America’s wild mustangs embody freedom, but hundreds of wild horses in Piceance Basin, including foals, lost their freedom this past weekend.
The helicopter roundup was scheduled for September but was moved up to July, which is also foaling season. American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) said, “Despite calls from Governor Jared Polis and Congressman Joe Neguse to delay the roundup and work with stakeholders to implement more humane solutions — the BLM proceeded.”
Award-winning photographer and AWHC spokesperson, Scott Wilson of WilsonAxpe Photography, was onsite to capture the heartbreaking images of bands of horses running for their lives. He was able to capture a couple shots of the horses prior to the roundup when life was as it should be.
“Yet we share the Governor’s disappointment in the BLM’s unwillingness to work with stakeholders, despite new scientific evidence authored by an independent ecologist suggesting the roundup can wait,” stated Wilson a couple days before the roundup began.
On July 15 the roundup started, and it began with the helicopter chasing a band of horses with a foal barely two weeks old for forty minutes with temperatures reaching 98 degrees. The striking bay roan stallion known as JR Studley was able to avoid capture, but his family did not. Wilson captured a shot of the foal named Elote falling behind as the band was chased closely by the helicopter.
He wrote, “First into the trap – all of bay roan JR Studley’s band, except JR Studley himself, after leading his family away from the jute run three times. The helicopter chased his family band – including 2 week old foal Elote – for more than forty minutes, before bringing them in to cheers of “Got ‘em!” from the attending roundup sympathizers. The stunning bay roan was last seen calling to his family from outside of the trap, before heading back into the Basin. An escaped prize horse, such as the bay roan, is apparently dubbed a ‘bounty cow’ in BLM / rancher banter.”
The roundup continued through the weekend with a total of 310 horses captured, including 57 foals. The gut-wrenching images shared on Facebook show the fear and desperation of the captured horses. Many try to escape the enclosures and are frantically calling for their family.
Although the images are hard to look at, Wilson is praised for being a voice for the voiceless. One person wrote, “Thank you for being there as a witness for the horses on their darkest day and documenting. I cannot imagine how difficult and emotional it is to watch such cruelty and chaos.”
According to AWHC, “It (BLM) awarded a $500,000+ taxpayer-funded contract to Cattoor Livestock and will send more than 800 of these beautiful icons to a holding facility in Axtell, Utah.”
Wilson added, “The Piceance Basin horses are destined for the Axtell Wild Horse Corrals in Utah, which was recently found to be non-compliant in a number of factors critical to avoiding a repeat of Cañon City, such as vaccinations, drainage, and special care handling. We can’t keep piling wild horses into a broken system.”
This is a devastating loss for the wild horses of Colorado, and we must do something! Be a voice for the wild horses by taking action on AWHC’s website.
This article by Andrea Powell was first published by The Animal Rescue Site. Lead Image: Adobe Stock by Budimir Jeytic.
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