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

February 16, 2021: The Eagle roundup has concluded with 1,070 wild horses captured and a shocking 28 deaths. The horses will be transported to the Sutherland Off-Range Corral and Palomino Valley Center Wild Horse and Burro Corrals. The BLM will treat up to 50 mares with the fertility control vaccine GonaCon-Equine and release them back into the Eagle HMA.

February 15, 2021: 16 wild horses were rounded up and removed and there was yet another death.

A 2-year-old stallion was euthanized by BLM for having a fracture that they claimed was "pre-existing".

The runs:

  • 3 small runs; 3 horses, 4 horses, 8 horses. 
  • The 3rd run the horses coming down the road stopped and turned around, seeing something was up, but the helicopter turned them back to the trap.
  • The helicopter had to push the final run from beyond the horizon.
  • It got very windy by noon and then the operation stopped for wind.
  • As a new member of public was here, we were taken to holding, per BLM's unwritten regional 'policy' (that apparently only applies to this region, as set by this region).

Holding:

  • The helicopter landed briefly very close to the holding pen, freaking out the horses, before it flew off. That was unusual. 
  • We were kept about 100 feet from the pen, and could not get close enough and were not given enough time to inspect each horse.

February 14, 2021: 30 horses were captured today.

AWHC field representative checked the weather this morning and discovered the winds were going to be as high as they were the day prior when the BLM canceled the operation (40 mph wind gusts). So he did not go to the meeting location. 

However, we later learned that the BLM did fly and horses were removed. Our field representative went to holding.

February 13, 2021: No horses were captured today because of high winds and weather conditions.

February 12, 2021: BLM has not publicly updated its report.

AWHC's field representative was documenting the neighboring Silver King roundup today.

February 11, 2021: 4 wild horses were rounded up and there was 1 death: a 7-year-old mare was euthanized by BLM for having "colic".

AWHC's vehicle was still experiencing issues and so we had to forgo the operation today. However, this morning we observed horses being loaded at holding. This is when they ship them out to the short-term corrals.

The horses were very rowdy, running back and forth in the small pen, clearly upset.

As there were many horses in a small confined space, horses could be seen fighting each other throughout the loading process. We could frequently see a black horse and a white horse rearing up, biting and kicking at each other. They were not separated into different pens.

Each time a horse was led up the ramp into the large truck, the metal clanged beneath the hooves like thunder striking a tin roof. The noise would continuously startle and agitate the other horses down in the pen.

February 10, 2021: 12 wild horses were captured.

AWHC was having issues with our vehicle today and could not be in attendance at today's operation however we were able to check on the horses in the temporary corrals. While we were there we could see agitated horses that were whinnying loudly over long durations.

 

February 9, 2021: 13 wild horses were captured today and there were 3 deaths: a 2-year-old stallion was killed for having a fracture, a 3-year-old mare was euthanized by BLM for having a clubbed foot (something a horse can live a happy life with but makes them "undesirable" for adoption), 

February 8, 2021: 14 wild horses were captured today and there was one death: a 22-year-old mare was euthanized by BLM for having "no teeth". 991 wild horses have lost their freedom so far, and there have been 24 deaths.

Despite this being the second day of the roundup of the wild horses from the Silver King HMA, conducted by the BLM and the helicopter contract Cattoor, we were taken back to the Eagle, NV operation. The BLM is alternating which one they take us to observe now, rather than taking us to both in the same day (as had been previously offered), and rather than alternating operation days (as the original plan that had been shared with us). 

AWHC's field representative continues to be the only member of the public from an organization documenting and attempting to hold the BLM accountable for the treatment of horses. 

The rendezvous is the same vacant parking lot at 6 am in Pioche for the Silver King and Eagle HMA operations.

The runs:

  • Three small runs today
  • At one point, a horse evaded trap and ran right towards us, coming within a few hundred feet. The helicopter pursued closely, appearing within 50 feet. Riders went out to lasso the horse, and the trailer drove out to pick him up.

February 6, 2021: 69 wild horses were captured today and there was one death: BLM euthanized a 12-year-old stallion citing "poor prognosis for recovery for blindness or eye abnormality." 952 wild horses have been captured so far, and there have been 23 deaths.

AWHC was the only member of the public onsite today. 

The runs:

  • A small group was brought in
  • Then another small group was chased, but they evaded trap. They moved slowly, so it was a very slow back-and-forth chase. The helicopter gave up pursuit of this group and refueled.
  • The helicopter then went after another group; they went into the trap, and then one horse tried to break out the entrance. He was put back in. 
  • On this run was a horse that had been separated, and an excessive 5 wranglers rode out to lasso him. 

Video shows horses evading the trap and the helicopter using its siren to no avail.

February 5, 2021: 11 wild horses lost their freedom today. 

AWHC continues to be the only member of the public onsite at this roundup. We had the same bad view of the trap as yesterday, a mile away approximately. 

There was 1 run of horses in the morning. Given the angle they were brought in, and the heat waves, our field representative could not visibly see the actual horses at all.

A few attempted runs throughout the day yielded no horses in the trap. The horses evaded and were left.  

The helicopter went beyond the mountains on the horizon to bring horses, but to no avail; the horses evaded capture.

At the end of the day, trap was broken down for a new location tomorrow. The road was muddy as we were leaving.

During the day, we observed military exercises from at least 11 fighter jets, many were stealth bombers. Yesterday we had heard and felt sonic booms as well as the ground shaking from likely bomb tests in the distance.

When the Silver King roundup starts on 2/7, the BLM is going to toggle days... one day Eagle, the next day Silver King.

PROPERTY OF AWHC

PROPERTY OF AWHC

February 4, 2021: 31 wild horses were rounded up and removed today. So far, there have 872 wild horses removed and 22 dead.

AWHC's Field Representative was the only member of the public onsite at today's operation, and we were placed about a mile away from the trap site providing virtually no view.

There were a few small runs today. At one point a horse was separated and was later lassoed by an excessive 5 wranglers on horseback. 

February 3, 2021: According to BLM report, 0 wild horses were captured and removed today. 

The roundup hotline was still outdated. Our field representative drove to the usual meeting location at 5:30 am this morning and did not see anyone, and so he left and emailed BLM. By the time BLM emailed him back after 10 am the roundup had already happened.

BLM indicated over email they have fixed their issues with the phone system. Our field representative asked if he could get a tour of short-term holding and was told no, so he drove to the location and took photos from the road to check on the horses.

 

Feb 2, 2021: 33 wild horses were rounded up and removed and there was one death - however, the BLM has still not reported what the horse died of.

AWHC's field representative returned to Panaca, NV after getting a different vehicle, but the BLM hotline was outdated and did not supply a meeting location or time for the next day. We reached out to the public affairs specialist, who did not immediately respond.

Feb 1, 2021: 41 wild horses were captured and 3 horses have lost their lives.

  • 12 year-old stallion was euthanized by BLM for a "pre-existing condition" noted as a physical defect or deformity. 
  • 9 year-old mare was euthanized by BLM for a "pre-existing condition" noted as a physical defect or deformity. 
  • 1 year-old stallion was euthanized by BLM for a "pre-existing condition" noted as a physical defect or deformity. 

January 31, 2021: 65 wild horses lost their freedom today and there were two deaths.

  • 14-year-old stallion was euthanized by BLM for having a clubbed foot.
  • 3 year-old mare was euthanized for a "pre-existing condition" noted as "soft tissue"

January 30, 2021: No wild horses were rounded up and removed today. 

January 29, 2021: No wild horses were rounded up and removed today but there was one death. A 20+-year-old stallion was euthanized due to a "pre-existing condition".

January 28, 2021: 75 wild horses were captured today.

We have been unable to view the roundup operations once again today due to weather conditions. The operation was likely going to proceed today, even though BLM advised us not to travel to the trap site because of unplowed conditions and "snow up to the bumper". This raises concerns about why the operation is proceeding if the snow fall was indeed that heavy. 

BLM continues to not permit viewing of the horses in short-term holding, citing they have no one to give the public a tour and/or it's on private lands. Our field representative was able to take photos of horses from the public road. 

January 27, 2021: AWHC's field representative was told that the roundup would not proceed today. 

January 26, 2021: 15 wild horses were removed from our public lands today.

Despite being told yesterday that there would likely be no roundup because of the weather, the BLM roundup hotline announced a meeting time of 6 am. When our field representative arrived at the meeting location, BLM said they would attempt to remove horses today and it would be 30 mins wait, though we ended up waiting for about 2 hours. 

We drove about 20 miles north on slick roads. About 4 miles down the dirt road, BLM COR stopped and said they were going to chain up ahead, and expressed worry about getting stuck. BLM COR was adamant that our field representative would get stuck in snow. He very strongly suggested that he turn around and not proceed further down the road with the caravan, even though our vehicle is 4WD and also has adequate tires. BLM COR said if our field representative got stuck in the snow, that they would not intervene nor assist with a tow. 

BLM also stated that there was only a 50% chance they would remove horses today. 

On Monday, BLM COR told our field representative that they could have a view of the horses in short-term holding since they did not permit it on Monday, and there was no operation. Our field representative agreed to turn around today and asked if he could meet BLM at short-term holding in the afternoon as discussed the previous day, but BLM COR denied his request. 

PROPERTY OF AWHC

PROPERTY OF AWHC

January 25, 2021: No wild horses were removed today. 

We arrived at the rendezvous, after waiting a few minutes in a snowstorm, BLM called it and said they would not conduct a removal but would work holding instead. Our representative was not permitted to view holding today.

We were told that because of weather there would likely be no operation on Tuesday, but perhaps an opportunity to visit short-term holding.

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.