Saturday, October 23, 2010

The BLM - armed and dangerous

Video shows colt pushed by helicopter skids during Twin Peaks wild horse roundup

Thanks to the documentary efforts of wild horse advocate and videographer Elyse Gardner, we now have graphic evidence of the lengths to which the BLM and its hired helicopter contractor will go to intimidate and capture fear-stricken wild horses.

In just-released footage from the recently concludedTwin Peaks roundup in California, a 16-month-old colt is shown being literally pushed by the skids of the contractor's helicopter, even though he was already within the confines of the trapsite's fenced corridor, and moving steadily toward the corrals where he would forever lose his freedom.

A total of 1639 wild horses and 160 burros were forcibly removed from the 798,000-acre Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA), which spans the borders of California and Nevada. In her compelling nine-minute video, filmed on September 16th, 2010, Ms. Gardner movingly tells the story of just one of them, a young horse whose terrified silence is pierced by the menacing whir of the helicopter blades, and in the background, the sobs of the woman who bravely bears witness to the cruelty being wreaked down upon him.

In her Humane Observer post today, entitled"Inhumane Practices Documented by BLM," Ms. Gardner writes passionately about the contractor's oppressive treatment of this colt, whom she calls,"Banner," because he is, in a way, the poster child for what is wrong with the BLM's seemingly relentless campaign to chase and capture and warehouse wild horses in a way that lacks compassion or conscience:

"The use of the helicopter in this manner is wrong. The most chilling part of this may be the fact that the BLM and the contractors don't even recognize the wrongness of it. Their ability to have compassion has shriveled.

If this is what the public is seeing, what kinds of atrocities are happening about which we never learn? Does this not qualify as criminally abusive to animals? Doing something wrong for years will never make it right. It is definitely time for a mounted video camera with timestamps.

My hope with Banner is that as his story is shown, Banner will represent a pivotal turning point, be a "banner" horse, a portent for what is to come, a recognition and incentive for BLM to examine its ways and change, OR to have its wrist thoroughly slapped and for the President to recognize the need for change in his Department of the Interior, and Congressional and Senatorial representatives to look at this and demand some boundaries to protect these innocents from the inherent violence of a roundup to every extent possible.

These amazing animals so beautifully equipped to live in the most sparse, rigorous landscapes of the high desert, have no means to protect themselves from the likes of flying glass monsters used like a whip. This is wrong, and it needs to stop. I have all but given up hope that the Bureau of Land Management will police itself or its agents. All they consistently appear to do is try to marginalize the suffering of the horses and burros, and I am so sick of it I cannot tell you. But many of you are sick of it, too, and I don't need to tell you."

The ferocious beat of the helicopter blades may have quieted at Twin Peaks, but it continues today with a vengeance in several other venues, including Wyoming's Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek HMAs, where almost 900 horses have already been taken from their pristine 2.5 million-acre range. Another 1100 will meet the same fate before the roundup shuts down next month.


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