Horse News

On the Eve of the Red Desert Complex Wild Horse Roundup

by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats

Young mare Thalia and foal
Mare Thalia and her foal

Tonight my heart is very heavy because the wild horses I have grown to know over the last 4 years are on the brink of being chased by helicopters and removed from their homes and their families forever.

During a pandemic, the Bureau of Land Management is continuing an aggressive, punishing and devastating schedule of rounding up and removing wild horses off of our public lands. This roundup is going to be the largest in recent memory, with over 2400 wild horses scheduled to be removed. The Red Desert Complex is 5 Herd Management Areas that are contiguous: Green Mountain, Lost Creek, Crooks Mountain, Stewart Creek and Antelope Hills. In the middle is a Herd Area, Arapahoe Creek that is no longer managed for wild horses, which is ridiculous and inexplicable because the horses move though the area.

Two Medicine Hat youngsters, yearling filly Buyana and her younger brother

This roundup began in 2018, with 2670 wild horses targeted to be removed. However, after three weeks, removing 1444 horses, killing 10 and returning 25, the Bureau of Land Management stopped their roundup because they did not have any more holding facilities to put the horses in. Now, 7 new facilities have been approved and three have been expanded, so they have room for the horses.

Here is what I was given for the population totals from a flyover done in early August:

HMA  AML  Est. total
Horses to remove 
Stewart Creek 125-175 511 361
Lost Creek 60-82 531 471
Antelope Hills 60-82 629 569
Crooks Mountain 65-85 884 819
Green Mountain 170-300 369 199
Totals  480-724 2,924  2,419 

We were not told was this an actual count, or was it using the “statistical double-count” method that the BLM uses. I have a very hard time believing that there are that many horses left in the area after the 2018 roundup and removal of 1444 horses.

Wild stallion Apollo

Notice the very low Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) especially for Lost Creek, Antelope Hills and Crooks Mountain. These are not sustainable numbers – there needs to be a minimum of 150 adult horses in a herd to maintain genetic viability. This are has over 700,000 acres of public land, and yet they want to leave 480 wild horses.

Three young stallions

There is enough room for wild horses here – many many more than 480. The horses this year are in extremely good condition, with some of the stallions so fat that they look pregnant. There is no lack of forage or water on the range. The ranchers with livestock leases have left their cattle out here since early May – most are still there – beyond what is their allotted time. These grazing leases should be retired and wild horses should be managed here where they live with their families, managed as the principle species where they are found as is written in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming and Burro Act. Livestock grazing and energy and mineral extraction is driving our wild horses from their homes. This must stop.

Pinto mare and foal

Where will all of these horses go? I have heard that the plan is to send most to the facility in Canon City, Colorado, and the facility in Rock Springs, Wyoming. This is good for the horses because they are both facilities where members of the public can visit and adopt them, unlike in 2018 where over half of the horses were sent to a private facility in Axtell, UT that the public may not visit except 1x per year.

Warehousing 15,000 – 20,000 more wild horses each year, after already over 45,000 are in holding facilities that are mostly feedlots and some pastures at the cost of millions to the American taxpayer each year is not sustainable. The long term inevitable outcome will be a recommendation to destroy these horses, and then the tragic implementation of this.

Cremello mare Hera and her colt Helios

I am planning to be there to observe, document and photograph the horse during most of the roundup. It is important that people are there to witness what is happening to the horses and to make sure that if there are abuses and problems that they will be addressed. It is a horrible experience for me, but does not even come close to what these wonderful wild beings will endure. Follow me on Facebook at, on Instagram @wild_hoofbeats and and subscribe to my blog here, and I will keep you informed about the progress of this roundup. These wild horses will be seen and remembered. I will make sure of it.

Blue Zeus

8 replies »

  1. Thank you RT. I too am saddened & angered by the BLM’s inhumane actions. Your advocacy is essential & your writing on the topic so informative and helpful. I pray for the wild herds.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Commented on Carol’s site & will write yet another comment to BLM. Seems getting rid (?) of the guy who says our NATIVE wild horses are an “existential threat” to our public lands really hasnt accomplished anything. Not sure we can wait till Next January for some common sense & reason to come into our government. At least I HOPE something will change for the better. As I said on Carol’s site, those horses look fantastic – not fit – but FAT. Obviously there are not too many for the acreage!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is utterly reprehensible what the wild horse enemies are doing to these wonderful wild horses of the Red Desert!!!! And the extremely alarming thing too is that our government officials in the BLM are very much complicit in this outrageous crime. In the excellent article alerting the public about this crime against the mustangs, the law and the public, it should also be mentioned that as BLM and contractors violently jerk these wonderful harmonious horse presences from this ecosystem, the deprive it of one of the most positively contributing members of such, one who builds nutrient rich soils, disperses diverse and valuable plant seeds for successful germination, including many native species, and greatly mitigates against catastrophic wildfires. Plus the horse is a preeminent returned native to North America. We must counter all the vicious, mean spirited lies and hypocrisy that is going on in our nation ask well as world today. We must be aware of it, denounce it and stop it!

    Liked by 2 people

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