A wild foal that was apparently hog-tied after it refused to continue deeper into a horse trap was left in the path of stampeding mustangs, the Humane Society of the United States says.
The society has voiced its concerns about the actions of the Bureau of Land Management after one of the charity’s executive staff witnessed a contractor appear to hog-tie and leave a lost foal in the path of stampeding mustangs at the Desatoya Wild Horse Gather near Austin, Nevada.
The society said the actions appeared at odds with the agency’s stated vision and goal of improving and reforming its wild horse gather procedures.
The incident was witnessed by Holly Hazard, senior vice-president of programs and innovations for the society, who attended the gather as an observer to determine if the bureau was incorporating the charity’s recommended changes in standard operating procedures.
The incident that raised concerns occurred shortly after noon last Thursday, after several bands of horses had successfully been herded into a trap.
Hazard saw a bureau contractor ride out on horseback to collect a stray foal.
When the young horse resisted moving deep into the gather trap, Hazard watched the contractor appear to hog-tie the foal and then leave her in the path of galloping horses.
Once the band of horses was safely captured, instead of aiding the foal, the go-ahead was instead given for another band of horses to run around and past her again.
“The Bureau of Land Management has made significant progress in reforming its wild horse program in recent years – but the agency must set a higher standard and not allow such callous disregard for animals to take place in its operations,” said Hazard.
“The public has been calling for more transparency and responsible treatment of animals in the wild horse and burro program, and it’s time for the BLM’s stated goals and objectives to be applied in the field as well.”
The Desatoya gather is slated to occur for two weeks, with the goal of gathering 500 wild horses and applying the fertility control drug PZP to about 64 mares, who will be released.
As a result of the incident, society is calling on the bureau to:
- Immediately review its protocols and make all changes necessary in order to ensure that no contractor has the authority to unnecessarily stress any animal in its custody and control in the name of gather efficiency.
- Review previous HSUS requests to develop and implement a Humane Observer program that would allow a knowledgeable, objective witness to intervene at gathers in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring during gather operations.
- Deliver a status report on the young foal in question, including information on her overall health and well-being and whether the foal was reunited with her mother at the temporary holding facility.