The Story of America’s Wild Horses and Burros

The Story of America’s Wild Horses and Burros


Narrator: THEY ARE LIVING
LEGENDS OF THE AMERICAN WEST… INTRODUCED TO THE CONTINENT
BY SPANISH EXPLORERS MORE THAN 400 YEARS AGO, CAPTURED AND DOMESTICATED FOR
USE BY NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES, THEN LATER BY THOSE
WHO CAME TO TAME AMERICA’S WESTERN FRONTIER. OVER TIME, MANY FOUND
THEIR WAY TO FREEDOM ON THE VAST OPEN RANGELANDS
OF THE WEST. IN THE LAST 40 YEARS, THE FREE-ROAMING
HORSES AND BURROS HAVE BEEN PROTECTED
BY FEDERAL LAW, PROTECTED SO DILIGENTLY,
IN FACT, THAT A MAJOR THREAT THEY FACE
IS THEIR OWN OVERPOPULATION. THEIR GROWING NUMBERS NOW THREATEN THE HEALTH
OF THE HERDS, THE HEALTH OF MANY OTHER SPECIES
OF PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE, AND THE HEALTH OF THESE
OFTEN FRAGILE LANDSCAPES WHICH SUPPORT MANY DIFFERENT
PUBLIC USES AND VALUES. THEY ARE PART OF
A GREATER MOSAIC… THE PUBLIC LANDS LEGACY THAT
BELONGS TO ALL AMERICANS. WE ALL HAVE A STAKE
IN THE STEWARDSHIP OF THESE MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS… AND IN THE BALANCED MANAGEMENT
OF THE LANDS THEY INHABIT. Narrator: THE STORY OF THE WILD
HORSES AND BURROS OF THE WEST BEGAN CENTURIES AGO. THEY WERE ROAMING
THE WESTERN RANGELANDS EVEN BEFORE THE FIRST PILGRIMS
ARRIVED ON THE CONTINENT, BROUGHT HERE BY
SPANISH EXPLORERS MORE THAN 400 YEARS AGO. WHEN THE SPANISH DEPARTED, MANY
OF THE HORSES WERE LEFT BEHIND AND BEGAN POPULATING
THE WESTERN RANGELANDS. SOME WERE CAPTURED
AND DOMESTICATED BY NATIVE AMERICANS, AND LATER BY THE WESTERN
PIONEERS AND SETTLERS. THESE PIONEERS AND SETTLERS
RELIED ON THEIR OWN HORSES AND THOSE CAPTURED
FROM WILD HERDS FOR TRAVEL AND FOR USE
IN THE FIELDS. MINERS AND MISSIONARIES
PREFERRED BURROS OR STURDY MULES FOR THEIR ENDEAVORS. CAVALRY,
FIRST PROTECTING SETTLERS AND LATER FIGHTING
IN INTERNATIONAL WARS, RELIED ON RANCHERS FOR REMOUNTS. WITH THE ADVENT OF MECHANIZED
HORSEPOWER IN TRAVEL, FARMING, MINING
AND OTHER ACTIVITIES, MANY OF THE WORKING ANIMALS
WERE SET FREE. THESE ANIMALS JOINED THE
FREE-ROAMING HERDS OF THE WEST. WITH FEW NATURAL PREDATORS, THE POPULATIONS OF HORSES AND
BURROS CONTINUED TO FLOURISH. IN TIME, HOWEVER, THEIR
SURVIVAL ON THE OPEN RANGE WOULD BE THREATENED. ON THE WESTERN FRONTIER, SOME CONSIDER THE WILD HORSES
AND BURROS A NUISANCE, A SCOURGE ON THE LANDSCAPE THAT COMPETED WITH LIVESTOCK
FOR FORAGE AND DAMAGED VEGETATION
AND WATER RESOURCES. RIDDING THE RANGE OF THESE
UNWANTED ANIMALS BECAME A COMMON PRACTICE, AND OVER TIME,
A PROFITABLE ENTERPRISE. SOME HORSE RUNNERS CAPTURED AND KILLED WILD HORSES
AND BURROS FOR PROFIT, EVEN FOR SPORT, A PRACTICE THAT CAME
TO BE KNOWN AS MUSTANGING. IN 1946, CONGRESS CREATED
THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, AN AGENCY WITHIN THE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO MANAGE THE NATION’S VAST
HOLDINGS OF PUBLIC LANDS AND THE RESOURCES FOUND THERE. THE AGENCY WOULD EVENTUALLY
BE CHARGED WITH PROTECTING THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS
THAT ROAMED THE PUBLIC LANDS. THESE PROTECTIONS TOOK
THE FORM OF FEDERAL LAWS THAT ORIGINATED
IN THE LATE 1950s AS DESCRIBED IN THESE
HISTORIC INTERVIEWS. THE ISSUE AT THAT POINT WAS JUST
TO STOP THE INHUMANE TREATMENT. THEY WOULD CHASE
THE HORSES WITH AIRPLANES, AND THEN WITH PICKUPS,
WITH TRUCKS, AND ROPE THEM AND
TIE OLD TIRES ON THEM, ON THE END OF THE ROPES, UNTIL THEY COULD RUN THEM DOWN
AND ALL OF THIS. Narrator: MANY WERE OUTRAGED BY THE WANTON ABUSE AND
SLAUGHTER OF WILD HORSES. NONE MORE SO THAN
A NEVADA CITIZEN, A WOMAN OF FRAIL HEALTH
BUT UNDAUNTED SPIRIT, WHOSE CONCERN FOR THE ANIMALS WOULD FOREVER INFLUENCE THEIR
FATE ON THE WESTERN LANDSCAPE. Man: IN THE ’50s, SHE,
VELMA JOHNSTON, SAW HORSES GOING TO SLAUGHTER, AND AT TIMES THEY
WERE FAIRLY BEAT UP WHEN THEY WERE PUT IN THE TRUCK. THEY WEREN’T VERY
HUMANELY TREATED. AND SHE SAW BLOOD
COMING DOWN THE HIGHWAY. Man: AND I’M SURE THAT
SOME OF THE GATHERING AND SOME OF THE DISPOSAL
THAT WAS GOING ON WAS THE CRUEL AND INHUMANE ACTS
THAT CAUSED VELMA JOHNSTON TO BECOME SO INTERESTED
AND DETERMINED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY
THEY WERE BEING TREATED. Narrator: THE BEST STRATEGY
FOR PROTECTING THE HORSES, ADVOCATES BELIEVED AT THE TIME, WAS TO STOP THE USE OF AIRCRAFT AND MECHANIZED VEHICLES
ON THE GROUND TO CHASE AND CAPTURE
THE ANIMALS. VIRGINIA CITY IS A RELIC
OF THE OLD WEST, AND MANY, MANY ROUNDUPS OCCURRED IN THE
VIRGINIA CITY AREA, AND AT THAT TIME, THAT IS WHERE
VELMA JOHNSTON’S BATTLE BEGAN, WAS IN STOREY COUNTY. SHE TRACKED ROUNDUPS. SHE TRACKED THE
TRUCKING OF ANIMALS. AND BECAUSE OF THIS,
BECAUSE OF THE NOTORIETY, THESE PEOPLE OUT OF THAT AREA GAVE HER WHAT THEY THOUGHT
WAS A DEROGATORY NAME, AND THAT WAS “WILD HORSE ANNIE,” AND, ACTUALLY, SHE
TOOK IT AS HER BANNER, AND SHE WAS NEVER ASHAMED OF IT. Narrator:
VELMA JOHNSTON’S LEGACY CAME IN THE FORM
OF SWEEPING LEGISLATION THAT DRAMATICALLY ALTERED
NATIONAL POLICY REGARDING THE TREATMENT
AND THE MANAGEMENT OF THE WILD HORSE
AND BURRO POPULATIONS. FIRST, THERE WERE ONLY
SMALL VICTORIES. IN 1959, SHE WON
PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION THAT CAME TO BE KNOWN AS
THE WILD HORSE ANNIE ACT. VELMA JOHNSTON HAD FOUGHT TO
CREATE A COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM TO PROTECT AND MANAGE
WILD HORSES AND BURROS, BUT THE 1959 LAW
FELL SHORT OF THAT. THE LAW SIMPLY BANNED THE USE OF
AIRCRAFT AND MOTORIZED VEHICLES WITH THE INTENTION OF HALTING
THE CRUDE AND BRUTAL METHODS THAT HAD OFTEN BEEN USED
TO GATHER THE ANIMALS. UNFORTUNATELY, IT DID NOT WORK. THE REMOVAL,
THE ILLEGAL REMOVAL, OF HORSES FOR SLAUGHTER,
EVEN UNDER THE STATE LAWS, WAS STILL HAPPENING. SO ANNIE FELT THAT SHE
HAD TO GO AFTER SOMETHING THAT WOULD GIVE
FEDERAL JURISDICTION AT LEAST ON THE PUBLIC LANDS. Narrator: HER DETERMINATION
EVENTUALLY LED TO UNANIMOUS CONGRESSIONAL
APPROVAL OF LANDMARK LEGISLATION KNOWN AS THE WILD FREE-ROAMING
HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971. DURING HER CAMPAIGN TO WIN
PASSAGE OF THE LAW, VELMA JOHNSTON ENLISTED THE HELP
OF THOUSANDS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN. Lappin: I REMEMBER FLOODS,
BOXES OF LETTERS. I MEAN, VELMA WOULD COME
INTO THE OFFICE WITH A CARTON OF JUST ONE DAY’S MAIL OF
CHILDREN THAT HAD WRITTEN HER HOW THEY COULD HELP
HER SAVE WILD HORSES, AND IT WAS CHILDREN WRITING
THEIR CONGRESSMEN. Narrator: DR. MICHAEL PONTRELLI,
SERVED AS SCIENCE ADVISOR TO WILD HORSE ANNIE. HE RECALLS THEIR JOINT
APPEARANCE BEFORE CONGRESS IN 1971 AND THE THRONGS
OF SCHOOL CHILDREN WHO DESCENDED UPON
THE U.S. CAPITOL TO SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE. NOT ONLY DID ANNIE
AND I TESTIFY TOGETHER, WE TESTIFIED AT THE SAME TIME SO THAT ALL THOSE PEOPLE
WERE THERE AT ONCE. THERE WERE SCHOOL CHILDREN
INSIDE THAT HEARING ROOM ALL AROUND THE SIDES,
FILLED ALL THE SEATING. KIDS WERE SITTING ON THE STEPS. PLUS THEY HAD
LOUDSPEAKERS OUTSIDE TALKING ABOUT THE WILD HORSES. AND IT WAS A BIG DEAL. THE ONE THING THAT
HAPPENED WITH ANNIE THAT I’VE ALWAYS BEEN PROUD OF,
AND STILL AM, BUT AT THE END OF THIS
SHE SAID… Narrator: ONCE ENACTED,
THE 1971 LAW DIRECTED THE
U.S. FOREST SERVICE AND THE
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT TO PROTECT AND MANAGE
THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS IN BALANCE WITH OTHER
ECOLOGICAL RESOURCES, INCLUDING WILDLIFE SPECIES. THE LAW AUTHORIZED THE AGENCIES
TO INVENTORY THE ANIMALS, TO ESTABLISH
HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS, TO MAINTAIN THE HERD POPULATIONS AT APPROPRIATE
MANAGEMENT LEVELS, AND TO REMOVE ANIMALS
FROM THE RANGE WHEN THOSE LEVELS WERE EXCEEDED. TO CARRY OUT ITS
RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE NEW LAW, THE BLM CONDUCTED INVENTORIES
OF THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS. THE AGENCY CONSULTED WILDLIFE
OFFICIALS, RANCHERS, AND OTHER PRIVATE LANDOWNERS
AND PUBLIC LAND USERS. THE INITIAL OBJECTIVE WAS TO IDENTIFY WHERE HERDS
EXISTED ON MILLIONS OF ACRES ACROSS THE BROAD CHECKERBOARD
OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LAND. THE AGENCY THEN IDENTIFIED
AREAS OF THE PUBLIC LANDS TO BE DEDICATED AS
HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS. HERE THE ANIMALS COULD
STILL ROAM IN FREEDOM AND YET BE MANAGED SUCCESSFULLY
AS REQUIRED BY THE 1971 LAW. IT WAS A DECLARATION THAT THESE ANIMALS WERE AN
IMPORTANT NATIONAL SYMBOL AND THEY WERE TO BE MANAGED
FOR THE LONG TERM. Narrator: BUT WILD HORSE ANNIE
WASN’T FINISHED. THE USE OF AIRCRAFT AND OTHER
MOTORIZED VEHICLES HAD BEEN BANNED BY THE
LEGISLATION ENACTED IN 1959, A PROVISION TARGETED
AT THE INHUMANE PRACTICES OF MUSTANGERS. BUT BY THE 1970s, MANY BEGAN TO SEE THE
POTENTIAL OF THESE TOOLS TO GATHER THE ANIMALS
MORE EFFECTIVELY, MORE SAFELY, AND MORE HUMANELY. AMONG THEM WAS THE MOST
ARDENT CHAMPION OF THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS. WE TOOK ANNIE OUT A NUMBER OF
TIMES IN A HELICOPTER WITH US TO SHOW HOW THAT WITH
EXPERIENCE AND CARE YOU COULD USE A HELICOPTER
TO DRIVE THESE ANIMALS MUCH SAFER THAN YOU COULD
JUST BY HORSEBACK, THAT, YOU KNOW, IF THEY GOT
TO RUNNING TOWARDS THE ROCKS WHERE IT WAS GOING TO CRIPPLE
THEM OR INJURE THEM, YOU COULD JUST DROP OVER
IN FRONT OF THEM WITH THE HELICOPTER AND SLOW THEM DOWN
OR TURN THEM, SHOWING HER HOW USING
HELICOPTERS WOULD BE MUCH SAFER THAN JUST RUNNING
THEM BY HORSEBACK WHEN WE HAD TO DO ROUNDUPS. Narrator: IN 1976,
SHE HELPED WIN SUPPORT FOR AN IMPORTANT PROVISION OF THE FEDERAL LAND POLICY
AND MANAGEMENT ACT, OR FLPMA. THIS PROVISION
EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZED THE USE OF MOTORIZED VEHICLES,
INCLUDING HELICOPTERS, TO GATHER WILD HORSES AND
BURROS FOR MANAGEMENT PURPOSES. IT GAVE THE BUREAU AUTHORITY
FOR HELICOPTER USE, AND WHOA! WASN’T
DIRECTLY INVOLVED, BUT AS VELMA’S AGENT,
I FILMED THE ROUNDUPS, AND THEN WE STARTED SHOWING THAT
FILM TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS IN ORDER TO SHOW THAT
THEY COULD BE HUMANE, THAT JUST BECAUSE IT
WAS A HELICOPTER DIDN’T MEAN THAT THE ANIMALS
WOULD BE RUN TO DEATH, THAT IF IT WAS DONE CORRECTLY,
IT WAS MORE HUMANE. Narrator: IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE FEDERAL WILD HORSE
AND BURRO PROGRAM THE ONLY FEASIBLE METHOD
OF GATHERING THE ANIMALS WAS TO SEND WRANGLERS
OUT ON HORSEBACK TO CHASE THE ANIMALS
AND ROPE THEM. IT WAS AN INEFFICIENT PROCESS THAT TOO OFTEN
RESULTED IN INJURIES, EXTREME STRESS AND EXHAUSTION
FOR THE WILD HORSES, AND ALSO THE SADDLE HORSES
USED BY THE WRANGLERS. Man: SADDLE HORSES
ALWAYS SUFFER MORE THAN THE HORSES THEY’RE RUNNING. WHEN YOU GATHER HORSES
HORSEBACK, YOU HAVE A NUMBER OF RIDERS OUT,
WHICH THEY’RE ALL IN DANGER. YOU BUGGER UP SADDLE HORSES. SO IT’S TOUGH
ON THE SADDLE HORSES BECAUSE THEY’RE PACKING
ALL THAT WEIGHT, AND YOU DON’T HAVE THE TOTAL
CONTROL AS YOU HAVE WHEN YOU GATHER
WITH A HELICOPTER. THE HELICOPTER CAN COAST ALONG
AND LET HORSES GO SLOW. IT’S MORE EFFICIENT. IT’S SAFER. YOU DON’T HAVE AS MANY PEOPLE
INVOLVED IN DANGER. AND IT’S JUST A MORE EFFICIENT
WAY TO DO THE JOB. Narrator: THE BUREAU
OF LAND MANAGEMENT CONTINUES TO REFINE
GATHER METHODS TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY
OF THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS AND ENSURE THE HUMANE
AND CARING TREATMENT THAT THESE LIVING LEGENDS
DESERVE. HOWEVER, NO MATTER
HOW CAREFUL THE BLM IS, THERE IS A SMALL MORTALITY RATE ASSOCIATED WITH
GATHERING WILD HORSES. THIS RATE IS USUALLY
LESS THAN 1% OF ALL HORSES
GATHERED IN A YEAR. IT INCLUDES HORSES THAT
COME OFF THE RANGE IN POOR TO VERY POOR CONDITION. THESE ANIMALS MAY BE EUTHANIZED IF THEY ARE DIAGNOSED AS
UNLIKELY TO IMPROVE OR DO NOT RESPOND TO TREATMENT. THE TIME OF YEAR AND EVEN THE TIME OF DAY
FOR GATHER OPERATIONS ARE CHOSEN TO PROVIDE THE MOST
FAVORABLE CLIMATE CONDITIONS. EXTREME CARE IS TAKEN TO AVOID THE SEPARATION
OF FOALS AND MARES AND TO REUNITE THEM
AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE IF THEY DO BECOME SEPARATED. THE ANIMALS ARE HERDED AT
MODERATE SPEEDS OVER MODERATE DISTANCES TO AVOID EXHAUSTION
OR DEHYDRATION. THE HELICOPTER HAS BECOME
AN INDISPENSABLE TOOL FOR CONDUCTING NECESSARY GATHERS WITH THE HIGHEST DEGREE OF
EFFICIENCY AND HUMANE TREATMENT OF THE ANIMALS. BUT THE AGENCY CONTINUES TO
REFINE THE USE OF THIS TOOL, COMMISSIONING FORMAL STUDIES
BY OTHERS OUTSIDE THE AGENCY, SUCH AS THE NATIONAL
ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. I DO THANK THE BOARD FOR
ALLOWING US ALL TO COME HERE AND SPEAK TO YOU. Narrator: STRIVING FOR
FULL TRANSPARENCY AND INVOLVEMENT OF THE PUBLIC, THE AGENCY CONDUCTS
ANNUAL MEETINGS TO INVITE THE PUBLIC TO AIR
CONCERNS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING THE GATHER
POLICY AND PRACTICES. AND I ALSO FEEL THAT UNTIL
WE HAVE AN ACCURATE COUNT WE NEED THE ROUNDUP STOPPED, AND I UNDERSTAND THAT
IF THE COUNT IS OVER, WE NEED TO MANAGE THEM. I HAVE NO ISSUE WITH THAT. EMOTION MUST BE SET ASIDE. THE BLM NEEDS TO SHOW
SOME LEADERSHIP. AND AGENDAS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO SET THE TONE OR THE
DIRECTION OF THE DISCUSSION. BUT IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO DO
THE RIGHT THING, IN OUR OPINION, AND WE THINK NOW IS THE TIME. WE EMBRACE TRUE REFORM WITHIN
THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT. A NEW TRANSPARENT
AND ACCOUNTABLE WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM
THAT TAKES ITS LEAD FROM THE SINCERE WISHES OF THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICAN
CITIZENS AND TAXPAYERS. Narrator: NEXT, WE TRAVEL
TO SOME OF THE RANGELANDS WHERE WILD HORSES
AND BURROS ROAM TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW AND WHY SOME OF THESE ANIMALS ARE
GATHERED FROM THE RANGE. I LOVE TO SEE ALL WILDLIFE. I LOVE ALL ANIMALS. SO I DON’T WANT TO
SEE HORSES OVERGRAZING AND STARVING OUT DEER. I DON’T WANT TO SEE THE
LOSS OF RABBITS AND ELK. I WANT TO SEE IT ALL. I WANT TO SEE IT MANAGED NICELY. Narrator: ACROSS THE
WESTERN UNITED STATES, BLM SPECIALISTS
MONITOR THE RANGE ALONG WITH ANIMAL POPULATIONS
THAT INHABIT THEM. THEIR GOAL IS HEALTHY HORSES AND
BURROS ON HEALTHY RANGELANDS. LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
AT SOME OF THESE AREAS. IN SOUTHWESTERN WYOMING,
INVENTORIES OF WILD HORSES IN THE ADOBE TOWN AND SALT WELLS
HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS SHOW A SHARP INCREASE IN
POPULATIONS FROM 2009 TO 2010. THE OVERPOPULATION POSES
A SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO WILDLIFE HABITAT AND FORAGE. Man: IT’S JUST A BIG CHUNK OF
COUNTRY WITH A LOT OF HORSES, AND WE ONLY HAVE SO MUCH
HABITAT AVAILABLE, AND IF WE ALLOW TOO MANY
HORSES TO BE OUT THERE, THEN WE AREN’T GOING TO HAVE
THE HABITAT AVAILABLE FOR THE ELK AND THE ANTELOPE AND
THE DEER AND THE OTHER SPECIES THAT RELY ON THAT. Narrator: RAILROAD LAND
GRANTS FROM THE 1800s CREATED A CHECKERBOARD PATTERN
OF LAND OWNERSHIP. THE LANDS WERE DIVIDED
WITH ALTERNATING SECTIONS OF PRIVATE LAND AND
FEDERALLY-MANAGED PUBLIC LAND. THE 1971 WILD FREE-ROAMING
HORSES AND BURROS ACT DID NOT IDENTIFY A SPECIFIC
ACREAGE TO BE MANAGED AS HABITAT FOR WILD HORSES AND BURROS. IT RECOGNIZED THAT ANIMALS ROAM ON A LANDSCAPE OF
MIXED OWNERSHIP. OVER THE YEARS, MANAGEMENT
UNITS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED, TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION
SUCH FACTORS AS AVAILABILITY OF WATER, THE PRESENCE OF HABITAT
FOR SUMMER AND WINTER RANGE, AND CONFLICTS WITH OTHER
RESOURCE VALUES OR LAND OWNERSHIP. TO PROTECT THE PROPERTY RIGHTS
OF PRIVATE LANDOWNERS, THE ANIMALS MUST BE KEPT WITHIN HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS
ON PUBLIC LANDS. THE AGENCY WORKS CLOSELY
WITH PRIVATE LANDOWNERS TO ACCOMPLISH THIS. Man: WE BELIEVE THAT THE
LIVESTOCK RESOURCE IS IMPORTANT. WE BELIEVE THAT THE WILDLIFE
RESOURCE IS IMPORTANT. WE ALSO HAVE A GREAT DEAL
OF OIL AND GAS ACTIVITY, TRONA MINES, COAL MINES,
POWER PLANTS. THAT SAID, IF WE HAVE ONE AREA
THAT GETS OUT OF CONTROL, IT AFFECTS ALL OF THE OTHERS. IN THE SUMMER OF 2009,
THE RAWLINS FIELD OFFICE IN COOPERATION WITH THE
ROCK SPRINGS FIELD OFFICE FLEW TWO POPULATION SURVEYS. SINCE THEN, OUR POPULATION
HAS GROWN BY ABOUT 25%. BECAUSE WE’RE SO
FAR OVER OUR AML, OR APPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT LEVEL, WE NEED TO DO A GATHER TO
MAINTAIN THE RANGE CONDITIONS IN THE HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS. Ruhs: THE HORSES ARE
IN VERY GOOD SHAPE. THE RANGE IS STILL IN
REALLY GOOD CONDITION. AND IF WE MANAGE THESE
HORSES APPROPRIATELY, WE’LL MAINTAIN THAT. WE’LL KEEP THE RANGE
IN GREAT SHAPE. WE’LL BE PROVIDING HABITAT
FOR THE OTHER WILDLIFE SPECIES THAT ARE OUT THERE. Narrator:
THE LARGEST POPULATIONS
OF WILD HORSES AND BURROS ARE FOUND ON SOME OF THE
LEAST HOSPITABLE LANDSCAPES OF THE WEST… THE DRY AND BARREN
RANGELANDS OF NEVADA. THE MONTEZUMA PEAK AND THE
PAYMASTER HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS ARE LOCATED IN THE NORTHERN PART
OF THE MOJAVE DESERT. THESE AREAS GET NO MORE THAN 3 TO 4 INCHES OF
PRECIPITATION ANNUALLY. AS YOU CAN SEE
ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE, WE’VE GOT MOSTLY
SHRUB SPECIES HERE, AND THERE’S VERY FEW GRASSES
THAT ARE PRODUCED IN THE UNDERSTORY. IN FACT, THERE’S AN
EXAMPLE RIGHT HERE. THE GRASSES ARE SMALL
AND DON’T COMPRISE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF
THE PLANT COMMUNITY. Narrator: WITH LIMITED
WATER AND FORAGE, EVER-INCREASING
HERD POPULATIONS, AND COMPETITION
FOR FOOD AND WATER, THE ANIMALS OFTEN FACE A
DAY-TO-DAY STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE. THE WHOLE CENTER OF
THIS MONTEZUMA HMA IS ALMOST DEVOID OF VEGETATION, ESPECIALLY ANYTHING EDIBLE FOR A
HORSE OR OTHER GRAZING ANIMALS. SO I’VE SEEN IT–
IT BREAKS MY HEART. IT’S TURNING INTO A DUST BOWL. I PASS RIGHT THROUGH WHERE
ALL THE WILD HORSES ARE, AND OVER THE YEARS, I’VE SEEN MANY OF THEM THAT
THEY’RE STARVING TO DEATH. PEOPLE WHO DO NOT
LIVE IN THE WEST, I DON’T THINK REALLY, TRULY
UNDERSTAND THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT THESE ANIMALS LIVE IN. AND I REALLY THINK THAT
IT’S MUCH MORE HUMANE TO KEEP THEM AT LEVELS WHERE
THEY CAN BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY. THE HORSES DON’T HAVE
ANY NUTRITIOUS FORAGE. THE WATERS DRY UP. THE HORSES WILL DECLINE
IN BODY CONDITION AND WE’LL END UP
WITH AN EMERGENCY. IN THE MID-1990s,
THE HORSES WERE STARVING. THEY WERE EXTREMELY THIN,
SKIN AND BONES, AND THEY WERE EXTREMELY SICK. WE DON’T WANT OUR
HORSES OUT HERE TO SUFFER THOSE TYPE
OF CONSEQUENCES BECAUSE THESE AREAS JUST
AREN’T SUITED TO THEM. OVERPOPULATION IN
THE HORSE HERDS, IT’S AN EXTREME PROBLEM
IN SOME AREAS. IF YOU’VE HAD TO
WATCH THOSE HERDS AND THE LITTLE ONES STARVE
OR DIE OF DEHYDRATION OR WALK FOR MILES AND MILES
TRYING TO FIND GRAZE, IT’S NOT A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE
TO GO THROUGH. IT’S VERY HEARTBREAKING. SO GATHERING IS ONE OF THE WAYS
THAT THEY CAN HANDLE THAT. IT’S AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY. AS YOU CAN SEE,
WE’RE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SILVER KING
HERD MANAGEMENT AREA. WE’RE DOWN HERE IN THE VALLEY. WE’RE IN A WINTERFAT SITE,
WHICH IS THIS PLANT RIGHT HERE. IT’S VERY GOOD FOR PROTEIN,
ESPECIALLY IN THE WINTER. ONCE IT GETS A
GOOD FREEZE ON IT, LIVESTOCK REALLY LIKE IT,
WILD HORSES LIKE IT. THE PROBLEM IS WE’RE GETTING
A LOT OF PRESSURE. THE HORSES FILL THIS VALLEY
FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER DOWN HERE IN THE BOTTOM. YOU CAN SEE LOTS OF HORSES
DOWN HERE ALL WINTER LONG. THEY DON’T MOVE ON. THEY GET ENOUGH STORMS, IT KIND
OF FILLS UP A FEW CATCH PONDS, AND THEY REALLY JUST HIT IT. WHAT THAT RESULTS IN IS
DEGRADATION OF OUR RANGELAND. THIS IS WHAT WE
CALL THORLEY WELL, AND AS YOU CAN SEE, YOU KNOW, HORSES HAVE ACTUALLY
DUG THIS POND OUT. IT’S GOT PRETTY GOOD
FLOW TO IT. IT TENDS TO STAY ABOUT
THE SAME YEAR ROUND. IF YOU COME OUT THIS WAY
JUST A LITTLE BIT, YOU’LL NOTICE THE TRAFFIC
AND THE HEAVY USE GETTING INTO THIS SPRING. THAT’S WHAT’S REALLY
CREATING OUR PROBLEM. ALL THE TRAILS HAVE
DEGRADED THE RANGELANDS. THERE’S A LOT OF COMPETITION. WHEN THE COMPETITION
FOR THE WATER INCREASES, IT CREATES RANGELANDS LIKE THIS. WE WANT TO SEE
WILD HORSES OUT HERE, BUT WE WANT TO SEE
HEALTHY WILD HORSES. WE DON’T WANT TO SEE
THEM DETERIORATING. WE DON’T WANT TO SEE OUR
RANGELANDS DETERIORATING. IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO
REPLACE THIS VEGETATION. ONCE IT GETS DOWN TO JUST DIRT, IT MAKES IT SO IT
TAKES YEARS AND YEARS OF GOOD WATER AND STRONG
VEGETATION TO BRING THAT BACK. Narrator: NOW, TO LEARN MORE
ABOUT GATHERING HORSES WITH HELICOPTERS, WE TAKE TO THE AIR OVER A HERD
MANAGEMENT AREA IN WESTERN UTAH. Pilot: JUST ABOUT
WHEN THE SUN COMES UP, THAT’S USUALLY THE
BEST TIME TO TAKE OFF. DON’T LIKE TO DO IT
MUCH EARLIER THAN THAT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SEE THE
HORSES AND SHADOWS VERY GOOD. AND WE USUALLY HAVE
SOME SORT OF MAP SO WE KNOW WHERE WE’RE
GOING TO START THE DAY, AND TODAY IT’S OUT IN THE
MIDDLE OF THIS HUGE VALLEY ABOUT SIX MILES, SEVEN MILES
FROM THE TRAP. WE ARE LOOKING FOR NEEDLES
IN ONE BIG HAYSTACK. Man: THIS IS A VERY
HARSH ENVIRONMENT HERE IN WESTERN UTAH, AND WE’RE ON SITE WITH TWO
HELICOPTERS DOING THE GATHER TO TRY TO REMOVE
SOME OF THE HORSES. THE HORSES ARE LITERALLY
TRAVELING ANYWHERE FROM 10 TO 15-PLUS MILES A DAY BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN
FORAGE AND WATER. Pilot: EXTREMELY RUGGED…
ALL LAVA ROCK. HUGE VALLEYS INTERRUPTED
BY MOUNTAIN RANGES. VERY, VERY LITTLE WATER. Warr: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE PILOTS ARE
ABLE TO DO IN THIS AREA, HAVING THE TWO HELICOPTERS, IS THEY CAN ACTUALLY
TAG TEAM EACH OTHER. THEY CAN ACTUALLY HELP
EACH OTHER SPOT HORSES THAT MAYBE BREAK AWAY OR ADDITIONAL ANIMALS THAT
THEY MIGHT ENCOUNTER. THE FIRST HELICOPTER MIGHT
ENCOUNTER A SECOND BAND, AND IT CAN RADIO TO THE
FIRST HELICOPTER AND SAY, “HEY, I’VE GOT THESE HORSES-
CAN YOU WATCH THEM FOR ME?” Pilot 1: YOU GOT THEM, ROBIN. Pilot 2: OKAY. WE GET THEM TURNED ONCE, WE’LL
HAVE THEM GOING THE RIGHT WAY. Pilot: LOOKS LIKE
WE GOT FOUR HORSES. THIS IS A GROUP OF HORSES THAT ALAN STARTED
THIS WAY TWO DAYS AGO. SO THESE HORSES WERE BROUGHT
OVER ABOUT HALFWAY AND THEN LEFT THEM. THEY WERE STARTING TO GET TIRED. SO THEY MADE THEIR WAY OVER
THE HILL DOWN TO WATER. NOW THEY’RE RIGHT
WHERE WE NEED THEM, RIGHT WHERE WE CAN
GO PUT THEM IN THE TRAP. SO, BASICALLY,
A THREE-DAY PROCESS, BUT NOW WE CAN
TAKE THEM IN TODAY. I WOULD SAY THAT MY JOB
CONSISTS OF PROBABLY 20% KNOWING HOW TO FLY
THE HELICOPTER. MOST PEOPLE WITH
A LITTLE EXPERIENCE AND A LITTLE TIME IN
AN AIRCRAFT CAN FLY IT. 80% OF WHAT WE DO
IS KNOWING HORSES, WHAT THEIR BEHAVIORS ARE, WHAT THEY WANT TO DO,
WHAT THEY DON’T WANT TO DO. THEY ACTUALLY HAVE TO HAVE
SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE OR BE CARDED IN SPECIFICALLY
HERDING ANIMALS. IT TAKES 300 HOURS
AS A TRAINEE PILOT TO GET CARDED TO FLY HORSES. THAT’S NOT JUST PILOT TRAINING- THAT’S TRAINING UNDERNEATH THE
WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM. WHEN THEY GO LIKE THIS, THEY’RE GOING AT
THEIR OWN SPEED. THEY’RE COVERING
PLENTY OF GROUND. THEY’RE NOT GETTING TIRED. GENERALLY THIS IS ABOUT WHAT
80% OF YOUR GATHER IS, HORSES WALKING,
GOING THE DIRECTION YOU WANT. WE’RE JUST STAYING
BACK WATCHING… EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT. Warr: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
WE’RE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT IS WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE HORSES ARE AT ALL TIMES
IN GOOD HEALTHY CONDITION, AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
THE HELICOPTER PILOT UTILIZES IS IF THEY SEE THE HORSES THAT TEND TO MAYBE
START GETTING TIRED, THEY ACTUALLY MAY JUST BACK OFF AND EVEN TO THE POINT OF SETTING
THE HELICOPTER ON THE GROUND AND LETTING THE HORSES
JUST GO AT A SMALL, EASY TROT BEFORE THEY EVEN
GET CLOSE TO THE TRAP. Pilot: THE SPEED THAT WE’RE
TAKING THE ANIMALS IS A SPEED THAT THEY CAN HANDLE. IT’S EASY ON THE ANIMALS. IT’S NOT HURTING THEM. WHEN WE KNOW THAT THEY CAN GO
FASTER, WE MOVE THEM FASTER. WHEN THEY’RE A LONG WAYS FROM
THE TRAP, WE TAKE OUR TIME. EVERYTHING THAT WE DO,
EVERY CANYON, EVERY RIDGE, EVERY WASH THAT WE
TAKE THEM ACROSS, WE ALWAYS TAKE INTO
CONSIDERATION WHAT’S GOING TO BE
EASIEST ON THE ANIMALS. Warr: SO IT’S VERY IMPORTANT
THAT WE CHOOSE A TRAP SITE THAT WE CAN SAFELY AND
EFFECTIVELY GATHER WILD HORSES. AND THIS TRAP SITE
HAS ACTUALLY BEEN USED SINCE THE EARLY ’80S. THIS IS A TRAP SITE WHERE THE HORSES NORMALLY
WOULD TRAVEL ANYWAY. Pilot: YOU GOT FOUR COMING IN,
AND ALAN IS RIGHT BEHIND ME WITH A BIG BUNCH WITH
FOUR COMING ON THEIR OWN. Warr: THE QUALITY OF THE PILOTS IS THE KEY ON THE SUCCESS
OF THIS PROJECT BECAUSE THE EXPERIENCE
THAT THEY HAVE REALLY MAKES OR BREAKS WHETHER OUR GATHER OPERATION
IS GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL. Pilot: I’M RIGHT BEHIND YOU. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO
WITH YOUR AGE. I THINK ANYBODY, IF YOU LOVE ANIMALS AND YOU WANT
A HORSE THAT’S GOOD FOR YOU… I MEAN, AT 63 I GOT
MY FIRST MUSTANG. I JUST THINK IT’S AWESOME. Narrator: IN THE SUMMER OF 2010, BLM STAGED ONE OF THE LARGEST
WILD HORSE AND BURRO ROUNDUPS IN RECENT HISTORY. BASED OUT OF THE EAGLE LAKE
FIELD OFFICE IN SUSANVILLE, IT TOOK PLACE IN AN AREA
KNOWN AS TWIN PEAKS. THIS VAST AND MAGNIFICENT
STRETCH OF WESTERN LANDSCAPE COVERS NEARLY 800,000 ACRES,
MOST OF IT PUBLIC LAND. BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE
AND COMPLEXITY, THE BUREAU MANAGED THE
TWIN PEAKS GATHER UNDER THE
INCIDENT COMMAND SYSTEM. ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED
IN THE 1970s IN THE WILDLAND FIRE PROGRAM, IT HAS BEEN REFINED OVER THE
YEARS TO MANAGE OTHER INCIDENTS SUCH AS NATURAL DISASTERS. UNDER A WELL-DEFINED
COMMAND STRUCTURE, THIS ORGANIZATIONAL TOOL BRINGS STAFF AND INCIDENT
RESOURCES TOGETHER TO EFFICIENTLY MANAGE HIGHLY
COMPLEX EVENTS AND PROJECTS. TWIN PEAKS WAS THE FIRST TIME IT WAS USED FOR
WILD HORSE OPERATIONS. OPERATIONALLY, WE’D LIKE
TO COLLECT AS MANY HORSES AS WE CAN
DURING THE GATHER, AND FOR US THAT WOULD BE– OPTIMALLY, THAT WOULD BE
2200 HORSES. THAT WOULD BE ABOUT 100%. HOWEVER, WE KNOW THAT’S
NOT GOING TO BE ACHIEVED. IF WE GET 90%,
THAT WOULD BE GREAT. AN APPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT
LEVEL FOR THIS HMA, HERD MANAGEMENT AREA, IS 450 HORSES. Narrator: THE DECISION
TO GATHER AT TWIN PEAKS WAS BASED ON A METHODICAL
POPULATION CENSUS OF HORSES AND BURROS CONDUCTED PERIODICALLY
BY THE BLM AND ON COMPREHENSIVE
SCIENTIFIC EVALUATIONS OF THE LAND AND ITS RESOURCES. THIS MONITORING EXAMINED
THE CONDITIONS OF SOIL, FORAGE, WATER RESOURCES AND RIPARIAN
AND WETLANDS HABITAT. Woman: HORSE POPULATIONS
ARE ESTABLISHED THROUGH OUR LAND USE
PLANNING PROCESS. THIS PLANNING PROCESS
IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. IT’S LENGTHY AND INVOLVES
SCIENTIFIC DATA AND PUBLIC OPINION IN ORDER TO SET
HORSE POPULATIONS. AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
IS USED TO DETERMINE IF A GATHER IS NECESSARY. THIS WOULD INCLUDE LOOKING AT THE IMPACTS THE HORSES
ARE HAVING ON THE LAND. IT ALSO MIGHT FIND OUT THAT A
GATHER IS NOT NECESSARY AT ALL. SO THERE WOULD BE
NO ACTION NEEDED. DURING THE DATA ANALYSIS FOR OUR TWIN PEAKS
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT WE DETERMINED THAT
WILD HORSES AND BURROS WERE CONSUMING THREE TO FIVE
TIMES THEIR FORAGE ALLOCATION WITHIN THE HERD MANAGEMENT AREA. WHAT THIS MEANS ON THE GROUND IS THEY WERE HAVING SEVERE
IMPACTS TO OUR RIPARIAN AREAS. WE WERE SEEING
LACK OF VEGETATION, DESTABILIZED BANKS, AND IN GENERAL, JUST POOR
FUNCTIONING CONDITION. IN COMPARISON TO
THE HORSE NUMBERS, LIVESTOCK USE IN THE
TWIN PEAKS HMA WAS MUCH LOWER. DURING THE SAME TIME PERIOD, CATTLE USE WAS ONLY ABOUT
60% OF THEIR ALLOCATED FORAGE AND SHEEP USE WAS ABOUT 32%. OUR RANGE MANAGEMENT, IT’S BASED
ON THE CONDITION OF THE LAND, AND SO WE’RE ALWAYS TRYING TO
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LANDSCAPE, AND THAT, OF COURSE, FLUCTUATES
WITH DROUGHT AND WET SEASONS AND THE AMOUNT OF USE THAT’S
DEMANDED ON MULTIPLE USE LANDS. AND SO FOR US IT’S ABOUT
FORAGE AND WATER. CATTLE ARE MANAGED. THEY’RE MANAGED YEAR-ROUND. THEY’RE REMOVED FROM THE RANGE. THEY’RE PUT BACK IN
AT CERTAIN TIMES. THERE’S A CERTAIN NUMBER BASED ON THE AMOUNT OF FORAGE
WE BELIEVE IS OUT THERE AT ANY GIVEN TIME. IF THERE’S A DROUGHT SITUATION,
THEN WE CAN PULL THE CATTLE OFF. IF THEY’RE OVERUSING
CERTAIN AREAS, WE CAN PULL THE CATTLE OFF. WILDLIFE IS NOT
ALLOCATED FORAGE, BUT WILDLIFE ALSO USES
THE SAME WATER SOURCES AND SIMILAR FORAGES THAT CATTLE AND HORSES
WOULD USE. AND, OF COURSE,
THEN THERE’S HORSES, AND THEY’RE ALLOCATED
A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF FORAGE. AND HORSES WE DON’T
MANAGE YEAR-ROUND. HORSES ARE OUT THERE YEAR-ROUND,
AND THEY’RE USING THE LAND, AND THEY’RE USING
THE RIPARIAN AREAS, WATER SOURCES YEAR-ROUND. SO THAT’S ALL BALANCED TO
DETERMINE HOW MANY CATTLE, HOW MANY HORSES, AND THEN TO KEEP ACCOUNT THAT
THE WILDLIFE ARE ALSO IMPACTED BY THOSE NUMBERS. THE PATH TO GET THERE IS
SAFETY, HUMANE TREATMENT, PUBLIC ACCESSIBILITY
AND TRANSPARENCY. Narrator: ANOTHER UNIQUE PART
OF THE TWIN PEAKS GATHER WAS UNPRECEDENTED PUBLIC ACCESS. AGAINST A BACKDROP
OF THIS CONTROVERSIAL AND AT TIMES HIGHLY
EMOTIONAL PROGRAM, THE AGENCY STRIVED TO ENABLE
THE PUBLIC TO SEE FIRSTHAND BLM’S HUMANE TREATMENT OF
THE ANIMALS UNDER ITS CARE DURING ALL PHASES OF GATHERING
AND HOLDING OPERATIONS. Mata: I THINK ONE
OF THE BENEFITS OF COMPLETING THE
TWIN PEAKS GATHER IN SUCH AN OPEN AND
TRANSPARENT PROCESS WAS THAT IT GAVE US
AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEMONSTRATE TO THE PUBLIC WHAT A CHALLENGE IT IS TO HAVE
BLM’S MULTIPLE USE MISSION. Narrator: LARGE-SCALE
PUBLIC ACCESS REQUIRED EXTENSIVE PLANNING AND GREATLY INCREASED THE ACTUAL
COST OF THE TWIN PEAKS GATHER. WE NEED TO GET THE JOB DONE, AND AS SAFELY AND
EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT IS
A KEY COMPONENT OF THAT. OBSERVERS CAN WITH VERY LITTLE
EFFORT ON THEIR PART DISRUPT OR INTERFERE WITH A
SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF WORK THAT’S GONE INTO GETTING
THE HORSES TO THE TRAP SITE. SO IT’S A DELICATE BALANCE BETWEEN ALLOWING THE
OBSERVERS TO OBSERVE BUT ALSO PROVIDING FOR THAT
ULTIMATE SAFETY OF THE HORSES. Narrator: THERE WERE
MANY CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN THE LOGISTICS OF SAFELY
ALLOWING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO WATCH THE INHERENTLY
UNPREDICTABLE PROCESS OF CAPTURING LARGE NUMBERS
OF WILD HORSES AND BURROS IN SUCH A REMOTE AND
DESOLATE LOCATION. Collum: IT REALLY COMES DOWN
TO SELECTING WHAT’S BEST FOR THE SAFETY OF THE HORSES
AND TAKING INTO ACCOUNT VIEWING OF THE PUBLIC NOW
IN A SAFE DISTANCE AND JUST OPERATIONALLY HOW
THEY CAN GET THE MOST HORSES INTO THE TRAP SITE SAFELY. Narrator: THROUGHOUT
ITS HISTORY, BLM’S WILD HORSE AND BURRO
PROGRAM HAS SPARKED CONTROVERSY. INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS
HAVE HAD STRONG FEELINGS, AND AT TIMES HAVE
TAKEN EXCEPTION TO BLM’S MANAGEMENT OF
WILD HORSES AND BURROS. AT TWIN PEAKS WE TALKED TO
SOME OF THESE INDIVIDUALS. I’M NOT AGAINST THE BLM. DON’T GET ME WRONG. I’M NOT AGAINST
THE OTHER AGENCY CHARGED WITH THEIR PROTECTION
AND MANAGEMENT, WHICH IS THE FOREST SERVICE. I JUST WANT THEM TO DO
THEIR JOB, FAIRLY, AND BE FAIR TO THESE ANIMALS AND
GIVE THEM THEIR RIGHTFUL SHARE. A LITTLE PIECE OF FREEDOM, PIECE OF LAND OUT HERE IN
THESE VAST, WIDE-OPEN SPACES. IF THEY HAVE TO BE
TAKEN OFF THE RANGE, THEY SHOULD BE IN THEIR
FAMILY GROUPS RIGHT NOW. IT WOULD REDUCE THE STRESS. IT WOULD REDUCE
THE RISK OF INJURY. IT WOULD DO ALL MANNER
OF BETTER THINGS TO MAKE IT ABOUT WHAT’S
BETTER FOR THE HORSES AND NOT JUST WHAT’S
CONVENIENT FOR THE PEOPLE. MY CONCERN IS THAT THEY’RE
BEING EXCESSIVELY ROUNDED UP, THAT THEY’RE TAKING FAR TOO
MANY AND LEAVING FAR TOO FEW FOR SUCH A VAST AREA
OF NEARLY 800,000 ACRES. YOU REALIZE AN ACRE IS ABOUT
THE SIZE OF A FOOTBALL FIELD. I’M AWARE– I’VE REVIEWED
THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT. I AM AWARE THAT THE
ALLOCATION FOR LIVESTOCK IS ABOUT 82% OF THE FORAGE, WHEREAS THAT FOR THE WILD HORSES
IS THE REMAINDER, AND THEN THE WILDLIFE, TOO. Narrator: AFTER MANY MONTHS
OF PLANNING AND PREPARATION, THE TWIN PEAKS GATHER BEGAN
JUST AFTER DAWN ON AUGUST 11th. A HELICOPTER LIFTED OFF TO FIND
HORSES AND BURROS ON THE RANGE AND BEGAN HERDING THEM
TO A CAPTURE POINT. THE FIRST DAYS OF THE GATHER
WERE CONDUCTED AT A LOCATION CALLED THE SKEDADDLE HOME RANGE. IN THE WEEKS THAT FOLLOWED, GATHER OPERATIONS
MOVED TO ANOTHER AREA SO THE HORSES AND BURROS
WERE CLOSER TO THE TRAP SITE. ONCE A BAND OF HORSES
WAS LOCATED, THE HELICOPTER BEGAN MOVING THEM IN THE GENERAL DIRECTION
OF THE TRAP. AS THE HELICOPTER CAREFULLY
HERDED THE ANIMALS IN THE DIRECTION OF THE TRAP, WINGS EXTENDING OUT ON EITHER
SIDE OF THEIR PATH FUNNELED THE HORSES
INTO A TEMPORARY CORRAL. THIS IS WHAT WE CALL JUTE. IT’S A VERY SOFT FABRIC. IT’S MADE UP OF JUST ROPE. IT ACTS AS A VISUAL BARRIER
FOR THE HORSES SO WE CAN FUNNEL THEM
INTO THE CORRALS. IF THEY WERE TO COME
IN CONTACT WITH THIS, IT’S VERY SOFT AND PLIABLE. IT’S ACTUALLY VERY EASY JUST
TO BREAK THROUGH THIS AND A VERY HUMANE WAY
OF DIRECTING THE ANIMALS INTO THE TRAP. Narrator: THE HELICOPTER
OFTEN STAYED A QUARTER MILE TO A HALF MILE
AWAY FROM THE ANIMALS, APPROACHING CLOSER ONLY
WHEN NECESSARY TO KEEP THE HORSES MOVING,
OR TO CHANGE THEIR DIRECTION. AS THE PILOT MOVED THE HORSES
CLOSER TO THE TRAP, HE RADIOED WRANGLERS ON THE
GROUND THAT THEY WERE COMING IN. A DOMESTIC GUIDE HORSE
WAS LED BY A WRANGLER TO THE ENTRANCE
OF THE TRAP WINGS. OTHER WRANGLERS HID
ALONGSIDE THE WINGS WAITING FOR THE HORSES
TO RUN BY. THE GUIDE HORSE, WHO WAS TRAINED TO GALLOP
IN FRONT OF THE WILD HORSES, WAS RELEASED AND LED THE ANIMALS
INTO THE PORTABLE CORRAL. ONCE THE HORSES WERE
RESTED AND SETTLED, THEY WERE TRANSPORTED A SHORT
DISTANCE TO A HOLDING CORRAL WHERE THEY WERE EXAMINED
BY A VETERINARIAN. INJURIES THAT MAY HAVE
OCCURRED DURING THE GATHER WERE IMMEDIATELY TREATED, AS WERE ANY PREEXISTING INJURIES
THE HORSES MAY HAVE SUSTAINED BEFORE THE GATHER. SMALL FOALS WERE
MOVED SEPARATELY TO KEEP THEM FROM BEING
HURT BY LARGER HORSES. LATER THEY WERE REUNITED WITH
THEIR MARES AT THE CORRAL. CONSISTENT WITH THE BUREAU’S
MANAGEMENT APPROACH, A NUMBER OF STRONG,
HEALTHY HORSES WERE RETURNED TO THE RANGE
TO REPOPULATE THE HERD. BUT BEFORE THEY WERE RELEASED
BACK INTO THE WILD, THEY WERE FREEZEMARKED AND RECORDS WERE MADE
OF THEIR AGE AND COLOR. THE MARES WERE VACCINATED WITH
PORCINE ZONA PELLUCIDA, OR PZP, A DRUG TO CONTROL FERTILITY. THE RATE AT WHICH
WILD HORSES REPRODUCE HAS BEEN AN ONGOING CHALLENGE
FOR BLM SINCE THE 1970s. THE BUREAU WORKS
WITH ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE HUMANE SOCIETY
OF THE UNITED STATES AND INVESTS IN ONGOING RESEARCH TO DEVELOP MORE EFFECTIVE
METHODS OF FERTILITY CONTROL. THE OBJECTIVES OF THIS RESEARCH ARE TO REQUIRE A SCIENCE-BASED
FERTILITY CONTROL PROGRAM THAT CAN SERVE
AS THE PRIMARY MEANS OF MAINTAINING HEALTHY HORSE
POPULATIONS IN THE WILD AND TO DRAMATICALLY REDUCE
THE NEED TO REMOVE ANIMALS FROM THE RANGE. BLM’S ULTIMATE GOAL
IS TO BALANCE THE AMOUNT OF EXCESS HORSES REMOVED FROM WESTERN
RANGELANDS EVERY YEAR WITH THE NUMBER OF HORSES
ANNUALLY ADOPTED BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC. Man: WHAT WE’RE DOING NOW IS ACTUALLY RELEASING
THE LAST LOAD OF MARES. WE’RE RELEASING BACK
OUT THIS WAY. THIS IS KIND OF THE
BEST PLACE TO LEAD THEM BECAUSE THIS IS ALL THEIR
HOME RANGE OUT HERE. AND WE HAVE THEM
FACING THAT WAY. THAT WAY WE’RE NOT RELEASING
TOWARDS PEOPLE. KIND OF KEEP EVERYBODY BACK. YOU CAN SEE RIGHT NOW
HOW THE HORSES ARE ALL TOWARDS THE BACK
OF THE TRAILER. WHAT THOSE GUYS WILL DO IS KIND
OF GET THEM TO GO FORWARD, GET THEM OFF THE GATE
SO HE CAN OPEN THE GATE, AND HOPEFULLY THE HORSE
WILL FALL THROUGH IT. SEE, THEY’RE ALL GOING FORWARD. THEN THEY’LL CAREFULLY
OPEN THE GATE. OBVIOUSLY, YOU
DON’T WANT TO GET KICKED. THEY DON’T WANT TO USE
THEIR FLAGS TOO MUCH. JUST A LITTLE BIT. THEY DON’T WANT TO SCARE THEM. LET ONE GET HER
HEAD OUT THE DOOR, SEE, JUST LIKE THAT, AND THEN THEY’LL
START GOING. NICE AND EASY. CAN’T BEAT IT. Narrator: THE GATHER AT
TWIN PEAKS THAT BEGAN IN AUGUST WAS CONCLUDED SIX WEEKS LATER. THE OPERATION WAS SUCCESSFUL
IN REDUCING THE POPULATIONS OF WILD HORSES AND BURROS
IN THE AREA TO THE UPPER RANGE OF
APPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT LEVELS. I WOULD HAVE TO SAY FOR ANYBODY OUT THERE
CONTEMPLATING A MUSTANG TO GO FOR IT. Narrator: FROM GATHER
SITES ACROSS THE WEST, THE ANIMALS NOW BEGIN
THE FIRST PART OF A JOURNEY THAT WILL TAKE THEM
TO GREENER PASTURES, WHERE MANY WILL FIND NEW HOMES
WITH CARING ADOPTERS. HORSES AND BURROS
GATHERED FROM THE RANGE WILL FIRST BE TRANSPORTED TO ONE OF BLM’S MANY
PREPARATION FACILITIES WHERE THEY WILL BE EXAMINED, RECEIVE IMMUNIZATION
AGAINST EQUINE DISEASES, AND BE REGISTERED IN A DATABASE. ONCE THE HORSES ARE
BROUGHT IN FROM THE RANGE, THEY’RE UNLOADED OFF THE
TRUCKS, AND FOR THE MOST PART, THEY’RE ALREADY SEPARATED
BY THE DIFFERENT SEX CLASSES. AND SO THEN WE JUST PUT THEM
ON FEED AND WATER AND REST. ALL OUR FACILITIES PROVIDE
PROPER FEED, WATER AND MEDICAL CARE. THE FEED THAT WE PUT THEM ON IS A LOW-CARBOHYDRATE,
LOW-PROTEIN FEED, SIMILAR TO WHAT THEY’RE
USED TO ON THE RANGE. AND THEN WE SLOWLY
TRANSITION THEM INTO A MORE OF A
DOMESTICATED FEED. THE HORSES ARE BROUGHT UP
FROM A LARGE HOLDING PEN, AND THEY’RE CONVEYED
THROUGH AN ALLEY SYSTEM INTO THE TUB AND CHUTE AREA. THE TUB, WHERE WE HOLD THE
LARGER GROUP OF ANIMALS, IS ROUND. THERE’S NO SHARP CORNERS IN IT. ONCE THEY’RE IN THE
TUB AND CHUTE AREA, THEN THEY COME SINGLE FILE
THROUGH AN ALLEY INTO THE SQUEEZE CHUTE. SO WE OPEN THE DOOR
OF THE SQUEEZE CHUTE, THE INDIVIDUAL ANIMAL COMES IN,
THE DOOR IS CLOSED BEHIND IT, AND THEN THE HORSE IS SQUEEZED
SNUGLY BUT NOT OVERLY TIGHT, AND THEN WE ADMINISTER
VACCINATIONS. THE VACCINATIONS ARE VERY
IMPORTANT FOR DISEASE PREVENTION IN THESE FACILITIES. WHEN THESE HORSES COME IN
FROM THE RANGE UNVACCINATED, THEY’RE NAIVE TO DOMESTIC
HORSE DISEASES. SO WE GIVE THEM VACCINES IN
ORDER FOR PREVENTION FOR THAT. AND THEN AGE DETERMINATION IS
DONE BY THE VETERINARIAN. WE HAVE SOME SPECIAL
METAL STICKS THAT WE PUT IN THE HORSE’S
MOUTH SO WE CAN SEE THE TEETH, AND THEN DEPENDING TOOTH SHAPE,
ANGLE, ERUPTION DETERMINES THE AGE
OF THE ANIMAL. Man: 12. THIS HORSE IS ABOUT 7. 15. Neill: AND THEN AFTER THAT, DEWORMING MEDICATION
IS ADMINISTERED ORALLY TO THE ANIMAL. ONCE THOSE STEPS ARE DONE,
THEN WE SHAVE THE NECK, THE HAIR ON THE NECK
DOWN TO SKIN LEVEL. THIS IS WHERE WE’RE GOING
TO APPLY THE FREEZE BRAND. ON AN ADULT HORSE, WE LEAVE THE FREEZEMARK ON
THERE, OUR FREEZE IRON ON THERE, APPROXIMATELY 30 SECONDS. WHAT THAT DOES IS IT ALTERS
THE HAIR FOLLICLES IN THE NECK, AND IN ABOUT SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS THAT HAIR GROWS BACK
WHITE IN COLOR, AND THE COLOR– OR THE WHITE AREAS ON THERE
RESEMBLE THE FREEZEMARK. THEN WE HANG A NECK TAG
AROUND THE ANIMAL’S NECK. THIS IS A NUMERIC FOUR-DIGIT
NUMBER THAT EACH ANIMAL GETS. IT’S PART OF THEIR FREEZE BRAND,
THEIR FREEZE IDENTIFICATION. THEN WE RECORD ALL THE
INFORMATION INTO OUR DATABASE, THE FREEZEMARK OF THE ANIMAL,
THE COLOR, THE COLOR MARKINGS, AND THEN WE CAN TRACK THESE
ANIMALS INDIVIDUALLY THROUGH ADOPTION AND TITLING. ONE MONTH LATER,
THEY’RE BROUGHT BACK IN FOR ANOTHER SET OF
BOOSTER VACCINATIONS SO THEY GET THE ACQUIRED
IMMUNITY THAT THEY NEED. AFTER THAT’S COMPLETED, THEN THESE HORSES ARE AVAILABLE
FOR THE ADOPTION PROGRAM. Narrator: THE BLM PREPARES
HORSES AND BURROS FOR ADOPTION HERE AT INDIAN LAKES
NEAR FALLON, NEVADA, AND AT OTHER
PREPARATION FACILITIES, INCLUDING
PALOMINO VALLEY, NEVADA, ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING, BURNS, OREGON, RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA, AND SUSANVILLE, CALIFORNIA. WE’RE HERE AT THE
LITCHFIELD CORRALS JUST OUTSIDE OF SUSANVILLE, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S WILD HORSE
AND BURRO PREPARATION FACILITY. WE’RE GOING TO SHOW YOU
AROUND THE FACILITY TODAY, AND YOU CAN SEE SOME OF
THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS THAT WE HAVE INSIDE AND THAT WILL BE AVAILABLE
FOR ADOPTION SOON. YOU CAN SEE THESE ARE
PRETTY BIG PENS. ACTUALLY, MOST OF THESE PENS RANGE IN SIZE FROM
FOUR TO SEVEN ACRES. SO IT’S A PRETTY BIG AREA. IT’S BIGGER THAN A LOT
OF PEOPLE’S PROPERTY THAT KEEP HORSES. THESE HORSES HAVE PLENTY OF ROOM
TO RUN AROUND, CHASE, PLAY, GET AWAY FROM EACH OTHER,
AND JUST BE HORSES. HERE WE’RE STANDING NEXT
TO ONE OF OUR BURRO PENS. THIS PEN HAS JACK
AND GELDING BURROS. PEOPLE REALLY LIKE
TO ADOPT THE BURROS. THEY’RE VERY CUTE. BUT THEY ARE ALSO VERY GOOD
FOR DRIVING, PACKING, RIDING. PEOPLE USE THEM
FOR GUARD ANIMALS TO PROTECT THEIR SHEEP
AND GOATS FROM COYOTES. SO WE HOPE THAT IF YOU’RE
INTERESTED IN ADOPTING A BURRO YOU COME ON OUT AND GET ONE. Narrator: IN ADDITION
TO PUBLIC ADOPTIONS HELD AT SOME OF THE BLM
PREPARATION FACILITIES, THE AGENCY ALSO TAKES THE
ADOPTION PROGRAM ON THE ROAD, TRANSPORTING HORSES AND BURROS
TO ADOPTION EVENTS IN COMMUNITIES
THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. I WANT TO WELCOME YOU TO THE
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT’S WILD HORSE AND BURRO ADOPTION AND TO MIDLAND COUNTY
FAIRGROUNDS. Narrator: ADOPTIONS BY INTERNET
HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER MEANS OF INTRODUCING THE PUBLIC
TO AMERICA’S LIVING LEGENDS AND FINDING GOOD HOMES
FOR THE ANIMALS WITH CARING AND
QUALIFIED ADOPTERS. Man: WE’RE BIDDING
ON JENNY 9269. WE HAVE AN OPENING
BID FOR $125. Narrator: WHILE THE BLM IS EAGER
TO FIND HOMES FOR THE ANIMALS, THE AGENCY’S DETAILED
APPLICATION, SCREENING AND INSPECTION PROCESS ENSURES THAT THE
HORSES AND BURROS ARE PLACED WITH THOSE WHO ARE
QUALIFIED TO CARE FOR THEM. AMONG OTHER REQUIREMENTS, ADOPTERS MUST DEMONSTRATE THAT
THEY HAVE ADEQUATE FEED, WATER AND FACILITIES TO PROVIDE
HUMANE CARE FOR THE ANIMALS. SINCE THE PASSAGE OF THE WILD FREE-ROAMING
HORSES AND BURROS ACT IN 1971, THE BLM HAS PLACED MORE THAN
220,000 WILD HORSES AND BURROS INTO THE CARE OF
PRIVATE CITIZENS. ALL: MIDWEST
MUSTANG CHALLENGE! Narrator: THE BLM ALONG WITH THE NEVADA COMMISSION FOR THE
PRESERVATION OF WILD HORSES, CONTRIBUTED TO THE CREATION OF
THE MUSTANG HERITAGE FOUNDATION. THE BLM NOW WORKS
WITH THE FOUNDATION IN SPONSORING EXTREME MUSTANG
MAKEOVER COMPETITIONS, WHICH SHOWCASE THE
ABILITIES AND BENEFITS OF ADOPTING AMERICA’S
LIVING LEGENDS. HORSE TRAINERS YOUNG AND OLD
FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY TRAIN WILD HORSES FOR
APPROXIMATELY 90 DAYS, GETTING THEM READY TO RIDE. THEY THEN COMPETE AT MANY
REGIONAL AND NATIONAL EVENTS. MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE MUSTANG
HERITAGE FOUNDATION HELPS BLM BY PROMOTING
HORSE ADOPTIONS, PROVIDING SADDLE-READY HORSES
TO AMERICANS WANTING TO ADOPT, AND RAISING AWARENESS
WITH THE PUBLIC OF THE NEED FOR GOOD HOMES
FOR THESE ANIMALS. Announcer: THANK YOU
VERY MUCH, LANE. Narrator: PARTNERSHIPS WITH
CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES ALLOW INMATES TO
SADDLE TRAIN MUSTANGS, BENEFITING THE ADOPTION PROGRAM AND THE REHABILITATION
OF INMATES WHO WORK WITH THE HORSES. SEEKING TO PROVIDE MORE
TRAINED WILD HORSES THAT MAY BE MORE
APPEALING TO ADOPTERS, THE BLM IS EXPLORING
OTHER PARTNERSHIPS OR CONTRACTUAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE TRAINING OF
ANIMALS TO BE ADOPTED. SOME OF THE HORSES
GATHERED FROM THE RANGE HAVE LITTLE LIKELIHOOD
OF BEING ADOPTED BECAUSE OF ADVANCED AGE
OR OTHER CHARACTERISTICS. BUT THESE HORSES WILL
ALSO FIND NEW HOMES WHERE THEY WILL BE
CARED FOR HUMANELY. WE ENSURE THAT THE EXCESS HORSES
EITHER ARE TAKEN TO GOOD HOMES THAT THE PUBLIC TAKE CARE OF OR THEY’RE TAKEN
TO LONG-TERM PASTURES WHERE THEY CAN
LIVE OUT THEIR LIVES. WHEN IT’S DETERMINED THERE’S
NOT A DEMAND FOR THAT ANIMAL AND IT’S ACTUALLY GOING TO GO TO ONE OF OUR LONG-TERM
HOLDING PASTURES, THEN THEY’RE LOADED ON
A STRAIGHT-DECK TRUCK. THOSE TRUCKS THEN WILL GO TO
A LONG-TERM HOLDING FACILITY AND THEY WILL BE OFFLOADED
AT THEIR CORRAL AND THEY’LL BE ABLE
TO GO INTO THEIR PENS WHERE THEY’RE WATERED
AND FED FOR THAT NIGHT. FROM THOSE PENS THEY HAVE
WHAT THEY CALL TRAPS, WHICH ARE FIVE TO TEN ACRES, AND THOSE HORSES WILL BE
LET OUT INTO THE TRAPS, AND FOR ANYWHERE FROM A WEEK
TO TWO-WEEK PERIOD OF TIME, THEY’LL BE DOING
A TRANSITION PERIOD. THIS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. THEY LEARN THAT THERE’S A TRUCK. THEY LEARN THE SOUND
OF THE TRUCK. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT
THING OF ALL IS THEY LEARN THAT TRUCK HAS
FEED AND THEY LIKE THAT FEED. AND SO WHEN THEY ACTUALLY
GET THEM USED TO THAT AND HORSES START
COMING UP TO IT, THEN THEY WILL GRADUALLY LET THEM FOLLOW THE TRUCK
OUT TO THE LARGER PASTURES, WHICH THEY’LL DO
AT THAT POINT IN TIME, AND THEN THEY’LL BE OUT
IN THE PASTURES. THE GRASS IS LIKE
A REAL EMERALD GREEN. I MEAN IT’S SO GREEN,
AND THEY LIKE CHASING THE GREEN. SO THEY’RE JUST KIND
OF LIKE RUNNING ACROSS GRABBING LITTLE BITES
OF GREEN GRASS. AND THEN AS THE YEAR GOES ON AND
TURNS INTO SPRING AND SUMMER, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE THIS GRASS
THAT IS UP TO THEIR HOCKS. WE HAVE PROJECT INSPECTORS THAT ACTUALLY ARE IN CONTACT
WITH THE CONTRACTORS ON A DAILY BASIS. THEY MAKE ROUNDS AND PERIODICALLY GO
AND CHECK THE HORSES, TALK TO THE CONTRACTORS. THEY MAKE SURE THAT
IF THERE’S ANY PROBLEMS THAT THEY’RE DEALT WITH. THE WILD HORSE AND BURRO
SPECIALISTS THAT WORK FOR BLM DO THIS JOB BECAUSE THEY
HONESTLY REALLY LOVE HORSES. THEY DON’T WANT ANYTHING BAD
TO HAPPEN TO THESE HORSES, AND THEY’RE LOOKING
AT THE WHOLE PICTURE, BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T TAKE
EXCESS HORSES OFF OF THE RANGE AND HAVE A PLACE FOR THEM, THEN THOSE HORSES
WILL SUFFER. IF YOU DON’T PLACE
THEM IN GOOD HOMES, THEN THOSE HORSES WILL SUFFER. AND IF YOU DON’T HAVE A
PLACE TO PUT THESE HORSES FOR THE REST OF THEIR
LIVES IN LARGE PASTURES SO THAT THEY CAN HAVE A
FREE-ROAMING ENVIRONMENT, THEY WILL SUFFER. SO THE HORSE SPECIALISTS IN
ALL ASPECTS OF THE PROGRAM HONESTLY CARE VERY, VERY MUCH
ABOUT THESE HORSES. IT’S A PASSION. IT’S NOT A NINE-TO-FIVE JOB. BELIEVE ME, IT’S NOT
A NINE-TO-FIVE JOB. IT IS A JOB THAT YOU ONLY DO IT
BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE ANIMALS AND YOU LOVE WHAT YOU’RE DOING. THEY LOVE YOU. YOU KNOW, YOU ARE
ONE-OF-A-KIND FOR THEM, AND YOU’RE NOT LIKE JUST ANY
OTHER PERSON FOR A MUSTANG. THEY SEE YOU AS SOMEONE SPECIAL. Narrator: THEY EXIST IN TEEMING
POPULATIONS NEVER IMAGINED WHEN THE LAWS TO PROTECT WILD
HORSES AND BURROS WERE ENACTED. SOME 33,000 HORSES AND 4700
BURROS CAN BE FOUND TODAY ROAMING MILLIONS OF ACRES
OF PUBLIC LANDS. THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
CAN CONTINUE TO PROVIDE RESPONSIBLE AND
CARING STEWARDSHIP FOR THESE LIVING LEGENDS
OF THE AMERICAN FRONTIER. WILD HORSE AND BURRO HERDS
CAN EXIST IN BALANCE WITH OTHER PUBLIC USES
AND VALUES. SUCCEEDING IN THIS, HOWEVER, REQUIRES THAT HERDS
BE MAINTAINED AT POPULATIONS THE
LAND CAN SUPPORT. WITHOUT EFFECTIVE
AND VIGILANT MANAGEMENT, THE HEALTH OF THE HERDS AND THE HEALTH OF
THE LANDS THEY INHABIT WILL BE AT RISK. THEY ARE PART OF THE
RICH AND COLORFUL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WEST AND A CHERISHED PART
OF OUR PUBLIC LANDS LEGACY… A LEGACY THAT BELONGS
TO ALL AMERICANS. THEIR HISTORY REMINDS US THAT THERE IS AN IMPORTANT
ROLE FOR THE PUBLIC IN THE CONTINUING STEWARDSHIP
OF WILD HORSES AND BURROS. Lappin: ANNIE’S LEGACY,
WILD HORSES, ENCOMPASSES MORE. ONE, IT TELLS US THAT ONE
PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. SHE TOLD US HOW INCREDIBLY
IMPORTANT OUR PUBLIC LANDS ARE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME AND HOW PROTECTING IT,
FINDING OUT ABOUT IT, AND LEARNING ABOUT IT,
HELPING WITH IT, THAT’S A LEGACY, AND MAYBE FINALLY THAT MY
CHILDREN’S CHILDREN WILL BE ABLE TO GO OUT
AND SEE WILD HORSES RUNNING ACROSS
PUBLIC RANGELANDS THAT ARE HEALTHY. SO I BELIEVE HER LEGACY
STRETCHES OVER MANY FACETS, AND IT WAS PROBABLY ALL
INSPIRED BY A LOVE OF THE LAND. THERE’S NO OTHER ANIMAL IN
THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY THAT HAS BEEN SO
BRUTALLY EXPLOITED. I TALKED TO OUR ONE
CONGRESSMAN FROM NEVADA, ONE DAY WAS IN THE OFFICE,
WE WERE SHOOTING THE BREEZE, AND I SAID, “WOULD YOU
INTRODUCE A BILL IN CONGRESS?” AND I TOLD HIM WHAT
I’D LIKE TO HAVE. AND HE SAID, “SURE.” SO HE DID. PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT DEGREES
OF HUMANENESS, AND I GUESS TO THEM IT WAS
JUST A MARKETABLE COMMODITY. I PARTICULARLY LIKE THE
RESPONSE OF THE CHILDREN, PROGRAMS I GIVE IN THE SCHOOLS. YOU CAN ALMOST SEE THE STARS AND
STRIPES WAVING IN THEIR EYEBALLS WHEN YOU GIVE A
STIRRING TALK ABOUT “WE THE PEOPLE, A GOVERNMENT
BY THE PEOPLE, WE THE PEOPLE…” THAT MEANS YOU KIDS, TOO. IT ISN’T JUST US GROWNUPS, THE PEOPLE THAT
I’M TALKING ABOUT, BECAUSE THESE HORSES BELONG
TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA AND THEY EXIST ON LAND THAT BELONGS TO ALL
THE PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Johnston: I CAN’T TAKE
CREDIT FOR THE TRAPPINGS FROM THIS WEEKEND. IT WAS THE PEOPLE IN
STOREY COUNTY, VIRGINIA CITY, PARTICULARLY, AND THE ECOLOGY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA AND DR. MICHAEL PONTRELLI. I DID KNOW ABOUT IT, AND IT WAS THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE
THAT I HAD OF THE TRAP THAT THIS ALL DEVELOPED. Reporter: HOW WAS IT DISCOVERED? Johnston: I THINK IT’S
GENERALLY KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES THAT IF ANYTHING
HAPPENS TO A HORSE, NO MATTER HOW MAJOR OR MINOR, I AM THE FIRST PERSON
WHO IS TOLD ABOUT IT, AND IT SEEMS THAT A GENTLEMAN–
OR FELLOW WAS DISCUSSING A TRAP THAT HE WAS BUILDING
IN STOREY COUNTY, AND SOMEONE OVERHEARD IT AND
THOUGHT I WOULD BE INTERESTED AND TELEPHONED TO ME. IT’S NOT THAT FANCY… IT ISN’T EUROPEAN… IT DOESN’T HAVE ROOM FOR
MUCH MORE THAN ONE PERSON… AND IT’S HARD TO KEEP CLEAN. BUT, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT
IN LINE TO FILL ITS TANK. YOU DON’T TO WORRY ABOUT
PARKING SPACES, TUNE-UPS, OR WHAT NEXT YEAR’S
MODEL WILL LOOK LIKE. AND IT’S A LOT OF FUN. WE’VE GOT THOUSANDS OF WILD
HORSES WAITING TO BE ADOPTED. FOR INFORMATION WRITE:

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