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Wild Horse (babies) Chased to Death with Helicopters

Investigators from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (a coalition of wild horse groups) have released their disturbing findings on the Sheldon Round-up.

Foals as young as one day old, and heavily pregnant mares were chased by helicopters into holding pens. 337 horses were captured. One adult died, reportedly the horse was shot after breaking its leg. At least 5 foals died of exposure and dehydration, and many mares aborted their fetuses. Several foals were injured, including one that may remain permanently blind with a collapsed nostril and nerve damage.
Photos and Vet Report:  http://www.wildhorsepreservation.org/sheldon.html

Sheldon Fish and Wildlife Service Runs Foals to Exhaustion and Leaves them to Die in the Desert.

27 June, 2006

By: Valerie James Patton, Susan Pohlman, and John Holland

On June 6th, the Special Research Group exposed a plan formulated by the Fish and Wildlife Service to eliminate the Sheldon range wild horses and pay „mass adopters‰ $300 a horse to take them. The report showed that one of the adopters was operating out of a stockyard used almost exclusively as a transshipment point for horses going to slaughter. The report went on to denounce the plans of FWS to hold a helicopter gather in mid-June which is the height of foaling season in that region.

The Fish and Wildlife Service responded to the massive public outcry, which included congressmen and even California Governor Schwarzenegger, by giving false assurances to all who inquired. Among other falsehoods, they stated that the foaling season was long over and that all the foals were at least three months old. Project manager Paul Steblein assured the public that they had done a helicopter survey and found all the foals in the refuge were at least three or four months old. The impossibility of such an assessment from the air was not lost on the horse advocates nor was the biological improbability. Their doubts and worst fears were soon to be justified.

Realizing that the gather could be a tremendous public relations debacle, the FWS took extra precautions. These were not precautions to assure the safety of the foals, but precautions to assure that their fate would never be known. New gates were added, armed law enforcement agents were posted, and the public was kept back two miles from the holding pens. Then, a few concerned citizens were allowed just enough of a carefully staged view of the captured horses to lend credence to the assertions of the Fish and Wildlife Service. It was masterful stage craft to cover institutionalized callousness and cruelty of breathtaking dimensions.

The gather, was done on Tuesday, June 20th. Immediately after the gather, FWS announced that all the foals had arrived with their mothers, and that none had been hurt. But almost immediately, a foal was trampled in the pens and had to be taken away for medical care. The assertion that all of the foals had arrived safely with their mothers was belied by the fact that 16 to 18 of the mares showed signs of recently giving birth but had no foals with them.

FWS went on to say that only one adult horse had a minor injury. But there were horse advocates who knew better because they had listened to the radio communications between the FWS and the crews in the field as they discussed what to do with a horse with a broken leg. The decision had been made to shoot it.

The lies had only begun. The story of the lost foals began unfolding even as FWS personnel were busily cleaning up a stream of aborted foals from the mares in the holding pens. By Monday, the 26th, nine foals had either died at birth or been aborted in the pens, but there was worse news to come.

Thursday, stories began trickling into the Sheldon office of foals abandoned on the refuge and dying of exposure and dehydration. A rescue mission was launched on Friday. The Catoor‚s helicopter returned to the puzzlement of some uninformed onlookers, and an air ground search was made. To some it was a mission to rescue the foals, but to FWS it was more likely a mission to rescue the illusion of their humane gather. According to reports, by the end of the day, eight foals had been found. Five were dead and three were clinging onto life. It is reported that Fran Steffan (Forever Free Mustangs) took these foals to get veterinary care and that they are expected to recover.

As if all of this were not damning enough, the FWS announced that they are still planning to give Gary Graham, the agent that operates out of a slaughter yard, „a few‰ horses. „A few‰ turns out to be Sixty Two! Where will these horses go? If the answer is the Los Lunas stockyard of killer buyer Dennis Chavez, their ordeal has only begun. Horse stockyards are notorious for the diseases they harbor and there can be no doubt that the Sheldon horses, lacking exposure to these diseases, will be infected in a matter of days.

Mustang advocates have long decried BLM‚s decimation of wild herds with little or no justification, but nothing even remotely like the Sheldon foal massacre has ever been documented. To date, nine foals died or were aborted in the pens and about fifteen foals were probably left to die a slow death in the high desert. Three of these foals survived days of abandonment, and one foal that arrived with the adults survived trampling in the pens. There are still many pregnant mares and foals under a month of age in the crowded pens awaiting their fate. But why?

Sheldon management has given a variety of improbable reasons for their obsession with eliminating their wild horse population. At first they said they competed with the pronghorn antelope and sage grouse, but when an FWS study was cited that concluded there was no adverse relationship between these species they changed their justification to the fact that the horses were damaging the water resources. This was never established in any scientific way (the last Environmental Assessment having been done in 1980 when cattle were wallowing in the streams and ponds) and has been highly contested by experts in wild horse behavior.

Whatever the reason, the FWS has invented a plan that uses taxpayer dollars to encourage people to take large numbers of the wild horses, while prohibiting individual or small adoptions. The result will be that people like Graham will take the money and the horses will pay the price.

We may never know the true reason for the Sheldon management‚s inhumane war on our wild horses. What we do know is they are government employees charged with protecting our common heritage, and that when challenged they came back with a clear answer that they do not work for us and they will do what they very well please!

You can take action by contacting the US Fish and Wildlife service, your senators and congress people.

<> http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

The US Fish and Wildlife Service can be contacted at:

<> http://www.fws.gov/

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click „contact us‰

This alert is based on data gathered by the Special Research Group, an entirely independent volunteer organization.

If you have questions or wish to supply additional information about this matter, contact John Holland at  hollandtech@earthlink.net
Disgusted with F&W 29.Jun.2006 17:05


Just checked out the article and photos on the wild horse preservation website. Rounding up wild horses and "adopting" them out is bad enough when BLM does it, but this is outrageous. Writing our representatives just doesn't seem adequate. Bitching to F&W is pissing into the wind. Suggestions anyone?

Just A Suggestion 29.Jun.2006 21:21


Yeah I have a suggestion dana, maybe we could throw a Cavel West party.

this 30.Jun.2006 02:47

sounds like

corruption and greed; there are probably a mere handful, or even less, blm rangers overseering the sheldon wildlife refuge, located in one of the most remote regions of the continental us; can you say kickback, very bad pun not intended; it's bad enough that the ranchers, further south in nevada, in the crescent valley, shoshone range area, have reportedly, in the past, offered fifty dollars a head to bounty hunters, to reduce herds that compete with their grazing cattle...a public outcry forced the BLM, who was looking away, to stop this practice. public outcry will work here, too.

this is obscene. there's wild burro, there, too, in addition to the antelope.

but there's no grazing on refuge land. and the claim that it's adversely affecting antelope herd or the water is ridiculous; these blm assholes are, no doubt, getting direct kickback money, in my opinion.

mustang herds do, legitimately, compete with cattle herds in the delicate grasslands of north central nevada; of course, they shouldn't be hunted and killed with high powered rifles, but, there is some sense, economically, to the perverted action.

this sheldon round-up makes no sense, is unjustifiable, and is a gross abuse of the trust we place in these government protectors of our wildlife areas.

i think the pigs overseering the sheldon refuge should be rounded up...

It seems like this same thing 30.Jun.2006 08:00


is happening to us. It seems that the government does not care about us and behaves in the same way to us. They run us ragged, don't respect the family, and they take extreme measures to keep it an illusion. The only difference is that instead of a 2 mile space between us and the targets, mothers, and therefore children, are exhausted and run to extremes by men right under our noses.
When will people realize that in order to fix the problem with this horse slaughter and all the other problems that need to be fixed, that we need to fix ourselves first--and the rest will follow. By keeping mothers oppressed, men will always be able to get away with this crap.
If moms were free, and not being run ragged, then, for one, a better protest would have been organized, but even better yet, those asshole mother-child horse torturers and killers would never have gotten the chance to act in the first place.
One good move toward mothers equals a million good moves towards peace and prosperity.

Bo Derek 30.Jun.2006 09:19


a couple weeks ago, Bo Derek made the talk show rounds talking about the Government trapping wild horses. Maybe someone can find an email for her and send this to her.

it's true 30.Jun.2006 14:47

sounds like

in simpler times, agrarian cultures going back to mesopotamia, we knew this truth, from the poster above: you help the mothers first, and their children, and others second; instead, we've put everyone except the mother, first.

and because everyone else is louder, crying out like grown babies: me first me first, my rights, my rights, what about ME, we get diverted and perverted into every fractal cause

it's simple: mothers and their children first, all others come later...that affirms life, that is life in balance.

the enemy has succeeded in dividing and conquering us, by herding us into our separate camps...but, the left is too f'ed up to acknowledge this and put aside pride, ego, MY rights, and act upon it

and who, exactly, was the most powerful voice of last summer? a mother. cindy sheehan.......and how the left came to loathe her...white, hetero, blah and blah

christ, she practically single-handedly turned the tide of opinion on iraq...before katrina blew everything away...we are building on her dissent

yes, yes, yes, put mothers first

and BTW, if you haven't done so lately, call your mother and tell her that you love her...and if you can't do that, then repair that; put your own house in order, first

i mean, geezus, we act like we were birthed by the Internet, or TV, or we gave birth to ourselves...the human being is born about twelve years premature, and must be nurtured and protected till it is able to fend for itself. TWELVE YEARS TOO EARLY.

And, is really not a full adult, biologically, till about 21....if you want society to be nurturing, a good mother, then go back to the source of the equation of life and affirm that, support that, defend that, put that first.

such ungrateful (grown) children we are

action 30.Jun.2006 17:25


Yes, there is a larger issue at work here that will take the complete reinvention (first near destruction) of the human race to resolve.
But what do we do about this issue? Or similar ones involving government agencies that just want animals destroyed because some group--ranchers, corporations, special interests with money to spare--has an agenda. If we (animal protectionists) are acting as the "voice of the voiceless" how do we, or do we, move beyond the usual activities like writing our representatives or speaking out against these activites through letters, demos, civil disobedience, etc.? Sometimes it seems like we are missing something important. A new way to take back our government. From what I read about the Sheldon roundup there was considerable effort before it took place to keep it from happening, yet ultimately F&W did what they wanted. After the fact--how can they be held accountable so they won't do it again?

action 30.Jun.2006 22:14


We did do a lot to try to stop this before the round-up happened, and we're still trying to get the next one stopped, and to get FWS nailed for violating federal laws. but I think dana's is a good question-- everything that was done still wasn't enough. So what to do?

what to do? 18.Jul.2006 00:03


The law that was passed to protect the wild horses in 1971 was passed due to school children writing congress and the author of a book called America's Last Wild Horses was able to get the horrible things that were happening to wild horses on a show called 20/20. Seems as if everyone who cares about this needs to write to 20/20 about it. It has to hit America in their livingrooms.

Horses are Friends not Food 30.Sep.2006 13:53

Jenny jenny@horsesarefriendsnotfood.com

Hi, everyone.

There is a big issue for horse lovers before the Senate right now. Three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants here in the USA are killing American horses to sell to diners in Belgium, France and Japan. They kill the horses, harvest the meat, and then ship it overseas. There is a bill before the Senate right now to ban this practice in all 50 states.

Me and some friends are asking people to send an email to their senators asking them to push this bill through and vote to end horse slaughtering. The bill has already passed the US House of Representatives and this is the last hurdle before it goes to the President for his signature.

A common misperception is that the horses are old or sick - not true. Many are under 2 years old and healthy, and are sold simply for money.

Here's how you can help - everyone needs to contact their senators and indicate they don't want our horses dying to feed other countries.

Go to  http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ and type in your zip code. Send an email to both of your US senators and tell them to stop this terrible practice. The vote is coming before the Senate next week so please do it NOW! :-) Thanks!!!

And here is a blog that we set up so you can read more information about it:


:-) Thanks!!!

bad 12.Dec.2006 14:46


I thought it suoposse to show you a picture