Roundup Report: Twin Peaks HMA, July/Aug 2022

On July 23, 2022, the BLM plans to round up and remove one of California’s largest wild horse herds from the 800,000-acre Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) along the California-Nevada border in Lassen County, Calif. and Washoe County, Nev.

The BLM plans to capture approximately 2,000 wild horses and remove approximately 1,800 from the range.  The plan also calls for capturing and removing 339 wild burros. The BLM plans to treat only 110 mares with a fertility control vaccine and release them back onto the range.

ROUNDUP REPORT

August 13, 2022: Approx. 40-50 burros were captured today (pending BLM reports)

AWHC's field representative was the only member of the public onsite today. We were located about a mile from the trap at both of the trap locations.

The burros were pushed by helicopter, then 6 people on horseback joined in as they approached the trap. We watched burros pushed along a barbed wire fence line and then get pushed past the cattle towards the trap.

One burro eventually escaped capture after being chased by a helicopter and several riders.

Leaving the area, we did not see a single burro or horse, however, we did find plenty of cows and sheep.

August 12, 2022: 59 burros and 1 horse were captured today.

AWHC's field representative was the only public observer onsite today, offering a very distant view about a mile from the trap. 

The burros were pushed by the helicopter and the riders joined in as they approached the trap. Our representative watched burros get pushed past the cattle and then pushed along a barbed wire fence line. They chased a single burro along with a single horse before moving to a new trap site.

August 11, 2022: Approximately 80 burros were captured. There have been an astounding 31 deaths at this roundup so far.

AWHC's field representative was one of three observers on site today, and was located far away from the trap sote. 

The BLM brought in 5 groups of burros. The burros were pushed by helicopter and 6 riders joined in as they approached the trap.

We watched as a Jenny and her small foal get roped and brought into the trap.

August 10, 2022: There was no operation today, however, there were still 3 deaths.

  • A 7-year-old mare was found dead in temporary holding. 
  • A 20-year-old mare, unable to move through temporary holding area. 
  • A 20-year-old mare.  Collapsed in temporary holding and could not be revived. 

August 9, 2022: 112 wild horses were captured today and there were an astounding 5 deaths:

  • The BLM euthanized an 11-year-old stallion with a "pre-existing" broken rear fetlock and poor teeth. 
  • A 20-year-old stallion with pre-existing blindness in left eye. 
  • A 5-month-old colt, with sudden/acute injury to right front shoulder
  • A 6-month-old colt, acute, sudden death in temporary holding. Veterinarian necropsy revealed no cause of death.
  • A 3-month-old colt, acute, sudden death in temporary holding.  Veterinarian necropsy revealed no cause of death.

August 8, 2022: 128 wild horses were captured today.

August 7, 2022: 100 wild horses were captured today. The BLM euthanized a 4-year-old mare for a split right hoof and a 5-month-old filly for a left rear leg injury. 

August 6, 2022: 119 wild horses were captured today. Current totals: 1,775 wild horses captured, 21 deaths.

August 5, 2022: 148 wild horses were captured. 

August 4, 2022: 98 wild horses were captured and there were two deaths after the BLM euthanized a 5-year-old mare for having a facial deformity and missing her left eye, and a 6-month-old filly who was euthanized by the BLM due to a "congenital deformity in the left front knee."

August 3, 2022: 112 wild horses were rounded up and removed. There were another two deaths after the BLM euthanized a 6-month-old foal, according to BLM had an "existing" broken right front knee and "other existing injuries" and a 6-month-old filly with "pre-existing" puncture wounds and abscesses.  

The chopper left at around 6:30 A.M and the first run of horses started to come in at 7:02 A.M. About 20 horses came in. Once they were closed in the trap the chopper went right back out to work another herd in.

In the meantime, a chestnut stallion with a high Arabian-looking tail slipped out of the jute and escaped to freedom he moved with his head held up high with a high stepping trot and he headed back in the direction that he came from, on a ridge that was closer to us and on the opposite side of where the chopper was flying. I watched him until he disappeared into the trees.

Bobbie McGuire

At around 7:20 A.M the chopper returned pushing a herd of 20 plus horses on the horizon. A lone mule charging hard over the crest of the hill, far in the lead of the rest of the band blazed a dusty trail to the wings of the trap before wheeling back at the last second in what looked like an attempt to turn the herd back away from the trap, his attempt, however, was thwarted because the chopper was right on them and pushed them into the trap.

A bachelor band of 4 crested the hill very close to our observation location and they calmly passed us at a slow trot. These horses were on the opposite side of the area where the chopper was working, there was a barbed wire fence separating the two ranges with a cattle guard at the bottom of the hill. We were concerned that these boys were going to try and cross to get to the other horses that were in the trap, they called to the other horses for a little while before crossing the road and heading up the mountain to the north of the trap. They avoided being caught on this day.

Bobbie McGuire

Bobbie McGuire

At 8:42 A.M the 3rd run of around 30 horses came in. I had been noticing for the last two days that when these horses come into the trap that there is no crowding, no pushing, and not a lot of attempted jumpers. In fact, these horses came into the trap fairly easily and calmed right down. There was not a lot of calling, not a lot of sounds at all. In fact, most of the time while they were waiting to be loaded into the trailers they just stood quietly. They simply looked tired.

While waiting for the trailers to return from temp holding to start loading the newly trapped horses I heard a horse cry to my right, in the opposite direction than the trap. I began to search the horizon and it took me about 5 minutes to spot a lone horse, high up on the ridge. I'm assuming it was our escape artist from earlier in the morning, and he was calling to a band that had dodged the helicopter and had come over the top of the ridge instead of being funneled into the wings of the trap. A band of four a stud, two mares, and a foal were quietly picking their way down the ridge until they heard the other horse, then they started to move quickly towards him, then out of a gully another small group appeared. Stallions were calling and moving their mares towards the fence line close to where we were, the fence turned them and they headed southwest.

Bobbie McGuire

At 10:45 Am. the largest group of the day approx 50 animals were brought in. It was at this time while flying over that the pilot must have seen the missed horses that had passed by us because as soon as those horses were in the trap he promptly flew back out to get them.

About 12 horses were coming in. 9 horses moved into the wings but three made a break for it, lead by a big chestnut with an Arabian-like tail. At the last second before entering into the funnel of the wings the chestnut wheeled and charged back towards the chopper taking two others with him, they were hesitant but the chestnut got them running, they made it to the outer wings before the chopper wheeled them back in. They all turned but the chestnut refused to give up and he dodged the chopper again, running back on him. The chopper maneuvered several tight turns in a vain attempt to move the chestnut back into position, but he was not having it and he charged passed the chopper and out through the wings. The chopper tried once more to get him but the chestnut raced on to freedom. The chopper relented and returned to continue to move the other two into the trap, they had stopped and were watching the whole event.

Bobbie McGuire

This was the last run for the day at 11:10 A.M Then as we were getting ready to leave for the day another stallion -- a black bay with a white star -- escaped, he came very close to our vehicles, calling to the other horses several times before he finally headed off south up a ridgeline following the barbed wire fence. There were no clouds today and the temperature never got above 85 degrees.

August 2, 2022: Approximately 115 wild horses were captured today.

AWHC's field representative was the only public observer on site today however she was joined by 5 BLM employees, includig two from the BLM solicitor's office.

We had a 5 am meet-up at the Litchfield corrals followed by a two-hour drive to the new capture site.

At 7:20 am we were waiting for the contractor to set up the trap. We could see wild horses running on the horizon. At this time the chopper was not yet in the air. At 7:41 A.M contractor made the decision to relocate the trap site. We traveled following the contractor's trailers about four miles back the way in which we had come in, and the contractor began to build the trap right beside the roadway.  We were stopped in the road while they were setting up the trap, so I could see how they set up the trap as well as the wings.

The left wing ran very close to a pre-existing fence line. The chopper was in the air by 8:32 am and by 9:30 a large group of horses was being moved in but they turned back on the pilot and it appeared that he lost them because he went back out the direction that he had come and we lost sight of him.

At about 10:12 am a small group of horses on their own came trotting up the fenceline that we were sitting near. They were on the opposite side of where the chopper was working horses. They quickly disappeared over the hill and when we saw them again they were on another ridgeline running. The chopper was driving the horses towards the trap, they were running and then slowed to a trot, they were all slick and glossy with sweat. Once they were in the trap they were not very active they just stood with not alot of activity even when they were being loaded to go to temp holding.

By 10:20 the first group was in the trap and the chopper turned automatically back to round up a few stragglers and by 10:25 am they were in the trap.

Run 3 began at around 11:30 am with horses coming in from the East and South. It was a very large group with a couple of mules. The temperature has maintained around 85 degrees throughout the day.

At 12:29 pm when the horses were in the trap, two wranglers went out on horseback followed by an OHV into the desert and at this time I do not know what they went after, but usally this is because of an orphaned foal. At 12:48 pm the roundup was finished for the day. We had to wait several hours to go to temp holding -- waiting for them to load and unload and sort the horses before we were allowed to go.

August 1, 2022: 110 wild horses and a mule foal were captured today.

AWHC's field representative was the only member of the public onsite today. The trap site was approx. half a mile from the viewpoint. The trap itself was not visible from our viewpoint. We could barely see one small section of the trap wing.

We had a 5:30 A.M. meet time with the BLM at the Litchfield holding corrals. About a half-hour drive north of the holding corrals we pulled into a small area to wait to be escorted to the viewing area.

At 6:10 A.M. I could hear a chopper in the distance to the east of our location, while I was still waiting to be escorted in. At 6:18 A.M the chopper was again heard in the same direction that is when I was told by BLM Public Affairs, Jeff Fontana that I would be leaving my truck at this location and be shuttled into the observation area by the BLM via their vehicle. Due to the fact that there was no place for additional vehicles on site.

This is where he left me in the company of Emily Ryan, Field Manager who was with me the rest of the time. On the way in we passed by an area where a large semi truck and cattle-type trailer waited close to the exit area of the trap site. Our viewpoint was against a rock ledge that was about 50 yards away from the road. They were hoping that the horses would be pushed in front of us in the main valley leading to the trap site. At 7:30 A.M. the report came in the chopper pilot had a large group of horses coming in.

The temperature was around 75 degrees at this time, slightly overcast with a calm breeze. At 8 A.M. a large group of horses came in from the east over the top of the ridge rather than through the valley as they had predicted.

I estimated that there were around 90-100 horses in this group although I will not get the accurate numbers until tomorrow morning. The horses came in trotting and walking, they were shiny but not frothing. As they approached the trap the groups split off from each other but the chopper quickly headed them off and at this time they started to run.

Most ran into the trap area and then I lost sight of them. The chopper landed and they called the roundup in this section of the HMA concluded for the day. While we waited to be picked up I noticed that two gooseneck trailers were leaving the trap site and was told by Emily that for this particular roundup they were using the goosenecks to ferry the horses to the larger semi-truck for transport to temporary holding that was a good distance north of our current location. I asked her about how many horses could the goosenecks hold and she said around 10 I asked about how many horses could the semi-trailer hold she told me that she thought it could hold approx. 60 animals but that varied because of animal size. I saw the goosenecks make 4 loaded runs 2 each. And then the semi-truck left before we were allowed to leave the observation area, and they were not done loading all of the horses that had been trapped yet.

July 31, 2022: No roundup today.

July 30, 2022: 79 horses and burros were captured today and there were two deaths: A two-month-old colt was found dead in temporary holding. According to the BLM, the veterinarian performed a necropsy, but could not determine a cause of death and a seven-year-old stallion was euthanized after he broke his neck by hitting a panel during loading.

We had an early morning departure time of 4:30 A.M. from the Litchfield holding corrals after meeting up with BLM staff.  We headed out to the viewpoint heading north on 395. After about 10 miles we turned off of 395 heading into the HMA it was dark and not much could be seen.

After roughly a half hour we passed the trap site but continued northward to our viewpoint. We were directly across from Twin Peaks Mtn. and we were facing into the rising sun. The observation site was difficult and the visibility of the animals was poor. The trap site was concealed from our sight and we were approximately a half mile away. 

At around 6:20 A.M we heard the faint sound of the chopper heading out to look for horses. We waited until 7:52 A.M. before hearing the chopper again, it was still off in the distance quite a ways. The chopper came in for fuel at around 8:00 A.M. landing just north of our location.

When he went back into the field it was about 8:40A.M when the first horses appeared. A single dark horse appeared at the east end of the plateau heading into the valley. Four more horses appeared in front of it a few moments later coming out of a low spot in the topography. One bright bay was shiny with sweat.

The horses were running in short intervals and trotting most of the time. I counted an estimated 18 horses in this run however the sage was tall so if there were foals they were unable to be seen.

At 9:15 A.M the second run began. There was an approx. half-hour between runs. This time a large group was coming in. Most came in the same direction that the first group came but about five to seven others appeared coming over a ridge in the northeast at a full gallop until they joined the large group in the valley. This large group of horses turned back on the chopper three times and he had to work a little to get them moving in the direction that he wanted. When this run finished we were told that the next run would be a herd of burros.

At approx. 9:45A.M about 30 burros headed into the valley from the same direction out of the north that the horses had come from. This was a large group of mostly dark burros with a couple of grays. The burros turned back on the chopper twice and with the chopper overhead and dipping low to push the burros they scattered charging in all directions some came fairly close to us, which worried us because we were standing on a fence line, consisting of a four-foot high barbed wire fence with wooden posts that ran the length of the area to the trap site.

For a few seconds a small group of burros charged towards the fence, but thankfully the fence turned them and they continued on down a jeep trail on the inside of the fence until they were out of sight. No burro struck the fence! It took the chopper a long time to work the burros to the trap site and since we were unable to see the site itself we don't know what happened. However the chopper pilot landed his craft at the site, and at this time the roundup for the day was called to a close.

We continued on to observe the temporary holding several miles back down the road which we had come in on, the holding corrals were on private land however we were allowed to observe the horses that they had in there from a distance while we waited for the arrival of the burro trailers.

Two trailers, one blue, and one silver brought burros to temp holding about an half hour apart. From our location were unable to see the burros being unloaded and unable to clearly see the burros in the pens, we were only able to barely see some burros through the jute tarp that covered the stock panels. There were several horses in the pens that were being sorted when we arrived, we could see the white flag poppers being waved and hear the wranglers yelling at the animals to move them. After waiting for the other burros trailers which didn't arrive we decided it was a day.

The temperature was in the 80s and 90's throughout the runs for the day.

July 29, 2022: 139 wild horses were captured and five died, including two foals who both died of unknown causes and were found dead in the temporary holding pens.

AWHC was the only member of the public who was onsite at the Twin Peaks Roundup. He had a distant view of the valley with the horse often dropping out of sight and the actual trap site was not visible from the observation area.

This area has a Heat Advisory through Saturday and the horses appeared to be coming in hot. The contractors continued to fly a few runs even after temps showed 99.

We had a Chestnut Stallion come running towards us attempting an escape until he stopped at the fence line and watched, before eventually being pushed back towards the trap.

 

July 28, 2022: approximately 19 wild horses were captured today.

Today started with no cloud cover so the temperature increased fairly quickly.

Once daylight hit they started loading the current horses in temporary holding onto big semi-trailers.

The helicopter took off at 6:05 AM going north and at 8:10 AM we spotted the first horses coming over the ridge. They were walking and trotting most of the time with the helicopter giving them lots of space and breaks. As they started their descent from the ridge we counted 19 horses. Two of them were foals. 

When they got near the road the group scattered and the helicopter pushed in one foal. He then went around to bring the other horses in and at 8:29 AM they were all in the trap site.

All horses looked very healthy and there were no visible injuries. They were pretty sweaty but that was to be expected considering the circumstances.

This was the only run today. They spent the rest of the day finding a new trap site closer to the remaining horses.

We asked if we could see temporary holding and we weren’t able to walk around because some of the staff was out on the range. We were still able to take a look from a reasonable distance and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. There was no fighting and the horses seemed pretty calm.

We then left the range.

July 27, 2022:  153 wild horses lost their freedom today.

Today started with similar weather conditions, cloud cover in the morning, and temperatures ranging in the mid-90s by the last run. The helicopter took off at 6:13 AM.

At 7:50 AM a large group of horses (approximately 75+) were spotted a couple of miles away coming from the north. We saw them standing still, trotting and cantering at a slow pace. The helicopter pushed them towards the ridge and at 8:20 AM they made their descent to the trap site. 

As they were entering the trap site one foal got behind and started running in the other direction. The helicopter went after the foal and as he entered the Jutes he was roped and brought to the pen where they had the other foals sorted.

There was no fighting at the trap site, however, at one point they were piling on top of each other and one might have fallen down. No visible injuries. 

It took about an hour and 8 trailer loads to get them to temporary holding.

At 11:40 AM the next group of horses was spotted also coming from the north. The helicopter then split the group leaving one on the ridge while running the first group (approximately 22) to the trap site at 12:09 PM.

The second group (approximately 32 horses) came down at 12:34 PM joining the first group at the trap site. A few minutes later we noticed two horses that got roped and trailered. This was a few miles north of us and visibility was not great.

The overall body condition of the horses was good, no ribs shown and no current visible injuries. 

The horses looked tired, they were sweaty but not drenched.

At 1:15 PM we left the observation spot, then shuttled back to our cars and left. We did not see temporary holding
 

July 26, 2022: 46 horses were captured.

AWHC's Field Representatives were onsite at the Twin Peaks roundup. 

This morning started with some nice cloud cover which kept the temp fairly low for the first 2 runs. The horses came in as small bands so there were no large numbers like the previous days. The helicopter was giving them plenty of space and the horses did not look too sweaty. The horses looked healthy, no ribs were showing and we didn't see any visible injuries. Overall today went pretty smooth.

The Runs: 

7:10 AM  was the first run and 13 horses were captured. Horses came in at a slow canter and there were no foals. 

7:55 AM was the second run.  4 horses were captured. Horses walked and trotted in. There was 1 foal

 8:10 AM was the third run and there were 9 horses were captured. There was a  total of 3 foals and one mare had a foal that was approximately a week old. The foal got behind near the trap site but was quickly reunited with the other horses.  

The helicopter pushed the band over the ridge and kept a decent distance.  The horses came in at a trot and would often walk as they made their way down the rocky ridge.  A week-old foal and mama were last in line with the group. The band stallion alternated between the pair and the remaining group.   The foal was desperately trying to keep up and once at the bottom of the ridge mama had to stop and wait for the little one to catch up---she called for it a few times to encourage it forward as the group pushed towards the trap.  The band then tried to veer away from the trap site but the helicopter circled around and aimed them towards the trap which created some chaos causing the little foal to be separated from the group.  It fell so far behind that the group went into the trap without the foal.  The helicopter actually flew over the foal and pushed the rest of the group in while the contractors on the ground ensured the foal found its way in.

At 9:44 AM the fourth run started. There were 17 horses captured. Horses came in at a slow trot/walking. There was 1 foal and 1 mule.

After the fourth run, the helicopter went out again but didn't bring any horses and landed at 11:05.

About an hour later we got permission to walk around the temporary holding at a respectable distance so we wouldn't scare the horses. 

July 25, 2022: Approximately 70 wild horses were captured today (est. pending BLM numbers) and there was atleast 1 death after a mare broke her leg after getting caught in trap panels. 

AWHC's Field Representative was 1 of 2 members of the public onsite at the roundup. 

Sampson livestock brought in one large group of horses into too small trap pens. The horses were extremely stressed and broke the panels with their weight and movement. About 10 escaped after breaking through the trap panels.

Another mare was euthanized by the BLM after breaking her leg caught in the trap panels. A mule escaped and ran by our viewing area, appearing to have minor cuts.

A foal who had been stuck and alone was brought in on the back of a trailer. 

Later they brought in 7 of the escaped horses that were still lingering in the area.

July 24, 2022: 234 wild horses and 1 burro were captured today. 

AWHC's field representative was one of four members of the public who were on the ground today. The trap pens set up by Sampson Livestock appeared to be much too small to contain the number of horses pushed into the trap. Horses could be seen extremely stressed, piling on top of each other. 

The horses appeared to be coming in hot and sweaty, even though they stopped flying by 11 am avoiding the heat of the day. We watched one foal get roped and brought into the trap.

July 23, 2022: 231 wild horses were captured today and there were two deaths: the BLM euthanized a 30+ year old stallion who had "tumors, muscle deformity and lacerations in the rib area", and a 20+ year old stallion who was euthanized by the BLM for missing 1 eye. 

The BLM is limiting public observation to 11 people. The day started early and the helicopters, Sampson Livestock, stopped flying before 10 am and thankfully avoided the heat of the day. 

The trap pens appeared small, given the large groups of horses pushed into the trap today.

There was still a lot of dust, even after the water trucks spayed down the roads several times.