His renewed freedom was short lived as he was recaptured, separated from his family and shipped to the holding corrals in Delta, Utah. His spirit was crushed, his life endangered by intensive confinement.
Despite more than 24,000 Americans calling on the BLM to return the senior stallions from the Sulphur Springs roundup to the wild, the agency refused. Instead, the BLM auctioned off #3907 to the highest bidder - a breeder in the Pacific Northwest.
For five long months, it seemed that this elder mustang was destined to spend his remaining years confined to a breeding pen, until the breeder reneged. A fantastic mustang advocate who has worked tirelessly to save #3907 stepped in and secured sanctuary placement with Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, where he was set to travel this week.
Mr. Grulla #3907 was part of a larger rescue of three other senior stallions, as well as three mare/foal pairs who were also captured in the February roundup. He was being gelded so that he could join his herd mates at the sanctuary. The three senior stallions - one older than #3907 - that were rescued before him were gelded successfully without complications. The hope was that #3907 could be reunited with his herd and they could live together as a family to help supplement the family bonds and friendships that were destroyed by the BLM when they were rounded up.
In a statement issued by the BLM, they said that he was being gelded at the request of his new owner, which implies that they would otherwise not have gelded this senior stallion. However, the BLM failed to mention that its across-the-board policy is to geld all stallions – from those who are just 4-5 months old to geriatric stallions like Grulla #3907. Hundreds, if not thousands, of BLM stallions have died over the last 40 years from gelding complications. The BLM's attempt to blame private parties for the gelding of this senior stallion is disingenuous and morally wrong.
Gelding an older stallion is dangerous and less than ideal. However, once an older mustang is removed from the range, there are no good options. These horses are not good candidates for transition to domestic life. Mustangs who lived for more than two decades wild and free often spend their final days and years in feedlot pens and holding pastures. Some die from traumatic injury or other stress-inflicted disorders. Some just give up, stop eating and waste away. Others, like Grulla #3907, die from complications of gelding. This is the reality of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, and #3907 has given the world a tragic glimpse into it.
The medical reason given for his death is "heart attack." But his rescuer, who has devoted the last five months of her life to saving him, believes the real reason was something else:
"I have watched this magnificent mustang in holding over the past five months. We all have seen his sadness in the photos I've shared. He lost his freedom, his family; and then, his two best friends were adopted and taken away a few weeks ago. If you ask me, he died of a broken heart."
Read her entire statement here.
Let the Sulphur stallion represent the thousands of wild horses who, each year, are rounded up and removed from their homes and families on the range, for his plight demonstrates poignantly why the BLM must end the inhumane removal of wild horses from the range.
May the sadness and anger we all feel over his death strengthen our resolve and unite us in the fight for fairer and more humane treatment of our nation's magnificent wild horses and burros.
Visit WildHorsePreservation.org to find out what you can do to help wild horses and burros.