North Lander Wild Horse Roundup

On July 1, 2024, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to conduct a wild horse helicopter roundup in Wyomong’s North Lander Herd Management Area (HMA) Complex. The complex includes Muskrat Basin, Conant Creek, Rock Creek, and Dishpan Butte HMAs. Located north of Jeffrey City, this Complex spans over 375,000 acres of land, 90% of which are BLM operated. The BLM is contracting Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. to conduct the operation for $613,575. The taxpayers are footing the bill. 

 

 The roundup aims to capture 2,806 wild horses and remove 2,766 of those gathered. The BLM has authorized the use of gelding up to 95% of the captured and returned stallions as well as administering intrauterine devices (IUDs) and unstudied fertility control. The roundup intends to lower the wild horse population in an effort to achieve an unfounded Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 320-536 horses.

AWHC is on the ground at this operation, read our daily reports below.

July 19, 2024:

Location: Muskrat Basin, WY

 

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures in the low 70s during the roundup operations.

 

Summary: The BLM’s stated goal for today was to target a band of eight horses. One helicopter brought in the band, which included one foal, into the wings of the trap within the first fifteen minutes of operation. The foal was temporarily left behind until a rider came in from behind and chased the foal into the trap. The gather was done by 9:00am. 

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports):   

8 (4 Stallions, 3 Mares, and 1 Foals) Captured

 

Observations and Events: BLM instructed that observation of temporary holding would require a five hour wait. Instead, AWHC volunteers drove to Muskrat Basin to observe the landscape after all the roundups from the week. In several hours of driving, very few horses were seen. 

A small band, including foals, that evaded capture this week.

 

July 17, 2024:

Location: Muskrat Basin HA

 

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures during gather operations ranging from mid-60s to high-80s. 

 

Summary: Today’s observer witnessed several families of horses being pushed towards the trap, many including foals. Unfortunately, the run behind the jute is below low hills and difficult to see. As three trailers departed for temporary holding, helicopters continued to push more horses into the trap. Despite lower temperatures in the morning, the heat felt intense due to lack of wind. Throughout the roundup, temperatures rose and horses became increasingly sweaty, raising concern for overexhaustion. 

 

To date, this was the longest and hottest day for North Lander’s roundup. Surpassing 91 degrees, the BLM ended operations; the roundup lasted too long for public observation of holding.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

127 (58 Stallions, 55 Mares, and 14 Foals) Captured

76 (24 Stallions, 39 Mares, and 13 Foals) Shipped

One of several trailers transporting mustangs to holding.

Young foal trying to keep pace with adult mustangs.

Horses being pushed past grazing cattle. 

July 16, 2024:

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures during roundup operations ranging from 60 to mid-80s. 

 

Summary: Pending observation reports.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

80 (27 Stallions, 39 Mares, and 14 Foals) Captured

188 (121 Stallions, 53 Mares, and 14 Foals) Shipped

July 15, 2024:

Location: Muskrat Basin, WY

 

Weather Conditions: High of 88 degrees, rain in the middle of the day with wind

 

Summary: Same trap location as yesterday. Observed 66 horses being rounded up throughout the day. Two groups of about ten horses each took over 45 minutes to round up as the horses kept running away, back to where they had come from. One group had two tiny foals in it, but they kept up with the herd. The roundup ended when the wind began picking up. 

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

66 (25 Stallions, 27 Mares, and 14 Foals) Captured

218 (64 Stallions, 103 Mares, and 51 Foals) Shipped

Observations and Events: Observed the horses in temporary holding at Conant Creek after being rounded up. They are in good condition—no injuries or deaths today. The captured foals have “mothered up.” The horses are on private property so we were not permitted to stay more than ten minutes to observe them. The horses will be shipped to Wheatland for short term holding, which is a private facility with no public access. 

July 14, 2024:

Location: Muskrat Basin, WY

 

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures from the low 60s to mid 80s during gather operations.

 

Summary: Today two helicopters chased several large groups of horses into the trap, gathering about 250 by the end of the day. The helicopters had to work together to roundup untiring, scattering horses. Several families were split up. There was one group of pintos that took a long time to bring in—we saw only the helicopters, no horses, for about thirty minutes. Eventually, by the end of the day, two large groups were brought in. The second group had many colorful pintos and some bays. At the end of the day, the horses, including captured foals, were moved to temporary holding, which we did not get to tour. We heard foals whinnying after being separated from their mothers. The foal and family that had escaped the day before continued to run free - running past observers as the helicopter pulled in three bands a mile away. Our observer watched around four bands evade the trap this morning.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

257 ((91 Stallions, 114 Mares, and 52 Foals) Captured

167 (48 Stallions, 76 Mares, and 43 Foals)  Shipped

 

4 Deaths.

  • A 4-yr-old bay mare suffered a broken neck while being transported in a trailer. 
  • A 15-yr-old bay mare suffered a brain aneurysm, determined by necropsy.
  • A foal was euthanized due to loose ligaments.
  • A black mare foal had a congenital spinal deformity and was euthanized. 

Observations and Events: Yesterday, a foal was euthanized due to loose ligaments. However, the BLM will not include this death in roundup reports since the foal did not reach the trap and so, is considered “not captured.” The BLM projected returning at least 40 horses to the complex, treating 20 mares with GonaCon. However, the actual roundup treated and released 0 horses.

July 13, 2024:

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures from the low 60s to mid 80s during roundup operations.

 

Summary: 

The observation site was 1.5 miles from the trap site with low visibility. One horse was roped. A few horses jumped the trap. A little foal and their family escaped the helicopters. 

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

251 (115 Stallions, 93 Mares, and 43 Foals) Captured

37 (13 Stallions, 16 Mares, and 8 Foals) Shipped

 

The foal who escaped the helicopters with her family

 

July 12, 2024:

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures from the low 60s to low 80s during roundup operations.

 

Summary: 

No observers on site.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

33 (9 Stallions, 16 Mares, and 8 Foals) Captured

163 (75 Stallions, 63 Mares, and 25 Foals) Shipped

July 11, 2024:

Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy and breezy with temperatures during roundup operations ranging from the low 60s to low 90s.

 

Summary: 

No observers on site.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

129 (47 Stallions, 56 Mares, and 26 Foals) Captured

168 (43 Stallions, 91 Mares, and 34 Foals) Shipped

July 10, 2024: 

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures during roundup operations ranging from 60 to 85 degrees.

 

Summary: 

No observers on site.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

194 (65 Stallions, 97 Mares, and 32 Foals) Captured

155 (62 Stallions, 70 Mares, and 23 Foals) Shipped

July 9, 2024:

Weather Conditions: Sunny with temperatures during roundup operations between lows in the 50s and highs in the mid-80s.

 

Summary: 

No observers on site.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

159 (64 Stallions, 71 Mares, and 24 Foals) Captured

169 (53 Stallions, 84 Mares, and 32 Foals) Shipped

 

4 Deaths.

  • A bay foal stud and a bay foal mare died in temporary holding due to capture myopathy; CM occurs when animals overexert themselves (i.e. running too hard or struggling in a trap) to the point of severe muscle damage. Hotter temperatures increase the risk of animals suffering from CM.  
  • A 12-year-old bay paint stallion was euthanized due to a preexisting head injury and an 
  • 8-year-old bay stallion was euthanized due to a previously broken right rear pastern.  

July 8, 2024:

Location: Muskrat Basin HMA

Weather Conditions: Sunny with lows in the 50s and highs in the lower 80s.

Summary: 
Three members of the public attended the roundup. Similar to the day prior, the trap was not visible and horses appeared indistinguishable. Once again, the contractors violated several BLM welfare standards; overexerting horses and foals, failing to use pressure and release protocol, constructing dangerous traps with no dust abatement, agitating trapped horses, and overcrowding traps. Conducted by Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., horses were transported to Poston Ranch for temporary holding and shipped to Wheatland, WY for short term holding. Both private and inaccessible to the public.

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 
155 (54 Stallions, 70 Mares, and 31 Foals) Captured
169 (78 Stallions, 59 Mares, and 32 Foals) Shipped

Observations and Events: 

  • Helicopters chased several horse groups, simultaneously.
  • Bands were repeatedly chased up and down steep, rugged hills chaotically.
  • Two helicopters flew for hours, constantly refueling then returning. They chased the same horse groups for hours and failed to bring many in. At the end of the day, some of those groups were trapped from exhaustion. 
  • Many horses evaded capture and ran back to Beaver Rim.
  • Notable number of young foals, many separated from their dams (moms).
  • Traps and holding pens overcrowded.

July 7, 2024:

Location: Rock Creek HMA

Weather Conditions: Weather was mild with lows near 50 and highs in the upper 70s. Winds were light with mostly sunny conditions throughout roundup operations.

 

Summary: 

Three members of the public attended the roundup; the trap was not visible. According to our onsite observer, there were several welfare violations against BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program; foals and horses were overexerted, the trap was dangerously constructed with no dust abatement, and pens were overcrowded. Conducted by Cattoors Livestock Roundup, Inc., horses were transported to Poston Ranch for temporary holding and shipped to Wheatland, WY for short term holding. Both private and inaccessible to the public.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

180 (73 Stallions, 75 Mares, and 32 Foals) Captured

36 (36 Stallions, 0 Mares, and 0 Foals) Shipped

*A Hinny (donkey/horse offspring) was transferred to the Wyoming Brand Inspector.

 

1 Death.

  • A 2-year-old sorrel mare suffered a broken neck at temporary holding.

 

Observations and Events: 

  • Even though the trap wasn’t visible, observers could hear horses whinnying and screaming at the trap area.
  • Three foals fell behind while being pushed towards the trap.
    • An abandoned month-old foal was roped and transported to the trap.
    • A small foal could not keep pace. He laid down in the sage and couldn’t get up for over an hour, despite the helicopters continuing operations. His mother eventually nudged him to stand and they left the trap area.
  • Significant exhaustion and agitation in overcrowded traps and pens.

July 6, 2024:

Summary: No roundup operations on this day.

 

Total Captured Today (from BLM reports): 

0 Captured

173 (38 Stallions, 88 Mares, and 47 Foals) Shipped

 

2 Deaths.

  • A bay foal mare was found deceased at temporary holding. A necropsy determined capture myopathy (CM) to be the cause; CM occurs when animals overexert themselves (i.e. too much running, struggling in a trap) to the point of severe muscle damage. Hotter temperatures increase the risk of animals suffering from CM.
  • A bay yearling stallion was diagnosed with Wobbler Syndrome (cervical vertebral malformation (CVM)). This condition worsens with age. The stallion was euthanized.

July 5, 2024: 

Today the AWHC observer was placed half a mile away from the trap. She could see coming in was fairly well except for the old and rusted-out gas and oil equipment visible with every run. Two rusty metal sheds obstructed a clear view of the trap

 

Today the contractors caught 225 Horses in total. The goal for that HMA was to get 188 horses. They captured 37 more than intended. 88 mares 89 studs 48 colts

 

There were approximately 7 runs 20-40 horses in each. While one helicopter was bringing in a group, the other helicopter was pursuing other horses scattering around us. It did seem that at times the helicopter had gone quite far and was in the air for approximately 45 mins then horses would appear galloping over a hill and down into a ravine. They weren’t trotting into the trap—they were all at a gallop. Once in the trap, lots of whinnying and crying out. It was clearly chaotic.

 

A tiny foal, not even 2 weeks old, was left behind when the stallion and mare were pursued and ran into the trap leaving foal behind. The three got displaced when the stallion continuously snaked his mare over and over while at the same time, the helicopter was overhead. The stallion and mare were pushed to the trap but the foal left to wander. A wrangler on horseback rode out and carefully and gently roped the foal and slowly walked him/her to the trap. Apparently, unable to find its mother, the vet or someone took the baby to town in the back seat of a truck. Our observer was told told it was checked out, vitals, and electrolytes then eventually taken to temp holding to try to reunite with its mother. When she asked how the foal was doing one person said that the foal and mother were back together successfully. But when they got to temp holding, she asked the BLM if the pair found each other and the BLM said not yet but “there is one mare who seemed interested in the foal.”

 

At temp holding, she saw that a light grey Jenny burro had been captured with the bunch. And a beautiful Appaloosa with a beautiful white blanket on the rump. 

 

There were no visible injuries. 

July 4, 2024:

On Independence Day this year, AWHC observer Lynn Hanson was on the ground at the North Lander wild horse roundup. She witnessed 25 horses captured today. There was one death at temporary holding. A 3-year-old stallion broke his neck at temporary holding.

 

The trap site was approximately 1/2 mile away and was visible. These horses came in and she only witnessed two high-strung stallions in fighting mode. From what she could see, there appeared only to be one tiny palomino pinto foal, a spitting image of its mother.

 

 She witnessed a beautiful lone bay horse casually, curiously watching as the others get chased by a helicopter. He remained free. 


 

While we were observing the helicopter pushing horses into the trap, a hundred cows moved in our direction, and then they were right there with us, only a few feet away, making all kinds of noise, and mooing loudly.

There was no viewing at temp holding today due to it being a holiday.

July 3, 2024:  AWHC’s observer Lynn Hanson is on the ground at the North Lander wild horse round up.  Today, 111 wild horses were captured from the wild. 

 

 The helicopter pursued one band in particular for over an hour. They tried to bring them in the day before but failed. Today they relentlessly attempted to push them into the trap but the horses just stood still under the blades unfazed. The pilot gave up (or ran out of fuel) and left the scene. He did return a short while later and eventually pushed them into the trap along with some other horses. 

On July 1 two stallions escaped the trap and ran off in separate directions. The following morning, July 2, we saw they had joined. The helicopter pilot pursued them numerous times throughout the day but these two outsmarted the pilot. On July 3, the pair had joined up with 7 other defiant horses. The pilot brought them in and at the last minute, the two had broken away once again. AWHC observer Lynn called this group the Wayward Ones, a fitting name for a defiant herd of mustangs.

 

During the day, a foal was found wandering, alone. A wrangler on horseback roped him. He resisted and put up a good fight,  but was eventually brought in. The BLM said he was an orphaned foal. There’s no telling how long he was wandering on the range, alone. He was sent to the vet in town.

At temporary holding, our observer saw at least 3 foals lying down in temp holding pens completely spent. It was really sad. 

 

July 2, 2024: Today seemed to be a slow but relentless time for the helicopter in the sky. The horses were not having it so the helicopter stayed on them for what seemed like hours to the point of exhaustion.

There were two deaths today. A 10-year-old grey mare was kicked by another horse at the temporary holding corrals, resulting in a head fracture. 

 At temporary holding, the onsite veterinarian diagnosed a foal with Wobbler Syndrome The foal was euthanized.

When we went temporary holding, the waiting time to view the horses was almost 3 hours. Again, the BLM staff clearly demonstrated they were not interested in giving the observers/photographers the proper viewing opportunity. 

July 1, 2024: 383 wild horses lost their freedom today

Today was the first day of operations at the North Lander wild horse roundup. Two helicopters were in the air almost continuously, either bringing horses in or searching for them. While the horses weren't pushed too hard, it often took up to half an hour to finally bring them in, as the horses frequently outsmarted the helicopters. There were two runs per hour for a total of six runs. Many of these runs had small foals in them. 
We are at a minimum of half a mile from the trap. A hill obscures viewing. We can see the chute but not the sorting corral.

Temporary holding:

Our observer noted overcrowding at the temporary holding pens, with nearly 400 horses crammed together unable to move. This level of overcrowding led to significant agitation among the animals, evidenced by constant noise, high-pitched whinnying, and the frequent banging of iron as the horses struggled to move.

Specific concerns from the da

  1. Foals in Distress:
    • Numerous foals struggled to keep up with the pace of the herd.
    • A two-week-old foal was found on the road, injured in one leg. The foal was roped and brought back to temporary corrals in hopes of reuniting with its mother. 
  2. Stallion's Attempted Escape:
    • One stallion managed to escape the trap, running back in search of his family. He then ran towards the observers, galloping up a hill before stopping to stare back at the scene. The stallion appeared sweaty and exhausted, highlighting the extreme stress and physical exertion the horses were subjected to.
  3. Injuries and Observations:
    • Observers noted a stallion with a gash on his neck. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) claimed it was a pre-existing wound.
    • The overcrowded conditions left many horses leaning against the fencing, unable to find space to turn or move freely.

Observers were not permitted to stop and examine the pens at the temporary holding area. They were also prohibited from taking pictures, limiting the ability to fully document the conditions and the welfare of the horses.