Horse News

Drought Does Not Justify Emergency Roundups of Wild Horse Herds in the West

by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats

The Bureau of Land Management has announced its plans to roundup and remove an additional 6000 wild horses from our public lands citing drought as the reason behind declaring “emergency roundups.”

Photo by Carol Walker

With an emergency roundup, the Bureau of Land Management overrides the need for public comments and input on their plans, and can proceed a day or two after the announcement. This quick time frame keeps the public from participating and observing the roundup, and it keeps their actions from being visible and transparent to the public.

But “the BLM Handbook states that drought does not qualify as an “emergency” and does not justify a full-force-and-effect decision-making process. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that the BLM provide further opportunities for public comment on site-specific information and proposed actions. Any “drought” EA would only be a programmatic document unless site-specific data and specific proposed actions are provided.”

Why would the Bureau of Land Management remove wild horses instead of reducing or eliminating livestock grazing in these wild horse Herd Management Areas if there is reduced supply of water and forage? Because the livestock ranchers who have grazing leases on wild horse Herd Management Areas have a big powerful lobby in Congress.

Nada Wolff Culver the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management seeks to justify this extraordinary measure that amplifies an already aggressive roundup plan to remove 11,000 wild horses this year and 20,000 next year: “As one of the agencies charged with the responsibility to protect and manage America’s wild horses and burros, the BLM is prepared to take emergency action where we can in order to save the lives of these cherished animals,” said Nada Culver, BLM’s deputy director of policy and programs, in a statement.”

But the Bureau of Land Management does not treat wild horses as “cherished,” far from it. Instead of managing them humanely where they are found and supposed to be protected on our public lands with their families, using birth control when their numbers need to be controlled, they chase them with helicopters, drive them into traps, separate them from their families and send them to feed lots. And under the Adoption Incentive Program, the BLM pays adopters $1000 per horse to take these “cherished animals” off their hands, and the result is hundreds of wild horses being sold to slaughter once the unscrupulous adopter gets their money.

This new plan by the BLM to remove an additional 6000 wild horses using the “emergency” of drought in an excuse is just a way to hurry up the removal of as many wild horses as possible from competition with the livestock which is grazing on our public lands at a pittance. One of the Herds targeted is the much beloved Sand Wash Basin Herd in Colorado which will be rounded up by or starting September 1, with a plan to remove 783 wild horses which may even leave less than low Appropriate Management Level, for no good reason, with no public oversight or ability to provide input.

Sand Wash Basin family

What can you do to help? Call your Senators and Representatives and President Biden and tell them no emergency roundups – keep our wild horses on our public lands where they belong, and instead take the livestock off our public lands during the drought.

13 replies »

  1. BLM policies are plans and decisions and statements that have been made by the BLM and associates – are nothing more than just that – plans or policies NOT laws. Any policy established must be within the outline of the umbrella of the law it is required to follow. A policy is nothing more than a plan and is illegal if it does not follow the law of the United States. Any policy written by the BLM that contradicts and does not come under the umbrella of the WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971 is automatically and completely null and void with the Congressional law always taking precedence over the policy. This massive capture plan does not come under the Wild Horse and Burro LAW.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I heard that this current massive wild horse removal was being done under “statuatory exclusion” but if so then it is NOT legal. Here is why:

    “The following actions are statutorily excluded (STATEX) from NEPA and the preparation of environmental impact statements and environmental assessments by section 316 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act), as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5159.

    Statutorily Excluded from NEPA
    Actions falling within the bounds of these statutory exclusions are exempt from NEPA, including all NEPA review and documentation. These actions MUST still COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS and Executive Orders.

    Action taken or assistance provided under sections 402 (General Federal Assistance), 403 (Essential Assistance), 407 (Debris Removal) or 502 (Federal Emergency Assistance) of the Stafford Act; and

    Action taken or assistance provided under section 406 of the Stafford Act that has the effect of restoring facilities as they existed before a major disaster or emergency.
    Section 406: Repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of a facility damaged or destroyed.
    These 406-funded activities must take place on the same site as the damaged facility and conform substantially to the pre-existing condition. Also, the proposed facility must conform substantially to the pre-existing footprint and location on the site of the pre-existing damaged facility. Alternate or improved projects not meeting the above criteria do not fall within the STATEX, and require NEPA review.”,with%20all%20applicable%20environmental%20laws%20and%20Executive%20Orders.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What can you do to help? File lawsuits against the blm for NEPA violations.
    Obviously, our calls, letters, emails, petitions and rants are falling on deaf ears.
    31,000 wild horses removed from the wild = zero wild horses left = EXTINCTION.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Removal = death and everyone reading this knows it. The pretext of “saving” horses is onerous and cynical beyond belief. If any true intentions were to save them, emergency water and feed drops would be in order, as is done for other wildlife. And channels would be opening to enable the public access to support this as well as rehome as many horses as possible — though their home is on the range and should stay that way.

    The only answer they push is ALWAYS more removals and deaths.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Indeed, BLM seizes every opportunity to eliminate ever more wild horses and burros from their rightful public lands while turning a blind eye to the real overpopulated and damaging interests including livestock, mining enterprises that do terrific harm and squander and pollute vast quantities of the arid West’s precious and scant water, energy developes, dido the same as mining, OHVers who ruin vast areas and create terrible particulate pollution that affects man and beast and plants, and the list goes on!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for making your readers aware of these emergency roundup plans via the article by Carol Walker. I left voice mail messages for my two Senators, one Representative and also sent an email to President Biden expressing my opposition to those roundups. The situation for our wild horses and burros is distressing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. And this:

    “the BLM is prepared to take emergency action where we can in order to save the lives of these cherished animals.” Except the ONLY action is to remove them and they will die off-range as a result.

    How does this square with the law which clearly demands they be managed “where presently found” and only “excess” animals removed? Congress is clear these animals were to live and die natural deaths in the areas “where presently found” in 1971. They were also to be protected from “capture, branding, harassment, or death”, actions which roundups and removals all bring with them.

    Management “where found” means bring them water and feed, or let them die natural deaths! It’s clear the BLM and USFS don’t want horses to die in public view but rather than actually try to save them on-range, they prefer to haul them away where nobody sees their last days. Even the private “sanctuaries” allow very limited access. And does anyone recall the horrible fate of the mares in Kansas whose pasture contractor broke it off and they were sent to a Scott City feedlot where many simply died without any real explanation? If any survived that horror, where are they now? It’s pretty easy to disappear whole trailers full of plain bay horses and the whole thing starts to smack of a shell game. And just how does any removals equate to management “as an integral part of the natural system of public lands” ???

    Leave the horses in their rightful homelands as Congress demands, and manage them there taking the emergency steps needed for them to survive this epic drought. Removals are antithetical to the spirit and letter of the law, but will ensure extinction.

    What a way to celebrate 50 years of paid professional management — de facto extinction and in a hurry.

    §1331. Congressional findings and declaration of policy

    Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

    (Pub. L. 92–195, §1, Dec. 15, 1971, 85 Stat. 649.)

    I suggest as a 50th anniversary gift the BLM and USFS are fired from managing our wild horses and burros, and some of our vaunted infrastructure funding be directed at shifting their stewardship to ON RANGE methods with limited adoptions, as well as use of wild horses and burros to rewild our dessicated western rangelands. Get the livestock onto private lands where they rightfully belong, and focus on healing our public lands with wild equines. It can work and be cost effective as well, so why not do this?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. That’s very correct, Icy Spots. So glad you get this. We must work to make this a reality NOW! Before it is too late! Reserve Design and Rewilding and cutting back on public lands livestock operations and other conflicting life-destroying activities on the Public Lands by people of various stripes is the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We are part of the problem, since we are not enough and not loud enough to stop the perpetual corruption machine. This appointment is egregiously bad since Salazar is directly responsible for the deaths by graft of nearly 2,000 wild horses at his hand, from Colorado.

    Our wild horses and burros are doomed by our own failure to get enough people angry and loud about their survival. Even on this website, on this topic, only 10 comments. It’s no wonder nobody at a national level will take action when the most idiotic videos will go viral overnight, yet thousands of supposedly protected “free roaming” wild horses and burros are facing imminent catastrophe at our hands, and with our agreement by paying for this coming and going.

    Shame on us all.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2021
    DENVER – Colorado Governor Jared Polis congratulated Ken Salazar on his confirmation as United States Ambassador to Mexico.

    “Colorado is proud that one of our great statesmen will be representing the United States in Mexico. Ken Salazar was confirmed this morning by the United States Senate as Ambassador to Mexico. I congratulate my good friend Ambassador Salazar on his confirmation and look forward to working with him to expand our economic and cultural ties between Mexico and Colorado.”

    Investigative Report of Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse Buyer

    Create Date:
    Friday, October 23, 2015
    Report Date:
    Friday, October 23, 2015
    The Office of Inspector General completed an investigation into Tom Davis, a Colorado rancher and livestock hauler, after receiving allegations that Davis purchased approximately 1,700 horses from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program (WH&B) between 2008 and 2012 and wrongfully sent the horses to slaughter.

    BLM established WH&B to protect, manage, and control the wild horse population. Since establishment of the program, Congress passed several laws that provided for protection and management of these animals, including adoption and sales authority. In 2005, BLM implemented a policy that placed limitations on the amount of horses sold and required buyers to provide good homes and humane care to prevent the horses from being sent to slaughter.

    During our investigation, Davis admitted that most of the horses he purchased from BLM went to slaughter, but he denied that he transported the horses directly to slaughter. He explained that prior to purchasing horses from WH&B, he made arrangements with buyers—whose names he would not disclose—who transported the horses to Mexico. Davis said WH&B employees asked him several times if he was selling the horses to slaughter. He reassured WH&B that he was not selling them to slaughter and reported on his applications that the horses were going to good homes. Davis also admitted that he knew he was not supposed to sell the horses to anyone that would take them to a slaughterhouse.

    In addition, we found that BLM implemented and followed policy that contradicted legislation, by not destroying horses to maintain an ecological balance, and the 2004 Burns Amendment, by placing limitations on horse sales. BLM officials stated that operating contrary to implemented legislation by limiting sales and not destroying horses has contributed to an unmanageable number of horses.

    We referred this investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado as well as the State of Colorado Conejos County District Attorney’s Office, which declined civil and criminal prosecution.


    Liked by 2 people



    Feinstein wants probe into how many wild horses end up in slaughterhouses as Western drought forces roundups

    Horse advocates say a $1,000 cash payment for those who adopt the mustangs created an incentive for people to buy the horses and then illegally sell them for slaughter

    Liked by 1 person

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