BLM refuses to help distressed yearling “thrashing around in pen” during heat wave

Protect Mustangs and our volunteers did not take the photo referred to. The photo was taken by Nevada wild horse advocate, Patty Bumgarner.

Protect Mustangs’ preliminary video report exposing the dead filly is below in memory of ‘Shadow’.


Statement from Kathy McCovey

Dear Anne,

I live approximately 1.5 miles from the Palomino Valley Wild horse and adoption facility in Reno, NV

I am and have been for as along as I lived here (18 years) watching those poor horses have to deal with in-climate weather conditions.  Being a horse lover and horsewoman for over 40 years, I know horses well.  I know they are miserable and distressed when they have to deal without benefit of any kind of shelter at all in the severe weather conditions that we have out here. To name a few that are typical for this area are wind storms with 65mph sustained winds and gusts reaching as high as 114 mph, blizzards, hail, severe heat and cold.

While my own horses have shelter, it does not sit well with me when I have seen what the horses at PVC have to deal with.  I watched one Easter Sunday when the temperature was 28 degrees and the wind was blowing at sustained 35mphs a mare birthing a filly in the flying dirt/manure debris and cold…. That baby was wet and the wind chill had to be 15. The next day I went to the facility and asked to see them as they had been moved to another pen.   I do care and I am concerned, which brings me to this next episode.

On July 2nd at approximately 12:30 pm I saw a Facebook posting from Patty Bumgaurner of a bay filly in the yearling pen that was in obvious distress due to the heat.  It was 101 degrees in the shade and probably 106 or higher out of it.  This filly was no longer sweating, down and thrashing, her tail wrapped around her body on the under side like she had collapsed, her anus and vulva was prolapsed, and the look on her face was one of despair.

I immediately called PVC BLM and told them they had a filly down and was in distress in the yearling pen.  The woman on the phone argued with me like I didn’t know what I was talking about, the horse was sleeping or sunning itself. I then informed her I was a 40 year plus horse woman that I knew what heat distress looked like, and my own horse had been sick from the heat just the day before.

She continued to argue with me, tell me that wild horses were different, they were fine and that if I didn’t like what she was telling me (refusing to get help for this baby) that I could call her boss at the Washington D.C. BLM.   So I hung up with her and called the BLM in D.C with the number she gave me.

Again I was met with the same resistance to get this filly some help.  I was told by BLM in D.C. that they had installed sprinklers for the horses. That wasn’t going to help this filly, she needed immediate attention, and added as far as their sprinklers,  I only saw one!  (Two days later I saw on a Face book press release from BLM several different photos depicting horses standing in the sprinkler)   My whole point is, I tried to get this filly some help and was refused by both the facility and the Washington D.C. office.

I found out today by someone else was concerned about the horses welfare, had gone out on the same day, much later in the day, that had taken video that  included footage of this same filly dead.

I am enclosing a picture of the filly posted on July 2nd at 12:39 pm.  You may have the time water mark for the video that shows this same filly dead and the bull dozer coming to get her out of the pen.  I want you to note the other horses in the background of this photo also appear in video.  This IS the same filly, and despite my efforts of trying to help for her, BLM did nothing and let her die!

I have attached this photo and also enclosed it.


Kathy McCovey


For immediate release

BREAKING NEWS: Citizen investigation reveals wild horses are sick and dying at national adoption center without shade

Video report calls for Secretary Jewell to intervene with emergency shelters

RENO,Nv (July 8 2013)–Protect Mustangs is releasing a preliminary video report of captive wild horses denied shade in the recent triple-digit heat wave. Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs, America’s indigenous horse conservation group, has been leading a nationwide outreach campaign (#Shade4Mustangs) on Facebook and Twitter to bring shade to captive wild horses and burros at Palomino Valley Center outside Reno, and elsewhere. Last week’s heat wave broke records. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) refused to install shade despite Novak and Senator Mark Manendo’s requests, outcry from the public and other groups. Protect Mustangs conducted a field investigation during the heat wave with the help of Reno photographer Taylor James, Jim Hart the President of Liberty for Horses and Dennis Walker. The video report calls for the new Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, to have compassion and bring emergency shade because captive mustangs are sick and dying. In the wild they can migrate to shade and cooler zones. Trapped in pens it’s cruel to deny them access to shade and shelter.

“The BLM’s historic disregard for America’s wild horses is a global embarrassment,” states Anne Novak. “We hope the new Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, will intervene to bring them shade and call for a moratorium on roundups for population studies, based on science of course. They’re underpopulated on the range now. That’s why they are breeding at a higher rate–to prevent extinction.”

The heat wave investigation found horses without shade who appear to have respiratory illness, as well as ones who have other illneses and diseases. They are exhausted from repeated exposure to triple-digit temperatures, sore, stiff, probably lame foals, lactating mares, and young wild horses who also appear dehydrated, obese horses, hot sweaty horses and hot horses not sweating, young horses not wanting to get up and eat, who are ill or dying as well as a dead filly the group named “Shadow”.

When the summer heat started to rise on June 9th Anne Novak & Senator Manendo officially called for shade for more than 1,800 captive wild horses at Palomino Valley Center, the largest short-term federal holding facility in America.

Novak uses Facebook & Twitter to reach thousands of people through her widespread outreach. Celebrities such as Daryl Hannah, and Holly Marie Combs graciously shared out Novak’s calls for shade.

On June 24, 2013, esteemed Dr. Lester Friedlander BA DVM called for an emergency action to bring shelter to the wild horses and burros.

Novak continued to contact elected officials, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel and the newly appointed Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, requesting shade to prevent deaths from the upcoming heat wave. To this date she has not heard back from Secretary Jewell.

No shade was provided in triple-digit heat–only a handful of ineffective sprinklers for “mitigation”. Neither Protect Mustangs nor Dr. Friedlander suggested using sprinklers. They requested shade and shelter.

Dr. Friedlander DVM and Anne Novak warned the Bureau of Land Management that the wild horses would suffer disease, infections and heat related deaths without shelter from the heat.

Protect Mustangs has been working with Dr. Lester Friedlander BA, DVM, photographer Taylor James, Jim Hart, President of Liberty for Horses, Dennis Walker and other advocates to document the fiasco during the record-breaking heat wave and advocate for change–shelters for wild horses and burros in holding facilities.

Despite the BLM’s ‘sprinkler mitigation’ PR campaign, the Protect Mustangs’ investigation found sick, sore, horses as well as a dead filly hours before the BLM facility official, Jeb Beck, gave Fox News an interview about the ‘sprinklers’.

In his July 2nd Fox News interview Beck says: “We’ve never experienced any problems with the heat and whatnot,” says Beck. “Because of the publicity it’s getting, we wanted to make a proactive step and try suggestions that were brought to us.” – (See more at:

“We witnessed several young wild horses who would not get up,” says Jim Hart, President of Liberty for Horses. “They were just lying there. The heat wave seemed to have taken its toll on them. Then we found ‘Shadow’ who had died. The horses in the pen were coming over as if to say good-bye. When we came back to the pen later Shadow’s body had disappeared.”

Eye witnesses have documented the following during the heat wave:

1.) Triple-digit temperatures

2.) No shade and no relief from the record-breaking heat

3.) No shelter from the strong winds and dust storms

4.) One or No sprinklers seen (depending on the day)

5.) Wild horses stayed away from the sprinkler.

6.) Lactating mares and foals appeared depressed, sore and dehydrated

7..) Horses with bad hoof care

8.) A lot of depressed horses and possibly ill horses

9.) Horses missing their tags

10.) Horses with respiratory illness

11.) Obese horses

12.) Yearlings and other horses who were lying down, breathing hard and not getting up to eat.

13.) Most of them had severe gas

14.) A dead bay filly named Shadow in the pens

15.) The dead filly named Shadow “disappeared” when they came back to the pen

The public wants to know “How many had died? And why is the BLM hiding the deaths?”

Novak has requested the mortality count during the heat wave since June 27 and wants to know the number of sick horses also. Witnesses Hart & Walker asked to view the sick pens but were denied permission to view from a distance.

Palomino Valley Center doesn’t keep track of the dead unbranded foals according to Heather Emmons Jasinki, Public Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Land Management.

“We are requesting immediate transparency and accountability for the mortality rates at all facilities as well as shade and shelter for the captive wild horses and burros,” states Novak. “These wild horses should be living with their families in freedom on the range not enduring cruelty in a government holding pen. Is it time for another agency–without a conflict of interest–to manage America’s native wild horses and burros?”

Less than 18,000 native wild horses and burros are estimated to be living in freedom in all ten western states combined. Today more than 50,000 are stockpiled in government funded holding–at risk of disappearing into the slaughter pipeline. Horse advocates want to see them returned to the range.

The National Academy of Sciences has stated there is no accurate population count. Protect Mustangs, AANHCP and other horse advocate groups know that when a scientific population study is done, the numbers will be very low.

The BLM’s population numbers have been inflated by BLM to justify costly roundups and removals for the public land grab and industrialization.

“The BLM requires adopters to provide ‘access to shelter’ so why aren’t they doing the same?” asks Dennis Walker from Northern California. “It was horrible to see these horses surfing with no shade.”

“They are all so sweet and young,” says James. “I’ve been visiting them sometimes twice a day, to check on them. They would be flaring their nostrils and after the first day they didn’t sweat as much. I was worried. After a few days some would not eat but clearly were weak and dehydrated. They should have never been removed from the range, It’s not fair that Shadow died because the BLM didn’t want to give them shade while they sit in their air conditioned offices, drinking their fresh, cold water.”

# # #

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415.531.8454

Kerry Becklund, 510.502.1913

Photos, video and interviews available upon request

Links of interest:

Captive wild horses need shade, advocates say, Horsetalk, NZ:

How many foals are dying after roundups?:

BLM’s email revealing they are not counting the unbranded dead amongst the 37 dead mustangs at the Nevada facility

NPR: Fertility drug, nature, better than horse roundups

Information on native wild horses:

Wild-horse advocates: Rallies held in 50 states to drum up opposition to roundups, slaughter–Wild-Horses-Rallies

Animals Angels investigative report:

ProPublica: All the missing horses: What happened to the wild horses Tom Davis bought from the gov’t?

Palomino Valley Center:

Protect Mustangs’ press releases:

Anne Novak quotes at Newsle:

Protect Mustangs in the news: