Humane Society blasts BLM on removal of wild mustangs in Nevada

images / John M. Glionna / March 6, 2013


The Humane Society of the United States is protesting the roundup of 11 wild mustangs that had taken up residence outside Carson City, Nev. Laura Leigh, founder of a group called Wild Horse Education, photographed the horses, including this one, captured by the Bureau of Land Management. (Laura Leigh / Wild Horse Education / February 27, 2013)

The Humane Society of the United States is protesting the roundup of 11 wild mustangs that had taken up residence outside Carson City, Nev. Laura Leigh, founder of a group called Wild Horse Education, photographed the horses, including this one, captured by the Bureau of Land Management. (Laura Leigh / Wild Horse Education / February 27, 2013)

LAS VEGAS — A national animal advocacy group excoriated the federal government, saying it misled the public about last week’s removal of 11 wild mustangs that had coexisted for years with residents of a populated area outside Carson City, Nev.


The Humane Society of the United States has called for the Bureau of Land Management to return the animals to the wild, rather than following through on plans to put them up for adoption.


“The Humane Society of the United States denounces the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to remove a small band of wild horses located just east of Carson City, Nev., in the Pine Nut Herd Management Area,” according to a statement released by the group Tuesday. “This small group of 11 horses has been a cherished attraction to the community members for more than 40 years.”


The statement added, “Once the horses are returned to the wild, the BLM should work with the local community groups that have offered assistance in the management of this well-known group.”

The debate over wild horses has raged across 11 Western states. BLM officials say the horses overgraze and damage public lands. Animal advocates and others say BLM officials are intent on removing as many wild horses as possible without considering such alternatives as birth control.

BLM officials have said the Carson City-area animals had strayed from the federally designated herd management area, crossing busy roadways and damaging property to graze in a small public park.

The agency said it received several complaints in 2011 and 2012 about property damage and one report of a resident being chased up a tree by a wild horse, one of the many that crossed the Carson River into River View City Park.

But the Humane Society in its statement said that the complaints were at least 2 years old and had already been mitigated. Officials also questioned the BLM’s handling of the nation’s 80,000 or more wild mustangs.

“The removal of these horses from their home without notifying interested stakeholders contradicts BLM’s recent announcement that it would increase agency transparency,” said Holly Hazard, senior vice president of programs and innovations for the group, according to the statement. “Working with the local community to manage this herd would have been the right choice, but instead the BLM has added these horses to its inventory of nearly 50,000 wild horses now kept in holding facilities, which are already costing taxpayers $43 million a year.”

The Carson City horses were gathered over several days, lured into a trap with offerings of alfalfa and barley.

Erica Haspiel-Szlosek, a BLM spokeswoman in Nevada, told the Los Angeles Times that the horses had become an aggressive nuisance.

“They had worked their way out of a herd management area and into neighborhoods. Even one complaint would have been enough to take action and we admit that we let it go longer than we should have,” she told The Times.

“But in the end, these horses were fighting with domestic horses. Parents were concerned about their kids’ safety. They wanted us to do something. And when horses wander outside their herd management area, we’re obligated to step in.”

But the Humane Society said that the BLM misled local residents into thinking that they had a say in the removal of the horses. A committee of 24 residents worked for months hoping to reach a compromise with federal officials, offering to provide fencing and additional road signs at their own expense.

But the residents said their suggestions were brushed aside by BLM officials.

“The BLM hosted a meeting just weeks before the removal, asking for public input and possible solutions. Several groups submitted detailed proposals that included monetary resources to purchase and build fences and water troughs, as well as the application of fertility control vaccines that would help control the population over time,” the group said.

“The BLM refused the assistance and removed the horses from the wild without notifying local advocates. Residents immediately noticed the missing horses and had to call the BLM to learn of their removal.”

Haspiel-Szlosek said the agency’s motives have been misconstrued.

“I understand that what we did seemed cold to people, but that was never our intent — the intent was to solve a public problem,” she told The Times. “We looked at everything proposed, but our field manager felt that the community solutions didn’t solve our safety concerns.”

She added, “These horses are  managed by the BLM. In the end, they were both out of their herd management and they were causing trouble.”

She said that four of the horses have been adopted by a person in Colorado but that the remaining seven will be made available for adoption by local residents. “That way, these horses can stay in an area to which they’re accustomed,” Haspiel-Szlosek said. “We’re trying to mend fences here.”

She blamed the horses’ fate on the fact that some people tried to domesticate wild animals.


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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Arlene

    Heres what United Horsemen are up to….. OKLAHOMA SUPPORT RALLY

    A bill (H.B. 1999) to allow horse processing in Oklahoma recently passed both the state House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. This is one of the most significant public policy moves in this critical issue facing the equine industry.

    The passage of this measure provides an excellent public relations opportunity. In light of the recent worldwide press about horse meat, we are ideally positioned to demonstrate to other policymakers across the U.S. and worldwide that the majority of reasonable Americans support humane horse processing.

    The radical anti-slaughter side staged a protest on March 4th that brought in 75- 100 protesters who were far outnumbered by members of the news media.

    The international spotlight is on Oklahoma right now, and this is the best opportunity we have had to prove that those fringe groups do not speak for the majority of the horse-owning world – not by a long shot!

    We realize that many of you, like us, are feeding cows, training horses, doing chores and facing the many other challenges that go along with livestock ownership and management. It is a hardship, if not downright impossible, to get away for a day. But please make an exception for this issue! We need everyone we can get. Send the hired man’s wife and kids – be creative, folks, because this is way bigger than just Oklahoma and we need to have a strong showing.

    Everyone within striking distance – please show up at the Oklahoma State Capitol on the 14th of March for a 10am to 2pm event.

    Sign in at 10:00 am Press Conference at 11:00 am Lunch at noon – free to rally participants.

    We look forward to seeing you there!


    Dave Duquette

    United Horsemen

    Ph. 541-571-7588


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    March 7, 2013
    • Lisa


      March 8, 2013
  • Melissa Ohlsson

    The “radical anti-slaughter side”, happens to be 80% of Americans! Many of us are also, “feeding cows, training horses, doing chores and facing the many other challenges that go along with livestock ownership and management”. The difference is that we have respect for our horses and know that there is no such thing as humane processing for them. It’s a terrifying ordeal from sale to slaughterhouse… neglect, abuse, cruelty and finally, ineffective and inhumane kill-techniques that leave horses conscious while they are bled-out and then dismembered… alive!

    To you and your pro horse-slaughtering buddies, horses are just another dumb animal that you view as a commodity. Horse breeders, such as you claim to be, will typically breed 100 horses hoping for that one exceptional horse that some sucker will pay $300,000 for, but an outlet is necessary for the other 99 that won’t bring in that kind of money. Breeders desperately want to keep the slaughter pipeline open so they don’t have to deal with the consequences of their irresponsible business practices. The idea of a responsible breeding program is too hard, or too much of a bother for breeders to comprehend.

    Why don’t you let the public in on what you and your callous, less-than-honest friends are really trying to accomplish by opening horse slaughterhouses? That you’re all hoping to make some quick cash by selling domestic horse meat (deemed unfit for human and animal consumption because of the numerous dangerous drugs they receive) not only to unsuspecting consumers overseas, but also to school lunch programs, the elderly in nursing facilities and the disadvantaged poor in your own country!

    Only money-grubbing profiteers and/or psychotic criminals would deliberately poison their fellow citizens just to make a buck… which category does your “business” fall under?

    March 8, 2013