Wild Horse Education

Blue Wing Roundup, 2022

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The Blue Wing Complex roundup of 200 wild horses and 800 burros begins today. This is the third operation under the 2017 Environmental Assessment (EA). The other roundups, although done throughout the complex, were given names of a Herd Area (HA) or Herd Management Area (HMA) in the complex.

Video below: Shawave roundup using a 2000mm lens. The last roundup at Blue Wing as air quality warnings from California wildfire smoke blowing into NV told people to stay indoors.

Many you remember the last smoke filled roundup of 1,653 wild horses and 623 wild burros at Blue Wing in 2020. BLM called the roundup Shawave in press releases (one HMA in the complex), but hit the entire complex. California wildfire smoke may make air quality index a pertinent part of the 2022 operation. BLM also removed wild burros under the 2017 EA from Selenite.

The Blue Wing Complex Gather-EA totals approximately 2,283,300 acres in size, with about 1 million acres identified as “checkerboard.” The Gather-EA encompasses five Herd Management Areas (HMAs), four Herd Areas (HAs), and non-HMA areas where wild horses and burros (WH&Bs) migrate back and forth (BLM failed to recognize these areas where horses and burros were “presently found” as the 1971 Act decreed and simply denotes the movement to justify low population numbers without inbreeding) . The HMAs consist of: Kamma Mountains, Seven Troughs Range, Lava Beds, Blue Wing Mountains, and Shawave. Antelope Range, Selenite Range, Trinity Range, and Truckee Range (not managed or “zeroed out” primarily due to checkerboard and other industry conflicts). BLM says the 2 million acre area can sustain a range of 333-553 wild horses and 55-90 wild burros.

Nevada has more wild horses than all other states combined due to the vast public lands in the state. Only a few places afford the public to view burros, we have so few burro herds in the entire nation. The big Blue Wing burros, and the unusual paint burros, are a true treasure.

Totals to date:

218 Wild Horses (86 Stallions,107 Mares, and 25 Foals)
804 Wild Burros (336 Jacks, 406 Jennies, and 62 Foals)

Shipped: 1008
214 Wild Horses (86 Stallions, 106 Mares, and 22 Foals) to Palomino Valley,
794 Wild Burros (329 Jacks, 403 Jennies, and 62 Foals) to Axtell.

Deaths: 14

Reasons as stated by BLM:

4 month old Bay filly: physical defect — hernia; 4 month old Bay filly: physical defect — hernia; 18 year old Bay mare: missing right eye; A 2-month-old filly was put down after suffering a broken leg BLM said was sustained through being kicked by another horse; 22 year old Paint jenny: blindness; 11 year old Black jack euthanized: physical deformity — severe sway back, enlarged wither, and arthritis; 20+ year old Grey jack euthanized: pre-existing fracture — front right leg.; 30+ year old Grey jack euthanized: pre-existing fracture — front left leg. ; 17 year old Grey Jenny died unexpectedly: broken neck; 13 year old Grey jenny put down: pre-existing large hematoma on stomach; 9 year old Grey jack put down: pre-existing fracture — rear left leg; 16 year old Grey jack put down: pre-existing fracture — front left leg.

BLM only reports deaths, not injuries.

To learn more about the BLM euthanasia policy click HERE. 

Scroll down for earlier reports. Newest reports will appear at the top.

8_12_22: 66 (26 Stallions, 32 Mares, and 8 Foals). Blue Wing has ended.

08_11_22 BLM reports: 33 (10 Stallions, 23 Mares, and 0 Foals) captured. We expect Blue Wing to conclude tomorrow.

08_10_22 BLM reports: 61 (21 Stallions, 33 Mares, and 7 Foals) and 3 deaths: 4 month old Bay filly: physical defect — hernia; 4 month old Bay filly: physical defect — hernia; 18 year old Bay mare: missing right eye. Wild horses are shipping directly from capture to PVC north of Reno.

08_09_22: 68 (29 Stallions, 29 Mares, and 10 Foals) wild horses captured. A 2-month-old filly was put down after suffering a broken leg BLM said was sustained through being kicked by another horse.

BLM appears to be shipping wild horses directly after capture to Palomino Valley Center, 3.5 hours away. Our guess is that the temporary corrals are still full of burros waiting their turn to ship out.

08_08_22: No capture operations today as BLM ships the burros off to Axtell. 2 euthanized at holding. BLM stated: 22 year old Paint jenny: blindness; 11 year old Black jack euthanized: physical deformity — severe sway back, enlarged wither, and arthritis. We had sent a special observer to Blue Wing that is an expert in burro rescue. The burro portion of this operation has ended and she did not have a single opportunity to assess a single burro. We sent her to see a roundup in Utah where we expect she will have access to see capture and be close to Axtell, in case BLM decides to let us see these burros… just one meaningful time.


BLM wraps up the capture of 800 wild burros by adding 112 (59 Jacks, 47 Jennies and 6 Foals) today: total 805. This operation is primarily a burro removal. BLM will now move on to removal of 200 wild horses (the remnants of the 2020 removal they called by the name of only one of the HMAs, Shawave).

Burros were hidden during capture, at the temporary holding corrals (that we have accessed in the past) and are now being sent to (short-term) holding off-limits to the public in Utah (where a tour was done in June, but they won’t open it now so we could see these burros… just once during this entire process).

We expect all the burros to be shipped out of temporary and onto short-term by tomorrow. They could be in short-term days, weeks or a month. By the time BLM opened up the closed facility in Sutherland to see the Pancake wild horses, more than half had shipped out and we have no way to assess after capture or track for adoptions.

We have every expectation that BLM will behave as they have in the past with wild horses (you may not see them during capture, but they are likely to find a way to show them in temporary corrals). BLM is also planning to ship wild horses to Palomino Valley Center, an open to the public facility.

Ten years ago we won a Ninth Circuit ruling affirming the right to access all parts of government activities. Things have slid back in time since the Path Backwards took root. It is absurd that we are still working hard just to see those burros… and have really had not one meaningful assessment opportunity at this operation whatsoever.

Two more died: 20+ year old Grey jack euthanized: pre-existing fracture — front right leg.; 30+ year old Grey jack euthanized: pre-existing fracture — front left leg.


Although a drive occurred, no burros were captured. It was relayed to observers that there was an issue with the fence that observers cannot see. There is nothing visual we can present to represent any activity today.


We are at least 1.3 miles from the trap and drive path is beyond that. Most of the drive is in a canyon and the corrals drop below the ridge. Even trailers are about a mile away as they go down the road. Above, the best of the day.

Field notes:

1st run: 9:45am helicopter appears from north pushing 4-5 groups of burros taking about 1 hour to get them close to trap and then eventually in. I can rarely even see anything resembling a burro actually entering trap due to visibility and dust clouds from helicopter. (60-70 burros)
11:00 am  trailer leaves with burros – sorted and loaded quickly
11:30a second trailer leaves and gets stuck – 3rd trailer leaves shortly afterwards – both eventually proceed
2nd run 12:45pm helicopter again appears from north pushing 2-3 groups of burros and arriving at trap around 2:15pm approximately 75-85 burros __ 2:23 pm copter goes back to push 10-15 burros from second group that had lagged back into trap
Once again, the visibility of the burros actually entering the trap sight is impossible – you can see in the video above.
Much of this is what is relayed to us, not seen.
No opportunity to assess temporary holding or condition of burros at any time.

ATV appearing to belong to older couple onboard heading toward trap. No one stopped them. They ran right toward group of burros coming in before being approached (we think by rangers). No incidents occurred as a result of this action (injury or death).


The view at the new trap is no better than the old trap. 111 (47 Jacks, 48 Jennies and 16 Foals) burros were captured.

No tour of holding or clear view of captive burros on trailers was allowed.

There has be not one moment to assess the condition of burros… no one single moment. Not one clear glimpse of even a burro on a trailer after capture. In 4 days, not one single moment of meaningful access to assess a single burro during or after capture.

Yes, the CAWP policy includes a stocking capacity for holding. It appears (if you do the math) about 250 burros were kept at temporary holding last night. We cannot tell you what the pens looked like. BLM has overloaded temporary corrals on more than one occasion. In more than one instance, the BLM employee onsite did not even know CAWP included a stocking capacity.

Note from onsite team member:
1st run: 10:45am : 2 groups driven from north towards trap
11:15am: Personal public (?) in ATV drives toward trap. ATV stops a distance from trap and then continues on while burros are being driven in that direction, burros scattered – wranglers went out – could not see anything at trap due to distance, heat haze and helicopter dust.
1:00pm (approximately) helicopter appears from north driving 4 or 5 groups of burros – noticeable limping in some adults and a number of foals falling behind their mothers. After observing this the burros left my sight behind the hill in back of the trap. The helicopter had trouble pushing them to the trap and they scattered causing the helicopter to become more aggressive. The burros were lost in a massive cloud of dust. By the time they got to trap – and I am not sure they all did – they had been being driven for close to 3 hours that I was aware of. Prior to being able to see them they could have been driven for even longer than 3 hours. The burros all appeared weary and there were obvious, to me, signs of lameness in some adults and a number of foals.
What those little babies went through, I cannot imagine.
BLM reported a daily high of 98 degrees.

screengrab from 3000mm video


74 (0 Stallions, 0 Mares, and 0 Foals), (37 Jacks, 31 Jennies and 6 Foals) wild burros were captured at the same. trap location. BLM has hit about the halfway mark on the target for removals of burros and we have had no meaningful experience for access to assess anything.

Our observer was the only member of the public onsite. She was able to confirm, days after the day 1 event, that the jenny that broke her neck, broke it by hitting a panel. But we could not see circumstances in the (appears to be) overcrowded trap.

The only burros we could see clearly, at any time of the day in any location, are the ones that evaded the capture and moved toward observation. This picture is a screenshot and still required the 3000mm video camera to be used.

(Below: the trap is not to the left, it id\s behind the stock trailers on the right. To the left is an old cattle pen and BLM trucks parked near that location. Observers could have been placed there. At least they would see burros on a trailer…. ?)

No observation was allowed at temporary holding.

WHE and CANA filed for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the lack of meaningful access. It is not simply that we can’t see trap, we can’t see temporary holding or even a trailer load of captive burros. There was no attempt to provide any meaningful access to assess capture OR condition after capture. This is becoming an increasingly tense and common issue, particularly in Nevada,

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Today BLM says they captured 130 wild burros (56 Jacks, 74 Jennies and 0 Foals). They list zero foals, but we thought there were some shorter burros, but it is really hard to maker out. The sun came out today and made the distance even more difficult to gain anything meaningful.

Below: After the first run of (maybe 30 burros that came in from behind the knoll?) wranglers set out after one that did not make the trap. It is estimated by our observer that the “rope to trap” took over 50 minutes. Near the cattle pens (you can see them in yesterdays stills) the burro appears to fall and fight the rope. When they get him near catch pens, he fights and perhaps flips? (screengrabs from 3000mm video)

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In the enlarged screen grabs from the same video this burro may hit the panels trying to escape? We cropped in on the video and tried to sharpen the images to tell if he hit the panels.

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There were a number of burros roped and brought in. But the screengrabs all look like watercolor pictures. We have nothing of meaningful illustration to give you today, unless you like watercolors.

Access to move to the road to perhaps see trailer loads clearly was denied. Access to sit by BLM vehicles at the cow pens is denied. Access to view temporary holding is denied. The burros captured yesterday began shipping to Axtell (84 Jennies and 24 Foals) where access is denied.

In an email response to our request that BLM attempt to find some clear and meaningful observation (trap, holding) BLM basically said “no.” (Temporary holding is contracted to a permittee and they don’t want to let the public in). BLM said they comply with all policies and laws and (ironically) should we see noncompliance we should let them know. (Even though their own internal CAWP team reports have found some noncompliance, they always comply?)

This is the same district that ran the Buffalo Hills roundup last month that made the evening news. 

3 burros died today. BLM considered them all pre-existing conditions. 13 year old Grey jenny put down: pre-existing large hematoma on stomach; 9 year old Grey jack put down: pre-existing fracture — rear left leg; 16 year old Grey jack put down: pre-existing fracture — front left leg.

More soon from our behind the scenes support team.

Our observer is back at the same trap location today.

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above: View of trap with 500mm lens, full zoom. First image enlarged on computer, second image the raw from 500mm. Video (scroll down) using 3000mm extreme zoom lens. WER found out this trap was 1.8 miles from observers.


174 Wild Burros (62 Jacks, 88 Jennies, and 24 Foals) were captured. A 17 year old Grey Jenny died: broken neck. We do not know if this happened at trap or holding yet. Observation at trap is abysmal and observation at temporary holding was denied.

About 24% of the burros targeted in this operation have been captured and we could not assess one.

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View of drive with 500mm lens, full zoom. If you were a member of the public attending this operation with a standard 200 or 300mm lens, you would see nothing meaningful. Two members of the public were onsite, both using a 3000mm camera, the identical camera,

Trap was estimated at 1.3 miles from observation. Observation was extremely limited. We could see a distant drive through the valley when burros came up out of the draw, only to disappear again. Then they went behind the knoll and entered the wings. They could be seen again moving through the wings, but extremely limited ability to assess condition due to distance compounded by dust.

Edited to add: During operations observers were given no information. This morning they were informed that there were 4 burros roped. We cannot tell you if the were adults, foals, or how any of it transpired.

Video below: 3000mm video zoom camera is hard to keep still when you are zoomed in this far. We tried to zoom in a bit more so we could try to identify the condition of the burros. It is possible to note that a lot of burros come in, including some small ones. But beyond that, the distance (no matter the equipment we have and further enlarging on computer) makes it nearly impossible to see much else. If you had a standard zoom, all you would see is dust.

Observation at temporary holding was denied.

Burros will begin shipping in the morning to the BLM off-limits to the public facility Axtell in Utah in the morning.

We will be at this same trap tomorrow. When it comes to a roundup our purpose onsite is to document the operation and report on what transpires to the public and to oversee the welfare of wild horses and burros for the purposes of engaging avenues to address ongoing deficits in the humane capture and handling. Building the access policy and humane policy have been cornerstones of our work; there is still a long way to go.

Our offsite team is working on access issues.

Blue Wing is being run by the same district as Buffalo Hills. Buffalo Hills was a very fast roundup that kicked off the season by raising concerns over welfare to “red alert.” Access concerns have escalated. We really are traveling backwards in a time before CAWP, the access policy and  the litigation that drove both.

WHE partnered with CANA Foundation to stop this ten-year EA from continuing to remove wild horses and burros from this area without further analysis, data and inclusion of modern science, through 2017. These ten-year “Gather-EAs” cannot keep running our wild ones off their land. More soon. 

More on what burros are facing worldwide:

What is Ejaio? Ejiao (pronounced uh-jee-ow), also known as ‘colla corii asini’ or ‘donkey-hide glue’, is a key ingredient in traditional Chinese remedies. It is produced from the collagen extracted from donkey skin.

The global trade in donkey hides to meet the demand has led to an outright crisis, worldwide, to protect burro populations.  (Learn More)

HR 5203 is a bill in Congress to stop export of US donkeys for the trade. You can read the bill, and contact your reps, by using the information you can find HERE.

Help keep us in the fight.

Categories: Wild Horse Education