Horse News

Stunning Lack of Tranparancy in BLM’s and University of Wyoming’s Adobe Town Wild Horse Study

Source:  Wild Hoofbeats


USGS holding radio collars, the one on the right is for the study

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The BLM and the University of Wyoming are conducting a Radio Collar Study on wild mares in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area. I have done several blog posts about this study, calling for people to send in comments and calling for more clarification on how this study is going to be conducted. Some of my concerns are the the health and well being of the mares that will be captured by bait trapping, trailered to Rock Springs, put into squeeze chutes and have these collars put on. These collars will remain for 2 years. Then the mares will be transported back supposedly to where they were captured and released. This alone will be very traumatic for the mares and their families who will lose a family member.

But what happens when the mare gets her foot caught in the collar, or it grows into her neck because it is being put on when she is at her thinnest, and she will put on weight in the summer especially if she is pregnant? How will they be able to release the collar if she is in trouble?


Moving the mares into the shed to put collars on

These were not popular questions at the Q and A that USGS conducted yesterday at the Rock Springs corrals. I was told that they “left room” in the collars for the mares to gain weight – wouldn’t that allow her to get it caught on something more easily? And yes there were studies of mares being injured and dying in the field due to radio collars but supposedly this design was much improved. They do have a tag they can put into the mane instead but these will fall off too soon. I did ask about using direct observation as a way of gathering data but that was deemed impossible, even though it is much less intrusive. The researchers would rather track the mares on their computers rather than on the ground, in the field. I also asked weren’t they concerned about the mares being released all alone, not with their families? There was no answer to that.


The geldings in the front corral know something is going on

Before I even went to Rock Springs I had been very concerned about the lack of observation of the whole process that the BLM was allowing. Public observation helps to prevent abuse of the horses, and I am a firm believer in this.  A week ago American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign asked attorney Nick Lawton of Meyer, Glizenstein& Eubanks to write a letter asking for the opportunity to observe the bait trapping and the collaring as well as the release of the mares, as well as giving sufficient notice of at least 2 days so I could get out there. The BLM did not change its stance on the bait trapping and the collaring or the notice but did say that “the mares will be held at the facility for 24 hours after they are radio collared, and the public will be able to observe the mares from the overlook during this time period.”


Mares that were not collared

This did NOT happen. The mares after they were collared were being kept in a pen that was completely not visible from the overlook and when I asked it if could see the mares I was told no, that they have to be be kept quiet. Somehow all the torment that these mares went through was totally acceptable but having members of the public view them, even at a distance, was too hard on them.


Where the collaring was done

I could see the heads of the mares that did not have collars on, and occasionally their bodies, using my long lens. Apparently they captured 9 mares who they brought to the facility, but 5 were too young. Even I could see one of the mares looked like a yearling or at the most a two year old filly – how on earth could the people trapping the horses not be able to tell the difference between very young and mature mares? And why put these poor young mares though the stress of taking them away from their families, hauling them to the facility then hauling them back, for nothing? If they had allowed me to observe the bait trapping I could have told them these mares were too young because I have spent 13 years observing these wild horses in Adobe Town.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HEREYou’ll want to find out more about this…


Tracking device to track collars on the ground

26 replies »

  1. All I can say is they are not real smart. All they had to do was to put out s request for help from the advocates. But no. They are idiots and would rather complain about the horses. And complain about no money. Even though they would receive hundreds of people willing to help. And qualified horse people too. But No its apparent they would rather use backward old techniques to terrorize and injure the horses. What totally ticks me off is that we the tax payers have to foot the bill when other options would be less costly. Idiots!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The answers to Carol’s questions really dont fill me with confidence that these people have a clue as to what they are doing. But then,everyone’s lack of confidence in anything the BLM does never waivers, does it?


  3. Many questions here, but a big one is since these unlucky mares will be trackable online, and the “study” is being paid for by the public, how do we track them online in real time ourselves? If an argument is made about security, then fine, give us a 24 hour delay. There is no reason we should not have unrestricted public access to this data, in real time, not years later through yet more FOIA requests. This would be one way to keep this study honest as well.

    And what value is information collected from horses dislocated by the study at the beginning? It will have no value for understanding unmolested herd behaviors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The original plan behind this study was to prove that the horses would move into a “void” in the Checkerboard area after the Checkerboard II roundup – which did not happen!!!!! So the money is burning a hole in their pockets and now they just say to study movement of the horses.


      • By my count there are 9 contiguous HMAs in WY, and two of these are close enough to intermix with the Sand Wash HMA in CO.

        What is the point of studying if horses move around when they can? Pre-barbed wire they roamed to different sites at different times of the year for their own reasons.

        It would be interesting to study what the captive horses in Rock Springs (or elsewhere) would do if their gates were opened. Would they leave for the wild, or stay where the BLM feeds and waters them? I think we can all answer that without costly “research.”


  4. Have to add the geldings still incarcerated at Rock Springs since 2014 look obese, even accounting for winter hair. Anyone familiar with modern horse management understands being substantially overweight and inactive is harmful to horses, and more difficult/expensive to remedy, than a horse being underweight.


  5. So will the public be able to also access this information online, or not? If not, why not? And if not, why the he** should we pay for this and at the same time subsidize the livestock grazing the same area, which are not collared?


      • If I have this right, the U of WY is a land grant university, founded and supported with taxpayer dollars, as is the BLM. We are also paying for this study being conducted on public lands, on the public’s horses, with the support of the BLM (as your headline indicates as well).
        This is not private but public research, being funded through public dollars in multiple ways. There is no justification I can see for witholding data or allowing timely public access to it as this “study” will continue for several years.


    Anadarko Supports Energy Research Excellence

    Dr. Vladimir Alvarado in the UW Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering is trying to solve a sticky problem that’s been around for a while: What do you do with the so-called “dirty water” that is produced from oil drilling. His solution? After conditioning this oil and water mix for stability, re-inject it. This serves three purposes: 1) it’s a better way to dispose of the water, 2) 3 5% more oil is recovered, which is actually quite a lot, and 3) it saves money.


  7. Just keep following that money

    On Wyoming’s Range, Water Is Scarce but Welfare Is Plenty
    ANDREW COHEN/JUL 9, 2012

    It’s no wonder that ANDARKO, the corporate oil, gas and land giant with major investment in this part of Wyoming, has also entered the litigation as an intervenor. As with every other story involving law and politics, no matter how far away from Washington, the quickest way to figure out what’s going on is to follow the money.


  8. Wild horses & burros being removed for Richfield Tar Sands plan
    January 7, 2016

    The document goes so far as to say, “the management of wild horse and burro herds is not compatible within those portions of commercial tar sands lease areas”. How much clearer can it be. They want the wild ones GONE.
    TABLE 3.1.3-1 Wild Horse Herd Management Areas within the Oil Shale and Tar Sands Study Area (page 3-167)

    Adobe Town
    Little Colorado
    White Mountain
    Salt Wells

    Piceance-East Douglas

    Muddy Creek
    Range Creek


  9. UW, BLM Begin Wild Horse Movement Study
    February 2, 2017

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the University of Wyoming are beginning a study to learn more about wild horse seasonal use and movements in the Adobe Town herd management area (HMA).

    The study will begin with a bait-trap gather and radio collaring of up to 30 wild mares during February. No wild horses will be removed during this nonhelicopter gather.
    UW scientists Derek Scasta and
    Jeff Beck, both in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, are heading the research.
    Jake Hennig, a Ph.D. student in the department, also will participate.
    They will use the information gleaned from the radio collars to learn more about how wild horses interact with their environment. Specifically, the researchers will study migration patterns and herd movements in the HMA. The BLM says it will use the study results to ensure wild horse herds continue to thrive on healthy rangelands.

    The Wyoming Department of Agriculture has provided $120,000 to start the research. The BLM also has contributed funding.

    Bait-trapping involves setting up temporary corrals within the HMA to attract wild horses safely into the corral. When a certain number of horses has entered the pen, the gate to the corral is closed. Once the horses are gathered, trained personnel will load and transport selected mares to the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility. After the horses arrive at the facility, staff from the U.S. Geological Survey will place collars with GPS tracking devices on the horses. The horses will then be returned to the HMA.

    The 20-30 mares that BLM will select to wear GPS collars will be 5 years old or older. All other wild horses gathered will be immediately released shortly after the selected mares are sorted and held for collaring. All mares will be released at or near the same location where they were gathered. The selected contractors are in the process of identifying trap site locations and will begin the bait-trapping process soon.
    Corrals could be set up in stages over a period of days to allow the horses to grow accustomed to the enclosures. About three to five trap sites are required to distribute radio-collared mares throughout the entire HMA. Bait-trapping is an effective method for capturing small numbers of selected horses.
    The number of people in the trap area will be limited to key personnel to ensure a successful and safe gather for the horses.
    Public viewing opportunities will be limited. Public viewing is always allowed at the wild horse holding facility overlook in Rock Springs, where the mares will be taken to be collared. Public viewing also will be allowed at the release sites of the collared mares. The BLM will keep a list of people who would like to attend the releasing of the collared mares and notify them at least one day before the releases. Media and interested public can view and photograph the mares being released with the GPS collars. To add your name to the list for public viewing, contact BLM Public Affairs Officer Tony Brown at (307) 352-0215.

    The BLM’s Rawlins Field Office released the decision record and finding of no significant impact for the Adobe Town HMA Wild Horse Movements and Habitat Selection Research Gather Environmental Assessment Nov. 9, 2016. The decision was to allow enough wild horses to be gathered by bait trapping, so up to 30 selected mares could be outfitted with GPS collars. The BLM will use two separate contractors to conduct the bait-trapping operations.,-blm-begin-wild-horse-movement-study.html


  10. We Need To Bring This To Our New President Donald Trump, this is so cruel. The BLM have done nothing but try to destroy our Beloved Wild Mustang, wild Mustangs and Wild Burrors our suppose to be protected by Law. It’s only Bush and the ranchers who want the land for their cattle. These are God’s Majestic Wild Mustangs and Burrors. Obama is also one who made Money off these wild horses and Burrors by selling to people or the Slaughter Houses. Why do you think he went in with nothing and came out with millions. Get people to send letters to the White House for the horses and signed petitions by hundreds of citisens. Tell him how much we love these animals.l believe God has a special place for these tortured wild horse’s and burrors. Nothing else works and the BLM doesn’t give A Damn about these poor babies ( horse’s and Burrors). Let’s shut them down. He will do it. Please try. Do marches all over the united States Of American. These are the people’s Animals and the land is the people’s. I am a Loving Animal Person ( citizen) also write to the First Lady, she is a kind hearted person. Write to both. Everybody, quit messing with the BLM and go to the new President Donald Trump. Thank You Pamela Watson


  11. Looking at Carol’s site, there is a photo showing collared mares. Each collar has excess collar length hanging out past their adjustment point – and these “flaps” are perforated, making me wonder if they would break or tear if they got caught up on anything? Barbed wire, anyplace the horse would rub (especially as they will be shedding soon) etc. could snag a horse, who would surely pull back hard and fast.
    Why didn’t they trim the excess off? The horses can see these “flaps” nonstop, too, which has to be annoying, but the safety question is larger.


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.