Leading Wild Horse NGO Delivers 50K Signatures to Interior to Halt to Controversial Roundup

WASHINGTON (July 8, 2021) — Today, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, hand-delivered the signatures of 50,000 citizens to the U.S. Department of the Interior with a final plea to Secretary Deb Haaland and Acting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Nada Culver to suspend plans to round up and remove 80% of the famed Onaqui Mountains wild horse herd in Utah.

  • What: Delivering 50,000 signatures to Interior Department calling for a halt to the roundup of federally-protected wild horses in Utah
  • Where: 18th Street Northwest & C Street Northwest, Washington, DC
  • When: Thursday, July 8, 2021, 11 a.m.

As early as this Sunday, July 11, the BLM will begin the controversial helicopter removal of over 200 of the federally-protected wild horses who live on public lands just 40 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The high-profile herd, which is currently managed using fertility control, is historically and culturally significant and is visited by tourists from all over the world.

The AWHC issued the following statement when delivering the signatures. 

“We’re here today to ensure that the voices of the 50,000 citizens who signed our petition to save Utah’s famed Onaqui wild horses are heard. We join with the 80% of Americans who want wild horses protected by calling on the Bureau of Land Management to halt the imminent roundup of more than 200 of these federally protected animals. 

The Onaqui wild horses are beloved and known worldwide as individuals and families that will be separated and traumatized in the helicopter roundup scheduled to begin in just three days. The plan to capture, remove and pen these magnificent wild horses is generating international public outrage and requires a different approach. 

There is an urgent need to reform the costly and cruel federal wild horse management program and move toward more humane and sustainable management approaches. And the Onaqui herd - with its proximity to Salt Lake City, an existing fertility control program and local knowledge of the horses - is a perfect place to begin this change. 

The American Wild Horse Campaign stands ready to collaborate with the BLM and key stakeholders to develop and implement a model program to protect and showcase these iconic wild horses and keep them wild on the range where they belong.

The plan to remove the Onaqui wild horses has drawn widespread public opposition and outrage, including from Grey’s Anatomy actress, Katherine Heigl who sent letters to the U.S. Senate and House, urging Congress to compel the BLM to reconsider its plan to capture and instead should pursue a humane management proposal. 

In April, the AWHC and environmental watchdog organization, Western Watersheds Project (WWP) submitted a proposal for the management of the Onaqui horses, focusing on the need to allow time — just three more years — for the PZP fertility program currently in place in the Onaqui HMA to stabilize population growth. The plan also emphasized the need for BLM to give wild horses a more equitable share of resources by decreasing commercial livestock grazing in their habitat and asked that the entire habitat be open and accessible to the wild horses. 

About the American Wild Horse Campaign

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.