Nevada BLM set to discuss use of motorized vehicles to manage wild horses

Wild horse helicopter roundup. National Geographic.


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KIBS | KBOV TV, BATTLE MOUNTAIN, NV. (22. Jun. 2020) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Nevada will host its annual statewide public hearing to discuss the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles and aircraft in the monitoring and management of wild horses and burros on public lands in Nevada.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, 2020, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Lander County Courthouse located at 50 NV-305, Battle Mountain, NV 89820. For the health and safety of participants, wearing of masks during the public meeting will be mandatory and all other CDC and Nevada health guidelines will be followed.

The purpose of the hearing, required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, is to solicit public comment on the use of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to estimate wild horse or burro population size and the use of helicopters to gather and remove excess animals. The hearing will also consider the use of motorized vehicles to transport gathered wild horse or burros, as well as, to conduct field monitoring activates.

Nevada’s statewide wild horse and burro population numbers currently exceed 51,500 animals, which is more than 400 percent of the approved appropriate management level of 12,811. Having an overabundance of wild horses and burros above BLM management levels may cause resource damage resulting in limited forage and water availability, which reduces the number of animals that the land can support.

“Helicopter and motorized vehicle usage is a critical tool for managing wild horses and burros on public lands,” said Ruth Thompson, BLM Nevada’s Wild Horse and Burro State Lead. “These management tools allow us to conduct aerial population surveys, monitor animal distribution, conduct safe and effective gathers, and transport captured animals in a humane and efficient manner.”

Since legislated removals began in 1976, the BLM Nevada has removed more than 161,196 wild horses and burros from Nevada’s rangelands. Over 5,477 of those animals have been adopted or sold locally; the majority of animals gathered in Nevada shipped to other states for adoption, sale or older animals are sent to off-range pastures to live out the remainder of their lives.

If you cannot attend the hearing, written comments must be mailed to the BLM Battle Mountain District Office, attention: Jess Harvey, 50 Bastian Rd, Battle Mountain, NV 89820 and must be received by close of business on June 25, 2020, to be considered.

EDITOR’S NOTE. Here is the BLM Battle Mountain Office contact information. Feel free to email them before the deadline. They close at 4:30 pm Pacific time. Comments must be in writing.

Please do this right now while you are thinking about it. Thank you!

Mailing Address:
50 Bastian Road, Battle Mountain, NV 89820


Phone: 775-635-4000
Fax: 775-635-4034
TTY/Federal Relay System:

Want to fax and don’t have a fax machine? Try eFax. They are conducting a free trial.

Fund for Horses Logo

BLM breaks promise to Congress and public to protect wild horses

BLM budgets millions for helicopter contractors to round up last of the wild horses and solicits for sterilization of mares and stallions in the wild

The Cloud Foundation Logo


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (Feb. 8, 2014) — For twenty years Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, has documented wild horses for PBS/Nature’s award-winning films, making her the country’s leading expert on wild horse behavior.

Upon hearing that the BLM budgeted two $6 Million contracts for helicopter roundups in 2014 and $1.5 million for plans to sterilize the stallions and mares she said:

“The BLM is breaking their promise to Congress and to the American public. The case can be made that this is their final solution to rid the range of our wild horses. They have made a mockery of the Wild Horse and Burro Act, an Act designed to preserve, not destroy wild horse families.”

The Cloud Foundation advocates for economical, sustainable methods for managing wild horses and burros “on the range,” many of which were recommended in the June 2013, National Academy of Science (NAS) Report: Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward (pdf). The report states: current BLM Management practices (helicopter roundups and removals of horses from the range) are facilitating high rates of population growth.

BLM is on a collision course with reality. It appears they intend to continue inhumane and expensive helicopter roundups and removals of wild horses and burros when long and short term holding corrals are filled beyond capacity.

Will BLM simply castrate stallions and spay mares then return them to the wild, creating dead end herds and destroying the rich and complex society that Kathrens has documented over the years?

In Oct. 2013 the BLM issued a request for information for Wild Horse and Burro Sterilization or Contraception: Development of Techniques and Protocols, inviting research project ideas for the permanent sterilization or contraception of either male or female wild horses and/or burros in the field.

Does the BLM intend to showcase the few herd areas where PZP is effectively controlling population growth with the intent to annihilate the rest by creating non-reproducing herds? Maybe this what Ed Roberson, BLM’s assistant director of resources and planning referred to in The Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2014 article “U.S. Looking for Ideas to Help Manage Wild-Horse Overpopulation“.

“This is my fear,” Kathrens says. “It is a fact that there are few mustangs left in the wild. The majority of our wild herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable. The charge of overpopulation is a joke aimed at hoodwinking the media and the public.

“Rather than spend $1.5 million for further studies the BLM needs to use the tools it has. Effective use of the proven and reversible fertility vaccine PZP will curtail population growth in an economical, sustainable way with no need for helicopter roundups.

“On-the-range management is being practiced in the Pryor Mountains of Montana, the McCullough Peaks of Wyoming, the Little Book Cliffs of Colorado, and it is being considered for the Onaqui wild horse herd in Utah,” said Kathrens.

“PZP has successfully controlled population in the Assateague National Seashore where wild horses have been darted with the drug for decades. Instead, the BLM treated only 332 mares of the 4702 wild horses rounded up in 2013.”

The Cloud Foundation contends that BLM’s management of wild horses and burros on our public lands is wrong on every level:

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Helicopter Flight Service – Wild Horse and Burro – Contract D13PC00091
Wild Horse and Burro Flight Services – Contract D13PC00079
Original Herds in — 1971 This map from the BLM shows all the Herd Areas in the US–where all wild horses were to be protected in 1971 when the law was passed.
Herds Today
BLM Completed FY 2013 Gathers

Feds continue to favor cattle grazing over welfare of wild horses; by News Editor at EquiMed; 6 Feb. 14

Stats show live trapping of wild horses deadlier than helicopter roundups

Bait-trapped wild horses in Oregon. Photo by Vince Patton.
Three wild horses pace nervously in a passive bait trap in the mountains outside John Day, Oregon. They took the bait, hay on the forest floor, but tripped a wire which closed a gate behind them.

The article that follows this introduction is a most relevant report.

First of all, the Fund for Horses are strongly opposed to the removal of wild horses from the range by any means or device.

However, we have often been told by wild horse roundup experts that bait trapping is more humane than helicopter roundups. Perhaps it is, if such a thing is really possible. To me it is like saying there are better ways to slaughter horses than others. How can that be? It can’t. It is all diabolical.

However, is bait trapping wild horses less deadly than helicopter roundups. One reporter found that in Oregon bait trapping — percentage wise — is deadlier.

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OPB Oregon Public Radio REPORT
Source Link

In the mountains outside John Day, Ore., a wild horse made a tasty find. Hay was strewn about on the forest floor. As she went to eat, the mare took one step too far, tripping a line that slammed a gate closed behind her. She had trapped herself.

On August 4, 2012, a government contractor backed his rig up to the passive trap, preparing to haul the wild horse to the Bureau of Land Management corral in Burns, Oregon.

The mare wanted nothing to do with it. As the contractor tried to load her into the trailer, the mare fled in fright, slammed into the metal bars of the trap and broke her neck.

Faced with a horse crippled and in pain, the horse trapper had just one option. He euthanized her.

Fatal injuries like this are more often associated in the public eye with helicopter roundups, which have led to substantial protests over the last few years. However, data shows passive traps have been even more lethal in Oregon.

And once they’ve made it to the corrals, records show that wild horses aren’t out of danger.

Records obtained from the BLM show that passive traps in Oregon have been more deadly than helicopter roundups were in the state.

Long time critics of BLM roundups have praised bait traps for being the most humane way to capture mustangs.

Once horses make it to the BLM’s short-term corrals or long-term holding pastures, it’s generally accepted that the horses will live longer than they likely would in the wild. They get hay and fresh water and face none of the competition they would on the range.

However, corral life is deadlier than many people realize.

BLM’s “Dead and Destroyed” reports, obtained by OPB through the Freedom of Information Act, show that 199 horses died in the Burns corral between 2010 and 2013.

Comparisons to survival of free roaming horses are nearly impossible. The BLM does not track how many horses die while living on the range.


Captivity Deadly for Some Wild Horses

Anatomy of a Roundup, Swasey 2013, Cloud Foundation Video

Swasey Herd Roundup 2013 Utah. The Cloud Foundation image.

The Cloud Foundation


Despite 16 inches of snow 48 hours before the roundup began, the BLM was committed to starting on schedule. As snowplows opened dirt roads closed by deep drifts, I spoke with the BLM’s Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) who cited “contractor availability” as the reason for scheduling the first ever winter roundup of the Swasey.

It was also the stated reason for proceeding with the operation as scheduled despite unfavorable conditions. What about the wild horses, I thought? Why isn’t their welfare the most important consideration?

The Cloud Foundation Video Report

Kathrens reports on February 14, 2013, a bay colt was unnecessarily separated from his mother. She states:

I was distracted watching the wranglers separate a cremello foal from the grey mare’s family. I didn’t notice that the bay colt’s family had been loaded into the front compartment of a trailer. Then they loaded more adult horses into the second compartment.

Instead of putting the bay colt in the back compartment so he could ride safely with his parents, they loaded three adults from another band in back. The colt called and called, and his mother answered, but the trailer pulled away without him. The colt kept calling and circled the pen, looking for a way out. He charged the fence, launched his body in the air, but fell backwards, failing to clear the six-foot barrier.

He called again and I could hear his mother answer as the trailer drove away. I agonized with the foal as he continued to whinny for his family. What incredible cruelty, I thought. In an instant his life changed forever.