Horse News

Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse Roundups Lack Oversight for Animal Welfare

Unedited Press Release from the Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States calls upon the Bureau of Land Management to implement its long overdue Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program

Antelope Complex by Terry FitchThe Humane Society of the United States is calling on the Bureau of Land Management to implement its long-awaited Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program to ensure the well-being of wild horses and burros at roundups and in government facilities. This request comes after several incidents this gather season where wild horses and burros were treated inhumanely and severely injured.

“The Bureau of Land Management needs to demonstrate a commitment to reform by making the implementation of its Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program to protect America’s wild horses and burros a top priority,” said Holly Hazard, senior vice president of Programs and Innovations for The HSUS. “Many of the horrific problems the public has witnessed over the last two years could have been prevented if the agency had kept its pledge and acted sooner.”

2012 Gather Season Facts:

  • Earlier this year, an HSUS executive witnessed a BLM contractor appear to hogtie and leave a lost foal in the path of stampeding mustangs at the Desatoya Wild Horse Gather near Austin, Nev.
  • In October 2012, The HSUS learned that BLM officials sold more than 1,700 wild horses to a longtime horse slaughter advocate who is allegedly running a horse slaughter scheme and BLM has yet to act upon this information.
  • At the recent Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather in Nev., a stallion was caught in a barb wire fence after he became separated from his band while a BLM contractor helicopter pilot attempted to herd the group through a 16-foot wide gate. Fortunately, the stallion was not injured, but the incident may have been prevented entirely if BLM contractors provided a larger entry for the wild horses.

The Bureau of Land Management introduced the idea of the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program in its proposed strategy for the Future Management of America’s Wild Horses and Burros in February 2011. Since that time BLM has gathered more than 15,000 horses and burros and there have been many instances of inhumane treatment both during gather operations and in government holding facilities. The welfare program was scheduled to be implemented in July 2012, however, the agency has still not finalized it.

In July 2011, The Humane Society of the United States issued a detailed report recommending improvements to BLM’s standard operating procedures at wild horse gathers.

As a result of recent incidents, The HSUS is calling on BLM to implement the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program immediately, to ensure America’s wild horses and burros are treated humanely at roundups and in government holding facilities. The HSUS also calls on the agency to review previous HSUS requests to develop and implement a Humane Observer program that would allow a knowledgeable, objective witness to intervene at gathers to prevent inhumane treatment from occurring during gather operations.

25 replies »

  1. A classic example of mindless handling of our wild horses and burros: The Owyhee HMA I’m told is littered with barbed wire fences…some up, some down, just tangled up strands lying about. Yet our illustrious BLM doesn’t have anyone go and clean it up before they let our arch enemy, Sun J, start stampeding horses through the area? What’s wrong with this picture?

    Running animals and barbed wire do not mix. If you’ve seen the movie ‘War Horse’ you’ll remember the scene where the ‘star’ run’s through “no man’s land” and gets so tangled in the barbed wire he could no longer move.

    It is this type of lackadaisical attitude towards the welfare of our wild horses and burros that has to be corrected. Employees need to be fired…Sun J needs to have it’s contract cancelled…the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program has to be implemented NOW!


    • I hear you loud and clear.. The HSUS needs to take on the BLM and the DOI unless they put Grejalva in office. Why were only three incidents mentioned? We saw many more.. The incidents they mentioned was only one roundup. What about the broken leg, the broken neck, the foal hooves sloughed off, all of which WE saw…..


  2. Finally, the HSUS jumps on the band wagon. Kind of late in the game though. Where did their info come from? What about the stallion who broke his hind leg and was shot and killed? What about all the other tragedies that WE saw on video? I guess better late than never..


    • The ONLY WAY we are going to end this travesty is to get that federal horse protection bill passed to protect both wild and domestic horses. Sun J has been killing the wild horses now for years. Bute them all so that they are not slaughter eligible. Let the EU file a suit against the US (not that they will ..all they ever do is lip service..


  3. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”.

    HSUS has been contacted about BLM animal abuse by many of us many times and they have DONE nothing. They went so far as to tell me that it is not illegal to hit a wild horse or burro with a helicopter in the state of Nevada so they would do nothing about it – and they haven’t.

    I am glad to see this press release and it should be spread around to media but let’s see if they DO anything about it or if this press release was just another ploy to get donations. Hoping for the best.


  4. The Humane Society, of which I am a monthly member, refuses to do one of the easiest actions available—SEND THIS INFORMATION TO THE 11 MILLION MEMBER LISTSERVE. The sad thing about this “press release” is it is just that—a internally distributed communication to news media FAX machines where the information has almost NO chance of being relayed to the general public. I have taken up the challenge of sending to HSUS, several times a month, a letter of reminder showing the horror of the stampedes they turn their collective eyes away from, and asking one basic question—“Why won’t you show these photos, videos and other documentation to the membership???” I sent a letter today with the link from WHE showing the cruelty to foals and asking why the “press release” is not ALSO a communication through ‘Wayne’s Blog’ and ‘Humane Nation’—weekly posts from Humane Society which tend to most often focus on the horror of puppy mills and dog fighting. Somehow, the filth and disease and lack of shelter for BLM warehouse operations—“horse mills”, as it were—never get exposed to members as do puppy mill conditions.
    You must all be asking, “so, what has HSUS said in response?” The few times Mr Pacelle has written back, it is always a excuse that “Humane Society has lots of campaigns, the wild horses are just one of them, we are doing a lot already, etc, etc….” He NEVER answers the direct question of why does not HSUS show the documents and photos. A picture says so much….
    Ms Hazard, the one quoted as having seen the foal hog-tying incident—-never exposed that operation to the membership and is on record as stating to me in a letter that, if these things are reported or seen by HSUS, the Society uses that as a threat to make BLM reform. HaH!! that is complete fabrication of fact. The Society uses stealth and backroom dealing with the agency—nothing is out in the open, with knowledge of the members. I conclude the main reason for this timidity and subterfuge is the PZP “program” that HSUS uses as its fundamental pivot in messages about the Wild Horse and Burro “program” and dealings with BLM. Go on their website and look at the archived information on WH&B—their main focus is on “overpopulation” not brutal BLM behavior. You will see NO membership released posts have EVER been sent on one cruelty event by the agency—even when their own people deigned to show up at a “gather” with their entourage.


  5. I hope this actually means something; but I don’t trust the Humane Society since these atrocities have been going on for so long and they have done squat. I will wait to see some actual change before I am convinced that this is not just a bunch of lip service.


  6. For this not to be lip service, the public needs to maintain the pressure. I have repeatedly asked HSUS to incorporate the wild horses in their newsletters and include educational materials on their plight by tapping into their backbone of a HUGE audience who is keeping them afloat and then some, with their donations. The HSUS powerhouse can do more than stand by and send concerned press releases. Their strength is not in members only, whom they can tell the twisted tales of BLM and the regime, but in making an international stand on this crisis. Education is key.
    Now in holiday times.. we get the tear drucker stories that are geared for people to donate.. I want to see the mustangs’ plight being exposed in their website, newsletters, alerts and milking letters to their donors. Most of HSUS members do not have an inkling on what is going down, and how. They can reach the masses better than on one else. I ask that everyone keep the pressure on them to do this. The horses have no time – and effective measures to reach change go beyond a press release. If litigation is necessary, so be it. HSUS cannot possibly stand by any longer and let this cruelty go on. It is an insult to know that a powerhouse the likes of HSUS is not applying more pressure to STOP this outrageous abusive conduct in a “civilized” society where the feds operate like savages.


    • As a clear example of the “kid gloves” and timidity HSUS uses to handle their relations with BLM, this is a portion of another “press release” in August after the “executive”, Ms Hazard, witnessed the abject cruelty of the hog-tied foal.

      “The Bureau of Land Management has made significant progress in reforming its wild horse program in recent years – but the agency must set a higher standard and not allow such callous disregard for animals to take place in its operations,” said Hazard. “The public has been calling for more transparency and responsible treatment of animals in the wild horse and burro program, and it’s time for the BLM’s stated goals and objectives to be applied in the field as well.”

      The Desatoya gather is slated to occur for two weeks with the goal of gathering 500 wild horses and applying the fertility control drug PZP to approximately 64 females who will be released.

      As a result of the incident, The HSUS is calling on BLM to:

      Immediately review its protocols and make all changes necessary in order to ensure that no contractor has the authority to unnecessarily stress any animal in its custody and control in the name of gather efficiency;
      Review previous HSUS requests to develop and implement a Humane Observer program that would allow a knowledgeable, objective witness to intervene at gathers in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring during gather operations;
      Deliver a status report on the young foal in question, including information on her overall health and well-being and whether the foal was reunited with her mother at the temporary holding facility.

      Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson, 301-721-6463,

      I wonder if the so-called “status report” on the tied foal was ever delivered… Certainly, this incident would qualify for a member action alert by Humane Society, as happens when seeking support for many campaigns the group conducts—canned hunting reforms, state trapping and hunting bans, puppy mill exposes’, natural disaster funding requests, pet and farm animal welfare legislation, etc etc.
      As always, I highly contest the position HSUS clings to, describing BLM as having made “significant progress” Show us the progress!!



    BLM and DOI / Salazar operate mainly on deception and when caught, on promises they are not delivering. The collective regime is pacifying the outraged public in regards to subhumane standards, outrageous cruelty and inflated the numbers on range to serve their agendas. HSUS today issued a Press Release in regards to the horrors in Owyhee, horses being pushed thru barbed wire and other incidents. Americans must wake up to the farce that is Salazar. Read “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” by Craig Downer. It will blow your mind.

    Everyone, keep the pressure on HSUS. Demand action.


  8. When I try to post a response, I am told “You already said that” but the post has not shown up. Some remarks show up immediately, others not at all how does that work?


  9. Dear HSUS:

    People fear the press release may be lip service. Please prove otherwise. The record shows little real exposure for this crisis. Many people feel that HSUS donors deserve to know. Especially during this holiday time.. when people are targeted to donate to “give love” etc. The public is your backbone for a possible national educational campaign. We know the horrors are real, the cruelty is real and the numbers are inflated. HSUS must act now before more irreversible damage is done.
    Most of HSUS donors across the US do not know what is done to our wild horses and burros. Who could educate better than you ? We want the plight of mustangs and your concerns to reach the general public with newsletters, links on website and educational materials with real footage and incidents as they DO go down, to be included. Millions could be reached, millions who know nothing about this tragedy. It lies much deeper than horses – if you have not read the book by Craig Downer, “The Wild Horse Conspiracy”, please do so. It will tell the tale of the West, and the reality of the last 4 decades. Even those who worked for BLM once, would be amazed to learn the truth. It is not a work of fiction or staged on personal greed… it is the truth and it is time for the truth to be accepted and live up to your name.

    Please maintain the pressure and demand change now, tell the real story to Americans – it’s been hidden too long. A turn around only comes from true willingness to achieve it. The challenge is big, yet HSUS is a powerhouse that can help in this mission. It is time – as you noted, the horrors go on, and the hasty evictions do too. BLM needs to be held accountable in a society of 21st century, civilized values – not get away with constant unacceptable deceptive tactics, lies and methods that remind of indifferent savagery.

    HSUS : Tell America what is really going on. We all feel this could be the puzzle piece adding the momentum needed in this mission. HSUS ought to cater to the animals’ needs in question here, not the propaganda by those who inflict their suffering and plight. After all, BLM didn’t even meet your PZP expectations in your dealings with them. No time to lose, this is now most urgent.
    Your latest newsletter reached my inbox. “Give Love”… I agree.

    Let’s give love this Christmas to our wild horses too…

    Thank you for your time.

    Monika Courtney


    • Way to tell the HSUS what they need to do , Monika and others. Their words are meaningless without actions behind them. There must be a huge outcry by the American public and HSUS can get the word out. Yes, keep shouting .



    New post on

    by James

    The first thing I’d say about compassionate love is that, when it’s the real deal, it’s purity can leave you dazed by its power. The second thing I’d say about it is that its purity is unnervingly precarious. Humans, for all our inherent compassion, have a knack for loving selectively, allowing purity to be undermined by self-absorption, distraction, and denial. Everyday I walk into the world and see love fragmented, its wholeness shattered into too many pieces, it often seems, to pick up. Any vegan can relate.

    This morning I witnessed such an event. Standing on the platform of a subway station I saw, across the tracks on the other platform, a blind man. Tapping his stick with frantic syncopation, it was clear he was hopelessly turned around. The people around him were reading, listening to i-pods, looking away. And they were not acting. Love was fragmented.

    After about 10 seconds of watching this poor guy struggle what must have been a terrifying experience, nobody helping him, I yelled across the track to “help that guy”! Then, immediately, everyone leapt to help. Love—if not an all out lovefest— was restored, and it was effusive. And the blind man walked up the steps, calmly, and people looked at each other and talked. On a subway platform in a big city.

    What does this anecdote have to do with animal rights? A lot. Most people know, in one way or another, the purity of love. They are lucky enough to experience it in an infinite variety of ways. But, alas, we are human. And as humans we need to be reminded about the insidious forces of fragmentation—forces that do not so much undermine love as distract us from its essential and transcendent power. Forces that prevent us from leaping when we’re called upon by the realities of life to leap.

    The role of the animal advocate, on the most basic level, is to shout. We shout. We shout through millions of words, millions of talks, millions of leaflets handed out to strangers, millions of on-line discussions. A lot of our shouting evaporates into the fog of obscurity, but every now and then, when our voice hits the right tone at the right time with the right strategy, people see, they witness, and then they leap. And compassionate love is reunified.

    As activists whose primary concern is that we treat animals with compassion, our ultimate quest is to help people—people whose hearts already know the purity of love—to see. To just look up and see what’s happening in front of us. I deeply believe that when most people see evil they want to eliminate it. However you do it, in whatever way, keep shouting.


  11. I want to remind all of you of a quote Wayne Pacelle has used in his missives to the members, especially when asking for donations. The irony of these words are truly scandalous when considering the decades of abusive, hard driving cruelty perpetrated by the BLM—

    ” As Robert Chenoweth, then chairman of the board, said at The HSUS’s first annual meeting in 1955, the humane movement “needed a national society that would stand, absolutely, on humane moral principles—an organization that would unequivocally, vigorously, adamantly oppose any and every kind of cruelty, no matter by whom committed and without concern for who might be offended or alienated.”


  12. Now remember that HSUS uses wild mares as lab rats to test the experimental drug PZP–(I haven’t seen any “conclusions” on these experiments)—so HSUS is going to issue quiet suggestions to BLM–and not shake the tree too hard. We now have this power—send this article out,distribute it widely—-and don’t support HSUS until BLM complies with their recommendations. That’s all any of them want is your money. They’re all in bed with each other. How come there is not a completely honest,independent examiner of this whole situation? Oh–well…..that’s beyond hope…. even NAS didn’t get the total packet of info from BLM…..think about that–what a total waste of your money.


    • We have the people and the resources to make change but there is no unifying organization large enough to get past the posturing and BS that comes from so many directions and HSUS is a standout. They are allowing the demise of the wild horses and burros and so is Madeleine and so are many a misled advocate who lets others do their thinking for them. In the end we will all regret this standoff and the dependence on the egocentric and the greedy.

      We need a Wild Horse Conference this Spring to write and create a new campaign for rock solid Legislation. We, the advocates, need to work on the wild horse issues exclusively and intensively in order to create a larger, louder, stronger and more active advocacy!!!


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