Wild Horse Education

Broken Arrow Tour (May 2022)

Above: Video with an abbreviated version of the article below in audio.

On Friday, May 13, WHE team went on the tour of Broken Arrow (aka Indian Lakes). It took 3 months to get into the facility to be able to track wild horses taken from the Pancake Complex. BLM captured over 2000 from the complex and shipped the majority into two off-limits to the public facilities (Sutherland in Utah and Broken Arrow in Nevada) and some to Palomino Valley Center north of Reno.

The information packet BLM gave to the public included no specific information on this facility: which horses were in that facility, how many from each area, nothing. The packet for the tour, the first tour since October 2019, contained no  info sheet.

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Wild horses from Owyhee, Barren Valley and Pancake comprise the majority of the population housed at Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes).

The facility is not included on the BLM off-range corral page. The BLM landing page includes correctional facilities that are off-limits to the public, but you won’t find facilities like Indian Lakes on the page. You won’t find any statistics reports on the BLM website for facilities either: no intake, shipping, vet reports or deaths and injuries. BLM “Gather Update” website pages no longer include facility intake or vet reports.

The capacity for this facility has expanded to hold 7,600, in spite of the comparative injury/illness/death rates that placed Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes) among the highest. If the facility in Winnemucca (that has already broken ground while still in the permitting process and under legal challenge) is completed, the number of captive wild horses in the State of Nevada will nearly equal the number left on the range under the agency’s “2020 Plan.”

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Essentially simply a livestock feedlot in design, the facility offers no shade or windbreak structures.

In 2021, six years after BLM created a policy for humane handling, BLM finally created a team to do assessments. Broken Arrow is one of the facilities BLMs CAWP team visited.

During the tour the guide was quick to point out to visitors that the facility scored a “90%” rating. The guide failed to tell the public that score reflects 8 areas of compliance and 6 that were not fully in compliance. Recordkeeping is one area the facility failed in miserably. The BLM team stated “Record maintenance and recording was not all up to date in the Wild Horse and Burro Program System (WHBPS). Currently a volunteer is assisting with data entry, but long-term this may be tenuous.

The agency considers poor recordkeeping a minor infraction. (You can read the BLM CAWP report for this facility HERE)

Another finding of note in the BLM team reviews is that where there is access to the public, there are fewer violations of humane standards.

You can learn more about issues in facilities HERE.

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Recordkeeping is often a big problem from on range through capture and into holding.  It is not unusual for “gather update” pages to show discrepancies.


    • BLM Owyhee update page states that 934 wild horses were captured. Of those, 362 were released (195 Stallions, 162 Mares, and 5 Foals) and 27 died. This means that 389 did not leave the range, leaving 545 wild horses. According to the records published by BLM, they only shipped 531. This leaves 14 unaccounted for. 
    • BLM Barren Valley update page states 1672 were captured. Of those, 27 died leaving 1645. The agency says they shipped 1639. This leaves 6 unaccounted for. 

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The initial contract for this facility was a $20,344,595. award in 2010 for a contract period to expire in 2014. In 2011, Broken Arrow USA received an additional award of $382,223. Since 2011, the facility has received contracts totaling in excess of $48 million.

The cost of warehousing one wild horse for a lifetime has risen to about $55,000.

These off-limits facilities are often used (with the accelerated removals of the 2020 Plan) as intake for horses coming in from the range. Many are shipped here as overflow from other facilities. Babies are born and live their first year or two in these off-limits facilities.

If these off-limits facilities were open just one day each month, only adopting out ten horses a year, the agency could save the taxpayer a half million dollars. If opening to the public adopted out 20 horses the savings would come in over $1 million.

With so many off-limits facilities being expanded and new ones being approved, it is hard to believe that finding good homes is a goal of the agency.

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Above: Barren Valley Oregon beauty.

If you want to adopt a wild horse from Broken Arrow you need to get approved as an adopter and provide tag number and pen number. If a tag is not visible, but you can see the brand, the last 4 alpha numeric symbols represent a tag. (More info on freezemarks and how to read them HERE)

A long-term holding (sale authority) brand on the butt also coincides with tag number and can used as ID.

Anyone wanting to adopt a horse from Broken Arrow can contact Palomino Valley Center (775) 475-2222. We are in the process of matching tags and pens for adopters that asked us to search for specific horses. (These tours are not designed to allow you to spend much time watching the horses to see who is who, personality or ID. We are doing the best we can.)

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Our teams are out doing our range runs for our ongoing data assessments as the roundup season gears up to hit more wild horses and burros at the end of fiscal 2022 than at any other condensed timeframe since the passage of the 1971 Act.

You can read our condensed report addressing the way recordkeeping and planning shortcuts have driven us back into a time where our herds, and their habitat, is fast-disappearing from the landscape (HERE).

WHE have half a dozen active legal challenges including the case pending in district court for the Pancake herd. Our legal team is working on an update. Stay tuned.


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Categories: Wild Horse Education