American Morning

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January 5th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Wild horse roundup triggers controversy

Editor's Note: John Zarrella concludes his four-part series "Mustang Roundup: Taking the wild out of the West" tomorrow on American Morning. Don't miss part one and part two and check out today's story below.

Kim Segal and John Zarrella

Silver Springs, Nevada (CNN) - The helicopter is on the chase. At first, you can only hear it. Then, from behind the hillside, you see a herd of wild horses running for their freedom, with the helicopter close behind.

One escapes the trap, barely. The crowd cheers.

This is the scene at the Lahontan wild horse roundup in Silver Springs, Nevada. The helicopter pilot works for the federal government. The crowd is composed mainly of activists opposed to the roundups.

More and more, the roundups are becoming showdowns between protesters and the Bureau of Land Management.

"They are by law supposed to protect these horses, and in fact they are doing the exact opposite - they are exterminating them," says Simone Netherlands, founder of the advocacy group Respect 4 Horses. "They are managing them to extinction."

BLM says this charge is not true, insisting there are more wild horses and burros today than there were in 1971, when it started the roundup program.

That year, fearing that the wild horses and small donkeys roaming the open ranges of the western United States were disappearing, Congress decided to try to save them.

Keep reading...

Filed under: AM Original
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. george speros

    why wasn't it reported that many of these mustang are sold for meat and brought to slaughter??? o shipped to canada or mexico to be killed?

    January 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Jeff Corcoran

    OK, horses and burros are both non-native invasive species, so are cattle. I can understand protecting some horses and burros due to the history they have with the west.But you still need to manage the herds and keep them from growing too large to minimize the damage they do. Personally I think they should get rid of both cattle and horses from the DESERT!! Cows evolved in Europe and are grass eaters. Desert grasses and other native plants did not evolve with cattle or horses so invasive grasses and plants move in when the native plants are destroyed by these animals. So I say keep a small well managed number for history's sake but lets keep the numbers down to minimize the damage they inflict.

    January 10, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  3. Mike

    I'm probably too late, but there is an amazing book written about this called:

    Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West

    By Deanne Stillman.

    She's a bit of a hippie, but the book is an amazing piece of investigative journalism (a rarity these days). The book details the true reason for the round ups starting tying together the subsidies that the farmers receive for leaving their land unused, to the additional funds they receive for rounding and "caring" for the horses thereby eliminating the competition for their herds to use federal land for grazing without any type of economic retribution. Essentially these guys get paid three times.

    The saddest part is the outright decimation of the horse population since the 1700s (from 2 million to about 25,000 now). Good old fashioned American environmentalism. It's ok as long as it puts beef on the table.

    For those who don't want to read the entire book, the Economist has an article with a pretty good synopsis. It can be found here:

    CNN... a little note. Please start digging a little deeper. I'm having to go international more and more for anything that even begins to have the semblance of something with a comprehensive analysis of the issues.

    January 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  4. Morgan

    People are sick diseased twisted bas&^@%#s! How could you kill a majestic animal like the horse that helped start america?! A cow is stupid, eit it! A horse has emotionally depth, deeper thought and a higher emotionally capability than cows goats chickens ducks geese rabbits... how could you?!

    January 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  5. john greaser

    Thanks to the producers of the wild horse series for bringing to our attention the sometimes radical and abusive tactics used to remove wild horses from their native habitat. I've adopted a BLM mustang, and if I had the resources I would provide a home for additional adoptions.

    January 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  6. Sally Mitchell

    SHAME ON THE BLM!! Put the real reason the wild mustang is being driven into extinction, slaughtered when they are "protected by Federal Law!", because of big money interest. Give them some birth control if you must, then TURN THEM LOOSE!! Shame shame shame on the BLM.

    January 8, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  7. Robin McBride

    Thank You very much for your series! This information needs to get out to the American people. If we do not know what is happening in our world then we cannot help. Please explore the real reason the BLM is removing the mustangs. They have plenty of food & water out there and they are need to be left alone. There are other reasons and they need to be exposed – please do this. Mining, money, & greed means no place for animals. They have to get rid of them first in order to do this.

    January 8, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  8. Chris Van Boening

    Thank you CNN for your work in bringing the truth to the public regarding the mismanagement of the wild horse and burro program by the BLM. There are more wild horses languishing in long term holding facilities than there are in the wild. The cost of the round ups are astronomical, not to mention the cost of maintaining these horses in long term holding. The horses rounded up are obviously not malnourished. Why not leave them be? Humane observers are being kept away and the horses the BLM has been charged to protect are dying in their care. Look into the case of the little foal that starved to death...His condition went unnoticed until an observer brought it to their attention. But by then it was too late. There are more cattle on the range than horses. They are far more destructive to vegetation and the water supply than the horses. It's time to hold the BLM accountable for their mismanagement of the program and put our taxpayer dollars to better use. Leave the horses and burros alone.

    January 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  9. Ashley

    Thank you CNN for these segment on the mustangs and burros, but I believe this issue needs more coverage. Here on the west coast, barely anyone is awake to watch it. Taxpayers need to know where their money is being used, or wasted. I feel the BLM is just catering to the cattle industry by their drastic actions. They are also desimating symbols of our freedom and spirit. Please look into doing more newstories about the plight of the wild horses and burros.

    January 7, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  10. jessica

    so sad and cruel!!

    January 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Lanie G.

    Thank You CNN.. This is issue is so important and has been hidden from the mainstream American public for so long. The BLM doggedly continues the massive roundups and stands firm on their reasoning which is beyond stupid. The real reason is covered up with nonsensical reasons such as destruction of the environment. Now is the time to bring out the truth once and for all and stop the extinction of the wild horse and burro herds.

    January 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  12. Donna Hartt

    It's about time CNN! I guess it took a float in the Rose Parade to bring an interest. Shame on the Government, Shame on the BLM! Once again it's all about profit. I for one as a taxpayer say, I want my $5.00 per horse to go to keeping them free in the wild, where mother nature and god intended. This is proof that once again, when "man" interferes with nature, nature is destroyed... Shame Shame Shame on all of you who promote the capture of these gifts from god!

    January 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  13. Sharon Jacobs-Salinas

    Thank you CNN and staff for this series on the plight of our wild mustangs and burros; please don't stop here. The majority of taxpayers are unaware of the MILLIONS of $$ being wasted on the roundup/removal of our majestic wild horses. Contrary to the BLM's 'propaganda, these beauties of the West are NOT starving or sick; they do NO damage to the range; there are NO EXCESS wild horses or burros...NO OVERPOPULATION. The BLM already has over 37,000 wild horses and burros from past roundups/removals that have been languishing in long-term holding facilities for years which cost the taxpayers MILLIONS of $$. The BLM has made no real attempt to 'adopt out' these mustangs. Why would anyone believe the BLM could possibly 'adopt out’ the additional THOUSANDS of mustangs and burros they continue to roundup/remove from lands specifically set aside for their protection; to safely roam free? The BLM, wealthy cattle ranchers, oil interests and those contracted to conduct roundups care nothing about these magnificent wild horses; referring to them as 'VERMIN'. The propaganda spread by the BLM has nothing to do with range damage, starvation or has EVERYTHING to do with cattle, oil interests, greed and corruption. All at the expense of the American taxpayer.

    January 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  14. Jill Fisher

    A ratio of 50 cattle to one "protected" wild horse, on lands designated for these horse's for their preservation.

    Water fenced off to prevent them from drinking....

    Horses eat the underbrush which prevents devastating forest fires.

    Horses nibble grass tops, where as the many cattle taking over their land, pull the grass up completely.

    The horses feces allows for continual plant re-growth.

    Horses are migratory animals and move as the seasons change and their environment changes.

    The BLM pulls numbers out of a hat and what would they do if they were not rounding up defenseless wild horses and little burros.... would these people still have jobs?!

    Documentation from individuals who have done fly overs and studies of the lands, have shown what the BLM claims is hoodoo. We are talking about millions and millions of acres of land, many of which are in the mountains.

    Why is the Obama administration hellbent on removing and zeroing out many wild horse herds and separating family bands for reasons that are only lame excuses. Nothing has scientific documentation, NOTHING! The only thing that is documented is the big bucks that this is costing, and the loss lives, the infliction of many serious injuries and the precious loss of freedom.

    Stop the killing of the horse's natural predators, free up the water supplies and don't allow El Paso and BP or other corporations to rule and excavate our pristine public lands or relocate water supplies according to their needs, and stop mining and cattle farming from destroying the land that is our land, America's land.

    These are America's horse, these are our horses!! They deserve their lawful protection, not our government's actions towards inhumane and total eradication.

    January 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  15. Barbara Warner

    Thank you CNN for airing this series on our American wild horses. A 1990-91 Government Accounting Office study found it was the millions of cattle on our public lands that destroy the range and riparian areas and not the few thousand wild horses. The roundups need to stop now. They are unnecessary, cruel and often deadly and cost taxpayers millions. Millions more are given to ranchers in subsidies while they only supply 3% of the beef. The Bureau of Land Management is breaking the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act that mandated wild horses and burros be protected and preserved since this is not being done. Congress must call for an investigation of the BLM and stop this autrocity now before these native species are extinct.

    January 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  16. Charlie Smith

    Thank you CNN for airing this story. The American people as a whole, are not aware of what is going on with these animals. We must keep up the pressure on our government to do the right thing. I for one, am sick of the "government" deciding against what "WE" want. Everything I have read about this issue (trying to keep a fair understanding of facts) just leads me to believe the BLM (and whatever other interests are out there working this charge for removal) could care less about these horses. And, if our economy could please get going again, perhaps more folks would/could adopt one.

    January 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  17. Chris

    Thank you CNN for spreading the bad news regarding an icon of American History – the wild horse. The horse is a returned native of North America that lived here for at least a million years before dying out 7,000 years ago.

    The wild horse has every right to live on our public lands that are over 250 million acres expansive. It is hard to believe the BLM, to whom they are entrusted by the American public, are annihilating horse families one by one.

    January 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  18. susan rudnicki

    HUGELY MISSING- the reason WHY the BLM says the horses will ruin the range- because 6.5 million cattle and sheep have priority with the Feds!!! If Zarella had only said the math 6.5 million privately owned livestock v.s. 25,000 horses on hundreds of millions of acres, people would draw their own conclusions. Why did he not say this? It's livestock industry protectionism at the taxpayer expense.

    January 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Kristen Walker

    It is great to see any press on this horrible inhumane government sponcered animal abuse, thank you. There is so much of the story left out, the fact that this is being done to support a public grazing permit program that allows rich people to graze their livestock on public land for 90% below market value and that livestock out number the horses 100 to 1 in most herd area's. Additionally the inhumane deaths and mistreatment these horses go through durring the round up, that so many do die and are injured they say it is 1% but lets talk about the broken legs, necks, foals that have run their hoofs off trying to keep up with their families being run down by helicopters for 3-15 miles. Just recently in the Callaghan Complex roundup they took 202 horses 6 have died to date, amoung the deaths a young foal who broke her ankle in the helicopter chase, another whose leg was broken in the holding pen. Blm also shot four horses( thats how they euthanize) including two elderly stallions who were forced to endure the trama of a helicopter stampede and capture before being shot and a four year old female who had a sway back. That is what BLM does to horses that they deem unadoptable they shoot them. Calico Complex round up 140 horses dead, 40 mares aborted long term foals. Toscaroa roundup 14 dead they ran them to death in triple didget heat they llitterally died from colic and heat exhaustion, brain swelling. How about the fact that 54 congressmen signed a letter asking BLM to stop the roundups, the ASPCA and the HSUS and 190 organizations have asked for this to stop. There is so much more to the story keep going bring out the truth and help stop the extinction and distruction of our cherrished wild horses! GO CNN!

    January 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  20. Mara LeGrand

    I completed a documentary: Wild Horses In Winds of Change, covering the issue of America's wild horses. I went in with an eye for a positive twist, but after thorough investigation found that horses are the scape goats for bad management, corporate interests buying up all "public" resources and long held biases about horses on the range. Ken Salazar wasted no time, accelerating round-ups as soon as Obama granted the BLM more money at the beginning of 2009. The horses on the range essentially cost the tax payers nothing if left on the range - however, they should cost something because they will multiply. There are many options and groups who understand how to manage horses well and try to work with the BLM without success, because the BLM does what they want and only pretends to listen to the public. Instead of spending a reasonable amount for management of horses on the range, this rogue Gov't agency spends millions of brutal round ups without a sustainable plan of what to do with them afterward. Now they holler about tax payers dollars being used for their unlawful, inhumane and disgusting management of Americas wild horses. Look out for propaganda about the wild horses because it twists the issue to overlook the BLM"s legal responsibility.

    January 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  21. Laura Bell

    I happen to live in Silver Springs, NV, 5 minutes from Lahontan Resevoir. In fact, I had a band of 7 horses grazing across the dirt road from my house today. They are there because they have moved off of their normal grazing areas on BLM land because of cattle encroachment. We have cattle grazing this year where I have never seen them before in the 8 years I've lived in Silver Springs, including on State land at the Lahontan Dam recreational area. I also have photos from the day after Christmas of an approx. 1800# cow dead by the side of a 65 MPH highway (trucker route US Hwy 50), and several cattle crossing that same highway going onto resevoir land where they are not supposed to be.
    The so-called "summit" in Las Vegas is just more misleading rhetoric designed to distract the public, and also lawmakers, from what the real reasons are regarding pro-slaughter folks intentions and goals going forward. This from people who clearly appear to have an agenda that includes killing horses and other species of animals native to North America in order to accomplish their goals.
    Sue Wallis, her fellow western states ranchers, horse breeders and pro-slaughter individuals, are intent on re-opening horse slaughter plants in the United States, and also eradicating all of the wild horses off the Open Range and also State property for the following reasons:

    1.) The corporate welfare cattle ranchers in the western states end-goal is to continue to pay a pittance of $1.35 a month per head of cattle (animal unit month or AUM) as compared to ranchers that have to lease private and pay upwards of $14.00 per head per month in order to graze currently over 3 million cattle on our public land. There are now only approx 26,000 wild horses (and far less than that in regard to burros) on our public land, however, the ranchers want to completely take over and fence off our public land so no one can use it (and this includes those among us who like to hike, bike and generally recreate on public land) once the protected wild horses and burros are eradicated. The wild horses and burros are the only thing standing between the public and the ranchers in terms of the ranchers not being able to go hog-wild with putting up fences wherever they want to. This is because the wild horses and burros are still protected under the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971, which means that they must be able to roam freely on BLM/public land and can not be fenced off of the range and also the water sources. Once they are gone, there will be nothing stopping the ranchers from completely taking over BLM/public land. The ranchers already try to eradicate all other native species to the open range besides horses through a process known as "sanitizing". Sanitizing is a really nasty practice where before they turn their cattle out in November, they go out and kill every living thing on the range that would compete for food and water with their cattle, and also are predators to the cattle, by shooting them, posioning them, pouring kerosene down holes and setting fire to dens of babies, etc. They would also be sanitizing (killing) the wild horses and burros too if not for the fact that it is illegal to do so. Instead, they get the BLM and the Department of Agriculture to do their dirty work for them at the taxpayers expense because the cattle industry is a tremendously powerful lobby in Washington D.C. where all of the decisions are made. My guess is that we wouldn't have to deal with all of their obnoxious nonsense if they had to concentrate on running their businesses, however, we the taxpaying public are still being forced to pay for them to operate their businesses to the tune of close to 700 million dollars a year between the BLM and Dept of Ag hiring people (Catoor usually) to capture wild horses and burros and paying them several million dollars a year to chase the horses and burros to exhaustion, injury and quite often death, running an unsuccessful adoption program, housing and managing horses and burros in short and long term facilities, the BLM having to go out on the Open Range and repair all of the damage done by their cattle, and a myriad of other things which are paid for with our taxpayers dollars. And maybe the most idiotic side to this whole mess is that these are cattle ranchers who only produce 3% of our US beef, so they could disappear tomorrow and we wouldn't even notice they're gone! I suspect most of us would also rather buy beef from private ranchers who support their own businesses, than have to support with our taxpayer dollars these welfare ranchers who drive the nice trucks (I see them on the highways all the time here in Northern Nevada where I live), have the land and nice homes, and also can apparentely afford to take time off "work" to go to these "summits" because afterall, we the taxpaying public are paying to keep them in business.

    2. Horse Breeders: many of the horse breeders in the US individually produce hundreds of foals every year. These irresponsible breeders will not rein-in their mass production horse breeding operations, where they breed hundreds in order to produce a few "shining stars" who will go on to be money earners, will be sold for a lot of money, and/or will be used as breeding stock, as long as they can use slaughter as a way to dispose of their unwanted and crippled horses and don't have to pay for euthanasia and the disposal of the carcasses (because they can't have a gigantic horsie graveyard on their ranch now can they?).
    One way to stop the over-population of horses is to charge a tax to horse breeders who go over a certain quota of horses produced every year, and also microchip the horses they produce, and if that horse goes through a kill sale and goes to slaughter, they will be charged for that too. Hit them in the pocketbook and they'll straighten up because that's the only thing that matters to them is making money and not taking responsibility for their actions (over-breeding and humanely euthanizing and disposing of their unwanted horses).

    Newsflash folks, from one who has been professionally involved in the horse industry for close to 40 years ( it's not the backyard horseowners and backyard breeders who are flooding the sales with horses, and/or turning their horses loose, it's these unethical mass production breeders, owners and trainers who produce too many, use the horses too hard at a young age and cripple them, and then just toss them out like garbage at a kill sale!
    I also have a really great idea regarding the western states open range cattle ranchers too: why don't we taxpayers refuse to pay in the form of subsidies for these cattle ranchers to be in business and see how long their businesses will be in operation? We also need to force the BLM to begin charging a more competitive AUM fee of at least $12.00 per head of cattle per month. Maybe if they actually had to work for a living like the rest of us and not be supported by the taxpayers, and were also charged a rate more in-line with what ranchers in other parts of the country with no open range and that have to lease private land have to pay instead, they wouldn't have the time to be attending these "summits", they wouldn't be able to run so many cattle on the publics open range because they wouldn't be able to afford the competitive fees and thus, they wouldn't be able to afford to wage this assault on the native-to-North America wild horses and burros, and also other wildlife in the form of "sanitizing". At that point, we could also reintroduce natural predators to wild horses and burros such as mountain lions and wolves for example.

    My guess is that we wouldn't have to deal with all of the western states corporate welfare cattle ranchers selfish, greedy behavior if they had to concentrate on running their businesses instead of always getting hand-outs from the taxpayers, thus increasing the number of cattle they graze on the Open Range (and BTW, I'd like them to explain to all of us taxpayers how exactly we benefit from footing the bill for them to run their businesses?!?!). And if the out-of-control mass production "foal mill" breeders were responsible monetarily for euthanasia and the disposal of the unwanted horses bodies, they would not be able to afford to breed so many. We have laws regarding puppy mills, but until we have laws regarding horse breeding operations, we need to devise a way for the breeders to police themselves by way of the only thing they understand: losing money!

    In my opinion, it's past time for our lawmakers to step in once and for all and entirely ban horse slaughter in the United States, and also the exporting of horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, as 90% of the American public wants them to do.

    Close the door on horse slaughter, both the processing of horses within the US, and also the export of American horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, and stop paying the western states welfare ranchers huge subsidies that pay for them to operate their businesses, and then when the playing field is more even, I think we will see these factions disappear with a mere whimper because they probably either won't be in business any longer once they have to pay their own way, or they will be too busy working to be spending all their time waging a holocost against innocent horses and burros.

    January 7, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  22. AnneWhite

    The BLM rounds up 12,000 Mustangs in year 2010; hundreds perish during the roundups; and later in the corrals; and out of the 12,000

    only a few are adopted; only a few are sold; and only a few are trained

    Out of 12,000 Mustangs rounded up; 90% will go to Corrals in Ok and other states where they will be corraled in pastures for entire lives;

    Once the 10,000 mustangs are corraled; they are not up for adoption;

    so the BLM is "warehousing thousands of Mustangs for no cause !

    January 7, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  23. Anne-Marie

    CNN Thank You, for your excellent program on the Wild Horse Issue. Right now the saying;"...if you don't stand for something, you fall for anything...." could not be more true! The Wild Horses & Burros were designated "Symbols of our Freedom"Appears to me, that most Cattle ranchers and corporations are not into "patriotism", only worshipping money!

    January 7, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  24. leslie peeples

    Yes the BLM was charge with the Preservation and protection of Americas wild horses and Burros. But lets take a look at the big picture.

    Wild horses and Burros have been removed from over 21 million acres of the home land that they were supposed to be protected on.

    The BLM states that that the population that is in ecological balance with their occupied habitat in 26,000, yet based on the BLMs own reported removals only 17,900 wild horses remain on the range as of Feb 2011'

    The BLM is removing horses that are not excess. If all round ups were stopped now, the horses would not exceed appropriate management levels set by the BLM until 2014. The cost to remove these non-excess horses-57 million for roundup and removal and 223 million over the life time of the animals.

    There are millions of livestock grazing our public lands, in a government program that lose over 150 million a year, so how is it that a mere 20,000 wild horses are causing all the range degradation? they are not, the american Wild horse is scapegoated at taxpayer expense. There is plenty of land for the horses.

    Wild horses and burro species are in grave danger of extinction on the range, it is questionable if the numbers are even genetically viable at this time. big horn sheep are a species of grave concern at 70,000, remember we have less than 20,000 free roaming wild horses.

    Really folks, it's time to take a good look at the facts. Read the report to congress on the wild horse and Burro program.

    January 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  25. leslie peeples

    First a huge shout out to CNN for the coverage of the wild horses and burros. Finally the truth begins to see the light of day. Thanks CNN. Now if you want some more reality, truth and is an excerpt from a recent report to congress.
    .Based on BLM’s own reported removals since 2007, using their 20% reproduction rate, only 17,900 wild
    horses and burros will remain on the range as of February 2011, almost 8,700 animals less than the
    target national AML of 26,600 (see Table 1). The removal of these 8,700 non-excess animals is estimated
    to cost taxpayers a minimum of $18.6M and $55M over the life of the animals[4].
    Please all educate yourselves, read this DEC 2010 report to congress that was made because their is NO INDEPENDENT REVIEW .The report was formed using the BLMs own data and statistics, sources are sited and verifiable. re

    January 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  26. Jane BB

    THank you CNN for bringing this under reported story to the public's attention.
    The public needs to see how their wild horses are treated, and see that on those same lands that the BLM claims is distressed and cannot support the herds, cattle replace them.
    Meanwhile the horses are far from over populated as the BLM likes to tell us. Firstly, there has been no scientific census taken, so numbers are just guesses, and second, from a report using the BLM's own numbers it appears that there are possibly less than 25,000 wild horses left in the wild. Whole herd areas have been zeroed out, and many of the herds are close to, or below genetic viability.
    Thank you again for bringing this issue to light.

    January 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  27. Sheri Flum

    Thank you CNN and John Zarella for this series. I have great hope that your coverage will increase the awareness of the American public at large. It is my belief that if more people become aware of the situation the federal government will not only comply with the provisions of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro statutes, but broaden the protections of "Our American Herd". Please continue to insure that this issue does not recede into the background but remains in the bright light of day.
    Sheri Flum

    January 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  28. Linny

    It's unbelievable to me that someone on this e mail states the horses need to be run! DUH!! Of course they do, but not by being chased with helicopters. The noise alone panics the horses and many are killed during these "roundups". If this must be done, and I strongly believe it does NOT, at least use cowboys on horseback as the humane way. Surely many, many cowboys would be willing to do this and maybe for less money that it costs per hour to fly the copters??
    If this is a world wide concern, perhaps some of the other countries would have room for these wonderful Mustangs. Yes, they are American Mustangs, but if America is unable to take good care of them, perhaps it's time to ship some of them out of good old USA.
    One other thing that must happen is to stop the nearly-free grazing of cattle on public lands. Start charging more for land use ; seems like a no-brainer to me!
    Thanks to CNN for bringing this to light!!!

    January 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  29. WildhorseprotectionactFB

    Thank you CNN, John Zarrella and Kim Segal you absolutely rock.

    Through awareness a miracle for our wild horses can come...freedom, wellness and safety, as is their right.

    January 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  30. Shawna

    I feel like the real issue is the fact that horse slaughtering has been made virtually illegal in the US. I feel that caring for animals in the proper way is important to creating a nurturing, loving and civilized society, but it is also important for owners to have the opportunity to put down an animal that is suffering. The harsh reality is that those horses that have been enjoyed by, loved by and used by ranchers are often horses that are owned by people who are running a business on a tight budget.
    While I, myself, have not chosen ranching as a profession, I don't think those who have chosen it and are, therefore, financially strapped because of their profession (not because they aren't working just as hard or harder than me) should be punished. I feel like we make concessions for those who are in a financial bind all the time, and I think that this should be no different. I believe these people are being punished in the Melting Pot for a different view on how animals are treated after they have died, not for their inhumane treatment of a live animal.

    January 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  31. Crystal

    Remember.....wild horses and burros are native to N. America by fossil evidence, are wildlife by case law (ie Colvin v. Hodel) and by Congressional designation (the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971). Wild herds consume less than 2% of all forage allocated to grazing wildlife and domestic livestock on the public domain. Habitat reductions and herd removals have threatened and endangered these species of special designation. Hundreds of individual herds are now extinct on the public lands.

    January 6, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  32. Paul Hester

    Dear American People,

    With less than 20,000 Wild horses in the wild, yet still being subjected to the horror show that is the BLM, I think it is essential that the American People know that 40million cattle are out on the range tas well and dispite what the BLM tells me over and over again, the cattle do more damage, and cattle will be replacing the now "prisoner horses" formerly know as "Wild Horses"! Do not believe ONE word the BLM says, they have lied, covered up, and totally distorted the facts. They have little accurate data, old data they use as new, and for the past two year the numbers stay the same! How can that be? The adoptions of the 8,00 mentioned in this great coverage by CNN, includes many horses that were bought by "killer buyers", not directly from the BLM, but through "third parties" and were sent to their horrific deaths. Take a look at the BLM's own policies of So-called "euthanasia", which is totally the wrong word for killing healthy animals. The word has been so over used to explain why we kill animals that "supposedly get in our way or we can't be bothered with. The BLM does not keep up with these adoptions, but the blood is on their hands, nevertheless! Remember the BLM Veterinarians are paid to say and do what the BLM tells them, just like the USDA Vets! Do we really want to contribute to these mass killing of 'our" "Mustangs", by paying for it as well? I hope not, for once their gone they are gone, and the people in control see that as a good thing. Salazar himself says" The "Wild Horse and Burros" don't belong on "public lands", who is he to overrule the Congress and President of 1971? Hard to believe we have such a corrupt agency in the BLM? Look at the formerly known "Minerials and Mining Service" that under Interior Secretary Salazar allowed for the "90 minute" desicion on cementing the well, in the news today 1/06/2011. The BLM, MMS, both are under the Interior Department, which is where Salazar continues his reckless policies for the "ruling class in this country". Salazar must go and be replaced by a competent, compassionate Interior Secretary. We have a corrupt Wall Street industry, Insurance industry, so I find nothing out of line with the ALLOWED corrupt policies of the BLM to continue and keep all Americans in the dark. How many times will we be lied to before we ALL say NO MORE as the intended people to govern of our government by the people?

    Again, many thanks to CNN for having the courage to stand up to the BLM on this, and John Zarella for his "excellent" reporting in a "hostile" environment. CNN is the only major network to care and present this case to the American People!


    Paul Hester
    Animal Advocate

    January 6, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  33. golde w

    Thank you CNN for bring the plight of the Wild Horses to light. The BLM has taken away 24 million acres of herd management areas (HMAs) that had been mandated to the wild horses in the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act. The BLM is blaming wild horses for destroying the range, when in reality it is the cattle that are responsible for the degradation of the range. There are 50 cattle to one wild horse on the ranges. At the rate that the BLM is rounding up these wild horses, there will be none left. The BLM is managing the wild horses to extinction. If they had been left on their HMAs the taxpayers would have saved MILLIONS of $$.....the horses would be free. Shame on the BLM, and the administration that allows this demise of our American West.

    January 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  34. mac

    I would like to see the BLM,CNN and rangemanagers put the leather to the range, to see the impacts of overgrazing first hand. Lets show the whole picture. Management needs to be implimented, the range is intended for multible use, not wildhorses use alone. Overgrazing is a huge issue and needs to be managed.
    Lets get real too, spectators and protesters, as the BLM claimed would very much add to the overstressing of these horses. These horses were born to run, and the steam rising from holding pens after being chased is normal. Hell, I can work my horse(which is 1/2 mustang), for 30 minutes and the steam would rise.
    Most horses in the US need to be run more, wouldn't hurt them abit, might help in fact.
    Wild Horse Santuaries, hmm, why not come to Hot Springs, Montana and see how one persons good intentions turned out.
    KEEP IT REAL CNN Please !

    January 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  35. Jennifer Lamm

    Thank you so much for your wonderful expose on the extermination problems facing the American Mustangs..... we sincerely appreciate your time and concern to this matter. 🙂

    January 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  36. Beth Brocchini

    Thanks so much to CNN for this series on the wild mustangs! One fact that hasn't come to light is that as the BLM rounds up the horses "to protect the land', they fail to mention that many more cattle are put on on that range. Ranching in the West is alsofunded by taxpayers since the low usage fee doesn't cover the cost of services provided by BLM, FWS, etc. Ranching on public lands then leads to roundups of the mustangs that could be grazing for free, as well as government sponsored hunts that kill thousands of our natural predators (bears, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes...) again at our expense, to make life easier for the ranchers to make a buck.

    January 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  37. Phil Friedman

    Zarrella is focusing on the trauma of the round up and tree-hugger worries about rough treatment of the mustangs. But he's asking the wrong questions.

    He seems to be accepting at face value the BLM's claim that they are working to "save the land." He isn't asking what happens to the horses that are "adopted" out at virtually no charge to those who then take them to a slaughterhouse for pay. He isn't asking how much of the "saved" land is then turned back on virtually no-cost lease to private ranching operations for grazing. He isn't asking how many steers a rancher can put on "public" grazing land for each mustang that is removed. He doesn't appear to be looking into the overly buddy/buddy relationship between the BLM and private for-profit ranchers, and the bleak, corruption ridden history of the BLM.

    I saw two herds of mustangs up close (no more than 30 yards away...(took over 4 hours of sitting very still on camp stools) two summers ago on the Big Horn range outside of Cody, WY. I am no expert. But it was pretty clear that all the BLM and rancher talk about the mustangs being totally disease ridden and broken down was pure bull. They appeared strong, active, healthy with no more problems than might normally be found in any group of wild animals.

    The round up is a travesty. Not that I am necessarily opposed to herd thinning if necessary. Only to engaging in it for corrupt reasons and to lying about it to the public.

    Come on Zarrella, get tough.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  38. vicki Lechner

    The public needs informed of our governments actions behind the scenes so to speak. the helicopter method is most certantly brutal and very unnecasary, there are other ways of rounding up these horses, and not to mention the treatment of the animals once penned up in their so called care!! Does starving and inhumane procedures add up to the BLM's standards,also??!!

    January 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  39. carrol A

    Thank you CNN and John Zarella.

    I would like to point out that the BLM has admitted the data used to determine how many horses need to be removed from the range is flawed and has requested the National Academy of Sciences review the documents. This review will take at least two years to complete. Meanwhile, the BLM doggedly continues the massive roundups and stands firm on their reasoning.

    According to BLM director, Bob Abbey, eleven of this fiscal years rounds ups will use a "catch, treat, and release" protocol. One thousand mares will be treated with birth control and released. Though this is a step in the right direction, it doesn't help the eleven thousand horses that will be removed from the range in the same fiscal year.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  40. Dave fleming

    Why not open horse to big game hunting? It would be regulated, the hunters will eat the meat and the herds health could be maintained. As a horse and mule owner I am not opposed to eating horse meat. It is a humane method to dispose of unwanted livestock. Just today the Humane Society impounded old horses 1 mile from my house. The owners unable to afford the animals and no place to sell them let them suffer. The numbers of horses needed to maintain supply and demand is miniscule compared to cattle. Yes, let us have a regulated USDA inspected slaughter house to cut the numbers on wild and neglected equine. Just look on Craig's list, ususally free horses in any rural area for the taking.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  41. Verleen Tucker

    Thank you for broadcasting this series.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  42. Monica

    God Bless you CNN for bringing this out to the public.

    January 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  43. lisaspups

    I am very pleased that this controversy is being brought center stage. What I find frustrating, though, is that there has been barely a mention of the "multi-use" issue. The BLM claim that the horses are destroying the habitat, but they fail to mention that domestic livestock is doing more damage than the horses ever could, not to mentiont that agribusinesses graze on public land for virtually nothing, and CNN has yet to call them on it. Imagine the money that could be raised and the habitat saved if the antiquated mining and grazing laws were updated to increase grazing fees and limit the number of domestic livestock allowed to graze in the area.

    I hope the new sterilization process will be a more humane way to control the population. In the meantime, this harrassment needs to stop.

    January 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  44. Beth Marchetti

    Thank You SO much CNN, American Morning, Kim Segal and John Zarrella for your AWESOME news coverage of what is/has been happening to OUR wild horses and burros/donkeys (kinda like caging wild birds). PLEASE do a story next on horse/pony/donk/mule slaughter – how hypocritical it is of the US Senate/Congress to get MOST horse slaughter stopped in America (except for Zoo meat ... Amanda Sorvino, actor Paul Sorvino's daughter, would be an excellent contact on that issue) but continue to permit their export to Canada and Mexico to allow it there! SO MANY horse lovers STILL believe the slaughter has stopped, we need CNN to educate and expose the TRUTHS; the CRUELTY and SUFFERING that God's most beautiful, breathing Creation is enduring.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  45. Julie

    Most pitiful thing. I no longer eat beef of any kind due these slaughter insane people that kill murder wild horses. They before this were running the poor animals until their feet became stubs. Little baby horses were dying with no hoofs, just bloody stumps. .
    I believe people who kill needlessly animals come back to take the place of the victims in another life they maimed. As Einstien stated that energy ceases never to exist, as we are all energy, I believe more in re- incarnation that anything else in form of man created religions.
    I think they should outlaw all helicopters, and make the land a Feederal Park. Calling and writing bunches of those lazy people in Congress and Senate.

    People like Dahlmer killed animals. I put these guys in that view of life. Hope their helicopters fail.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  46. nancybabcock

    While I thank CNN for covering this subject of which most Americans are completely unaware, this morning's (Part 3) segment needed a bit more of the advocates' side explained...and there needed to be 'at least' a mention of how harmful the PZP (birth control drug) is to the health of the herds.

    I hope that the remaining segment, yet to air, will report on the government's real motivation in doing this–it has nothing to do with protecting the horses, as today's segment implied–nothing could be further from the truth. It has everything to do with big money interests, including corporate cattle ranching–but that is insignificant once you understand the much bigger interests of gas, oil, mining. The Chinese already have a contract on extracting our natural resources from the western range land that requires the wild horses to be gone...the public needs to hear about that.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  47. TassoBouke

    Horrah for CNN! Finally the issue on the Wild Horses has come to audiences on a National basis. How long will BLM continue to use our taxpayer money for such nonsense. No wonder the world looks at us as if we are still unsophisticated, childish people. Taking our horses away really demonstrates the way poor leadership appears to work. Where have the thinkers, caring and savvy leaders gone? How cruel is it to disband wild horses running free. Let's face it, it certainly is not for the good of the horses now, is it.

    January 5, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  48. ronvan

    Just another example of how WE HUMANS "think" we are superior and know what is best for everything, while we continue to destroy our planet.

    January 5, 2011 at 10:36 am |