Roundup Report: Owyhee Complex, October 2021

The Owyhee Complex (Complex) includes the Little Owyhee, Owyhee, Rock Creek and Snowstorm Mountains Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and spans over 1 million acres in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently estimates that as of May 2021, approximately 1,118 wild horses call the Complex home. However, the BLM’s unscientifically low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Complex – the number of horses the agency claims that the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses – is 621-999 horses. 

Since the BLM plans to permanently remove approximately 615 wild horses from four of the five HMAs in the Complex, AWHC will be monitoring the operation to make sure that the Complex is not taken below the legally required low population level.

Even while the helicopters fly, removing our federally protected wild horses, the BLM continues to authorize thousands of cows 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 $471,450 to round up these 947 beloved horses from the Complex. Of that, only approximately 332 are planned for return to the Complex, so the removal will also bring along with it the lifetime cost of approximately $30.7M to house the remaining 615 horses for the remainder of their lives in government holding corrals. The contractor for this roundup is CD Warner Livestock, LLC.

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.

Helicopters are scheduled to fly starting on October 11, 2021. We will update this report as the operation progresses.


October 17, 2021: Operations were paused today as the trap was moved. 

October 16, 20201: Today 39 wild horses were captured and there was one death, a yearling Cremello mare was euthanized due to chronic injury.

October 15, 2021: 39 wild horses were chased into traps today and two lost their lives. A two month foal was euthanized "due to chronic injury" and a two year old Black mare was euthanized due to chronic injury.

October 14, 2021: 68 wild horses were captured and two lost their lives. A 20+ year old stallion was euthanized for a pre-existing condition and a yearling was euthanized for a "pre-existing" ankle fracture.

October 13, 2021: 83 wild horses lost their freedom today.

October 12, 2021: The roundup was suspended for a second day due to high winds.

October 11, 2021: Heavy weather suspended operations today.