Wildish Podcast: Why helicopter gathers are so controversial

Episode Four: The risks inherent in the Bureau of Land Management’s ‘most humane’ method of wild horse removal.

 

From High Country News in collaboration with Alan Wartes Media, Wildish is a six-part podcast series that chronicles the complicated world of wild horse management in the Western United States. Wildish is meant to confound you. It does not offer a simple solution to one of the region’s most intractable natural resource conundrums. It is a serial on humans. You’ll hear from the activists who ache for freedom — for the wild horse to be wild — and from those who flinch at the mythology attached to the species. You’ll also get to know some of the well-meaning people inside the Bureau of Land Management, the agency stuck in the middle, faced with balancing the horse as a relic of the Wild West with its undeniable impacts on the modern Western landscape.

Episode Four

The Bureau of Land Management’s most controversial population control tactics are the helicopter gathers, which sometimes end up killing the horses involved. New legislation has been passed to increase wild horse gathers and offer funding to a new sterilization method for wild horses and burros. Wildish host Anna Coburn attends a helicopter gather in Range Creek, Utah, and speaks to Gus War, a wild horse and burro specialist, and public affairs specialist Lisa Reid, two BLM lead employees, about the gathers, their jobs and their hopes for the program. We also hear from Ginger Kathrens, the founder of the Cloud Foundation, a wild horse advocacy group that is fighting to allow wild horses to stay on the range.

Anna Coburn is a producer and seasonal interpretive ranger at Curecanti National Recreation Area. She is based in Gunnison, Colorado. Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

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