Wild Horse Education

Antelope Roundup Update

With 3 days notice the BLM announced the start of an “emergency” roundup of 2,200 wild horses from the Antelope Complex in NE Nevada. 

Scroll down for roundup updates


The Antelope Complex consists of four Herd Management Areas (HMA) which consist of Goshute, Spruce-Pequop, Antelope Valley, Antelope HMAs and encompasses over 1,608,350 acres of public land. The combined Appropriate Management Level (AML) is 435-789 wild horses. 

The agency gave the public only 3 days notice for this operation that it has labelled an “emergency” due to drought. However, all of the public relations material simply uses the standard “copy/paste” of any removal operation that would appear on the schedule: “The purpose of the gather is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses, to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands, consistent with the provisions of Section 1333(b) of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.”

Absurdly the agency added this paragraph to their news release: “The BLM’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient, and successful wild horse gather operations while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses and burros while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.”

Only after relentless litigation for over 5 years did the agency even craft and include the basic beginning of a humane handling policy (Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy, CAWP) into paperwork for removals. Since the policy was added in fall of 2015 the agency has failed to do a single open review and revision. In addition personnel often demonstrate insufficient knowledge of the parameters of the policy and fail to enforce it.

You can learn more about our long fight against abuse (and download a postcard you can send to your reps) by clicking here. 

In 2017, the BLM released a final decision for the complex. This is the third roundup under this EA, this time using  the designation of an “emergency” action.

The EA the BLM is running this operation under lumps the massive Antelope Complex in with the Triple B Complex and covers over 4 million acres of project area. The complexes are so large that multiple highways and precipitation zones criss-cross the area. The EA is an example of how the agency lumps wild horses into a generalized and lazy series of copy/paste documents and fails to do site specific planning for our herds. Not one of the 7 HMAs covered in the EA has a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) outlining a strategy for herd and habitat management. It should be noted that tens of thousands of domestic livestock are approved in the same acreage and massive mining projects are rapidly expanding in an area BLM constantly claims there is a lack of water to cover basic needs of wildlife and wild horses.

Instead of reform, the new administration has simply approved grant funding for “partnerships” to do some trapping and fertility control and committed to the agenda outlined by the previous administration.

Location of the first trap site was a maze of barbed wire for livestock.

Scroll down to follow the operation that is slated to last nearly 2 months. 

For updates after August 8, click here.

Cumulative Totals as of August 9, a.m.:

404 (155 Studs, 175 Mares, and 74 Foals)


2 BLM claims a 2 week old colt died of a chronic condition (we do not know if this is the foal that had to be picked up by the chopper after the band fled and baby could not keep up)

An 8 year old mare died of a sudden acute injury, but BLM does not state what that injury was from or if the injury was sustained at holding or trap.

Shipped. 300 (104 Studs, 131 Mares, and 65 Foals)

Wild horses captured from this operation will be sent to Palomino Valley North of Reno, NV and to Axtel Corrals in Utah.

The first 4 days of this operation have demonstrated that there is a real transparency and communication problem at Antelope. (more soon)



Day 7:

about 40 captured today. Our observer was the only member of the public onsite. We are downloading images and editing video. We are woking on the “week in review” that will go into depth on some of the events of the last week. We did not see this injury as this horse entered the trap. We believe this happened during loading.

Our observer was not taken to temporary holding again. BLM saying “too far and we wont go every day” as, apparently, employees want to travel home or ??

Day 6:

126 (52 Studs, 59 Mares, and 15 Foals) captured, still smokey and hot. Temp at observation was marked at 94.

Rival stallions had been fighting in the alley. BLM first loaded the mares belonging to these studs and then loaded the studs into the small enclosed space at the back of the trailer. The fight continued and BLM did not offload the studs to load them separately.

A bay made a valiant attempt to escape and failed.

A grey stallion through himself over the panels and raced over the horizon.

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The terrain makes it difficult to see any foal that might enter trap and body condition. BLM wont let observers move backward so they rise slightly in elevation so they can see body condition clearly and foals.

BLM will not take observers to holding stating the distance is too far and several employees appear to be traveling home and not remaining in town and time would not truly allow them to travel all the way home of they took observers to temp holding and did a walk around there (?).

Antelope mares at PVC

Day 5, no fly day due to smoke from CA fires. Our team met trailers coming in to Palomino Valley Center (PVC) from the temporary corrals onsite at the roundup. You can see video and pictures of PVC here. 

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Note: Day 3 and 4 the trap used an old livestock pen to build off of. The BLM COR (the person in charge) apparently approved using jute draped over barbed wire for a wing of the trap.

Day 4 of capture, Aug 5: 45 (16 Studs, 18 Mares, and 11 Foals) captured

Two bands were run in excess of an hour. Both bands had young foals. The lead stallion of one band made a daring escape, circled his trapped family and was seen again later in the day as the helicopter brought in a different band..

We will update a video of his heartbreaking escape as he lost his entire family as fast as we can edit.

Day ended early due to win. Trap expected to move tomorrow.

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Day 3 of capture, August 4: 82 (33 Studs, 33 Mares, and 16 Foals) captured.

BLM continued to run wild horses so that foals can not keep up with their bands. At least two foals were separated from their families yesterday as one was roped and the other had to be transported by helicopter.

Distance and heat

A 2 week old baby was killed and an 8 yea old suffered a fatal injury but BLM will give us no info on the injury and we can not see trap well.

Trap has been set using old livestock capture(?) pens. The barbed wire in the area is disturbing.

Baby separated from family during the long and chaotic run to the trap, later roped.

Observers are still being kept about a mile from trap. BLM claims that temp at trap did not exceed 86 degrees. The reading at the observation location was 92.

We are expecting to be at the same location tomorrow.

So far this operation has not allowed meaningful observation of handling of wild horses by BLM staff and contractors.

Day 2 of capture, August 3: 96 (33 Studs, 42 Mares, and 21 Foals)

Trap location moved from day 1. We know of 3 babies that were roped. Observers over a mile from trap. Trap will move again tomorrow.

After waiting hours with no visibility to observe any processing at temporary holding, observers were given a “walk around” only after all activity ended. We can not report to you on actual handling at holding.

We were told two foals are already in foster care. We do not know the reason for foster care: age, injury, orphan?

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Day 1 of capture operation, August 2:

The two above escaped capture on the first day of the Antelope Complex Roundup.

About 12 wild horses were captured. Observers were a bit over 1 mile from trap. Observers to temporary holding to view captured wild horses after BLM said the location was “too far away to go every day.” Our observer was told “we will not go to holding every day.” Only 12 were captured and would not be shipped. Observers should see them tomorrow.

BLM did not give observers a breakdown of age and sex of captive horses onsite. We will update the daily total when we find out the information.

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The young cremello colt that was captured alone after being separated from his family (apparently) already has an adopter according to onsite personnel.

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Our representative is back onsite today.

Learn More:

More Removals Plans Approved (WHE active legal actions)


Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP)

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Categories: Wild Horse Education