Horse News

Action Alert: Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Need Your Help To Prevent Huge Roundup and Removal

by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats

Devastating Roundup and Removal proposed for Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses

By Carol J. Walker

2008 Helicopter Roundup

The Bureau of Land Management has published a proposal for removal of removing 772 wild horses from Sand Wash Basin starting this summer. This is over 80% of the wild horses that are currently within the Basin and outside the boundaries of the 156,000 acre Herd management Area. You can find the Environmental Assessment here:

I have been following and photographing the wild horses in this herd since 2011. I attended the dangerous and deadly helicopter roundup in Sand Wash Basin in 2008 where 11 wild horses died. This herd is one of the most famous and beloved of the wild horses in the west. People travel from all over the country and all over the world to see these horses. They should be managed where they live on our public lands.

The last aerial census that the BLM has done was March of 2019. They did not do a count in 2020 or 2021, they just assumed a 13% increase in population. If you are going to claim an “excess” amount of wild horses it is important to actually count them and have a real and not a made up number to work from. The BLM wants to remove horses down to low Appropriate Management Level, which would leave 163 wild horses. This number is not even enough to provide genetic viability for the horses that remain – that number needs to be 150-200 adults according to the leading wild horse geneticist, Dr. Gus Cothren.

The three alternatives proposed discuss using a 10 year plan where the horses could be removed all at once or they could be removed over several years. These 10 year plans are in violation of NEPA – every time the BLM takes action on a wild horse herd they should submit a new plan that the public can comment upon.

Alternative A which is the Proposed Action includes removing wild horses to the low end of AML which is 163 wild horses and skewing the sex ration may be done up to 40% mares to 60% stallions, using birth control such as PZP, Gonacon and possibly putting IUDs in wild mares.

Sex ratio skewing can destroy the fabric of wild horse families. It can be extremely detrimental because of the increased fighting between stallions and instability of the family bands. Wild horse herds naturally occur at 50% stallions to 50% mares, and just doing this with no care for the effects on the horses is not a good idea. It is a kitchen sink idea.

IUDs should never be used on wild mares. There has only been 1 study on 8 wild mares in 2020, and this is not enough to prove that it is safe and effective. I do not understand why they consider this to be a “temporary” method of birth control. Do they plan to remove the IUDs at a later date? There is no plan in this EA to do this. The National Academy of Sciences in their 2013 report expressed concern about the IUDs leading to inflammation in wild mares. In human woman, the IUDs can move around in the body and cause injury and death. Simply throwing this in as a method of birth control because Oklahoma State University received a large grant to study it does not justify using an unproven and dangerous method of birth control on wild horses.

Since the wild horses in this herd have already been being treated with PZP, why add additional methods of birth control? Why not continue and bolster the program that is already in place?

If there are drought conditions, the livestock grazing leases for sheep should be retired. Water should be hauled if necessary to the waterholes.

The 772 wild horses that are planned to be removed are not all going to be adopted. Many will die during the roundup and afterward at the short term holding facilities where they are processed. GEMS cannot take 772 horses. The Sand Wash Basin wild horses are safest where they belong on the public lands where they live. They should be managed on the range.

Alternative B is to roundup and remove to the low end of AML leaving 163 wild horses and do not use birth control

Alternative C is the NO Action Alternative, no roundup and removal, no birth control.

For your comments, you may use my talking points, but please be sure to use your own words.

I am suggesting the selection of Alternative C, the No Action Alternative.

  1. IUDs should never be used on wild mares.
  2. Use PZP which is already being given to mares in the herd to the wild horses in the herd if birth control is needed.
  3. Do not use Sex Ratio Skewing.
  4. Put in a fence along the roughly 10 miles of the HMA adjoining highway 318.
  5. The horses outside the HMA should be returned to the HMA boundaries rather than being removed.
  6. Retire the sheep grazing leases in the HMA. Wild horses should be managed as the principle species in the HMA.
  7. Do an actual count of wild horses in the HMA using an independent agency.
  8. Raise the AML for the herd.
  9. All roundup and removal plans need to be put on hold until a new National Plan gets worked out with public input.

Sand Wash Basin’s Wild Horses need your help. Please comment and get the word out.

Please submit your comments by May 2 to the BLM. Please use your own words. If you submit comments through a group form, all the comments will be counted as 1.

You can submit your individual comments online here:

You can mail comments to: BLM Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson St, Craig, CO 81625.

President Joe Biden

Phone: 202-456-1111

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Phone (with employee directory): (202) 208-3100
FedRelay number: (800)877-8339 (TTY)

Your Senators:

Your Representatives:

Nada Wolff Culver, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management

Phone: 202-208-2801, Email:

Our wild horses are counting on you. Please get the word out and make your voice heard.

Previous Related Post:

Spread the word

12 replies »

  1. I agree with Action C, NO action. Leave these wild horses alone. These herds are among the most popular, loved, well known & followed by people all over the world. Photographers travel to take photos of these incredible & majestic native wild horses. Please reconsider, & do not destroy them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope everyone who comments here & on Carol’s blog also comments TO ALL THE ABOVE MENTIONED REPS & others! Far too many times on Carol’s blog people seem to feel they’ve done their utmost by commenting THERE! She continues to reply & tell them that in order to make a dent in this disastrous BLM “plan” – they MUST comment to the authorities she lists! If they have read what she writes – I dont get how they dont understand that. I realize that not everyone has been aware of the Wild Horse issue for long – but come on.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s so important we vigorously protest this outrageous gutting of the Sand Wash herd. One thing I noticed when I was out there recently after the rally was how listless the Sand Wash Basin horses seemed. This is similar to what I have observed in other PZPed herds and is a form of domestication. We must stop this outrageous plan. As you may know I am a proponent of the Reserve Design approach, that IMO is the true implementation of the WFHBA

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Done!

    On Fri, Apr 23, 2021 at 8:15 AM Straight from the Horse’s Heart wrote:

    > R.T. Fitch posted: “by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats > Devastating Roundup and Removal proposed for Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses By > Carol J. Walker 2008 Helicopter Roundup The Bureau of Land Management has > published a proposal for removal of removing 772 wild ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Unfortunately this is an example of the canned response I have received form my senators. Basically they drink the BLM cool aid. Disgusting!

    Thank you for contacting me about the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro program. As a former Navy pilot, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut, it is an honor to continue my service to our country representing Arizona in the United States Senate, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on the issues facing our state and our country. Hearing from Arizonans helps me better serve our state, and I hope you will continue to share your perspectives and suggestions.

    The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect certain herds of unbranded and unclaimed horses located on public lands as living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West. The Act also made it a federal crime to harass or kill these animals on federal land.

    When the law was enacted in 1971, an estimated 25,000 wild horses and burro were located on ranges managed by the BLM. Today there are more than 100,000 animals, which is quadruple the limit set by the BLM. Another 50,000 animals have been moved into off-range holding facilities. The growing wild horse population has led to overgrazing in some areas, which reduces forage for horses, burros, and ranchers who pay fees to graze their herds on public lands. In some cases, the BLM must conduct emergency roundups to prevent the horses from starving on severely degraded public lands.

    BLM should utilize humane methods to bring herd sizes to manageable levels and restore rangeland health. In recent years, the BLM has expanded its popular adoption program that now pays applicants $1,000 to adopt a horse or burro. The bureau has also begun leasing privately-owned pastures in the Midwest to house animals that are unable to be adopted. As Arizona’s senator, I am committed to supporting efforts that protect the horses and natural resources in our state.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue, and I hope you will continue to contact my office with any future comments or questions. I’m committed to being transparent and accountable with all Arizonans, which is why I release my official Senate schedule every week at There you can learn more about my work as Arizona’s senator.


    Mark Kelly
    United States Senator

    Liked by 1 person

    • These are indeed “canned” responses, very similar to what I have received several times from my elected officials in another state. It’s also pretty clear the Senators are not the authors, but some clerks or aides, which is even more discouraging.

      What has worked for me is to meet with the local aides who have scheduled private listening sessions a few times each year, hand them some good credible information they can cite and share, and then follow up with emails and phone calls. It helps as well to have a few specific requests rather than a barrage of emotion and background information — all are good but ultimately not something they can take and run with easily.

      So rather than ask them to support wild horses on the range, get more specific and timely if you can, and especially for areas within your own state. You might even invite them to visit an HMA with you to see for themselves what is happening — or not happening as the case may be.

      I’ve had good responses from my Governor as well using these methods. Not strident or angry but rational, helpful, and insistent these things matter to all of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. SAND WASH ADVOCATE TEAM LINKS (see this years discovered foals on the FB link).

    These horses are already undergoing a contraceptive darting program coordinated with local advocates, their HMA also allows something around 10,000 sheep most of the year (including winter), Colorado voters just decided to introduce wolves in western Colorado, and several wild wolves are already documented in this HMA area. These pressures are not addressed by yet another mass roundup, nor are the results given of the prior years’s successes with bait trapping and removing only those horses who could be readily adopted.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear lord this is not pleasing in god’s plan he says we have to take care everything around us that includes animals, plants, humans, surroundings, nature …. OUR LAND IS SO HUGE TO NOT INCLUDE ANIMALS TO LIVE AMONG US LET THEM LIVE ALONE IN THEIR HABITAT. IF ONLY THEY CAN SPEAK THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE LIKE WE HUMANS ARE HERE ON EARTH.

    Liked by 1 person

Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your 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.