Horse News

Reports Reveal More Deaths and Sloppy Record Keeping by BLM as Groups Call for Investigation

by Steven Long, Editor of Horseback Magazine


BLM running down and stripping the Pryor Wild Mustang Reserve of horses

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – In the sometimes bewildering world of the federal Bureau of Land management, things get confusing – even confounded annoying.

Such was the case when Horseback Magazine began to investigate the deaths of 11 horses we found on a comprehensive report released by the Washington office on fatalities during the agency’s wild horse “gathers” since the beginning of last year.

The report stated the horses died in July, 2009, at a place called Conant Creek, Wyoming when 349 animals were captured by the agency. In fact, officials in charge of the area say that yes, they did have a gather but statistics for what BLM terms the North Lander Complex, which includes Conant Creek, are vastly different from what Washington released..

According to North Lander records released Wednesday, 17 horses died, not the 11 Washington reported. Of the 17 dead equines, seven were foals. A helicopter was used in the roundup.

Besides the dead at Conant Creek, Washington reported that two horses died at Muskrat Basin, and one died at Rock Creek Mountain, while none died at Dishpan Butte. The North Lander report didn’t reveal locations. However, the Washington report only totals 14 horses when those locations are included.

As disturbing as the deaths are, an equally distressing statistic released in the North Lander records was revealed.


Pryor Mountain Horses running free prior to "gather" - Photo by Terry Fitch

Herds captured from July 6, to July 21, at Conant Creek, Dishpan Butte, Rock Creek Mountain, and Muskrat Basis were all but wiped out. According to the records, the pre-capture herd size was 1,175 horses. After BLM wranglers did their work, only 365 horses were left to roam the vast area. The remainder was trucked to BLM holding facilities.

Critics have charged that the BLM captures of wild horses are so all consuming they are leaving the herds genetically bankrupt. Moreover, the agency administers anti-fertility drugs to many of the remaining horses after a capture leaving mares unable to breed for years after, if ever.

And rumors are persistent the BLM is making a concentrated attempt to wipe out wild horses to provide grazing land for western ranchers, a claim the BLM denies.

To add to the confusion sowed by BLM, reports have now surfaced that 11 horses did die in a July gather in Idaho.

In a detailed letter to Horseback Magazine David Rosenkrance, field manager of the Challis, Idaho, office spelled out how the horses ended their lives in a helicopter assisted roundup there. Yet the report released by Washington acknowledged only 1 death this year at Challis when 366 wild horses were captured, a direct conflict with the 11 admitted to in Rosenkrance’ letter.


The Voice of the Public

Activist groups including the Animal Law Coalition, The Cloud Foundation, and the Equine Welfare Alliance have all called for an immediate moratorium on further roundups by the BLM pending Congressional hearings.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former Colorado rancher, has thrown his full support behind the roundups and proposed seven holding facilities for wild horses in the Midwest and East which would serve as tourist attractions spotlighting this remnant of the old west – the wild horse.

Increasingly, according to a report in the Wednesday USA Today, the public is saying no.

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19 replies »

  1. I am just learning (since late August 09) about the travesty the BLM is inflicting on our Mustangs. I didn’t even realize the Pryor Mustangs had EVER been rounded up before! I’ve followed the internet adoption for years, and always thought “what a wonderful thing to do for the horses”. I was given a BLM mare, a great horse, smart, tough, healthy and opinionated! She has since passed away but I am privileged to have known her. I feel so stupid but I had NO IDEA the horrible realty behind the “gathers”. It never occurred to me such lack of compassion and humanity was exacted upon these innocent lives. I’ve been reading the blogs and articles, educating myself, and preparing for war.

    Since August I have written, emailed, and talked about this issue until I’m literally sick. So many many people are like I was, ignorant about the destruction of our wild horse herds and the whole shameful dirty secret. Well, they are getting a heck of an education from me! A crash course in the ways of our government’s mismanagement of our land and these animals. Allow me to add my voice to yours and the thousands who are calling on the BLM to stop these round ups. I believe we can make a difference, I need to believe. ohiokathy


    • Keep going OhioKathy! So glad to have you on the team! At the end of most days, I feel like I am sick in mind, heart, body, soul and spirit over all issues surrounding Mustangs, Burros and domestic horses that are in direct correlation to courrupt federal agenices. Then somehow, I wake up the next day with the sound of “CHARGE” calling in my brain all over again. Just keep chipping away, doing & saying things you never knew you had the courage in you to do! I gave mysef a free day today, to make more requests for help getting the public aware. I contacted a radio station. I approached a very good friend about having her 4th grade class send out postcards. New ideas are given each day to us!


      • Yes, email me:

        Thank you ladies, you are way ahead of me on this, but I have a big mouth and enjoy talking about things I am passionate about. I mean to catch up! I have many ideas to raise awareness about this “problem”. Bless you all!


  2. Hi all, When Steven Long refers to “Washington” vs the various BLM agencies in this story, who is he referring to? Anyone know? – i.e. “…not the 11 Washington reported.” If it is in the article I’m not picking up on it.


    • roxy, there’s a blm office in downtown dc (c street nw). it has human resources, communications, business & fiscal resources, & several other different divisions of blm-ness.


      • Thanks, I contacted Steven Long and he suggested it most likely would fall under Abbey’s pervue of blm-ness (I like this phrase). So would that be Abbey-ness?


    • In George Knapp’s update on Stampede to Obilivian, BLM Ecologist, Cameron Bryce, said that wild horses do not belong in the Western ecosystem. That the horses were being ‘zeroed out’ meaning the goal is No horses. That this is not accepted by BLM as a true statement just convolutes the convoluted. I think we all accept the Fact that BLM and DOI are wiping them out. My actions and outlook are now based on this as the reality. We have no reason to see this in any other light. BLM and DOI are so secure in themselves that they have never had any reason to listen to us except to discredit what we say and belittle who they think we are. We will just have to keep bringing some things to the attention of the American public. It is not ‘will we win?’, it is ‘when we win….’


  3. BLM has broken federal laws..why hasn’t an attorney done anything? These horses belong here in the west..the law states it and the American public wants them here. I’m very outraged. it’s about time the government listens to the people..a full congressional investigation needs to be done before these horses are only a part of history.


  4. all the BLM has done is to try and bring the wild horses to extinction so the cattlemen can graze their cattle on all the ranges.wwell we can’t let that happen never,ever.these wild horses should be respected and allowed to roam free all their lives and have plenty of foals.None of this sterizing the mares so they can’t be bred,thats absolutely redicules,they’re playing with mother nature and God made those beautiful creations to live and prosper and multiply to keep the herds of wild horses alive forever.The BLM is cold heartless people and everyone of them need to be brought up on charges for every cruel and inhumane thing they’ve done and are doing to theses precious horses and burro’s.the wild horse was and is the back bone of this country.they were the mode of transportation back in the day and the way things are going in this economy it might be again who knows.


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