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The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Winter

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Carol Walker
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The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Winter

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:35 pm

A week before Thanksgiving I received a press release from the BLM Rock Springs office that stated that the Adobe Town /Salt Wells Creek Roundup was going to begin tomorrow. I had been calling and emailing the Rock Springs office of the BLM every two weeks since the Decision Record was issued for this roundup in August, asking when they were planning to start. I was given no warning. I was certain that this was occurring at all this year was due to pressure from the Rock Springs Grazing Association who has been demanding that all wild horses be removed from private lands on the checkerboard area of the Salt Wells Creek Herd Area and the Adobe Town Herd Area.
I was told that public observation opportunities could be limited due to private land on the checkerboard, and to get there soon if I was to observe. I could not get there at the beginning, but I was there for the end.
They removed 668 wild horses from Salt Wells Creek, a huge herd area with over 1 million acres. Only 39 stallions and 40 mares were returned to the area, and 3 horses died.
http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/Wi ... ather.html
The horses were not rounded up on Thanksgiving, but they were the Saturday after, with no public observation allowed. The contractor, the Cattoors, were trying to finish this up before an arctic cold front entered Wyoming.
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Carol Walker
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:37 pm

I drove up highway I-80 on Monday with 50 – 60 mph winds buffeting my vehicle and the huge big rig trucks that roared by. The winds are often a precursor to a storm, which was clearly blowing into Wyoming. The release of the 40 mares who had been treated with birth control, PZP, was scheduled for Tuesday, the next day, so I was determined to get there. When I arrived in Rock Springs, I went immediately to the Rock Springs Short Term Holding facility. These are the corrals where the captured horses are brought after being removed from their homes and families. Here they are tested for Coggins, given vaccinations, gelded, sorted, possibly adopted, and then ultimately sent to other locations.
It is a grim place, one I hate visiting. I always hope I do NOT recognize any of the horses I see. Seeing the horses separated by sex and age into arbitrary groups with nothing to do but endure is incredibly depressing, especially after seeing these horses in the wild. It is a soul killing place, where the horses are provided the basic necessities of food and water, and some are provided medical care when needed, but the freedom that is an essential part of their being has been removed and the light has gone out of their eyes.
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:39 pm

I head to my hotel, and the evening brings the storm with a vengeance. The temperature plummets, and it is zero degrees with I don’t know what wind chill when I get outside in the morning. Everything is white, and the snow is blowing sideways. I am unsurprised when I get a call that tells me the release of the mares has been delayed.

I decide to go back to the Short Term Holding facility and layer my clothing carefully. When I get out of my vehicle and trudge to the overlook I catch my breath in the strong wind. This is a totally different place in the grip of the storm. Snow blows hard across the corrals, and the horses are coated with ice and snow. The more dominant horses are eating hay, while the more timid wait their turns. Eating hay is the best way for these horses to stay as warm as they can because there is no shelter here. I had been told that there were wind breaks for the horses, but I did not see them. I know the sick pens have shelter, but not the rest of the facility.
The mares and foals stood unmoving, seemingly frozen in place. I did not see any of them move from where they were standing while I was there.
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:40 pm

These wild horses are uniquely suited to their environment, to thrive where domestic horses could not, but if they had been in the wild, they would have sheltered next to hillsides, in gullies, in draws that are natural windbreaks – they would not have been taking the full brunt of the wind and snow as they were here, trapped in pens, unable to move away.

Watch Carol’s appearance on the CNN Jane Velez Mitchell Show discussing wild horses and the situation in Rock Springs at the Short Term Holding Facility that aired on Tuesday, December 17 at 7:00pm Eastern Time here:
http://www.hlntv.com/video/2013/12/18/w ... se-roundup
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:42 pm

On Wednesday morning last week I was in Rock Springs, waiting to hear if the weather was better and it had stopped snowing, and I heard that we were on for the release of the mares. These are mares rounded up and removed from Salt Wells Creek. Only 40 mares will be released, all treated with the birth control drug PZP, and only 39 stallions were released. 668 wild horses were rounded up, and most of them are at the Rock Springs Short Term Holding facility.
I followed the BLM out to where the mares had been held for the past 3 days in pens, and saw the two horse trailers pull out, heading through the Adobe Town Herd Area. I saw the snow crusted forms of the mares in the trailers, and could see their wide eyes. They had no idea what was going to happen to them.
We drove over two hours through snow covered roads, and the high this day was zero degrees. It seems as though we are driving through most of the Adobe Town Herd Area and I wonder when we are ever going to get to the location to release the mares
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:44 pm

Finally I see the horse trailers stop, and they have stopped ironically at the trap site used in the 2010 Adobe Town Roundup at Poison Buttes, where hundreds of wild horses lost their freedom. I always get a bad feeling when I am in this area.
\As I am preparing to get out and set up to photograph the release of the mares, Dave Cattoor opens the first trailer door. Mares come spilling out and I run toward the trailer, and am told to stop. I keep going and try to get some photographs as the second trailer door is opened. The mares run out and head up the hill so they can get a good look around in this new area. These are mares rounded up in the Salt Wells Creek Herd Area, but they are being released in Adobe Town, at least 30 – 50 miles from where they had been rounded up.
As the mares disappear, I am determined to wait here until the Cattoors come back with the second load of mares. We wait 3 1/2 hours. I keep my vehicle running so I have heat, and I am assured that this time they will wait until I am set up to let these mares go. It is getting colder and darker, and I am hoping that they will arrive before the end of this very short winter day.
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:46 pm

Finally the two trailers pull up, and I am on top of the hill waiting this time. They open the door of one of the trailers, and a lone red mare comes quietly out, looking around this unfamiliar world. Then another mare follows. I think that the mares are smart to look around and not rush off at a gallop, and imagine that the stallions probably did just that.
The mares trot up the hill, the group from the second trailer catching up to the first group as they pause and look over at me on the next hill. I am silently cheering them on, here in this strange new place, 1/2 hour before the sun goes down, temperatures falling fast.
Still there is no doubt in my mind that they are the lucky ones, who still have their freedom, and they have each other on this coldest night. As I drive back toward Rawlins in the twilight the temperature is now minus 11.
The next morning I head back to this area and the temperature gauge on my car says it is minus 16 when I first get there. I use my binoculars and look for horses. I do not see any sign of the mares, and I am sure they headed as far away from where they were released as possible – who can blame them?
I do see several wild families on a far ridge about 5 – 10 miles from where they were released, and I feel joy to see them on this frigid morning – there are still wild horses in this area. There is a palomino foal with a wooly coat, and he reminds me of my adopted mustang Mica.
As I drive I see black forms on a hill with Haystack Mountain in the background. As I drive closer, I see that it is cattle grazing on public land.
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Re: The Fight to Save Wyoming's Wild Horses Continues in Win

Postby Carol Walker on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:48 pm

The Rock Springs Grazing Association is relentless in their drive to have ALL wild horses removed not only from private land but also from public land that they have leased, that they consider their own. These four herd areas are targeted: Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town, Great Divide Basin and White Mountain. All four of these herd areas make up over 2 million acres, and almost half of the remaining wild horses in Wyoming live in these areas.
Only a few days after the mares are released, the Rock Springs BLM releases their Scoping Document for rounding up the wild horses horses in Great Divide Basin. It has only been 2 years since this herd was last rounded up.
http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/news_r ... ather.html

My heartfelt thanks for the support and sponsorship of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation on this trip. http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/

Related Articles:
From Wild Hoofbeats:
http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/last- ... orse-herds
http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/wild- ... moval-plan
http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/why-wild-horses
From Straight From the Horse’s Heart:
http://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/12/06/tri ... f-wyoming/
http://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/12/05/blm ... ped-mares/
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