Antelope Roundup 2023 (Archive)

For the first time, the Antelope Complex roundup was split into two simultaneous crews due to the size (project area over 1.4 million acres) in 2023.

Our team was onsite for every day of this operation. Intermittent observers from other organizations and media were onsite; our team member spent many days alone at observation.

Due to the complexity and length of the operation (42 days) we did not use our usual format and created individual articles throughout. We are creating this page to archive each daily update into one location to make the roundup coverage easier for the public to use as a resource when searching for information.

As the roundup raged on and BLM refused to simply suspend for a few days of record breaking heat indexes (during foaling/breeding season). Catastrophic injuries statistically coincide with heat index jumps and, along with air quality index, we have been trying for years to get BLM to recognize these important measures of safety and are repeatedly ignored. We were also seeing numerous violations of BLMs asserted policy such as gaps when chutes were set to trailers, unsafe trap locations containing strewn old barbed wire and more. It began to become clear that we would need to litigate, increasing the rapid fire workload.

At WHE, we take our responsibility to report to the public very seriously. You have counted on us for well over a decade to be your eyes and ears and disclose the events you cannot find from government or government partners.

The BLM paperwork (Environmental Assessment or “EA”) for this roundup also includes the Triple B Complex (many of you remember last years roundup. The numerous ways BLM segments this vast area for removals illustrates the scope and intensity of the largest EA in the nation; at the completion of the operation nearly 10,000 wild horses will have been captured since approval 7 years ago. For more details on the 2023 Antelope Complex roundup you can read our “before the roundup” piece here.

Just as every horse rescued matters, how every wild horse or burro is treated during capture matters.  As we fight to keep them on the range, receive a fair share of resources and equity in the planning process, we continue our work to stop abuse. 

Just the roundup in this one complex, the Antelope complex, accounts for nearly half the entire summer/fall 2023 roundup schedule… by the numbers.

The total captured was 3,078 wild horses, 39 died onsite; 10 died at south, 29 at north. The majority of catastrophic deaths (broken legs and necks, dehydration and colic) coincided with the heat index rises in July.

The Antelope Complex roundup is being conducted as two simultaneous operations in 2023, a deviation from historic practice. The last operation occurred in this complex in 2021 (team coverage). 

Antelope South list at top. Scroll down for Antelope North.

Antelope South: 1,107 wild horses captured from July 9-July 25. During the operation: 10 wild horses died, 2 escaped from the holding corrals (BLM notes them as “released”), at least 4 foals were orphaned during capture. Deaths included 4 broken necks and 3 foals that died of colic/dehydration; these catastrophic deaths all line up with heat index jumps. 

If you are looking for information from south trap during July 9-July 14, video and updates are included in the “daily running format” HERE. 

Below: The most requested video from the first week at south trap is the one showing the escape from the temporary corrals BLM labelled a “release.” Spending time at the holding corral often gleans valuable information on the speed of an operation and can allow some view of handling when you are being prohibited from seeing trap. 

After July 15 we posted video in a combined north/south update as the amount of information became too cumbersome to post in the daily running format and the public was requesting action items.

July 16: There were 2 broken necks at south trap on this 3rd day of the extended heat index rise where we had asked BLM to suspend operations. One of them a palomino (cremello) mare that orphaned her foal. (article HERE)

Warning: graphic content in video below.

July 17: Wind caused and early stop to operations at south trap. (HERE)

July 18: A mare escapes multiple times and a foal is roped on foot. (HERE)

July 19: Heavy monsoonal type rain hits the range (HERE)

July 20: Press coverage intensifies as our attorneys continue try to engage BLM to get a halt during foaling/breeding season and heat waves (HERE)

July 21: The number of babies coming in continues to remain well below the number BLM says should be on the range and 2 more die at south trap (HERE)

July 22: We continue to focus on the low number of foals actually being brought in during trapping and our team member finds a lone youngster at south trap. (HERE)

July 23: Footage from south trap clearly shows how easy it is for babies to get lost in the chaos. BLM has no data-based foaling season and continues to deny that July is an overly fragile time of year to use helicopter drive trapping. (HERE)

July 24: No active trapping at south trap today. Videos from concerned citizens begin arriving after the public witnesses limping and injured horses at the facility north of Reno where south trap horses were sent. (HERE)

July 25: Last day of active trapping at south trap. 36 were captured and a “no fly day” called for July 26 as south trap ships the last horses off to Palomino Valley Center. (HERE)

After weeks of simply trying to gain a meeting with BLM to push to get the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) updated and enforced, WHE had to file in federal district court as our pleas went ignored in the “preferred partner game” BLM has been playing since 2017. (HERE)

South trap ends.

Antelope North: 1,971 wild horses were captured at north trap. On a range where BLM claims foaling season has ended and the foaling rate ranges from 20-22%, only 15% of the total number captured were foals. In July (actual foaling season in these HMAs) the daily capture rate of foals ranged from 9-12%. 6 wild horses escaped holding by jumping out of corral pens (BLM calls that a “release”). The final tally is 29 deaths: 7 were claimed to be blind or missing an eye, 8 were claimed to have a deformity, 3 broken legs, a broken neck and 2 foals died of heat related illness such as colic. BLM is notorious for failing to document pre-existing conditions in the manner outlined in policy (photographs and necropsy).

From July 9- July 14 you can find the updates on the “daily running update.” The amount of information was more bandwidth than we could load on a single page. Click HERE for the daily if you are looking for information from those dates. 

Warning: graphic content in video below. The most requested video from the dates listed above, is the video of Sunshine, the stallion we knew on range. He died during the first day of the heat index rise that we had begged BLM to suspend operations just for 3-4 days. We lost a friend on the first day.

On the same day (July 13), when we had begged BLM to pause for a few days, you can see just how new many of these foals are. This baby was found dead the next day in holding from dehydration.


July 16: no fly day at north trap.

July 17: BLM ran an unsafe trap where the area is littered with barbed wire and other livestock turnout infrastructure. Wild horses collided and flipped. The barbed wire is used as an extended wing that leads all the way to trap where only a couple of feet separate the trap wing and the barbed wire. (HERE)

July 18 -20: North trap is pushing hard as things heat up in DC on the spending bill and press coverage intensifies. (here)

July 21: Only 16% of the mares coming in had babies. If BLM estimates on population growth and foaling season are remotely accurate, the number should be close to 60% of mares with babies by their sides. We are witnessing drives where babies lag behind and/or drop off. (HERE)

July 22: We continue to focus on the low number of foals actually being brought in during trapping, impatient pilot and our team member finds a lone youngster at south trap. (HERE)

July 23: BLM continues to only take temperatures in the cooler draws where they set trap and push the limits. The impacts of the heat on very healthy adults is easy to see. The number of babies coming in remain low. (HERE)

July 24: Videos from concerned citizens begin arriving after the public witnesses limping and injured horses at the facility north of Reno where south trap horses were sent. We remain extremely concerned by the low number of foals.  (HERE)

July 25: BLM squeezes a trap to pull as many as they can out of an area (“squeeze out a trap” is a phrase BLM employees also use to describe a return to a trap location multiple days). (HERE)

July 26: After weeks of simply trying to gain a meeting with BLM to push to get the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) updated and enforced, WHE had to file in federal district court as our pleas went ignored in the “preferred partner game” BLM has been playing since 2017. (HERE)

July 27: The day after litigation was filed, BLM began running 2 traps in the same grazing allotment with 2 helicopters creating havoc. BLM denied access to the second trap (a trap we sat at in 2021) claiming “terrain” on the website, but a lack of personnel was the reason given to our observer. BLM hit the gas and captured 165 this day with only 10% foals. (HERE)

July 28: BLM continues to deny access to “trap 2” and accelerates to capture 177 wild horses where a staggering 9% are foals. This low number is desperately alarming.  (HERE)

July 29: BLM plays the “private property card” where the road is public and the land checkerboard (meaning BLM could set trap on the public parcel) and denies access entirely. We went to holding where when we could see, we saw rough handling. BLM continues to kill horses claiming “pre-existing conditions” and is admittedly not documenting as policy states. (HERE)

July 30: The lack of access afforded to document and the extremely low number of foals remains a concern (HERE)

July 31: BLM denies access again, even refusing to give trap location. We find it. Another neck breaks in a heat index rise. (HERE)

August 1: BLM continues to run 2 traps and only provide access at over 1.5 miles from 1 trap. Even at that distance we can continue to document excessive drives and babies fall off. (HERE)

August 2: Media day. Trap was obscured by trees and the drive was behind a ridge. Things remain tense as BLM and preferred partners (who came back for media day) chat and try to wash clean an operation that ran foals during record breaking heat and violated First Amendment rights. (HERE)

August 3: BLM sets another trap at a very old livestock turnout area that is littered with old barbed wire and captures 130 wild horses and only 15 foals in another pressure filled day of back and forth in the heat. On this day, the BLM person in charge allows a solitary pursuit, roping, leaving the horse roped while other horses are driven in… and then personally participates in dragging that horse by the next until collapse. (multiple videos HERE)

August 4: BLM got really mad that we posted audio of them explaining the mare that collapsed (small, not in good shape skin and bones). They continued to trap at the same location and, like at every other trap, failed to do dust control. A horse slams into panels at a trap. (HERE)

August 5 and 6: On the day we were preparing for hearing (we had to make an attempt to get immediate relief as the underlying claim begins the long briefing process) BLM showed they can provide access and slow down. This was the first day the rate of foals hit 20%. August 6 was a huge contrast to August 5. (HERE)

August 7: Observation of trap was impossible. Observation of loading was blocked. (HERE)

August 8: We were in court where it was found our Constitutional Rights were likely violated, but the court saw no reason to restrain BLM as they promised not to deny access again. Although during hearing it was admitted BLM did not do the public NEPA process and that BLM only considers themselves not in compliance with policy on welfare if they violate every single parameter, the court saw no reason to stop the roundup as the county commissioners declared an emergency (we will have more on this after we receive transcripts). The case remains active and we have a high likelihood of a successful outcome that can have far reaching impacts for all herds.

August 9-11: Direct Action against abuse, by request from the public. (HERE)

August 12/13: BLM captured 64 wild horses and even blocked access to loading (HERE)

August 14: BLM went back to squeeze a trap again. We visit Palomino Valley and see mares ready to give birth and orphans. (HERE)

August 15: BLM captured 2 bands and we look at the coming schedule. (HERE)

August 16: Deaths rise to 36 for the complex as BLM hits Goshute. (HERE)

August 17 and 18: BLM continues to avoid answering any question having to do with pre-roundup planning and census on an HMA-by-HMA basis. BLM returns to a really bad trap and it appears an escaping horse hits a t-post. (HERE)

August 19: Death toll rises to 37 for the complex, the last day of capture and rains hit. (HERE)

August 20: The last 2 wild horses die as the rest are shipped off to the Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes, Fallon) facility that stands in the path of the storm, Hilary. (HERE)

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Post roundup.

Checking in on the ones left on the range (HERE)

Trying to see Broken Arrow (Indian Lakes, Fallon), an off-limits to the public facility where all the north trap horses were sent. (HERE)

We will continue to track and monitor the herd on and off range.

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

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