Horse News

THE TRUTH #28 – Many wild horse foals died at the BLM’s Bruneau off-range facility in Idaho, and the BLM tried to cover it up

Wild Horse Freedom Federation issues THE TRUTH to share Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents and information with the public.  Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

THE TRUTH #28 – Many wild horse foals died at the BLM’s Bruneau off-range facility in Idaho, and the BLM tried to cover it up.

The Bureau of Land Management’s off-range facility in Bruneau, Idaho, is a feedlot.  The contractor for this facility is the J.R. Simplot Company, one of the largest public lands welfare ranching operations in the U.S.

593 wild mares from the Wyoming “Checkerboard” roundup were sent to the BLM’s Bruneau off-range facility.

FOIA records indicate that 101 stillborn fetuses + 34 foal deaths = 135 wild horse foals died at this facility in Bruneau.  (If these were all foals from the 593 Wyoming mares, this would mean that over 22% of the foals were lost.)  On top of this, 48 mares died in the Bruneau from 9/26/17 – 9/26/18.  Many of these were noted as “found dead in pen” from “Undiagnosed/Unknown” reasons.
Based on these FOIA records:
Besides the reported deaths of 34 foals, there are reports for the STILLBORN FETUSES:
there were 42 stillborn fetuses 10/19/17 – 11/8/17 (21 days)
there were 26 stillborn fetuses 11/9/17 – 11/29/17 (21 days)
there were 19 stillborn fetuses 11/30/17 – 1/9/18 (41 days)
2 stillborn fetuses – one n 1/11/18 and one on 2/5/18
1 stillborn fetus 3/8/18
5 stillborn fetuses 3/25/18 – 4/8/18 (15 days)
6 stillborn fetuses 4/11/18 – 5/9/18 (29 days)
Emails also revealed that instead of reporting these numbers to the public, even when asked directly, BLM employees told the public that they’d need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out the information.
1)   The BLM’s FOIAs are “backlogged” so it takes a very long time to get the requested records.
2)   The BLM was deliberately making it difficult for the public to find out the facts,
3)   A BLM employee can just pick up the phone and call (or email) another BLM employee to the get information.
4)   BLM employees can likely access much information themselves from the BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro System (WHBPS) database (referred to as PS in one of the emails).  All of the records/data from the Wild Horse & Burro Program are in the WHBPS database.
5)  Why should the public have to file a FOIA to get a question answered?
6)  It is burdensome for most members of the public to file a FOIA request, so this is a way that the BLM discourages them from obtaining information.

See FOIA documents below (Click on each page to enlarge):

A list of the deaths at the Bruneau, Idaho facility 9/26/17 – 9/26/18, and Tracking Logs for Stillborn Fetuses and Foals that are Dead at Birth:



You can see the rest of the FOIA documents, including emails and veterinary reports, HERE.


Be sure to subscribe HERE to Wild Horse Freedom Federation, so that you can receive email alerts.

Read all of THE TRUTH and see other FOIA documentation HERE.

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17 replies »

  1. All their emails are CYA and nothing else! This quantity of deaths in a “holding facility”? No questions from anywhere????? I’m sure there was stress from the roundups, the transportation – all of that. But EIGHTY SEVEN foals dead? “possibly strangles”? If strangles, it must have run thru the entire herd or herds there.
    Is this place still open?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry – apparently missed some! It boggles the mind that any supposed facility could “lose” that many foals! How did they get away with no one finding out until your white paper?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Maggie, we just received these records from a recent FOIA request. WHFF issued the White Paper in July 2017. We’ll continue our efforts to obtain documentation for the public.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This BLM holding facility for many years had been a cattle feedlot for the Simplot corporation. Cattle feedlots are notorious for disease. Infectious bacteria form a disease spore and may live in the soil for many years.
    (Simplot = McDonalds french fries)


    • Are you sure you want to blame Simplot Corp considering the fact that BLM chose to put them there. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DONALD WAYNE HUGHES, Defendant-Appellant
      • Primary Citation: 626 F.2d 619 (9th Cir. 1980)
      • Date of Decision: Thursday, May 22, 1980
      “The court held that, regardless of whether the WFRHBA intended to create an ownership interest in wild horses, the government has a property interest in wild horses that it has captured, corralled, and loaned out.
      Hughes appeals on various grounds from his conviction for conversion of government property, 18 U.S.C. s 641, and for violations of the Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, 16 U.S.C. ss 1331-1340. We affirm. Even if the language defining wild horses was intended to have the significance which *623 Hughes attaches to it, see note 1 supra, it does not foreclose the conclusion that the government claims an interest in the horses when it captures them. The statutory definition of wild horses is limited to those “on public lands of the United States,” 16 U.S.C. s 1332(b), and yet the horses placed on private lands continue to receive protection as wild horses under the Act. The definitional language thus identifies the horses protected by the Act, but does not condition their continuing protection on the continuing existence of those identifying characteristics. Thus, adopted horses continue to receive protection as “wild free-roaming” horses even though they are neither roaming on public lands nor, strictly speaking, unclaimed.”


      • Perhaps I was not clear … my point was that cattle feedlots are known to have diseases and some of those diseases are held in the soil for years and could therefore have been a contributing factor for the high number of deaths of foals and the stillbirths – along with the stress and change of feed and water they (mares and foals) experienced after capture.


    • Sure does make you want to run right out & get some mcdonalds fries, doesnt it?
      This has happened for far too many times. I wonder if this is one of their plans to get rid of our wild horses. Seems to be working. For anyone that has watched this happen & not have it affect them? Says much about them as supposed “human beings”!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Since the Bruneau facility is owned and managed by private interests who were awarded a contract by the US Gov’t. it is logical to ask if the facilities were inspected ahead of time, if they were required to be sterilized initially and what ongoing monitoring and maintenance requirements are part of the contract. It seems clear the mortality rates and causes are of little concern to either signatory to the contract, but since taxpayers foot the bill and these animals belong to us, why are we shut out and what ways can we change this NOW? This is surely not an isolated event and more are to be expected as thousands more horses are forced from their rightful ranges.


  3. It appears the BLM would have us believe most of these horses committed suicide, since most were just “found dead” without other explanation. Many were put down from injuries clearly related to the roundup and crowding they were forced into.

    The foal mortality list shows only ONE necropsy which determined rotovirus and clostridium as causal agents. Many of the others were described as exhibiting signs of respiratory distress and diarrhea — consistent with rotovirus contamination. Anyone who has raised foals knows they are born with next to no immune responses and obtain crucial anitbodies from their dams in the first few days. They are particularly vulnerable to contagious diseases and require careful oversight for their first 6-8 months to ensure they reach adulthood healthy.

    The question we should all be asking is how our paid PROFESSIONAL MANAGERS consistently fail to meet even the most basic standards of horse care, and how the consistent injury and death of those under their “care” produces no reprimands, consequences, or firings. The public and the wild horses are the only ones who continually pay for this broken “management” system. WE KNOW HOW TO DO BETTER THAN THIS.

    Viral Diarrhea in Foals

    “Rotavirus is the main cause of viral diarrhea in foals; however, other viruses (eg, coronavirus) have been implicated. Diarrhea induced by rotavirus is characterized by depression, anorexia, and profuse, watery, malodorous feces. It is usually seen in foals <2 mo old; younger foals typically have more severe clinical signs. The diarrhea usually lasts 4–7 days, although it can persist for weeks.

    Rotavirus destroys the enterocytes on the tip of the villi in the small intestine, which results in malabsorption. Lactase becomes deficient, so lactose passing into the large intestine induces an osmotic diarrhea. Diagnosis is made by identification of virus in the feces by electron microscopy or commercial immunoassay kits designed for detection of human rotavirus. Requesting that the laboratory test specifically for rotavirus, collecting feces early in the course of disease, and sampling several foals improve the chances of virus detection.

    Treatment is generally supportive. Certain farm management practices and disinfection techniques have effectively limited the spread of rotavirus during outbreaks. Sick foals are highly contagious and should be isolated in the stall in the barn in which the foal originally became ill or moved to a designated isolation facility. Personnel should wear disposable gloves and cleanable boots and wash their hands with soap before and after handling diarrheic foals. Foot dips containing phenolic disinfectants outside the stalls of sick foals should also be used. Specific stall-cleaning equipment should be designated only for cleaning the stalls of diarrheic foals. Once the stall has been vacated, it should be cleaned of particulate material, washed with detergent, and then disinfected with phenolic compounds that meet EPA standards. Bleach, chlorhexidine, and quaternary compounds do not appear to be effective disinfectants for rotavirus. Fecal material of sick foals removed from stalls should not be spread on pastures used for horses and foals, and care should be taken to avoid fecal contamination of alleyways. All stall-cleaning equipment should be disinfected. Stalls with dirt floors are difficult to adequately clean and disinfect. Removal of the top layers of dirt may be required.

    Arriving horses and foals, including those returning from veterinary hospitals, should be isolated for ≥7 days before being introduced to the resident population. A vaccine for pregnant mares to induce colostral antibodies directed at reducing the risk of rotavirus infection in their foals is available."

    Clostridia-associated Enterocolitis in Horses

    The most important strategy for prevention is good farm hygiene. Clostridial spores are extremely resilient in the environment and resistant to many disinfectants. Keeping the foaling area and mare as clean as possible during the perinatal period and ensuring rapid ingestion (by stomach tube if necessary) of colostrum within 1 hr of birth have reduced incidence of disease on some contaminated farms. The mare’s hindlegs, tail, and udder can also be washed in soapy water immediately after foaling to decrease ingestion of fecal material by newborn foals. Affected animals should be isolated to limit cross-infection and contamination of pastures and stalls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Icy – we all know there was NO attempt on anyones part to quarantine or to take steps to prevent contamination whatsoever! I have to wonder – does the BLM actually have practicing veterinarians onsite EVER? Or are these the same vets who “inspect” the horses sent to slaughter? I remember reading a few years ago (probably a FOIA that GG or you or RT provided) regarding the absolute lack of any interest or empathy by the “inspectors” at the sites where horses were sent to slaughter – couldnt watch the video provided – but the picture in my mind of a mare foaling at the pen where the horses were loaded (maybe this was the slaughter plant) & forcing the mare away & taking the foal to the dump & killing it. I just remember not being able to sleep for several nights with the sound from & picture of that in my mind. Doesnt take much to bring it all back. I hope & pray that soon maybe – just maybe – we all can see a stop at least to horse slaughter – its past time.


      • They do call in vets for necropsies, and once in a while actually publish the results (usually long after). Distressing here is it was clear horses of all ages were dying, some in “chronic” respiratory distress or with infected injuries, yet no basic and standard horse care protocols seem to be either in place or used.

        How, for instance, can a foal two weeks old be listed as dying of a “chronic” condition?

        Testing was done from horses and foals that died, but that is pretty long after the “horse has left the barn” to expect anything but more sick and dying horses in short order.

        My question is why even the basic standards of humane and ethical (not to mention smart?) management is not in place or monitored by an independent authority, as should be the case in any paid management contract. At a minimum if the contractor is being paid per horse they should be optimizing for health and longevity, not distress and death.

        The contract should be public information to help determine if the contractor was meeting expectations or not. Recall here the Scott City KS deaths — which weren’t reported until 30 days passed since their contract only required a monthly report. As horses kept dying, a federal vet was reportedly requested, who put down more horses that were perfectly healthy before arriving at the former cattle feedlot. It was reported necropsies were done but I never saw any official reports (even the invited media published nothing I could find from their short and highly controlled visit). Repeated efforts to garner solid information were stonewalled by the BLM, who eventually became rude to basic inquiries. It took a few years for even basic information to show up on the BLM website.

        Point being — this system is broken. It is killing those it was designed to protect, and robbing taxpayers of both money and oversight. There are dozens of good ideas and accepted practices out there being ignored by the BLM and USFS. Those who gain from it can’t be expected to change it. Remember the lessons from WWII concentration camp guards (and others) who claimed innocence since they “were only doing their jobs?”

        It’s on the American public to demand and develop sustainable and ethical changes to this system. We have the numbers and we provide the funds. What we lack is unity, in both purpose and proposals. Those divisions mean horses die, period. How many more will disappear before we have only a few left sterilized in “zoo” environments and the rest existing only in memories and history books?

        I urge everyone reading this to take steps to bring new ideas forward that can positively change this system and unify the diverse advocacy groups towards that end. Let’s all make our “turf” our shared public lands and the wild ones that inhabit them.

        E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one (voice).

        We can do this, and must, and soon.

        I’ll start.

        How about forming an independent Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, made up of citizens representing each wild herd that still exists, and giving them voting authority on any government actions taken for any herd, based on “boots on the ground” citizen science. Foregoing a single helicopter roundup could provide around $1 million in startup funds, and developing habitat stamps for each HMA that the public could buy on an annual basis could provide a metric for measuring public support as well as earmarking funds specific to habitat and herd management — herd by herd.

        Your turn….



    Live Export

    United States
    American horses are still being exported for slaughter to Canada and Mexico at roughly the same number as they were when they were butchered on US soil.
    So when you hear that American horses stopped being slaughtered when State laws shut down the three remaining slaughterhouses on US soil that is a lie.


    Horses continue to be exported live from Canada to Japan for their meat.
    FOALS and Draft horses are the most prevalent types.
    WHY FOALS? For their tender young meat to make sushi. Sushi bars abound in Japan.


  5. This makes me sick and the worthless laws are government makes in the fake protection of animals. There’s always loopholes in them so they can continue doing what they want. The corruption in our government makes a mockery of this country and what it’s suppose to stand for. It’s nothing more than organized crime

    Liked by 1 person

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