LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – New images of a wild horse roundup in Nevada by the federal government are causing outrage. According to the federal government, there isn’t enough room for the horses on public lands, so they do roundups. Those roundups are controversial, and a recently shared video may explain why.
Video obtained by Nexstar’s KLAS shows a young horse with a broken leg among a group of wild horses being captured by the Bureau of Land Management. The other horses run away as the injured horse remains alone, struggling.
The roundup is on land known as the Pancake Complex, nearly 1.2 million acres found 30 miles west of Ely in eastern Nevada.
The BLM insists there’s only space for just more than 600 horses while estimating the current population at more than 3,200.
“We’ve been ignored but now Pancake has attention because of the sacrifice of that young life,” said Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education, the group that provided the video to the KLAS I-Team.
She has tried fighting in court to stop the BLM from doing roundups like these.
According to the BLM, from Tuesday through Thursday of this week, seven horses died, two of them from injuries due to the roundup.
“I am hoping it’s not in vain and that these pictures do speak a thousand words and speak them clearer than I ever could,” Leigh said.
As the I-Team reported in November, some wild horse advocates say fertility control through methods like darts is more humane and effective.
Leigh says while that may be part of the solution, the BLM needs to manage the land better.
“We’re removing wild horses for pipelines, for mines, rapidly expanding mining in the West, livestock, wildlife groups are jumping on, we’ve got sage grouse plans coming. And, again, wild horses are just a scapegoat because there is no management plan to protect them,” Leigh said.
She’s been documenting the roundups for years.
Video from August on the Antelope Complex, another range in Northern Nevada, shows helicopters coming close to the animals. Some horses are seen falling.
The BLM reports that a total of 11 horses died, four of them from injuries as a result of the roundup.
“They don’t see them as individuals and they don’t care about the stakeholder that cares for wild horses in any fashion,” Leigh said. “And that should make everybody angry.”
Once the horses are captured, they’re put into government-holding pens. Some are adopted or auctioned off and then some of them end up getting sold for slaughter.
The I-Team has put in numerous requests for interviews with the BLM about the issue but, over the past year, no one from the agency has agreed to speak with KLAS.