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Owyhee Roundup (Updates and History)

Scroll down for cumulative stats and daily updates.

At Wild Horse Education we have a long history with the wild horses and legal battles at Owyhee. In 2010 our founder won our first court order to be allowed to observe roundups daily for all members of the public (she had been offered red-carpet access but refused, she felt the First Amendment was not simply written for her). In 2013 we gained an amazing ruling against abuse at roundups after wild horses were run through barbed wire, babies run to collapse and rampant use of “Hot Shot” electric prods (HERE).

Since the 2012 “Ten Year Environmental Assessment” (EA) was published, BLM has hit Owyhee with at least 5 removals. The last time the helicopter flew in this area in 2018 the BLM captured 1,178, getting to below low AML of 621 (they said they left about 534), after the Martin fire burned over 400,000 acres and BLM was reseeding “cow chow” on the range. The Martin fire turned the entire area into a “fire rehab funding” grab and a real mess for the sage grouse and wild horses.

The EA covers an area of about 1.4 million acres. The agency estimates about 1,118 wild horses are in the area as of May 2021, about 200 over AML (621-999). They say the estimate does not include foals born from May until today.

The 2021 roundup will target 947 for capture and 615 for permanent removal. About 332 will be returned to the range after treatment with fertility control, PZP (PZP is often confused by the public with a “dart gun.” PZP is a substance, not a method of application, and is most often used with a helicopter roundup.)

The operation, including BLM staffing, will cost over half a million dollars. This is not an emergency to help horses or the range; this is an operation run under the “Ten Years to AML” (Path Forward) lobby deal that was funded in the 2021 budget. The agency considers this a “fertility control/management” operation.


In 2018 BLM captured 1,178 and 280 wild horses were returned to the range, including 127 mares treated with fertility control. This brought the population below Low AML, according to the agency at that time.

In 2021 BLM plans to capture 947 and return 332 (with 185 treated with PZP).

This operation is an example of the current budget approvals in the House/Senate for increased fertility control in the 2022 fiscal year. A continuation of the budgetary funding from 2021, with funds designated for PZP (instead of other substances), outlined in “Ten Years to AML.” 


Totals to date (phase 1 and 2):

Captured: 934 (400 Stallions, 370 Mares, and 164 Foals)

Shipped: 531 (187 Stallions, 195 Mares, and 149 Foals)  shipped to the off-limits-to-the-public facility in Sutherland, Utah. 2 domestics were shipped to the brand inspector in NV, if unclaimed they will go to auction.

Released: 362 (195 Stallions, 162 Mares, and 5 Foals) 162  mares treated with PZP-22.

Deaths: 27 (the agency only considers 1 death, heart failure, related to the operation and the rest “pre-existing” conditions)

20+ year old Black stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (no teeth/very old age);” Yearling Sorrel mare BLM said “chronic injury (fractured/broken ankle) with no prognosis for recovery;” 2- month-old Palomino foal said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with poor prognosis for recovery;” 2-year-old Black mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (hernia: developmental);” Yearling Cremello mare BLM said  “chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished and blindness) with poor prognosis for recovery;” 9-year-old Paint mare BLM said had “chronic injury (broken jaw) with no prognosis for recovery” and a yearling Grey foal BLM said had “chronic injury (club foot) with no prognosis for recovery;”  7-year-old Bay stud was put down, BLM said “due to chronic injury (broken leg) with no prognosis for recovery;” 20+ year-old Sorrel mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with no prognosis for recovery;” 15+ year-old Buckskin mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished and broken fetlocks) with no prognosis for recovery;” 9-year-old Roan mare BLM said “chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with no prognosis for recovery;” 3-month-old Bay foal  BLM said “chronic injury (hernia: developmental);”18-year-old Grey mare BLM stated “due to chronic injury (previously broken right front leg);” 11-year-old Grey mare was BLM said “due to chronic injury (unexpected heart failure);” 20-year-old Grey stud “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken leg);” 5-year-old Grey stud “due to chronic injury (growth on scapula);” 6-month-old Brown foal “chronic injury (severe hoof deformity: “Elf shoe”);” 12-year-old stud was euthanized BLM said “due to chronic injury (Two fractured legs);” 20-year-old Bay stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (physical defect/deformity: hernia);” 12-year-old Black stud wBLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken fetlocks);” 9-year-old Black mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured leg);” 12-year-old Sorrel BLM said “due to chronic injury (broken leg);” 20+ year old Sorrel stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken fetlocks);” 8-year-old Bay stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken leg); 20+ year old Bay stud BLM said “due to preexisting condition (no teeth).”

You can learn more about the agencies new “Guidance for Euthanasia” HERE.

Wild horses removed will be transported to the Sutherland Off-Range Corrals near Sutherland, Utah, that is off-limits to public view.


Daily reports

We are working on the wrap-up of the Owyhee Complex operation. We will link here when published.

Nov 8:

102 (50 Stallions, 51 Mares, and 1 Foals) wild horses were released back to Rock Creek and Little Humboldt. Little Humboldt wild horses were captured (we reported earlier about our concern that BLM placed the trap in a location where Little Humboldt would be captured, but failed to include a capture/release number for the HMA. We still have concern with the “pst-operation” calculation).

BLM considers this operation “maintenance of low AML and increase in immunocontracption. (MORE HERE)

3 more died: 20+ year old Sorrel stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken fetlocks);” 8-year-old Bay stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken leg); 20+ year old Bay stud BLM said “due to preexisting condition (no teeth).”

Nov 7:

BLM squeezed the last wild horses from the area. The tax-payer paid for an entire day and only 11 wild horses were captured after being run hours and coming in drenched in sweat. During a “fertility control” operation all (or most) of the wild horses are captured for treatment.

This roundup is considered “maintaining low AML and increasing fertility control.” This operation is an example of the “2020 Plan” that was fully funded in 2021 and will have an additional $11 million in 2022 designated for immunocontraception.  

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In another oddity, one of many at this operation, BLM only shipped 1 stud (according to their official numbers).

BLM killed a 12-year-old sorrel stud for another “pre-existing broken leg.”

Nov 6: 

32 (18 Stallions, 11 Mares, and 3 Foals) wild horses were captured from the Rock Creek HMA.

Long report and video HERE.

Nov 5:

49 (22 Stallions, 19 Mares, and 8 Foals) captured.

4 deaths.

12-year-old stud was euthanized BLM said “due to chronic injury (Two fractured legs);” 20-year-old Bay stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (physical defect/deformity: hernia);” 12-year-old Black stud wBLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken fetlocks);” 9-year-old Black mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (fractured leg).”

Our observer is the only member of the public on-site.

Long report, including video of the colt crowded and flipped, here.

Screen grab from video, click image


Nov 4: 

100 (36 Stallions, 49 Mares, and 15 Foals) wild horses captured.

Daily long report HERE.  

Nov 3: 37(11 Stallions, 16 Mares, and 10 Foals) captured.

Nov 2: 26 (8 Stallions, 9 Mares, and 6 Foals) captured.

WHE had to send a complaint over access issues, one of many sent during this operation. A complaint, with a lower case “c,” is a letter. A Complaint, with a capital “C,” is filed in court. (We note this due to confusion in the public over the two. Most roundups involve multiple letters and forms of correspondence. We usually do not put those in our updates as it is simply a part of every roundup., but public confusion is growing again.)

Nov 1: no roundup, trap moved.

October 31:  29 (16 Stallions, 8 Mares, and 5 Foals) captured, 93 (51 Stallions, 42 Mares treated with PZP-22) released. 4 deaths: 11-year-old Grey mare was BLM said “due to chronic injury (unexpected heart failure);” 20-year-old Grey stud “due to chronic injury (fractured/broken leg);” 5-year-old Grey stud “due to chronic injury (growth on scapula);” 6-month-old Brown foal “chronic injury (severe hoof deformity: “Elf shoe”).”

October 30: 101 (48 Stallions, 36 Mares, and 17 Foals) wild horses captured. 1 death, 18-year-old Grey mare BLM stated “due to chronic injury (previously broken right front leg).”

Access to witness capture is still an issue. BLM is choosing sites on private land and prohibiting observers.

Oct 29:

Roundup moves to the east side of the 1.4 million acre operation target zone. Temporary holding and trap need to travel a few hundred miles and be reset.

After PZP treating, 48 mares went back to the HMA along with 48 stallions and 1 foal.

October 28:

97 (48 Stallions, 48 Mares, and 1 Foals) wild horses were released back to the Little Owyhee HMA.

14 studs were released yesterday bringing the total released back to Little Owyhee to 111.

View from the observation location without zoom.

BLM used this area on the southern edge of the 718 square mile HMA for all of the trapping and the release. Access for the public was arranged in an agreement with the permittee to include only 2 days a week, then limited to 1 day a week.

After running down the road after release, wild horses head up the mountain along another barbed wire fence as they try to navigate their way back home through the maze of barbed wire that exists in the Owyhee Complex.

It took over a week to try to negotiate any access to view the largest release in decades back to the Little Owyhee HMA. BLM does not place access (The First Amendment) very high on the list of priorities at trap; they do not place that high on the list when it comes to releasing any information on the program including flight inventories and deaths in facilities.

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More info about immunocontraception at the Owyhee Complex roundup and the language in the 2022 budget HERE.

Our long report from the day will link here once published. We are still transferring files and editing so you can see something and we can attempt to identify “who” went home. Our observer was the only one on-site. 

October 27:

Our observer was not permitted at trap. 21 wild horses were captured on the 7th day of active trapping on the 719 square mile HMA from this single trap.

4 more died.

20+ year-old Sorrel mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with no prognosis for recovery;” 15+ year-old Buckskin mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished and broken fetlocks) with no prognosis for recovery;” 9-year-old Roan mare BLM said “chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with no prognosis for recovery;” 3-month-old Bay foal  BLM said “chronic injury (hernia: developmental).”

Long report here. 

Our observer continues to be the only member of the public on-site trying to witness the operation.

Running toward trap

October 26:

43 (15 Stallions, 23 Mares, and 5 Foals) were captured. The day was long and the last wild horse came in as darkness was falling. A foal was separated and had to be walked in to the trap.

Foal gets separated

A 7-year-old Bay stud was put down. BLM said “due to chronic injury (broken leg) with no prognosis for recovery.”

Wild horses in trap 10/26

Long report with video.

We have been the only observers on-site except for 2 days since operations began.

October 24 and 25: choppers grounded due to wind. Our observer went to watch loading in the rain/cold as our legal team addresses issues of access with BLM/DOI State and National offices.

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October 23:

39 (18 Stallions, 15 Mares, and 6 Foals) wild horses were captured. Capture took place at the same trap on private property.

Our observer went to watch loading in the rain/cold.

Observation is now being restricted to 1 day each week because the permittee did not like the place BLM put our observer to watch temporary holding.

Long report “Agency fails the public interest” HERE

October 22: Choppers grounded due to wind. No shipping.

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October 21

60 (24 Stallions, 23 Mares, and 13 Foals) wild horses were captured as BLM “squeezes out” all the horses from the area. This trap is used repeatedly because horses are driven through a maze of barbed wire fencing and gates, essentially trapping them again and again as they travel through gate after gate. (slideshow above shows one of the boxed in areas by barbed wire).

BLM says there is only one trap, the one on private property, they can use on the 719 square miles that is the Little Owyhee HMA. The “private property trap” is a long standing tradition in the Owyhee Complex that denies observation, except when the permittee allows it two days a week.

Long report linked here.

October 20:

Our observer watched the horses she saw captured yesterday loaded to ship. She was not permitted at the trap, BLM stating it was on private property.

Discussion about immunocontraceptives at Owyhee

October 19:

76 (26 Stallions, 33 Mares, and 17 Foals) were captured at the Owyhee Complex roundup from the Little Owyhee HMA.

Long report with details of the day will be posted soon and linked here.

October 18:

Capture operations were called off due to weather.

41 (25 Stallions, 16 Mares, and 0 Foals) were shipped to the off-limits-to-public-view facility in Sutherland Utah.

Our observer witnessed morning loading. We are having technical issues and will load video soon.

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Our observer is back on-site today. To date, we have been the only org on-site.

October 17:

Access issues intensify as BLM moved trap onto private property to capture wild horses from the next HMA after release of wild horses in Snowstorm.

BLM made deal with land owners that observation at temporary corrals could only be Tuesday and Thursday. They made the same deal for trap location. Why not make trap Wednesday and Friday or simply put trap on the public land side of the line?

Today 55 (32 Stallions, 20 Mares, and 3 Foals) wild horses were released back to the Snowstorm HMA.

More frustration is added as the public observers are no longer permitted to go past the trailer to see wild horses jump out and have to stand far from the action. Then, wranglers with cell phone cameras get in the way.

Long report and more video HERE.

Snowstorm wild horses heading to water. The boundary lines of Snowstorm do not include a stable year-round water source. In summer, wild horses often travel to the “wildlife water improvement” created just outside the HMA. In 2013 we shut down a roundup in Snowstorm due to a lack of data as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) confirmed our allegations.

October 16:

Last day of capture operation in the Snowstorm HMA (before moving into the next HMA in the complex) saw 39 (20 Stallions, 13 Mares, and 6 Foals) captured. The runs were, again, hours apart as the chopper navigated (a lot of) barbed wire livestock fencing in the area.

A yearling lost her life, BLM said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished and blindness) with poor prognosis for recovery.”

Cow pasture in the foreground, mining tailings in the far ground, trap stuck in the mid-ground. This photo is almost an analogy for the entire program.

October 15:

39 (23 Stallions, 11 Mares, and 5 Foals) wild horses captured in  3 runs at trap. There were 2 runs before noon and then not another run until nearly 5 p.m.

Due to the very late day, video is still being edited. Screen grabs below.

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A gate was opened in a running barbed wire fence to bring wild horses to the other side. The gate was narrow and the wire not flagged (a violation of CAWP). The pilot allowed the horses to pick their way through and this bachelor band had a very steady lead.

A catastrophe at barbed wire is always a possibility. One at Owyhee led to the roundup being shut down and a court order (for this ongoing ten year EA) referencing barbed wire.

video below from 2012 in response to BLM stating “nothing happened.” The incidents in the video led to the court filing when all avenues to address issues failed.  Timecode 1:12

Two wild horses were roped, a mare and her foal. The appeared to be limping.

2 wild horses died today: 2- month-old Palomino foal said “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with poor prognosis for recovery;” 2-year-old Black mare BLM said “due to chronic injury (hernia: developmental).”

Our team is back on-site today.

October 14:

68 (30 Stallions, 26 Mares, and 12 Foals) wild horses were captured on a day that started just at about the freezing (32 degrees). One foal was roped. It appears no dust control has been done at trap.

2 wild horses died: 20+ year old Black stud BLM said “due to chronic injury (no teeth/very old age),” Yearling Sorrel mare BLM said “chronic injury (fractured/broken ankle) with no prognosis for recovery.”

Even though the temporary corrals are right on a public road, BLM will not allow, did not arrange for, any observation except on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Reminder: The distance to trap, lack of access to see wild horses in temporary and then shipping wild horses to an off-limits to public viewing essentially creates a situation where no aspect of the condition and handling of wild horses can be assessed. When making the decision to ship to “off-limits” BLM should have made better arrangements to view temporary corrals.

This is all being paid for with public tax-payer funding.

Evaded capture; stallion, mare and his young colt.

October 13:

83 (30 Stallions, 38 Mares, and 15 Foals) wild horses were captured. Our observer had been in constant contact with BLM about this operation. She was the only member of the public. She arrived 180 seconds late. BLM did not text her to see if she was lost, they left without her.

October 12:

Operations cancelled due to high winds.

October 11:

Operations cancelled due to high winds, rain and snow.


The Surprise Complex roundup has just ended with 21 deaths.

We reported pigeon fever on Oct 4, as we are on-site. Pigeon fever is common in CA and is spread by flies. After the first frost and the flies die, the disease runs its course each season. Not usually fatal, yet infectious and messy, complications are possible. Pigeon fever acts much like (something like) Chicken Pox in people.

You can see our daily Surprise Complex reports HERE.


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