Wild Horse Education

Confusion HMA (confusion over spay plan and roundup schedule adds over 600 more)

BLM is set to begin the operation, in less than 3 weeks, at the Confusion HMA that includes an approved 10 year plan to spay 50% of the mares on the range; removals and sterilizations will occur repeatedly over 10 years. The initial hit will push populations down to low AML and spay 20 mares. The 235,000 acre HMA has a population level (AML) set at 70-115 wild horses back in 1987. The HMA does have transient populations from other HMAs including the Swasey HMA where you all saw the helicopter fly earlier this year.

We are trying to answer as many of your questions as we can, scroll down to the bottom for roundup schedule updates in blue that include the Caliente Complex. Please be patient, we will publish the next set of “question and answer” as quickly as we can. For those of you trying to understand “wild horses” in a change of administration, click here.

Answers to your questions on the “spay plan”:

Yes, Wild Horse Education filed a legal Appeal against the plan. It is not easy to craft legal briefs with a 30 day deadline on a project BLM plans to implement less than 30 days after the deadline to appeal. This is particularly  rough when there are so many deficits in the final plan and no other entity has filed an Appeal that we are aware of.  We have a deadline this week and another next week. We are working as fast as we can.

No, there are no legal wins against spaying a wild horse. The Warm Springs (Oregon) experiment was proposed and abandoned 3 times. Warm Springs was a pen trial (capture and spay) to determine safety of the procedure and then a release of mares to “see what happens” when they are reintroduced back into the wild. Every organization you know filed either an Appeal  or an action in federal court. Those actions were primarily First Amendment claims; one simply pushing to get their veterinarian listed as the chosen observer.  The cases did not go to decision, but were dropped and rebooted in another state.

No, there will not be another opportunity to legally address the spay at Confusion. The only door is to file prior to the first round of implementation, even if you lose the fist round. New info, or funding not available being obtained later to address matters more thoroughly, can allow an argument to continue only if you maintain the standing to bring that argument. If you do not argue now, you lose the opportunity for the next ten years. BLM is using FoA v Silvey and AWHC et al v BLM (at Caliente) to close the door on any future legal action against long term planning documents. If you plan to wait and file later, you will need to be ready to argue your own case only after arguing why the premises of those two cases were argued wrong, and do not apply to your suit. (We know that is a complicated answer, but it is the answer.)

No, the change in administration will not stop the Confusion roundup/spay plan from beginning. A new administration does not take power until after Inauguration Day, January 20. The plan for Confusion begins in 19 days, November 28. We see multiple initiatives (public lands) from the new administration that will begin with a focus on climate change. We have done some “pre-work” over the last few months addressing process flaws in anticipation that there might be an opportunity with a new Secretary of Interior. However, the depth of the changes needed in the wild horse and burro program will likely fall to the bottom of the list (as they usually do) under influence of big money lobby groups running very select agendas. In addition, the legal precedent set creating complexities in arguing long term planning will stand, no matter who is in the White House.  There is some hope for the future, but the Confusion HMA is in danger now. (We know that is a complicated answer, but it is the answer.)

Yes, we have preliminary information that ties a directive approved by William Perry Pendley to the “spay plan.” However, over the last 4 years the BLM wont answer any pointed questions from us, yet maintains a very cozy relationship with those involved directly, and indirectly, with “Ten Years to AML” (later called “Path Forward”). To get the documents that would demonstrate in what capacity the Pendley approved the push, making it relevant to the decision set down by Judge Morris, requires a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. WHE have not had a timely answer to a FOIA, even over simple requests, in over 3 years. BLM has truly set the bar for only “millionaires” to pay to play and ignores those they know can not afford to litigate every sleazy move they have made. (Yes, we are more than frustrated with the buddy club that thumbs their nose at the very heart of transparent public process.)

Yes, we do mention Pendley in our Appeal. We actually mention a multitude of underlying factors that, win or lose, can be expanded on in additional actions as our resources allow. We also believe that some orgs have simply “negotiated” one factor or another contained in this plan to get cooperation on a point or two of their agenda. We have seen this type of behavior many times and it is included in one of our outstanding FOIA requests. BLM wont answer that FOIA after recognizing the FOIA and giving dates for a reply; it contains this type of exclusive activity on another matter. This makes exposing the “crooked deals” really hard. Simplistic example: Having a chosen observer come from a non-profit, that then excludes all others, has happened before. HSUS was the only org allowed to observe gelding as they were in negotiations on a order of PZP back in 2009/10. The report they released was supportive even though the lack of sufficient pain management was moe than apparent. Many of those people are now involved in the “Ten Years to AML” and have recently populated multiple organizations.  Don’t be surprised if you see an “exclusive” access pass, to any spaying, given to someone associated with an entity that did not appeal the plan. 

Yes, we have personal experience with the “exclusive offer,” it exists. In 2010 our founder was offered “red carpet” access to roundups and refused. Instead WHE fought to lay a legal foundation for everyone that had their rights infringed upon to use. Ou founder was also offered a seat on the Advisory Board Committee in 2013, but she had to drop litigation to accept the offer.  We are not politicians. We are not looking for an exclusive deal. We are advocates.

No, we do not know why others have not filed against the “spay plan” in Utah. You need to ask them. 

Did you file against the cruelty? Yes, of course the extreme nature of this procedure and the risks are part of the appeal. The fact that BLM did not include any BLM approved procedural document, and instead relied on articles with authorship limited to a handful of individuals likely to be the exact individuals in receipt of contracts, is also part of the brief. We also discuss the lack of inclusion in the CAWP policy and any review that pertains to both capture and handling for any proposed experimental spaying. We also bring up multiple factors that we are expanding on in the brief we will file by the weekend.

Wild horses do move between Confusion, Swasey and Conger. Moriah, on the schedule to be zeroed out this winter, is considered “not managed for horses” but also has a population exchange with Confusion.

Yes, the plan will effect more than one HMA and BLM only did the planning documents covering the Confusion HMA. The BLM admits there is a population transfer into other HMAs justifying the low population level (AML) of 70-115. But nowhere in the EA do they make any statement about the impacts of the proposal for the Confusion HMA to the surrounding population.

There are people asking detailed questions about the BLM planning document itself. For us to answer all of those questions would require we literally retype the Environmental Assessment (EA). You can download the Decision Record, that includes the EA that is the subject of our dispute HERE

As we write this the BLM is busy adding to the roundup schedule.

Wild Burros will be targeted in the Selenite Range HA that is part of the range used by wild burros seen at the “Shawave” roundup this summer. The operation itself was called by the name of one HMA. that was actually a Blue Wing Complex operation, although not called by that name by the agency and instead making it seem isolated.  200 burros will be captured via helicopter beginning Nov 29.

The Caliente Complex will be hit beginning December 5, removing 414 wild horses. BLM is calling the operation “the Delamar Mountains and Meadow Valley Mountains” instead of referencing the name of the Complex, again. 

These additions push the winter schedule to over 8,500 targeted for capture. 



We will update you as we know more.


Help us stay in the fight. 

Categories: Wild Horse Education