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July 13, 2010

The HSUS Calls for Halt to Wild Horse Roundups

Group calls for moratorium on BLM roundups following mustang deaths

Following the untoward deaths of seven wild horses in Elko County, Nev., The Humane Society of the United States today called for an immediate moratorium on all Bureau of Land Management wild horse roundup and removal operations. The dead horses were discovered Sunday morning.

The seven mustangs died as result of dehydration, water intoxication, and injuries sustained following the Tuscarora wild horse roundup. As with most wild animals, any effort to capture, handle, restrain and transport wild horses, no matter how carefully planned and executed, will inevitably cause a certain amount of stress and discomfort. In this case, the BLM conducted this gather in July—the hottest month of the year for Elko County—when water is scarce and temperatures exceed 90 degrees. The probable effect of chasing stressed and dehydrated animals for miles and then offering water should have been known to BLM, and in fact, the BLM admitted it was aware of the danger of "water intoxication," but proceeded with the roundup under extremely adverse conditions anyway.

"For years, The Humane Society of the United States has campaigned against the use of roundups to manage wild horses on the range," said Wayne Pacelle, The HSUS' president and CEO. "Methods for capturing, handling and transporting wild horses during gathers are centered, more often than not, on a bureaucratic timeline and agency convenience rather than animal welfare. We urge the agency to place an immediate moratorium on all gather and removal operations until the BLM develops and is prepared an implement a new wild horse management strategy."

A new management strategy must set clear procedural standards and policies for regulating all gathers for temperature extremes, vulnerability of young, elderly, injured or diseased animals, and length of travel for equines over various surfaces.

The BLM also must implement an animal welfare observer program that provides trained, designated individuals with the authority to intervene and cause the cessation of any gather operation when undue risks are taken with the welfare and safety of the animals involved.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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