The Bureau of Land Management Does Not Allow the Public to See Wild Horses Being Driven into Traps with HelicoptersNovember 4, 2020
The Red Desert Complex Roundup, Largest in History is Finally Over – but What About the Horses?November 19, 2020
Across the road, behind our observation point, we cannot see the trap or the run up to the trap from here at the Red Desert Complex Roundup. This is not meaningful observation. Two days ago we were here and could see the horses moving at a great distance then around the hill and that was it. We are in Crooks Mountain Herd Management Area. It is 36 degrees right now but when the wind picks up it gets bitter. We are waiting for the helicopters to bring in the first group of wild horses and will be watching them as best we can for the short time they are in view.
The helicopter pilot just brought in a small family. There were 6 horses one sorrel stallion peeled off and is moving slowly away and the other 5 were driven around the corner and I assume into the trap since I cannot see it. They were very far away.
They have just stopped rounding up horses in Crooks Mountain for the day – the wind really picked up. I saw a group with a gray mare, a pinto mare and foal, bays, and a bay stallion and another darker group came in. Meanwhile three horses turned around and headed the opposite direction on the ridge. All of the 20-25 or so horses captured today have looked very tired, like they have been run a very long way. This group finally got close enough to identify a small family – dark mare, bay stallion and bay foal with blaze tucked in between them. The helicopter went back for them after driving the colorful family in. They were clearly tired. It was painful to watch. The helicopter hung way back but they had to go a long way before going out of site behind the hill. I did not see them go into the trap of course because it is behind me across the road.
I am thinking they have way overestimated how many wild horses are in Crooks Mountain and indeed in the whole Red Desert Complex. This suspicion is confirmed when they announce they will be changing from Crooks Mountain to Green Mountain tomorrow.
I go to the short term corrals where the wild horses that have been brought in are kept until they are shipped to Rock Springs, WY or Canon City, Colorado. They are separated into pens with mares, pens with stallions, and pens with foals. The foals are weaned right here unless they are very young. I wanted to check on the sorrel foal with the blaze who had run so far with his family, and he was with the other foals, the littlest of the bunch, and he did look ok as far as I could tell through the heavy mesh fencing. The foals were crying for their mothers.
This morning I am waiting to go to the release of wild stallions back into Crooks Mountain Herd Management Area. I do not know how many will be released. The plan by the BLM is to only leave 65 wild horses in this 59,000 acre area and this is below the level for genetic viability which is 150 adults. The mares will be released in the next day or so and will be treated with PZP-22 birth control.
The releases up until now have been about 25 horses total per Herd Management Area but I am wondering if there will be less released in Crooks Mountain because the number of horses captured in this area, 203, fell so far short of the 819 that were projected to be removed. After the release we are supposed to go to a new trap site at the Green Mountain HMA if the wind has not picked up. In 2018 the BLM began the Red Desert Complex Roundup (only stopping because they ran out of room to warehouse the horses in holding facilities) and removed more than 1100 wild horses from this HMA. Despite that fact, now they want to remove another 199 from this area.
The gorgeous stallions leaped out of the trailer one at a time. They are bigger than the horses in the other Herd management Areas, and include a huge gray, a bay roan with a long tangled mane, a blue roan and a red pinto with a head that is completely red that I admired when he was being driven by the helicopter behind his family a couple of days ago. They disappear quickly over the hill – I cannot blame then for that! Now we are headed to the trap in Green Mountain.
I want to shout out a big THANK YOU to everyone who called yesterday – I am in Green Mountain in the Red Desert Complex at the observation and I can see the trap and the run through the jute and am even close enough to see the horses – the best observation of this roundup. There were about 30 horses that came in before I arrived but one small family just got driven into the trap with one helicopter with no issues.
I just watched a large family with many pintos and a dark stallion bringing up the rear turn from the jute and run away. I winder if any of these horses were captured in 2019 and know what this is about. Then the helicopter drove them toward the trap again and they charged by on the wrong side of the jute wings. Meanwhile the wind was picking up with very strong blasts. The horses headed toward the highway but stopped and tried to figure out what to do. Finally they disappeared out of sight and shortly after that the BLM called it the end of the day – the wind was just too fierce. So we won’t know until tonight if they are moving the trap to a different area tomorrow – if they do this family gets to stay free in the Green Mountain HMA in the Red Desert Complex.
The BLM left the trap in the same place today but high winds called off the roundup, so this family has at least another day of freedom.