A word about a bill (HR 6635)

Early last month Dina Titus (D-NV) introduced HR 6635: “Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2022.”

Citing the events documented at the Pancake Complex roundup (NV) where a young colt was stampeded by helicopter and lagged back from her family, snapping a front leg, Congresswoman Titus introduced her amendment on Feb. 8th.

Since that time a lot of rumor and misinformation about the legislation has swirled around social media in an attempt to undermine the efforts.

If you read the bill the intent is simple: STOP the insane acceleration of helicopter capture (11,000 targeted through October), limit population growth suppression to reversible immunocontraception and task the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct an immediate review of capture methods to find the safest alternative. 

The bill has gained 11 cosponsors. You can see the full text of the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2022, introduced by Dina Titus (D-NV), HERE. 

This fast click and send will go directly to your representative CLICK HERE.

Video below is graphic. Taken at the Pancake Complex roundup.


The motivations of those attempting to discredit this bill are suspect and seem to be rooted in the same type of distraction that has plagued advocacy since the days of Velma Johnston. We urge you to look beyond the noise.

Addressing the rumors:

“Death rates are the same with bait trapping!”

The bill does not say “replace helicopters with bait trapping.” So those using this as an argument against the bill are making a leap to discredit the bill prior to the public even learning what the bill does do.

BLM makes a claim that bait trapping is as dangerous as helicopter capture. Statistically, the rate of death during loading (where most immediate deaths take place) is similar. However, the rate of unknown deaths (on-range) and deaths in holding facilities (from injuries or illness associated with helicopter capture) appear much higher during and after helicopter capture. Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) also appears much higher after helicopter captures.

The bill tasks the GAO with gathering statistical information, most often not available to the public, and determining the safest course of action. This investigation would also become available to the public. The safety of helicopter captures (and the aftermath) is something the BLM has repeatedly forbid the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) from even looking at. It may take an act of Congress to get any hard look at the serious deficits in welfare issues associated with capture methods. This bill does exactly that.

“We can’t see bait trapping!”

Yes, BLM does not allow standard visitation at bait trapping at this time. However, many of you are unaware of a 2013 case by WHE that did open bait trapping to public viewing. Our founder was going in for breast cancer surgery but filed the case anyway because the public was outraged. BLM opened the bait trapping to public viewing. Our founder went in for surgery and no one from any other org went to the bait trapping operation saying “We will be sitting around all day and might not see any trapping! We do not know what days horses will come in!” Lawsuits take a lot of time and money. We were carrying 4 other federal court actions, and cancer treatment took some time. If a case like that was possible for us to get movement on it is possible for others with more resources as well.

Helicopter roundups were also not open to public observation (on a daily basis) at one time either. It took litigation to open roundups to the public every day. It will likely take litigation to continue to address the slide back in time.

Again, HR 6635 does not say “replace helicopters with bait trapping.” It tasks the GAO with finding an acceptable method. By addressing transparency issues during capture with the GAO (or the courts and Congress) that issue could be resolved as well.

“The bill calls for PZP!”

The bill gives BLM a way to comply with current laws and land use planning through the temporary use of reversible immunocontraception via darting while the GAO compiles a report and new planning can then resume with clear guidelines. BLM will need some method to apply some type of population growth suppression to comply with existing planning. This option creates a reversible situation as capture methods are reviewed. This bill reiterates the spending bill language already in play. PZP is currently primarily used as part of a helicopter capture. This removes the chopper from the equation.

Our stance is that no action can be deemed appropriate until a site-specific Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP-EA) has been crafted for an HMA (even any fertility control). Currently the Code of Federal Regulations calls for such planning, but BLM has skipped it since the regulation was formalized in the vast majority of areas and skips right to a “Gather EA” masquerading removals as management. However, most legislators and members of the media seem to deem what we are talking about as “complicated.” We do not know why. Every interest on public lands begins with a management plan that is then incorporated into land use planning. The only place that BLM skips that step is with wild horses and burros. We are working multiple avenues (including litigation) to achieve movement to gain basic management planning.

The bill is not perfect. It does not address everything. The 1971 Act was not perfect. But both represent a chance to stop immediate harms and move into new territory.

This bill does not reform the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program in entirety. However, the bill does create a STOP and reform opportunity for capture and to slow the flood of wild ones heading into holding that will stand at risk of being seen as “overly burdensome” in the cost of their care and face mass euthanasia schemes and/or sale to slaughter in the coming years.

This bill does not address many factors a larger bill might address. A larger bill that includes things like “getting the cows off” will have a much harder time making it through both House and Senate. By the time that could happen, the Path Forward (BLM 2020 plan) will make it through the end posts.

We need an accountable and responsible way forward from on-range through adoption or sale. This bill slows the flood of horses leading into holding, buys time to get HMAPs (management planning) done, get a frame built to create oversight over the adoption/sale program, etc.

In July alone BLM begins helicopter operations that target over 5,200 wild horses and burros. By October that number hits over 10,000.

We need to STOP what is happening now. We need an open investigation into welfare during capture. We need a better way forward and the time to craft that frame. 

This fast click and send will go directly to your representative CLICK HERE.

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Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education