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Wild Shots: Claude Steelman

I began making this documentary, by following a mustang adoption story. I went into the Carson National forest to witness the process of bait and trap then followed the horses in the trailer to a small holding facility in Farmington New Mexico. The method of bait and trap is much less traumatic for the horses than helicopter roundups and above all it keeps family units in tact – especially mothers and foals. Once they are at the holding facility, the stallions are separated from their mares and foals, and the colts are also taken from their mothers. In this facility the use of PZP ( a shot for birth-control) is used on the mares. A few PZP mares were released to be studied in the wild. {See other blogs on PZP} I felt the sadness of betraying these wonderful freedom loving creatures by tricking them and taking them out of the forest. But, if we don’t get livestock off public land, and the wild horses are the scape goats who have to be removed, then bait and trap methods are much less traumatic for them physically and socially. The Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency who takes direction from the Department of Interior, with Ken Salazaar in charge. During his first years in office , Salazaar has accelerated wild horse removal from public lands. Under his direction, tens of thousands of mustangs have been removed each year from public land and stored in long term warehousing. Salazaar represents special interest groups, most certainly the cattleman’s industry and he and his culture of cronies will do their best to rid our public lands of these magnificent creatures. In this time of economic hardship, adoptions for these horses are down and their is a rise in unwanted “domestic” horses in America. People have to give up their land and/or don’t have the money to board and feed horses through winter. Yet, mustangs are rounded up from land that they can scratch out a living from and fenced like prisoners — waiting what for most of them is a tragic future. There is continual lobbying for re-building of horse slaughter plants in this country because now horses are jammed into semis for a ride of horror before they’re skinned alive and bled to death. {see article on slaughter } We as advocates of the wild horses face a lethal weapon: a culture of people who believe in total dominion over nature. They conquer without seeking sustainable solutions. They play the “good old boys” game, catering to corporations invested in cattle, oil, mining and ranching in the west. They make their own rules as they go, manipulating laws, range studies and spinning propaganda to serve their goals. Even some environmental groups have fallen for their stories that range land can’t support the herds of horses currently out-there. Not all range land are in the same shape but without a plan for these horses after being rounded up, the BLM has succeeded in making matters worse. Our public lands managers have chosen to go to war against America’s wild horses, taking hostage those who have roamed the earth for longer than we have. And as these iconic symbols of free-spirited survivors are forced into captivity, so we find ourselves, increasingly less free, and more at risk of private interest groups trapping us in a web made of deceit, conquest and ultimate destruction.