Wild Horse Education

“Helicopter Hearing” (California)

Twin Peaks Roundup

We are getting questions about the hearing on motorized vehicle use in wild horse and burro captures scheduled for May 13. Often the public uses the label “helicopter hearing” for these annual events.

From BLM: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California will host a statewide virtual public hearing, Thursday, May 13, from 4 to 6 p.m., to discuss the use of motorized vehicles and aircraft in the monitoring and management of wild horses and burros on public lands managed by the BLM in California and northwest Nevada. Registration is required.

Participants must register for the Zoom meeting at https://blm.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJItd-mtpzMsHcDGG5w1wF_SWOIRTENMeXg. After registering, participants will receive an email with instructions and a link to join the meeting. Those wishing to speak will be called in order of registration and given an opportunity to testify.

Those unable to participate live may submit written comments to the BLM California State Office, Attention: Wild Horse and Burro Program, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W1623, Sacramento, CA  95825, or by sending an email comment to BLM_CA_SO_VehicleHearing@blm.gov. Written comments will be most helpful if received by Monday, May 24, 2021.

Twin Peaks

These hearings are a requirement.

Before helicopters or motorized vehicles can be used, a public hearing is required in order to comply with Section 404 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).

In 1976 the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was modified by the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The modification added a “new” section 9 to the Act. This new section allowed for the use of helicopters and motor vehicles in rounding up and transporting captured animals, but BLM has to hold an annual hearing and address deficits and concerns.

However, BLM considers these hearings “purely administrative.” In other words, BLM is just checking a box. Like most things “wild horse” BLM ignores significance and routinely skirts responsibility to the public and the public resource. In other words, they take the comments and stamp them as received. There is no actual review of comments, changes to protocol or published response.

Seeing this hearing in California, we can make a reasonable assumption that BLM intends on hitting Twin Peaks and the Surprise Complex (High Rock, Fox Hog, Bitner, Wall Canyon, Massacre Lakes) in the 2022 roundup season that begins October 2021.

ATV used to rope a horse

Wild Horse Education (WHE) will be participating. Our work to gain, improve and enforce a humane handling policy has been key to our work. WHE is still the only org in history to ever litigate abusive conduct. Our relentless litigation drove the creation of the current Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP). The policy did not exist in any form, it does now. However, there is a long way to go to gain “meaningful change to parameters” that matter, including enforcement.

Over the last two years, the work we continue to further the movement to gain protections from abuse are making strides that have laid a framework that will increase the power of further legal action, if needed. We will write more in an expose as “helicopter season” approaches. (you can see the current roundup schedule HERE)

You can access the full BLM press release HERE.

Many people will ask us for “sample comments.” In the case of expressing your opinion, and listing changes you want to see, we are confident that you have seen plenty in the documentation we have brought you (even if you have never been to a roundup) to express your desires. If you wish to speak, you must register and time will be limited by the number of speakers. If you wish to submit written comments, you must send them in by May 24.

A similar hearing last year in NV was announced with less than 72 hours notice and no option to participate remotely. All comments were ignored, no review of comments was complied and the agency simply plowed ahead with roundup season (HERE).

More soon.

You can help us in the big fight for reform of the program. 

Help us stop “The Path Forward” and gain a hearing into the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. https://wildhorseeducation.org/2021/02/03/the-report-2022-funding-debate-and-a-request-for-hearing/

Learn more about why Herd Management Area Plans (HMAP) are required under law, skipped by federal land managers and are key to stopping the destruction of the wild. https://wildhorseeducation.org/2020/06/10/what-can-i-say-volunteer-feedback-on-the-blm-plan/

Help keep us in the fight.   


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Categories: Wild Horse Education