Wild Horse Education

CAWP; What, Why, When and How (part two)


Temporary Holding; Stallion asserts dominance in the “stallion pen” during sorting before shipment to a “short term” holding facility.

As roundup season begins again Wild Horse Education has been offered a match to contributions made to our fight fund, to gather information and continue to litigate, to hold BLM accountable the law. WHE is the only organization in history to take BLM to court to stop abusive practices. Can you help us get to roundups and continue our work? 



Question and Answer on the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP)

CAWP stands for “Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.” CAWP is a protocol that was added into roundup contracts and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) placed  into all Environmental Assessments (EAs). (A lot of acronyms that simply mean an internal policy to comply with a legal mandate.)

This move came at the end of 2015 after a long series of legal battles and over 400,000 miles of ground work, almost daily. Part one outlines some of the history and links to the text of our requests and the final version the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) implemented. CAWP still needs refinement.

Part one of the first person CAWP discussion can be found HERE.

At the end of the “part one” there was a form to submit questions. The form has been removed and the sheer number, and variety, of questions has prompted the writing of “part two” before moving on to other articles.


Questions and Answers (Some of the questions are paraphrased or represent duplicates. You may not see the actual language of your specific question, but you will find the answer.)

Question: Why are they allowed time and time again to break the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act?

Answer: The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (amended) is pretty broad. We have repeatedly urged readers to read the actual text of the Act. (You can find it HERE) Many people have an impression of what the Act is, not the “fact of the act.” In my opinion the Act needs reform to tighten and clarify many provisions of the law. Advocacy does have litigation options to create some of those clarifications, but reform would be in order.

This question could reference any aspect of “wild horses.”

In the instance of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRH&B Act) and our fight to create a policy, that would decrease abusive practices and injuries, the Act was utilized as an essential part of our “abuse” litigation.

The WFRH&B Act requires wild horses to be managed humanely. If you read the text of the Act you will see that many areas have what is called “broad discretion” to determine management actions. However “humane” is a “must” under the law (the Act is the law), not a “if you feel like it” part of discretion.

There were a number of other measurements of law that had to be met in order to bring those abuse cases into court. We met those burdens, under intense scrutiny, and won each case.

Winning the cases showed BLM procedure was inadequate under the law. The CAWP policies were created to make an attempt by the agency to adequately follow the law (WFRH&B Act) in practice. The policy in practice and lack of review, has been inadequate. (Just like most internal policy there is no real internal oversight for compliance.)

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Question: I was told by an “expert” that inhumane treatment can not be litigated anymore because BLM has a policy. Is that true?

Answer: No, it’s not true.

If there is an instance where there is an inhumane action it can be litigated, right now.

A policy is a guidance document created to outline a protocol to help those that carry out an action to adhere to a law. The law is the WFRH&B Act now further supported by a policy included in the EA and contracts. WHE built a framework that would make litigation easier than when we began because there was no precedent. Now there is precedent and even more justification built into the hurdles that must be met to justify a valid legal action.

If parameters of the policy are violated, it is not only a “violation of policy” it is an action that the courts would, likely, deem unlawful in and of itself because it fails to comply with a mandate of Congress. As an example, if a helicopter hit a wild horse (a case we won in the past) it could be brought into court and win immediately today on a violation of policy (now referenced in the EA that governs the roundup and in the contracts) and a violation of the WFRH&B Act and legal precedent set in the earlier case.

Observers with relevant information can also, now, participate in proposing CAWP revisions.

Someone saying this is “not able to go to court” is not correct. These cases are hard, you have to be able to present clear evidence, understand distinctions and move fast. No other organization ever brought a case against abuse at roundups into court. First, you have to run the marathon on range and document well. Then, you have to craft a case fast.

We were told they were impossible to bring under law by some very expensive attorneys. They were wrong. It is actually more “possible” today because of the framework WHE built.

However, the cases are no less intense or expensive today than they were yesterday.

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Question: I read on social media that someone who is an expert made comments on a roundup and legally protests the roundup. Why is the roundup still happening?

Answer: “An expert made comments on a roundup” that you heard about on social media.

“Legally protesting” is a term that needs to be clarified before I can give you a valid answer. What kind of legal protest? If they commented on the LUP, had a scientific and provable claim that went unaddressed, are they litigating the LUP? Or are they simply “exercising a legal right” in America to stand up and say “I protest” ? I can not answer unless I know what you really mean by the question.

If they saw a video of abuse at a roundup they can not file legal action. There was an org that did a social media campaign saying they filed legal action over the “mare that aborted while she was stampeded by the chopper.”

They were not even at that roundup, not one day. They sent an email complaining, not a Complaint. You have to be onsite to file a Complaint.

Be careful on social media.


Stallion leaves the range to become one of nearly 50,000 captive American Wild Horses

Time constraints limit the number of questions I can get answered today. However, I felt it was important to start answering you. Many of the responses reflect a deep frustration with the “wheel of advocacy.” Progress is made one step at a time. There is no instant gratification, no magic wands.

Advocacy is hard work and is a lifetime commitment. There will be highs and lows. Hang in there…. you are the only voices our wild horses have. 

The wild horse is the only animal in our nation defined by the land it stands on, not what it is biologically. This is the single most important factor you need to know. It is one of the mainline items that leave wild horses extremely vulnerable to public lands politics. Wild horses are legally confined to often arbitrary acreage. Impacts to those areas can not be replaced and legally the wild horse can not simply “move out” like an elk or deer can.

An educated advocacy is needed more than ever.


A roundup begins long before a helicopter flies. Help us build a strong frontline to protect and preserve our wild horses and the land they stand on. 


Categories: Wild Horse Education