Wild Horse Education

Strategic Advocacy: Drought


Jackson Mountain, foaling season… and another win against conduct and chaos management. Lone foal being trapped via helicopter capture methods.

Wild Horse Education (WHE) is a tool building organization founded by on range journalist/advocate Laura Leigh. Leigh never intended on creating an organization, she intended to change the reality she found when she began to write, document and then litigate. WHE was founded out of necessity; a documentation and action machine to create a foundation of change and educate media, public, courts and legislators to effect that change.

Over the years the growth of social media has created a “you need to dumb down what you say to the public or you wont get support” atmosphere. A media that also saw it’s print publications hit with massive financial loss also became “hooked on the clickbait” to maintain revenue now generated online. (article from January 2017: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/01/25/post-truth-advocacy-and-the-hypocrisy-of-the-media-we-got-what-we-asked-for/) 

We are referencing the above to address a tragic consequence demonstrated in the recent Associated Press (AP) article published last week:     https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/07/23/drought-propaganda-nightmare/). Journalists are not experts (generally) and take a story where those interviewed (because they have sent press releases) take them. The linked story jumps around like a rabbit trying to avoid a predator and it it gets caught, with tragic consequences. That story (and the positions the voices  presented)  is being used as a baseline for discussions at the legislative table where we will have ongoing debate and discussion that will involve both spaying and unlimited sale, or slaughter. Those debates do not stop when an Appropriations bill is signed for the year.

WHE is continuing to address multiple areas of deficit. You can too by taking the action at the bottom of this article.


Stallion and his mare n the subset population of Pancake where about 200 wild horses were threatened with drought earlier this year. The capture was suspended due to heavy rain.

Strategic collection of information, research and action is crucial. Wild horse and burro management has a tendency to run in a knee jerk fashion based on crisis; all sides of this fence. This crisis conversation is ineffective, exhausting and highly exploitable; our horses pay the price.

Most people are aware of WHE’s 5 year battle from range to court to gain a humane handling policy and access to roundups and facilities. This was “strategic” collection of information, research and action. Both of these strategies were successful and resulted in policy change, not just fixing paperwork after litigation and then moving forward with the proposed action. Those cases set a precedent in law and have been used as a basis for not only wild horse cases, but in civil rights cases nationwide. Strategic documentation and engagement for policy change. We call it “tool building.”

You know about access and the humane policy but do you know WHE had begun the same thing in on range management? We worked to create data/fertility control programs. We worked to stop unjustified removals. We also changed the way drought can effect an entire herd. Did you know that? We are working on creating more tools that could lead to proactive, not crisis, management.


Wild horses being run through domestic livestock at Jackson.  Livestock was allowed to graze at the same moment the emergency was so dire BLM used helicopters to remove wild horses, including newborn babies, outside the legal parameters using a small area of drought to justify the actions.

In the past a small area of drought was used as justification to remove wild horses throughout the Herd Management Area (HMA) in an “emergency.” The small area of the HMA was not targeted, the entire HMA was. Normally for a roundup of wild horses BLM must follow the analysis process of paperwork outlined by NEPA (this was decided during litigation of the very first removal of wild horses back in 1975). In an emergency the parameters change.

Many times these operations take place not only outside the scope of regular paperwork, but outside the scope of the accepted roundup timetable. BLM is prohibited from doing running a helicopter operation to trap wild horses from March-June due to “foaling season.” (Yes, we do know that is not based on a case by case basis and has not been adjusted in a long time. That is part of our continuing work on the humane policy).


Mare and foal from the actual area of emergency after capture.


In June of 2012 BLM planned an “emergency” helicopter roundup of the wild horses throughout the Jackson Mountain HMA based on a small area of actual emergency. Our litigation had the court recognize that distinction; the area of actual emergency from the rest of the HMA. The case also gained recognition from the court that the use of helicopters at that time of year was simply “not good” and BLM should consider alternatives. https://wildhorseeducation.org/legal-action/jackson-mountain/

That case was extremely important to WHE. On the ground working toward access and a humane policy we also became acutely aware of the lack of data used in actual management strategies and that wild horses were being “managed” reactively. This sad fact would never lead to fulfillment of the intention of law.


Drought weakened mare falls and is run over during capture

Today we are seeing a few emergency removals that focus on these subset populations instead of targeting the whole. This is still crisis management but it demonstrates that the distinction is understood.

Areas like Jackson Mountain are distinct subset populations. These distinctions not only appear in genetic makeup but the terrain occupied has a distinct geography with a different history of “multiple use,” rainfall and forage capacities. However the BLM barely monitors areas like the distinct populations at Jackson. Jackson is on our radar, it should be on theirs.

Until management of wild horses takes on the same strategic outlook as our litigation has, it will continue to fail.

We are still working hard to gain an honest conversation.

Be aware of propaganda and crisis operation methods. This is the greatest danger to our wild horses and to creating an effective, strategic, advocacy.


We have a 10K matching donor until August 1, 2018. This match will go a long way to helping us to create and actualize our fall and winter strategy. 

Can you help us?


This is “big picture” time.

The BLM report to Congress is a 25 page document that is shorter than the Final EA on Caliente. The report to Congress is a demonstration of extreme disrespect to both Congress and the American public. The document is simply a bad joke perpetuated that “BLM and DOI” actually know anything about wild horses. The BLM report is simply a wish list of proslaughter political factions.  (if you missed that report read here:   https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/04/27/blm-report-to-congress/)

Call your Congressional representative and urge them to:

Ask your representative to do all they can to support an investigation into the BLM wild horse and burro program. Ask your representative to support an investigation into corruption and extremism on public lands. 

Deny release of funding for Appropriations in fiscal year 2019 that begins October 15 for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program (beyond feeding and caring for captive wild horses) until Zinke and his staff create a real report on the BLM wild horse and burro program. The 25 pages provided to Congress by the BLM is not a report, it’s a “wish list” provided by one faction. 

Deny all funding for any removal except in emergencies. Deny all funding for experimental procedures that waste tax payer funding like spaying. Deny all funding until they do their job and create a real report. 

Demand that the BLM report to Congress addresses the BLM sale program and where over 20,000 wild horses have gone since 2016.

Ask your representative to demand a full report from Zinke.  25 pages is simply an insult to both you and your Congressman.

Find you rep here: https://govtrack.us


Categories: Wild Horse Education