This practice on genetics snd expetimenting with the white mountain horses sounds atrocious and dangerous to the health and survival of the historic white mountain herd.

    Why are European sheep being allowed to take over our public land these horses have dominated for centuries? Do these ranchers have a lease permit? Who are they?
    Our fairly large family and friends are all fighting ro save these horses. We have cabins in the white mountains and our hearts are with theses horses too. We feel your pain and frustration as do hundreds of others.
    There really isn’t any reason for thsee aweful roundups to take place on these unsuspecting beautiful herds of innocent horses just trying to survive. Thats a relatively small herd for a vast amount of land. Obviously foreign countries are getting rights they shouldn’t have.

    This spaying yoy tslk sbout sounds dangerous and shoukd not be an option. If anything BIRTH CONTROL for the mares would be so much more humane and. More economical
    Why have those aweful roundups?
    Not only that they can’t sneak some horses down the slaughter pipeline since the hormone would make the meat umdesirable , not safe for consumption. We believe this is why the BLM doesn’t want thie more sensible, humane way to control the herd.population.by using birth control. So they can be slaughterd if they botch up. And they will.

    The transportation and slaughtering procedures are images in one’s mind that haunt them forever..Horses have souls, have emotions and has been proven when members of herds are brought back together after being seperated for a lomg time .The emotions and love they show for each other is real.
    Look at the pictures you posted.

    We have fought and protested in rallys to stop the roundups of the Salt river horses with Simone netherlands. And for now the roundups are canceled. But it was a struggle and it’s never over since lobbyists are always giving favors to the BLM for public lands
    Can you contact Simone Netherlands for some tips as to what can be done to start this process ? Earth Justice Also ARM is a very effective group. Predator Defense and Western Watersheds. YOU can call western watersheds aND inquire with them. They hAve a pHone number on their blog. Please, call them ! . American Wild horse Association, Cloud Foundation, HSUS, and many more all need to ban together to form a powerful coalition to fight this. ARM has a great video of the SRWH on there blog. Also had some airing on tv radio. Even bumper stickers to let people know.. because believe it or not a lot of people don’t know.

    This BLM is very “dirtty” in their manipulation of these horses ..not to be trusted. Many of this HER’D will be seperated from their familes, legs broken and killed In the process. Or suddenly dissappear like the herd in the Palomino holding center
    This experimental spaying will most likely kill a lot of mares who will die a slow agonizing death from peritinitis. .They’ll say “oh well”
    There are so many people who are horse advocates out there.and want to help
    There is power in numbers! We can stop this. But will take a lot of work and determination
    The important thing is to Not to give up and not get worn down. Thats what they want..
    These horses are ours too. We the people have a say in this.
    We need rallies, meetings , demonstrations.fund raisers And more. And the more groups the more powerful.

    We need to press for an investigation of the BLM. They really need to be revamped with at least 50 percent animal advocates instead of pro greedy lobbyist.

    Please check out western watersheds and see what they have done and are working towards saving public lands.Read there motto at the bottom. Youll be amazed. We need to revoke all welfare grazing permits
    for one. These ranchers pay very little for these leases and many don’t even pay their leases. Many think they own the land and desttoy the wildlife. Our land we pay taxes on.
    It all takes work. But .these herds need to be saved. Also can you write or call Vern Buchanan of Florida? May have to call or snail mail because your not a constituent. Grijalva Congressman of Az. As well . Google Vern Buchanans letter to Secretary Jewell about the 1800 wild horsea sold to that kill buyer in Colorado. He quesrions her malfaence in her position .. Shes as worthless as a piece of driftwood. She needs to be fired too. Maybe you already know this but some may not.

    Also want to thank you for your very informative blog.and all the work your doing. Very impressive .

    We need to fight this. These gorgeous ,horses living history icons of our Southwest are well worth the effort.
    .
    Please keep us informed

    • Hi Vicki! The primary perpetrators here is the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA). They are described as “owning or controlling” nearly all the private portions of checkerboard land in the county, though the truth is that oil & gas companies own the larger chunk and RSGA leases from them & the BLM both.

      Western Watersheds is a great organization. I actually have data on the White Mountain lease parcels, how many sheep get to graze during what months in what areas, that came from Western Watersheds. With that said, they are extremely busy and generally do not have time for wild horse advocacy beyond providing information and a sympathetic leaning. I do know that there are wild horse advocacy groups discussing what to do next, and I will post more information on that as it becomes available.

      What I do think we have going for us is that White Mountain is a herd where the data backs up using birth control. From 2012 to the present (the years after the last roundup), White Mountain’s population has increased a little less than 10% year, a number that is insanely low when you consider they were given the less effective 2 year birth control at the wrong time of the year. It averages out to 1 in 4 mares foaling per year. There were more foals in 2014 and 2015, thanks to the PZP wearing off, which only further shows me that this herd would be a perfect candidate to continue down that path. Heck, I’ll pay the $600+ to get certified and take the week or so I’d need off work to go dart them myself. All the BLM would need to do is supply me with the PZP doses. At least 70% of the mares in White Mountain are calm enough to allow me get within darting distance.

    • Aidea Sluyter says:

      NO! These horses have the right to be there, and the chemical spaying or anything they do to these horses is JUST WRONG! BLM needs to leave them alone!

  5. Maggie Frazier says:

    Once again – the most corrupt & greedy (boy is that saying something!) agency in our government sallies forth! It just seems as though – if we could actually make the uninformed public aware of the BLM’s and rancher’s goals (because thats what they are) and how inhumane & stupid spaying mares in the field is – no matter how they do it – was well-known, that it could be stopped. Is that naive? Yeah, I guess it is, after all the time and roundups and destruction of herds and bands of wild horses & burros. What really gets me – is the fact that you, Rachel, KNOW & can IDENTIFY pretty much all of these horses, and still, are ignored!

  6. Maggie Frazier says:

    This is what I sent to the BLM – for what its worth:

    Once again – into the breech!!! This whole idiotic “research” idea
    is so far out there – putting collars on wild horses – which I may add
    you have done before & it was not successful (for the horses). If
    in fact, this new type of collar truly WILL break away – and not be
    so inhibiting to a wild animal – well, maybe that will work. AND if
    for once, someone actually DOES research – maybe that will work.
    BUT the whole spaying in the field thing – is not something any
    intelligent, accredited veterinarian would be inclined to do! Not
    that I doubt you will find someone willing to do it.
    Sadly, your whole motive is to yet again eradicate wild horses – the
    fact that this kind of action taken against WILD animals is being pushed
    as the way to do research – for what purpose???
    Having a consent decree to “spay & geld every horse” certainly begs the
    question as to what research will there be left to do? Certainly the
    roundups alone will destroy normal relationships and way of life – then
    on top of that to spay mares & geld stallions AND collar mares – What
    is left to research? Do you really think you will learn how NORMAL
    wild horses live and act? Or does it just not matter – as long as you
    eradicate all wild horses & burros.
    How strange that China is re-wilding their wild horses! AND in Europe
    THEY are re-wilding horses and other animals. Apparently, here in US
    there is absolutely NO recognition as to how important ALL species of
    animals truly are!

  7. Reblogged this on travelandnature and commented:
    Since I think it’s going to either be blog post or email I’m taking the lazy route and reblogging Rachel’s excelent post. I do have some summary points about my opinion, though.
    1. Absolutly no spaying. I don’t care if the entire procedure goes swimmingly with no complications. I don’t trust the BLM to know which mares have adequate representation, and if it works I can see it becoming the norm for other HMAs. People can say what they want about PZP, but at least it’s reversible.
    2. I’m OK with the idea of radio-collars. They’ve come a long way since the first ones, and with some safety measures, I think the main concern would be regarding aesthetics. Plus I think the BLM will be more willing to comprosmise if we at least agree with them on something.
    3. I’m not thrilled about removing horses, but I think it’ll happen regardless of if we want it to. Bait trapping is always the better option.
    As usual, quality vs. quantity is better when responding to the BLM. Keeping comments rational and respectful will be best when making comments. Thanks in advance for those that plan on making comments or for those who have already made comments!

  8. I’m so disgusted by this whole process. Who do these people think they are to take out nature’s beauty so, they can graze cattle for slaughter?!?! I wish the government would cut back on the size of herds people are allowed to have or how many cattle are allowed per state. They’re contributing to global warming and could care less. Shame on you, BLM!!!!

  9. Spaying horses in the field and not in a sterile environment is madness. Their chances @ survival are greatly reduced. Todays physicians wouldn’t do people in the paddocks. Better yet while not trying to be insulting and funny why not sterilize all those in the BLM outdoors under a tree and then leave them to wander for days without food or water. What would be their chances. Pretty fair deal I would say. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

  10. […] Source: White Mountain Roundup & Spaying Scoping – The More You Know […]

  11. Linda H says:

    Thank you Rachel for all your insight, knowledge and documentation of this herd. You’re so right–it’s a bad plan–in so many ways: sterilizing a wild herd, helicopters, removal. And I’ll add another one. Past history use of radio collars on wild horses has proven to created neck and head injuries too. I empathize with you greatly–and can’t fathom another WY removal live the one in Fall ’14 in WY. There is such good documentation of this herd, with people like you, that the BLM doesn’t need to resort to more expensive measures anyway.

  12. Donna Teeples says:

    Thank you Rachel for all your expertise, constant vigilance, hard work and documentation you have given us. Not to forget the love and respect you have shown for our precious horses.. The horses have the right to be here. With your knowledge you could properly instruct any BLM person on how to take care of the White Mountain herd. The only procedure I would consider would be scoping under the strictest veterinarian care and conditions.

  13. […] more about the issue on Rachel Reeves’ excellent blog and Carol Walker’s excellent blog. In fact, read these first, then use the link to […]

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all of your devotion and I can only pray that the Blm will step back and reconsider what they are planning to do. It sound like a hoard plan, and one that will only cause suffering for the White Mountain band, or any other band that the BLM has a chance to get their hands on.

  15. Nancy Reed says:

    I have been thinking about this issue for some time. I really believe that until the elected officials (senators, congress and reps, etc) for the state affected get up in arms this will be hard to stop. I am not from Oregon, so if I contact the Oregon delegation they are going to ignore me. I think it will take lots of Oregon residents to push on their elected officials to get this stopped. To do this someone in Oregon will need to start organizing and start letter writing and meeting w/ these elected officials. Look at the donations said elected officials get, follow the money. It can be done, but I really believe to get change it has to start w/ the elected officials from the area affected. I have written and emailed, etc. Now let’s organize!

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