FOIA Reveals 9% of Population At BLM's Largest Holding Facility Dies in One Year

According to records provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in response to an American Wild Horse Conservation (AWHC) Freedom of Information Act request, a staggering 267 wild horses died in 2023 at the Fallon (Indian Lakes) Off Range Corral. This is the agency's largest short-term holding facility. 


On average, Fallon facility houses a just over 3,000 horses and has the capacity to house  7,600 animals. The recently released records show that approximately 11% of its population died last year, a much higher mortality rate than is routinely reported by BLM for its off-range holding facilities. 


Of the 267 deaths, 23 horses died before they were even "processed" (branded, vaccinated) and entered into the BLM’s system. 


Most alarming was the concentration of 106 deaths whose causes were listed as  “Undiagnosed/Unknown.” Shockingly, the notes on the records reveal that all the animals were found dead in their pens. This means that the BLM does not know what caused the deaths of 40% of the horses who died in 2023. 

Further, the records raise concerns about the BLM policy of euthanizing for non-life-threatening conditions like eye abnormalities and cryptorchidism. Euthanasia for these non-fatal conditions caused the death of 30 horses


Of those, 28 horses died during the gelding process due to “gelding complications.” The records do not offer any explanation for these deaths other than the note “died during gelding.” In domestic horses, gelding is a routine and safe procedure with a low mortality rate.  

Finally, 49 wild horses died from traumatic injuries that caused broken bone(s), and were listed as unexpected/acute deaths.  


Ominously, this unacceptable mortality rate will only climb as the facility expands toward its holding capacity of an unbelievable 7,600 confined wild horses in the face of the BLM's continued mass roundup plans. 


These records highlight the perilous situation facing the 64,000 wild horses and burros confined in the BLM's vast holding system and are a cautionary tale about the dark side of the agency's roundup and removal program.

AWHC remains steadfast in its commitment to hold the federal government accountable for these unacceptable deaths and failure to ensure the well-being of our federally protected wild horses and burros. We continue to provide Congress with our investigative findings as evidence of the critical need to reform this broken, costly and inhumane system. 


The records can be seen here