Humane Handling (it’s not just about the roundup)

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Foal tries to keep up with the family during capture at Triple B in 2019

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 established the mandate that wild horses and burros were to managed, humanely, and preserved for future generations.

When we talk about “humane management practices” most people, understandably, jump to the roundup. Wild Horse Education is the only organization to take BLM to court over abuse at roundups; we obviously find the practices during capture important enough to make gaining the first policy in history to stop abuse our initial priority. In other words, we agree with your assessment.

You can still make your comments to help in that fight. They must be received by BLM, through regular mail, by July 2.

Our teams are out. Roundups begin July 1. Please remember, a roundup begins long before that chopper flies.

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Wild horses were brutally pursued in a winter roundup in NV 2020 and over stressed at one of the most vulnerable times of the year, the beginning of foaling season.

Humane management on range goes much deeper, is more complicated, than simply utilizing a temporary fertility control dart to slow population growth, a tact many seeking a “market share” are  pushing. 

Humane management on range begins with planning to preserve the resources our wild ones need to survive and valid metrics that determine herd health (genetic viability, behavior, “fair share” of forage, etc.).

For nearly 50 years, since the passage of the Act in 1971, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has done it’s very best to avoid crafting any actual management plans. Instead BLM will reference a roundup document as “management.” BLM is mandated to manage, not remove. In essence, BLM has utilized a small fragment of their authority under law to keep profit driven “buddy clubs” happy.

BLM has failed the public trust and the public resource.

Herd Management Area Plans (HMAP) are the first step in the “legal paperwork” process of management. We have 177 Herd Management Areas (HMA) in the US, only 7 have HMAPs. The HMAP is all about  that “humane on range management.” An HMAP would include what types of fertility control, removals, range improvements, etc. are appropriate. The roundup assessment (EA) would simply cover any removal operation. That is how the framework is set.

But like most things BLM says, it’s not what they do.

You can help us “educate” Congress during the budget debate. Take action today. 


An area BLM played secret games with the county, removed waters used by wild horses, played games with corporate orgs. For a decade we have been working to address the HMAP (including waters, fertility control, habitat preservation). BLM continued the favoritism, and continues to prioritize everything but wild horses, resulting in what can be seen as inhumane practices on the range. If a private owner failed to fix well-known issues with water (and sold off all the hay in the barn) Animal Control would issue a citation or seize ownership. This is not “ok.”

In just a few days BLM will begin the last leg of the 2020 roundup schedule. From July 1 – October 7 over 5000 wild horses and burros will lose freedom and family and their homes, forever. (article on the roundup schedule)

Our “pre-roundup” teams are out.

Every year WHE documents ongoing issues on multiple ranges and has compiled a data base to utilize for HMAP creation (remember, everything begins on range with that HMAP). BLM has avoided both the creation of on range management plans and denied us the ability as stakeholders to participate.

Our teams are gathering our ongoing documentation and scouting areas already on the schedule. What we are finding is a broad failure in “humane management,” that goes far beyond the sound of the helicopter, in most areas that sit on that schedule.

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Young stud after tangling with barbed wire gate, that should have been open, just to get a drink of water in the summer heat.

Our teams are reporting back:

  • Gates closed that should be open.
  • Waters in disrepair, those that should have been replaced/repaired inoperable.
  • Trespass livestock.
  • Massive changes in roads for fast-tracked mining, mining exploration we were not notified about, incoming equipment for rapidly approved mines.

All of this is happening in HMAs that do not have a management plan, that makes even a minor attempt to protect critical habitat, as BLM sends out more and more roundup planning documents (EAs) each day.

Our legal team is continuing our participation in litigation against mining and oil and gas. This is an important part of our work that often gets buried under our fight at the roundups. A roundup starts long before a chopper flies.

Our team is also laying a foundation to push the fight against abuse at roundups further.

We can not do this without you.

Please take the action to help stop the influx of funding into the roundup machine. This funding will collapse the program and it will do nothing to prevent the destruction of our herds, it will accelerate it. (click text)

 Please remember, a roundup begins long before that chopper flies.


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Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education