A bay, three-month-old wild foal, who was separated from her mother during a horrific Bureau of Land Management roundup in Colorado in September, is no longer an orphan—she is surrounded by love at the sanctuary Friends of Animals manages in San Antonio, Texas, where she arrived Tuesday.
At Primarily Primates, she joins recently adopted wild horses--filly Bindi and colt Comanche—who last year were stolen from their home on the range in Nevada, land once owned by the Danne sisters but now pimped out by the BLM. While we wish they all could still be wild and free, it is reassuring to see them start to make family ties and create a new band of their own, one that will never be torn apart. Comanche is never far from Bindi's side. They even eat out of the same grain bucket despite each of them having their own.
We named the foal Moxie Feral for being able to survive a particularly violent, frightening, inhumane helicopter roundup of 167 wild horses from the West Douglas Herd Area in Colorado. The BLM once again contracted with Sun J Livestock, which historically has been abusive during its helicopter roundups—running the wild horses past their point of exhaustion, rushing them into the traps and leaving foals behind.
While being ripped from her family was devastating—her mom and band stallion outran the helicopters—at least Miss Moxie’s life was spared during the West Douglas Herd roundup. Others weren’t so lucky. During the assault, another foal was killed by the BLM after it broke its leg fleeing from helicopters, and an older wild horse suffered a broken neck after it fell while being loaded onto a trailer headed for BLM holding prisons and was trampled by another wild horse.
In September FoA filed a lawsuit against the BLM and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to halt further devastating assaults against wild horses in northwest Colorado. BLM’s Decision Record authorizes the continued removal of wild horses from northwest Colorado for several years as part of its extinction plan.
FoA’s lawsuit states that BLM’s decision—which authorizes the continued removal of wild horses for several years, including helicopter drive trapping, helicopter assisted roping and bait and water trapping—fails to fulfill the agency’s obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act. BLM does not provide a reasonable discussion of, or adequately disclose, the impacts to targeted wild horses themselves, including the likelihood of short and long-term physical, social and behavioral changes associated with roundups and removals.
According to the lawsuit, the intricate physiological events that occur during a wild horses fight or flight reaction to a helicopter round up suggest that these are assaults against wild horses and are not humane as the BLM maintains, thus violating the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.
“The Bureau of Land Management has never really publically examined the emotional, physical or social impacts to wild horses subjected to helicopter roundups on federal public lands,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “Coloradans should demand they do so before some of our last wild horses are subjected to such devastating physical and emotional pain.
“The BLM’s Decision Record states that helicopter roundups may occur over the next couple years. Winning this lawsuit could have an impact on roundups in the Douglas area in the future. Moreover, we at FoA believe that once the public realizes the significant trauma and pain that these wild horses go through at the hands of BLM, there will be stronger public support for wild horses and for their protection on public lands like there was back in 1971 when the Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed.”