Wild Horse Education

Antelope Complex Roundup (Week 2 Begins)

The prohibition against trapping during foaling season is to ensure that mares near time of labor are not run and to ensure foals born are big enough to survive the stampede and rigors of loading and transport. July is not an appropriate time of year for a roundup particularly in these large complexes that are always put on the schedule at the very worst times of year.

It has been an intense first week onsite at the Antelope Complex. In the first seven days (after all reports have come in) eleven wild horses have died. (Including a palomino stallion we knew in the wild)

Our regular updates from trap are continuing from onsite at the Antelope Complex split into 2 distinct updates. We are insanely busy on the backside and do not have staff, we are not that kind of org.. We are in the thick of this and working as fast as we can. For now, we are going to do one update from both traps.

In the first 7 days of operations eleven wild horses have died: 2 mares have suffered broken necks, 1 mare was killed because she was blind in one eye, A stallion suffered a catastrophic compound fracture of his rear leg, 4 foals have died (2 from dehydration, 1 from colic that can be caused by heat and dehydration and one due to lameness), Sorrel foal died : umbilical hernia (an umbilical hernia doesn’t kill you, it can interfere with things like breathing when overly stressed). A stallion broke his neck during loading into a semi-truck to ship to short-term holding.

4 foals were orphaned and taken into foster care. 

We have added an “action item” section to the bottom of this update. 

At the North trap BLM captured 40 (8 Stallions, 24 Mares, and 8 Foals) wild horses. 

Trap was located in an area where livestock is turned out (a turnout area), often they make the easiest traps to set up because there is infrastructure like existing pens and roads. But they also have a lot of barbed wire a pilot has to “thread” fleeing horses through and big ruts from intensive livestock grazing and vehicle use.

Note: BLM emailed us today saying people are saying we said cows are on the range. That is not what the paragraph above says. We did not say “horses were driven where cows are out.” We said the trap is located where turnout (infrastructure) is. We did add a note that we found it interesting that BLM contacted us claiming we are promoting misinformation (we are not) and they have not gotten back to us yet on any changes to protocol for the next heat wave hitting this coming weekend. BLM public affairs tends to respond really fast to the accusations made about what we said, but not what they do…. we find that interesting. 

The video above shows the results (we do a slowed down replay after each event so your eye can catch it and provide a few screen grabs below). The wild ones are also being pushed too fast (coming in “hot”).

When you watch the video above you can see one wing (jute and t-posts) clearly. But it almost looks like flagged barbed wire is used as a wing? We are too far away to see how this was used during the day with certainty.

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Operations did cease before temps rose above 92 degrees.

BLM will be moving trap in the morning.

The south trap also had a short day. Only two runs before operations were called.

The chopper apparently had some issue with “wind.” In this kind of extended heat, convection and thermal currents (as the air heats) can be intense. An example is when you see an eagle rise without flapping wings (thermal).. Heat does not only impact the physiology and decision making process of wild horses and humans, it impacts air currents.  However, with intense public focus and the CAWP team onsite, BLM stopped operations at wind speeds of 20 mph. (We have all seen them push to gusts over 30.)

BLM captured 12 (2 Stallions, 7 Mares, and 3 Foals) at the south trap, the trap that has been pushing hard and hit nearly 3/4 of their target number in the first week (after being approved to operate for 8). We hope they continue to slow down. 

We want to thank 8 News Now for their continued updates on this operation. (HERE)

For the first time, BLM has split this area into two distinct roundups. However, at this time we want to underscore that these are operations impacting a single complex managed under the same approved Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluation.

Splitting the operation in two may make it appear to be separate to the public when, in fact, it underscores that BLM failed to recognize the scope and intensity of the approved plan when they did the EA. They should have either done multiple EAs (and split things up like they split the roundup) or the more in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to cover an area larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. (BLM used a process under NEPA that was inappropriate. Even though argued in court by another org that focused on “gelding to intense and temporary fertility control less intense” courts only recognize the more standard definition of scope and intensity that measures size, duration and a cumulative impact. Here, the sheer size creates distinct eco-zones and is so big even BLM can’t do a roundup of the whole thing at the same time.

It is worth stating that none of the Herd Management Areas (HMA) in this complex have any site-specific management plan, the Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP). Only one massive “Gather-EA” has been created. The actions coming at this operation involve one area even though they are being presented as two. As we enter into a dangerous heat index, we are combining statistics to give you a clearer picture of what is happening at the Antelope Complex. 

Action item section

Many of you are being told to call Congress. Please keep in mind Congress does not have the power to stop this roundup. Even if a Senator writes a letter, it can (legally) simply be ignored. Congress can: fund, defund, or pass a bill. Only two entities outside the executive branch (agency and leadership) that can enjoin (stop) an activity of the agency (federal government that the President sits at the head of)…  God and a Federal Judge.

You can impact roundups for fiscal 2024 by calling Congress: We have an action plan you can follow by clicking HERE. 

You can also contact your house reps to co-sponsor the Bill introduced by Dina Titus (D-NV). The bill calls for helicopter roundups to cease, other means of capture and fertility control as an interim until an investigation is completed and the safest methods for population control determined. (That is what the Titus bill does). The most critical long-term piece of her bill is that an investigation will be done on capture methods.

HR 3656 can be found here if that is a bill you want to support. 

However, even if the Titus bill makes it out of the House, it has to go through the Senate and get signed into law. It won’t stop this roundup.

We have seen extreme frustration grow in advocates, so has ours. It is insanely difficult to get through “the noise” to gain policy change. 

A Roundup, on paper

Once approved in a “Gather-EA” (the underlying paperwork that gives BLM the authority under law to do a roundup) the only way to stop it is either to have BLM agree to amend or suspend the EA (District Manager, State Director, Program Director or BLM Chief Stone-Manning, have that ability) or through a court.

That is how this works. “How this works” is often misrepresented by many that want to steer the fervor raised in the public over roundup tragedy toward their own agendas. 

After a helicopter flies WHE focuses on using as many tools as possible to create some protection from the abuses you see. We are the only org to ever walk abuse into the courts (repeatedly) to drive creation of a policy to comply with existing law (wild horses and burros must be managed humanely). We are small. We are derailed by funding and by backside politics all the time, since the day we began. But we have created policy change… and it is possible if we just don’t give up.

We are out here performing a critical service for our wild horses, we are providing educated public oversight through our trained independent CAWP team.

Just as every horse rescued matters, so does every moment of suffering during capture that can be stopped. Our team is working very hard out here.

At this operation where we are seeing a roundup so bad our team lead is having flashbacks to 2011, our actions on the ground and work through our attorney have had an impact that is tangible in the field. (Path Forward really did drag everything back a decade). 

We believe the main motivator for BLM right now is optics (how things look) and the very real possibility that they may have to show the “how, what and (most importantly) the why” of what is transpiring on this range to a federal Judge again…  so we are seeing a slight shift. The BLM Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) folks are out, temperature maximums that would have been exceeded (based on historic conduct) being adhered to and a few other things. On a side you all may find humorous, BLM public affairs is walking around with a film maker we have seen on Facebook before that is pro-roundup and very pro-BLM.

In other words… things have moved to a “new level” out here and ACCURACY in how all of you translate these events will help us “make or break” a chance to get a real policy review and revision to help stop at least some of the abuse we witness at roundups. Be careful of the feeding frenzy online. 

The President sits at the top of government agencies and appoints people to head them (like the BLM). Congress makes a law and then BLM carries it out… courts determine if they comply. That is how the 3-branches of government operate in wild horse country. 

Our hearts are breaking. We know these wild ones. But to help the wild ones we know and love… we have to stay the course and stay focused on the task at hand. What is happening now is “in our face.” 

We will have more on the planning process (including appeals) after this roundup ends. Advocacy needs to engage long before a helicopter flies… because that is where what you see out here… begins. 

We are working as hard as we can and we are very grateful for all of that are taking action to create desperately needed changes for today and tomorrow…

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

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Categories: Wild Horse Education