A video from the wild horse roundup currently underway in eastern Nevada shows an old mare collapsing in the snow after running for miles from a helicopter that hovered overhead.
The tape might have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the tenacity of a Reno reporter.
The amateur video was filmed by Deniz Bolbol, an activist in the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign as she and her colleagues documented the Antelope Complex roundup of wild mustangs.
It shows a herd of wild horses running down a hillside covered in snow. One of the horses begins to have trouble keeping up with the herd as they are being chased by a helicopter. The mare collapses into the snow, but is still hounded by the helicopter pilot until she finally pushes herself on her feet.
The frightened mare then runs back and forth trying to get away from the helicopter that continues to harass her.
Investigative reporter Brooke Boone from My News4 in Reno took the video to officials at the Bureau of Land Management.
She wanted to know if they considered the incident an acceptable practice or if the event demonstrated proof of animal cruelty.
First she visited Alan Shepherd at the BLM office in Reno. Shepherd leads the BLM Wild Horse Program in the area. He told Boone, “No.” The video did not show “unfair treatment” to the horse.
He said, “Where she hit the snow bank… Or deep snow, she fell in the snow and just laid down… And stayed there…they sometimes do that.”
Not satisfied with Shepherd’s answer, Boone contacted the BLM Washington D.C. office. Tom Gorey who is the chief spokesperson for BLM was well aware of the incident.
Gorey told the reporter that the helicopter pilot’s behavior was “unacceptable” and his actions would be reported in an evaluation regarding future contacts with BLM.
He also told Boone that the pilot was reprimanded and told not to fly so close to the horses again.
In addition the reporter was told there would be an investigation to determine if the pilot broke any state laws for “overdriving” or “overloading” the horses in the video.
Although Gorey was supportive, he did not call the event an act of animal cruelty.
Boone also questioned BLM officials to see if a veterinarian had examined the old mare. She is still waiting for an answer. The roundup will continue for the next four weeks.
The reporter may never get a clear cut answer to her question, but you can view the entire video yourself and come up with your own conclusions.
Do you think the video shows proof that BLM and their contracted pilot committed an act of animal cruelty?
Read more: animal welfare
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