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.