Harrowing Video of Government Wild Horse Roundup in Utah Sparking Public Outrage

You are here

Tooele, Utah (February 21, 2017)…. Videos released by the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), which were recorded last week of an ongoing Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse roundup in Utah’s Cedar Mountain Herd Management Area, are sparking public outrage.  The videos, which show government helicopters stampeding terrified wild horses and relentlessly chasing a wild mare and her small foal have been viewed almost 230,000 times on Facebook alone, sparking thousands of comments from outraged citizens over the mistreatment of these federally protected animals. (See daily videos here.)

“There is a way to manage wild horses, and the cruel policy of roundups and removals is not it,” said Grace Kuhn, AWHC communications director, who documented the Utah roundup last week with filmmaker Michael Alfuso. “We are calling on the Trump Administration to follow the will of the American people and fix this inhumane federal mismanagement disaster. America can’t be great if our national symbols of freedom are mistreated and disrespected in this cruel manner.”

Other cruel incidents from last week’s roundup, documented on video, as well as in BLM reports, show:

- an exhausted colt, limping slowly and painfully into a trap after being chased for miles by a helicopter
- a helicopter coming dangerously close to a group of mustangs as it drives them into the trap.
- the killing of a pregnant mare due to foaling complications likely caused by the stress of helicopter stampede and capture, and
-  a 22-year old stallion, who was forced to run for miles with a shoulder injury and clubfoot only to be killed by the BLM after capture.

AWHC is urging the public to sign a new petition calling on the Trump Administration to reform the federal roundup program through implementation of scientifically recommended birth control as an alternative to removing thousands of wild horses from the range each year.

Kuhn noted that not only are the current roundups cruel and a waste of tax-payer dollars, they also are making the situation worse. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the BLM’s “Management practices are facilitating high rates of population growth” on the range, exacerbating the very problem that the agency is complaining about! The NAS, which conducted a review of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program in 2012-2103, also concluded that the arbitrary population limits that BLM has set for wild horses are “not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation with new information and environmental and social change.”

The Cedar Mountain roundup continues with the goal of capturing 600 – 700 wild horses and permanently removing up to 300 of them from the range. The BLM states that “approximately 400” wild horses will be returned to the range after mares are treated with the PZP-22 birth control vaccine.

Wild horses that are permanently removed from Cedar Mountain HMA will be transported to the BLM’s Delta Holding Corrals in southern Utah. They will become part of a holding system in which the BLM currently warehouses over 46,000 wild horses and burros. These horses are at grave risk, as ranching interests pressures Congress to lift the ban on slaughtering these animals, even though 80 percent of Americans strongly oppose horse slaughter.

The Cedar Mountain HMA is approximately 200,000 acres of BLM-managed public land southeast of Salt Lake City. The BLM allows just 190-390 wild horses to roam within the HMA, while authorizing upwards of 816 cattle and 3,800 sheep to graze the area in the winter and early spring.  Across Utah, the BLM allows livestock grazing on 22 million acres of public land, of which less than 10 percent (2.1 million acres) is shared with wild horses.

American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) (formerly known as the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.