BLM Mustang Round Up Reflects American Character and Values.

Posted on January 4, 2011

This post is in honor of the Texas horsewoman writing at who raises horses and the conscience of Americans about the fate of the mustangs.

The Bureau of Land Management assured a CNN reporter today that all round ups are different.  It does not appear so.

  • Reporters are kept at a distance.  Surely if reporters can be embedded with troops they can safely be embedded with Bureau of Land Management people closer to the action.
  • Helicopters are the main method of gathering the iconic animals.  This is the most effective use of time and manpower according to the BLM and it does not unduly traumatize the animals.  OK, where are the references to their claim?
  • It is unclear if veterinarians are on the scene at all of the round ups.

Those in opposition to the round ups have a growing body of witnesses.  Here is the report of a round up in Oregon last November:

During the first seven days of the roundup, which began on November 2nd, the BLM contractors–reported to be a newly formed company named Sun J Livestock Inc., out of Utah–have chased and trapped 224 horses, and been responsible for the deaths of five of them, including a foal who was shot on Friday, November 5th….


But it is another wild horse, one whom the observers have named, “Blue Moon,” whose death has been chronicled in all of its gruesome details.  ________________________________________

[November 6, 2010]  The beautiful blue roan stallion gave one final attempt at going through the fence, throwing himself head first into the unpadded steel bars, while the whips and bags cracked behind him.  Out of fear, the stallion broke his neck trying to escape the intense pressure that was applied to him.  He fell back, nearly missing the traumatized filly, who just witnessed the entire event.  He staggered to the left, sat on the fence, and finally fell on his side, kicking out and desperately trying to lift his head as the wranglers snapped a crop at the filly, causing her to jump over her father’s shuddering body.

At this point, the wranglers decided it was more important to cover the corral with jute to block our view, than attend to the dying mustang.  Our cameras were able to capture the entire tragedy in great detail.  Their next move was to pull the trailer in front of the struggling stallion, further inhibiting our view.  The contractors attempted to bring more horses into the trap, though the dying Blue Moon was still in the capture pen.

We were then approached by a wrangler on horseback telling us they were done, followed by the BLM employee telling us to pack up.  From the moment of impact until we all cleared out–30 minutes or more–the stallion lay there absolutely terrified, dying in agony and fear.” [The Examiner]

Veterinarian report on a foal’s needless death during one round up may be found here.

There are two major areas of concern beyond the treatment of the animals during the round up that stand out:

  • Natural selection is destroyed in the BLM round ups:

The BLM either doesn’t understand or doesn’t appreciate the importance of natural selection. Natural selection is nature’s process which ensures strong genetics are passed on to future generations; that means some individuals will naturally survive and reproduce more successfully than others. Natural selection builds healthy populations.


Below is BLM’s official pie chart outlining food and water resources allocated in the wild horse Herd Management Areas in the Calico Mountain Complex, Nevada (2009-2010)

As the chart shows, livestock is given ~50% of all resources even in wild horse Herd Management Areas … wildlife gets 25% and wild horses only 25%.


The mustang population does need to be managed but not using extreme measures justified only through their efficiencies and cost savings.  These are live animals.

The goals and outcomes need careful review and revision.  Why?  Not just for the sake of the animals but for the sake of the American soul. The magnificent mustangs are an important part of our heritage.  Mustang protection in a humane way says more about who we are than their controversial decimation by government fiat.  We take more care in the humane management through kills of prolific white tail deer populations than we do the fate of the diminishing population of wild horses.