Wild Horse Education

Post-Board Meeting, 1 (Self-Assessment)

WARNING: Video contains disturbing content, colt breaks leg. This video was referenced multiple times in public comment and spurred legislation to stop roundups via helicopter. (You can see more from this operation HERE)

During the Advisory Board meetings each year we receive numerous emails and messages from an ever increasingly frustrated public. Some of you are asking questions. Many of you are venting your frustrations and feeling no one hears you… we hear you and share many of the frustrations you express.

We will do multiple follow up articles on subjects covered by the board. However, the number of emails we received yesterday referencing CAWP and “roundup reviews” (we feel) you deserve a rapid response from our team. We hope these articles help you understand each issue a bit deeper and fill in the gaps in information these meetings always leave you with.

Fish Creek 2015, the first operation where CAWP was in the field

One of the repetitive themes in your emails were either questions (or venting) about the phrase “self-assessment” the board and BLM were using when referencing the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) and reviewing roundup operations.

Generally speaking, in multi-decade fight against abuse, when we hear BLM use the phrase “self-assessment” it means “how do we sweep it under the rug faster.”

Key points you asked about: 

The “self-assessment” tool is NOT new for CAWP regardless of the claims during the board meeting. 

In 2015, when CAWP was first adopted, the self assessment tool was created. Each year, BLM claimed annual reviews of the policy were being done that included the self assessment tool. In actual fact, from 2016-2021, BLM did no annual review of CAWP and most personnel never used the assessment tool.

The CAWP onsite assessments that finally began in 2021 not in 2022, as some of you have been informed) is more than inadequate.

The deficiencies in BLM CAWP assessment, lacks of enforcement and review, failures to revise the policy since it was adopted in 2015, have led to a solidification of public distrust in the agency and any purported commitment to the welfare of wild horses and burros. 

You can read an extensive report from the only independent CAWP team since 2015, ours, by clicking HERE.

Hotshot (electric prod) still being used to speed up loading by BLM in 2022

Structuring roundups using the protocol for fire is NOT new. The After Action Review (AAR) is NOT new.

BLM has been using this protocol for roundup operations since at least 2011. Although presented as something “new” during the meeting, our team first participated in a REQUIRED process under the protocol called “After Action Review” in 2012. That initial process we participated in over a decade ago was in-depth and produced a series of recommendations to improve multiple areas of the operation from communications through handling.

By 2018, BLM claimed they never did AARs and were not doing them (because someone inside BLM has simply changed the name of the process and decided it was not a mandatory part of the communication structure that year). The thing you need to know is that the AAR is supposed to be an extensive assessment process, BLM has changed it for the wild horse and burro program to something nearly meaningless. 

Now BLM claims “AAR” is new for the Wild Horse and Burro program. Simply changing the name of a document from “AAR” to something else and then changing it back again, does not make the process new (even though a bureaucrat is paid to do it). 

We agree with you that is it incredibly frustrating when BLM announces a change, backtracks on that change and them acts like they are listening to public concerns and just recycles something they actually promised to do a decade ago. Every single time they do that, the board applauds some innovation (because the board itself is often extremely uninformed on the program itself… even though they are the “experts” BLM handpicked to sit on that board due to their “knowledge”). 

Warning: Video below contains disturbing events, Buffalo Hills, 2022

What do those terms mean that BLM was using to talk about this “new” idea? 

An After Action Review (AAR) is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards, that enables individuals to discover for themselves what happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses. It is a tool leaders and units can use to get maximum benefit from every incident or project. The standards set out a dialogue/ documentation where finding out what they did is not nearly as important as why they did it. The After Action Review (AAR) protocol was originally developed by the military in order to create an avenue for feedback, promote evaluation and improve unit cohesion. BLM originally adopted military assignment, communication and review protocols for the fire programs and then extended these structures into the wild horse and burro program (2011).

Now that BLM is trotting out the After Action Review (AAR) as an additional tool to utilize under CAWP, we thought we would show you what an AAR looks like. 

During our ongoing FOIA team investigation, we received only 3 AARs out of 7 removal operations targeted our team; 4 not being completed and no records could be found. (You can find one of tour FOIA team reports addressing the actual number of roundup deaths and BLM disclosure HERE)

The scrollable PDF below allows you to see the entire AAR that was completed after the Pancake roundup (that included the incident from the video at the top of this page), Triple B (that included multiple infractions noted in our full CAWP team assessment) and Buffalo Hills (actions at that operation included a colt thrown to the ground and tied to the back of an ATV). Not only are these AARs absolutely obscene in the lack of review (so short you can write them on a cocktail napkin), the one line review on actual catastrophic injury to wild horses involves how they handle public relations.


Team members of WHE spoke during all three days of the board meeting and attended the tour. of the Blue Wing Complex given prior to the meeting.  

In addition, this week our team members worked in legal briefs for the ongoing Blue Wing case in federal district court as well as briefs in our actions at Stone Cabin and Roberts Mountain

Our roundup team members are heading into the field… helicopters will fly tomorrow. 

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

If you are shopping online you can help Wild Horse Education by choosing us as your charity of choice on IGive



Categories: Wild Horse Education