39 federally-protected wild horses including small foals, perished in operations
RENO, NV (August 22, 2023) — Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the conclusion of two controversial large-scale capture operations in eastern Nevada, which unfortunately resulted in the tragic deaths of 39 federally-protected wild horses.
The operation took place within the 1.2 million-acre public lands area known as the Antelope Complex, spanning from Elko to Ely and encompassing four wild horse Herd Management Areas (HMA). The BLM awarded contracts totaling $798,000 to Cattoor Livestock of Nephi, Utah, a livestock company with a controversial reputation, to conduct the helicopter operation. Due to the vast size of the horses' habitat, the operation was divided into north and south sections and conducted simultaneously.
The 43-day operation faced significant controversy and public outrage, particularly after on-the-ground observers from the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) captured photo and video footage of a captured palomino stallion escaping the trap by jumping fence panels. Tragically, the stallion broke his hind left leg in the process, leading to his demise. Other notable deaths included:
- 11 foals who succumbed to dehydration, colic, fractures, or were euthanized by the BLM due to physical deformities.
- 9 adult mustangs who suffered broken necks, legs, hips, or shoulders.
- 8 otherwise healthy horses, which the BLM claimed were partially blind, were euthanized as a result.
"Roundups not only lead to inhumane abuse and needless deaths of our wild horses and burros but also impose a heavy burden on taxpayers. Moreover, these practices have proven to be both fiscally irresponsible and scientifically unsound," said Suzanne Roy, executive director for AWHC. "It is crucial for the agency to abandon these outdated methods and embrace a more humane and effective approach through the use of safe and proven fertility control. This will not only put an end to the unnecessary suffering and deaths of our wild horses but also ensure the long-term stability of their populations in their natural habitats."
In July, both the U.S. Senate and House Committees on Appropriations advanced bipartisan language, included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies funding bills and accompanying reports, calling for the increased use of fertility control vaccines, and allocated $11 million of the agency’s budget toward this humane, proven management method. The House committee further included language urging the BLM to consider alternatives to the use of helicopters, laying the groundwork for the agency to shift the way it manages wild horses.
About the American Wild Horse Campaign
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation's leading organization dedicated to protecting wild horses, with over 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is committed to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America's wild herds, AWHC implements the world's largest wild horse fertility control program through a partnership with the State of Nevada for the wild horses that reside in the Virginia Range near Reno. ###