Above: Triple B, 2022. For a month and a half, WHE was on-site every single day of operations. For half of this marathon roundup, we were the only members of the public on-site.
Roundups. Nothing in the world of wild horses and burros brings more attention to the plight of wild horses and burros than a roundup.
For 14 years members of WHE have been at the frontline. WHE members are still the only ones to ever bring litigation into a courtroom (repeatedly) surrounding abuse and (repeatedly) winning those cases. Today, you can go to a roundup every day if you choose due to a six year court battle waged by WHE members; not to gain some exclusive agreement just for us, but we fought for the rights of everyone to observe. (A sad comparison to the backdoor deals occurring today.)
When we talk roundups we always need to begin by giving you some background. If you are a new reader, check out this article for background on the fight against abuse.
Below: A day wild horses were being run through hundreds of cows to the trap and, this brave stallion was chased until he was caught. WHE was the only member of the public at the roundup during that week.
WHE was birthed in the fight for transparency and the fight to gain and enforce a humane policy. As our work grew, WHE has taken on mining, livestock, slaughter pipeline and more. But, the fight against abuse remains a core value to our team.
WHE today (working roundups)
WHE has two levels of volunteers that go to roundups today: observers and Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy team members.
Volunteer observers (WHE does not have paid photographers) are the entry level; literally observing and documenting events: how many come in and when, the issues at trap or holding, temperature, travel time and location, etc.
Our volunteer CAWP team members are made up of observers that decided they could do this work (observing a roundup day-after-day is not easy). Then they went through our training program covering how to document a roundup for use in formal processes and how to craft evaluations and After Action Reviews. Our CAWP team began in 2018. We are the only trained independent CAWP team attending roundups today.
Observation reports (done by both levels of WHE team members) are what we use to create the updates we publish for the public. (Like this one from observers at Cedar Mountain, 2022.)
An observation report would not be sufficient for litigation or engagement with policy and lawmakers. These more in-depth reports fall to the CAWP team: a distinct type of documentation, analysis and report. (Example: the full length Welfare report WHE released in 2022)
Above: The wild horse above broke its neck at Buffalo Hills seen in these exclusive images from our trained CAWP team member. Sometimes, it takes a trained team member to document what others fail to look for when traps are really far away.
You can see the important work of the WHE CAWP team when you look at roundups like Buffalo Hills. The documentation was featured in the news and gained public attention. But there is even more work for the team. (Daily reports to the public from Buffalo Hills)
WHE runs a multi-person team. Members are on-site at roundup, on-range to document resources, at holding facilities. Another member will analyze all of the information, publish the daily report and archive the data. (In the beginning, WHE was one person, she said doing this alone almost killed her. That experience helped craft training and a team model for covering roundups used by WHE today.)
After a roundup is completed, the team crafts various reports that include evaluation of agency communications and handling of animals.
We also craft our own CAWP assessment to use as a comparison to the one BLM crafts. This allows us to clearly outline agency deficits and to craft recommendations we can send to policy and lawmakers.
The WHE CAWP report from Buffalo Hills is the ONLY CAWP report on the roundup, BLM did not even show up and do one. (Click the highlighted text to go to report.)
Above: BLM was denying that it was foaling season during the brutal Buffalo Hills roundup and denying access to temporary corral for a close look. WHE sent an additional team member over to document arrival at the processing facility as the horses arrived (no time lapsed). The roundup was taking place during actual foaling season at Buffalo Hills.
Above: Surprise Complex roundup, fiscal 22, WHE was the only advocacy org onsite for any day of this operation.
BLM runs roundups on a fiscal year schedule (corresponds to the budget approved through Appropriations) that begins October 1 each year. We did a Roundups in Review (fiscal year 22) report as we entered the last days of the roundup season. You can see it HERE.
BLM hit the last month of the fiscal year hard with Triple B, Blue Wing, Twin Peaks, Bible Springs and Cedar Mountain. Every day we had to check the schedule to see how many more they would add. Note: At Blue Wing we carry ongoing litigation against the absurd low numbers (333-553 wild horses and 55- 90 wild burros) on vast acreage (over 2 million combined acres). In addition, the case addresses the fact that the agency seems to go through extreme measures to hide captures and handling of burros. This is the only case in federal court fighting for our wild burros.
Officially beginning July 15, and running until August 25, Triple B 2022 was a monster of a roundup. Temperatures soared one week and then would drop as heavy rain rolled in and washed out roads and filled up catchments. Ironically, one of the main reasons BLM said they had to hit this area for the fourth time in five years was a lack of water and “over population” (and not the new deals with livestock, the Juniper project mine expansion or the Greenlinks energy transmission line to feed the power hungry industries in the Virginia Range).
Above: Triple B felt so much like a step back in time that we created a video like the ones we used to do and had to let some of the frustration out in an update.
BLM only came for three days to Triple B and released a report on animal welfare weeks before the roundup even completed! WHE were the only ones onsite representing the public for weeks, not just a few days. The only complete CAWP report on this roundup comes from WHE that stayed every single day. WHE CAWP team assessment of Triple B, 2022 (you can compare ours to the one provided by BLM BLM Triple B)
Our CAWP team observers are not only key to completing our scathing reports, the time they spend in the field is invaluable to inform (or participate with) our FOIA team and our team writing our legal appeals and briefs (we carries 13 in various courts on subjects from livestock to failures to do actual management planning).
Today, WHE operates as a true team of linked hearts. We have a team that invests incredible time and effort to learn. They do not hesitate to do all they can to lay a solid basis for change that refutes myth, provides actual data and takes that data as far as we can.
What WHE may lack in resources, we make up with heart.
WHE remains in the fight and won’t back down.
Our deepest gratitude to all of our team members… and that gratitude is extended to all of you at home that learn, advocate and send support. Without you, none of this is possible.
WHE has been offered an end-of-year match challenge. If WHE can raise 10K before the year’s end, the funds will be doubled. These end-of-year contributions are critical for all non-profits, including WHE. Can you help us meet the match to keep our work running into 2023?
Categories: Wild Horse Education