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narrator: they are livinglegends of the american west... introduced to the continentby spanish explorers more than 400 years ago, captured and domesticated foruse by native american tribes, then later by thosewho came to tame america's western frontier. over time, many foundtheir way to freedom on the vast open rangelandsof the west. in the last 40 years,

the free-roaminghorses and burros have been protectedby federal law, protected so diligently,in fact, that a major threat they faceis their own overpopulation. their growing numbers now threaten the healthof the herds, the health of many other speciesof plant and animal life, and the health of theseoften fragile landscapes which support many differentpublic uses and values.

they are part ofa greater mosaic... the public lands legacy thatbelongs to all americans. we all have a stakein the stewardship of these magnificent animals... and in the balanced managementof the lands they inhabit. narrator: the story of the wildhorses and burros of the west began centuries ago. they were roamingthe western rangelands even before the first pilgrimsarrived on the continent,

brought here byspanish explorers more than 400 years ago. when the spanish departed, manyof the horses were left behind and began populatingthe western rangelands. some were capturedand domesticated by native americans, and later by the westernpioneers and settlers. these pioneers and settlersrelied on their own horses and those capturedfrom wild herds

for travel and for usein the fields. miners and missionariespreferred burros or sturdy mules for their endeavors. cavalry,first protecting settlers and later fightingin international wars, relied on ranchers for remounts. with the advent of mechanizedhorsepower in travel, farming, miningand other activities, many of the working animalswere set free.

these animals joined thefree-roaming herds of the west. with few natural predators, the populations of horses andburros continued to flourish. in time, however, theirsurvival on the open range would be threatened. on the western frontier, some consider the wild horsesand burros a nuisance, a scourge on the landscape that competed with livestockfor forage

and damaged vegetationand water resources. ridding the range of theseunwanted animals became a common practice, and over time,a profitable enterprise. some horse runners captured and killed wild horsesand burros for profit, even for sport, a practice that cameto be known as mustanging. in 1946, congress createdthe bureau of land management,

an agency within thedepartment of the interior to manage the nation's vastholdings of public lands and the resources found there. the agency would eventuallybe charged with protecting the wild horses and burrosthat roamed the public lands. these protections tookthe form of federal laws that originatedin the late 1950s as described in thesehistoric interviews. the issue at that point was justto stop the inhumane treatment.

they would chasethe horses with airplanes, and then with pickups,with trucks, and rope them andtie old tires on them, on the end of the ropes, until they could run them downand all of this. narrator: many were outraged by the wanton abuse andslaughter of wild horses. none more so thana nevada citizen, a woman of frail healthbut undaunted spirit,

whose concern for the animals would forever influence theirfate on the western landscape. man: in the '50s, she,velma johnston, saw horses going to slaughter, and at times theywere fairly beat up when they were put in the truck. they weren't veryhumanely treated. and she saw bloodcoming down the highway. man: and i'm sure thatsome of the gathering

and some of the disposalthat was going on was the cruel and inhumane actsthat caused velma johnston to become so interestedand determined to do something about the waythey were being treated. narrator: the best strategyfor protecting the horses, advocates believed at the time, was to stop the use of aircraft and mechanized vehicleson the ground to chase and capturethe animals.

virginia city is a relicof the old west, and many, many roundups occurred in thevirginia city area, and at that time, that is wherevelma johnston's battle began, was in storey county. she tracked roundups. she tracked thetrucking of animals. and because of this,because of the notoriety, these people out of that area

gave her what they thoughtwas a derogatory name, and that was "wild horse annie," and, actually, shetook it as her banner, and she was never ashamed of it. narrator:velma johnston's legacy came in the formof sweeping legislation that dramatically alterednational policy regarding the treatmentand the management of the wild horseand burro populations.

first, there were onlysmall victories. in 1959, she wonpassage of legislation that came to be known asthe wild horse annie act. velma johnston had fought tocreate a comprehensive program to protect and managewild horses and burros, but the 1959 lawfell short of that. the law simply banned the use ofaircraft and motorized vehicles with the intention of haltingthe crude and brutal methods that had often been usedto 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 shehad to go after something that would givefederal jurisdiction at least on the public lands. narrator: her determinationeventually led to unanimous congressionalapproval of landmark legislation

known as the wild free-roaminghorses and burros act of 1971. during her campaign to winpassage of the law, velma johnston enlisted the helpof thousands of school children. lappin: i remember floods,boxes of letters. i mean, velma would comeinto the office with a carton of just one day's mail ofchildren that had written her how they could helpher save wild horses, and it was children writingtheir congressmen. narrator: dr. michael pontrelli,served as science advisor

to wild horse annie. he recalls their jointappearance before congress in 1971 and the throngsof school children who descended uponthe u.s. capitol to support their cause. not only did annieand i testify together, we testified at the same time so that all those peoplewere there at once.

there were school childreninside that hearing room all around the sides,filled all the seating. kids were sitting on the steps. plus they hadloudspeakers outside talking about the wild horses. and it was a big deal. the one thing thathappened with annie that i've always been proud of,and still am, but at the end of thisshe said...

narrator: once enacted,the 1971 law directed theu.s. forest service and thebureau of land management to protect and managethe wild horses and burros in balance with otherecological resources, including wildlife species. the law authorized the agenciesto inventory the animals, to establishherd management areas, to maintain the herd populations

at appropriatemanagement levels, and to remove animalsfrom the range when those levels were exceeded. to carry out itsresponsibilities under the new law, the blm conducted inventoriesof the wild horses and burros. the agency consulted wildlifeofficials, ranchers, and other private landownersand public land users. the initial objective

was to identify where herdsexisted on millions of acres across the broad checkerboardof public and private land. the agency then identifiedareas of the public lands to be dedicated asherd management areas. here the animals couldstill roam in freedom and yet be managed successfullyas required by the 1971 law. it was a declaration that these animals were animportant national symbol and they were to be managedfor the long term.

narrator: but wild horse anniewasn't finished. the use of aircraft and othermotorized vehicles had been banned by thelegislation enacted in 1959, a provision targetedat the inhumane practices of mustangers. but by the 1970s, many began to see thepotential of these tools to gather the animalsmore effectively, more safely, and more humanely.

among them was the mostardent champion of the wild horses and burros. we took annie out a number oftimes in a helicopter with us to show how that withexperience and care you could use a helicopterto drive these animals much safer than you couldjust by horseback, that, you know, if they gotto running towards the rocks where it was going to cripplethem or injure them, you could just drop overin front of them

with the helicopter and slow them downor turn them, showing her how usinghelicopters would be much safer than just runningthem by horseback when we had to do roundups. narrator: in 1976,she helped win support for an important provision of the federal land policyand management act, or flpma. this provisionexpressly authorized

the use of motorized vehicles,including helicopters, to gather wild horses andburros for management purposes. it gave the bureau authorityfor helicopter use, and whoa! wasn'tdirectly involved, but as velma's agent,i filmed the roundups, and then we started showing thatfilm to other organizations in order to show thatthey could be humane, that just because itwas a helicopter didn't mean that the animalswould be run to death,

that if it was done correctly,it was more humane. narrator: in the early years of the federal wild horseand burro program the only feasible methodof gathering the animals was to send wranglersout on horseback to chase the animalsand rope them. it was an inefficient process that too oftenresulted in injuries, extreme stress and exhaustionfor the wild horses,

and also the saddle horsesused by the wranglers. man: saddle horsesalways suffer more than the horses they're running. when you gather horseshorseback, you have a number of riders out,which they're all in danger. you bugger up saddle horses. so it's toughon the saddle horses because they're packingall that weight, and you don't have the totalcontrol as you have

when you gatherwith a helicopter. the helicopter can coast alongand let horses go slow. it's more efficient. it's safer. you don't have as many peopleinvolved in danger. and it's just a more efficientway to do the job. narrator: the bureauof land management continues to refinegather methods to improve the health and safetyof the wild horses and burros

and ensure the humaneand caring treatment that these living legendsdeserve. however, no matterhow careful the blm is, there is a small mortality rate associated withgathering wild horses. this rate is usuallyless than 1% of all horsesgathered in a year. it includes horses thatcome off the range in poor to very poor condition.

these animals may be euthanized if they are diagnosed asunlikely to improve or do not respond to treatment. the time of year and even the time of dayfor gather operations are chosen to provide the mostfavorable climate conditions. extreme care is taken to avoid the separationof foals and mares and to reunite themas quickly as possible

if they do become separated. the animals are herded atmoderate speeds over moderate distances to avoid exhaustionor dehydration. the helicopter has becomean indispensable tool for conducting necessary gathers with the highest degree ofefficiency and humane treatment of the animals. but the agency continues torefine the use of this tool,

commissioning formal studiesby others outside the agency, such as the nationalacademy of sciences. i do thank the board forallowing us all to come here and speak to you. narrator: striving forfull transparency and involvement of the public, the agency conductsannual meetings to invite the public to airconcerns and suggestions for improving the gatherpolicy and practices.

and i also feel that untilwe have an accurate count we need the roundup stopped, and i understand thatif the count is over, we need to manage them. i have no issue with that. emotion must be set aside. the blm needs to showsome leadership. and agendas cannot be allowed to set the tone or thedirection of the discussion.

but it's never too late to dothe right thing, in our opinion, and we think now is the time. we embrace true reform withinthe bureau of land management. a new transparentand accountable wild horse and burro programthat takes its lead from the sincere wishes of the vast majority of americancitizens and taxpayers. narrator: next, we travelto some of the rangelands where wild horsesand burros roam

to learn more about how and why some of these animals aregathered from the range. i love to see all wildlife. i love all animals. so i don't want tosee horses overgrazing and starving out deer. i don't want to see theloss of rabbits and elk. i want to see it all. i want to see it managed nicely.

narrator: across thewestern united states, blm specialistsmonitor the range along with animal populationsthat inhabit them. their goal is healthy horses andburros on healthy rangelands. let's take a closer lookat some of these areas. in southwestern wyoming,inventories of wild horses in the adobe town and salt wellsherd management areas show a sharp increase inpopulations from 2009 to 2010. the overpopulation posesa significant threat

to wildlife habitat and forage. man: it's just a big chunk ofcountry with a lot of horses, and we only have so muchhabitat available, and if we allow too manyhorses to be out there, then we aren't going to havethe habitat available for the elk and the antelope andthe deer and the other species that rely on that. narrator: railroad landgrants from the 1800s created a checkerboard patternof land ownership.

the lands were dividedwith alternating sections of private land andfederally-managed public land. the 1971 wild free-roaminghorses and burros act did not identify a specificacreage to be managed as habitat for wild horses and burros. it recognized that animals roam on a landscape ofmixed ownership. over the years, managementunits have been identified, taking into considerationsuch factors

as availability of water, the presence of habitatfor summer and winter range, and conflicts with otherresource values or land ownership. to protect the property rightsof private landowners, the animals must be kept within herd management areason public lands. the agency works closelywith private landowners to accomplish this.

man: we believe that thelivestock resource is important. we believe that the wildliferesource is important. we also have a great dealof oil and gas activity, trona mines, coal mines,power plants. that said, if we have one areathat gets out of control, it affects all of the others. in the summer of 2009,the rawlins field office in cooperation with therock springs field office flew two population surveys.

since then, our populationhas grown by about 25%. because we're sofar over our aml, or appropriate management level, we need to do a gather tomaintain the range conditions in the herd management areas. ruhs: the horses arein very good shape. the range is still inreally good condition. and if we manage thesehorses appropriately, we'll maintain that.

we'll keep the rangein great shape. we'll be providing habitatfor the other wildlife species that are out there. narrator:the largest populationsof wild horses and burros are found on some of theleast hospitable landscapes of the west... the dry and barrenrangelands of nevada. the montezuma peak and thepaymaster herd management areas are located in the northern partof the mojave desert.

these areas get no more than 3 to 4 inches ofprecipitation annually. as you can seeacross the landscape, we've got mostlyshrub species here, and there's very few grassesthat are produced in the understory. in fact, there's anexample right here. the grasses are smalland don't comprise a large percentage ofthe plant community.

narrator: with limitedwater and forage, ever-increasingherd populations, and competitionfor food and water, the animals often face aday-to-day struggle to survive. the whole center ofthis montezuma hma is almost devoid of vegetation, especially anything edible for ahorse or other grazing animals. so i've seen it--it breaks my heart. it's turning into a dust bowl.

i pass right through whereall the wild horses are, and over the years, i've seen many of them thatthey're starving to death. people who do notlive in the west, i don't think really, trulyunderstand the circumstances that these animals live in. and i really think thatit's much more humane to keep them at levels wherethey can be healthy and happy. the horses don't haveany nutritious forage.

the waters dry up. the horses will declinein body condition and we'll end upwith 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 ourhorses out here to suffer those typeof consequences because these areas justaren't suited to them.

overpopulation inthe horse herds, it's an extreme problemin some areas. if you've had towatch those herds and the little ones starveor die of dehydration or walk for miles and milestrying to find graze, it's not a pleasant experienceto go through. it's very heartbreaking. so gathering is one of the waysthat they can handle that. it's an absolute necessity.

as you can see,we're in the bottom of the silver kingherd 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 agood freeze on it, livestock really like it,wild horses like it. the problem is we're gettinga lot of pressure. the horses fill this valleyfrom one end to the other

down here in the bottom. you can see lots of horsesdown here all winter long. they don't move on. they get enough storms, it kindof fills up a few catch ponds, and they really just hit it. what that results in isdegradation of our rangeland. this is what wecall thorley well, and as you can see, you know, horses have actuallydug this pond out.

it's got pretty goodflow to it. it tends to stay aboutthe same year round. if you come out this wayjust a little bit, you'll notice the trafficand the heavy use getting into this spring. that's what's reallycreating our problem. all the trails havedegraded the rangelands. there's a lot of competition. when the competitionfor the water increases,

it creates rangelands like this. we want to seewild horses out here, but we want to seehealthy wild horses. we don't want to seethem deteriorating. we don't want to see ourrangelands deteriorating. it takes a long time toreplace this vegetation. once it gets down to just dirt, it makes it so ittakes years and years of good water and strongvegetation to bring that back.

narrator: now, to learn moreabout gathering horses with helicopters, we take to the air over a herdmanagement area in western utah. pilot: just aboutwhen the sun comes up, that's usually thebest time to take off. don't like to do itmuch earlier than that because you can't see thehorses and shadows very good. and we usually havesome sort of map so we know where we'regoing to start the day,

and today it's out in themiddle of this huge valley about six miles, seven milesfrom the trap. we are looking for needlesin one big haystack. man: this is a veryharsh environment here in western utah, and we're on site with twohelicopters doing the gather to try to removesome of the horses. the horses are literallytraveling anywhere from 10 to 15-plus miles a day

back and forth betweenforage and water. pilot: extremely rugged...all lava rock. huge valleys interruptedby mountain ranges. very, very little water. warr: one of the things that the pilots areable to do in this area, having the two helicopters, is they can actuallytag team each other. they can actually helpeach other spot horses

that maybe break away or additional animals thatthey might encounter. the first helicopter mightencounter a second band, and it can radio to thefirst 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'llhave them going the right way. pilot: looks likewe got four horses.

this is a group of horses that alan startedthis way two days ago. so these horses were broughtover about halfway and then left them. they were starting to get tired. so they made their way overthe hill down to water. now they're rightwhere we need them, right where we cango put them in the trap. so, basically,a three-day process,

but now we cantake them in today. i would say that my jobconsists of probably 20% knowing how to flythe helicopter. most people witha little experience and a little time inan aircraft can fly it. 80% of what we dois knowing horses, what their behaviors are, what they want to do,what they don't want to do.

they actually have to havespecialized experience or be carded in specificallyherding animals. it takes 300 hoursas a trainee pilot to get carded to fly horses. that's not just pilot training- that's training underneath thewild horse and burro program. when they go like this, they're going attheir own speed. they're coveringplenty of ground.

they're not getting tired. generally this is about what80% of your gather is, horses walking,going the direction you want. we're just stayingback watching... exactly what we want. warr: one of the things thatwe're really concerned about is we need to make sure that the horses are at all timesin good healthy condition, and one of the things thatthe helicopter pilot utilizes

is if they see the horses that tend to maybestart getting tired, they actually may just back off and even to the point of settingthe helicopter on the ground and letting the horsesjust go at a small, easy trot before they evenget close to the trap. pilot: the speed that we'retaking 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 gofaster, we move them faster. when they're a long ways fromthe trap, we take our time. everything that we do,every canyon, every ridge, every wash that wetake them across, we always take intoconsideration what's going to beeasiest on the animals. warr: so it's very importantthat we choose a trap site that we can safely andeffectively gather wild horses.

and this trap sitehas actually been used since the early '80s. this is a trap site where the horses normallywould travel anyway. pilot: you got four coming in,and alan is right behind me with a big bunch withfour coming on their own. warr: the quality of the pilots is the key on the successof this project because the experiencethat they have

really makes or breaks whether our gather operationis going to be successful. pilot: i'm right behind you. it has nothing to dowith your age. i think anybody, if you love animals and you wanta horse that's good for you... i mean, at 63 i gotmy first mustang. i just think it's awesome. narrator: in the summer of 2010,

blm staged one of the largestwild horse and burro roundups in recent history. based out of the eagle lakefield office in susanville, it took place in an areaknown as twin peaks. this vast and magnificentstretch of western landscape covers nearly 800,000 acres,most of it public land. because of its sizeand complexity, the bureau managed thetwin peaks gather under theincident command system.

originally developedin the 1970s in the wildland fire program, it has been refined over theyears to manage other incidents such as natural disasters. under a well-definedcommand structure, this organizational tool brings staff and incidentresources together to efficiently manage highlycomplex events and projects. twin peaks was the first time

it was used forwild horse operations. operationally, we'd liketo collect as many horses as we canduring the gather, and for us that would be-- optimally, that would be2200 horses. that would be about 100%. however, we know that'snot going to be achieved. if we get 90%,that would be great. an appropriate managementlevel for this hma,

herd management area, is 450 horses. narrator: the decisionto gather at twin peaks was based on a methodicalpopulation census of horses and burros conducted periodicallyby the blm and on comprehensivescientific evaluations of the land and its resources. this monitoring examinedthe conditions of soil, forage,

water resources and riparianand wetlands habitat. woman: horse populationsare established through our land useplanning process. this planning processis open to the public. it's lengthy and involvesscientific data and public opinion in order to sethorse populations. an environmental assessmentis used to determine if a gather is necessary.

this would include looking at the impacts the horsesare having on the land. it also might find out that agather is not necessary at all. so there would beno action needed. during the data analysis for our twin peaksenvironmental assessment we determined thatwild horses and burros were consuming three to fivetimes their forage allocation within the herd management area.

what this means on the ground is they were having severeimpacts to our riparian areas. we were seeinglack of vegetation, destabilized banks, and in general, just poorfunctioning condition. in comparison tothe horse numbers, livestock use in thetwin peaks hma was much lower. during the same time period, cattle use was only about60% of their allocated forage

and sheep use was about 32%. our range management, it's basedon the condition of the land, and so we're always trying tomaintain a healthy landscape, and that, of course, fluctuateswith drought and wet seasons and the amount of use that'sdemanded on multiple use lands. and so for us it's aboutforage and water. cattle are managed. they're managed year-round. they're removed from the range.

they're put back inat certain times. there's a certain number based on the amount of foragewe believe is out there at any given time. if there's a drought situation,then we can pull the cattle off. if they're overusingcertain areas, we can pull the cattle off. wildlife is notallocated forage, but wildlife also usesthe same water sources

and similar forages that cattle and horseswould use. and, of course,then there's horses, and they're allocateda certain amount of forage. and horses we don'tmanage year-round. horses are out there year-round,and they're using the land, and they're usingthe riparian areas, water sources year-round. so that's all balanced todetermine how many cattle,

how many horses, and then to keep account thatthe wildlife are also impacted by those numbers. the path to get there issafety, humane treatment, public accessibilityand transparency. narrator: another unique partof the twin peaks gather was unprecedented public access. against a backdropof this controversial and at times highlyemotional program,

the agency strived to enablethe public to see firsthand blm's humane treatment ofthe animals under its care during all phases of gatheringand holding operations. mata: i think oneof the benefits of completing thetwin peaks gather in such an open andtransparent process was that it gave usan opportunity to demonstrate to the public what a challenge it is to haveblm's multiple use mission.

narrator: large-scalepublic access required extensive planning and greatly increased the actualcost of the twin peaks gather. we need to get the job done, and as safely andefficiently as possible, and law enforcement isa key component of that. observers can with very littleeffort on their part disrupt or interfere with asignificant amount of work that's gone into gettingthe horses to the trap site.

so it's a delicate balance between allowing theobservers to observe but also providing for thatultimate safety of the horses. narrator: there weremany challenges involved in the logistics of safelyallowing members of the public to watch the inherentlyunpredictable process of capturing large numbersof wild horses and burros in such a remote anddesolate location. collum: it really comes downto selecting what's best

for the safety of the horsesand taking into account viewing of the public nowin a safe distance and just operationally howthey can get the most horses into the trap site safely. narrator: throughoutits history, blm's wild horse and burroprogram has sparked controversy. individuals and organizationshave had strong feelings, and at times havetaken exception to blm's management ofwild horses and burros.

at twin peaks we talked tosome of these individuals. i'm not against the blm. don't get me wrong. i'm not againstthe other agency charged with their protectionand management, which is the forest service. i just want them to dotheir job, fairly, and be fair to these animals andgive them their rightful share. a little piece of freedom,

piece of land out here inthese vast, wide-open spaces. if they have to betaken off the range, they should be in theirfamily groups right now. it would reduce the stress. it would reducethe risk of injury. it would do all mannerof better things to make it about what'sbetter for the horses and not just what'sconvenient for the people. my concern is that they'rebeing excessively rounded up,

that they're taking far toomany and leaving far too few for such a vast areaof nearly 800,000 acres. you realize an acre is aboutthe size of a football field. i'm aware-- i've reviewedthe environmental assessment. i am aware that theallocation for livestock is about 82% of the forage, whereas that for the wild horsesis the remainder, and then the wildlife, too. narrator: after many monthsof planning and preparation,

the twin peaks gather beganjust after dawn on august 11th. a helicopter lifted off to findhorses and burros on the range and began herding themto a capture point. the first days of the gatherwere conducted at a location called the skedaddle home range. in the weeks that followed, gather operationsmoved to another area so the horses and burroswere closer to the trap site. once a band of horseswas located,

the helicopter began moving them in the general directionof the trap. as the helicopter carefullyherded the animals in the direction of the trap, wings extending out on eitherside of their path funneled the horsesinto 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 barrierfor the horses so we can funnel theminto the corrals. if they were to comein contact with this, it's very soft and pliable. it's actually very easy justto break through this and a very humane wayof directing the animals into the trap. narrator: the helicopteroften stayed a quarter mile to a half mileaway from the animals,

approaching closer onlywhen necessary to keep the horses moving,or to change their direction. as the pilot moved the horsescloser to the trap, he radioed wranglers on theground that they were coming in. a domestic guide horsewas led by a wrangler to the entranceof the trap wings. other wranglers hidalongside the wings waiting for the horsesto run by. the guide horse,

who was trained to gallopin front of the wild horses, was released and led the animalsinto the portable corral. once the horses wererested and settled, they were transported a shortdistance to a holding corral where they were examinedby a veterinarian. injuries that may haveoccurred during the gather were immediately treated, as were any preexisting injuriesthe horses may have sustained before the gather.

small foals weremoved separately to keep them from beinghurt by larger horses. later they were reunited withtheir mares at the corral. consistent with the bureau'smanagement approach, a number of strong,healthy horses were returned to the rangeto repopulate the herd. but before they were releasedback into the wild, they were freezemarked and records were madeof their age and color.

the mares were vaccinated withporcine zona pellucida, or pzp, a drug to control fertility. the rate at whichwild horses reproduce has been an ongoing challengefor blm since the 1970s. the bureau workswith organizations such as the humane societyof the united states and invests in ongoing research to develop more effectivemethods of fertility control. the objectives of this research

are to require a science-basedfertility control program that can serveas the primary means of maintaining healthy horsepopulations in the wild and to dramatically reducethe need to remove animals from the range. blm's ultimate goalis to balance the amount of excess horses removed from westernrangelands every year with the number of horsesannually adopted

by members of the public. man: what we're doing now is actually releasingthe last load of mares. we're releasing backout this way. this is kind of thebest place to lead them because this is all theirhome range out here. and we have themfacing that way. that way we're not releasingtowards people. kind of keep everybody back.

you can see right nowhow the horses are all towards the backof the trailer. what those guys will do is kindof get them to go forward, get them off the gateso he can open the gate, and hopefully the horsewill fall through it. see, they're all going forward. then they'll carefullyopen the gate. obviously, youdon't want to get kicked. they don't want to usetheir flags too much.

just a little bit. they don't want to scare them. let one get herhead out the door, see, just like that, and then they'llstart going. nice and easy. can't beat it. narrator: the gather attwin peaks that began in august was concluded six weeks later.

the operation was successfulin reducing the populations of wild horses and burrosin the area to the upper range ofappropriate management levels. i would have to say for anybody out therecontemplating a mustang to go for it. narrator: from gathersites across the west, the animals now beginthe first part of a journey that will take themto greener pastures,

where many will find new homeswith caring adopters. horses and burrosgathered from the range will first be transported to one of blm's manypreparation facilities where they will be examined, receive immunizationagainst equine diseases, and be registered in a database. once the horses arebrought in from the range, they're unloaded off thetrucks, and for the most part,

they're already separatedby the different sex classes. and so then we just put themon feed and water and rest. all our facilities provideproper feed, water and medical care. the feed that we put them on is a low-carbohydrate,low-protein feed, similar to what they'reused to on the range. and then we slowlytransition them into a more of adomesticated feed.

the horses are brought upfrom a large holding pen, and they're conveyedthrough an alley system into the tub and chute area. the tub, where we hold thelarger group of animals, is round. there's no sharp corners in it. once they're in thetub and chute area, then they come single filethrough an alley into the squeeze chute.

so we open the doorof the squeeze chute, the individual animal comes in,the door is closed behind it, and then the horse is squeezedsnugly but not overly tight, and then we administervaccinations. the vaccinations are veryimportant for disease prevention in these facilities. when these horses come infrom the range unvaccinated, they're naive to domestichorse diseases. so we give them vaccines inorder for prevention for that.

and then age determination isdone by the veterinarian. we have some specialmetal sticks that we put in the horse'smouth so we can see the teeth, and then depending tooth shape,angle, eruption determines the ageof the animal. man: 12. this horse is about 7. 15. neill: and then after that,

deworming medicationis administered orally to the animal. once those steps are done,then we shave the neck, the hair on the neckdown to skin level. this is where we're goingto apply the freeze brand. on an adult horse, we leave the freezemark onthere, our freeze iron on there, approximately 30 seconds. what that does is it altersthe hair follicles in the neck,

and in about six to eight weeks that hair grows backwhite in color, and the color-- or the white areas on thereresemble the freezemark. then we hang a neck tagaround the animal's neck. this is a numeric four-digitnumber that each animal gets. it's part of their freeze brand,their freeze identification. then we record all theinformation into our database, the freezemark of the animal,the color, the color markings, and then we can track theseanimals individually

through adoption and titling. one month later,they're brought back in for another set ofbooster vaccinations so they get the acquiredimmunity that they need. after that's completed, then these horses are availablefor the adoption program. narrator: the blm prepareshorses and burros for adoption here at indian lakesnear fallon, nevada, and at otherpreparation facilities,

includingpalomino valley, nevada, rock springs, wyoming, burns, oregon, ridgecrest, california, and susanville, california. we're here at thelitchfield corrals just outside of susanville, northern california's wild horseand burro preparation facility. we're going to show youaround the facility today,

and you can see some ofthe wild horses and burros that we have inside and that will be availablefor adoption soon. you can see these arepretty big pens. actually, most of these pens range in size fromfour to seven acres. so it's a pretty big area. it's bigger than a lotof people's property that keep horses.

these horses have plenty of roomto run around, chase, play, get away from each other,and just be horses. here we're standing nextto one of our burro pens. this pen has jackand gelding burros. people really liketo adopt the burros. they're very cute. but they are also very goodfor driving, packing, riding. people use themfor guard animals to protect their sheepand goats from coyotes.

so we hope that if you'reinterested in adopting a burro you come on out and get one. narrator: in additionto public adoptions held at some of the blmpreparation facilities, the agency also takes theadoption program on the road, transporting horses and burrosto adoption events in communitiesthroughout the country. i want to welcome you to thebureau of land management's wild horse and burro adoption

and to midland countyfairgrounds. narrator: adoptions by internethave provided another means of introducing the publicto america's living legends and finding good homesfor the animals with caring andqualified adopters. man: we're biddingon jenny 9269. we have an openingbid for $125. narrator: while the blm is eagerto find homes for the animals, the agency's detailedapplication, screening

and inspection process ensures that thehorses and burros are placed with those who arequalified to care for them. among other requirements, adopters must demonstrate thatthey have adequate feed, water and facilities to providehumane care for the animals. since the passage of the wild free-roaminghorses and burros act in 1971, the blm has placed more than220,000 wild horses and burros

into the care ofprivate citizens. all: midwestmustang challenge! narrator: the blm along with the nevada commission for thepreservation of wild horses, contributed to the creation ofthe mustang heritage foundation. the blm now workswith the foundation in sponsoring extreme mustangmakeover competitions, which showcase theabilities and benefits of adopting america'sliving legends.

horse trainers young and oldfrom around the country train wild horses forapproximately 90 days, getting them ready to ride. they then compete at manyregional and national events. most importantly, the mustangheritage foundation helps blm by promotinghorse adoptions, providing saddle-ready horsesto americans wanting to adopt, and raising awarenesswith the public of the need for good homesfor these animals.

announcer: thank youvery much, lane. narrator: partnerships withcorrectional facilities allow inmates tosaddle train mustangs, benefiting the adoption program and the rehabilitationof inmates who work with the horses. seeking to provide moretrained wild horses that may be moreappealing to adopters, the blm is exploringother partnerships

or contractual arrangements for the training ofanimals to be adopted. some of the horsesgathered from the range have little likelihoodof being adopted because of advanced ageor other characteristics. but these horses willalso find new homes where they will becared for humanely. we ensure that the excess horseseither are taken to good homes that the public take care of

or they're takento long-term pastures where they canlive out their lives. when it's determined there'snot a demand for that animal and it's actually going to go to one of our long-termholding pastures, then they're loaded ona straight-deck truck. those trucks then will go toa long-term holding facility and they will be offloadedat their corral and they'll be ableto go into their pens

where they're wateredand fed for that night. from those pens they havewhat they call traps, which are five to ten acres, and those horses will belet out into the traps, and for anywhere from a weekto two-week period of time, they'll be doinga transition period. this is very, very important. they learn that there's a truck. they learn the soundof the truck.

and the most importantthing of all is they learn that truck hasfeed and they like that feed. and so when they actuallyget them used to that and horses startcoming up to it, then they will gradually let them follow the truckout to the larger pastures, which they'll doat that point in time, and then they'll be outin the pastures. the grass is likea real emerald green.

i mean it's so green,and they like chasing the green. so they're just kindof like running across grabbing little bitesof green grass. and then as the year goes on andturns into spring and summer, you're going to have this grassthat is up to their hocks. we have project inspectors that actually are in contactwith the contractors on a daily basis. they make rounds

and periodically goand check the horses, talk to the contractors. they make sure thatif there's any problems that they're dealt with. the wild horse and burrospecialists that work for blm do this job because theyhonestly really love horses. they don't want anything badto happen to these horses, and they're lookingat the whole picture, because if you don't takeexcess horses off of the range

and have a place for them, then those horseswill suffer. if you don't placethem in good homes, then those horses will suffer. and if you don't have aplace to put these horses for the rest of theirlives in large pastures so that they can have afree-roaming environment, they will suffer. so the horse specialists inall aspects of the program

honestly care very, very muchabout these horses. it's a passion. it's not a nine-to-five job. believe me, it's nota nine-to-five job. it is a job that you only do itbecause you love the animals and you love what you're doing. they love you. you know, you areone-of-a-kind for them, and you're not like just anyother person for a mustang.

they see you as someone special. narrator: they exist in teemingpopulations never imagined when the laws to protect wildhorses and burros were enacted. some 33,000 horses and 4700burros can be found today roaming millions of acresof public lands. the bureau of land managementcan continue to provide responsible andcaring stewardship for these living legendsof the american frontier. wild horse and burro herdscan exist in balance

with other public usesand values. succeeding in this, however, requires that herdsbe maintained at populations theland can support. without effectiveand vigilant management, the health of the herds and the health ofthe lands they inhabit will be at risk. they are part of therich and colorful history

of the american west and a cherished partof our public lands legacy... a legacy that belongsto all americans. their history reminds us that there is an importantrole for the public in the continuing stewardshipof wild horses and burros. lappin: annie's legacy,wild horses, encompasses more. one, it tells us that oneperson can make a difference. she told us how incrediblyimportant 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 mychildren's children will be able to go outand see wild horses running acrosspublic rangelands that are healthy. so i believe her legacystretches over many facets,

and it was probably allinspired by a love of the land. there's no other animal inthe history of our country that has been sobrutally exploited. i talked to our onecongressman from nevada, one day was in the office,we were shooting the breeze, and i said, "would youintroduce a bill in congress?" and i told him whati'd like to have. and he said, "sure." so he did.

people have different degreesof humaneness, and i guess to them it wasjust a marketable commodity. i particularly like theresponse of the children, programs i give in the schools. you can almost see the stars andstripes waving in their eyeballs when you give astirring talk about "we the people, a governmentby the people, we the people..." that means you kids, too. it isn't just us grownups,

the people thati'm talking about, because these horses belongto all the people of america and they exist on land that belongs to allthe people in america. johnston: i can't takecredit for the trappings from this weekend. it was the people instorey county, virginia city, particularly, and the ecology students atthe university of nevada

and dr. michael pontrelli. i did know about it, and it was through the knowledgethat i had of the trap that this all developed. reporter: how was it discovered? johnston: i think it'sgenerally known throughout the united states that if anythinghappens to a horse, no matter how major or minor,

i am the first personwho is told about it, and it seems that a gentleman--or fellow was discussing a trap that he was buildingin storey county, and someone overheard it andthought i would be interested and telephoned to me. it's not that fancy... it isn't european... it doesn't have room formuch more than one person... and it's hard to keep clean.

but, you don't have to waitin line to fill its tank. you don't to worry aboutparking spaces, tune-ups, or what next year'smodel will look like. and it's a lot of fun. we've got thousands of wildhorses waiting to be adopted. for information write:

dog adoption

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