An observer with the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) was watching some horses on Wyoming’s Red Desert, where the wild horses were mercilessly chased using helicopters. Unfortunately, one baby foal couldn’t keep up with all the other horses galloping away from the giant flying machine.
“There was a small black foal who was falling behind his band, and the band was being stampeded by helicopters,” Grace Kuhn, communications director for the American Wild Horse Campaign, said. “The foal was anything from a quarter of a mile or a half a mile behind sometimes, struggling to keep running with this big herd.”
The Red Desert is of almost 700,000 acres of land, which is separated explicitly for wild horses as their habitat. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Land Management (BML) is continuing to remove wild horses from western territories, every year. Some wild horses are chased so much; they become exhausted, while others die from injuries due to the stress of the moment.
“Foals are definitely the most vulnerable out on the range when the helicopters come because they [have to] run extremely long distances, and it’s often too much for their bodies to handle,” said Kuhn.
The foal in this case, however, suffered more than the usual.
“At some point, his mother noticed that he wasn’t with her, so she bravely turned back away from her band and waited for the baby to catch up with her,” Kuhn added. “The helicopters moved on and pushed the herd into the traps. The mare had stayed with the foal, who had just stopped. He was completely exhausted — and he’s tiny.”
Also, the day was unimaginably hot, with a temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
“There are standards that the BLM has to follow — they can’t run horses over 95 degrees, and it was 94 degrees,” Kuhn said. “That’s hot for Wyoming so that compounds the fact that you’re running these small, baby animals for miles at a time in extreme heat.”
When the helicopter successfully drove the herd into the coral, it returned to the mother and her baby horse.
“Our observer watched as the helicopter came back over to the pair,” Kuhn said. “From the video, you can tell that the mother is obviously stressed. She doesn’t have her herd with her, and she’s trying to look after her baby. You can just see her trotting around, trying to decide her next move.”
The pair didn’t agree to move, so two wranglers started slowly dropping down to catch the horses.
“As a last-ditch effort to protect her baby, the mare charged one of the wranglers on horseback, and sent him away from the foal,” Kuhn said. “I have never seen that happen in all of the years I have been doing this work — a mare trying to protect her foal in that way.”