Triple B, August 25 Newark Valley trap site

15 Oct

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

Again we were told to meet at the Ely village park at 4:00 am which meant a 2:00 am wake up call and a 3:00 am departure from Cherry Creek. Today we had a different plan. Now Arla and Maureen knew where the trap site was in Newark Valley and they were going to do some scouting in the area looking for an appropriate vantage point. I was supposed to meet them at the 30 mile loop turn-off from route 50 at 2:30 in the afternoon.

The BLM caravan, Chris Hanefeld and Vanessa in the first car, followed the three HSUS reps, me and two rangers, heads out of town on Route 50 towards Newark Valley again. We arrived at Ruby Marsh Road and as soon as the vehicles in front of me hit the first patch of very dusty dirt road, I literally had to stop – I could not see the road! I wasn’t so worried that morning as I had been on this same road the day before. As I stopped to let the dust clear, the ranger behind me passed me and took off! Another cloud of dust to wait through! I found out later he was the new guy on the team that day and didn’t know all the correct protocols – i.e., a ranger is supposed to stay at the end of the caravan and not leave an observer behind.

Chris Hanefeld and the HSUS SUV were waiting for me at the temp holding pens. They were wondering what happened to me and I explained I chose to drive carefully within the 25 mph speed limit, and had to wait for the two plumes of dust to clear before I would drive on.

We got to the trap site and started walking over to the observation area when Chris got a message that the chopper was bringing in a band of horses. We hurried to get there and set up our cameras.

Early in the day I decided to ask Chris Hanefeld about the 500 foot clearance that the chopper was required to keep from people. Chris Hanefeld said the FAA rules is the reason why the observers were to keep 500 feet from the trap site. Chris added that the fuel truck was also supposed to keep 500 feet away from the trap site and the observation area since the chopper ‘hot-fueled’ there. [Hot-fueled – the chopper is fueled while the chopper engine is still running.]

The First Band

First Band is Sighted in Newark Valley

First Band is Sighted in Newark Valley

First band was found early and appeared to be brought in without incident but I had no idea how long or far they had been driven or where they had started? I could not see what was going on in the areas hidden from view due to the terrain but once I had a shot of what I presumed to be racing horses and chopper dust, I clicked to preserve the time. Sometimes it was not obvious until the cloud of dust got closer.

When I finally got a chance to view my work, I realized that the first and second band were really the same band; they were split into two groups. The first band consisted of 9 horses and two of them were foals. The first five were pushed into the trap site while the other four initially escaped by heading back down slope (north and away from the trap site). These four can be seen standing around in the background of a few shots while the first five were being pushed in the direction of the trap site. Each group had one foal.

The first half of the first band

The first half of the first band approach the trap site.

The First Band

The First Band

The second half of the first band.

The second half of the first band.

The Second Band

The second band is spotted north east of the trap site.

The second band is spotted north east of the trap site.

The second band was a different story – chopper drove the band a long time and a long way – photo time stamp shows that the chopper and horses were in view way down the valley at 7:45 am and were pursued until 9:07 am. This was the largest band of horses I saw at one time so far and they managed to escape! Made me feel real good especially after all the miles they ran!

The second band approaches the trap site.

The second band approaches the trap site.

The chopper ended up pushing them in a box pattern around the trap site and observation area and if my observations are correct they would have run more than six miles or more around us (this does not include when the horses reversed direction from time to time) nor does it include the miles they must have run just to get to the trap site.

The second band regrouping in the trap site area

The second band regrouping in the trap site area

As the horses approached the trap site, the grey mare was leading but three dropped from view and another horse took the lead away from the trap site leading the seven up the hill to the south behind the observation area. The chopper turned them around several times but the horses were determined and kept on heading south. At one point 3 reversed direction and headed south (uphill) the seven others headed north. The north bound horses reversed direction and headed back uphill the way the other 3 had gone. Next time I could see them, there were only nine horses! One had dropped out somewhere. The group of nine continue uphill until they took a right turn and ran west, crossing the road near the ranger parked on the road uphill (south) of the trap site; when this happened I was reaching for my next camera memory card and don’t have any photos of them crossing the road.

The band is headed south

The band is headed south. And one of the 10 makes a run for freedom.

The band is heading west

The band is heading west

{See photo gallery below for the photos in the order they were taken.}

After crossing the road they took another turn right and headed north on the other side of the road. Even though they were less than a mile away, they could not be seen due to the terrain until they were north of the trap site.

The second band has crossed the road we drove in on; this is south of the trap site area.

The second band has crossed the road we drove in on; this is south of the trap site area.

The second band running east just north of the ranger parked on the road.

The second band running east just north of the ranger parked on the road.

And again they made a right turn just north of the other ranger parked on the road and the horses continued east. The Ely district BLM had rangers parked on the road about a half mile away on either side of all the trap sites to control traffic should the chopper be driving horses into the trap site area.

Another right turn to head into the trap site but they won’t go there! The chopper continues pushing them and they go south once again, up the hill! As they head south, the chopper splits them up and after a few double-backs, a group of four horses and one foal escape into the trees while the other four horses head downhill (north) only to escape into the trees!

This band won this battle – they are in the trees and not coming out! If ever there was a band of wild horses I’d like to meet, it’s this band – the band that got away!

[There is a slideshow in the works of this band from start to escape which includes a lot more photographs than are posted here - it will be posted soon! in the meantime scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the gallery of photos at the trap site on August 25, 2011]

Immediately after this failure to catch wild horses, the chopper flies directly over the observation area – so close I could see the watch on the pilot’s wrist! At this point I turned to Chris Hanefeld and said, “500 feet?”

I watched theses horses be chased for one hour and twenty-two minutes, according to my camera. Several times I begged Chris Hanefeld to contact Ben Noyes and tell him to stop the helicopter but he refused as it ‘was not his job’ to tell the WHB specialist how to do his job.

The third band also had 10 horses, two were foals. This band was easily herded from the north east into the trap site. They were driven to the trap site through a depression in the terrain and therefore they were not viewable by my camera and half the time, neither was the chopper visible. This band stayed together throughout their stampede and unfortunately for them, they were trapped.

The third band is at the trap site.

The third band is at the trap site.

 

Everyone's eating dust at the trap site!

Everyone’s eating dust at the trap site!

The last hors of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chuted area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

The last hors of the third band to race over the mound in the jute chutted area of the trap site. The last horse caught for the day!

Immediately after the third band was captured, they began loading the horses onto trailers. They trailered the foals separately. After trailering the foals, they started taking down the trap site.

[Short slide show of trailering is in the works...check back here real soon.]

I didn’t get to inspect the inside of the trailers they used to transport horses back to the temporary holding pens; I suspect it was the trailer they asked us to stand in on Saturday the 27th while we were observing during the Butte Valley trap site. That trailer did not have a skid-proof floor – bare metal! (more about this coming up soon.)

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3 Responses to “Triple B, August 25 Newark Valley trap site”

  1. MorganG October 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Is this Sun J again? Seems like it from the obvious lack of herding expertise. And the band being split up although this is not seemingly as bad as in some of the other stampedes. Ya 500 feet? It must be awfully frustrating to be there and to watch such incompetence.

    Like this

    • westdeltagirl October 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

      Yep, SunJ piloted by guess who? Josh Hellyer!!

      Like this

      • MorganG October 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

        Pretty bad but I think this is the only “pilot” that we can all recognize from his abysmal and unsafe maneuvers.

        Like this

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