Wild Horse Education

The Fight Against Utah “Spay” EA: Down to the Wire!

The BLM signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and approved a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) creating a Record of Decision (RoD) that will run operations at the Confusion HMA for the next ten years. The initial operation begins this Saturday. UPDATED: BLM has postponed one day, to Sunday, November 29th.

WHE filed legal action. The action is still in play and briefs are still being filed back and forth. The timeline allowed is intensive and foundational work must be done rapidly.

Why did we not simply say “the roundup that starts the spay plan starts Saturday?” Because we want you to get used to the terminology of the “fight in the trench.” Without understanding of the basic terminology it is really easy to be misled and continue to create peripheral discussion and ignore the nuts and bolts of the backside of advocacy.


Yes, Congress created a letter in support of removing spaying from BLM planning documents. However, Congress has not created language that forbids funding for spaying. Those of you in advocacy have seen these letters before and they have been an add on to a legal action or an add on to a campaign to change a funding bill. WHE is adding the letter to the legal discussion to demonstrate how far “out of the box” the EA actually is from status quo and the controversy it is creating.

We have seen many people circulating the draft EA, not the approved Final, even to members of Congress.

A draft EA is the document that goes out for comment. BLM is supposed to change the document to rectify substantive comments that point out errors in process, data and law. Then BLM releases the final document. That final document (EA) is what creates the next layer of underlying authority BLM will operate under in a specific area. This is the Final, no longer referenced as “management” in the document title after changes were made to respond to WHE comments HERE.

These kinds of details really matter. The final governs the language, not the draft. 

Once the draft is finalized there is a period of time to appeal (oppose) the decision. If you do not oppose the finalized document within that timeframe allowed, bringing a legal challenge to any option that has been finalized, becomes extremely difficult to address the issue at a later date. Example: Many of you are familiar with the Caliente case, the zero out of the HAs in the Caliente Complex. The decision to zero out the area was made back in 2009 and three operations occurred in the area prior to a legal challenge. That challenge lost in federal district court and another HA in that Complex is set to be hit on December 4 with a helicopter; one of the reasons being that the decision was not opposed during the timeframe allowed and years had gone by since the determination.

Our teams are working really hard. There is no simple solution to any of the challenges faced by wild horses. Each is governed by very distinct and complex points of process and law. At each point we must make a stand so that we can bring challenges in the future. It gets complicated, as complicated as the fight to protect The Greater Sage Grouse. Why wouldn’t it? Wild Horses are a public lands issue.

We are fighting back. We will update you soon on this case, and the others we are working on as an literal avalanche of decision documents hits wild horse country, set to approve even more destruction west wide.

“An educated advocacy is needed more than ever.”

Learn more about the Confusion “spay plan,” and the fight against it, here. 

Confusion is not an island unto itself. Multiple HMAs will be effected as there are transient populations between Confusion and Swasey and, to a lesser extent, with Conger.

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Some of what WHE is working on right now, click here.

What you can do

Please take action to demand Congress defund any roundups where the BLM has failed to create open and transparent management planning.  Click HERE.

Call the Senate switchboard and ask for your rep. Demand that all actions against wild horses and burros halt until William Perry Pendley leaves the BLM. His tenure was ruled illegal and BLM is still moving an agenda forward for Pendley’s former law clients.  Switchboard (202) 224-3121


Help us stay in the fight. 


Categories: Wild Horse Education