Horse News

Destruction of Largest Wyoming Wild Horse Herd Underway Despite Public Outcry

Press Release from The Cloud Foundation

Wild horse mare dies in costly and unnecessary roundup

Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Hoofbeats

Rock Springs, WY (October 12, 2010)—Amid nationwide protests, today 122 more healthy wild horses were rounded up by helicopter in the Adobe Town/Salt Wells Wild Horse Herd Management Area Complex. The current three-day roundup total is 320, not including one mare who died on the run yesterday. The National Academy of Sciences will begin it’s Congressionally-requested investigation of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wild horse and burro program in 2011 but it will too late for the Red Desert herds without an immediate moratorium on roundups.

This removal is estimated to cost at least $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars and will leave the celebrated Adobe Town/Salt Wells Wild Horse Range—already populated with oil and gas wells—nearly devoid of mustangs. Some 40,000 cattle per year are allocated to graze on the 1.5 million acres Complex as well, leaving little room for wild horses according to BLM’s multiple-use interpretation. The BLM plans to continue their operation for six weeks in order to roundup 1950 horses, removing 1580 of them permanently from the Complex. The majority of horses removed will be shipped to the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City which doubles as a holding facility for thousands of captured mustangs.

Carol Walker, author/photographer of Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses, has been documenting the mustangs of Wyoming’s Red Desert for seven years. “I am witnessing the end of the wild West here as family after family of wild horses are driven into the trap, the majority of which will never return. These are magnificent animals who deserve to live their lives in freedom with their families. They should not be stockpiled with the more than 40,000 wild horses and burros now in government holding.”

According to the National Wildlife Federation, Wyoming’s Red Desert is one of the last high-desert ecosystems in North America with varied landscapes, including the sagebrush steppe. In addition to pronghorn, mountain lion, desert elk, pygmy rabbits, greater sage grouse, black-footed ferrets and golden eagles, reside Wyoming’s last great herd of wild horses. These mustangs trace back to the horses of the Spanish conquest and before that to their almost genetically-identical ancestors who died out in North America some 7,000 years ago.

BLM expects to leave no more than 861 wild horses (3,000 acres per horse) on the range that will include 100 mares treated with an experimental two-year infertility drug, PZP-22. Going against their Environmental Assessment, BLM will manipulate the sex ratios to nearly 67% male: 33% female by releasing 274 stallions and only 100 mares. These numbers exceed the publicized 60% male to 40% female ratio.

“Skewing the sex ratio to this extent and returning 100 drugged mares who will cycle monthly is a recipe for social disaster” explains Cloud Foundation Director Ginger Kathrens, who has spent more than 16 years observing and documenting wild horse behavior across the West. “BLM is in the business of removal and destruction, not management.”

BLM has set up an observation site for the public and media on an oil and gas pad more than one mile from the partially visible trap site. The Foundation encourages members of the public to witness this roundups, updates on trap location and observing the roundup can be found on the BLM website.

Makendra Silverman, on site for The Cloud Foundation reports: “The noise of the chopper fills the air before you see a cloud of dust and running mustangs. I watched some of the last wild horses swept off our public lands with a backdrop of oil and gas wells—this absolutely must stop.”

Concurrently BLM contractors are rounding up wild horses in Colorado’s North Piceance Herd Area, despite a lawsuit filed by the Habitat for Horses Advisory Council, the ASPCA and The Cloud Foundation last week. Eyewitnesses today say a mare and her baby tried to escape but the mare was roped and dragged into a trailer. The condition of the mare has not yet been disclosed.

41 replies »

    • A brave stallion and his family CLIMBING that dangerous rock face in hope of freedom, but ultimately destined to be ripped apart by cruelty and the pursuit of contractor profits.

      $3.5 million dollars could have bought/repurposed allot of land in this area and restored much of the HMA/HA to protect these and other magnificent wild horses.

      The BLM continues to be intentionally blind to solutions staring them in the face while mustangs are brutally driven from the very lands legally designated for their protection and PROPER management.

      No justice, no peace!


    • If ever there were wild horses to leave in the wild to reproduce their honorable, majestic genes (so much greater than the men’s who were terrorizing them) it would be this small band of wild horses. Why, oh why, did they not just back off on these and do the honorable thing and let them remain wild? This pilot could have easily run them straight off the cliff. His actions are sickening. I cannot stand this contractor with dollar signs where his soul should be.

      My heart is breaking. My heart is broken.


    • Jess,
      This photo needs to go viral. It tell it all. Incredible. & Incredibly heartwrenching. Have you sent it to any news agencies?


    • I am researching the Checkerboard Roundups and this photo seems to have been pulled. Does anyone have a link or copy of it I can access?


  1. This is NOT MANAGEMENT … it’s both inhumane and totally unnecessary. There are numerous alternatives to this and other removals which the BLM refuses to take or even explore.

    The presence and expansion of oil and gas wells reveals the agency’s true intent. Replacements by cattle fly in the face of claims of range deterioration. Although the monetary return is a pittance compared to actual value and profit, the government has determined the land must be sacrificed to pay it’s way, the energy must flow, and cattle must be a priority.

    The wild ones here and across the West continue to bear the brunt of their cruelty. They are innocent victims of a country gone mad for corporate profits and the agendas of special interests while ignoring real solutions.

    We must pray for the American Mustangs and Burros that have been ripped from their rightful lands and continue to fight for justice and their freedom.


      • I agree, Obama has his thumbs in his ears with his index finger covering his eyelids. I am still trying to recover from the Calico herd, braveheart’s story and honeybandit. Now, yet another herd is being destroyed. It appears nothing will stop the BLM.
        I received a very nice email from an internet friend today and she was telling me how much the mustangs have helped her understood her own spirtuality. I have to agree. I remember myself as barely a teenager with no self-confidence. I bought a mustang and slowly, ever so gently he allowed me into his world and taught me self confidence and self esteem. The mustang let me know I was accepted in his world. Soon, I was on longer afraid of people and realized I did have much to offer the world we live in and slowly emerged from my shell.


      • hi ! I have been stuggling with my emotions over this Wild Mustangs and Burro roundup issues; I have; like many of us have; been put under undue stress on account of these roundups!

        I was beginning to think: maybe me following the Roundups is doing more harm than good; because my emotions are being affected in a negative way; causing undue stress in my private life

        for example the first thing I think of when I wake up is the wild ones

        so I was thinking about quitting the entire cause and moving on with my life…and then I got to thinking about the Mustangs themselves; and I put all the people to the side and meditated on the Mustangs; and I thought about: how the Mustnags run; how they interact with each other; but what really tripped me was;

        The Story of Braveheart; the way Braveheart risked his Life and lost his life to try to save his family…Never have I seen such Loyalty ! Never have I seen the Maternal Instinct and the Paternal Instinct so evident as in the Wild Mustangs and Burros bands; so I decided on behalf of the Mustangs and Burros I will continue on!

        so for me the Mustangs have awakened a lost spirit hidden in me; and to the Wild Equine; the band leaders; the mares I say thank u

        and because Braveheart did not desert his family of a mare + foal

        I will not desert the Wild Mustang +Burro stop the roundups cause


      • Anne, I certainly understand. I have been feeling some of the same emotions as you describe. It is so hard to watch these beautiful mustangs being destroyed. It is equally difficult when the BLM, Obama and all the rest refuse to address the issues with the wild ones. The government is turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the misery they are inflicting on our mustangs, thereby the citizens of the U.S.


  2. This was where I drew my line and now they have crossed it and violated these Red Desert wild horses again.

    I do not want this to go on. I want this stopped. You read me, BLM? mar


  3. Help me understand this? WHY ARE THEY BEING ALLOWED TO DO THIS? I’m under the impression they were court ordered to STOP!. If they are above the law, then so are we. That is our land as well as theirs & we should stand all of us arm in arm across the path of where they are driving these poor animals. Maybe if all of us stand up & I MEAN STAND UP TO THEM. Not let them run us off of OUR LAND! INVITE THE MEDIA, TAKE MANY, MANY VIDOES OF WHAT THEY SAY TO US AS WE ARE THERE PROTESTING TO WHAT IS WRONG! We have to start somewhere! ANYBODY OUT THERE HEAR ME?????? WE CAN DO THIS!


  4. I cannot for the life of me, wrap my head around the horrific actions of the most irresponsible, profit minded bastards alive! BLM and Obama are sleeping together in a bed full of lies, dishonesty and deceit. The political agenda yet again is, business as usual. Well it’s up to all Americans who are sickenend to death to speak out for these beautiful creatures. Be the Mustang’s voices: demand your local politicians stand on these issues and vote accordingly. Write your Senators, etc. expressing your values and demanding they help or risk losing your support. Nine times out of ten most of your friends and neighbors are oblivious to the BLM, the Mustangs and this whole dirty business. Use your forward button to pass the word around. And please pray to God to help us help these innocent horses. And in so doing, we may help our own souls.


  5. It’s great to see names both familiar and new coming to the defense of the wild ones. “Each one teach one” … ten … a hundred. Our combined efforts will bring more voices to the cause and pressure on the BLM to stop this madness!


  6. Just a bit off topic here. You know the video of Lili saying Bulls Lies and Menegele were having trouble explaining those videos?? CNN said this morning that the video of the miners coming out of the mines tells the story (I think this is partially paraphased). That the video told the story better than anyone. Well if that video tells the story (which is totally mesmerizing) why does Bulls Lies and Menegele have problems with the video telling the story about the mustangs? Unless of course, they just want the right to continue with the brutuality.

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.


  7. “BLM will manipulate the sex ratios to nearly 67% male: 33% female by releasing 274 stallions and only 100 mares. When will the BLM learn they are NOT GOD!?!?

    These remaining few poor mares will literally be raped month after month as they continue to come into heat with no result. The stallions will fight continuously to win the remaining few mares. Disgusting.


    • I’ve aked this before: What rancher in his or her right mind would treat their personal horses or herd this way?

      The 1971 WFR&B Act called for the herds to be managed where the animals were found to roam. The BLM took it upon itself, without any kind of Congressional directive or mandate I’ve ever read, to establish the HMA system without much regard to where and to what extent the animals congregated or moved across the range.

      Under the 1971 Law as it stands – no matter to what degree that law has been twisted, undermined, or ignored – the agency is STILL mandated to manage “principally” for the welfare of the wild ones. Will some BLM PR person (I know you’re out there!) explain to me why THIS cruel, unnatural, and unscientific experiment is the best they can come up with?

      The BLM had and still has the latitude to develop a program to partner with ranchers who may choose to help manage wild horses on HMAs and allotments, and train those that have been removed for proveable causes. And they could lend meaningful support to a system of Western preserves where horses can be released from holding to live out their lives in peace and relative freedom.

      Result – all parties benefit and everybody gets to live!


  8. Can anyone doubt that horses feel love and loyalty? We can not stop. We have to continue to tell this story, and to share what we have learned. Send press releases and articles to your local media. They don’t have to be a major outlet. If you have a son or daughter on a college campus, send this story to them. Ask them to Facebook it or send it to the editor of the college newspaper. Download some of the info from Madeleine Pickens web site, and see if a classroom teacher will teach a lesson or share a story about these horses at an age appropriate level. The roar has to get louder. Think outside the box. I don’t have an answer, but I am going to try a lot of different approaches to this.

    This picture breaks my heart, but strengthens my resolve. I spent hours writing and calling my Senators and Representatives yesterday, and writing to media outlets that I might not normally think to write. We have to write, call, read, talk, share, and donate what we can.

    The sad saga is a lens through which the American people can see exactly the amount of humanity sitting behind the desk (when not on the golf course, Martha’s Vineyard) in the Oval Office. It should send shivers down the spine of every American with a beating heart. One phone call, Mr. President. One phone call.




  10. By the time they get around to investigating, will there still even be any wild horses left on the range to study or count, or whatever it is they’re doing!!?? That’s the whole idea & plan of the sneaky, low-life BLM, go against “court orders”, because they can get away with it, hurry up & remove as many wild horses as they can, before they actually “might”(?) be stopped! I still think the only way to save the horses is to go get them ourselves, & hide them out on private land, or buy ranches & adopt every horse they catch, to release either on these same private ranches, or into newly created wild horse sanctuaries, & shoot the evil bastards(forgive me, I’m just really pissed!), if they come anywhere near the horses. We have to take back what is ours, & what BELONGS in nature!


  11. I wish I could herd the wild one’s into a big canyon and hide them until after the BLM is finished with their destruction on my land.

    I also think it is horrible that BLM asks repeatedly for “public comments” on managing the herds and hundreds and thousands of the public who own the lands and horses send in sound management ideas. The BLM disregards all suggestions and I have never seen any of them incorporated. I know I spent quite a bit of time researching and writing my “public comment.” I feel like all the BLM can do is poo-poo on all of us and our beloved horses. I am so sick of it. Are we now at about 50,000 horses in “holding?” It is extremely heart-breaking to advocate for the wild-one’s. Also, why can’t we see our horses in Long-term holding?


    • Debra, the reason we can’t see the horses in Long-term Holding is it’s specifically stated in the contract between the BLM and whomever wins the bid that the facility will NOT be open to the public. Also, contractors must notify the agency if anyone attempts to contact them for permission to visit.

      Federal prisoners and inmates in privately-run institutions are allowed visitation, but not our wild ones.

      If anyone from the BLM would like to refute this here or in any other public forum, I’m more than willing to listen to the explanation.


      • thanks for the info on why we cannot see pix or videos of the Wild Mustangs in captivity in the long term holding; I was wondering ! I understand many mustangs do not survive in long term holding; the reason I think is: the mustangs do not get any type of shelter in the long term holdings; they stand out in sleet; snow and rain !

        this takes a toll on their immune system causing them to deteriorate; then when the Mustangs “fall…no one helps them sooo

        IMO Shelter must be provided in the long term fields and pastures
        One simply cannot put a wild mustang or foal out in a field with no Shelter from the Snow; the mustangs simply will not “survive; IMO !

        in 2007; 936 Mustangs perished in Long term holding pastures; source of info: General Accounting Office 2007; AW


      • Anna, the 2008 contract presolicitation I found DOES specify (direct quite): “Shelter from the natural elements shall be provided in each pasture by the topography (e.g., canyons, hills, etc.), other natural features such as trees, or manmade structures.” Note it says “shall be”, not “may be”.

        It’s seeking one or more facilities to hold from 500-2,500 wild horses. Unless these “pastures” are in locations which provide natural shelter, I don’t see how this could be accomplished. In my opinion, providing “manmade structures”, even for 500 head, would be next to impossible.

        Since we aren’t allowed to visit, we have no way of knowing if this or any other requirements are being fulfilled.


  12. We are looking at ourselves when we look at the wild horses. It is not only them that are loosing their freedom. The very fact that the government and the BLM are doing is proof that we do not own public land nor the wild horses on it. I remember in government class in high school the discussion of loosing your freedom and which would cause people to revolt against it, if you had your whole arm chooped off or if just a little bit of your finger, then a little more then the hand, then the wrist until just a little at a time the whole arm was gone. If our whole arm of freedom was chopped off everyone would do something. Little by little our wild horses, the wolves, then your right to free speech, then your freedom to live where ever you want…pretty soon it is all gone and the goverment owns everything and tells us what we can do. This has to stop, not only for the wild horses sake, but for our very liberties and freedoms sake that the Constitution gave us and that is not being followed.


  13. the foolishness of this hurts my brain,this is like taking all of american history and flushing it. I understand over population of horses but you would think the greatest country in the world could figure out something besides murder


  14. you know Pat your right this is a short distance from being ran by the long as you do what your told and don’t say or do anything to upset the balance you live pretty well


  15. What is particualry sad about this roundup in Wyoming is this:

    Wyoming has some of the most vast land expanses in the nation
    and Wyoming is one of the biggest states in size in our nation;

    so the idea these Mustangs do not have enough land to roam is

    well; RIDICULOUS ! they round em up because congress says to!
    and then Congress pays them to do so…this is why I beleive ONLY CONGRESS CAN ACTUALLY STOP THE ROUNDUPS; because only Congress is the one who started the roundups; thnx.


  16. You can access Pam Nickoles blog from the Cloud Blog–click onto it and you will find thIS report VERY INTERESTING–natural gas signs with the WARNING—DANGER-ENTERING POISONOUS GAS AREA:

    This is from Pam Nickoles blog
    Salt Wells, WY Wild Horses – July 2010
    August 14, 2010This is from Pam Nickoles blog
    Salt Wells, WY Wild Horses – July 2010
    August 14, 2010


  17. I hope in the very near future to see all the BLM employees and the contractor helicopter company’s crew up for criminal “murder” charges. THey are intentionally driving these beautiful animals to extinction. WHose money is going in these disgusting people’s pockets — Cattlemen’s money and oil well monies. We must demand that both these entities, stop immediately – that we, the American public is stopping this right now. We don’t need their cattle that bad and we don’t need the greedly oil giants additional wells either. Let’s stand firm. We will win – unfortunately, many horses and foals will have succumbed to these killers before this comes to an end.


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