Thursday, September 12, 2013
Where Have all the Mustangs Gone?
Broken Arrow, broken promises
is barred from Broken Arrow Ranch on Indian Lakes Road in Fallon, Nevada.
Though privately owned, it is supported by the Bureau of Land
Management as a feedlot for thousands of "protected" wild horses.
Public Property: Keep Out
Except for a few highly-orchestrated visitation days, members of the press and public have been considered trespassers since May 2010.
According to an internal email, BLM cut off public access due to "the damage that is being done to the BLM’s image as the result of the tours." *
*BLM denied this information. Read more in "There Are No Secrets at Indian Lakes."
Eyes Wide Open
In my blog entry from March of 2010, you'll see why Broken Arrow gates are literally chained shut.
We saw too much.
My March 26, 2010 phone interview with John Neill (then-director of both Palomino Valley and Broken Arrow wild horses) was an honest one in which he revealed the existence of "phantom foals." The unrecorded birth and death of foals born inside BLM facilities was and remains standard procedure.
Friday, March 26, 2010 --Fallon Foal Death
Mare stands guard over new foal, photo by Tara Kain
There's a new set of hooves in Heaven.
BLM's death tally for the week doesn't show what happened.
visitors are allowed to tour the tax payer funded Indian Lakes wild
horse facility. It's land-locked inside a private ranch in Fallon,
Nevada, but opened once each week by reservation only for two hours.
observers from the CalNeva Cloud Foundation and photographer Cat,
visited Sunday, March 21 and took photos, video and notes.
Saturday, March 20
a pale dun foal is born to a buckskin mare
Sunday, March 21
Members of the public arrive to tour the Fallon facility. Director John
Neill is their guide and he waits for a late arrival
11:37 tour begins
visitors observe buckskin mare and newborn foal in a pen with other
adult horses. Foal looks like "he had melted into the contours of the
ground" according to one observer and Mr. Neill said the foal was a weak
newborn from the night before.
12:30? Sometime during the tour,
members of the public notice a nursery pen with just six mare and foal
pairs inside and wonder why the buckskin and her foal aren't with them*
(RIGHT: As adult horses move, mare makes a protective barricade of her body, photo by Tara Kain)
Tour ends, passing by the buckskin mare and her foal. Mr. Neill agreed
with visitors that foal might be sick and indicated he would check on
it. If necessary, a vet would be called. He added that volunteers from
WHOA might be asked to bottle feed the foal if it couldn't rise to
2:00 as observers depart, foal is still down.
Monday, March 22
no deaths are listed on the BLM's facility update, so CalNeva Cloud observers hope for the best
Tuesday, March 23
no deaths listed for the weekend**, but one observer calls and talks to
John Neill who says "the colt was euthanized." She understands Neill to
say the vet had determined the colt had a broken femur and must have
The caller commented, "Oh, that's why he never got up."
Neill replied, "No, he was up that morning nursing." Sometime after that, he speculated, the colt must've been kicked."
Neill said the foal was destroyed via chemical injection.
(with freedom tantalizingly close, mare urges foal to rise and nurse, photo by Tara Kain)
Friday, March 26
reached John Neill at Palomino Valley wild horse corrals and he
answered my questions about the Medicine Hat stallion I've told you
about before and this foal.
He clarified two points from the timeline above:
* "Once we know the colt's strong, we put them in the nursery pen" along with their mothers
births are not entered into BLM's system until horses have been
freeze-branded, which takes place after four or more months.
foals delivered "in facility" are not listed as born, they are not
listed as dead. So, they are not posted on BLM's online Calico Round-up
John Neill described the last hour of the little dun's life.
was down during the tour. Afterward I went out to check on him and he
was packing a right hind leg and he had to be put down."
"When did the vet come?" I asked.
"Was it a compound fracture so that you could see it was broken?"
John answered, "I could just tell, so I took care of it."
our call ended, my English teacher brain flashed to "I am cruel only to
be kind." Hamlet, I remembered, and knew that if I were watching over a
newborn foal with a fatally fractured femur, I would not want it to
But "Hamlet" ends with a stage strewn with corpses.
tried to get confirmation that such a leg injury is easily diagnosed,
but the two vets I consulted disagreed on both diagnosis and prognosis.
Neill told me "We have births daily and if something happens like this
or there's a bad mother, we can't track them all accurately."
Is it fair to the public that our mustang foals are born and die without notice?
is not Neill's decision; it is BLM policy. As with so many other BLM
policies, the numbering of lives and deaths are rough estimates.
There are no disposable mustangs. Taxpayers have no disposable income, especially for a system they hate.
There must be a moratorium on the capture of our wild horses, before a ruined system erases an entire species.
Labels: Broken Arrow ranch, Indian Lakes, John Neill, Palomino Valley, phantom foals
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Terri Farley @ 11:43 AM