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Copyright 2011 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Review

New Documentary about the Politics of 

BLM Wild Horse Management

By Dorinda Troutman, RMR Staff Writer

 

August 2011 issue

      Before seeing “Wild Horses & Renegades” at the International Wildlife Film Festival during May 2011 in Missoula , Montana , I was afraid it was going to be one of those simple, brutal films (or articles) about mistreatment and/or mismanagement of wild horses which, like a rattlesnake in the road, I have learned to avoid. But this series of interviews and documents interspersed with dazzling footage of a wild horse herd in the Spring Creek Herd Management Area of northern Colorado surprised me.

      Personally, when it comes to wild horses, I favor the small, isolated bands of wild horses that have been DNA tested to prove that they are descendents of Spanish conquistador horses, such as the Pryor, Kiger and Sulphur herds. However, when it comes to corruption, I favor the underdog — or in this case, the underhorse — as wild horses on BLM land have become.

      Filmmaker James Anaquad-Kleinert examines the Machiavellian politics behind the BLM’s controversial policies on public land, and their affect on wild horses. Uranium, natural gas, and other extraction interests seek exclusive, and very private, access to our national lands.  

 

      The film asks how would wild horses be in the way of corporate oil, gas, water, and mineral extraction? Before a big corporation begins extraction on public land leased to them by the BLM, an Environmental Impact Statement is made. If wild horses are in the area, advocates fight to protect their environment and the public could opt to visit the area to see the horses. This could become a problem for the extractive industry, which doesn’t want the public to see environmental destruction or any violations of safety and environmental pollution laws.

      Kleinert shows that in order to accomplish secrecy, those interests put a large amount of pressure on the BLM (read money, lobbyists and corrupt politicians) to remove entire populations of wild horses from millions of acres of land they had been guaranteed to be able to live on under the Wild Horse and Burro Act.

      Kleinert focuses on one wild horse band, led by a charismatic gray stallion named Traveler by local wild horse advocates. The band lives in the incredibly photogenic Disappointment Valley . The area is also coveted by uranium mining corporations.

      In the film, the BLM conducts a helicopter roundup of the 127-member wild horse herd living in the more than 20,000 acre Herd Management area, and two-thirds of the horses are permanently removed for adoption and long-term holding. The day after the horses are gone, uranium mining claims are filed, and claiming stakes are driven into the ground where wild horses had grazed. Traveler is separated from his band of mares and is injured defending one of his mares after she is mistakenly put into the stallion holding pen. Wild horse advocates work through a jumble of red tape, lies and ineptitude to ensure he is released instead of being sent to a long-term holding facility.

      Kleinert shows damning evidence of lies and corruption within the Department of the Interior and the BLM, and explains how the 2009 “Burns Bill” gutted the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

      Printed evidence of BLM secret policies against wild horses is gathered by the filmmaker under the Freedom of Information Act and is shown on-screen.

      Interviews with experts corroborate the problems. These include former Director of the BLM, Jim Baca; Arizona U.S. Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (Chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Committee), from Arizona ; Randy Udall, energy consultant; and past U.S. Energy Secretary and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

      In the end I forgave the clichés, was struck by the beauty, and angry at the lies. I came away believing that there is a climate of greed and corruption that is intentionally exterminating wild horse herds, including the rare Spanish mustangs.

            For more information, visit www.theamericanwildhorse.com.

 

 

Copyright 2011 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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