Horse News

Feds plan 50% more Wild Horse roundups alledgedly due to Western drought

Sources: Multiple

The alleged emergency roundups that began Sunday and Monday target about 6,000 additional animals primarily in Nevada, Oregon and Colorado

by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun efforts to capture and remove 50% more wild horses than they originally planned this year on public land across the West because of “severe drought conditions”.

The alleged emergency roundups that began Sunday and Monday target 6,000 additional wild equines, primarily in Nevada, Oregon and Colorado.

The BLM says the expanded effort concentrates on places where alleged “chronic overpopulation” of the herds already has stretched the available food and water to its limits.

Wild Horse advocates say the emergency roundups are being driven by pressure from government subsidized welfare ranchers who don’t want federally protected wild horses and burros competing with their privately owned livestock for limited forage and water.

The BLM already has removed 1,200 horses this year and originally intended to round-up about 12,000. The new assault would push the total to about 18,000.

14 replies »

  1. In an “emergency roundup” there is no public comment period, no Environmental Assessment just a green light to remove horses and with this new plan over 18,000 wild horses will lose their freedom this fiscal year – a record.
    If there is drought they should remove the livestock not the horses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The LAW clearly states The United States of America Code of Federal Regulations states: § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.

      (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.

      43 CFR § 4710.5 – Closure to livestock grazing.


  2. Yes, Carol – why if this is such an emergency, are the cattle NOT being removed? Seems thats a good question. AND if they have to remove “wildlife” (which the horses are) why arent they removing the elk & deer – other wildlife? Silly question, right? Because of course the only purpose behind this “emergency” is making sure the COWS have forage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mostly sheep here, and this area (NW CO) hosts the largest wild Elk herd in the USA. Colorado is home to ~300,000 elk and hunting them is a major income producer in this rural area.


  3. The Sand Wash HMA is probably the target here, which only permits a few hundred cattle but thousands of sheep for more than half each year in what is a high desert “Sagebrush Steppe” environment. I don’t have current wild horse population estimates but when they started some bait trapping last year it was just over 800 if I recall correctly. That plan was only partly implemented and I believe was halted, but am not sure why. A few months ago the water holes turned to mud and the BLM refused to allow advocates to haul in water for some time. If indeed this is a rushed “emergency” gather of wild horses, the thousands of sheep and cattle should also not be allowed back in November.

    More current info here:


    “Many of you have asked what you can do to stop the removal of 783 horses from Sand Wash Basin. We have received many suggestions which we appreciate and will share a couple of links below so you may act.

    We are still working to find out more information and processing what little we do know. We have asked the BLM to explain their numbers. We want to know what the aerial flyover census (completed last week) revealed, how many horses did they count? Is 783 the total number of horses in the Basin? The BLM’s AML (appropriate management level) is set at 163 horses on the low end and 362 horses on the high end. How many do they intend to leave on the range? Their spreadsheet indicates 783 will be captured and 50 returned to the range, 25 mares and 25 stallions. We initially assumed they would go with the low AML and leave a mere 163 horses on the range. But now we understand designating the removal as an emergency allows them to go even lower than the low AML. We are waiting for the BLM response to our questions.

    Today we asked the BLM not to go to low AML, and not to use helicopters, and we expressed disagreement about the emergency designation. SWAT has always made it known we do not support helicopter removals, as advocates of course we would have no other stance. Bait and trap are bad enough but helicopter removals are flat out inhumane. We believe the AML is set artificially low, and the HMA can sustain a larger number than 163 while still maintaining a healthy range.

    We mentioned before we have expected a removal for quite some time. We have known our local BLM has requested gathers for the past few years, but they were not approved. In April of this year the BLM put out an EA (environmental assessment) in which they detailed their plan for a gather and requested public comments and input. We shared that document here on our page and asked you comment and make your opinions known. We responded thoroughly to each point in the EA and offered alternatives. They offered 3 options, none of them were agreeable to us. The first option called for the removal of approximately 672 horses over a 10 year period (our interpretation of their document) taking the herd down to low AML 163. The emergency gather calls for a removal of 783 horses to take place within the month of September, a difference of 111 horses from their original EA.

    We are not surprised at the gather, but we are surprised at the emergency designation. We are not happy about the number to be removed, the speed of removal, or the method. We don’t think we alone can stop the removal but we hope to influence the BLM to remove the emergency designation, reduce the numbers and change to bait and trap vs helicopter.

    Here are a couple of links that you can use to express your concern and voice your opinion, there are many other suggestions in the comments on our original post:

    Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper:
    Podcast with wildlife biologist Erik Molvar: S6. E17:

    Here is the info from the BLM valid through Feb. 2021:


    Includes Sand Wash, Lower Sand Wash, and Three C Wash

    Authorization Number: 0501066

    Sand Wash:
    Livestock number 5550 (sheep) from November 15 -Feb 28. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 3714.
    Livestock number 5550 (sheep) from March 1-May 15. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 2663.

    Lower Sand Wash:
    Livestock number 48 (sheep) from November 15 – Feb 28. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 32.
    Livestock number 48 (sheep) from March 1-May 31. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 28.
    Livestock number 150 (cattle) from October 16 – Jan 15. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 436.
    Livestock number 150 (cattle) from April 16 – May 31. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 218.

    Three C Wash:
    Livestock number 415 (sheep) from November 15-Feb 28. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 278.
    Livestock number 415 (sheep) from March 1 – May 15. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 199.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Simultaneous double count???? Seriously, does this mean 2 people simultaneously counting at the same time? in a plane or helicopter? So they really dont have a clue as to the actual number of Wild Horses. I know I asked this before (and someone answered me) but what is the difference between a “Herd Area” & a “Herd Management Area”? There certainly doesnt appear to be a difference in how the Wild Horse population is “managed” in either area, nor a difference in the quantity of livestock turned out in either one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I suggest that you contact the BLM (public relations?) and ask them to answer your question.

        It is my understanding that the WH&B statistics are part of a larger Federal Land Statistics report provided on an annual basis – but I am not sure. This link might help to explain it:

        In addition, here are two links that are relative and revealing to recent past BLM WH&B statistics:

        “WHY is this so important? Because these are the statistics that BLM gives to Congress when requesting funding for wild horse and burro capture and management plans, including the recent report to Congress “Management Options for a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program” which recommends killing (misidentified as “euthanasia”) 10,000 wild horses and burros, massive roundups of 50,000 wild horses and burros currently living legally on our public lands, then sterilizing 80% of the wild horses and burros that remain and removing limitations on sale of these wild horses and burros, which exposes them to a high risk of sale to slaughter. These false statements are a federal crime punishable by prison and a fraudulent action against the American public in addition to being a travesty against our wild horses and burros.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maggie – Simultaneous double count method of aerial census is more complicated than I can explain but generally here are a few things to consider and also suggest you look it up online. Generally BLM has four observers (per FOIA data) in a helicopter, which includes the pilot. Each observer is supposed to note (in writing) how many animals they observe and then those results are to be compared for an end result. Of course BLM does it with some highly questionable methods. They use a helicopter and often fly so close as to chase the animals (FOIA photos prove this). BLM flight paths are so close to each other to easily count the same animals more than once. BLM counts on multiple days (often four days) therefore since horses and burros are moving this again points to the likely-hood of counting animals more than once (BLM flight paths per FOIA). Anyone who has participated in wildlife aerial observation studies will agree that after the first few hours the observers experience “observer fatigue” which may not sound important but it is and adds to the likely-hood of inaccurate counts. Like I said, this is more complicated than I can explain but hope it will be a start for your understanding. One more thing … follow the money … are the observers volunteers or being paid by BLM!!!??? If you are being paid by BLM then you already KNOW what results are expected of you… ugh.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks GG – your explanation is certainly lots clearer than the BLM’s actual “counting”. Makes absolutely NO sense to me having four people in the same helicopter & as you said, likely flying low. But then havent seen or heard of any project of the BLM’s that isnt done in the most convoluted way possible. And Yes, I’m sure whoever or whatever these “observers” are they KNOW what they’re there for.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. And the BLM’s version of “explanation” sure is less clear than yours, GG
    This from BLM in 2010!

    Underestimating the numbers of wild horses and burros by hundreds of animals in large HMAs has led to unplanned gather, removal, adoption and holding costs; delays in achieving and maintaining AML; and public controversy.

    The accuracy and precision of the current direct count inventory method have proven to be UNRELIABLE, especially in large areas with tree cover and broken topography. Statistically valid estimation techniques are needed to account for the animals not observed during inventories and to assure accurate and credible population estimates.

    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.