Wild Horse Education

Transparency (Report and Action Item)

The legal definition of the word “Transparency” is: government’s obligation to share information with citizens that is needed to make informed decisions and hold officials accountable for the conduct of the people’s business.

This article is being published to provide background information on BLM facilities that do not have regular visiting hours (closed to the public) except for minimal tours. Some facilities have never provided any public access. BLM is holding a tour of the Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) facility in Fallon on October 27. 

Scroll down for action item in blue and check out the pdf files that include BLM internal data.

Submitted by Wild Horse Education volunteer Colette Kaluza. (You can scroll to the bottom of the page to the embedded pdf files for more insight into her writings. This ongoing research project stems from her questions to BLM frequently being answered with “FOIA it.”  BLM has created another very frustrated and motivated advocate.)

Two traps at the same time in the same valley. You can see two groups of horses, two choppers and absolute chaos, but that was about all you could see. (Antelope, 2023)

There is a side that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not want people to know about. It is our responsibility to hold this incredibly powerful government agency accountable.  We can do that by telling people what it is doing and how it impacts them.

BLM announces a wild horse and burro gather is set to begin from a herd management area or complex of HMAs, typically by helicopter-assisted method, and that its priority is ensuring humane treatment of all animals gathered in accordance with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP).  BLM claims all animals identified for removal will be transported to a facility and upon arrival all animals are checked by a veterinarian and readied for adoption or cared for in off-range pastures where they live the rest of their lives on grass pastures.  BLM Public Affairs staff effectively softens the brutal truths and repeats it over and over making it sound true.

Roundups are conducted by driving animals into a trap by one, sometimes two helicopters.  Captured animals are loaded onto stock trailers to travel to temporary holding corral (separated from their families forever, but for babies).  Captured animals receiving fertility control are held, while the others are loaded onto semi trucks the next morning and shipped to holding corral facilities.  There is widespread noncompliance with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program at roundups and facilities. (According to BLMs own assessments)

There is significant interest in the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program.  What is the common thread of the program? secrecy, power, unaccountability.  Public access to observe operations is critical.  BLM has been hindering public access at roundups, hiding captured animals behind opaque tarps, and shipping them to holding corral facilities where the public is offered very little, if any, access or information.

Equipment is frequently pulled in front of observers and simply parked there. At the same time children are often playing near corrals and people are walking dogs.

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we can demand information by requesting it.  FOIA is a cornerstone of openness in our government.  BLM plays the game of “Truth or Dare.”   Whatever is asked for, that should be public record and in the office, far too often answer given is “You need to make a FOIA request.”

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By the time you obtain a response, the information provided by BLM is already stale or the incident is years past.

Regarding the Pancake Complex (NV) horses rounded up in 2022, from the information BLM provided pursuant to our FOIA requests, BLM ignored most of the required documentation on horse deaths, as is BLM’s norm.  When a colt was chased by a helicopter causing its leg to snap and receiving media attention, false photos of the colt’s condition were substituted!   And one or more horse deaths were not reported by BLM.

BLM cannot even accurately report the number of horses shipped.  A discrepancy was established on multiple days between the number of horses shipped from the Pancake roundup and the number arriving at holding corral facilities.

The majority of the Pancake horses (965 horses) landed in Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes Rd., Fallon, NV), a facility off limits to the public.  600 were “Eligible for Adoption,” and 289 were “Eligible for Sale-Age,” Sale Authority slaughter vulnerable.

Sale Authority is the most vulnerable category and allows horses to be sold immediately to a kill-buyer.  Dave Philipps investigated the program and how much at-risk horses are under the Sale Authority designation and horses ended up going to kill-buyer Tom Davis.  (Adoption Incentive Program, AIP, that places younger horses in jeopardy of resale to slaughter, has overshadowed Sale Authority.)

After persistent pleadings, we were allowed to see the Pancake horses, over three months after their arrival.  By that time 67 horses were dead.  Broken Arrow had not facilitated a single adoption.  Of the 50-plus Pancake horses the public had been following and wanted to adopt, only 3 were ever found.

BLM policy requires Equine Infectious Anemia testing and freeze-mark application within 30 days of arrival.  Only 41 (4%) of the Pancake horses residing at Broken Arrow were in compliance, or 924 (96%) were not in compliance.  353 (37%) were 60-plus days overdue.

No information was provided on vaccinations, deworming, hoof trimming, daily evaluation to identify injuries and needs, little on euthanasia and no data to show compliance with BLM Euthanasia policy and other euthanasia standards, including what method was used.  Required documentation of veterinarian visits and records were not provided.

There is no shade or windbreak provided for horses.  Pens should be provided to segregate unhealthy horses.  Ground surface must be maintained for drainage, cleaning, and adequate dry space to rest.  Hay and water must be provided.

BLM should take steps to allow the public to help with oversight.

Initially, the public was allowed to walk around Broken Arrow facility once a week, which allowed the public to identify issues that needed to be addressed, and hundreds of adoptions were facilitated, until cancelled by BLM.  Despite a history of consistent problems since its opening in 2010, BLM has expanded Broken Arrow’s capacity from 3,000 to 7,600, and over 13 years has awarded them tens of millions of dollars.

BLM plans to build more of these private facilities like Broken Arrow, which is closed to the public aside from one or two rushed tours a year, rather than more of the public and open facilities like Palomino Valley Center, Sparks, NV.

For both roundups and holding facilities, BLM has quietly broadened its policy on reasons to euthanize and added a shocking method!

BLM aims to keep the public in the dark.  BLM is increasingly NOT allowing public observation of gathers from a distance individual horses can be identified.  BLM is NOT posting adequate information on deaths at roundups in its “Daily Gather Reports” to be compliant with CAWP,  nor do BLM’s internal reports.   

BLM is NOT giving the public information on where horses and burros are going after being removed, how many are injured or dead, are holding corral facilities complying with CAWP?  BLM is NOT allowing routine public visits to the private holding corral facilities.

We are waiting months, and longer, for data.  The Department of Interior (BLM FOIA) responded to our August 24 request on October 3:

BLM should have open data portals for the public to access the data it needs and expects on roundups and holding corral facilities as it used to do.  This would garner public trust, push BLM toward complying with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) and more humane treatment of animals.  It would save time, money, and clear its backlog.

An open data portal is a website that provides access to data that is freely available to the public. These portals are usually maintained by governments, organizations, or individuals who want to make data available for public use. The data can be used for research, analysis, and other purposes.

The Antelope Complex (north) horses gathered were shipped to Broken Arrow in July and August.  It appears the mares and foals from the Antelope Complex (south) are being shipped from an open and public holding corral facility (Palomino Valley Center) to the closed and private facility (Winnemucca), which is in a flood plain, also off limits to the public, and the subject of our litigation that is pending adjudication.  The public has never been offered a tour of Winnemucca, ever.

BLM has not come under this much scrutiny in a decade. Please help keep up the pressure.

BLM is finally offering a tour of Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes). It is impossible to view the thousands of
horses in residence on a two-hour tour offered once or twice a year. BLM does not provide information on the horses to the attendees, other than information in support of BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The facility is approved to house 7,600 wild horses on 320 acres containing 75 large holding pens and small sick pens. 

Onsite at the tour BLM should be providing attendees with:

  1. Map of facility.
  2. List of each (numbered) pen with the area where horses and burros were removed from and the year removed from the range.

BLM should provide attendees, the public and elected officials with an open web portal (url) that contains:

  1. Map of facility with the area of horse and burro origination (gather event name).
  2. Animal arrival and departure records.
  3. Current inventory (animals freeze-marked, unmarked, and foals born at facility).
  4. Animal preparation records (Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) testing and application of freeze-mark).
  5. Animal vaccination, deworming, and hoof trimming records. 
  6. Records of routine veterinarian visits (required documentation and must be maintained at facility).
  7. Data showing daily evaluation of animal’s condition (hoof, injury, in need of veterinarian evaluation/treatment, and/or supplemental feeding).
  8. Animal death records. 
  9. Data showing compliance with BLM Euthanasia policy and CAWP Euthanasia standards, including method used. 
This information should be provided to offer some transparency into BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Doing so, will relieve the burden on the FOIA office, clear the backlog and provide some form of transparency.

You can add your name to a letter we are sending to BLM.

Just CLICK HERE and we will add your name. 

The pdf files below can be viewed by clicking the arrows at the left hand bottom of each embed to scroll forward or back through the pages,

BLM Internal Data Facilities
BLM internal Data Roundup

Related content: Spotlight, Indian Lakes

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Categories: Wild Horse Education