Wild Horse Education

Surprise Complex (Roundup Update)

On September 18, BLM began a roundup of wild horses in the Surprise Complex. The last roundup in this area was in 2021.

The Surprise Complex is made up of 6 HMAs: Massacre Lakes, High Rock, Wall Canyon, Bitner, Nut Mountain and Fox Hog.

For the first time, BLM sent a single press release out for the Surprise Complex AND the Calico Complex. They labelled these very distinct operations, run under very distinct Environmental Assessments (EA) written by two different states, as a single complex: Surprise/Calico Complex. It also appears they awarded a single roundup contract under these two distinct EAs as one event. (This is very interesting to our legal team and we will tell you more as the roundup progresses.)

The numbers in the press release are different than what was published in the roundup schedule: “The BLM plans to gather approximately 1,200 wild horses, remove approximately 780 excess wild horses from the range, and treat up to 217 mares with GonaCon Equine, a population suppression fertility control vaccine, before releasing them back to the range to maintain herd viability.”

Usually the number of mares equates with the number of studs being released.

At this time, we do not have HMA-by-HMA release numbers. When we know, we will tell you. However, we expect as many horses as they can get will be captured in each HMA and release numbers will represent the bulk of post-operation populations.  (Read more HERE)

UPDATE: BLM is now claiming there are 1,100 wild horses in 3 HMAs. The goal is to capture 484 from Fox Hog, High Rock and Wall Canyon and permanently remove 404. This will leave these 3 HMAs at low AML with predominantly non-reproducing females for 5-10 years.

Our team is onsite.

Cumulative to date:

Capture total (9/21 a.m.): 96 Wild Horses (37 Stallions, 47 Mares, and 12 Foals)  The extremely low number of foals is due to multiple factors (wild horses were treated with PZP-22 in 2021 after a large-scale roundup, mountain lions and a hard winter).

Shipped: 33 Wild Horses (11 Stallions, 22 Mares, and 0 Foals)  to Litchfield.

Deaths 6 (BLM explanation: A 4-year-old stallion and a 3-year-old mare were euthanized due to club feet and  poor prognosis for recovery, A 25-year-old stallion was euthanized due to poor body condition — BCS 1 — and a pre-existing leg injury. NOTE: We had a pretty good view of horses coming and and saw no BCS-1 horses. 0-year-old mare with cancer of the eye. 3-year-old mare emaciated with poor prognosis to recover. BCS score of 2, 2-year-old stallion with a spinal deformity causing severe mobility issues.  BCS score of 3; 20-year-old mare with cancer of the eye and BCS-2; 3-year-old mare emaciated with poor prognosis to recover BCS score of 2; 2-year-old stallion with a spinal deformity causing severe mobility issues, BCS score of 3.

Daily Updates (Newest will appear at the top, scroll down for previous days).


We were at trap for nearly 6 hours and saw 2 runs that resulted in 9 wild horses captured. All day the sound of the chopper would fade in and out, he would refuel and the process would repeat.

Temperatures in the early morning hours hovered above freezing and the day only warmed to the mid-40’s. You can see the breath of a stallion in the early morning air in the video.

In 2021, at this same trap, observation was .2 miles from trap. This year, while running in conjunction with Nevada, we are pushed far away. BLM claimed “horses would be coming from all directions.” It appears that the number of horses, and the direction they were expected to come from, was mistaken. We could have been in the same location.

We left early from trap to attend the BLM meeting for the Juniper mine expansion that has a project area that will cover about 20% of the Triple B HMA.  Comments are open on this proposed mine expansion through October 5. 

We will add the final capture/deAth numbers for the dAY WHEn BLM posts official numbers.


Today we were placed far from the run and from trap. Wind gusts of 17 mph were recorded at ground level during the first run and hit 28 mph by the third and final run of the day around 3 p.m.

BLM says “Capture site designed to remove animals that are roaming outside of the High Rock Herd Management Area.”

However, only one run came from the off-HMA side and the rest from far inside the HMA.

During the last 2 runs it was obvious the pilot was having trouble handling the craft and tail dips (toward the ground and horses) were downright scary.

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During the second run we saw one of the bravest stallions that has ever graced public lands run back out of wings, his family tried to follow and were pushed back into the wings… race back into the wings under the chopper to get his family to follow him. This did not happen once… it happened 4 times. His family was pushed in and out of the wings a total of 6 times. On his last race under the chopper he turned to look back as his family was pushed back into the wings (out of our view) and into trap. He was pursued as a solo by the chopper and then finally let go. He would walk ten to twenty feet and look back to see of his family followed.. then walk with head down a but more and turn back. His family was trailered out of the area while he was slowly going back home. (Long video edit will take more time than we have right now).

We have noticed some odd behavior in this pilot. He lingers over trap an, while trying to push in the family that tried to flee 6 times, he opened the doors of the helicopter… we do not know why.

As time allows, we will load more.

27 Wild Horses (5 Stallions, 12 Mares, and 10 Foals) NOTE: we do NOT know what BLM is classifying as a foal at this roundup. They may be counting last years late foals. 

3 wild horses were euthanized. BLM stated: “20-year-old mare with cancer of the eye and BCS-2. 3-year-old mare emaciated with poor prognosis to recover. BCS score of 2, 2-year-old stallion with a spinal deformity causing severe mobility issues.  BCS score of 3.”

Facial injuries have been apparent in many wild horses captured the last 3 days.

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Above: First run of the day captured about 5 wild horses from the Wall Canyon/High Rock are and came in at approximately 8:30.


25 Wild Horses (13 Stallions, 12 Mares, and 0 Foals). A 25-year old stallion was euthanized. BLM claimed a BCS of 1 (which is basically a walking skeleton with no energy reserves. We saw no BCS 1 wild horse all day.

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Above: Small group of 3 that was pursued hard. At least 4 attempts at the trap/canyon mouth before these lathered horses entered trap.

At this trap it appears that the natural formation of the canyon is being used as “wings” as jute was set shorter than previous use. There have seemed to be numerous issues throughout the two days at this location with getting horses to enter the canyon. We cannot see the exact issues as the area is blocked from our view and we were not permitted to move a few feet to see down the canyon during capture attempts.

Below: A run of 2 came in at 12:25 and a group of 4 at 12:50. The chopper had to refuel as these drives were very, very long.

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Horses were immediately loaded into trailer. The chopper went back out to find more wild horses.

As we had been informed the day before that this would be a “one run and done” day (and the chopper had simply been squeezing the trap all day and only bringing in small groups) we left trap to be at holding for off-loading of this trailer. The trailer did not arrive at temporary holding until 5:30. In other words, these horses had been on the trailer for nearly 4.5 hours.

14 wild horses (adults) had been captured prior to our departure. In 2021, this had was treated with PZP-22 and the efficacy has been apparent over the last 2 days. However, at this operation BLM is “expanding the use of fertility control” by switching to GonaCon, a hormonal substance that will stop ovulation entirely for 5-10 years (lifespan of a wild mare is about 20-22 years on average) effectively stopping any population growth for over a decade and threatening herd viability long-term.

BLM informed us that a second trailer load had been captured and was heading for temporary. Our team stayed onsite to determine how many had been captured in the last few hours. It appeared as if 5 horses were on the trailer and, due to the tarp on panels, the number can only be estimated at about 3-5. We can now assume only a a couple of horses remain in the area of the trap and that nearly all horses were captured. We are awaiting the breakdown for release number estimates.

Our team will back onsite tomorrow.

Follow up from yesterday: The wild ones we had been watching with eye injuries (see photos from yesterday below) were not euthanized and were sent to Litchfield. When time allows, we will get tag numbers at Litchfield and actively seek \placement. The cremello from yesterday (at the side of the road) was not captured and is still on range.

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091823: The day in pictures. (We are editing all the video, including of the first escape. Our team is the field. Nearly all of WHE team members are out on assignment. We will load video as time allows).

44 Wild Horses (19 Stallions, 23 Mares, and 2 Foals) and 2 euthanized for club foot.

Meet time was 4:30 a.m. After a 2-hour drive to a trap location we have been to in the past, we were placed in a different observation location where we could not see the drive this time. The first run, just after dawn, resulted in an escape where wild horses fractured and went in multiple directions. Over an hour later, about 11 wild horses were captured.

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The next drive resulted in an escape. After 2 refuels, another group came into trap.

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When the second trailer was loaded, foals were in the front compartment and heavy horses were loaded in the back. This is not a particularly safe way to load any trailer (anyone that has towed anything would understand what we mean).

We had been at trap from 7:30 a.m. until nearly 2 p.m. and only 2 successful runs occurred. The pilot was out scouting. The oddly loaded trailer made us want to follow to temporary holding and assess handling.

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As we followed the trailer, we came upon this beautiful horse simply standing in proximity to a wranglers vehicle. The horse appeared to have suffered an old puncture wound and something odd going on with the mouth. The horse did not shift weight or attempt to take a step. We had to continue in the convoy and will inquire further tomorrow.

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A load came in after we arrived of 11 wild horses. We noted 6 with injuries, 3 seemed severe.

The drive from trap to temporary holding took well over an hour. The road is rocky, rutted, crosses water in numerous locations and is really “off-road” for most of the drive. In our opinion this road and length of drive time are not appropriate for newly captured horses.

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One poor horse appears to have had an eye punctured.

We have offered to take the injured horses and find immediate placement. BLM is assessing their condition to determine if they will ship the horses to Litchfield or euthanize if they feel it is unsafe to ship them.

Our team will be back onsite tomorrow,

Our wild ones should live free on the range with the families they hold dear. Our wild ones should also live without abuse. WHE carries ongoing litigation to force BLM into open public process to create an enforceable welfare standard for our treasured wild ones. 

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

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! We are about halfway there.

All contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Thank you!

2023 Summer roundup reports


Antelope Complex (north and south)

Black Mountain, Hardtrigger, Sands Basin

Devils Garden (USFS)

Categories: Wild Horse Education