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Wild Horse Information

Questions:  Write us to have your question answered.  If a question is of general interest, we may post it here.  Our goal is to explain and inform.  We will add new material often.

  1. Wild Horse Report Mark J. Deesing, Animal Behavior & Facilities Design Consultant For Grandin Livestock Handling Systems Observes Our Onaqui Wild Horse Gather in Utah
  2. Horse and Burro Coalition Statement on NBC's Wild Horse Stories
  3. How are wild horses managed?
  4. What is the History of Wild Horses in North America?
    What is the History of Wild Burros in North America?
  5. What makes a successful humane wild horse roundup?
  6. Is the BLM, because of pressure from the ranchers, trying to remove all of the wild horses and burros from the range?
  7. Do you run the wild horses with the helicopter?
  8. Why are helicopters used to gather wild horses and burros instead of just driving them with saddle horses or corral-trapping them using water or food?
  9. Things that we do to assure the welfare of foals.
  10. How can you watch a wild horse roundup?
  11. Water Development
  12. What are the effects of the horse slaughter ban on wild horses?
  13. Was Dave Cattoor convicted of a felony in 1990
  14. Twin Peaks Gather August 2010
  15. 2010 Summary
    Independent Observers' Final Report Oct 2010
    OIG 2010 Wild Horse Report
  16. Airplane Harasses Gather
  17. Club-footed horses in Wyoming
  18. Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Roundup - September, 2009
  19. Calico Complex Wild Horse Roundup - 2010
  20. 2010 Tuscarora Roundup
  21. 'Truth Detecting' by Judith Costello an objective look at the wild horse issue and the misinformation surrounding it.
  22. Brigit Brown of Moriarty, New Mexico, turned a project for National History Day in her school into an award-winning documentary. The film won first place in regional and state competitions, and was featured at the Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover in Dallas, Texas in September 2011.
    Link to Brigit's documentary video
    Link to a background interview with Brigit about her project.
  23. Desatoya Gather - Roped Foal 2012
  24. Cattoor Livestock Wild Horse Roundups Letter to Laura Leigh
  25. Sheldon Wildlife Refuge Gather

Here are links to videos of two recent wildhorse roundups by Cattoor Livestock showing the methods and care that we use.

  1. YouTube Video #1 of a recent Cattoor Wild Horse Gather
  2. Cattoor Gather Video #2

1.  How are wild horses managed?

Most of the wild horses in the west range on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM.) We quote from the BLM website:

"The Bureau of Land Management protects, manages, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands. The BLM manages these living symbols of the Western spirit as part of its multiple-use mission under the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act ."

One of the BLM’s key responsibilities under the 1971 law is to determine the “appropriate management level” (AML) of wild horses and burros on the public rangelands. These animals have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, about 31,000 wild horses and burros roam BLM-managed lands in 10 Western states, a population that exceeds by about 3,500 the number that can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses. 
To help restore the balance, the BLM gathers some wild horses and burros and offers them for adoption or sale to those individuals and groups willing and able to provide humane, long-term care.

"Under the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, BLM is required to manage horses and burros only in those areas (Herd Areas) where they were found in 1971. Through land use planning, BLM evaluates each herd area to determine if it has adequate food, water, cover and space to sustain healthy and diverse wild horse and burro populations over the long term. The areas which meet these criteria are then designated as Herd Management Areas (HMAs).

Today, nearly half of the Nation's wild horses and burros live on Nevada rangelands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The current population is about 13,665 wild horses and 998 burros. These Living Legends move with the seasons within 102 Herd Management Areas comprising nearly 16 million acres of public land."

As of spring 2008, The BLM says unless Congress gives them some more money they can not do any gathers this year unless it is an emergency because they are spending all of their money just feeding the 30,000 plus horses in the short and long term facilities.  Costing them over $50,000 a day. 

2.  What is the History of Wild Horses in North America?

The BLM says, "Although horses evolved in North America, there are many different opinions as to why no horses or burros existed on this continent at the time of European exploration. Spanish explorers reintroduced horses to North America beginning in the late fifteenth century and Native Americans helped spread horses throughout the Great Plains and the West. Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century, horses continued to be released onto public lands by the U.S. cavalry, farmers, ranchers, and miners."

Some people believe that, at one time, there were millions of wild horses in the west.  If that had been true when the white man came west, wouldn't the Indians have been riding horses?  We challenge anyone interested in the facts to check the history of the wild horses or burros in each HMA (herd management area).  They will find the herds most often came from the ranchers that homesteaded or settled the land.  When the 1971 law was passed, only a small percent of the millions of acres of BLM-managed land had wild horses or burros.  These areas were the areas that were later made into herd management areas. 

The BLM Web site explains, "Under the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, BLM is required to manage horses and burros only in those areas (Herd Areas) where they were found in 1971. Through land use planning, BLM evaluates each herd area to determine if it has adequate food, water, cover and space to sustain healthy and diverse wild horse and burro populations over the long term. The areas which meet these criteria are then designated as Herd Management Areas (HMAs)."

When the west was settled, was common practice for ranchers to pasture their cattle and horses on the open range.  The United States Cavalry used horses for mounts until 1942.  They supplied the ranchers across the west with thoroughbred studs to run with the ranchers' bands of mares in order to raise horses for the army.  Introducing well-bred stallions into the herds helped prevent inbreeding and improved the herds.  Neither the ranchers or the cavalry routinely used mares as riding stock, so the mares ran in "stud bands" on the open range.  These bands consisted of perhaps up to 20 mares led by a dominant mare and herded and bred by a stallion.  Young male horses are pushed out of a band by the herd stallion.  The young males try to capture some mares of their own or challenge an older stallion for his band. 

Ranchers gathered the horses they needed for their own use and that of the army.  During this time, the horse herds increased.  According to the BLM, horse populations on the open range will increase 15 to 20 percent a year.  After the army was no longer using horses and travel became mechanized, the ranchers still gathered the best of the range horses for their own use, but since there was less demand for the horses, the herds increased and many more became wild.  In most places, the wild horse and burro herds have kept increasing since the wild horse and burro law was passed in 1971 because the ranchers were no longer allowed to gather and use the horses and because horses and burros have few natural predators. 

2A.  What is the History of Wild Burros in North America?
The Spanish brought donkeys, called "burros" in Spanish, to North America beginning beginning in 1495. They were prized for their hardiness in arid country and became the preferred beast of burden of early miners and gold prospectors during the 1800s in the Southwest United States.  They were used for carrying tools, supplies, and ore. Their sociable disposition and fondness for human companionship often allowed the miners to lead their donkeys without ropes. They simply followed behind their master. With the introduction of the steam train to the west, these donkeys lost their jobs and many were turned loose into the American deserts.  The wild burros on the western rangelands descend from animals that ran away, were abandoned, or were freed.  BLM estimates about 2800 burros range on their management areas today.

3.  What makes a successful humane wild horse roundup?

First, a trap site must be selected.  Preliminary scouting is done to find the natural routes horses travel.  The capture site needs to be close to the animals and somewhere that they would naturally go, so they do not have to be forced but will travel there more or less on their own.  Proper pens and wings must be built that are constructed of materials and in a manner that will not harm the horses and that will make gathering, handling, and sorting easy for animals and workers alike.

Second, the helicopter pilot must be experienced and understand livestock.  He needs to know how they will travel and when to speed up and when to slow down.  He must also be very skilled and very patient.  Then the wranglers must work quietly together.  They also must be very patient, understand and care about the animals.  

4.  Is the BLM, because of pressure from the ranchers, trying to remove all of the wild horses and burros from the range?
Absolutely not.  First of all the ranchers are not asking to have all the wild horses or burros removed. The ranchers love to see healthy wild horses and burros out on the range just like you and I do.   They are just asking that the BLM be able to manage the herds at the numbers set at “appropriate management level,” AML.  This is the number of wild horses and burros the BLM has - after studying and monitoring the range - determined can survive along with the optimum determined numbers of livestock and wildlife so that there is plenty of food and water for everything.  We just finished a wild horse roundup and the area permittee came and watched and would point out horses that were descendents of ones they use to ride.  He also had favorite ones that he watched out on the range.  This is typical of all of the ranchers in the west.

Today, nearly half of the Nation's wild horses and burros live on Nevada rangelands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The current Nevada population is about 13,665 wild horses and 998 burros. Nevada's 102 Herd Management Areas comprise nearly 16 million acres of public land.

5.  Do you run the wild horses with the helicopter?

Our pilots do not run the wild horses or burros during a wild horse roundup. The animals are gathered and then herded much like you would herd cattle. Horses travel naturally from place to place at a trot or faster gait. On the public lands where we typically gather, horses routinely travel long distances to water every day.

After the trap is completed the pilot or pilots begin herding the animals to the capture site. When the pilot first locates a group of wild horses or burros he stays as far away as possible to give the animals time to think and get used to the presence of the helicopter. Once they have gotten used to the sound and presence of the helicopter the pilot will start them moving in the direction of the gather site. Again, he will stay as far away as possible. By doing this the wild horses or burros will start off at a slow trot and will stay all together. Because the animals have had time to think and get used to the presence of the helicopter, the pilot will be able to turn them both ways, staying ¼ to ½ mile away from them The animals travel at their own speed to the trap. If they start to move too fast, the pilot will back away from them and give them more time to think and to slow down. If the animals in the front get too far ahead, the helicopter will get in front of these lead animals to slow them down until the others can catch up. Again the pilot will keep a good distance away from the animals. As the herd gets close to the wings of the trap and can sense the presence of people the pilot must get closer and put more pressure on the wild horses or burros. However, because the pilot has been very patient, and given the animals time to learn and respect the helicopter they are no longer afraid of the helicopter. The pilot has been “reading” the animals while driving them to the trap. This means he knows when to drop down and put more pressure on the wild horses and how close he must get to assure they will follow the domestic "pilot horse" into the trap and will not turn around in the wings of the trap. This is very important for the safety of the wranglers who follow the animals into the trap to shut the gate. It is also much more stressful for the animals if they do turn back or go through the wings and the pilot has to bring them back around and into the trap a second time. Most pictures taken of wild horse roundups are taken right at the trap so it appears that the helicopter runs the animals. That is not the case. 

6.  Why are helicopters used to gather wild horses and burros instead of just driving them with saddle horses or corral-trapping them using water or food?
Helicopter roundups are the most efficient way to gather wild horses and burros.  But more importantly they are the most humane way to gather.  We can say this because we have gathered wild horses and burros using both methods.  In the fifties and sixties and even after the law was passed until the use of helicopters was allowed, we captured wild horses using only saddle horses.  When you gather wild horses and burros horseback you locate the animals and run them and hope to maybe get them to a trap.  With a helicopter you can start your drive and then back off and let the animals travel at their own speed.  You can not do this horseback because you have to stay close to be able to handle or turn then.  Therefore, the animals will run and often the mares will run off and leave the foals behind, especially if they are small.  This is what had happened before the helicopter gather that was done on the Sheldon in June of 2006.  A contractor had been gathering horseback as we arrived to do the helicopter gather.  After we were finished, there were, I believe, three foals found that were not with their mothers.  We went back with the helicopter to locate and rescue the foals.  Because of their weakened condition, it was obvious they had been bummed by the earlier horseback operation and not by the helicopter operation. 
When doing a helicopter gather, you can turn the front of the herd back so the rest can catch up and you can easily cut off a mare and a small foal to leave, if necessary.  You can keep track of any animal that should get tired and drop behind until the wranglers can reach it.  The pilot will back way off and let the wild horses or burros travel at their own speed to the trap.  This is the same technique used on many large cattle ranches to herd cattle. 

When doing horseback gathers, often the animals have to be run and are followed until they are sore footed and tired enough to go where you want them to.  You cause lots and lots of extra stress by chasing, instead of driving the animals.  And this method is very hard on saddle horses also since they have to carry the extra weight of their rider.  You will have more injuries to the wild horses and you will have injuries to the saddle horses.  We have used a helicopter to drive wild horses and burros to a trap in all kinds of terrain and very seldom is there ever even a minor injury.  We do not have very many injuries but almost all occur after the animals are in the trap or in the holding facilities.  Anyone who would say or even think that a horseback gather of wild horses or burros is more humane than a helicopter gather with a qualified animal herding pilot has obviously never watched or been involved in either one.

In a few isolated areas bait or water trapping can be successful.  This would be in an area where there is say only one water source or where the animals aren't very wild.  But the animals and the area must be carefully studied.  Because sometimes when a water source is disturbed with a trap the animals will try to go somewhere else or just stay away from water until they are so dehydrated that, when they do finally come in the trap, they will drink and they collapse and can die.  Because there are so very few places where this will work, the numbers could never be managed this way. 
7.  Things that we do to assure the welfare of foals.
Several horse interest groups in their zealous attempts to stop helicopter wild horse roundups have made it appear like our organization, CLR, has no regard for what happens to foals during a wild horse roundup.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our concern starts with the pilot when he first spots a band of wild horses or burros that he will herd to the trap.  The pilot will follow the herd and allow even very tiny foals to travel with the herd.  Under certain circumstances, such as a mare with a very young foal, the pilot will cut the mare and colt off from the others and leave them out on the range.  If the pilot sees the foal or even a weak or old animal is getting tired, he radios the wranglers at the trap and they go out with saddle horses and a horse trailer and load and transport the foal or other animal to the trap.  We have even on occasion put a young foal in the helicopter and brought it in to the trap.
Once the animals are captured, the gates are shut.  When it is safe for the wranglers, they start to remove any small or weak animals from the others in order to prevent any injuries.  We have an alley with gates and carefully sort the foals into a separate pen.  The foals and any weak or very old animals are always hauled separately.  Once at the holding facility, the wet mares and foals are marked and put into the same pen.  We closely monitor this pen and make sure the mares and foals are paired up.  We always have Foalac (milk supplement) available and will separate and hand feed a foal that maybe has a young mother with no milk or one that has already lost it's mother out on the range before the gather or on a very rare occasion a mare will be so wild she won't settle down and let the foal nurse.  We pride ourselves on the care of foals during capture, processing and transporting.
8.  How can you watch a wild horse roundup?
Some of the lies being circulated on the internet this summer contain statements that say the contractors and BLM do not want and sometimes do not allow people to watch wild horse roundups.  As contractors, we always work with the BLM to accommodate visitors and photographers.  We find a place where they can see and be safe and not interfere with the gather operations.  Just send us an E-Mail at clr@wildhorseroundups.com and we will let you know where our next wild horse roundup will be and how to contact the local BLM to make arrangements to come out.

9.  Water Development

In a high desert climate, water is life. In many areas of Nevada, water, not feed, is the limiting factor for wildlife and livestock throughout much of the year.

Many mountain ranges and valleys in Nevada are covered in feed that is never touched by animals, but wildlife is very limited. The reason is obvious, it is a desert, it can be many miles or tens of miles between the nearest permanent water sources.

The greatest boon to water development for the direct benefit of wildlife and wild horses throughout the State of Nevada over the last century and a half has been our ranchers and herders.

Water developments were installed by cattle ranchers and sheepmen to the mutual benefit of their herds and the local wildlife. The many thousands of water troughs, spring boxes, water tanks, and other water developments installed by ranchers never water, not feed, is often the limiting factor on the range
cost the taxpayer anything, and yet our wildlife flourished as a direct result of these efforts.

Where ranchers develop the water, they have developed it in multiple locations throughout an area, usually no more than five miles apart, as opposed to the usual single guzzler wildlife organizations establish within a large area. For ranchers this makes sense, as it allows the use of a large portion of the range while minimizing weight-losing travel for their animals to water.

Installing a single water source in an area with no alternatives creates a perfect environment for predators, especially mountain lions, to prey upon animals using this single water source.

The majority of old water developments, windmills, and "spring boxes" were all installed by ranchers over the years. In modern days, with reduced grazing allotments and a negative attitude towards grazers by the federal government and state wildlife agencies, many of the ranchers are not able to use the grazing land and these water improvements are not being repaired or maintained and have dried up. All over the deserts of Nevada there are dry tanks and water troughs where once water was funneled into tanks during spring runoff, or pumped with windmills or gas pumps. These old wells are dry, and wildlife and wild horses are going thirsty. When the ranchers leave, the water dries up and the wildlife either goes elsewhere or dies.

10.  What are the effects of the horse slaughter ban on wild horses?
According to the Animal Welfare Council, "An increased supply of low-value horses due to a processing ban will also create direct competition with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) National Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. The BLM has been working diligently to create a viable adoption program for BLM horses removed from national public lands. The BLM program will be negatively impacted by the increased competition for adoption placement between BLM horses and unwanted horses that would have otherwise been processed. This will increase the cost of the BLM program if they have a larger inventory of BLM horses to maintain due to lower adoption rates. The BLM enforces strict standards of care for horses in their control, whereas there are few, if any, governmental regulations in place specifically for rescue/adoption/retirement facilities."  See their Web site for more complete information. 

11.  Was Dave Cattoor convicted of a felony?
Some individuals and interest groups are attacking Cattoor Livestock Roundup and Dave Cattoor personally, saying he has a felony conviction for capturing wild horses and therefore should not be allowed to have a government contract. The real story is in August of 1990, Cliff Heaverne and Dave signed a contract with the Western Shoshone National Council to capture horses for the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. The Tribe claimed these horses as Indian horses that were just running on BLM and Indian Lands. The horses were captured on the Duckwater Reservation but some did come from adjoining BLM land. The government declared the horses to be free roaming wild horses and charged Cliff and Dave and four others from the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe with count one, conspiracy, and count two, use of aircraft to capture wild horses and aiding and abetting. On the advice of their lawyer, Cliff and Dave plead guilty to the count two charge. This charge was a misdemeanor and they paid a $500 fine and were on probation for one year. The Indians decided to go to trial and were found not guilty. Had Cliff and Dave waited and gone to trial with the Shoshone Indians they probably would not have been found guilty either. If you are interested in seeing any of the documents from the courts and the lawyers or the contract with the Shoshone Tribe, please contact us.   Click here to read a PDF file containing a Letter from BLM explaining the 1992 Duckwater Indian Tribe Horse Gather

12.  Twin Peaks Roundup - August 2010

Update - August 26th

August 18, 19, 20, and 21th we captured wild horses from the Shinn 2 areas. Two different traps were set up and used so the wild horses could be captured without herding them very far. All of these wild horses were transported from the trap site directly to the Litchfield Wild Horse Facility. The stallions and mares were separated at the trap and loaded in separate compartments on the semi trailers for transport to the Litchfield Facility. The foals are also hauled in a separate compartment or trailer. There have been no gather related animal deaths. Three wild horses have been euthanized for humane reasons and one stud reared in the working alley at the Litchfield Facility and died instantly. Please again refer to BLM web site for details and up to date capture and release numbers.

I would like to add a little additional information about the foal that was among the 17 head transported to Litchfield on August 19th. This foal had been living in an enclosure with some cattle for approximately three weeks. One of the ranchers in the area gave our wranglers the details and location of the foal and the wranglers took their saddle horses and retrieved this foal the evening of August 18, 2010. It was held overnight with the saddle horses and then transported with the wild horses captured on August 17 to the Litchfield Wild Horse Facility. This foal was a orphan and living in this enclosure with the cattle before this roundup began.

No gather operations took place on August 22, On August ,23,24, and 25th we gathered at Cold Springs. All wild horses were taken to the temporary holding facility that is again located at Bull Flat. There have been no gather related animal deaths. Refer to BLM web site for details and up to date capture and release numbers.

On August 26th the trap was set up on Rodeo Flat but no animals were captured because of strong winds.

Update - August 18, 2010

August 11, 2010 was the first day of capture for the Twin Peaks roundup. We have used three different traps and captured just over 600 wild horses. Some studs and mares have been released back on the range and the other animals were taken to the Litchfield Wild Horse Holding Facility. Please refer to the BLM California web site for more details and the up-to-date gather numbers. There have been no serious injuries or deaths. Two wild horses have been euthanized for humane reasons.

Anyone who wants to come watch this roundup can meet at the Litchfield Holding Facility at 6:00 AM. Vehicle requirements and other details can be found on the BLM web site.

13.  2010 Summary

Cattoor Livestock Roundup credits wranglers and pilots credit for a very low gather-related death loss.

Since January 1, 2010 Cattoor Livestock Roundup has recorded a very low .158% gather-related death loss. This would be any accidental death because of the capture, sorting, or transporting of the wild horses or burros. The non gather related death loss is a low .570% death loss. This would include the humane euthanization or the death of any very old, weak, and thin animals, animals with deformities, animals with severely club feet, blind animals, animals captured with severely injured legs or feet from previous injuries, or animals that suffered from water starvation or water intoxication such as the ones during the Tuscarora roundup. The total death loss including both non gather related and gather related would be a very low .728% of the total 9,483 wild horses and burros gather by CLR for the BLM and other agencies since January 1, 2010.

Both pilots and every wrangler deserves the credit for this very minimal loss of animals. They work everyday with these wild animals and they do everything they can to safely and humanely capture, sort, and transport these wild animals. We are very proud of our wranglers and pilots.

  • Click here for Independent Designated Observer Pilot Program FINAL REPORT October 2010

  • Below is a link to the BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM report issued by the United States Office of the Inspector General Dec. 13, 2010. Bureau of Land Management's response:  "The Bureau of Land Management has been working to set the wild horse and burro program on a sustainable path that protects the health of the horses and the range.  The Inspector General's report is an important affirmation of the progress BLM has made and the direction we are moving.  The IG report underlines the fact that there are no easy answers to these complex management challenges, and we must therefore continue to develop solutions based on sound science, public input, and our partnerships with states and stakeholders."

    Click here for the December 13, 2010 Office of the Inspector General Wild Horse Report


On September 16, 2011 Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc was doing a wild horse gather in Southwestern Colorado in Spring Creek which is located in Disappointment Valley. There were many observers and several protesters present that day. A viewing area had been chosen up on the hill above the trap and temporary holding site. The helicopter did not start herding the wild horses until afternoon because of a mechanical problem that had to be addressed. A small airplane had circled the area several times during the morning hours. The helicopter was bringing in the second band of wild horses when this airplane suddenly appeared and flying very low above the helicopter followed it all the way up the wings of the trap. Dave Cattoor was down on the wings with the Judas horse and told the pilot that the airplane was just above him and to stay very low and then to land as soon as he could safely do so. That is what the pilot did. The airplane made another circle and flew down very low beside the helicopter on the ground and then flew low over the observers on the hill and at the entrance gate. There was a photographer hanging out of the window of the plane taking video or pictures.

Dave and Troy Cattoor and the pilot then met with the BLM COR and PI’s overseeing the gather operation and when it appeared the airplane has left the area they decided to put the helicopter back in the air and bring in another band of wild horses. The pilot had just picked up another band not very far from the trap when the airplane suddenly showed up again. Someone there at the gather observation site had contact with the airplane and was telling him when and where the helicopter was. This time the airplane again flew very close to and parallel with the helicopter. The photographer was still hanging out the window taking pictures. As the helicopter brought the wild horses close to the wings of the trap the airplane moved ahead and turned the wild horses in front of the helicopter causing them to go up the hill. The airplane pilot was harassing the wild horses and trying to turn them out of the wings of the trap. He was once aging very close to the helicopter putting the pilot in danger. Dave again told the helicopter pilot to land as soon as he could. When the helicopter was safely on the ground we shut down for the day.

We reported this incident to the FAA and they are doing an investigation of the pilot. The observers working with this pilot are just as guilty and really do not care about the wild horses. They only care about themselves, getting close up pictures no matter what, and their own notoriety. Our pilots do everything they can to herd the wild horse to the trap as humanely as possible. They should not be put in this kind of a dangerous situation.. Nor should the wild horses be subjected to this extra stress. Our wranglers, the BLM personnel and the other observers should not have been put in this kind of danger either. The actions of this pilot and these other individuals was very irresponsible. This only gives the good advocates and others a bad name, which is sad because most of the public coming out to observe the roundups are really good people who just care about the wild horses.

15.  Club Footed Wild Horses in Wyoming

We just finished the roundups in White Mountain and Little Colorado in Western Wyoming. During this roundup ten wild horses were humanely euthanized. Three were badly crippled with pre-existing injuries but seven were club footed. These club feet are a genetic defect and the horses have a hard time traveling to feed and water. These two pictures are of one pinto stud horse with club feet from White Mountain.

 Club Footed Wild Horses in Wyoming  

August 19, 2012

Subject:  Desatoya Gather - Roped Foal

Holly Hazard with HSUS was an observer at the first day of the Desatoya Wild Horse Gather we are doing near Austin, Nevada.  She has issued a press release criticizing the way one foal was handled at the trap site.  In her statement she said the foal was hogtied and left in the path of galloping wild horses.    This statement is not the truth.  It is misleading and exaggerated.  The little foal was captured and tied down but certainly not in the path of galloping wild horses.  .   

This is what happened and why the foal was handled the way it was and why certain decisions were made.  The pilot radioed that he had a foal that appeared to be very weak and was dropping back from the band.   Our pilots herd the wild horses at their own pace so they know if something can not keep up it usually has a problem of some kind.   CLR’s protocol is to immediately send a wrangler on horseback to the foal so that it will not become lost and can be brought in to be evaluated and reunited with the mother.  A wrangler captured the foal and could immediately tell this foal was very weak.  He knew not to stress it further by trying to drive it on into the trap but to try to get a trailer and the vet to it as soon as possible.  At this same time the helicopters were bringing in other bands of horses that also contained foals.  The wrangler, again following CLR protocol, tied the foal down at the end of one of the long wings.  He then rode out of the way so as not to scare and turn back the bands of horses the helicopters were bringing in.  As soon as the bands were safely in the trap this wrangler went back to the foal and brought it to a trailer that was dispatched to take it to the temporary holding.  Here the foal was given water and put in the pen with the wet mares to find it’s mother. 

After all the wild horses had been sorted through the chute and were settled in pens with food and water I gave Holly a “walk around” of the holding facility.  I showed her this foal and she could see that at that time it appeared to be OK.  We spent some time observing these wet mares and foals to make sure they were pairing up and that everything was OK.  This again is CLR’s protocol when we are doing gathers and have small foals.  But also we knew that today we had captured some very weak foals.  Several were really thin and their hair was rough - they were not slicked off like healthy foals should be in the summer time.  This foal and one other appeared to not be doing good so they were caught and given electrolyte paste and some more water. 

We could not save them  They later both died.  The APHIS vet performed necropsy’s on them.  The little foal that had been roped was starved and very weak.  You can read the report.  The other foal had gone immediately to the hay that was provided for the horses and ate too much and had coliced.  Again you can read the report.   We all felt bad but knew we had done all we could to save them.  Yes the gather may have hastened their deaths but they were so weak and the wild horses were traveling so far to water that they would not have survived for very long.  We lost these two but because the wild horses were gathered other weak foals that might have died out on the range were saved.

We, Cattoor Livestock Roundup really resent Holly’s insinuations that the treatment of this foal was not humane and that we did something to cause it unnecessary stress.   We also resent her insinuations that we tied the foal down and brought in the other bands of horses for only gather efficiency.  She insinuates that we were not looking out for the best interests of the foal.  We feel that the best decisions that could have been made under these circumstances were made.  The foal was very weak and the wrangler knew he would need to bring a trailer to load it and not try to drive it on into the trap.  He knew the other wild horses were close to the trap.  He knew theses other bands also has foals.  He did not want to scare them and cause extra stress on those bands so he tied the foal down in a safe place where it was certainly not in any danger from the other wild horses being driven into the trap.   He went back and got it as soon as he could.  The other bands could continue on into the trap.  This is especially important because, as I have described in my information about what happens as wild horses are located and driven to the trap, the helicopter gets the animals to move away from it and to move in the right direction.  If the helicopters would have backed off and the bands allowed to turn back under the helicopters and escape and then the pilots try to bring them back around and in to the trap these animals would have had lots of extra distance and lots of extra stress put on them.  That if anything would have been inhumane. 

I would also like to add that we closely monitored several more of the foals that were captured this day and the next day.  These wild horses that were living out in this area were really short of feed and were traveling a very long ways to water.  They had not had any green grass this spring or early summer and so the mares did not have much  milk.  We had two foals that we weaned from their mothers because they were in very poor shape and the mares did not have any milk.  They were taken to an individual in Dayton for some TLC.  Several more were marked so PVC could monitor them.


Advocating for commonsense, ecologically solid approaches to managing horses and burros to promote healthy wildlife and range lands for future generations.


Contact: Terra Rentz, NHBRMC Chair

Phone: 301-897-9770 x309/ E-mail: horseandrange@gmail.com

Horse and Burro Coalition Statement on NBC's Wild Horse Stories

Washington, DC (May 15, 2013) - The National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition issues the following statement in response to two stories released by NBC News today on wild horses:

"Recent stories by NBC News (Today Show: Wild horses: Endangered animals or menace, and Cruel or necessary? and NBCNews.com: The true cost of wild horse roundups) portray only select facts and a narrow part of the reality surrounding wild horses and burros on the western range.

While regarded by many as icons of the American West, free-roaming horses and burros are in fact nonnative species that threaten rangelands and native plant and animal species. But managed at appropriate population levels, wild horses and burros are not a "menace," even to those with whom the range is shared. Nor is it accurate in any way to call wild horses and burros "endangered." In fact, the problem is an overpopulation of horses and burros in and beyond many herd management areas. lt is inaccurate for these reports to depict only healthy horses or rangelands. While this exists, so do unhealthy horses and degraded range. Finally, considering the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Federal agency tasked with managing most of the wild horses and burros in the West, has gathered tens of thousands of horses over the past decades, it is an unfair portrayal of those gathers to focus on a few instances of potentially inappropriate gather methods. While not perfect, the BLM works hard to maintain humane gather methods.

The BLM faces a daunting task. Current herd sizes, which greatly exceed manageable levels, stand to jeopardize other multiple uses called for by law; they do so by trampling vegetation, hardpacking the soil, and over-grazing. Current overpopulation of horses and burros on the range results in great suffering for the animals, many of which are dying of thirst or starvation. Other multiple uses that depend on healthy rangelands are suffering as well. Despite protection under the law, for example, BLM reports that since horses and burros became protected in 1971, ranching families have seen livestock grazing decline by 30 percent on BLM lands. Meanwhile, the horse population is 42 percent above the scientifically-determined Appropriate Management Level (AML) - which is the population size that BLM can graze without causing ecological damage to rangeland resources. More than 37,000 wild horses currently reside on the range, over 11,000 more than the west-wide AML of26,500 individuals. Without management, horse and burro herds can double in size every four to five years.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was enacted to protect "Wild, free-roaming" horses and burros, as well as guide their management as part of the natural system on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands in the western United States. The Act requires those agencies to maintain a "thriving natural ecological balance" and protect existing rights on those lands, based on the principle of multiple use.  The Act, as amended, also authorizes the agencies to use or contract for the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles for the purpose of managing horses and burros. This aids BLM to reach AML. When AML is not reached, the animals and other multiple uses, such as wildlife habitat and livestock grazing, are negatively impacted.

Appropriate. scientifically sound management of wild horses and burros on the range is in the interests of all those who care about the health of the animals, the sustainability of the range and the well-being of the rural communities in the west. The NBC stories unfortunately neglect to address these legitimate issues and  provide an incomplete picture of the challenges facing policymakers, rancher.;, and the conservation community.

For the sake of animal welfare and multiple-use-and in keeping with the Act--the Coalition supports actions that will bring herd sizes in line with AMLs, and emphasizes the following positions:

• The Coalition appreciates BLM's efforts to find ways to reduce reproduction rates, increase adoptions and otherwise find solutions to a problem that continues to burden the BLM, taxpayers, and ranchers and create concerns for the welfare of horses and burros and the health of wildlife and the habitats on which they depend. About 70 percent of the total program budget ($74.9 million) is currently being spent on the over 50,000 horses and burros being held in corrals and pastures. These levels are unsustainable. We support innovative strategies such as adjusting sex ratios, and we encourage more research into effective fertility control treatments. Aside from population suppression, offering trained animals for adoption is important to increase demand for excess horses and burros. We encourage cost-effective initiatives to partner with entities such as universities, prisons and the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

• The Coalition applauds the BLM's implementation of humane handling and holding practices. BLM is now supplementing their already-sound practices with a new Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program. As reported by the American Association of Equine Practitioners in 2011, BLM's "care, handling and management practices" are "appropriate for this population of horses and generally support the safety, health status and welfare of the animals"

• The Coalition believes horses and burros should continue to be cared for in a humane manner both on and off the range; integral to this goal is managing herd populations at scientifically determined AMLs and removing old and injured animals. Management decisions should be science-based and increase the ability of rangelands to support healthy horse and burro herds along with other multiple uses, including sustaining native plant and wildlife communities and livestock grazing.

The rangeland resource should be managed for multiple-use in accordance with the law and the land's scientifically proven capability to accommodate a variety of uses, including the presence of horses and burros and the biodiversity of the landscape. The consistent application of sound science and economics in relation to animal and rangeland management should be used throughout the horse and burro program."


The coalition is a diverse partnership of 13 wildlife, conservation and sportsmen organizations, industry partners, and professional natural-resource scientific societies working together to identify proactive and comprehensive solutions 10 increase effective management of horse and burro populations and mitigate the adverse impacts to healthy native fish, wildlife, and plants and the ecosystems on which they depend.

For more information, visit www.wildhorserange.org.

American Farm Bureau Federation. Masters of Foxhounds Association. Mule Deer Foundation National Association of Conservation Districts. National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Rifle Association. National Wildlife Refuge Association. Public Lands Council, Public Lands Foundation. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Safari Club International, Society for Range Management, The Wildlife Society.

Contact us at horseandrange@gmail.com 


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