Mare pursued by helicopter: is this reasonable?

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Multiple interests are at play in the debate over wild horses.

An aged mare being chased by a helicopter during a roundup in Nevada.
An aged mare being chased by a helicopter during a roundup in Nevada.

There are the wild horse advocates, environmentalists concerned about affects of the animals on the environment and ranchers concerned about their livelihoods.

Ranchers think more horses need to come off, while horse advocates argue strongly that the rangelands are being stripped of a icon of the nation’s heritage.

Balancing all of those interests is obviously a difficult task, but my intention is not to provide Wild Horse 101 for Horsetalk readers.

I cannot fathom how anyone – wild horse advocate, rancher or environmentalist – can consider that the treatment of an elderly mare filmed by Cloud Foundation director Ginger Kathrens is in any way a good idea.

Her footage, shot during the ongoing roundup aimed at removing around 2000 horses from the Antelope Complex in Nevada, shows the efforts to capture a mare too exhausted to keep up with her herd.

This older animal has lived out her life on the range.

According to Kathrens, she had already been run 10 miles when she separated from the others, dropping into a snow drift.

She ultimately escaped capture to face an uncertain future in the depths of a Nevada winter.

How trying to herd this solitary animal with a low-flying helicopter can be seen as anything other than cruel is beyond me.

I accept that herding wild horses is an inexact science, but if this is viewed as acceptable by the Bureau of Land Management, it can’t expect to see the scrutiny of its wild horse and burro management programme ease up any time soon.

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28 thoughts on “Mare pursued by helicopter: is this reasonable?

  • February 11, 2011 at 10:43 am
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    So – how hard would it have been to just shoot the poor old girl, given that you were leaving her far more vulnerable than the hours before because you added extreme exhaustion into her already complicated survival.

    Use a gun if you need to cull.

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    • February 14, 2011 at 1:27 am
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      They do shoot the horses from helicopters. But they want the money per head they are paid.

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    • July 27, 2011 at 12:37 am
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      You cannot shoot a horse from a helicopter, do you actually know how to kill a horse with a bullet ?? or are you advising just blast the life out of her with a machine gun ??

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  • February 12, 2011 at 5:33 am
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    Egads Jenny! The horse – including today’s, evolved in North America, along with the plant communities and predators. People on the other hand did not. The horses belong in this environment, became extinct after humans arrived and have done extremely well since humans brought them back. The old girl should have been left alone – if for no other reason than economics – helicopter fuel is expensive. Part of the problem with the roundups is the contractors get paid per head captured, like a bounty (not a new concept when the intent is eradication). The question becomes – is this WAR or management? . . and, what exactly is “humanity?”

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    • March 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm
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      Excellent post! I’m in the US and a member of grassrootshorse.com. We are fighting the BLM through the courts over this and other things as well. This video caused a firestorm here, but the Nevada “good-old-boy” network is so strong that, even though the local sheriff judged it cruelty to animals under Nevada law, the DA of course made excuses not to pursue it. There was a pro-BLM rancher watching and he said, “That shouldn’t have happened to that old sister.” Right.

      This particular contractor – Sun J – made a habit of this sort of thing. We have video of him actually pushing a horse with the helicopter struts. We have many photos and videos of him doing things like this the entire time. The BLM. of course, said they “spoke” to him even though they claimed THIS wasn’t cruelty. BLM Speak: She fell in the snow and had a bit of difficulty getting to her feet. What can you say? They are bald faced LIARS – and not just about this.

      We are fighting them as hard as we can. This is far from over. I just wanted everyone to know that this hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, the Federal Aviation Agency is investigating now. Wish us luck.

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      • July 27, 2011 at 12:39 am
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        I wish you all the luck in the world and if I lived there I would abe standing beside you – –

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    • July 27, 2011 at 12:44 am
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      HUMANITY is the filth on this planet -how can the BLM even exist ? ? where are the decent americans ? ?

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  • February 12, 2011 at 11:43 am
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    WTF!!!!!! is wrong with this scenario???????
    They do to the horses what they have done with the Native Americans – Give the damn land back to the Indians and then give them their horses. STOP THIS MADNESS FOR GOD SAKE!

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    • April 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm
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      You have it dead on. There are famous(rich) people (one in particular)making a great show, who are going on and on about the “Icon of the American West’, ‘the horses that helped us win the West’…. The reality has been glaringly apparent to me since the 50’s when we booed the American Cavalry at the Matinee Serial “coming over the hill to save the day” (saving the day meaning killing the ‘injuns’ who are actually making a valiant effort to stop the invaders from killing their people and horses. It is recorded that the Cavalry had orders to kill all Indian ponies on site to prevent the First Nations people (injuns) from getting away from the genocidal Cavalry and invading Europeans.
      The Mustangs now so cruelly being eradicated are IMHO the continued symbol of the defeated and hated people from whom land, life, culture and freedom was taken and continues to be taken. Reservations trap First Nations people in conditions that are worse than almost any other places on earth, the ones that all those charitable organizations spend all our donations ‘helping’. The brutal eradication of the Mustangs is, to me, an indication that the original genocidal barbarians of the Wild West are back in full force.Hundreds of thousands of emails, phone calls, plus concerts, demonstrations …. nothing has or will change until the last horse is gone, which I guess is almost as satisfying to these greedy barbarians as the old saying: the only good injun is a dead injun.

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      • May 10, 2011 at 4:06 am
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        Madeleine,
        I am one of those First Americans you are speaking about and before I could get the words out of my mouth, Laurie nailed it spot on, but you penned what this really means. Agreements made with our ancestors and our people were/are re-neg’d and now we see that agreements for the preservation of the wild horses are being reneg’d and I must say, it is absolutely, totally ironic how my people are dubbed “indian givers” when it is the U.S. government that takes back what it gives AND speaks with forked tongue from Jumpstreet.
        I have a beautiful Pinto, and a gelding that could possibly be bred from mustang bloodline. I found this site searching for safe dolomite for my horses, having just read for the almost third time Pat Coleby’s brilliant book on horse care.

        This BLM is totally unreasonable. It serves as evidence that America is doomed, having sunken headlong into a pit of money-worshipping damnation and having lost all respect for Creation, whether man or beast. I’m ashamed of this place.

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        • September 9, 2014 at 3:33 am
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          Indians are no better at protecting or honoring the cultural significance of the horse. Or life in general, just go look at the Yakima Indian tribe in Washington state. Currently in process of rounding up and trapping thousands of wild horses. Most with young foals, the horses are all sold immediately for slaughter. They will not sell to private buyers and non of the adult horses can be saved from them. The only mercy they have shown is they will allow groups to buy the hundreds of suckling foals who are sorted from their mothers who are immediately trucked to slaughter. Cruelty knows no boundaries. why is it not in the news?? Well if we tell then the Indians will cut us off and not let us rescue/ buy the surviving foals who of course all must be bottle fed every two to four hours with very expensive milk replacer. Let’s not forget how many foals don’t make it out of the traps due to starvation and trampling during sorting. All for greed for the almighty dollar

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  • February 14, 2011 at 1:56 am
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    It’s obvious the mare was smart enough to avoid the trap. As the BLM upsets the natural balance of the herds 500 years of evolution will be lost. The wise old ones will not pass on their experience and the juveniles will fight and perish. The DNA of natural selection and survival of the fittest will be gone forever.

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  • February 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm
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    Time and time again is right. The BLM keeps doing this and we just can’t make them listen. We can’t get Congress to help either. It is not only the round ups but now the horses are dieing in the holding pens and that is what the BLM wants. Them want them gone. The contractor wants his money so he gets them into the traps. Then the BLM can send them to the hell holes and they are not counted when they are shipped or when they die out of site of the public. The BLM is doing everything they can to keep people away even though the courts have said observers can not be denied. Where are the watchdogs? Why do they not have any power over this mismanaged out of control agency? Soon the horse will be gone either dead or into long term holding non-reproducing dead herds and thats just where the BLM wants them. They will only have to wait until they are all dead and then their problem will be over. Nice! Nice plan from the government agency who is suppose to be protecting them.

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    • April 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm
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      The BLM was also the Agency in change of the MMS (i think that is the name), the supposed watchdog agency that was supposed to police the Oil companies. They literally ‘slept with the Big Oil people, got their pockets lined, and there went the Gulf of Mexico. Americans have still not caught on that they are not running their own country….”Congress” does not represent THEM. It belongs to the oligarchs, Big Money, their lobbyists. God help us, Canada is now following suit…

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  • February 17, 2011 at 7:57 am
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    Thats not all! BLM is investigating themselves. And since 1971 these horses have been federaly protected. So its a federal issue. These horses are running for there lives!!
    Someone has to stop this animal cruelty!! Before its to late! Wild horses will be history.

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  • March 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm
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    As I said, we are fighting to the finish – the Supreme Court if necessary – IF we can afford it.

    We are a grass roots group of advocates that came together to pool resources and try to document enough of the BLM’s crap to get court action. We are in the 9th District Court of Appeals now because Nevada District Court kept stonewalling and then declared it “moot.” We will fight on. Uh, er, if anyone wants to help, you can do so here and only here: http://grassrootshorse.com.

    I threw that in because this is going to be a long and costly battle. It’s sickening to think the American citizens must spend their own money to protect our wild horses from our own Government.

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    • April 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm
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      not to mentions the 42 million a year in taxpayer money to keep 40,000 “protected” Mustangs “safe” in slime filled pens…

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  • March 13, 2011 at 10:54 am
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    I was horrified when I saw this. I am a Brit working in the US and have just bought the Wild Hoofbeats book, which first opened my eyes to what is going on. I have to admit I can’t watch all the videos – they’re just too upsetting.
    I immediately signed up to grassrootshorse and Save the American Mustang and I will support as much as I can. I’ve also emailed President Obama and will continue to do so. Anyone can do this from anywhere in the world.
    For all those fighting for the horses, take heart and keep going. The BLM’s thugs won’t win forever.

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  • May 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm
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    The video of this old mare has been submitted to the local sheriff of White Pine County (Sheriff Watts), together with declarations of witnesses (Ginger Kathrens and Deniz Bolboz.) No action was taken. Craig Downer of The Cloud Foundation then went into the office and made a personal report, carrying in all evidence as well as a petition circulated around the world and signed by 1800 people demanding justice be had for “Ole Sister.” Word has just been received that the sheriff has determined that some lies were made in the outcry over Ole Sister’s treatment by Sun J’s pilot and on that flimsy grounds has refused to forward a recommendation to the DA (Kelly) that the contractor or his pilot be prosecuted for cruelty. This is as of today – May 24, 2011. We will not give up, we will continue to demand the laws prohibiting cruelty be enforced – it is the job of law enforcement who have taken an oath to enforce the laws and protect the people. Prosecuting the contractors who exhibited flagrant disregard for the law is the least they could have done. Righting the wrong we all were witness to who viewed the video was not beyond their understanding or ability. Whatever the controversy regarding the roundups, whether the range is overgrazed, too many animals, too little water – too this, too that – the bottom line is the compassion we show the animals caught in the middle. Sheriff Watts – the ball is still in your court.

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  • June 9, 2011 at 7:26 am
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    Please visit http://www.wildhorsepreservation.org and comment against the roundup for July in WY . Also the BLM agent told me that speying mares is an option and their procedure is on page 65 of the EA. The BLM needs documentation on WHY spaying must not be done in our comments. Google ovarectomy of horses maybe for info and proof.

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  • July 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm
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    There is a Care2 petition circulating “Demand Justice for Ole Sister” please sign it. The advocates who put the petition together have been in touch with Sheriff Watts since the hazing incident which is against Nevada state animal abise laws. If Josh Hellyer is flying a helicopter ln the same fashion as he did for the Antelope round up earlier this year for the upcoming Triple B roundup (which was temporarily on hold), he may be unpleasantly surprised by what may happen.

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  • July 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm
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    There needs to be something written into the FAA about revoking the license of any pilot who uses an aircraft and/or airspace to inflict cruelty on any animal with higher fines if for profit jail time for both and loss of license. Hmm how do you get the ball rolling on that anyone know?

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  • August 3, 2011 at 11:55 pm
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    Watching this video simply beggars belief but I have to say I don’t find this sort of mindless cruelty hard to believe because humankind is a cruel species. We should remember that we’re one day going to reap what we’re sowing and heaven help us when that day comes.

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  • August 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm
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    This whole situation saddens me beyond belief. I support all of you in your your battle against this inhumane cruelty.

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  • August 8, 2011 at 11:49 pm
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    No – this is absolutely unacceptable!!

    All over the world these actions are seen over the internet.
    Many are seen by children who are shocked and saddened – not only this once but repeatedly as the BLM continues its vicious attacks to entrap these wild horses and ultimately send them to inhumane slaughter. As adults we abhor what the BLM is doing and we know the government is ignoring the masses of pleas from its people to stop this genocide. SHAME ON YOU AMERICA!!

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    • August 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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      I totally agree wthall Caroline says. Alsi Caroline is a much missed friend. Caroline if you can read this please contact me.
      I hate the BLM and all the cruelty they are doing to the female horses / burros. We have to stop all of this, nothings changed !!

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  • July 11, 2015 at 6:45 pm
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    Wow. This is unbelievable. Shocking. Horrific. I am all the way over here in Australia and I must admit I am not completely up to date with all of this but the little bit I have read in the last hour saddens me beyond belief. I grew up reading about the mustang. The BLM is doing what government has always done – wrap it up in enough red tape and it will all go away! NOT THIS TIME! Please tell me what I can do to help these iconic creatures. Does the BLM realise that the loss of the mustang from the world’s wild horse breeds actually impacts ALL wild animals? Screw with the ecology and it all goes wrong. Remember BLM “AS YOU SEW, SO YOU WILL REAP!”

    Please can someone get back to me so I can start the fight for the mustang here in Australia. We are not far from a similar problem with our Waler horses. However as the horse is a feral animal (introduced – there were no horses in Australia until white man got here) our dilemma is a little different. However, give me a whip and a mustang and I will run that pilot to the deepest corner of hell and back.

    Reply

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