The Checkerboard Roundup Day 7 – Great Divide Basin by Carol J. Walker
The Checkerboard Roundup 2017 is taking place right now and is expected to take 4-6 weeks. The BLM is removing 1560 adult horses and we don’t know how many foals from three wild horse areas: Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin. The total area of these three herds is 2.4 million acres.
This morning I drove out following the BLM and as we arrived at Bitter Creek Road, the fog moved in. We sat in our cars because it was bitterly cold and then we followed the contractor Cattoors and the BLM up to the trap site. We slipped and slid on the muddy mess the road had become and I worried if it rained we might get stuck trying to get out. When we arrived within view of the trap, we learned that the ideal spot to watch and photograph was on private land. Serena Baker, Public Information Officer insisted that they call John Hay the President of the Rock Springs Grazing Association and ask permission to have access to his land for observation. To my surprise and delight her agreed to let us be there. As we set up our cameras it began to rain. We covered ourselves and our cameras, and about half an hour later it began to clear. We heard the helicopter and he had a large group of horses.
As they got closer I saw a black stallion in front. As they approached the trap, they veered off. The helicopter came back, and the black stallion charged at it! He was so spirited. The Bay roan stallion behind him followed him. The group went over the hill, and then as they came down, he charged again! Then the whole group after one more attempt ran off, fast. The helicopter went to refuel and they added more jute to the wings of the trap. It was clear oto me that these horses have been rounded up too many times and they were not having it.
As another group came in a bay stallion broke away and watched he horses go into the trap. I wondered where his family was. Soon he was calling to the horses in the pen behind the trap. That answered my question. He ran around behind the trap, and we could see him watching the pen. We watched him, and when half his family was loaded onto a semi and drove out, he watched it and called to his mares. Then he would go around and call to his family members in the pens.
The helicopters brought more groups in, and one foal got separated from his mother and went up the hill. Later I saw him alone, and then a rider came out and roped him, and led him to the pen.
We had two horses come very close to us and take a look at us as they ran by.
Then we saw a smaller group come in, and there was a mare and foal and stallion. The mare veered and leaped over the jute barrier, leaving her foal behind. She has lovely long dreadlocks, and she did not slow down as she ran away. Our bay stallion friend tried to join her but she was not interested.
When they were loading the trailer one of the mares stuck her head at a strange angle, and I was concerned, as it turns out with good reason. As they transferred her from the trailer to the semi I saw blood running down her head. Trailering wild horses can be very dangerous for them.
Once they finished bringing horses into the trap, the bay stallion was still hanging around hopefully even though all of his family had been hauled away.
I drove down toward the highway and was very happy to see wild horses still free. They were drinking out of the puddles from the rain earlier. There were about 30 and they were curious but not afraid. AS one of gthe trailers drove by they scattered, but a gorgeous black stallion came closer to take a look at me.
The very sad thing about this encounter was that in the back of my mind, i knew that these wild horses who are still free and still with their families will be rounded up and removed in a matter of days, possibly tomorrow.
I then drove to the Rock Springs Corrals where some of the young foals that had been rounded up outside Salt Wells Creek were there. 700 horses rounded up will be sent to the Axtell holding facility in Utah that is not open to the public, and 700 horses will be sent to Rock Springs Corrals, which will be opened to the public as soon as these horses are ready for adoptions. I will be posting more photos of the horses in the holding facilities.
If you want to find out more information about the Checkerboard Roundup, I will be a guest on Wild Horse and Burro Radio as a guest with host Debbie Coffey on Sunday night, October 1 at 7pm Mountain Time. For more information on how to listen, please visit www.WildHorseFreedomFederation.org
To check on the status of the roundup, you can check the BLM web page: https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/gathers-and-removals/wyoming/2017-at-swc-gdb-wild-horse-gather
My biggest concern about these wild horses being rounded up and removed right now is that they are at the greatest risk of getting killed or sent to slaughter if Trump’s 2018 Budget passes with the language now in it that strips protections from healthy wild jhorses and burros that prevents them from being killed or sent to slaughter. What can you do to help? Please call and keep calling your Senators.