Horse News

BLM Reneges on Promise to Return Native Wild Horses to their Rightful Range

News Update from Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Making Policy on the Fly, as Usual

BLM’s Wild Horse Harvesting Machine coming to an HMA near YOU! ~ by John Holland

As predicted by many wild horse and burro advocates the BLM has decided to keep and forever imprison the wild horses it has stampeded and captured in the Nevada Wassuk Herd Management area under the guise of an “emergency” and a trumped up excuse that it is for the benefit of the horses.

In a recent news interview Terri Knutson, BLM Stillwater Field Manager stated;

“These horses are in such poor condition, it’s not really an option to release them back to the same circumstances they came from.  Lack of forage because of excessive drought conditions and overpopulation of animals are worse than it has been in years.”

The BLM’s original plan was to stampede and capture 475 wild horses and permanently remove 250 wild horses from their rightful  range. As many as 250 wild horses were promised to be released back to the range following the helicopter stampede—mares having been vaccinated with a fertility vaccine and a skewed sex ratio of 60 percent males and 40 percent females on the range to further hasten the herd’s destruction.

But by using the new anti-horse tool of “emergency” and “we care about the horses” the BLM claims that due to poor body condition of the majority of the captured and imprisoned horses won’t be released back into the wild.  This action circumvents standing Environmental Assessments and any pending legal litigation as to the BLM strives to manage America’s wild horses and burros into extinction.

The BLM estimated, with no third party verification, that the pre-stampede population was approximately 625 wild horses and their  unjustified appropriate management level for the HMA is 110-165.  It is currently unknown how many wild horses will remain on their rightful land after the BLM wild horse harvesting machine has concluded it’s operation at Wassak.

The BLM continues to delude the public, and elected officials, on the the number of horses in the wild while selling captured horses to known killer buyer for slaughter and human consumption.

A Congressional Investigation is long over-due for this special interest pandering agency.

23 replies »

  1. I was just going over the pics from the roundup. Some taken in the holding pen are of some pretty thin horses but the ones shown being chased by the pterodactyl look to be in pretty good shape…especially the one gray they have singled out (against their own rules) to chase down after it turned to escape.

    12-11-03 Wassuk Gather

    R.T. they’re determined, most likely by mandate, to get as many horses off the public land as possible as quickly as possible. Could this be the precursor to Cowboy Ken’s departure?

    I’m mortified they have decided not to let the 250 return. They don’t seem to care about families. They are heathens.


    • I am sorry to see so many that are in rough shape. Permanent removals are still not legal and there are alternatives to this. Adding to the captives is wrong and must stop.

      Policy can evolve but we need a base of our own with research in order to be able to do a better job than this!!!


  2. Thanks, Steve for the pictures – some of those horses DO look thin – and not all older mares. Some of the young ones too. The mare with the baby is thin, but the baby doesnt look all that bad – not fat but not bad. It ticks me off to think all of them are being taken away from their homes. And I agree with you that the BLM probably is going to ramp it up now that (hopefully) their end is near…..
    At least we all pray it is.


    • You know Maggie I’m almost convinced the ‘thin’ pics were hand picked or not even of this herd for propaganda purposes. The horses being chased look to be in really good shape considering a drought. Horses ‘roam’…they will find their forage and water. Some old timers that my grandfather worked with told me when I was but a lad that horses could smell water below ground and would dig it up. This didn’t make a permanent water hole but just because the known watering holes have dried up doesn’t mean the horses can’t find it somewhere. That’s the ‘legend’ anyway. Who knows if it’s true…


      • How old was the thin looking baby? Less than a month? Newborns are not born fat..they all look thin when they are first born even if the mare was a tubby momma.


      • Yes, isn’t that odd that some are in such good shape and others are not? It has to be the HMA has good forage only in some places and not in others. There were plenty of observers also. So I don’t think they could fool us.


  3. I think I had read or heard something about the horses smelling water below ground.
    Most of those horses did look very good. But most of the horses they round up seem to be in good shape. How wrong that they will now spend the rest of their lives in a pen.


  4. So are they going to nourish them and care for them? If they aren’t and they are just herding them for slaughter houses then they would be better off living and dying on the land that they ran free on. I get a feeling of despair and fear from these horses and it is not about their starving. It is about the condition they are currently in.


  5. IMO..It’s just like I thought. While the cat was away..the rats DID play. They kept all the info away from Obama..another plot to make him look bad..I hope he puts someone in the DOI that hauls the reins in and sends the BLM heads over tail..They deserve no less.


  6. As with most capture plans these days, the EA proposal for this HMA capture included a future “blank check” to trap them all within the next few years behind the public’s back even after this initial capture. Since we already know that “it is all about the money” for the BLM and its associates … there must be one or more reasons that they decided to take them “all” now. The capture contractor had an available time slot? Did they find a good fracking spot on the HMA? Is there a mine or geothermal nearby that is demanding all the water? Big horn sheep hunting interests?

    I read that this HMA has naturally kept its population in check for many, many years and it is believed that is because of the mountain lions in the area. Could it be that to save the Bighorn Sheep from lion predation (for the reason to allow hunters to kill the Bighorn) that the US Fish & Wildlife paid wildlife trappers to kill off the lions to protect the Bighorn so that hunters will have more Bighorns to kill? (This is BIG money and has BIG money behind it). And thus by killing the lions it put the wild horse population out of kilter with Mother Nature? And the EA contradicted itself by claiming that no livestock grazing has occurred in the HMA for the past ten years BUT states “Sheep are CURRENTLY permitted to graze on approximately 95% of the Wassuk HMA.”

    As Steve said, they are determined to get as many horses off the public land as possible as quickly as possible.


  7. The alleged need for the gather and removal action was based on an aerial census conducted in 2011, which was extrapolated to include an estimate of the 2012 foal crop. Per BLM’s calculations, the Wassuk herd experienced a population explosion from 2010 through 2012:

    301 — Wassuk estimated herd population 2010
    322 — Alleged increase in herd members in last two years
    623 — Wassuk estimated and extrapolated herd population 2012, which would have meant a

    107-percent increase — a 53½-percent birth rate each year, on average.

    In contradiction, the median trial of the WinEquus population modeling for the “No Action” alternative projected a 16½-percent birth rate.


    • Thank you Marybeth. “a 53½-percent birth rate each year”
      We have all seen this over and over on other HMAs too. It is bogus – pure and simple. Otherwise it would mean that stallions are giving birth too and we know that they would not like that! Any grammer school child can tell you that BLM’s population figures are impossible. No transparency, no accountability and they HATE having the public ask them questions or ask for FOIAs or make legitimate comments on their EAs … but THEY have big big money behind them.


  8. “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.”
    Washington Public Records Act,
    RCW §42.17.251.


  9. Grandma Gregg, have they had a population increase in recent years because lions were hunted out then? The BLM pics were just not showing enough horses and the thin ones may be a small group that has persisted in an area more affected by the drought. If this herd was stable it needs to be returned. How can they keep making permanent removals anyhow? This is not legal. Big cats are a huge factor in population control and BLM is always denying this. Any herd that has been stable has to have big cats.

    BLM has set this up from the start, even by accident, by not having proper science and by not having good range monitoring for the herds each year. Something locals could have done. The inattentiveness of the BLM has created the perfect blank whereby we can get no good background data and because they never had it. This is true almost everywhere. This is why this must end. It may be because of something they want from the land, an unnamed resource or the sheep but the data we do have shows the prejudice against the horses and burros is consistent and directed at removals and zeroing out HMAs. This is a policy for irradication(?) and land grabbing, and against the 71 Act. How can amendments and policy trump a law?


    • When reading EA’s I try to read the lines and then read BETWEEN the lines. One thing that stays consistent is the BLM’s managing for extinction policies.

      Example: Wassuk EA page 4-5
      “For unknown reasons this wild horse population has fluctuated between 100 and 247 head from 1975 to 2008 with a low of 35 in 1973. Since 2008 the population has increased dramatically and it is unknown why the population did not increase appreciably until 2008. Mountain lion predation on foals could explain part or all of the suppression …”

      And from (link below), “Mountain lions are apparently abundant and may utilize wild horses as a major food source rather than mule deer, at least during cyclic deer population declines. Under normal conditions, mountain lion populations cycle like deer populations, just slightly later. Use of wild horses may be holding lion populations artificially high when deer numbers are low.”

      Click to access Final%20EA.pdf

      Knowing that the USFW has a regular “team” of killers of our predators [read the recent series written by Tom Knuedson of the Sacramento Bee newspaper] on public lands, and knowing that money talks LOUDLY and knowing that the Safari Club and hunting organizations have money and power and knowing that the BLM and FS continue to treat all WH&B as “vermin” because they have no monetary value, we have to assume that there are one or more monetary reasons for the actions that we see over and over and over again and for this HMA it could be that the lions have been killed in favor of deer (or elk or bighorn?) hunters. If it’s not the mountain lion issue then you can bet your bottom dollar it is another public resource that is being sold out from under us.

      As for BLM policies that do not follow the law, this is how I look at it. If in my state there is a mandatory seat belt law but my employer writes in the company POLICY that employees do not have to wear seat belts then the bogus company policy is null and void since it does not come under the umbrella of the law. BLM policy is ONLY a policy and if it does not come under the umbrella of the 1971 law it is worthless, null and void, illegal and needs to be challenged because policy is NOT the law. That’s how I see it.


  10. So the BLM “thinks” the mountain lions kept the horse population in check??? How dumb are they?
    They’ve killed off (or ARE killing off) the wolves & lions – than of course, the there will be more horses & other prey animals.And THEN the BLM gets to manage them – to extinction. Leave it up to them & we will have NO wild animals unless someone wants to hunt them.
    I saw an article about the deer in Rock Creek Park in Washington(?) people are up in arms about the plans to shoot them – and lo & behold – something was said about there being no predators to keep the population under control! Seems as tho BLM should get word of this – might be a real aha moment for them.


    BLM and Mismanagement and Questionable Past/Today
    “It’s pretty much a joke how the entire horse program is handled,” says Dale Tunnell, Special Agent in charge of the BLM’s division of Law Enforcement in Santa Fe. “They’ll run one herd into another management area and say it’s overpopulated. Then they’ll take a certain number of horses off the land.


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