Roundup Schedule (Update and a note about fertility control)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup schedule goes through updates and revisions throughout each season. On August 28, BLM updated the published capture schedule.

When BLM publishes a schedule at the beginning of a season, that schedule changes multiple times and can change rapidly. The schedule that contains operations that begin on or before October 1, are funded as part of fiscal 2023 spending. The next schedule is expected to be published at the end of September reflecting funding for fiscal 2024 (the government year begins October 1).


In typical fashion, the schedule reflects the addition of 3 “emergency” roundups that were not added to the public schedule until August 28, but began on July 20: Johnnie in NV had ended on August 5 (exceeding the capture goal), Cibola and Chocolate burro removals in AZ set a goal of 175 and have already captured at least 50 (as of August 28).

The “planned helicopter drive trap” portion of the schedule had only a change only in numbers: Sand Wash went down by 50 and West Douglas (where BLM finalized planning to zero out the herd a decade ago) jumped to 122, up 50. Of note, BLM is not including Forest Service removals on the BLM schedule (or totals) this fiscal year.

You can download and compare the two:

Schedule as of June 14

Schedule as of August 28

Our team has been covering helicopter roundups since the beginning of the season, July 1. Helicopters are forbidden during foaling season. BLM defines foaling season through an arbitrary date range (and not site-specific data) from March 1-June 30.

The first roundup of the season occurred at Reveille and our team was onsite. BLM has been doing a “Catch, Treat, Remove and Release” at Reveille for over a decade. However, BLM is hailing what they did at Reveille this year as a “step forward to expand fertility control,” even though they have been doing it at every roundup for over a decade. 2023 just saw a change from PZP to longer lasting GonaCon.

This operation caused a flood of emails into our inbox: “What do you mean they do fertility control with a helicopter!?!” This is a method that has been employed by BLM for over a decade: roundup with a chopper, select some for treatment, ship the rest to the holding facility and then release studs and mares treated with one of two vaccines (or insert IUDs). This is the most common way BLM “treats with fertility control.” 

Yes, we have been trying to explain that fertility control is a very broad term and the public, media and lawmakers have all seemed to fall into a category where they believe what the term means is a single substance (PZP) and a dart gun, it’s not. The extra funding in the budget every year designated for expanding fertility control (since 2019) has been used for research and development of new substances and methods, and the implementation of multiple methods and substances.

Top is the “darting” schedule. Bottom helicopter drive-trap.

We took the schedule for “darting” and helicopter capture sections from the new schedule and lined them up so you can see clearly what fertility control means in practice today. PLEASE take time and look at the schedule, it contains a lot of information.

You should take note, when it comes to helicopter capture the substance and method are not noted on schedule (PZP, GonaCon, IUD, gelding, other). You should also take note that a remote dart method is not used exclusively for one substance (please look at the schedule above: both PZP and GonaCon are darted).

So when you are reaching out to your lawmakers on the budget bill, be specific about what you want them to fund or not to fund. We expect the budget for fiscal 2024 to run into the same pattern as the last few years: full funding for the entire year will not be passed, but a series of temporary bills that fund 3-4 months will carry into 2024. So you can keep trying to get your lawmakers to make changes and start reform (HERE).

A lot of the confusion stems from a perpetuation of a notion that if “fertility control” is used, then there is no chopper or removals. This confusion is breeding a nasty edged anger in the public that is not based in fact, but marketing. Whatever type of fertility control is used will eventually (obviously) limit any herd growth and slow the numbers removed… but it does not address the inequity in forage, faulty boundary lines, water, humane handling, etc. and it  does not stop removals. So when you say “I signed all petitions and nothing changes” and get angry at us, what did those petitions ask for? More fertility control and nothing else? If so, you are getting what you asked for: an increase in removals so BLM can reach AML and expand fertility control (ie. Path Forward). If those were the petitions you signed, we did not send them to you.

What we wish the public and media would also note, the vast majority of roundups are NOT on the schedule because of some massive overpopulation or “starving” assertion. The majority are on the schedule to “maintain AML” (the BLM established number of animals for the herd).

The perpetuation of the “same old story” seems more habit than fact based… if you take the time to check the facts. Always be as specific as you can be when reaching out to lawmakers.

Reveille release in 2023 after capture

Our team is heading back out to the field to continue to provide reporting and oversight at ongoing roundups.

During the Antelope roundup (nearly half the horses on the entire summer schedule) we had to file litigation. All of the catastrophic deaths (broken necks and legs) could have been prevented if BLM had simply suspended during the extended heat index rises in July; but BLM simply refuses to take any input and instead digs in their heels and spends a tremendous amount of time justifying outdated thinking.

The BLM handling of their responsibility under law to manage wild horses humanely has been abysmal, for over 50 years. There has been no review, revision, or move toward creating any enforceable standard since they (finally) adopted a welfare program in 2016. Statistics tracking deaths and injuries during roundups and after capture in holding, have shown zero improvement under the program. The standards they set are often ignored, adhered to sporadically and has represented more of a paperwork process to maintain status quo than to attain accountability.

You can send a letter to your reps and sign a cover letter we are using in a packet we are sending to Congress to urge them to create a budget line item devoted solely to funding a formal rule-making process for welfare standards.

“I would like you to propose an amendment to add a budget line item solely devoted to make the BLM wild horse and burro welfare policy (currently referenced as “CAWP”) into an enforceable rule.

The internal program is not creating an environment where wild horses and burros are treated according to safe, sane, current animal husbandry practices to ensure steps are taken to prevent injury and. death. Death is not the only measure of abuse.”

You can add your name to the cover letter by clicking HERE.

The fight to gain updated and enforceable welfare standards continues in the courts.

Our team is ready to roll… 

WHE has been offered a $10,000. match to keep our team in the field and to help fund ongoing litigation. The match runs through September 15. has been extended through Sept. 22. Times are hard and our generous matching donor has given us more time to meet the goal! All contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Thank you!

Our wild ones should live free on the range with the families they hold dear. Our wild ones should also live without abuse. 

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

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Categories: Lead