Horse News

Exclusive: Wild Horse and Wild Burro Good News and Bad News from Twin Peaks HMA

Exclusive report from “Grandma” Gregg, Environmental Researcher and Jesica Johnston, B.A., M.A in Biology and Environmental Planning

“The forage has grown back from last summer’s fire and there is an abundance of food…”

DSC06304_zps35963a14 (1)Last weekend several experienced wildlife observers with binoculars and long-distance camera lens thoroughly combed 77 miles of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) and found only 27 wild horses and 5 wild burros.  Is this good news or bad news?  This is good news for those few wild horses and burros that remain on their legally designated land, but bad news for the Twin Peaks HMA as a whole.  The forage has grown back from last summer’s fire and there is an abundance of food as was obvious by the condition of the few vigorous and healthy wild horses and burros that were observed, but this is still a small and discouraging number of wild horses and burros. This survey is consistent with previous surveys and documentation supporting the impacts of an enormous and devastating roundup in 2010. There seems to be few remaining wild horses and burros in the Twin Peaks HMA. In our two days of ground observation the BLM’s mantra of the term “excess” was on our minds as we traveled numerous miles; most of which had no wild horses or burros or even signs of wild horses and burros.  This public land is set aside by Congress principally for wild horses and burros, but there are very few that remain since the roundup of 2010.  It is hard to believe when the BLM says there are 1,750 out here again…

Click (HERE) for the entire independent observers’ summary report and many photos.

There has been no further official round-up announcement for Twin Peaks since last fall’s after the Rush Fire Environmental Assessment was published by BLM stating that they were going to capture and remove all but about six-hundred wild horses and burros. It is unknown at this time when this capture has been rescheduled for but in the meantime BLM did an aerial population survey in April of this year and stated there were 1,750 wild horses and burros on the Twin Peaks HMA.  This data was FOIA’d and although that number was written on the aerial log, they only photographed 460. They had two photographers in the helicopter and per their map a very thorough coverage of the HMA was done, but they only physically photographed 460 wild horses and burros.  Even though we paid with our tax money for four BLM employees and the cost of the helicopter to document the actual population of wild horses and burros … they did not. Over the four days in flight only 26% of the wild horses and burros that were “counted” were photographed.

In fact there were far more photos taken of coyotes, elk, antelope, and other landscape features than of wild horses and burros. Although there was ample opportunity, this left 1.290 wild horses and burros that they “counted” undocumented with photos during the census flight.  Why? The aerial census over the four days clearly fails to sufficiently document BLM’s stated wild horse and burro population.

In the meantime, this Thursday will be an important day for the future of the Twin Peaks HMA and all wild horses and burros. This is the first time in the history of the Wild Horse Act that an Appeals Court will determine whether the BLM’s interpretation of the Act is consistent with Congress’s intent to protect these living symbols of the West over 40 years ago.

The 2010 Twin Peaks roundup resulted in the permanent removal of more than 1,500 wild horses and 160 burros from the range. As of August 2012, 977 of the wild horses and burros removed from the range were still in “holding” and hundreds more have died or been sold by BLM to “questionable” buyers and they cannot be accounted for. The BLM failed to consider data regarding ecological resources in the herd management area, and also illegally harassed and captured horses that were not even considered “excess” by BLM’s own standards. Don’t miss this important hearing – please fill the courtroom and show your support for the Twin Peaks wild horses and burros. They need you there…

What: Appeal Hearing for the Twin Peaks Wild Horses and Burros
When:  Thursday, August 29, 2 pm – please arrive no later than 1:30 pm
Where:  Ninth Circuit Courthouse, 125 South Grand Ave., Pasadena

Click (HERE) to download complete report

23 replies »

    • So few wild horses in the region – this has greatly depleted the genetic variability in the remaining herd that’s needed to produce strong animals – has anyone done any research on this subject that would help the cause?


  1. Looks like the wild horse enemies including BLM officials in cahoots are getting their illegal and dispicable way here in Twin Peaks, the largest remaining wild horse herd left in California, where the federal agencies have already zeroed out over 65% of the original legal herd area (BLM) and legal territory (US Forest Service) acreages. Please go to support this important case tomorrow in Pasadena, if at all possible. I am visualizing a win for the wild horses and their freedom. By the way, the gutting of the wild horse and burro herds of Twin Peaks back in 2 Summer of 2010 most probably lead to the catastrophic Twin Peaks Fire last summer. Jesica Johnston as well as I had warned the BLM that this was likely to happen and it did. This cause-and-effect scenario repeats itself throughout the west where the anti-wild-horse mafia that has usurped power continue their drive for the obliteration of the wild herds! This must simply stop, folks, and to do this we need to get new and caring people in the positions of power over the wild horses and burros and their legal original 1971 areas. Perhaps we should have Congress create a special federal agency call it the Wild Horse and Burro Agency that has control over these lands and their wild horse and burro containing ecosystems. Check out my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy in this regard. It is available on amazon as eBook or in print or from me at Check out my new pictures there as well. Remember place to be tomorrow is 125 S. Grand Ave, Pasadena, CA. Hearing starts at 2 pm, so you should arrive by 1:30 pm to get seating.


    • So good to hear your voice again, Craig. You need to peek in more often. :). BLM has no excuses left to rouundup at Twin Peaks. They’ve also spent thousands and thousands on seed and seedlings plus man hours. It should be gorgeous and lived on b wild life including the horses and burros. That’s what I want to see.


  2. Please share the blog information and report. Unlike what we are all “fed” by the agencies, what is within this report is the simple and accurate truth.

    Keep your fingers crossed tomorrow for our wild horses and burros in court. Plain-worded explanation WHY this hearing is important:
    Aside from possibly saving some of the captured wild horses – the importance of this case is that it is the first time that an appellate Court will actually interpret specific provisions of the Act (what it means, whether there are any protections for wild horses) as applied by the BLM for a specific roundup. This has never happened before. We will hopefully be provided with clarity from this panel of Judges. If we win, my guess is the case will continue on up to the Supreme Court. If we loose, then we have the ammunition to go to Congress, most of whom think these animals are protected, and say – see we need real protections or this species will be eliminated.

    PS I wish all of you could experience the strength and beauty and intelligence of our wild horses and burros as I have been able to do at Twin Peaks. “Awesome” just doesn’t even come close to explaining how those moments make you feel.


    • Although I know more are planning to attend, the only point of contact that I know of is In Defense of Animals who is one of the plaintiffs in the case:
      IDA’s Special Projects Officer Christy Griffin


  3. This is something I have always said about the BLM claiming that there is this huge number of mustangs eating up everything in sight. From the thousands of acres of empty land in the photos of all of the roundups, just where are all the excess horses the BLM claims are there? They don’t exist anymore, at least not in these areas. That is what led me to believe the BLM were rounding these horses up to extinction. I still don’t believe that the ranches where BLM claims are home to the thousands of rounded up horses even exist. The ones that allow visitors are a front to fool the public. If the BLM was taken to court and ordered by a federal judge to produce the whereabouts of the thousands of missing horses they could not do it without admitting to the judge that the horses are gone and have been for years.


  4. We need to ask the question why our horses and burros are not being returned to their righful lands-with your on scene reports and pictures it appears that these lands have come back stronger and with more vegetation than before and with a visible lack of equines-you are doing the job the blm refuses to do-was their signs of any activity in the area that would account for this-that they have plans for this area that we are not priviy too? There just has to be more to this story of why this is happening than we are getting. anyone live around there – seen or
    heard anything that may give us a clue~~~just my question.


    • Geri- The basic answer to your question is that 1639 Horses and 160 Burros were captured and removed from Twin Peaks HMA in Aug/Sept 2010 … almost complete devastation.


      • grandmagregg- I know why there are no horses on the land(because of roundups) I was just wondering if by some slim chance the land was being used for someother purpose now besides horses since there did not seem to be cows either-here they are building clear out to Kansas on the flat lands-any evidence of anything going on that may have caused the removal of horses?


      • Oil – possibly the Keystone pipeline or others- if so, the horses wouldn’t be in the way anymore than the wildlife near the Alaskan pipeline, that is above the ground & not below.


  5. This HMA is unbelievably huge. We’ve taken at least a trip a year up there since the roundup in 2010. We’ve seen it just dripping in green, well into the summer, after a long, deep winter, and last year, scant days before the wildfire that claimed nearly 300,000 acres.
    It kills me that, when a BLM talking head went up there, just days after the fire, his report showed a single photograph of a single area, then he declared the horses and burros would have to be removed ‘for their own survival’…a few days after that, a very learned woman, who has monitored the area for more than 30 years, took some pics of newborn grasses, sprouting up through the ashes. So I guess the more important perspective comes from the BLM ‘expert’ who doesn’t even live in the area, but canamke a summary judgeemnt on the health of this range after a disaster that might have been prevented in the first damn place if more than 1700 free-roaming grazers hadn’t been ripped off their land.
    But hey; what do I know? I’m just the Interested Public.
    I know that, since that roundup, wild horses and burros are very difficult to find, even for those who know the area and the animals. I know that, since the wild fire, in the areas I’ve seen where cattle fodder wasn’t planted to replace native bunchgrasses, the natives are doing quite well, thank you, without human intervention. I know that, since that roundup, which took nearly a month to complete and took sometimes hundreds of animals in a single day, friends have monitored the population (or lack of it) from the ground and from the air and simply cannot find the hordes of wild equines the field office in charge swears are running rampant through this HMA.
    Just within the past two weeks, a trip through there took us to a natural spring – clear and beautiful and in a most unexpected place – and we found signs of deer, prong horn, small canine and medium and large feline, to name a few, along with a some equines – and cattle. So someone thought it was healthy enough to set the cows loose…even though there are not supposed to be any.
    I am attached to this HMA; it was where I witnessed my first roundup, where a friend had tried to save a stallion after his capture, where a document had been authored for their removal, and I could find no logical reason for this area to have between 2,500 and 3,000 (depending, of course, on which document you were reading) wild equines up there. And between how many were taken in 2010, and the less than 60 released, there is still no logic in the declaration that there are now more than 1,600 up there to take their place.
    Again, without independent Public participation and review, we are simply expected to take what we’re told at face value. If we are ever to save these animals from THOSE animals, it will be by Public participation – in observing them on their ranges, and in fact-checking every public statement (my research associates and I discovered in a newspaper article that a lease-holder still had stock on the range – weeks after his lease had expired for the year. And yes – we made a stinky…)
    While Gramma and Jess’ excellent reports may not garner a national, state or even county-wide mention, they most certainly should. Because this is the kind of unbiased, boots-on-the-ground, words and pictures research every HMA needs.
    One other absence that should be noted for this HMA: BLM field studies. Perhaps they take place out of sight or concern other aspects of this HMA – game, range conditions, water sources or lease violations – but we have encountered BLM only once in the past few years. That may just be my personal prejudice, and it is a huge area. Or maybe fact-based evidence about wild equines in this HMA are just not that important.


  6. Lisa–Here in the northen part of Colorado we have a lot of farmers that use irrigation to water their fields, each spring they burn their
    irrigation ditches to clear them, within days the dryland grass that they grow here is coming up bright and green and thick-I once asked one of these old timers why-he stated to kill off old vegetation and made the new better and got rid of weeds and that the plains Indians used to burn the plains to get fresh grass for thier ponies, we have an area here about 6,000 some acres that rocky flats is on and they had a fire a few years back and within days as far as you could see was beautiful green vegetation and flowers so on the plains a fire can be a good thing for the land.


  7. Geri – Good question re: what are other multiple uses on the Twin Peaks HMA.

    The major other multiple use is livestock grazing. The livestock were to be temporarily removed from grazing on the burn area (about 300,000 acres of the total about 800,000 acres of the HMA) but despite this … nine separate grazing herd violations were witnessed by the public and officially reported to the field office in the past few months – cattle grazing within the off-limits burn area.

    Livestock is permitted 27,178 AUMs each year – that is 13,730 animals.
    WH&B are allocated 5,808-9,792 AUMs each year – AML 520-874.

    More information:


  8. Grandma Gregg – odd how the BLM “sees” over a thousand horses on this HMA! I do think tho that just for laughs – Page 12 with the picture of the horses in the SHADE of a tree could be educational for the BLM – altho that would require an open mind – something that’s sadly lacking at that organization.
    Super job – if only they would listen and see.


  9. Grandma Gregg’s investigation and analysis confirms yet again that BLM sees what it chooses to see and if that doesn’t work, then they simply make things up, i.e. they manufacture the facts they need to achieve their objectives. Most often this boils down to how many horse & burros to remove from a designated wild horse or burro management area.

    When I visited the Twin Peaks Management area in 2010, during the middle of that massive roundup, I was appalled at how few wild equines were readily visible and yet how many cattle were, and how many fence-lines and cattle guards we had to cross en route to a traps site. While there were a few unfenced areas that gave the illusion of wild, open range, fro the most part my impression of the Twin Peaks area was that it was a patchwork of large ranches with cattle scattered all about. In fact we drove right by what appeared to be full-fledged ranches en route to some of the trap sites. The only time that
    I felt that I was in a wild horse & burro management area vs. in a grazing allotment, was one morning when I drove into an area just beyond the trap site where the choppers hadn’t yet patrolled. There I observed & filmed several bands of mostly black wild burros grazing calmly in a grassy valley. It would prove to be their last hour of freedom as the choppers swooped in later that morning. Nearby, I also filmed several large mustangs foraging calmly, also for the last time in their lives.

    It was only due to a delay in the start of the day’s roundup due to technical difficulties with the choppers, that I encountered even those few bands of burros and mustangs. Twin Peaks encompasses a vast area and even then when there were at least a thousand more horses & burros on the range than after the roundup, their hoof-print on the landscape seemed fairly light, while that of cattle and ranching was heavy and widespread.

    Based on my personal ;experience at Twin Peaks, I trust Grandma Gregg’s recent observations there and her analysis of BLM’s census results, i.e. that it isn’t supported by actual data. In fact it is contradicted by actual data , -even when giving BLM the benefit of the doubt that large blurred animals = horses or burros vs. elk or cows.
    Allowing BLM to move ahead with their plan to remove another 6-700 wild horses & burros would be the death blow to what was until 2010, California’s largest wild horse management area, and most likely the largest for burros left in the state as well.

    The fact that they came up with a count of 1750 or so, after photographing less than 25% of that number -even though they took the time to photograph elk, antelope, coyotes etc.
    looks & smells suspicious at best. Most critics see it as much more sinister than that: part of a deliberate campaign of deceit, distortion, deception and outright fabrication of numbers by BLM to justify their policy and practice of managing wild horse & burros to near extinction, with excessive roundups.


    • Wow Carl – your words tell the story very well – thank you for commenting and telling it like it is – it is important.



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