"Wild Horses and Renegades" Calls Attention to the Abuse of Wild Horses and Protected Lands in the American West

"Wild Horses and Renegades" Calls Attention to the Abuse of Wild Horses and Protected Lands in the American West

[click “Play” to hear Jesse’s interview with James Anaquad-Kleinhert]


By Jesse James McTigue

Horses, helicopter It may be impossible to watch Wild Horses and Renegades and not be outraged.

The documentary film calls attention to the politics driving the strategic and systematic extinction of wild horses on public lands; an initiative born through the Bureau of Land Management’s cooperation with the extractive industries to access protected lands for their own purposes – primarily drilling.

The film screens at 7 pm this Wednesday, August 31st, at the Palm Theater. The evening begins with a reception at 6 pm that will include food from local restaurants, art exhibits, a silent auction and a poetry reading by Michael Blake, author of “Dances With Wolves”. The film’s director, producer and cinematographer, James Anaquad–Kleinhert will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions.

The issue driving the film is the BLM wild horse round ups happening in the American West, and specifically in Disappointment Valley, about 60 miles from Telluride as the crow flies.

“Why,” you might ask, “would the BLM take part in rounding up wild horses, exporting them to Mexico to be slaughtered for meat, or keeping them in disease-infested holding facilities, costing American taxpayers $120,000 a day?”

A simplified version of the answer goes something like this.

A big player in the extractive industries sees land that is ripe for mining. To avoid an extensive environmental impact statement and assessment, the corporation needs to make sure there are no protected, wild species on that land. Solution: Remove the wild species.

The in-depth version of the answer is in Wild Horses and Renegades.

According to Kleinhert, these companies strategize to work around environmental regulations and legislation prohibiting them from accessing protected mineral-rich land, ten or even twenty years, ahead of time. In Disappointment Valley, and other areas in the West, part of this strategy includes getting rid of a protected species – in this case wild horses—thereby getting rid of a factor that may prohibit drilling.

But, these horses are protected, right?


In 1971 the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed unanimously to protect wild horses and the land they inhabited, however, in recent years, lobbyists have been successful at “gutting” this Act. The corporations running the extractive industries have, according to Kleinhert, “sleazily” taken liberty in interpreting the Act’s exceptions, then used backdoor tactics to slide their agendas through the responsible governing agencies.

The main case study in the film is the removal of wild horses in Disappointment Valley for the interest of uranium mining – uranium that would likely be milled in the proposed Pinon Ridge Mill in Paradox Valley if it were passed.

As much as Kleinhert is an activist, he is an artist. In his efforts to protect the American West in Wild Horses and Renegades, he grounds his audience with high definition footage capturing the area’s beauty and the majestic movement of these emblematic animals.

To hear an interview with Jesse James McTigue and James Anaquad–Kleinhert, press play on the podcast at the top of the page.  


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