Wild Horse Education

Motorized Vehicle Hearing May 24 (Speak OUT!)


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On May 24th BLM will be holding a mandatory “Motorized Vehicle hearing.” 

What can you do? Speak up. (Sample comments at the bottom of this article if you do not know how to start speaking.)

To provide public comment during virtual public hearing, members of the public must register in advance by May 23

You can still sign up to speak. ⬆️

UPDATED: THANK YOU! It appears so many of you have responded that the system has auto-closed.

If you get a note that registration is closed email to wildhorse@blm.gov and demand to be given time to speak. WHE sent a request late this afternoon that BLM extend comment period to accommodate interest.

Because BLM now does these “hearings” in a sign-up for a Zoom slot (and not in-person locally anymore) there will be a lot of email addresses that sign-up and take slots, but don’t speak. It is easy to bog down a meeting like this and have a lot of “dead space” that a real person would want to use.

Written comments may also be sent to BLM_HQ_MotorizedVehicleHearing@blm.gov. Please include ‘‘Motorized Vehicle Comment’’ in the subject line of the email. Comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. Mountain Time on May 23rd (a typo on one of the mailers we received originally stated the 26th). If you tried to sign up to speak and could not, and the official deadline to submit written comments has passed, we suggest sending written comments and noting that you wanted to sign up and could not. 

You can participate in both spoken comments and then submit written ones… or do one or the other.

What is WHE doing?

WHE continues to provide testimony each year. The lack of concern for a process by BLM does not mean we help them make the hearing meaningless; WHE provides serious testimony each year.

WHE are litigating.

WHE has included the Motorized Vehicle Hearings as a subject in two recent court battles. These hearings cannot be considered “appropriate compliance and analysis” for the action of “gather” (in BLM Gather-EAs) if the hearing is not a hearing. If BLM is using the hearings to prove analysis of removal processes, there must be an analysis document.

WHE is seeking an invalidation of approved roundup plans. In part we are seeking remand of these plans back to BLM due to the sheer lack of actual analysis of the consequence to each and every wild horse (or burro) from the roundups itself. In addition to the lack of analysis of the actual roundup to the resource (wild horses), the cases involve known deficits in data and planning BLM has refused to fix before planning more mass removals and mash-ups of fertility control. 

It seems BLM is pretty confident that there will be no challenges against roundup EAs these days. In fact, they are even putting some on the schedule before the comment periods even expire. Example: BLM placed Black Mountain onto the “gather schedule” in April, but had not even released the draft EA for comment. On May 15, BLM finally released a draft plan for comment through June 13th. The plan intends to remove and do mash-ups of fertility control methods. You can find it here. 

WHE is stretching to challenge every draft BLM can finalize. In most instances, we represent the only challenge and we need your help.

Triple B, NV

Why is it (critically) important that BLM actually run a real hearing and not just collect comments and call it compliance?

First, the obvious reason is that from the onset of the resumption of the use of motorized vehicles for roundups BLM shirked clearly outlined legal responsibility for holding an annual hearing (not a comment period they ignore, but a hearing). The hearing is intended to address one of the key public (valid) concerns, abuse of helicopters and other motorized vehicles. These hearings were supposed to represent working on maintaining compliance with the mandate to manage wild horses and burros humanely. If BLM had done these as actual hearings since the onset there may never have been the need for litigation and untold numbers of wild horses and burros would not have suffered injuries or deaths.

Second, these hearings are considered as fulfilling a requirement under NEPA for BLM roundup plans. Every “gather-environmental assessment (EA)” BLM approves includes these so-called “hearings” as underlying compliance with the law and offers no further analysis of the action being considered (the action of removal using motorized vehicles). They claim these hearings are all the analysis required.

Red Desert, Wyoming



In 1959 a bill passed, referenced as “the Wild Horse Annie Act,” that banned the use of motorized vehicles, mustanging of any form and the poisoning of water holes. The law was not being enforced and in 1971, The Wild Horse and Burro Act superseded that law, origianlly banning the use. of motorized vehicles.

When motorized vehicle use was approve for capture in 1976 (after the 1971 Act originally banned it) an annual hearing was added as a requirement to address serious concerns that reinstating motorized vehicle use in any way for the capture of wild horses and burros would be inhumane. (Federal Land Management and Policy Act, FLPMA)

When the provision of law was codified the regulation stated that hearings would occur annually in the area where the use of motorized vehicles would be employed in capture.

In legal jargon a hearing is defined as “… formal proceeding before a court. The term usually refers to a brief court session that resolves a specific question before a full court trial takes place, or to such specialized proceedings as administrative hearings.”

The Motorized Vehicle hearings are classified as “administrative hearings.” An administrative hearing involves disputes under the authority of governmental agencies. An administrative hearing establishes a record of facts in a particular case toward some type of resolution. 

The law is pretty clear… BLM is supposed to hold an annual hearing in the area where such use would occur. 

Surprise, CA BLM

First, BLM turned the annual hearing into a state-by-state meeting where you could at least interact with BLM staff before they collected comments and shoved them in a drawer claiming the required hearing was done.

These hearings were supposed to be a taken seriously and used to root out problems and fix them. One main objective of the 1971 Act was to stop mustanging. Mustanging included horrific events where wild horses were chased down from the air by plane and on land with trucks, often to exhaustion and/or shot or captured. The hearing requirement on motorized vehicle use was more than theoretically justified.

When questioned BLM will reply that this is a purely administrative process (essentially stating the hearing just needs to have a “comment period” and they don’t need to do anything else).

These hearings were intended to address the fears concerning historic abuse of motorized vehicles. BLM never took the hearing requirement seriously and barely ever conducted these events as actual hearings, nor even to the standard of an administrative meeting. They never created any assessment or findings from these hearings, nor did they create any policy to address the concerns raised at hearing.

Instead, WHE had to litigate for years to get a humane policy. Even after the policy was formalized, it took BLM 5 years to even hire someone to begin to provide any oversight… and since that hire, there has been minimal review and no real oversight (more HERE).

Since 2020, BLM has created a single nationwide Zoom call where there is no interaction with BLM staff, no questions answered, they collect comments and shove them in a drawer.

Don’t let BLM’s minimization of your interest impact your participation. We need to get louder.

Conger, Utah

Sample comments:

My name is:

As a tax-paying citizen with an interest in the welfare Wild Horses and Burros I demand that BLM supply the public with a real hearing as intended by Law. BLM must provide the public with a list of grievances and issues raised by the public and an analysis document that resolves these issues. 

I am tired of watching the same egregious conduct continue year after year (ignoring trailer height requirements during loading, pilots flying too low and fast, barbed wire not being removed from drive paths and trap areas, etc.). 

These hearings are intended to address these valid concerns, not green-light repetitive wrong-doing. 

You can add anything you want to say about helicopter roundups and the use of trailers and ATVs.

The important thing is that you speak up. 

BLM has ignored the importance of these hearings for so long and they hope you simply lose interest in participation.

The word “advocate” comes from the Latin term “advocatus,” which means “one who is called to help or support.”
Heed the call. 

To provide public comment during virtual public hearing, members of the public must register in advance by May 23

You can still sign up to speak. ⬆️

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!



Categories: Wild Horse Education