4
| News |

Video: Wild horse roundups featuring burros being "hotshotted" are kinder, gentler?

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

In the war of words over the plan to round up thousands of wild horses on federal lands, it's the images that speak loudest. Even as the Bureau of Land Management argues that the thinning of herds is for their own good, critics of the program keep coming up with damning footage showing abuse of the animals by BLM contractors.

As noted in earlier posts, opponents have posted evidence of castrations and mistreatment in inadequate holding pens, a helicopter buzzing (and appearing to strike) an exhausted mustang, and other ugliness.

BLM director Bob Abbey has vowed to "reform" the program. Many of the strongest complaints have to do with the conduct of one contractor, Sun J Livestock of Vernal, Utah. (That's a Sun J pilot buzzing the mustang in a Nevada roundup last summer.) Freedom of Information requests regarding the company's qualifications have been denied, and the Colorado Springs-based Cloud Foundation is now seeking a Department of Interior investigation into the contracting process.

Last month, Ginger Kathrens, the foundation's director and a documentary filmmaker, filmed a Sun J roundup in Nevada and was astonished to see what was involved in getting a few wild burros into a trailer. In the video below, a member of the crew can be seen using an electric prod to repeatedly "hotshot" the burros -- while BLM employees and a government vet stand by, watching but doing nothing to discourage the eager shock-dispenser.

According to Kathrens, Sun J has received $5 million in BLM contracts since the fall of 2010. But this particular sequence isn't any kind of job reference. Check it out.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "More wild horse roundups (and protests) in the works."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.