The Red Desert Roundup: A Blatant Example of BLM Catering to Livestock

(October 10, 2020) The Red Desert of southern Wyoming is one of the last high-desert ecosystems in the United States. This vast 9,320 square mile area is home to an abundance of wildlife and federally protected wild horses. 

There are five herds that have called this land home for centuries: Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek, and Stewart Creek. Together, these wild mustangs and the Herd Management Areas (HMAs) they live in, make up the Red Desert Complex, 703,500 acres of public land and 49,500 acres of private land.

In September, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would be conducting a massive helicopter roundup and removal of approximately 2,400 wild horses from within the Complex in October. According to the American Wild Horse Campaign, this number represents the largest removal of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program since its inception. 

The BLM plans to reduce the wild horse population to the “Appropriate” Management Level (AML) of just 480-724 within the complex, leaving three of the HMA’s with just 65 or fewer horses remaining. At the low end, that equates to 1 horse per every 1,500+ areas. 

Meanwhile, the BLM permits 20,995 privately-owned sheep and 9,763 cows on the various allotments throughout the year within the federally-designated wild horse habitats.

This roundup will cost the taxpayers $2.4 million just remove these beloved horses, and a will bring along with it the lifetime cost of $55 million to house these horses for the remainder of their lives in government holding corrals. 

Soon, you will be hard-pressed to find horses in this area. What will be left are tax-subsidized cows and sheep littering the land where iconic wild horses once roamed.