Wild Horse Education

Roundups target over 2000 wild horses in one week; look at the future?

In one week three high profile wild horse herds will be hit, hard: Devil’s Garden, Fish Creek, Onaqui. Within 6 days of the start of Devil’s Garden, roundup operations will begin, or have already begun, that target over 2000 wild horses by helicopter and bait trapping. Each operation is called “a step toward AML.”

Each one of these herds has an important history that paints a clear picture of the imbalances of wild horse management by federal land management agencies. The combined actions are a glimpse into the future proposed by a political lobby agenda and in debate in Congress, now.

Our field team is out working for accountability at roundups, educating media and Congress to the truth of the reality our wild ones live. 


Band stallion captured and loaded to leave the range.

In one week all three (Devil’s Garden, Fish Creek and Onaqui) will be targeted by helicopter, as the largest bait trap operation ever attempted by BLM of 1250 wild horses is underway at the Antelope Complex in Nevada. A total of 2550 wild horses are the target of 4 capture operations, that are all active in just one week.

Helicopter roundups occur from July 1 through the last day of February. Bait or water trapping can occur at any time of year. About 34 weeks a year BLM can use a helicopter to run wild horses. If the current target a corporate alliance is pushing succeeds, 15-20K per year removed and many other dangers as well, you will see an increase in the number of concurrent operations (even more than we saw before 2013) with 500-1000 losing freedom every week of helicopter season.

You can learn more about the corporate agenda and take action against it, HERE.

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While mining and livestock keep getting new projects approved,  wild horses are being pushed down to 1971 levels without a science based program to justify any action.

As the next wave of helicopter captures arrive, WHE has submitted a report that notes our data set at roundups demonstrates that there are serious concerns with the manner in which the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) is not improving, it is deteriorating.

CAWP is a policy BLM placed into all roundup assessments and contracts in fall of 2015 after our extensive, repetitive, litigation against abuse. The policy was created to guide employees to stop violations of the law. (more HERE)

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A wild stallion blinded in one eye during capture

Where the helicopters will fly, all beginning within 7 days of each other.

Devils Garden (9/5): 500 will be captured in an operation that has no changes in on range management and repeats the pattern of the one last fall, some will go to Litchfield and others will remain behind at the Double Devil Corral near Alturas. Forest Service states only 206-402 adult wild horses. can occupy the territory, and state 1,802 adult wild horses currently reside within the boundaries. The territory occupies 258,000 acres in the Modoc National Forest in California.

This operation has controversy. The controversy includes some funding from Farm Bureau to facilitate the building of the corral and perhaps the removal. Legal actions from livestock (the removals have been reported as a “working on settlement”) and advocacy against the sales policy at the corral. (You can learn more on the background HERE)

Fish Creek (9/6): BLM will capture 600 wild horses. After much confusion, in what appears to be a rushed operation, the BLM will release only 50 mares after treatment with temporary fertility control. BLM states there are over 800 wild horses in Fish Creek after a flyover by the WHB specialist, more than she thought would be in the area, and they increased the removal number by 50. (This operation was not placed on the schedule with a well-thought out beginning. BLM allowing a well to go into disrepair, asked for a water haul, that triggered this removal. The removal was not triggered after census or emergency.)

They will leave 270 wild horses in the HMA. The HMA is 250,244 acres. The current AML, in the almost 40 year old Land Use Plan, is 107-180 wild horses.

(WHE will continue to address underlying issues at Fish Creek that contribute to the layers of “confusion” caused by flawed communication and an overwhelming lack of transparency.

Issues are also compounded by gates and water in an adjoining HMA, managed by another district, and these issues of “district boundaries” complicate things like flyover counts. It is important to remember our wild places are not open spaces, but a series of fenced grazing allotments and mining projects. You can see some of the background at Fish Creek HERE.)

Onaqui (9/11): BLM will remove 200 wild horses from Onaqui. No release of any treated mares is planned. BLM states there are over 500 wild horses currently in the HMA where they say 121-210 wild horses should be. The HMA is 205,394 acres.

Onaqui is a favorite of many photographers for ease of travel and the population of wild horses is acclimated to the public. A darting program, the work of Wild Horses of America, in a subset of the Onaqui herd has been featured in many publications. BLM has limited this program to the subset.

Please be aware the start dates can change. The entire schedule can change, rapidly. 

Our wild horses are cultural treasures and live in a unique interface with their environment. The simple paragraphs above do not reflect the unique attributes of each herd and their surroundings. A wild horse from Modoc, is not the same as one from Fish Creek. A Fish Creek wild horse is not an Onaqui. The Modoc forest is not the the same as the sage brush and pinyon of Fish Creek where elevations can reach over 10,000 ft at Nine Mile Peak.  Each wild horse carries in it’s genetic makeup a living history of both the human environment and land they stand. This reality is reflected in the law that declares them “the living symbol of the pioneer spirit of the West.” 

Our wild horses all live within a framework that, according to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), is severely flawed and not based on scientific analysis. Wild horses only exist on about 12% of public lands. Inside that 12% of public land they are allotted, on average, about 16% of all available forage. But stocking levels, or AML, is not based on an actual use equation of  that forage. They live on ranges where mining is running fast, domestic livestock is given around 80% of all the grass that grows, and the most minimal use of grazing on US public lands, wild horses, are a scapegoat.

There is this assertion that wild horses exceed a national AML. How can a number declared by Congress as “fast disappearing” in 1971 be considered, in any way, appropriate? Because management of wild horses is not based on fair use, it is based on politics.

If you want to learn more about a political alliance of lobby groups pushing our nations wild horses back to the number Congress declared in danger and needing protections (and more dangers exist to the wild horses and your right to participate in decision making is also threatened)  you can click HERE.

You may see some of the groups claiming to represent advocacy write about the removals next week. However, what you see next week? It is exactly the first step in their agenda for every single wild horse herd in our country. (to learn who is behind the agenda, click HERE)

An educated advocated is needed more than ever. Our wild ones are counting on all of us to remain vigilant; reject a sales pitch, look behind it, and keep speaking the truth.


Our field team is out working for accountability at roundups, educating media and Congress to the truth of the reality our wild ones live. 




Categories: Wild Horse Education