Wild Horse Education

Move ’em out (the foals)

New Pancake baby (May 16, 2022).

We have been tracking wild horses from winter roundups into holding facilities to do welfare checks and facilitate adoptions. Removals have accelerated so fast the system is collapsing and bad practices abound: (facility issues and transparency HERE).

If you are one of the people interested in adopting a mare/foal pair (or a mare, or foal) you have been told by BLM, repeatedly, that they cannot sort or move a pen containing any new foals due to risk of injury. You have been informed that you will have to wait a few months.

Every inquiry we made for Pancake horses, as an example, we have gotten that same answer from PVC, Broken Arrow and Sutherland. “You need to be patient; you can adopt after it is safe to sort the pens. It will take at least a couple of months.”

If a foal is injured, BLM will also say it is more dangerous to sort out the foal for treatment than it is to leave in the pen and see if it heals.  (Video below: Our team contacted BLM about this injured foal on a weekend. They did respond very quickly. A wrangler went into the pen and said the injury looked more like a soft tissue injury, not a break. They would leave it in the pen because they felt it was a better option than the danger sorting out the mare and foal out would create.)

Facilities are rapidly clearing out every captive to make room for the incoming wild horses and burros being removed from the range beginning July 1.

The updated BLM roundup schedule will permanently remove a targeted 8072 wild horses and burros from through the end of the fiscal year (October 1).

Move ’em in. Move ’em out. Every facility is transferring wild horses and burros fast, no matter the age. We wonder how many foals were injured in transport?

It appears BLM is emptying facilities that have been used as intake for NV/CA/OR horses so they can make room due to the disease outbreak in CO. BLM just announced a roundup of Piceance horses (to begin in 3 days) and will ship them to Sutherland in UT… a facility that has only taken in NV horses and did not experience the outbreak the last time Piceance horses were captured.

(photos below from May 31, Palomino Valley Center)

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This is what those same pens look like today; the same pens where mares were still dropping foals just a couple of weeks ago.

So can we surmise that “safety” is only an issue for wild horse foals when it does not interfere with the agenda of rapid removal? 

It is important to note the foals coming off the range in 2 weeks will be the same age as the foals in BLM facilities.

It is foaling season. 

BLM should not be running these mares and foals down alleys onto a semi-truck to be shipped for hours.

BLM should also not be running foals this age with a helicopter. 

These are the same foals BLM says that sorting of pens is too dangerous to facilitate injury care or adoption separations.

One more contradiction in a system built on contradiction.

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Today, the agency has an animal welfare policy. It took over 40 years,  since the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed (and 6 years of our relentless litigation) to get the agency to create the beginning of a policy and have it included in roundup contracts and NEPA paperwork (2015). The Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) was supposed to go through an annual review and a revision process based on those reviews. In 2021 the agency finally created a team to address reviews, allowing 6 years to lapse. The reviews are beginning and our work to address the deficits in both the policy, and (now) the agency’s internal CAWP team reviews, continues. (You can access the BLM internal CAWP reviews HERE)

Foaling season remains one of the serious grievances we have with both removals and facilities. BLM is prohibited from helicopter capture during foaling season. The agency uses a non-specific and unscientific designation for “foaling season” for the entire program: March 1 – July 1.

Continuing to work on the CAWP policy is one avenue we have to address foaling season, another is through management planning.

The Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) is the only NEPA document outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. It is also the document BLM has failed to create for the majority of herds existing today as well as failed to update existing HMAPs from the 1980s.

One of the things an HMAP is supposed to determine is a site-specific foaling season. This designation would determine if foals were being born on the range as the chopper flies and help to decrease the risk of death and injury. (In a recent investigation done by our team into the death of a foal found on the range alone who died, we could see this was clearly a roundup related death of a newborn foal. The Pancake HMA has a tendency to begin foaling season in January and continue into mid-September. An HMAP would clearly show those are not safe times of year to stampede wild horses with a chopper. In fact, multiple requests to the agency have shown there is no available data inside the agency on a site-specific foaling season on that range. More HERE)

You can help us push for management planning for our herds to address foaling season, range improvements, AML, forage allocations and more.

In March the agency dropped their budget request to Congress. Congress must begin to prohibit removals where the agency has failed to create management plans. A “Gather Plan” is not a “Management Plan.”

You can learn more AND take action HERE.

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Categories: Wild Horse Education