Barren Valley, Sept 14-15, 2011: BLM Oregon Withholds Information from Public

By Deniz Bolbol, on behalf of the ASPCA and AWHPC.

Public Observation Sept 14-15, 2011: Poor visibility.  The mouth of the trap is behind the hill - this is the area is critical for the public to observe as it is where the Sun J pilot has been documented getting dangerously close to horses as he stampedes them into the trap.

The trap is behind the hill - this is the area is critical for the public to observe as it is where the Sun J pilot has been documented getting dangerously close to horses as he stampedes them into the trap.

This is the first roundup I have attended in Oregon. On Wednesday, September 14, Mike Mottice - BLM Oregon's Deputy State Director for Resource Planning - attended the roundup.

Therefore what is taking place at the Barren Valley roundup is being overseen by those in charge of the BLM in Oregon. The Barren Valley roundup and observation is handled differently from the Triple B roundup which ended last month in Nevada. In addition to the contractor rounding up horses until 5:30 p.m. or later each day (at Triple B the contractor ended flying at or about mid-day), the BLM Oregon is far less forthcoming with providing the public information. 

Communication between the BLM Oregon's wild horse team and the PR personnel dealing with the public appears to be poor. Shaney Rockefeller, the BLM wild horse and burro specialist in charge of the Barren Valley roundup, flat out refuses to provide the breakdown of the horses captured each day - i.e. number of stallions, mares and foals. This is basic information that should be provided to the public each day.

Instead, Ms. Rockefeller stated that BLM Oregon will only provide a "cumulative number" in her "end of gather report." This is not reasonable and it is not transparent. The public has the right to know the breakdown of horse captured each day - we should be able to keep track and count along with the BLM - this is one of the only ways we can track what is actually happening in the field. Below is a brief discussion with Ms. Rockefeller in an attempt to get information about the roundup.

  In addition, I learned on Thursday, September 15 (by chance during a brief conversation with Shaney Rockefeller, the BLM wild horse & burro specialist  in charge of the roundup) that the BLM had released captured horses back to the Sand Springs HMA the day before (Sept 14) and did not inform the public (not even the public who traveled to this remote location specifically to observe the entire roundup observation). Unlike in other capture operations, the BLM Oregon refuses to provide me with the number and genders of the horses released on September 14. I still have not been able to confirm whether or not mares, if they were released, were given PZP.  After raising strong objections to the BLM's failure to inform public observers of the release on September 14, I was allowed to view the release of 9 mares and 3 stallions at the Sand Springs HMA today (Sept 15). September 15, 2009: 10 horses were captured, including one small foal. 3 Studs and 9 mares were released back to the Sand Springs HMA. BLM will not disclose the number of released mares who were treated with PZP fertility control.

Trap Site

Visibility severely limited by distance (approximately 1/2 mile) and hill that obscured the view of horses entering the trap. Despite this obstructed observation, I was still able to videotape the helicopter flying dangerously close to the horses. The horses in this video were stampeded for miles into the trap site, then chased relentlessly for approximately 45 minutes by the helicopter trying to get them to enter the chute leading to the trap.

Temporary Holding

 

Three studs who were released to the Sand Springs HMA on Sept. 15.

Studs scheduled to be shipped to short term holding

 

Mares in Temporary Holding

 
Studs to be sent to holding (front left); studs to be released to range (front right), mares to be sent to holding (back left); mares to be released (back right)

12 Horses Released to Sand Springs HMA (9 mares, 3 stallions)

 

3 stallions released in Sand Springs HMA on Sept 15, 2011.

 

9 mares released to Sand Springs HMA on Sept 15, 2011.

 

Stallions and mares released run off together.

 

More information here.