How many wild horses will die before BLM gives them shade?


for immediate release

Sprinkler mitigation a farce–will not prevent heatstroke, illness or death, just bad press

RENO, NV (June 30, 2013)–With the western heat wave in the triple-digits, captive wild horses are at risk of heatstroke and death because they have no shade. Close to 1,800 native wild horses are ‘processed’ and eventually transferred by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Palomino Valley Center (PVC). Rarely are they adopted due to poor marketing and customer service.

“Putting sprinklers in a few pens appears to be a publicity stunt when what they really need to do is create shade for this emergency situation,” states Anne Novak, executive director for Protect Mustangs. “The BLM is full of excuses of why they can’t create shade when they need to cowboy up and make it happen.”

The few sprinklers BLM installed this weekend are not only a waste of water during the drought, but appear to be a BLM publicity stunt to water down public outrage spreading across social media. Wild horses are not going to be cooled off by a random sprinkler in select pens. They might roll in the mud but most skidish wild horses will be scared of sprinklers.

Emergency shade is needed urgently. The June 9th press release requesting shade for captive wild horses had been ignored so Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs and Nevada Senator Mark Manendo contacted BLM officials in Washington last week requesting emergency action to create shade.

“The pens are huge with so many wild horses trapped in the triple-digit heat,” explains eye witness Taylor James who photographs wild horses in the Reno area. “The only way to ensure their health in the pens is with shade.”

An equine facility about 8 miles up the road provides shade for the equines in their care. The BLM requires adopters to provide access to shade for adopted wild horses and burros. Why is the mega facility exempt from basic horse care?

The Department of Interior and the BLM have access to engineers who can easily solve the shade problem. The BLM employees are paid to care for the wild horses and burros–yet without shade their job is doomed to failure.

How many unbranded wild horse foals die during heat waves? Facilities such as Palomino Valley don’t keep track of the unbranded young dead foals according to their public affairs officer, Heather Emmons.

The BLM needs to solve the problem they created by rounding up and stockpiling American icons of freedom in the pens. Fertility control is premature as there is no evidence of overpopulation according to the National Academy of Sciences.

“If the government can send people into space then they can figure out how to shade the captive wild horses or just return them to the range,” states Novak. “In the wild they can migrate to shady areas. In captivity it’s cruel to deny them shade.”

Triple-digit heat waves can cause heatstroke and death for equines left out in the sun with no shade.

According to the article on heatstroke in Overheating and Heat Stress in Horses by Gary P. Carlson, D.V.M., PhD.

“. . . The clinical signs of heat stroke are depression, weakness, lack of appetite and a refusal to continue exercising . . . Despite elevated body temperature, the sweating response is inadequate, therefore, hot, dry skin is indicative of impending heat stroke. Depression and weakness may progress to ataxia (inability to coordinate voluntary muscular movement), collapse, convulsions, coma or death.”

Life saving care involves taking rectal temperatures, lowering body temperatures rapidly in the shade using fans, hosing down with water, applying ice packs and water enemas–hardly possible for treating untamed wild horses.

The BLM’s minor sprinkler mitigation appears to be a publicity stunt to avoid bad press. The sprinklers won’t cool down heat wave temperatures. Most pens are huge and don’t have sprinklers. The majority of wild horses won’t get sprinkled because they will run away.

What the wild horses need is access to shade. The BLM is responsible to care for wild horses and burros humanely after rounding them up.

“It’s like keeping a dog in a hot car when it’s hot outside,” says Melissa Maser, Protect Mustangs’  outreach coordinator for Wyoming and Texas.  “All the vets warn that can cause heat stroke and kill them. Why doesn’t the BLM give the captive mustangs shade?”

If the BLM can get funding for their “emergency” roundups then they can allowcate funding to create shade as needed for the 50,000 captive wild horses. The BLM needs to be responsible for all the wild horses and burros they have captured.

“The BLM’s disregard for America’s wild horses is a global embarrassment,” states Novak. “We hope Secretary Jewell will intervene and provide emergency shade for the wild horses and burros in captivity.”

Leading grassroots equine advocates Anne Novak at Protect Mustangs, Jaime Jackson at AANHCP and notable filmmaker Carl Mrozek urge Secretary Jewell call for a moratorium on roundups and scientific population studies before controlling fertility of wild horses and burros. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences stated there was no evidence to support the BLM’s claims of alleged overpopulation. Independent estimates conclude less than 18,000 wild horses remain in all 10 western states combined–on an area spanning more than 30 million acres designated by Congress for wild horses and burros.

“Population myths are used to justify expensive roundups and removals of wild horses and look what a mess that creates,” explains Novak. “Now we have thousands of captive wild horses trapped in pens with no shade. How humane is that?”

Protect Mustangs is devoted to protecting native wild horses. Their mission is to educate the public about the indigenous wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

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Media Contacts:

Anne Novak,

Kerry Becklund,

Photos, video and interviews available upon request

Links of interest:

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: