Roundup Report: The Wild Horses of the Wyoming Checkerboard

PROPERTY OF AWHCThe Checkerboard region in Wyoming includes five separate Herd Management Areas (HMAs), Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, White Mountain and Little Colorado, and spans 3.4 million acres. The BLM’s unscientifically low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the HMAs – the number of horses the agency claims that the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses – is just 1,550–2,165 horses. This population limit was established based on the allocation of 91% of available forage in these areas to cattle and sheep, privately owned by the Rock Springs Grazing Association.

The BLM’s plan for the horses would reduce their numbers to the low AML of 1,550, at a density of 1 horse per 2,217 acres. The BLM’s plan would permanently remove 3,555 wild horses—or nearly 50 percent of the state’s total wild horse population—making this the largest wild horse roundup and removal operation in the Program’s history.

It is time for the BLM to manage wild horse habitat for the wild horses. 


Photo by Kimerlee Curyl

Between three contracts (here, here, and here), this roundup will cost the taxpayers at least $1.23 million to just roundup roughly 4,300 beloved horses from the Checkerboard. Of that, only approximately 800 are planned for return to the HMAs, so the removal will also bring along with it the lifetime cost of approximately $175 million to house the remaining 3,555 horses for the remainder of their lives in government holding corrals. The contractors for this roundup are Cattoor Livestock Roundup Inc. and Shayne Sampson.

On top of that, the taxpayer foots the bill for federally subsidized livestock grazing on public lands as well. The federal grazing fee remains at its historic low of $1.35 per animal per month. That’s a steep discount, thanks to the taxpayer subsidies that prop up this federal entitlement program. (Estimates indicate that the overall cost to taxpayers for the federal grazing program could be as much as $500 million annually.

Helicopters are scheduled to fly starting on October 7, 2021. We will update this report as the operation progresses.


January 17, 2022: 117 wild horses were rounded up today

On the final day of the Checkerboard roundup, we arrived at observation at 8:15 am and were at the same trap site as yesterday. 

 The helicopter could be seen shortly after at 8:30 am coming from the south with a group of around 15 horses with an additional 15 horse group coming from the west. 

At 8:40 the first group of around 15 was in the trap and the second group followed shortly after at 9:00 with a lone horse that was left alone that couldn't keep up.

The horse, known as "Jonah" to those who follow the White Mountain horses, was eventually driven toward the trap and cantered in at 9:03 am despite his large knees. I was later told he would be euthanized due to his knees.

20 minutes later at 9:23, another group of 35-40 came from over a large ridge to the south of the trap. 

They were trapped at 9:52 and then the helicopter left and wasn't seen again until almost 2 hours later at 11:43 with a large group of over 60. This group could be observed coming toward the trap at a trot likely from having been driven from such a long distance. They were trapped at 12:09 and this final group marked the conclusion of the roundup.

I made it to temporary holding around 4:30. I was told there were no deaths or injuries though some horses would be euthanized the following day (1/18) including the horse 'Jonah' with the large knee and the mare with the unknown condition that did not improve that was brought in yesterday. 

63 stallions are supposed to be released on 1/18 with the additional 3 due to having over caught 120 horses from the 117 needed to finish out the roundup.

Mares treated with PZP are likely to be released on the following Friday or Saturday (1/21-1/22) with an undetermined release date for the mares treated with IUDs.

January 16, 2022: 134 horses were captured. There were no deaths

The following report is from photographer Somer McCain who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

Today we arrived at the observation point at 8:10 am. The site was approximately half a mile away from the trap and across a highway. The trap itself was behind a ridge with limited visibility but the entirety of the jute funnel could be seen from observation.

The runs: 

  • At 9:17 the helicopter could first be seen west-southwest at a distance and moving multiple groups east toward the trap. The helicopter made its way south of the trap before combining groups and moving the large group of around 30 into the trap at 9:40. Some horses can be observed to be sweaty in photos
  • .After the helicopter went south of the trap, it appeared again at 9:59 and ultimately brought in 40-50 horses at 10:07. The helicopter grounded after this until it left again at 11:18 and headed west. 
  • The helicopter finally returned to view at 12:33 and around 25-30 were finally driven into the trap at 12:59. Shortly after the horses were in the trap 2 wranglers were sent out to retrieve a mare that was left behind and not able to keep up. She was roped and brought into the trap at 1:07. At holding, I was told there was something off with the mare but the vet couldn't determine what exactly was wrong with her at that time. 
  • At 2:08 the helicopter could then be seen again and brought in around 30-40 horses at 2:19. 
  • After, the helicopter went off near the trap behind a ridge and flew low as though they were looking for something or checking an area but ultimately landed 10 minutes after driving horses into the trap. 

After the helicopter landed for the day, we headed to temporary holding, which was north of the trap in Farson, WY. On the way, there a single bay horse could be seen from the highway looking toward it as though he had seen the recently caught trailered horses that had just traveled north. This horse was found not far north of the trap and may have been separated from his herd during the roundup. 

Once at holding around 5 pm we were told 134 horses had been caught with no deaths and only the roped mare with a currently unknown condition. All pens were relatively calm. 

The roundup is expected to come to a conclusion on 1/17 with a small chance it may last an additional day with a new trap site. All stallions will be released on the following day after the conclusion of the roundup.


January 15, 2022: 95 wild horses were rounded up and removed. There were 4 deaths, however, the BLM only listed out the reasoning for 3 of the horses which they euthanized for having clubbed feet (a non-life-threatening condition).

January 14, 2022: 132 wild horses were captured today and there were no deaths reported. 

January 13, 2022: 24 wild horses were captured and there were 5 deaths, however, BLM only gave reasoning for 3 of the horses which they euthanized for having clubbed feet (a non-life-threatening condition).

January 12, 2022: 62 wild horses were captured and there were 3 deaths: The BLM euthanized 2 horses with broken legs, and 1 horse in "poor condition".

January 11, 2022: 48 wild horses were captured and there was 1 death: BLM euthanized a mare with "bad knees"

January 10, 2022: 40 wild horses were captured and there were 4 deaths: A 14-year old mare was euthanized by BLM for being blind, an 8-year old stallion was euthanized by BLM due to a "pre-existing" broken leg, and a 3-year old stallion and 3-year old mare were euthanized by BLM for having clubbed feet, a non-life-threatening condition

January 9, 2022: 50 (20 Mares, 17 Stallions, 13 Foals) were rounded up and removed. 

AWHC did not have an observer onsite today.

January 8, 2022: 107 horses -- 50 mares, 37 stallions, 20 foals -- were captured. 

The following report is by Lynn Hanson of Wild Horses Wild Places who is on the ground for AWHC.

AWHC's field representative was one of two members of the public onsite and was place approximately 1 mile from the trap site which was hidden because it was located in a gully.

We met the BLM at 7:00 am at a truck stop in Farson, Wy. We arrived observation site at 7:50 am The temp stayed at approximately 16° all day. The first run was at 10:30 with the last run at 2:30. Bringing in groups of 10-20 at a time. Sorrel and bay seem to be the color out here although I did see a pinto or two.

January 7, 2022: 112 horses —49 mares, 39 stallions, 27 foals were captured and no deathers were reported today.

The following report is by Lynn Hanson of Wild Horses Wild Places who is on the ground for AWHC.

AWHC's field representative was the only member of the public onsite and was place approximately 1 mile from the trap site which was hidden because it was located in a gully.

It was 13°after bringing in the first big group of horses at 10:30 am the helicopter flew northwest direction. He was gone until 12:45 p.m. At this time the helicopter zoomed back to the trap location to re-fuel, then sped out again. Ten minutes later he was pushing two small groups of horses towards the trap location. At first, I saw a single horse walking exhaustedly, rapid breaths of steam in the frigid air puffed out of his nostrils. He was too tired to even trot. Then another horse caught up with him and they just kept walking.

A band of horses behind them were also walking and for a minute and they all stopped in the road to bunch together and rest while the helicopter continued to circle and hover. They stammered a bit and began trotting behind the first two. Because the helicopter was gone so long, he must have been pushing these horses for many miles. By the time they got close to the trap site, they were clearly exhausted. I could not see if they were sweaty.

When the tired group of horses were brought to the trap, two wranglers appeared on horseback with lassos. Because all the trap activity was hidden from our view, I heard from BLM later that day that one of the colts from this group decided he didn’t want to enter the trap wings so he promptly climbed a small hill. After the colt's family had entered the trap, that’s when the wranglers brought him in.

At temporary holding, viewing the horses is nearly impossible except for ears and hooves. It’s completely taped in tan canvas. I was allowed to take pictures through small openings in the canvas. Fresh water and hay were available. Horses were not agitated. A vet was on sight.

We went to the Rock Springs Holding Corrals to see the 39 mares who had been captured on Day 1, January 6. They were all huddled close together, confused, scared and a few times turned to look at me with desperation in their eyes; almost pleading it seemed. They are absolutely stunning mares, many sorrels with white blazes and long flaxen manes.



January 6, 2022: 119 wild horses captured, 4 dead: One horse died after they suffered a broken back, and the BLM euthanized 3 more: a horse with clubbed foot (non-lethal condition), a horse with a broken leg and a horse with a sway back (non-lethal condition).

The following report is by Lynn Hanson of Wild Horses Wild Places who is on the ground for AWHC.

AWHC's field representative was one of three members of the public onsite. We were placed approximately 1 mile away from trap site which was hidden down in a gully. Only a few feet of the wings of the jute chute was visible from the observation point.

The whole entire day lasted maybe 3 hours. The helicopter brought in 3-4 big groups each time.

At temporary holding, we received a tour by a BLM representative. He explained that the mares in one of the pens will be returned back to the range via an IUD implant. The stallions to be returned were in a pen by themselves, we were pleased to see no high strung behavior and no injuries or problems observed.


January 4, 2022

The following report is by Lynn Hanson of Wild Horses Wild Places who is on the ground for AWHC.

There were no roundup operations took place today. Yesterday I was informed by BLM WY that roundup operations were scheduled to resume today. I received no email notice last evening with regard to the roundup, details, or whether operations will be cancelled due to Rock Springs Severe Weather Alert today through Wednesday.

At 10:30 AM today I finally received an email from BLM on resuming operations in the White Mountain and Little Colorado HMA’s in the next few days. So I paid a visit to the Rock Springs Holding Facility where most of the mares who were captured from the Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town HMA’s, wander aimlessly or stand around, the light in their eyes fading with their heads hanging low. The foal pen is small, packed with young ones who have a lot of energy and need to run. I watched one dynamic colt race around, darting back and forth, back and forth. Now that’s a stallion in the making. If only he was still wild and free. They all deserve to be.





December 7, 2021: 35 stallions from Adobe Town were released today.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

Two trailers with 12 stallions each from Adobe Town just pulled up and open their doors and the stallions ran out fast, a magnificent red stallion with a blaze face leading the way and black, grays, sorrels ran forming a line and out to the base of a bluff still running in single file as they disappeared into the distance and dust. These 35 being released today were in captivity the shortest time, just overnight, because they were captured yesterday.

The rest of the 73 Adobe Town stallions will be released sometime in the next couple of weeks, along with the 173 mares being given PZP and the 31 mares receiving IUDs who will be released last as they are being kept for 14 days for observation before release.

The last trailer came up and a big all-white stallion 20 years old from the marks on his rear led the way. He was determined to get the heck out of there and everyone followed him, sorrels, grays, blacks and they almost ran down the road into the area where the contractor was tearing down the trap but they were headed off and ultimately ended up going the same direction as the earlier group, stopping for nothing.

I was told that they plan to get the 73 remaining stallions and 205 mares released as soon as possible, in the next two weeks.

December 6, 2021: 69 wild horses were captured today and there was 1 death after the BLM euthanized an 18-year-old stallion for arthritis. The Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek roundup portion has concluded.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

I am at the meeting spot for observation of the Adobe Town roundup this morning. Everyone is hoping that this is the last day of roundup operations. It has been two long months of hell for the horses and for those who care about them. There are only 60 horses left to capture from 1,137 that they have planned for Adobe Town. The unseasonably dry weather allowed the contractor to capture all of these horses in less than 10 days. Yesterday 97 stallions were released into Adobe Town and 38 mares given PZP were released into Salt Wells Creek.

Here is what still needs to happen:

  • 108 more stallions will be released into Adobe Town.
  • 173 mares given PZP will be released into Adobe Town.
  • 7 mares with IUDs will be released into Salt Wells Creek and 31 mares with IUDs will be released into Adobe Town. They are keeping the mares receiving IUDs for at least 14 days at the Rock Springs corrals for observation.

The third chapter of the largest roundup in history is scheduled to begin January 3 for White Mountain and Little Colorado - if weather permits. If it does not, they will have to wait until next summer.

At the Adobe Town roundup, It is quiet and cold today no wind and one big group of horses 10 or so and two smaller groups were captured and now the helicopter has been gone for a long time. The helicopter was gone for a long time then we saw small groups trickle in around us. I was the only observer today and staff from Rock Springs was here with me.

We saw a band with a bay mare and foal with the rest of the family black come running by us away from the direction of the trap. They had dried sweat on them but were running easily. Then the pilot gathered the other groups up into a big group of 23 and drove them into the trap. He went back out and I was afraid he was going to get the little family that ran by us but he got two other families and two stallions reared up fighting for a minute before heading toward the trap. Just as we thought they were heading in suddenly three stallions charged up the hill into the group of contractors that had been standing there watching. I think one horse came very close to them!

Then the helicopter ran them down the hill into the trap. He let a family of four go and I thought 'aha' I bet we are at 60! I packed up my camera and heard that yes indeed, they had captured their 1,137 number and were completely done with the roundup of Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek. Good timing as there is a winter weather advisory for this afternoon. On the way out I stopped to photograph a small family of grays who are safe. So good to see horses that are still free!

December 5, 2021: No wild horses were captured today, but the BLM released 89 stallions back to the Adobe Town HMA and 38 mares were released to the Salt Wells Creek HMA.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

I am sitting at the meeting point in Wamsutter for the release of 89 Adobe Town stallions today. They are planning to release 205 total but only 89 today. The wind is whipping hard with 40mph gusts. Also happening today will be the release of 38 Salt Wells Creek mares who have been inoculated with PZP. The 7 mares who have had IUDs inserted will be kept for 2 weeks with veterinary observation before release. I had wanted to attend both releases but it looks as though they have scheduled it so that I cannot.

Now I am waiting near temporary holding in Adobe Town for the 89 stallions to be released today. They are collecting hair samples for genetic testing prior to release. Part of the Environmental Assessment is to maintain Iberian traits in this herd. So they take hair samples and take photos first. Not sure when the remaining 125 stallions will be released or when the 173 mares who will be treated with PZP and the 31 mares who will get IUDs will be released. All the stallions today are going to be released into one location in Adobe Town.

This is Haystack mountain, one of the gorgeous landmarks in Adobe Town. I have been visiting and documenting the wild horses in Adobe Town for 17 years. Sampson, the helicopter contractors, just brought 3 trailers of stallions, 12, 11, and 11 - the horses are big so they could not fit 12 in each trailer.

They released them, let me stand where I wanted, and Sampson staff actually asked me if I was ready which is very different than another contractor. The horses ran right at me and around - they had a very specific direction in mind. Several blacks, grays, blue roams, (2) two-year-olds, a couple with white pinto markings, and one black stallion with a wide blaze face. There was an old pure white stallion keeping up. They were not at all concerned about me just heading out, quite a bit faster than the Salt Wells Creek stallions as I expected. The wind is howling the dust is blowing. So of course I am beyond devastated about how many horses have been removed from Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town, and Salt Wells Creek.

I am happy for the stallions who are being released and the mares that will be released as well - but I am ever cognizant of the tremendous loss these horses face by never being able to see their families again. There will be two more trips out to release horses so I imagine I will be here until dark.

Shortly after, the trailers brought 11, 11, and 10 horses in the second group of stallions to be released today into Adobe Town. They stopped along the road for a bit to hope the wind gusts and dust stopped, did not happen so they kept coming and released them one trailer at a time, the first trailer had all mature stallions, lots of signature Adobe Town grays, buckskins, it was hard to keep track as the first two trailers the horses ran straight at me then around me and down the hill in the same spot the first three trailer fulls did, then the third trailer led by a small young and spunky gray ran down the other hill with dark horses strung out behind him. There will be at least one more group of three trailers today and it is just me and the ranger out here waiting for the trailers to return.

At the Adobe Town release of stallions today just 2 trailers came, 10 and 11 horses - the first one the horses all jumped out in a group running toward me and around, grays, sorrels, buckskins then the second trailer a gorgeous proud gray stallion ran out on his own, taking a long look at me as he trotted proudly by - then the rest of the trailer came charging out at a dead run, the smaller darker horses in the rear. The third trailer had a fender bender while empty on the way to the pens so it’ll be another 1 1/2 hours or so before he gets here with the last ten stallions to be released today. Just hoping I can get to the paved road before it gets too dark! They will be releasing the additional over 100 stallions who are at the Wheatland facility later, and the 205 mares will be released after 173 get PZP and 31 get IUDs inserted.

Just before the sun goes down the very last trailer with 10 stallions in it pulls up and backs up and then lets the stallions out. They run toward me and around, tearing off into the setting sun in a cloud of dust. 97 Adobe Town stallions have been released today, and the sun is going down as they make their way back into their home area. I ask the ranger to follow me to the paved road because it will be dark before I reach it.

December 4, 2021: 112 wild horses were captured today and no deaths were reported.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

I am waiting at the meeting spot for the Adobe Town Roundup in Wamsutter, known as “BP’s largest inland oil field” to head out to the new observation spot for the day. Sampson Livestock is close to hitting its goal of 1,137 horses captured. 205 stallions will be returned to the wild intact,173 mares will be returned given PZP-22 and 31 mares will be returned with IUDs.

A little family ran in front and alongside my car on the way to the observation point for the roundup. They went into the trap in the first pass with a big group. We can see part of the trap, not the run into it. We were placed very far away from everything and usually can only see horses running at a great distance. We can see a Ridge that the horses can run on.

Next, a small family was captured, then a larger family went back and forth on the ridge until they finally went into the trap. A black stallion defied the helicopter and got away.

Finally, the helicopter brought in a small group then called it for the day. 

After waiting almost 3 hours the sun has gone down and there is not much light left around the corrals as we walk around. I was told there were two horses with PRE existing conditions that would be shipped to the Rock Springs corrals and put down: a mare with a sway back and a stallion with a big knee. It is very hard to see much more than ears and eyes but I see a stallion with blood on his head, but I don’t see a wound. 

The Adobe Town wild horses are being managed to preserve the Iberian genetics in this herd.

This herd has the largest Appropriate Management Level of any of the 5 herds being rounded up, 610-800 horses because they have the smallest amount of Checkerboard lands, only about 40,000 acres out of the almost 500,000 acres in the Herd Management Area. The Adobe Town portion of the largest roundup in history is almost over.


December 3, 2021: 144 wild horses were captured today and no deathers were reported. 

The following report is from photographer Somer McCain who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

​​Today we arrived at temporary holding at 8:15 to wait while the new trap was set. We were placed approximately .7 miles southeast of the trap. We had a mostly obstructed view and little could be seen. As we waited a lone stallion could be seen on the other side of the fence from temporary holding staring at the remaining horses from yesterday’s operation. Minutes after we left temporary holding and arrived at our observation site at 9. The new trap offered limited visibility aside from horses occasionally coming up on a ridge near it and when making their way into the trap.

By 9:18 a large group of around 25 was trapped and the helicopter was gone again only to return at 10 with a large group of approximately 25 that was trapped at 10:10. After that the helicopter landed to refuel and horses were trailered out to make room for more. 

The helicopter was up again by 11:50 and was driving multiple large groups towards the trap by 12:55. As horses were coming toward the trap, groups scattered with some going on a ridge above the trap and an older black foal got separated from its group and began to run along the jute funnel. The foal eventually took off with a group and headed south away from the trap. A couple of horses could be seen running north of the trap that were on the opposite side of the fence.

Within the next hour, 3 separate large groups were driven into the trap and the helicopter headed back to temporary holding to call it a day at 1:40.

By 4:35 I made it to temporary holding where I was told a total of 144 horses were captured including one branded domestic horse. There were 2 horses with pre-existing injuries that included a young swaybacked mare and a stallion with an enlarged knee. They were not euthanized and are supposed to be shipped out with others.


December 2, 2021: 69 wild horses were captured and there were no deaths reported.

The following report is from photographer Somer McCain who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

AWHC’s field rep was the only member of the public onsite today to document the removal of the Adobe Town wild horses. 

We arrived at the observation site at 7:45 which was the same location as 11/30 and 12/1.

At 8:43 the helicopter could be heard coming from the north at came over the northern ridge pushing 3 large separate groups of horses with a group of pronghorns in-between. Five minutes after a large combined group broke off and headed west from the trap.

At 8:58, a group of 5 made it into the trap. The remaining large group was resisting the pressures of the helicopter and scattered. At 9:08 around 25 were ultimately driven into the trap.

The helicopter landed at 9:10, then took flight again 10 minutes later and took off going east of the trap. The helicopter didn't make an appearance again until 11:20 when it could be heard and then at 11:33 when it could be seen far south of the trap. At 11:50 multiple groups of horses could be seen, with a smaller group of 6 breaking off and heading north toward the observation site and a group of around 10 that were driven into the trap.

The helicopter then went north to turn the smaller group of 6 back toward the trap and they were made it into the trap at 11:58. The helicopter landed at 12pm and was back up 10 minutes after heading west.

At 1:56 the helicopter was visible east of the trap driving a large group over a ridge. After making it near the funnel the horses broke off into one group that headed west and the other going north. The northern group was circled back around and approximately 15 were driven into the trap which was again creating large dust clouds.

When driving the remaining 5 horses back at 2:20, a grey mare and foal broke off while the other 3 made it into the trap. Mare and foal were both highly resistant to the helicopter trying to move them back toward the trap and were eventually separated with someone roping the foal at 2:28 and the mare brought in alone at 2:30. After an additional wrangler was sent out to assist with the foal, they made it back to the trap at 2:40 and were done for the day.

A total of 69 horses were captured today with no deaths or injuries. I was told the roped foal was doing well and had been vet checked. Trap will be moved to a new location on 12/3. It does not look like they'll be doing any releases of Salt Wells mares or Adobe Town stallions on 12/3 due to the potential government shutdown.

December 1, 2021: 117 wild horses were captured and there was 1 death after the BLM euthanized a 19-year old stallion due to a "pre-existing" hind leg injury.

The following report is from photographer Somer McCain who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

AWHC’s field rep was the only member of the public onsite today to document the removal of the Adobe Town wild horses. 

We arrived at the same observation site as 11/30 at 8:10 and the helicopter was in the air shortly after. The trap site was also in the same location as 11/30 and the pilot began focusing on moving horses from the south of the trap site which allowed limited visibility of the horses as the trap was approximately 1 mile away from observation.

At 8:45 the first group of 12 horses came in and with all the dust kicked up it had little visibility while they were running through the funnel and into the trap. At 9:00 a stallion, mare, and foal ran near the observation site and began to head north and over a ridge. Shortly after, the helicopter came from trap to the northern area headed toward the 3, and subsequently driven back over the ridge and to the trap 15 minutes later.

Operations paused for an hour while contractors appeared to check fences to see if they could find a gate to open to drive horses through, that were on the opposite side of the fence.

At 10:53 3 large separate groups started making their toward the trap, with ultimately 20-25 being trapped at that time while the remaining horses from the 3 total groups separated and began trotting up the road north to the observation site. Many of the horses were very sweaty and lathered from running and were trapped 5 minutes later when the helicopter swung back around to get them.

At 12:15 the helicopter could be heard but was from such a far distance south of the trap that it could not be seen. I would estimate it was at least .5-.75 miles south of the trap at that time. The helicopter became visible again at 12:38 while it was moving horses toward the trap and pushed an unknown number of horses into the trap that was obscured by a thick cloud of dust.

At 1:17 another 3 horses were trapped. After the last group, the helicopter headed north where it was working on 11/30 and brought in a larger group of approximately 20 at 2:33.

When visiting temporary holding at 5 pm I was told a total of 117 horses were captured and one horse was euthanized today due to a pre-existing condition. They had hay and water. The visibility of horses is minimal given the tarps over panels. Stallion pen appeared more restless and spooked than the others.

November 30, 2021: There were a total of 132 horses captured today with one mare euthanized due to a ruptured uterus, one stallion euthanized due to breaking a leg in temporary holding, and one foal was roped but this was not visible to our observer from the observation point.

The following report is from photographer Somer McCain who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

AWHC’s field rep was the only member of the public onsite today to document the removal of the Adobe Town wild horses. 

We left the meeting point at 7:15 am and arrived at a meeting at 8 am waiting for the contractors to move the trap site. Driving conditions were extremely dusty with occasional near zero visibility due to the amount of dust. 

Arrived at the observation point at 8:35 which was off-road and on a small hill below a taller hill/plateau. The view from the observation point allowed for a panoramic view of where the horses would be driven through, with the trap S-SE of me and a ridge to the north where the majority of horses were driven over. 

Horses would be driven simultaneously over the ridge with as many as 4-5 separate groups to be running south toward the trap making it challenging to keep track of each group. Some horses ended up being driven directly behind the vehicles and had worked up a lather which can be seen in photos. 

The helicopter started flying at 9:30 and brought in a group of approximately 15-20 at 10:45 at a strong gallop and another group was brought in minutes after of around 20 horses. A group of 30-35 was brought in at 11:10 and a group of 10-15 10 minutes later. 

At 12:05 a large group of 30+ was driven to the trap and bottlenecked at the entrance but did not go in, at 12:07 10+ more were driven to the trap and also bottlenecked and not moving, and finally, at 12:08 they were able to go in. During this, the judas horse was not used and was slowly walked up to the entrance with its handler next to the waiting horses. 

At 12:10 a final group of 10 was brought in and at 12:30 the helicopter was grounded due to strengthening winds. The last horses trailered out of the trap came by at 2:50 and then we made our way to temporary holding.

At temporary holding there were no visible injuries, most were calm but startled when we walked around. Water and hay were available. 3-4 BLM employees, unsure if the vet was on site.

November 29, 2021: 98 wild horses were captured and 1 horse was euthanized by BLM "due to a pre-existing hind leg injury."

November 28, 2021: 121 wild horses were captured and there were 2 deaths after two mares crashed into panels, breaking their necks. 

November 27, 2021: 150 wild horses were captured today and there were no deaths.

November 26, 2021: No wild horses were captured today and 42 stallions were released. 

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

Today I attended the release of wild stallions back to the Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area in Wyoming. I wanted to see if some of my favorite wild stallions would be released back to their home so it was worth a 5-hour drive to Rock Springs on Thanksgiving Day. We met at County Road 32 and Highway 430. After 2 weeks of the incredibly heart-wrenching sadness of seeing the Salt Wells Creek horses rounded up with helicopters, it was time to be happy for at least a lucky few.

We waited for about a half-hour before we saw the 4 trailers carrying the stallions pull into the turnoff at CR 32. We were able to pick out some favorites and eagerly drove through the dust following the trailers. We finally pulled up a few miles in and we parked and waited for the trailers to line up. When we went to set up for where we could stand the BLM was very accommodating with letting us get on the right side for the light and also I requested that one trailer be released at a time so we could see all the horses. I really do appreciate their cooperation. We had a clear view of all the horses coming out of the trailers.

In the first trailer,  two of my favorites, Teton and Cosmo came out leading the group, and I had to laugh – this was the slowest release I have ever seen. Normally the horses charge out of the trailers and cannot get away fast enough and they disappear into the distance very quickly. This group strolled out and actually started coming toward us and then starting moving down the road. 

In the next trailer, a small gray in front and black curly were more spunky and galloped out of the stock trailer. The rest of the group followed at a sedate canter. A beautiful red roan stallion stopped and waited for the rest then brought up the rear as the group headed away.

The contractor moved the trailers so we could see the release of the stallions from the next two without any obstruction.  Next came Cowboy, a gorgeous pinto that I had never seen before, Scarface who leaped exuberantly out, and a red pinto stallion who had a gorgeous pinto family before the roundup. They all headed out in a trot. We could see the small groups coming together in the distance. 

Then finally the last trailer started unloading.  Medicine Man came out first, backward, with Bubba right on his heels. Their group trotted slowly back to freedom. We headed out behind them to see where they went. It was a wonderful day after all the days of sadness.

In the Environmental Assessment, there were supposed to be 45 stallions released. When I asked BLM staff how many they would not give me a number. From our videos and photos, we counted only 42. This is not ok. AWHC has consulted our attorneys on this issue.

November 25, 2021: The helicopters did not fly today.

November 24, 2021: There were no roundup operations today and there was one death due to a "chronic/pre-existing left hind injury."

November 23, 2021: 70 wild horses were captured today

Today was the beginning of the Adobe Town roundup. There were two members of the public here for observation. Our meeting spot was once again about 40 miles East of Rock Springs. I was surprised and a little disappointed to find out that we were going to the same trap site as 2 days prior which was the location for the last day of the Salt Wells portion of the roundup. We were right on the border of the two HMA's.  

I was disappointed because on Sunday, we had no view of the horses being driven in from the East at that location and that was where they were all going to be coming from today. We did have a clear view of the entire trap. I mentioned to BLM at the meeting area that the observation point didn't provide much observation and wondered if they could find us a better viewing area so we could see the horses running in. They put us in the same spot, though we were allowed to stand a little more West which made the trap more visible.

Three hours after we arrived at the observation point, we heard the helicopter for the first time to the East of us.  But once again, our view was completely blocked by a hill. What direction they came from, how many there were, how long they’ve been running, etc… was all unknown to us. Within 15 minutes of hearing the helicopter, a group of about 35 came around the corner and ran right past the trap and out into our view. We were finally able to get a glimpse of these beautiful horses before the pilot turned them around and drove them into the mouth of the trap. It was my first time seeing these horses, and also my last all in one swoop.  

The pilot returned to the other side of the hill and brought in another group of similar size within 15 minutes of the last. The winds were picking up quickly so the pilot made one final circle around, couldn't see anything else, and decided that was it for today. We were done by noon. Due to the trap being set up on the road, we were required to wait at the observation area for about an hour before being able to leave.

On my way out I came upon a beautiful little family with a new foal.  They are in an area where the helicopters won't be flying, so it provided a little hope for the future.  

I was told we could visit temporary holding at 4pm. I had a little time before meeting so I visited the Rock Springs corrals to check on the horses there. They were calmer than the last time I went and were busy eating.  I then headed 20 miles South of Rock Springs to temporary holding and waited in the parking area for an escort in. I was the only visitor at temp holding today.  The horses were calm and quiet and they had plenty of space.  No visible issues.  I was told they will be taking a few days off for Thanksgiving and also to allow time to move the trap and temporary holding to a new location.  The Adobe Town roundup will resume on Saturday. 

November 22, 2021: There were no roundup operations today.

November 21, 2021: Approximately 100 wild horses were captured today. (Final # TBD)

AWHC's field representative was one of 4 members of the public onsite today.

The following report is from photographer Darlene Smith who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

The observation site was on the east side of the road. We had to park next to a small bluff and walk a little higher for a view but the BLM wouldn't allow us to be any higher.

The trap was about one mile north of us. The observation site was on the east side of the road. We had to park next to a small bluff and walk a little higher for a view but the BLM wouldn't allow us to be any higher. We could see the mouth really well, but when they entered the panel area, it was a little lower than our viewpoint so we could only see their heads. The trap was right next to the road and they actually used the road as the mouth of the trap. They had covered part of a fence line with the jute to use for the left wing of the trap.

Our day started at 6:30 AM when we met officials 40 miles East of Rock Springs. It was the beginning of a very frustrating day of waiting and wondering. We headed south another 30 miles on the bumpy dirt road when one of the rangers got a flat tire. While waiting for him to change it, we were also waiting to hear where we were supposed to go.

There seemed to be some confusion as to where the observation site was and we ended up having to backtrack a few miles. Nearly 3 hours after we left the meeting place, we finally arrived at the trap site which was just south of Eversole Ranch.

When we arrived, they were still setting up the trap and it was being constructed right by the road and the road itself was going to be the mouth of the trap. The helicopter was gone nearly 1.5 hours before we could hear it and catch sight of it far on the horizon. Once in our view, it took nearly 25 minutes to bring in the horses.

The group split into 3 and the first group of around 20 were brought in. He immediately went and got the scattered horses and within 10 minutes had both small groups in. There were about 10 horses between those two groups.

The rest of the day we had absolutely no view until right as the horses entered the trap. We could hear the helicopter the entire time and could occasionally see it, but couldn’t see what was happening below it. We were placed on a lower part of the terrain and a hill to our right blocked the view of the events on the entire Eastside. That was maddening not knowing what was happening.

The helicopter was out flying for another hour before we saw group 4 come in of about 15 horses. Another hour later, group 5 came in with a few more. Another hour later we heard the helicopter and briefly saw about 5 horses crest the hill that had been blocking our view for so long. They quickly disappeared back down the other side within seconds. We had no idea that those few horses we saw were part of a much bigger group heading into the trap. There were around 60. The roundup in Salt Wells was finally done.

It was now about 3 PM. We were told we could leave but ended up having to wait for an hour before we could go since the trap was set up on the road. We met before sunrise and left as the sunset. The entire day was full of frustrations and feeling so unproductive with not being able to see the majority of the horses brought in. But a fellow observer reminded me that during our waiting, our new group of friends used that time to share pictures and stories of our favorite horses, have a few laughs, and get to know each other better. We may all be from different walks of life, but we all share one thing in common... our love for these horses.

We initially told by a ranger that we could possibly enter temporary holding about 5:00. The sun sets about then so that wouldn’t be much time. Then we were told we couldn’t go to holding at all because they had too much work with the number of horses they gathered. We asked if we could quickly ask a few questions since we were unable to view much of the horses brought in and now were unable to go to temp holding. We were told he was too busy. It was frustrating not having the opportunity to ask questions like we usually do.

November 20, 2021: 55 wild horses from Salt Wells Creek were captured today.

AWHC's field representative was one of 3 members of the public onsite today.

The following report is from photographer Darlene Smith who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

The day began at 7am when we made our way to the trap site. We were told yesterday that we'd be moving to a new site today, but we ended up being in the same location off of HWY 430 and CR 26. A light snow had fallen overnight and the landscape was dusted in white. It was too beautiful of a morning for the events to come.

The helicopter was gone for an hour before the first run of about a dozen horses came in. About 1/4 mile from the trap, a foal lagged a little behind and then ran up the hill behind the trap. The helicopter continued to drive the herd into the trap and went back for the foal, along with riders. We were told the foal was brought in within five minutes to the backside of the trap, but that was completely out of our view.

Run three was only about 15 minutes later with 6 horses. The cold winds were becoming more steady, so we went and unthawed in our vehicles while waiting for the next run, which ended up being two hours later. I was beginning to wonder if there were any horses left in that area. There were only 3 horses in run four. Within minutes we saw the helicopter close in on the last group on the bluff above the trap.

As we were watching this, we saw a grey stallion running up the road toward us. He ran into the field directly across the road, stopped, and turned around to look at us. He was absolutely stunning, but I could see the confusion in his eyes. He continued running North, not looking back again. We heard over the radio that the pilot wasn't going back out after him. So he remains free, and I hope not alone.

We waited about 2 hours to get into temp holding. There were no visible injuries and we were told there were none. There were 2 rangers and Kevin Lloyd with us.

The horses were calm and had plenty of room today. I noticed the pen that was crowded yesterday (the proposed release pen) was empty and they said they had moved them to Rock Springs so they'd have more room to move around. I did go to Rock Springs and verified they were there.

November 19, 2021: 81 horses were captured in today's operation. There was one death after the BLM euthanized a senior mare for having bad knees.

The following report is from photographer Darlene Smith who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

AWHC's field representative was 1 of 3 members of the public onsite today at the operation. 

The observation site was located off of HWY 430 CR 26 and up Black Buttes Ranch Road (72). We were placed on the West side of the road and the trap was southeast of us. Private land was between us and the trap site. We were about 1.5 miles away.

The BLM let us arrive a little later today to avoid us sitting around for an hour. We were placed about 1.5 miles from the trap up on a bluff. They said we could not get closer due to private land being between us and the trap site.

We could see the first group within 30 minutes. These horses were brought from a greater distance and when they ran by we could see they were glistening in the sun from sweat.

The sun backlit the dust rising behind them, and I remember thinking how beautiful it would be if they were running because they wanted to, and not because they were being pushed by a helicopter.

They were driven along a bluff and around a knoll into the trap. Once the horses were in the mouth of the trap, the dust was so bad it was difficult to see much.

Run two came in about 30 minutes later. It was a band of about 12 and one bachelor following behind. The lead band stallion was not happy about the bachelor tailing them, even though he had no choice. There were a few times he would leave his family and go back to challenge that bachelor despite the helicopter. On the second run, one stallion escaped the jute but was quickly brought back in.

The pilot disappeared for about 30 minutes and then brought run three in. Again this was a smaller band of about 15. About 20 minutes later run 4 came in lead by the most beautiful black and white pinto. Runs five and six had 7 horses combined between the two.

They were tearing down temp holding today and moving it to a new location along with a new trap site, so we didn't go to the trap site. 

November 18, 2021: 131 wild horses from the Salt Wells Creek HMA were captured today. 

The following report is from photographer Darlene Smith who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

The trap site was about 5 miles in on CR 32 off of HWY 430. AWHC's representative was 1 of 4 members of the public onsite. 

The day began at 7 am on CR 32 off of HWY 430. It was a beautiful sunrise and a brisk 7°F. We made out way about 5 miles down CR 32 to the observation site which was over a mile away from the trap. We waited in our vehicles for over an hour until it warmed up a bit. It wasn't long before we could hear the helicopter, and by 9 am, a large group of at least 60 came over the hill.

The trap was located on top of a bluff that required the horses to go through a small valley and up a hill to enter it.

The first run went in smoothly. The helicopter left for almost an hour to search for more horses. He returned to re-fuel and then went out again.

In less than 20 minutes another large group of similar size came from the same general area. This group hesitated to head into the valley and turned around and scattered a couple of times before finally going in.

There was a foal that lingered behind the group at the mouth of the trap, likely just confused. A rider went into the mouth and pushed it in slowly. We were done before noon. The horses did not seem overly tired.

We waited until around 3:45 to go to temporary holding. Horses were mostly calm but vocal. Horses had fresh hay but most were not eating yet. They had begun sorting for those to be released back to the HMA, though they said the decision wasn't 100% final yet since they'll be gathering more. The pen with possible stallions to be released back was a bit crowded, though they were not done selecting, and other than a minor scuffle, they were calm.

November 17, 2021: 193 wild horses were captured today. 

November 16, 2021: 14 wild horses were captured today. 

November 15, 2021: 170 wild horses lost their freedom. 

November 14, 2021: 30 wild horses have been captured.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

Another beautiful morning here in Salt Wells Creek. We are back again at this trap site off CR 19 and Hwy 430 and it seems strange that after only capturing 28 horses yesterday including the one put down outside the trap with a pre-existing condition of a broken leg that they would come back here - the last run brought in only 1 black stallion. In 2017 this area was hit so hard I have been unable to find horses here at all since then. This is public land, not Checkerboard lands.

The Runs:

  • The helicopter just chased in 9 horses. A family of 6 all with socks and two foals and a big bay stallion with a blaze and ahead of them were three bachelor stallions. At one point the band stallion went up for a discussion with one of the bachelors, but when the helicopter came close he ran flat out to get to his family and then they followed the Judas horse into the trap.
  • A group of 5 horses just came in, a gray mare in the middle and a black mare at the end with a little black colt. The wind has not picked up yet.

We waited for the helicopter for over two hours. Nothing. They must be taking a last look around to make sure they got all of the horses in this area.

Only 30 horses have been captured at the Salt Wells Creek roundup, I believe they will be moving to a different trap tomorrow.

I went out to the area I think they will be rounding up tomorrow and met some extraordinarily beautiful wild horses. The older battle scarred gray stallion with a huge family which you only see in areas that have not been rounded up in many years, including some very colorful youngsters. I hope the helicopter misses them tomorrow.

Once I got back to town I went to the Rock Springs Corrals - you can see quite a bit of the facility from the overlook. The BLM had sent the Great Divide Basin mares to the new facility in Wheatland to make room for the mares in Salt Wells Creek because they will be evaluating the mares for possible insertion of IUDs - 7 of these mares will get this, and 38 will be given PZP birth control. Only 45 stallions and 45 mares will be returned to the HMA after 912 wild horses will be captured in Salt Wells Creek.

November 13, 2021: 27 horses were captured today. There was one death: a chestnut stallion was euthanized by BLM for having a "pre-existing: broken leg.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

As I was heading to the meeting spot for the Salt Wells Creek roundup, I saw some wild horses grazing, free as they are meant to be. Luckily, they are not in the target area right now.  We arrived at the Salt Wells Creek observation point. Today, public observers were placed approx 1.5 miles away from the trap and again, barely had a view of the trap itself. Today the trap is on CR 19 Bitter Creek Road in Salt Wells Creek. This is an area where a 2017 roundup occurred and they spent many days scouring the area of wild horses. Since then I have seen very few if any horses here. They are not capturing many today.

The Runs:

  • The helicopter was gone for a very long time and one small family went into the trap.
  • Then sadly, a gorgeous buckskin stallion was chased into the trap. Following him was a stunning bachelor palomino pinto stallion. I have watched this stallion and documented him for many years.  
  • At this point, the wranglers had to move towards the cattle that had drifted into the area in front of the trap and drive them out. Yes, there are cattle here. Many more than there are horses.
  • In the Salt Wells Creek HMA, there is a family of wild horses that we call the Socks Family because the entire group has white socks. Today this family of three mares, two foals, and one beautiful stallion, was glowing in the sun. It was a magnificent sight to see the lead mare, a blue roan, in the front and the stallion bringing up the rear. This family initially eluded the trap then the helicopter pushed the mares in but the stallion escaped! The helicopter circles and circles, trying to chase this defiant stallion into the trap, but ultimately fails. He runs away and we think he escaped. But then three riders go out searching for him, and half an hour later we see three riders, one has roped the stallion dragging him in as he fights. The riders go behind the hill. At this point, I thought they wrangled the stallion into the trap, but about 25 min later they are still dragging him into the trap. This is the second stallion I have seen Sampson rope and drag into the trap. 
  • The unlucky last horse was a black stallion who was driven into the trap. The three wrangler cowboys who had been waiting on the hill after dragging in the bay stallion headed down the hill at a run after this horse. The stallion clearly outnumbered, went into the trap. The wind is howling, they called it done for the day and we are waiting to go see the horses at temporary holding.

I just came from temporary holding at the Salt Wells Creek roundup. 27 horses captured today

no deaths, no injuries. The stallion who fought so hard to stay wild is there - he keeps looking over the fence at me, so proud, so noble, and no longer free. There were a couple of club-footed horses and one stallion who has a mass around his eye may have cancer - if they put them down it will be at the Rock Springs corrals. He is all alone in a pen and keeps looking over to the other horses, a gorgeous sorrel pinto with green paint on his side.

The beautiful buckskin who lost his family and freedom today

The Bay stallion fighting for his freedom 

The wranglers moving cattle out of the trap site 

November 12, 2021: The helicopters did not fly today due to wind.

November 11, 2021: The roundup was called today because of wind. 

November 10, 2021: 26 wild horses were captured today.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

Today at the Salt Wells Creek roundup a family of 9 horses was driven in led by a black mare. There were two foals in this family keeping up with everyone. Behind them came a bay roan stallion and bay roan mare.  There are dark clouds and low clouds full of rain, and the wind is supposed to pick up. Then a group of three very rowdy bachelors ran into the trap. 

The roundup at Salt Wells Creek continues with two black mares a black foal and a gray stallion running down the hill and into the trap. Snow is spitting and the wind is picking up but the helicopter is still flying. Now a small family black mare black stallion with foal in between ran into the trap as the winds increase and a huge low cloud heads toward us. The helicopter goes up for a last look around and we wait. Only 26 horses were brought in today. No injuries or deaths.


November 9, 2021: Today is the first day of operations in the Salt Wells HMA. 

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

I am back in the Wyoming Checkerboard bearing witness to the Salt Wells Creek HMA roundup. This is a new contractor, Sampson Livestock and today we can see the whole run into the trap, but we cannot see the trap itself. This is the best view I have had since the start of the Wyoming Checkerboard roundup. 

The Runs:

  • Three groups came in. One included a sorrel stallion pushing and snaking his family of sorrel mares and a foal 
  •  Another family of various colors then a magnificent palomino pinto stallion leading two mares. They ran right by us then over a ridge and were driven into the trap - except the palomino pinto stallion! He got away then the helicopter went back for him they released the Judas horse he followed it then jumped over the jute wings of the trap and he was gone!
  • Next a small family of 4 ran into the trap. 
  • A large family of maybe 12 ran along a ridge where there were three grays, bays, blacks and sorrels.  They ran into the trap. 
  •  The helicopter went up again and brought in a large family with a big gray stallion.
  • The helicopter just came in with three large groups and a small family with a pure white older stallion, black mare leading the way, bay mare and gray mare with a gray foal peeled off and came running straight toward the observers.  The helicopter headed them off and they finally went into the trap. I have not seen any foals younger than a couple of months old and they have been keeping up with their families.
  • Next, the helicopter chased three bachelors into the trap.
  • The helicopter was gone for a really long time. Finally, a big group came in very sweaty and another group - they looked very tired. They stopped for a bit then trotted then galloped into the trap. Then a beautiful varnish roan stallion I initially thought was a gray with white mane and tail escaped and the helicopter kept chasing and chasing and circling. This went on and on until they sent two riders out to chase him some more. They finally after some trouble got him into the trap. 
  • The contractors brought a family in with a three-week-old foal and finally, the day was over. 

I waited over two hours to go into temporary holding as the dark clouds got darker. We were finally allowed to go in and it was raining. There were 98 horses captured yesterday, no injuries or deaths. Because of the thick burlap over the pens, I could only see heads but I think I saw the varnish roan stallion. I was told he was fine and had a lot of energy.

I was told that at the Great Divide  Basin HMA roundup, the contractors did not meet their goal of capturing 1,308 wild horses, instead only capturing 1,076. This means they are not releasing any horses as was originally planned. All the horses they captured will stay in holding. Reportedly, the BLM had applied for a 4-day extension but because of the new rules for Federal contractors regarding vaccination status, the contractors were not granted the extension.

Cumulative totals for the Great Divide Basin HMA roundup

Total horses captured: 1,072

Total deaths: 6

November 5, 2021: 57 wild horses lost their freedom and families today. This was the last day in the Great Divide Basin HMA. Operations will be moved to the Salt Wells HMA and a new roundup contractor will be used 

November 4, 2021: 30 wild horses were captured today.

November 3, 2021: 39 wild horses were stampeded into traps today.

November 2, 2021: The helicopters did not fly today due to weather.

November 1, 2021: 64 wild horses were captured today.

October 31, 2021: 21 wild horses were captured today, and there were no deaths reported. This brings the total so far to 882 wild horses captured, 6 unnecessary deaths. 

October 30, 2021: 39 wild horses lost their freedom today. 

October 29, 2021: 77 wild horses were captured today, and there were no deaths reported. 

October 28, 2021: The helicopters were grounded for the day due to weather.

October 27, 2021: The helicopters were grounded for the day due to weather.

October 26, 2021: The helicopters were grounded for the day due to weather.

October 25, 2021: 108 wild horses were captured today. There were no deaths reported.

October 24, 2021: 143 wild horses were chased by helicopters into traps today.

October 23, 2021: 62 wild horses were captured today and there were two deaths today. Both are noted as acute, meaning the horses died as a result of the roundup.

October 22, 2021: 62 wild horses were captured today

I am at Bar X Road waiting to head to the same trap site the Cattoors have used for the past two days with a ridge between me and the trap.The helicopters took a really long time to arrive this morning. Observation continues to be poor.

The runs: 

My guess is they were trying to find the very last few horses in this area. 

  • A family with a gorgeous red stallion with a white bald face, 1 youngster and three mares came in first followed by a family of three sorrels with a little foal between the stallion and the mare.
  • Another group of four came in. This family included a beautiful red pinto stallion, bay mare and yearling and sorrel pinto foal. They went quickly into the trap. We heard over the radio that there were a couple more groups that the helicopters went back to find.
  • Four families of horses got pushed into the bowl and the helicopter was driving them to the trap and suddenly all of them broke off and scattered. The big family had bays, sorrels, blacks and a blaze faced high stockinged foal. There was a sorrel family of 3 that headed over the ridge and then a family with a bay mare and a two year old bay with a gorgeous buckskin stallion and a little blazed face foal. They headed north and went quite far out before the helicopter got the big family in - they fought hard to avoid the helicopter.
  • The family of four came toward the trap at a trot but the foal fell way behind and could not keep up. The bay mare escaped and ran up the hill and then the buckskin stallion escaped as well, running after her. I assume the other bay went into the trap. Then the helicopter came slowly behind the foal as we walked slowly toward the trap. He disappeared behind the ridge, the helicopter backed off and we heard that they roped the foal at the mouth of the trap.
  • The sorrel family with mare stallion and foal did not get chased back so I assume they got away.
  • The helicopters were gone for over an hour. We could not hear them then we saw a group of 14 horses that were driven into the trap while 3 groups of about 22 horses total were in the bowl. Suddenly a black stallion with a white blaze and snip came running toward me and got away.
  • Then the two helicopters brought the groups together and pushed into the trap. There were two small foals but they were having no trouble keeping up.

Today they have finished capturing horses at this location and they broke down the trap and are scouting another site for tomorrow. I found out that the foal that was roped may have his mother there - I was told he was cuddling up to the fence next to the mare that did not escape so hopefully that is his mom. They are being shipped right now to the Rock Springs corrals.

October 21, 2021: 68 captured today, no injuries or deaths.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

As usual, I could not see the trap or the run into the trap - my view was completely blocked by a ridge. I could hear the foals whinnying. I could see horses being chased by the helicopter in front of me or horses running if they escaped but that was it. I was told that the new criterion is if the horses running into the trap could possibly see us that is not ok. After the run of bad publicity surrounding recent Cattoor roundups in Nevada and Colorado, it appears that the Cattoors are intent on shielding their activities from the public and the WY BLM is just going along with it.  Observers at other roundups with other contractors are being given good views of the trap and approach to it. The BLM is preventing meaningful observation. 

I was the only member of the public to observe today. My view and the trap on the other side of the ridge. 

The runs: 

  • Two groups of horses moving near the road on my way in - they were among the first groups into the bowl. But they evaded capture for a little while then ultimately went in - two grays, one a stallion and the rest sorrels. Then a dun foal about 2 months old was spotted and the helicopter went over and set down waiting for wranglers to ride out to get him. The wrangler rode quietly over side on to intercept him - the foal looked and then took off. The wrangler went around him and drove him toward the trap. Hopefully by now the foal has found his mom.
  • Three more groups were driven into the trap. Then we saw the helicopter moving very slowly behind the ridge. It took quite a while to work down to where we could see the horses he was behind. A dappled gray stallion, a palomino mare and a 6 month old cremello foal. At first I thought they just were not afraid of the helicopter but then I became increasingly concerned for the mare. She moved very slowly. The foal did not want to leave her behind although his step was lively. The stallion was out front ready to lead the way. They made painfully slow progress toward the trap, the helicopter hanging back not pushing hard.
  • After the slow group went in, three bachelors stallions came running in, bay, sorrel bay and a black stallion veered off.
  • There was a big family that was driven toward the trap and a blaze faced foal stopped and was left behind. Then the family was driven into the trap. One of the helicopters went and found the blaze-faced foal. He was slowly moving him toward the trap and a wrangler rode out and finally ended up roping and bringing the foal in.
  • The helicopter brought in a gorgeous buckskin stallion and a black wild horse. The black horse looked tired but ran in.
  • Then one helicopter started chasing a gorgeous black mare, her buckskin foal, a chocolate two year old and bay stallion. They scattered before going behind the ridge and the stallion ran off. The three were driven into the trap and the stallion turned and ran by me.
  • Then a group of 4 with a sorrel mare and foal and black mare and stallion were driven into the trap. 

After the helicopters were done for the day, the mares and foals were loaded up and shipped to Rock Springs. I saw the little dun foal that had to be roped and he had not found his mom - he was all alone looking bewildered as the mares churned around him. He is now gone with the mares. I was told they shipped all the mares there so hopefully he will find his mom and if not they will make sure he gets fed and taken care of.

After the roundup, I went to temporary holding to get a tour of the horses. The mares were loaded into a big semi and the foals were loaded into a smaller stock trailer and headed to the Rock Springs corrals before we were allowed in. The little dun colt who had been separated from his mom was on the trailer. 

When we walked around I found out they had a pen for the stallions they are keeping and releasing - great news the black Appaloosa is going to be released! 

Then I saw the blaze faced yearling that was roped - she looked tired but was fine. I asked about the palomino mare - no one had specific knowledge about her but no mares had been seen in trouble and no mares were put down. So hopefully she was just tired. I then headed to the Rock Springs corrals. They had just unloaded the mares and the foals. I could only see some of them from the fence - I did not see the palomino mare but I did see the dun colt who had perked up and looked happier - hopefully he had found mom.

October 20, 2021: 104 wild horses were captured today.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC

Today is day 13 of the Wyoming wild horse roundup and observation continues to be dismal, despite moving to a new trap site a few miles from the old site. 

There are two helicopters today. I just saw them fly in at the Great Divide Basin roundup.

At this new trap site we cannot see anything. No trap no jute no nothing, just horses in the open being driven by the helicopter.  We are approximately a mile away and are behind a hill. I may as well not be here at all. I argued and argued for better observation, but the BLM was not budging.

Unfortunately, the gorgeous black Appaloosa and his family were captured and chased into the trap today at the  along with a few other families. They were no match for two helicopters.

The Runs:

  • The two helicopters brought 7 different groups of horses into a “bowl” in front of us. There were buckskins, grullas, grays and blacks, sorrels. 
  • One big group had a large group of desert elk right next to them who started running from the helicopter too. Finally the elk broke off with their baby and then the horses came in In three different groups. But a buckskin stallion was not giving in. He kept defying or ignoring one of the helicopters until they let him go. About 20-30 horses were driven in but again, I could not see the trap
  • The helicopter brought more three groups together in the bowl;. Finally about 14 of those turned to go into the trap leaving a gorgeous palomino mare and her black foal, black yearling and bay stallion. They kept stopping, the mare looked exhausted and she kept turning and looking at the helicopter. She did not want to be driven to the trap. Finally the family turned into the path the helicopters had been moving the horse in and disappeared behind the ridge, I assume into the trap.
  • About three groups ran together and were run into the trap. 
  • A group of three bachelors with one palomino headed for the hills. One helicopter went after them 
  • Another group of three bachelors with one sorrel pinto with tall socks and a bald face, a bay pinto and a bay. The bay stallion peeled off up the ridge. And got away. I think all three of those boys got away. I was cheering them on. I noticed when looking at my images that this seemed to be a stallion  who was soaked with sweat. 

On my way I saw a large group of horses still free - this lifted my spirits. Another day free.

Tonight I received this message from the BLM regarding tomorrow: “Tomorrow we are planning on gathering in the Great Divide Basin HMA at the same trap site with the same observation site as today.”

A group of horses who remain free at least for another day.

October 19, 2021: Operations were suspended for the day due to poor road conditions 

October 18, 2021: 19 wild horses were captured today.

October 17, 2021: 50 wild horses lost their freedom today.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

Observation continues to be extremely poor, I could only see the ear tips of the horse being chased by helicopters, but I saw plenty of the helicopter bearing down on the horses of the Great Divide Basin. This is not meaningful observation. The only time I got a good look at the horses was when they escaped and ran by. Despite repeated requests by all the observers yesterday, we were not moved to a spot where we could see the horses going into the trap or even running up to it. From this vantage point, we could not assess the condition of the horses, how long they had been run, if they fought going in or if there were any injuries. We could not even tell exactly how many came in. And last night we received this message from the BLM: “Tomorrow we are planning on gathering in the Great Divide Basin at the same trap site with the same observation location. BLM has discussed, at length, different observation locations, but none are available at the current trap site. Please understand that trap sites are chosen and designed to gather horses in a safe manner with our primary concerns being the safety of the public, the horses, BLM employees, and contractors. BLM is currently discussing moving trap sites after operations Tomorrow.”  So nothing will change.

I am here at the trap site and the only other member of the public is a film crew. 

The runs:

  • The first run I saw had maybe 8 then 6 wild horses in it. We were allowed to move up about 100-150 feet closer so we could see the horses' heads appear for 5 seconds instead of three. I have to laugh - Brad Purdy who is the BLM Public Information rep who is in charge of the observers was describing to the other people what he *thought* was happening - the horses moving into the jute wings, the Judas horses released, the helicopter driving them into the trap - because we cannot actually SEE this happening. 
  • Another group just came in around 6-7, again it is nearly impossible to see. 
  • A larger group of 8-12 was driven in by the helicopter and a black yearling colt jumped over the jute and escaped. The helicopter went to hold him there while a wrangler rode out to him and roped him. The wrangler spent quite a bit of time slowly leading the colt into the trap. 
  • A group with several gray horses was driven into the trap. I thought one stallion was going to try to jump over the jute, he was eyeing it, but he did not. Although there are some grullas, blacks and the odd buckskin in this herd, the vast majority are bay. 
  •  Two more horses came in and now we have been waiting for over an hour and the wind is picking up.
  •  Group of about 10 horses be driven by the helicopter including a gorgeous black Appaloosa with blanket markings. They turned and faced the helicopter several times after running away from the jute wings leading to the trap. They stayed in a tight group and just were not having it. The BLM wild horse specialist finally called it and let them go. Appaloosas are extremely rare in this herd. They remain free! 

During the day, we heard that there was a young black foal found and they sent a wrangler out who successfully caught the foal. A little later, Jay D’Ewart says the black colt matches the description of the hunters yesterday. He is 1 month old and they will take him to Rock Springs where all the mares are and hope he “mothers up” but if he doesn’t they have people there who will foster him.

After the operation was called for the day, w e went to the short term corrals and heard that 50 horses had been captured, no injuries or deaths. The black foal had apparently found his mother and the two were shipped together to Rock Springs corrals. I next went to the overlook there but could not see him - not all the horses were visible from the overlook.

October 16, 2021: 37 wild horses lost their freedom today.

The following report is from photographer Carol Walker who is onsite as a representative for AWHC.

Today was cold and clear on the 9th day of the roundup of wild horses from the Wyoming checkerboard. The helicopter contractors, the Cattoors, are focusing on the wild horses of the Great Divide Basin HMA. 

We saw a family of 5 horses two mares one very small foal a bigger foal and a black stallion. We couldn't see the trap from our observation point we can see the horses running toward the trap quite a ways away then ears above the jute and the helicopter. We saw the helicopter going
back and forth and back and forth and finally, the family escaped mares and foals went one way the stallion another. This is a terrible observation point. We would be better off where our cars were originally.

On the third run we were able to move up closer but everything is going on behind a hill we have a good view of the helicopter but just briefly ears and tops of heads we cannot see the trap at all. We think 6-8 horses came in at least 1 foal.

An independent observer who is here today asks me what is the job of the observer? A Rhetorical question. What are we looking for? My answer to him is we want to see the condition of the horses and also see if they are treated humanely - are they sweating? Are they coming into the trap right away or having to be pushed again and again by the helicopter, how far they ran, are they running into panels and getting injured - we can ascertain none of this at our observation location where the trap is completely hidden by a hill. So why are we here? This is my question.

One group of about 8 came in and a sorrel stallion escaped! hen the helicopter was gone for a while. Then we saw three different groups running a long way away up a ridge. The helicopter came up over the hill in a different place with a group of about 12. We got a glimpse of faces before they were driven into the trap. Then the helicopter went back to get three horses, we saw manes and ears. Elk hunters reported an abandoned
foal so a wrangler went out trailering his horse to see and bring in. The three groups are still to the southwest of us. Just heard the hunters said the foal was really young and they petted it but the helicopter pilot did not see it but the wrangler is also looking for it. We hear that the whole crew
is now looking for the foal including BLM Lead Jay D’Ewart. As we head down the hill to our cars, we see the two Cattoor Judas horses running loose, and then someone leading a palomino. Not sure if this was an escape attempt or they were using their horses to get the foal, we were too
far away.

We go to the temporary holding, no injuries or deaths today. We do not know the end of the story about the foal. We have been out for 12 hours, an abnormally long day, made very frustrating by the lack of meaningful observation. I call us the “unobservers.”

Photos by Kimerlee Curyl who is also onsite for AWHC.

October 15, 2021: 29 wild horses were captured today and there were two deaths. One horse with a broken leg and onee horse with a club foot were euthanized.

AWHC observer and wild horse photographer, Kimerlee Curyl arrived at the observation site around 7:30 am and temperature remained about 21 degrees the entire time they were there with fairly rough winds. Here’s her report from the field:

Myself, Erik Molvar, from Western Watersheds Project and photographer Darlene Smith from Utah were present for observation and we were placed 1.5 miles from the trap site.  Sadly, the visibility was poor at best. The stated reason is due to private land amongst the public lands.  Looking up the exact location on a WY map and as always, it seems there easily could have been a better vantage point.

The runs:

  • There were three successful runs today, estimated numbers of horses were 11 in the first run, 13 in the second run and about 16 in the last run, 8 of which broke away from the helicopter and made a daring escape.  

The final run of the day was a long one.  At one point sitting in vehicles my rear view mirror caught my eye and the most stunning horse appeared.  This  lone chestnut stallion looked down at us for a good while then started a strong trot even closer before turning on his heels and running away.   I believe he is still free. He was a sign for all today, a symbol of independent resilience appearing out of nowhere and leaving with that same spirit and fire intact. 

The last run of the day was another out of the blue moment.  It was just too cold to be outside between runs, the helicopter had been out quite a while.  I happened to glance over the back of Darlene’s truck and silhouettes of wild horses caught my eye on the ridge.  If this was a normal “day in the wild '' the tears of joy would have abounded, instead, sadness as the horses spilled down the hillside quite close to us, being chased by the relentless helicopter.  I counted approximately 16 beautiful wild horses as they raced far, and not near the trap site. When they came into our view again about 2.5 miles away it had been 33 minutes between some shots I had taken.  So we thought to record that timeline in total, not knowing how long they had been run prior to our first view of them we recorded over 45 minutes of being chased in 21 degree weather.

We were allowed to visit the trap site after the horses left of course and learned one horse had been euthanized due to sustaining an injury while being unloaded at temporary holding.  Because of this “incident” death, we were told we needed to wait up to 4 hours to gain any access to the temporary holding pens.  

The Lone stallion

October 14, 2021: Operations were resumed today and 26 wild hoses were captured.

October 13, 2021: No operation was conducted today. The horses experienced a small reprieve.

October 12, 2021: No operation was conducted today. The horses experienced a small reprieve.

October 11, 2021: Today the BLM captured 76 horses (45 mares, 21 foals, 10 stallions). 

To date, 44 horses (74 mares, 37 foals, 33 stallions) have lost their freedom in the largest wild horse roundup in BLM history. 

111 horses (71 mares, 20 foals, 20 stallions) have been shipped to the Rock Springs or Wheatland Wild Horse Corrals.

Photo by Lynn Hanson

photo by scott wilson Photo by Scott Wilson​

There is currently a winter storm warning in Rock Springs and in Bitter Creek, WY, the actual location of the observation/ trap site in the Great Divide Basin. Wind at 50+ mph and snow all day accumulation 1-3 inches.

October 10, 2021: Today AWHC had two observers on-site, Scott Wilson of Wilson Axpe Photographer and Lynn Hanson of Wild Horses Wild Places. We were located about 1.5 miles from the trap site. The BLM claims the private landowners refused viewing access and the public parcel closer to the trap site was "inaccessible." 

Two runs were completed before the operations were pauses because of wind. In the first run, a bay escaped just before the jute but stayed hanging around outside of the pen looking at his herd mates. On the second run, the lead stallion turned his band around no less than 4 times inside the jute in repeated attempts to escape the final run before they were eventually driven into the trap. 

Operations ended up being suspended because of the wind. 

October 9, 2021: The helicopters did not fly today due to high winds. Zero wild horses were captured. 

October 8, 2021: 34 wild horses were captured and there were no injuries or deaths reported.

AWHC's representative Lynn Hanson, was the only observer on-site today on the second day of the enormous Checkerboard wild horse roundup. The operation took place in the same areas as the day before located in the Great Divide Basin HMA. It was a long day which resulted in 34 wild horses losing their freedom. Unfortunately, the band of horses we called "Defiant 5" were captured today. 

October 7, 2021: 9 wild horses were captured and there were no injuries or deaths reported.

Today was the first day of the largest wild horse roundup in Program history. Our field representative, Lynn Hanson of Wild Horses Wild Places was 1 of 8 observes on site. The weather was a mixture of clouds, rain, and fog. At the location, the observation point was almost a mile away, as usual, with the trap site completely obscured by a ridge. The length of jute fencing to the trap was short, so what our field representative did see as far as any horses running to the trap was brief.

The runs:

  • A small family of 3 was run in by the Judas horse (a trained domestic horse that leads the mustangs into the trap) but as you will see in the short video, they split away from the Judas horse and climbed a hill.

  • The helicopter went back out to find them and unfortunately did succeed at bringing them in.

  • Another impressive band of five ... who our field representative called the Defiant 5, were chased up and down rocky hills and terrain for about an hour. The helicopters made numerous attempts to drive them in but every time they got near the trap site the horses brilliantly split up and ran in different directions. This happened over and over. 

  • Finally, the contractor gave up and they called it a day.

Our field representative went to see the gorgeous black stallion with the extremely long mane, and his family, along with the family of three at the temporary holding pens which were set up right off interstate 80. From our representative: 

All I kept thinking was not more than an hour ago these horses were enjoying their lives in the most beautiful landscape you have ever seen. And just like that, their lives changed drastically. This beautiful family got split up from one another, separated in small iron pens, crying out to each other amidst the roaring engine noise of the freeway.