Horse News

Bureau of Land Management Plots the Absolute Destruction of 5 Wild Horse Herds in Wyoming

By Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats

Adobe Town Family

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released a Scoping Document with a 30 day public comment period on 5 of the largest wild horse herds in Wyoming:

Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, White Mountain and Little Colorado.

I have been visiting, observing and photographing the wild horses in these 5 herds since 2004.

The BLM claims that these herds are “overpopulated” even though they completed a roundup of three herds, Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin only 2 years ago. The last roundup and removal in White Mountain and Little Colorado was in 2011.

The BLM provides figures of their wild horse population estimates in these 5 herds using a flyover and a statistical double-count method, and one of the new changes is that now any horse over the low range of AML is considered “excess” – this is not how an excess determination is made. For example, the BLM says there are 929 wild horses in Adobe Town and the AML is 600-800, so the actual “excess” is only 129 horses not 329. This change does make a difference and is the creative math that the BLM uses to justify their actions. They are also now counting foals which they have never done before in their population estimates. This allows them to pad their counts and justify a roundup.

The population estimates for these 5 herds swing wildly and unbelievably from year to year. Basing the need for a roundup on the BLM’s figures is absurd. There is a need for an actual count of wild horses to be done in EVERY HMA by an independent agency. Without that, it leaves the BLM open to distort their statistics any time they want to justify “excess” horses to do a roundup.

Herd Management Area Adobe Town Salt Wells Creek Great Divide Basin White Mountain Little Colorado
Nov. 2019 929 745 1069 391 411
March 2019 994 766 1096 401 412
March 2018 767 576 791 284 408
March 2017 820 835 650 265 367
March 2016 1037 728 670 321 396
March 2015 602 117 199 241 259
October 2014 519 29 91
March 2014 624 251 831 194 104 
March 2013 520 686 527 88 246

*October 2014 immediately follows the Checkerboard Roundup, BLM posted these figures on BLM WY Facebook page

**roundups of Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin in the winter of fall of 2014 and fall of 2017, a roundup of Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek in the winter of 2013

Here is the online BLM site for all the documents on this plan:

Here are the alternatives that the BLM has come up with to manage the wild horses in these 5 areas:

  1. Gather and remove excess wild horses and apply PZP (porcine zona pellucida) or Gonna Con fertility control vaccine to a group of mares that will be released back into the HMAs. Establish a 60% to 40% male to female ratio within the HMAs.
  2. Gather and remove excess wild horses. Spay a group of mares and neuter a group of studs that will be released back into the HMAs. Apply PZP or GonaCon to the remaining mares released back onto the HMAs.
  3. Gather and remove excess wild horses, without conducting any population growth suppression activities.
  4. No Action – Do not conduct any gather or removal activities, and do not conduct any population growth suppression activities.

The only acceptable choice is number 4, No Action. The BLM likes to throw as many possible things together as possible.  Birth control has never been meaningfully used or studied in these areas. Treating a handful of mares every 4 – 10 years then removing the mares that have been treated does not give using PZP birth control any sort of chance to work at maintaining or slowing population growth. In 2010 the BLM treated 39 wild mares from Adobe Town and 60 wild mares from Salt Wells Creek with PZP. In 2013, 40 wild mares were treated with PZP and released into Adobe Town. Many wild mares who were removed during this roundup were marked as having received PZP in 2010. No birth control was used in the 2014 Checkerboard Roundup of Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin. In 2017, no birth control was used in the roundup of Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin. Again, many mares with markings from having been treated in 2010 and 2013 were removed.

I am strongly opposed to any type of surgical sterilization of wild horses. The method that BLM has been wanting to use on wild mares, ovierectomy via colpotomy is dangerous, cruel and inhumane. Thousands of members of the public as well as members of Congress and over 80 veterinarians have spoken out against the use of this method of spaying:

Gelding stallions should not be a part of this analysis. The death rate for gelding wild stallions can often be as high as 5%. And the effect on both the gelded stallions and on the social and behavioral structure of the herd and family bands can be extremely detrimental. If you remove what makes wild horses wild, a very large degree of that is their family and society structure, then you are destroying wild horses.

Gonacon is a birth control treatment that has not been sufficiently tested on wild horses. There is currently a study of Gonacon use on wild mares going on in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It has not been studied sufficiently to rule out sterilization or dangerous side effects such as stillborn foals. The effect of the use of Gonacon on social behaviors of wild horses has also not been sufficiently studied.

Skewing the sex ratios of the horses in the herds can have an extremely detrimental affect on wild horses and also has not been studied scientifically. In nature, wild horses exist in about a 50% mares to 50% stallions ratio. The BLM thinks that if they change the ratio to 60% or more stallions to 40% or less mares then the birth rate will grow less. What happens instead is there are more bachelor stallions, smaller families, more aggressive fights between stallions where mare and foals are injured. The stability of the family band becomes disrupted and I have observed this in the McCullough Peaks Herd in Wyoming where they skewed the sex ratio 66% to 33% in 2009.

If birth control must be used in these herds to limit population growth  then PZP is the only choice – it has been studied for over 40 years being used on wild horses and since it can be delivered by dart in the field or in a pen using bait trapping to capture the horses instead of dangerous and costly helicopter roundups it is by far the most humane option.

Salt Wells Creek Family

This plan for removing and experimenting upon wild horses in these 5 Herd Management Areas is discussed in this document as a multi-year plan, meaning the BLM would like to only allow the public to comment once even though the BLM will then continue these actions without any public input. They have not done this in the past for these 5 herds.

The BLM must prepare an Environmental Impact Study, EIS, for the roundup and removal of wild horses in these 5 herds due to the breadth and scope of the project. It will span 10 years and impact 3.5 million acres of our public lands with inhumane roundup, removals and experimentation on our wild horses. Using a Environmental Assessment, EA, here instead of an EIS is counter to NEPA. There is extreme public interest in these actions, and strong public opposition to inhumane sterilization experiments also warrants the preparation of an EIS.

The plan to remove 2,702 wild horses from these Herd Management Areas in Wyoming is wrong, and adding these horses to the 45,000 wild horses currently in BLM Holding Facilities is outrageous. These horses should be managed on our public lands where they live. After the 2014 Checkerboard Roundup, when the American Wild Horse Campaign did a FOIA request for the deaths of wild horses, in just a couple of months over 75 horses died, and that did not count the foals that died before being freeze branded. Helicopter roundups and stockpiling wild horses is cruel, dangerous, life-threatening and very expensive to the American taxpayer.

The plan to remove 2702 wild horses from these 5 herds and then experimenting on and sterilizing the wild horses that remain is the BLM’s endgame for America’s wild horses. We must oppose this plan and save our wild horses.

Please comment in your own words by December 20, 2019 on this proposed plan.

Some points I would suggest you mention:

-The correct alternative is the NO Action Alternative.

-The BLM must prepare on EIS for this project given the scope and public opposition.

-Do actual counts of wild horses using an independent agency.

-Opposition to spaying wild mares, gelding stallions, chemical vasectomies and the use of Gonacon.

-Opposition to skewing the sex ratios of the herds.

-Manage these 5 herds on public lands where they are found.

-If birth control must be used, use the proven, humane, PZP.

Please make your comments by the end of the day, December 20, 2019.

You can submit comments through the BLM website:

You can also email comments to:

And send them by mail to:
BLM Rock Springs Field Office
High Desert District
Multi-Year Wild Horse Gather
280 HWY 191 North
Rock Springs, WY 82901

Great Divide Basin stallion

Spread the word

15 replies »

  1. I made a nice comment for the sake of the wild horses and burros, tried to send it but couldn’t get it there. I wish the horses would be left alone in their own homes and no more round ups in helicopters. Its their home not anyone else’s. They have been there many years and they should be left there for many more years. God bless them

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Carol. Your knowledge will be a tremendous help to many of us who will be commenting on this atrocious extinction plan. Many of us are tired of making public comments only to have them ignored or “poo-pooed” by BLM but each letter does count (remember the starfish story?) and it is our responsibility to speak for our wild ones and we cannot give up … never.


  3. We have to stop the livestock industry in Wyoming. The state is changing. Our public lands belong to all not just the ranchers getting rich subleasing their BLM land. I’ve been photographing and enjoying our wild horses for 40 years. Seen the increase and decrease in horse numbers. Not once has the numbers of horses ever impacted the BLM ability to but livestock on our lands. If the Wyoming government is going to use the wild horses to promote Wyoming how about we protect them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You people are sad. And, sadistic!! STOP killing our American ICONS…They are not hurting the cattle people. The Cattle people are just greedy as hell. STOP KILLING THE HORSES!!


  5. I sent a nice comment and I truly hope it helps. The cowboy culture is one that Wyoming has long embraced so they should continue to do so.


  6. To whom it may concern. I’m sick of people trying too kill our beautiful Horses. The Lord put them on earth for a reason. They help children, related to other animals. I will pray everyday for these Horses too be free to live on the land. It saddened my life.

    Liked by 1 person


    The BLM are proposing to eradicate 60% of the Wyoming’s wild horse habitat and remove 40 percent of all the mustangs. They released an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which proposes to :

    Immediately eradicate wild horses from nearly 2.4 million acres of designated habitat by “zeroing out” the Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, and White Mountain HMAs.

    Reduce the size of the Adobe Town HMA and slash the population limit for wild horses by almost 40%, down to 225-450 horses “or less.” Utilize surgical sterilization on wild horses remaining in the redrawn, smaller borders of the Adobe Town HMA

    This proposal heralds a catastrophic decimation of the wild mustangs of Wyoming. Whenever anyone is sad that Goliath or Maestro were gelded and that we lost their genes I always reassure people that their offspring are still running wild and free on the range but now they are all to be wiped out.

    We must take a stand. We will be posting a series of actions for us to all take and the first is to PLEASE sign the petition link…?

    You could also write to the Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon
    State Capitol
    200 West 24th Street
    Cheyenne, WY 82002

    Or call him on 307-777-7434 and politely tell him that we want the wild horses of Wyoming to be protected and not wiped out.

    The Senators are Michael Enzi and John Barrasso and the Representative is Liz Cheney. If anybody following us lives in Wyoming you can reach out to your representatives and senators and tell them how much you care about the wild horses of Wyoming and that you want them protected.

    The next step will be for us all to write and send comments to the BLM EIS which is open until April 30th so we have time. We will be posting some specific comment points to help you and all the links you need. The irony that Wyoming and its tourist board have always used their wild horses in their tourism and there is even a wild horse driving loop in this area but now they want to destroy these iconic and beloved herds.

    Here is the proposal and comments are open until April

    Click to access WildHorse_DEIS_Jan24_2020.pdf

    We will go to every rally, raise our voices to the rafters of every BLM meeting and we will fight to the end to stop this heartbreaking plan from being executed. We love Goliath and his family and when he came here I remember sitting on the hill watching him graze and I told him his capture would bring change, would help other horses by raising awareness and he has done that and so much more. Here is the link to the proposal

    #keepwyomingwild #savewyomingswildhorses

    Here are some links to read more about this devastating plan. These horses mean a lot to Carol Walker and I was honored to meet up with her at Bruneau for a tour of the Wyoming Wild Horses after the 2017 gather while I was looking for Goliath’s grey mare. We will fight with her and all the other groups working to stop this heartbreaking proposal.


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