BLM reports of wild horse deaths during Tuscarora roundup are laced with contradictions
July 26, 2:21 PM Equine Advocacy Examiner Maureen Harmonay
Newly captured Owyhee mares and foals huddle at Palomino Valley, photographed by Cat Kindsfather
In an apparent effort to rebut the arguments put forth by advocate Laura Leigh in her motions for Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) against the Owyhee, Rock Creek, and Little Humboldt portions of the Tuscarora "Gather" in north Elko County, Nevada, the BLM has falsely attributed some of the mustang mortalities to dehydration issues when in fact, other factors were at work.
For example, on Tuesday, July 20th, BLM reported that "two animals were euthanized due to pre-existing water starvation/dehydration related complications." But when the Owyhee Veterinary Reports for these horses were released, they told a very different story. One of the horses who was shot was a 25-year-old sorrel mare, who was put down "for a pre-existing condition that was a severe LF (left front) lameness attributable to a poorly healed old fracture injury," and the other was an 18-year-old bay stallion who had a "severe enlargement of the RF (right front) fetlock, producing a chronic and incurable lameness."
Really? How were these "lame" horses able to survive, and thrive, on the range for so many years, and then gallop at a breakneck pace over unforgiving ground to flee the BLM-hired helicopter that chased them into waiting traps? Would it be more accurate to surmise that in fact, both horses were crippled by the chase itself, and that in spite of BLM's protestations to the contrary, their deaths were very much "gather-related?" In the absence of independent observers, it's hard to know the truth.
The Owyhee roundup has been the direct conduit to the deaths of at least 25 horses (that we know of), in spite of BLM's repeated insistence that most of the fatatlities were not "gather-related." The agency's long-strained credibility is continuing to erode, as a nation of horrified spectators begins to raise its voices in protest against what looks more and more like a deliberate effort to eradicate wild horses from America's public lands.
Indeed, in her Supporting Declaration for Laura Leigh's latest motion against the Tuscarora Gather, Dr. Nena Winand, DVM, a respected equine veterinarian affiliated with Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine in New York, unequivocally asserts that it was the roundup itself, and not any pre-existing conditions, that killed the Owyhee wild horse victims:
"Pushing the animals, having been driven via helicopter over the distances they traveled, at a more rapid gait than they would otherwise travel in such environmental conditions, in environmental conditions which included elevated summer temperatures, and where the condition of many of the gathered horses improved rapidly following the gather, all lead me to compellingly conclude to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the deaths and injuries to these horses were substantially due to the gather itself, the manner in which the horses were driven during the gather and in their having to negotiate the environmental conditions existing there at the time.
And it my further opinion to the same degree of reasonable medical certainty that the conditions existing on the range prior to the gather, were not causative in injuring and killing those horses who perished on the dates of the gather. The uncontroverted fact remains that nearly all horses who reportedly perished, did so during the process of the gather itself or immediately thereafter while the horses were in the custody of the BLM, but not before."