Wild Horse Education

Owyhee Concludes


Owyhee concludes, 12/2/2016

Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) concluded the capture operation of wild horses from the Owyhee Complex in northern Nevada.

The total captured: 1832 wild horses. Totals reported are 704 studs, 773 mares, 355 colts estimated to have been born in 2016, 17 deaths (with a mare expected to be euthanized in the morning making the total deaths 18).


Today’s operation extended the original announcement to gather 1600, into the southern portion of the project area “off HMA” and removed an additional 229. This brought the total captured to 1832. None of the wild horses captured today will be returned as they were found “outside the boundary” of the designated Herd Management Area or “HMA.” (For more acronyms and their definitions, click HERE)


Going Home

399 wild horses were returned to the range. 199 mares have been treated/retreated with fertility control. Yesterday 201 wild horses (of the 399 released) exited trailers and made their way home.

The last operation in this area was in 2012/2013. Less than 150 wild horses were released at that operation and less than half of those were treated with fertility control. (In other words in 2013, in the 5 HMA Complex totaling over 1 million acres, less than 100 horses had any fertility control on board). You can read BLM’s web page from the 2013 operation here: https://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/Owyhee_Complex_Wild_Horse_Gather_2012.html

This operation in 2016 was conducted under the same EA as the 2012/2013 operation (a “ten year EA” that has some data gaps, confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences, NAS, in 2013). However there is now another stack of papers in the “brand spanking new” land use process to protect sage grouse from being listed. Owyhee contains that new “panic button,” sage grouse habitat.

Although we have still not addressed the deficits outlined in the NAS review, the broken paradigm stands as the doorway to wild horses in the new process under sage grouse. This is NOT a controversial statement, it is simply a fact. There were no formal recommendations created prior to inserting all the language into the sage grouse plans. We will write much more on that soon and are trying very hard to find ways to create the necessary resources to “get the job done.”


Note from Leigh:

There is so much work that needs to be done in order to create some real sanity in the way we manage, and advocate, for our wild ones. The greatest gift you can give something you care about is your time. All of the childish adherence to “purple tights in a mud wrestling ring” simply leads up to a “Friday Night Smackdown.”

An educated advocacy is needed more than ever and a government willing to respect advocacy as much as every other interest. Without it? I fear we will be seeing a lot of “purple tights.”


The last trailer leaving the trap, as a young colt calls and peers out

“There has not been a roundup this big, in this kind of weather, in a long time. In many ways I felt thrown into a time machine and sent backwards nearly a decade. I have a very long history here that includes a long litigation record and even being chased in the desert and threatened with arrest for trying to see a wild horse roundup, while I held an order in my hand signed the day before by a federal judge.

The end of these long operations leaves me spent and reflective. This operation possibly more than any other I have attended. In what can be asserted is my “personal life,” I have not done a load of laundry since November 2, a friend passed away, the election and a small electrical fire, as well as the roundup. Or perhaps it is my history here? Perhaps it is just the entire ordeal of trying to create something that has integrity on the ground? Perhaps it was the sound of the horses taken from the range today in holding, the last sound I took with me? (note: I have been to more days of wild horse removals than any observer, government or public, in the last 7 years. This is a fact no longer even debated in a courtroom). I have been to so many of these… and I remember every single one.

In 2015 BLM adopted out 2,615 wild horses with nearly 60,000 of them sitting in government warehousing. Out of the 1433 wild horses that just lost their freedom? If you take those odds… about 40 of them will find homes, 3%. Right now the lives of every single wild horse removed, that sits in a facility of any kind, is literally awaiting what will come next in this political environment and that “next step” might be death. That is not an over dramatization, it is a clear reflection of current politics.

I have written a long journal entry. I am tired and not feeling well. The entry contains my thoughts about humans (all sides), land, and of course, our wild horses.

I am not going to publish now… I need to sleep, to think and to heal this…


Oh, we had “good” access to a small portion of the the trap. News media was there.. and it was the “weirdest” news media ever… not even extended eye contact… most media talks to everyone. This was weird.

More after sleep.

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Categories: Wild Horse Education