Lead

Gelding Surprise (and WHB leadership chart)

Above: At the Palomino Valley Center (PVC) north of Reno NV, gelding and branding has begun of the Surprise Complex wild horses.

From our inbox questions: Scroll down to red text for a list of BLM WHB leadership contact info. The public has been having a hard time locating that information. 

1216  (484 stallions, 528 mares and 204 foals) wild horses were captured, 21 died, 158 released after PZP treatment. The agency is “maintaining AML and increasing immunocontraception” at operations like Surprise. The wild horses came into trap in great body condition with absolutely no documentation of any claims of “starving horses.” It should be noted that Massacre Lakes, one of the HMAs in the complex, had not been rounded up for 33 years (no roundups, fertility control).

However, wild horses coming in from the range had abscesses. Our on-site team noted they looked like Pigeon Fever.

below: mare with draining abscess at PVC on Oct. 14.

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The wild horses from the roundup were sent to two facilities: Litchfield in Northern CA and Palomino Valley Center (PVC) north of Reno.

The facilities went into lockdown to stop the spread of disease. We were told that it was BLM “policy” to leave the horses alone to not cause undue stress to infected animals and to stop the spread of the disease. “No branding, vaccination, etc. will be done until 30 days after the last case resolves.”

Litchfield placed horses with obvious signs of abscess into isolated pens. At PVC every pen was observed to have some wild horses in obvious distress, some with or without visible abscess.

Below: With a long lens you can see into almost every pen in PVC without entering the facility. Some of the wild ones documented showing abscess. The white mare, easy to see, has the classic pigeon fever abscess.

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Pigeon Fever is a highly contagious disease with a lengthy incubation period (1 – 4 weeks) for infected horses to develop clinical signs disease. In other words, an uninfected horse exposed to the sick ones could take a month before showing signs. 

In addition to the external and internal abscesses caused by Pigeon fever: an infected horse may also exhibit fever, lameness, weight loss, decreased appetite, lethargy, signs of respiratory disease, and abdominal pain. On rare occasions, the bacterium can cause osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) or septic arthritis (an intensely painful infection in a joint that carries a poor prognosis unless detected early and treated aggressively).

Why is PVC branding, gelding and even (from what observers see) shipping/adopting wild horses?

These poor horses need pain meds, antibiotics and to be left alone at least for another month. Shafts appear infected and grossly swollen. 

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We inquired about the sanitization process for a facility after such an outbreak, BLM never responded except to say “We are working with BLM veterinarians” and “we will clean.”

No surgical procedure should be done on horses captured 3-7 weeks ago that may be recovering, infected without showing clinical signs, or infected by equipment another horse was run through. No boarding barn would even allow horses to run through the same alleys until the disease ran full course, plus 30 days.

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“We are working with a BLM vet,” is not an acceptable answer.

If you look closely at the surgical site, we think this “vet” might be nicknamed “Edward Scissor hands.” (Outrageously swollen shafts and hacked testicles.)

We have asked BLM for a response and records, including shipping/adoptions.

We will update if they respond.


Many of you have been asking “who” heads the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. We know the information has not been easy to find and, for several years, the contact info BLM lists on the website is to a general mailbox.

The public should be able to contact the appropriate public servant and express their concerns on an issue that needed be addressed within current framework. 

Sending your concerns to your legislators is about changing laws and funding.

Policy compliance concerns should be addressed directly with the appropriate BLM dept. 

Tracy Stone-Manning was newly confirmed as the Director of BLM. She heads the entire agency: Planning and NEPA, Energy and Minerals, National Conservation Lands, Recreation and Visitor Services, Wild Horse and Burro, Lands and Realty.

Specifically for the Wild Horse and Burro program, as follows:

Holle Waddel has been the acting Division Chief for the WHB program for some time. She heads both on and off range programs. You can see in the chart below that Paul McGuire heads the off-range (or holding system) program.

Example: If it is gelding/pigeon fever/Adoption Incentive Program that concerns you, both Holle and Paul are the heads of those programs.


Many of our newly captured wild horses are being shipped to facilities where we can not see them at all.

All of the wild horses from Owyhee, extremely adoptable wild horses, have been sent to Sutherland, Utah. BLM has not responded to any single request to view the condition of those horses.

“Off-limits-to-public-view” should not be part of a public lands program paid for with public dollars, managing a public resource (wild horses and burros).


Help keep us in the field, in the courts and in the fight. Our teams need your support. 


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Categories: Lead