The Antelope Complex consists of the Antelope Valley, Goshute, Spruce-Pequop, and Antelope Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and is made up of 1,183,340 acres in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently estimates 6,032 wild horses, before the 2021 foals are counted. However, the BLM’s unscientifically low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the HMA – the number of horses the agency claims that the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses – is 427-789 animals.
In 2017, the BLM released a final decision to remove approximately 4,894-5,256 wild horses from the Antelope Complex in order to achieve AML. Now, the BLM is implementing this decision with the designation of an “emergency” action.
However, while the BLM now notes that there is currently not enough forage and/or water in the Complex to sustain the wild horse population, at the same time the BLM continues to authorize thousands of cattle and sheep to graze in the Complex. It is time for the BLM to manage wild horse habitat for the wild horses.
This roundup will cost the taxpayers at least $528 thousand to just remove these beloved horses and will bring along with it the lifetime cost of approximately $111 million to house these horses for the remainder of their lives in government-holding corrals. 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.
Some of the livestock operators in this area are heavily invested in the systemic removal of the Antelope wild horses:
- John Uhalde & Co. is a paid contractor for the BLM to roundup and remove wild horses and burros
- Kevin Borba of Borba Land and Cattle Company is a rancher who attempted to block the release of over 200 wild horses back to the HMA where he grazes his cattle and is a supporter of the pro-horse slaughter organization Protect the Harvest
- A ranching couple who in the 2000's refused to pay grazing fees. After the permit was canceled, they continued to graze their cattle on the public lands within the Blackrock Allotment.
- Pete Paris of Paris Livestock one of the Principles of the Nevada Woolgrowers Association and Board Member of the Nevada Dept. of Agriculture
- Richard McCay is a rancher who also is a Eureka County Commissioner.
As this operation moves forward, BLM will permanently remove approximately 2,200 wild horses from their home on your public lands; all in an effort to reach AML and without any action against livestock grazing use in the horses’ habitat. Soon, you will be hard-pressed to find horses in this area. What will be left are tax-subsidized cows littering the land where iconic wild horses once roamed.
AWHC is on the ground to shed light on the BLM’s action. We will update this report as the roundup proceeds.
AWHC’s field rep has documented multiple Comprehensive Animal Welfare Guideline (CAWP) violations, including wild horses being chased along unmarked barbed wire fences, and horses run at such a fast speed that exhausted foals are not able to keep up and have to be roped by contractors. In one case, an exhausted foal was placed in the helicopter and flown to the trap site. The foal later died. There was a BLM CAWP assessment team onsite for the first few days, but no action was taken to correct ongoing violations.
August 29, 2021: 93 wild horses were captured with one death due to a "sudden/acute" injury noted as a broken leg.
AWHC’s field representative was one of 2 public observers on site today at the Antelope Complex roundup. We were put at the same observation point as yesterday about 45 minutes South of Wendover.
6:49 am: First run. The horses zigzagged from the horizon. A foal lagged behind by 15 seconds.
7:40 am : 2 bands were brought in at the same time by each helicopter.
8:50 am : Another run, this time what appeared to be a yearling fell about a mile behind. After bringing the band into the trap, the helicopter flew right over the lagging horse which was now running east for the hills. The helicopter flew over the yearling and did not pursue it, which meant he was separated from his band.
9:00 am to 9:11 am: 3 bands were brought in.
- The first band had a foal that fell behind, and after getting lost in the dust cloud, our representative could not see the foal.
- The second band had a horse evade trap and was allowed to run off without a chase given.
- The third band, the helicopter appeared to get too close in the jute wings but did not clip any horses.
9:50 am Two bands were brought in, and the helicopter kept about a mile back. It was getting hot. One band stopped and rested, the helicopter let them thankfully. A horse from the first band began to fall behind and the helicopter passed it and pushed its family into the trap, the helicopter then pushed it in 20 seconds later.
About 10:10 to 10:25 am: A band of tired horses was partially captured. 5 ran off, were chased around all directions for ten minutes and scattered to hills in each direction; the helicopter eventually gave up pursuit. At times horses would run directly under the helicopter, defying it.
11:15 am: Another group came in.
11:47 am: The day was completed and we visited temporary holding.
August 28, 2021: 169 wild horses were captured today.
- Our observation was a mile away on a mountainside with lush trees.do some fertility darting, instead of paying the $111 million to house these horses for life.
- The sun rose through the wildfire smoke, our equipment was good enough I could see a solar flare.
- The horses zig-zagged across the landscape. It was surreal to see the lines of dust illuminated by a backlit sunrise, making shapes as they carve out across the land.
- At one point a small band evaded and ran for safety right past us on our mountain overlook.
- The helicopters stayed back a distance until the push to trap.
- A foal fell behind and was lassoed.
- On the runs, foals fell behind and came in late.
- 8:58 am: a foal somehow got in the jute and ahead of the Judas horse half a minute before the rest of the band, the rest of the band being chased around outside.
- A large band was brought in. Ahead of them, a group of 2 ran near us and around, and pursued back to the playa and finally to trap. They had been brought from over the mountain on the horizon.
- 11:11 am: Another 2 runs finished, and they went to rope a foal that had evaded. May have been a second foal too because they sent a trailer and roped.
August 27, 2021: 116 wild horses lost their freedom today
AWHC’s field representative was one of two public observers on site today. We missed the first few runs because of a road selection BLM made to accommodate other observers’ wariness of the road conditions.
- The run at 9:10 am was close and a foal fell a few hundred feet behind the second group of 4 horses. The view became obscured by trees to see what happened next. 5 minutes later, only 4 horses arrived in the trap, a minute later, a foal.
- One horse evaded the trap and ran off past us.
- There was a run at 10:35 am where a group of 5 horses including a foal, was chased. Then only 4 went into the trap, unknown if it was a foal or adult that evaded because it was too hazy to see.
- Run at 11:56am: I heard a helicopter about 20 miles away, bringing the horses over a 30 minute period. It was slow at first but the last 5 miles or so, they were pushed hard. The band of 7, including a foal, became a band of 4 by the time they reached a ridge.
- At 12:05 pm another run was conducted and we heard a loud boom. The pilot landed and got out of the helicopter.
- At 12:20pm the wranglers went out after a mustang on horseback.
August 26, 2021: 106 horses were removed today and there was 1 death: an 11-year old stallion died due to a "sudden/acute" injury.AWHC’s field representative was the only member of the public in attendance for the on-going Antelope Complex wild horse removal in Nevada.
We had to leave the hotel at 3:30 am to depart for the BLM caravan at 5 am. Upon arriving, we were told by BLM that we would watch the first run from the road so as to not spook horses that were in the area. From far away, our representative could see a foal falling behind on the first run.
En route again, we stopped by yet another large pond of this valley. This one had waterfowl in it, showing how abundant and supportive the ecosystem is.
At observation, a band came near us at a slow run. The helicopter kept a good distance back.
At one point a rider rode out after a horse that ran over a mile away. The helicopter kept on the horse. The rider came back empty-handed, the horse must have gotten away.
A few runs, some of the horses ran close to us and we could see their glorious wild beauty galloping past. Many many runs. Very long day for me. Runs went from 7 to noon.
Numerous trailer loads were taken out. Trap got dusty halfway through the day. The temperature got into the early 80s.
August 25, 2021: 128 wild horses were removed.
August 24, 2021: 15 wild horses were captured
AWHC’s field representative was 1 of 3 members of the public on-site to attend the roundup.
We arrived about 20 minutes after the only run of the day, being stopped by the watering hole so as not to interrupt the run. We got to observation time to see a trailer of horses leave.
The day was then called for wind. The BLM took us to temporary holding after.
August 23, 2021: No horses were rounded up today.
AWHC's field representative was one of four members of the public on site at the day's operation. Our representative drove very far out into the field following the BLM's caravan. Upon arrival, we were told it was very windy and they likely would not fly. They determined at around 10 am not to fly after the helicopter did recon.
The BLM took us to view temporary holding. On the drive out we saw wild horses running free. There was also a huge watering hole in the area. The valley is lush and green and there were abundant trees on the hills and mountains.
At holding Sue Catoor says all foals yesterday were reunited with the mares and sent to Utah. She says they gave them water and Gatorade.
August 22, 2021: 84 wild horses were captured and the BLM euthanized three foals. The foals were euthanized due to an acute fracture, lameness, and physical deformity.
AWHC’s field observer was one of two members of the public onsite to document the operations.
During the first run, a group of four horses were chased over a hill in the far distance and broke away. Our field observer did not see them again later. Shortly after, about 15 horses were brought in. While in the jute, they all turned around to back out but the helicopter pushed them all back in.
Too dusty, smokey, hazy, and far to see anything.
During the 4th run of the day, horses entered the pen, appears very fast speed when in trap. A foal was left very far behind, a third to a half-mile, and was either roped or chased in by a rider (too far to tell) after the run.
The contractor drove his two domestic horses to a spot down the valley a few miles away and was there for about a half-hour. Likely to rope a horse or foal, but it was too far and out of sight.
On the 5th run of the day, a medium-size group of horses was brought in. It looked like a horse fell in the trap. Two foals were either roped or chased in a few minutes after the group, so they had fallen behind. It was too hazy by this point of the day to see any details from this far.
During the 6th run, 6 horses, including 2 foals, jumped the jute. The helicopter chased them across the road and back, they evaded and the helicopter stopped chasing. They came back on their own towards us, the helicopter picked up the chase after they crossed the road again... Making it the 3rd attempt now. They went 2 miles SW away from the trap and circled around many miles NE (about 3 or 4 miles at a run with the foals, heat feels about 88 to 90).
One mare stayed behind the 2 foals that were falling behind by this point. 11:53 am now, the hottest part of the day, little wind. Helicopter now brings the group of 6 about 3 miles East, the group splits into two groups with 2 one way and 4 the other way... Helicopter pushes the groups back into one band, and helicopter gives up as they run East across the playa to the hills.
Of note: Foals frequently were separated and fell way behind, several times being roped, at one point 2 foals were roped or brought in together late. Unclear if the 2 foals in the last band that jumped the jute were with their mother in the escaped horses or not. Unclear if other foals were trapped.
August 21, 2021: 13 wild horses lost their freedom today.
AWHC’s field representative was one of three observers at the Antelope wild horse roundup.
During the first run of the day, a foal who was changing directions amid the chaos was knocked to the ground by a member of her own herd, but did recover.
It became very windy in between runs, about 20mph.
5 horses stopped running the funnel, turned right up the hill, and jumped the jute. The jute appears to have already been leaning or knocked over from the wind. Wind was a likely factor, as it makes the jute flap.
Multiple attempts were made to capture the herd of 5 who escaped.
The day ended early because of wind.
August 19, 2021: 79 wild horses were captured and there was 1 death: a 4-year-old bay stallion was euthanized due to a “chronic injury” according to BLM.
AWHC’s field representative was 1 of 3 members of the public onsite. The day started at around 48 degrees and ended at 60 degrees. Rain the night before and easterly wind thinned the smoke a little bit.
There was a particularly large run of several bands that were separated and chased by different helicopters, then grouped together as a single massive herd as they arrived to trap concurrently.
Smaller runs after resulted in the horses avoiding the trap entrance, which was not restructured after yesterday's misses.
One group of 3 became a group of 2 that were caught, an adult and a foal, while 1 other adult got away. Unknown if the one that got away was a mare to the foal.
We were going to go to view the temporary holding after the operation, however, the weather changed and a storm was moving in, so the BLM rescheduled it to a later date.
August 18, 2021: 87 wild horses lost their freedom today.
It was a very long 12 hour day. Our field representative left the hotel at 5 am, the rendezvous was 6:45 am, we left the field in the afternoon, then a 2.5-hour drive back from the field.
AWHC’s field representative was one of four public observers onsite at the ongoing Antelope Complex wild horse roundup.
It was cold today, particularly for August with a windchill at times around 55-58 degrees Fahrenheit. The trap was located about 1 mile away from our observation point and was very dusty. The smoke was really bad today and felt unhealthy to breathe, let alone have the horses stampeded in it.
- There were several runs, all from the horizon. On one run, the horses evaded the trap several times and were finally brought in on the third attempt.
- Another run from afar, a horse fell. The same run 3 horses jumped the jute and another 2 ran back out the entrance to freedom.
- There were 3 runs of about 20 horses each. Too far to accurately count. Then a run of 8. Then 14. About 75 total.
- Another group of 4 blew the jute. This was the 2nd time today this happened. It was too smoky to photograph.
Empty trap site where horses are funneled into.
Extremely smoky conditions.
August 17, 2021: 29 wild horses were captured and there was one death: the BLM killed an 11-year-old buckskin stallion for being "blind".
AWHC’s field representative was one of two observers on site today. We were the only advocacy group.
We met the BLM at the same location for the meetup and the same observation point as the day prior. It is still extremely smoky from the fires and very dusty at the trap. There has been a break in the weather and it was cooler and breezier today.
The horses were brought in a little slower today. It still seemed a little fast at times, running them from the horizon, and then a trot, and then a full canter again. But slightly better from the other days.
Horses broke off frequently into smaller bands, and individual horses, as well as pairs, evaded numerous times. Horses from a band broke away and ran off, uncaught, at least 5 different times.
August 16, 2021: Number of horses captured: 114
The day started late because the BLM set up a new trap. It was about 110 miles from Wendover, Nevada. Horses were brought from the horizon and It was smokey and hot.
AWHC’s field representative was one of 3 members of the public on-site. There were several runs using two helicopters with not much space in between runs.
AWHC’s representative’s thermometer read around 95 degrees on a run, and at noon it was reading from 96 - 98 degrees. At 12:45 pm horses were stampeded and our thermometer read 99 and then 102 degrees. BLM stated that their thermometer indicated that it was 93.5 degrees at the time of the late run.
Horses are being stampeded from long distances, in high heat to the trap site. Foals are being compromised in the process.
August 15, 2021: 52 wild horses lost their freedom today.
We departed for the BLM caravan at 5:45 am. AWHC’s field representative was one of two public observers onsite.
About 5 horses were stampeded in the first run of the day. A foal and an adult horse escaped. The foal was roped and captured but the adult was not.
The contractors brought in a second helicopter and during the second run of the day, approximately 25 horses were captured. It was too dusty and smoky to see much. The two helicopters appeared unsafely close to each other during their dusty push into the trap with one swerving and swaying behind and beside each there.
The third run of the day resulted in approximately 20 horses being captured.
The day ended at 10:00 am.
August 11th: 222 wild horses were captured today.
August 10th: 136 wild horses were captured today and there were no deaths.
August 9th: 52 wild horses were rounded up and removed today and there were two deaths. A 6-year-old bay mare was killed because she was blind. A 20+-year-old stallion died due to a "chronic issue", however, the agency gave no further detail.
August 8th: 43 wild horses were rounded up and removed today.
AWHC's field representative left the operation today to cover the release of the Onaqui wild horses and then onto document the first days of the Conger roundup in Utah. A new team member will be at the Antelope roundup in a few days.
August 7th: Today 126 wild horses were stampeded into the traps by helicopters. Only two people were on site to bear witness.
As we drove to the trap site, we saw a few bands still running free. During the operation, we watched as several horses made an attempt at freedom by jumping out of the trap. Only one escaped after clearing the panels.
Observers were kept almost a mile from the trap and the roping of foals, etc. happened another 1.5 miles away. Our field representative can’t see anything.
- No observation of the handling of the horses.
- No public accountability.
- The trap not visible to observers, nor can anyone see the loading horses onto trailers.
The public is not allowed to view temporary holding while they are processing horses. Temp holding is 85 miles away from the current capture side and daily observation is not being offered.
The CAWP Assessment Team is supposedly onsite. The only member who identified himself to our representative is Jason Lutterman, the PR person for the WHB program.
- Day 1 - 12 horses captured. Two little palomino/cremello foals in the group. They both ended up in foster care. BLM says one “not healthy,” other supposedly had a dry mare.
- Day 2: observed 3 that fell behind and got roped (One got picked up in the helicopter) , but BLM said 4 foals total fell behind, were roped and brought in. The foal who got picked up in the helicopter died - BLM said it was from a “chronic” issue.
- Day 3: 2 foals lagging behind (Palomino) and another one ½ mile behind the band. The helicopter landed and picked up the foal.
August 6, 2021: The helicopters did not fly in the Antelope Complex today due to smokey conditions and low visiablity.
August 5, 2021: Today about 45 horses were captured in the Antelope Complex Emergency Roundup.
Only two members of the public were there to bear witness. We were placed 3/4s of a mile from the trap and again had a distant view.
For the second day, the operation took place on the Spruce-Pequop Herd Management Area, and the trap was located about 10 miles from Mustang Monument.
We watched as a beautiful band was chased by a helicopter for over an hour on the hill behind us. As they were run towards the trap, the stallion broke away in a daring escape, without his family who were captured.
August 4, 2021: The Antelope emergency roundup continued today with approximately 75 horses forever losing their freedom.
Again we were placed around 3/4s of a mile from the trap and only two members of the public were onsite.
The operation took place in the Spruce-Pequop Herd Management Area (HMA) and the trap site was located about 10 miles southeast of Mustang Monument.
Today, two foals were unable to keep up with the band and they fell behind. The palomino foal was then roped on horseback, placed in a trailer, and taken back to the trap. The other foal got flown to the trap in the helicopter.
There were two deaths today. According to the BLM, one was an 8-year-old bay mare who died due to sudden/acute issues and a two week old buckskin colt who died due to pre-existing/chronic issues.
August 3, 2021: Today, approximately 95 wild horses lost their freedom after being stampeded from their home near the Antelope Complex in Nevada.
We were placed on rather flat land, which only offered a distant ¾ mile view of the trap. There were 2 members of the public onsite.
The operations took place in a checkerboard land area that has a mix of both public and private land, located about 11 miles north of the actual HMA. We have questions as to why, if this is an emergency roundup, does the operation continue to focus on removing horses from private land.
We witnessed 3 foals being roped and brought in by horseback and received word that 2 of the foals captured in yesterday’s operation are now in foster homes.
Today we were permitted to walk around temporary holding (an area where horses are held before being shipped to holding facilities). The first 800 horses removed will be shipped to the Palomino Valley Center outside of Reno, Nevada.
August 2, 2021: Today was the first day of the Antelope Complex roundup. Approximately a dozen mustangs were captured.
The operation took place about 15 miles north of the Antelope Herd Management Area (HMA) on a private ranching property. It begs the question -- if there is indeed an emergency in the Antelope Complex, why were horses from private land -- where water and forage were seemingly abundant -- removed first?
We were placed about a mile away from the trap site. There were only two members of the public onsite to document.
We saw two wild horses hanging out near the pond on private property. After being chased along the fence line they managed to avoid the trap and were eventually allowed to escape. The horses looked to be in good body condition.