“Helicopter roundup season” is broken into two parts: The first half of the fiscal year and the second half. The federal government operates on a fiscal year that begins in October. Helicopter roundups run from July 1 through the end of February. The gap is what is generically referenced as “foaling season” and only bait trapping can occur from March 1 through the end of June except in emergencies like fire (note: drought is not actually classified as an emergency, although it can create emergency conditions when nothing is done year after year to address ongoing issues of water availability and approval of industry that uses more water).
NOTE: Interest in attending a helicopter gather (media, public) tends to rise in the spring when the weather is best. There are no helicopter roundups until it really heats up in the West and then plummets to frigid. If you attend a roundup be ready to deal with the elements.
If you are looking for an action item we have one near the bottom of the page highlighted in red.
What you see on the schedule is not a complete representative of the removals BLM is planning. Many “water emergencies” are, in fact, anticipated. These are often areas that the regular schedule omits, planning omits, and a powerful permittee wanting a place on that schedule does not exist. Expect several to land on the summer removal calendar without much warning to the public.
BLM will do bait/water traps all year. The helicopter flies from July 1-Feb 28.
You can download a copy of the current schedule HERE. However, please remember these schedules can, and do, change often.
We can not talk about roundups without mentioning the work against abuse. Our work on the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) continues. In early February we crafted a document requesting changes to CAWP based on the database we keep and the points of law we litigated (we are the only org to ever litigate abuse at roundups). The document is pending review after new leadership has been formalized for the BLM. (more here)
We will update you on the work for improvements to CAWP soon.
The helicopter roundups on the schedule in the second half of fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2021 has seen over 10,000 wild horses targeted for capture.
The first helicopter roundup of the second half of the fiscal year will begin July 12 at Onaqui. Onaqui is a popular herd to photograph, likely due to easy travel into several sections of the HMA and acclimation to the presence of people. If you go to photograph the herd? please give them a respectful distance. The roundup will have no shortage of observers and at the roundup in 2019 the largest crowd to ever attend a roundup was logged. (Onaqui 2019)
Beginning August 1 is Conger. Conger is physically part of a complex of HMAs that have transient exchange: Conger, Confusion and Swasey. The Confusion HMA is where BLM has planned to do spaying and our case against this hodgepodge of extreme management is ongoing. The spay plan is one of the EAs (planned actions) that we have asked the new administration to pull and review. We will update you at the end of April on our legal moves at Confusion and other places BLM has planned sterilization. (more on Conger)
There are no working HMAPs for this Complex.
Stinkingwater in Oregon will be a big roundup compared to the area and number of wild horses involved and begins August 1. The largest operation of the summer will target 480 wild horses on 78,000 acres. BLM has set the “appropriate” number of wild horses at 40-80 in old land use plans and the area has no actual management plan for the herd. This isolated herd will continue to be in jeopardy.
Four Mile, a small Idaho HMA, will get hit on August 16. On 18,880 acres BLM has said that only 37-60 horses can live on this range with private livestock.
Fall kicks off with over 1000 targeted in a month long roundup at the Owyhee Complex. If you do the math (according to BLM methods) This operation will target nearly all of the wild left after BLM slammed the population down in 2018 to a (claimed) number of about 534. This number is all BLM says the over million acre complex can sustain. This roundup will run two BLM districts and in many cases involve very long drives over difficult terrain (particularly on the east side). More on Owyhee HERE.
None of the HMAs in the Owyhee Complex have actual working and updated Herd Management Area Plans (HMAPs).
The Sands Springs HMA in the Barren Valley Complex will begin Sept. 15 and end the 2021 roundup season. We expect the other HMAs in this complex to begin the 2022 season. (Barren Valley)
You can see that BLM actually considers anything outside the scope of “gather” to be irrelevant to the EA (here). BLM tends to claim they have management plans but they do not have working management plans. Removal EAs masquerade as management plans. There is no working HMAP for the Barren Valley Complex.
A Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) starts with a public “scoping” process that is supposed to go to all interested parties for input on herd management. Objectives for management, and all methods for that management, are supposed to be outlined in an HMAP and a “gather plan” is supposed to tier off an HMAP. An HMAP is intended to stand as a guidance document until such time as the tools available, or the environment, changes. When changes (like water availability or a new fertility control method is available) an HMAP is supposed to be updated using the same process as any actual management planning document (LUP, RMP) and begin with a scoping process so the public can provide information, options and to keep the program transparent.
Remember, if the first thing you ask your legislator for is fertility control, you are essentially saying that population suppression is the number one issue. You need to ask for planning that includes stocking level (AML), forage allocations, etc. prior to justification for any population suppression. Just a thought to keep in mind.
Help keep us in the fight
pictures from some of the past roundups on the next leg of the schedule.