Antelope Update (Last Days)

This water source is one of three large sources in the area of the last few days of this “emergency” roundup. Several sheep carcasses, and cow manure, show decomp that points to a spring turnout of domestic livestock (as well as pictures of the sheep out in spring). BLM has given an impression to Congress and media that no livestock has been out in these areas for years; a well-known blatant exaggeration by anyone that travels these allotments. BLM used small areas of hardship to declare an emergency in the over 1.5 million acre “gather zone.”

Our team has been onsite each day covering the massive ongoing Antelope Complex roundup of 2200 wild horses; trap, holding and/or facility.  With only 3 days notice the monstrous operation was announced and slated to run from Aug 1- Sept 27 (on schedule). In almost half the time approved, the agency has exceeded their capture goal today.

Video above from the first half of this operation. We will load the second half after our field rep brings in the files from today and we can edit them in.

Our “update pages” from weeks 1-4 wont allow addition files to be loaded (not unusual to have internet issues in field) so we have created this page to bring you the last days of this operation. Scroll down.

Week 1

Week 2 and 3

Week 4

Cumulative (since the beginning):

captured: 2203 (776 Studs, 1058 Mares, and 369 Foals) shipped: 2192 (770 Studs, 1057 Mares, and 365 Foals)

deaths: 11. Deaths as follows: 2 week old colt, 8 year old mare (colic), 20 year old stallion (heart failure), 6 year old mare BLM claimed was blind, 11 year old Buckskin Stallion BLM put down because they said he was blind, 4 year old Bay Stallion was put down, BLM stated he had an unspecified deformity. 3 foals in one day: BLM says one was deformed, one had a chronic fracture and one was lame. (“Chronic condition” translates into BLM “data” that they do not include the death as a “roundup deaths.”) An 11 year old bay stallion suffered an “acute incident” but BLM has not disclosed what that injury was (we assume it was a broken neck/back). 8 year old bay stud broke a leg the last day of capture and was killed. 

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A fast chat with the WHE team about Antelope kept going back to “the babies.” Foaling season in this part of NV is still very active. Foaling season must be defined herd-by-herd with data, not just conjecture and tradition. Our team is in transit and video and images will continue to be posted from the massive operation. Our team will also be doing our “after the event” reviews. Thank you for helping us to continue to be there for our treasured wild ones. There is so much work to do. Thank you.

Aug 30

95 (35 Studs, 49 Mares, and 11 Foals) were shipped and the temporary corrals were packed up to head to the next roundup.

The BLM schedule online is no longer accurate. Over the last month the agency is constantly shuffling operations without updating the online schedule. We will update you when we know more.

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Aug 29

93 (36 Studs, 46 Mares, and 11 Foals) captured and an 8 year old bay stud broke his leg and died. Runs were long and fractured as they were in this valley the day before. The time between runs extended as fewer and fewer could be found.

The day was not without drama and a spectacular break through the juste saw horses escape the trap.

Aug 28


Yesterday, the agency squeezed the capture of 169 wild horses (50 Studs, 91 Mares, and 28 Foals) into a day that overflowed the temporary holding corrals (appearing to max out the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy, CAWP, capacity limits for the corrals.). We have found most WHB Specialists are actually unaware that their own policy has limits on the stocking capacity of temporary holding corrals. The public thinks BLM educates their employees on policy, state leads make that assertion, but in the field employees claim they were never informed. (CAWP Special coming soon from our WHE team)

The days operation saw several bands we know run throughout the day; part of the chaos in the valley. One band (that evaded capture at the end of the day) was run at least a cumulative of 50 miles in the multiple attempts to try to capture them; back and forth all day long.

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Above: As two choppers put heavy pressure on the grouping, one chopper on one side and one on the other, absolutely confusing the horses that are trying to move away. As the horses jumble together from pressure on either side, and the jute wing directly in front of them, a wild horse gets knocked over and trampled.

The concept of “pressure and release” seems to really be lost on most pilots; the horses move in the direction you want and you release, not increase, pressure. One at the Antelope roundup is particularly heavy handed (and flies like a pilot we know from another independent contractor that flew during the multiple court orders obtained by WHE against conduct, that included dangerous flying).

The incident above is just one of the horses that “fell” during the drives yesterday.

Below is one of the others that fell in the intense pressure. If this is a supposed “emergency” where the agency is taking action “for the welfare” of compromised wilds horses, why are they running an operation as if every horse on the range is in better shape than Secretariat in his prime?

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Just the last two runs of the day resulted in two foals being roped, a stallion jumping the trap and escaping, and a band we know (run for the 4th time that day) fractured in thirds as they evaded capture in the heat of midday.

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We could only see one of the two foals, seen earlier with the group. One of the foals roped could be the one belonging to the band that was not captured. (?) We know you will ask but we can not tell you, the agency wont let us see captured horses clearly. It is very difficult to track horses after capture. (trivia note: Did you know our founder was offered exclusive access to view roundups back in 2010, but she could not take in other advocates? Instead of taking the exclusive offer, at that time roundups were open for “media days” only once a week or once a roundup, she fought a 6 year court battle to push creation of the current “daily access policy” during Ninth Circuit Mediation)

The distance to trap is one factor, the lack of  real observation at temporary corrals is the greatest impediment to being able to determine “who” was captured and “how they are doing.” “Observation” of the corrals yesterday would be limited to a “walk-around” and trying to see through snow fencing, where even the smallest opening a camera could see through is rapidly tied shut. The video we were able to grab from observation at the trap, shows the facility fill.

These particular wild horses are being sent to an off-limts facility. The first half of this operation wild horse were sent to Palomino Valley Center north of Reno. The second half are going to the Axtel facility in Utah, you can not get into Axtel. The agency is still awarding contracts to off-limits facility to be used to intake wild horses directly from capture and further impede your ability to know “who” was captured and how they are doing.

It is really hard when you know them wild and once captured, you can never find them again.

Below: 48 hours ago, date of capture. One of the mares in this band is the one that fell in the slideshow above.

Stud evaded capture with two of his mares. He looks back at the trap where other herd mates could not evade the relentless chase. The intensity of the thought process visible on his face will haunt us.

We are editing video and still offloading photo files from yesterday as the information from today is gathered. Our team wakes early (sometimes as early as 3:30 a.m.) to make the meet zones. We remain in field, trap and/or holding until well into midday. Travel one way to a motel or camp can be hours from trap. Then all info (photos, video, hand notes and audio edit notes) need to be archived. Reports are crafted for our internal files and we create these online updates for you. Just this one day includes 4 hours of video, over 2500 still images and six pages of notations. We do not simply raise a (rented) lens when we can get a billboard style photo of a roundup. Just this one month of in field documentation could be edited into a full-length documentary film! We really are trying hard to keep an eye on each horse and how they are handled. It is what we have always done and will continue to strive to do.

In addition to the in-field work our team met with BLM CAWP team, met with the agency on some of our ongoing legal actions and more. This month really has been busy! We still have so much to share with you about the operation and the behind the scenes work!

More soon.

Multiple roundups in multiple states will be taking place at the same time. Many of these operations wont have much notice and the schedule will continue to change rapidly.Help keep us in the field and in the courts.Thank you. 

from LLeigh, founder: I want to thank our team that stepped up for one of our beloved herds with so little notice. I had major surgery and our volunteers have offered invaluable, professional, support to maintain the data base we have kept on this herd, our CAWP work and more. I want to thank all of you for your support that allowed us to be here for our wild ones. I am grateful beyond mere words.. love these horses so much… and am more emotional in my gratitude than normal probably due to the physical challenge of healing. With my heart and soul, thank you.

Categories: Lead