Roundup Report: Eagle Complex 2021

(January 7, 2021) The Eagle Complex consists of the Eagle, Chokecherry and Mt. Elinor herd management areas (HMAs). The BLM estimates the current population for the 743,000 acre Eagle Complex is 1,415 wild horses, including the 2020 foal crop. Yet the “Appropriate” Management Level (AML) is 139-265 wild horses -- that equates to 1 horse per every 2,803 - 5,345 acres.

The ongoing 2021 roundup is the third time in four years that the BLM is rounding up and removing wild horses from the Complex. This time, the BLM seeks to remove approximately 1,081 wild horses. BLM continues to prioritize this Complex and last flew helicopters in early 2020 where 1,704 wild horses lost their freedom and 23 died. Before that, in 2018, 303 were captured.

The BLM commonly notes that the wild horses must be reduced to unscientifically low population levels in order to manage for a thriving natural ecological balance. Meanwhile, the BLM permits thousands of privately-owned cows and sheep on the various allotments throughout the year within the federally-designated wild horse habitats. If the BLM was really interested in restoring and maintaining this balance, it would enforce grazing restrictions and analyze and implement ways to reduce harmful livestock grazing on public lands. But instead, the wild horses remain the scapegoats.

This roundup will cost the taxpayers nearly $700 thousand to just remove these beloved horses, and 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. On top of that, the taxpayer foots the bill for federally-subsidized livestock grazing on public lands as well. In 2019, the federal grazing fee was reduced yet again to a 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.)

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.

ROUNDUP REPORT

January 24, 2021: 41 wild horses were rounded up and removed today.

AWHC continued to be the only member of the public onsite at the roundup and removal of the wild horses from the Eagle Complex in Nevada. We were located at the same trapsite, about 85 miles into public lands. 

There were a number of runs today, and at one point the horses came through the forest directly in towards us. 

January 23, 2021: 13 wild horses were captured today and there were two deaths: a 2-year-old stallion died "unexpectedly due to an acute respiratory issue" and a 6-year-old stallion was euthanized for "blindness or eye abnormality".

Due to the winter storm last night, that was forecast to go into today, the roundup was originally canceled. However the weather broke this morning, and 13 horses were then removed on private lands, without public observation.

At 2pm the AWHC field representative met the BLM for a tour of holding.

 

January 22, 2021: 27 wild horses were captured and there were no deaths reported.

AWHC continued to be the only member of the public on site at the operation. We were located at a new trap site, 85 miles North East of Pioche NV. Very far out.

The weather today was very windy (11mph steady, 16mph+ gusts). It rained a bit in the day and ended with some small hail/sleet. 

The horses were sprinting very fast on these runs.

In an excessive show of force, 4 wranglers on horseback were sent out to rope a grey mustang. 

January 21, 2021: 22 wild horses were captured and there was one death after the BLM euthanized a 6-year-old mare due to a "pre-existing condition".

AWHC continued to be the only member of the public onsite. We were located at a new trap site today and did not have a view of the trap. 

When wind picked up, they stopped the day at about 10:30 am. There will be a new trap tomorrow. 

January 20, 2021: 6 wild horses lost their freedom. 

AWHC was not permitted to observe today's operation because it was on private land. However, we did view the horses captured at short term holding.

January 19, 2021: No wild horses were removed today.

January 18, 2021: 47 wild horses were captured and there was one death: a 9-year-old mare was euthanized because of "blindness".

AWHC was not permitted to observe today's operation because it was on private land. However, we did view the horses captured at short term holding.

January 17, 2021: 13 wild horses were captured and two were euthanized: a 7-year-old mare with euthanized due to "pre-existing conditions" and a 20-year-old stallion was euthanized because of "blindness".

AWHC was the only member of public onsite today.

  • Different trapsite from yesterday, revisiting the same as a few days ago. 
  • The helicopter pursued a group of 4 -- when they continuously defied the siren, the helicopter gave up and sought elsewhere. 
  • Then the helicopter brought in a group of 5. During the run-up the wing, two horses stopped and turned around as they discovered something was off, causing horses to collide. The people and helicopter pressed the horses into the trap.
  • Another group of 5 was brought in.
  • A group of 3 was brought in as the last band of the day.

January 16, 2021: 31 wild horses were rounded up and removed and there were no deaths.

AWHC was the sole observer in field again. We were located at a new trap site, providing an adequate view.

The runs:

  • 4 horses came in and leaped over the road embankment
  • Then an ATV drove up, fortunately before the next run, and was allowed to pass through. On a Saturday people use the area for recreation more frequently
  • 5 horses came in next, also leaping over the road embankment
  • Then two ATVs drove nearby trap, but turned off the other direction
  • 5 more horses came next
  • Another group of 5 horses after that
  • Then a group of 7 and a group of 5 came from the East at the same time. The helicopter pursued the group of 5 first. Moments later the helicopter began bringing the group of 7 in. At the same time another ATV showed up and parked right near the path of the incoming band of horses. 

January 15, 2021: 37 wild horses were rounded up and removed today, bringing the total so far to 412 wild horses captured, 5 deaths,

We were located at the same trap site today, and continued to be the only member of the public onsite. The weather warmed up to the 50's.

A plane was used again to scout the horses, and the helicopter brought them in.

  • First, a group of 5 was brought in
  •  Then a group of 6 was chased, but I counted 5 entering the trap. Unknown if the other horse was brought in during a later group, but it likely was because there were not many horses in the area left today. It took a while for the helicopter to bring them in.
  • Then a group of about 7
  • Then a group of 11. One horse was very grey, which our observer named Gandolf the Grey. Gandolf the Grey brought up the rear of his band as if protecting them from the people running at them from under the jute.
  • A group of 2 was chased in next.

The helicopter then went to scout more horses.

Tomorrow will likely be a new trap location because the horses are further away and harder to push through the trees to the current trap.

Dust was observed at the very end of some of the runs, but not all of the runs, and only at the very end of the wing leading into trap for a brief few seconds. It seems as the day warms up and the ground thaws, the dust becomes more prevalent. No water truck is being used.

January 14, 2021: 44  horses were rounded up and removed from the Eagle Complex.

Today we were at a different trap site than the two days prior and AWHC continued to be the only member of the public onsite. 

A number of small groups were brought in throughout the day, starting 7am and ending at noon.

The first group of horses that came in had a horse with a gash on his leg. (See below at left)

PROPERTY OF AWHC

The helicopter contractors, SunJ, seemed to do a fairly good job of not following too closely and using a siren to push horses. 

At one point in the day a group of horses were defying the helicopter and the horses were let go. 

At another point some horses started to slip on a hill leading up to the top of a ridge, they were higher than earlier bands and it was unknowingly steeper. The horses caught themselves.

PROPERTY OF AWHC

PROPERTY OF AWHC

PROPERTY OF AWHC

PROPERTY OF AWHC

PROPERTY OF AWHC

January 13, 2021: 10 wild horses were rounded up and removed.

AWHC was the only member of the public onsite at today's operation. We were located at the same observation site as the day prior. The helicopter contract Sun J continued to use the sirens as they stampede horses. 

The trap site was broken down at the end of the day for a new location because there were so few horses today.

Today got really warm, in the high 50's. Snowmelt made the roads muddy and slippery coming back.

We visited the horses at temporary holding afterward the operation today. The horses were very mellow and appeared very healthy. The contractor was supplying them with plenty of food and water.

January 12, 2021: 66 wild horses were captured and there was one death after a 4-year-old was euthanized for having a physical deformity.

Today was AWHC's field representative's first day in the field and was the only member of the public present. The observation was deep into the Eagle Valley wilderness today, but we did have a good observation point 

A plane was used to scout the horses, and a helicopter was used to stampede the horses. At times the helicopter would use while it chased the horses into the pen. 

January 11, 2021: 60 wild horses captured, 1 mare was euthanized after suffering a fracture.

January 10, 2021: 51 wild horses lost their freedom today and there were no deaths reported.

January 9, 2021: 28 wild horses were captured and there were 3 deaths. According to BLM, they were euthanized for "pre-existing conditions"

  • 3 year-old mare was euthanized for a "physical defect or deformity"
  • 20 year-old mare with BCS of 2 euthanized as it was deemed she would "not improve"
  • 12 year-old mare was euthanized for "Blindness or Eye Abnormality"

January 8, 2021: 35 wild horses were rounded up and removed and there were no deaths reported.

January 7, 2021: 17 wild horses were rounded up and removed and there were no deaths reported.

January 6, 2021: 64 wild horses were rounded up and removed from public lands today and there were no deaths.