Ep #3: Wild Horses Live in FamiliesMarch 6, 2023
Ep #4: Flying Over an Ocean of SnowMarch 20, 2023
By Carol J. Walker
Last March I was preparing to go to the first wild horses adoption event at the Wheatland, Wyoming Bureau of Land Management corrals after the Checkerboard roundup that went from October 2021 through January 2022. I attended over 3 weeks of this roundup. There were over 2700 wild horses captured in that roundup that were in the corrals. Inexplicably the event was cancelled with no explanation. When the April event was cancelled, I spent several days calling BLM staff and waiting for an answer. Finally a press release was issued, saying that Strangles, (Streptococcus Equi) a highly infectious bacterial respiratory infection was running through the facility, and the adoptions would be cancelled for the near future. Strangles can kill, and the webpage says 19 horses have died from the disease. The way the facility is set up, there was no easy way to separate infected from non-infected horses so the disease was allowed to run through the whole facility of 2700 horses and now over 300 foals born at the facility.
I stopped by the facility on my way home last week and took photos from the road since the facility is not open to the public using an 800 lens. I could only see the horses on one side of the facility.
I stayed in communication with the High Plains District Manager Kevin Christenson who organized a “virtual tour” of the facility in October 2022 with photos of each pen the horses were in: https://www.blm.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2022-10/Wheatland.ORC_.VirtualTour.Oct22_0.pdf
He promised that as soon as the BLM veterinarian and the WY State Veterinarian certified that the disease had run its course and there were no more cases at the facility, that they would schedule a Public Tour where members of the public can tour the whole facility and see all the horses.
Now, finally there have been no new cases and so there are about 674 wild horses and 20 burros from the facility being offered in the next BLM Online Adoption running from March 13 – 20. You can view the horses in the Online Corral here: https://wildhorsesonline.blm.gov/ You need to fill out an Online Adoption form to be able to adopt during this adoption.
There are also 200 mares from Sand Wash Basin and wild horses from Carson City, Nevada offered in this online event, making the total number of horses offered completely overwhelming. I do not believe that this excessive number of horses offered is of benefit to the horses. The horses that receive no bids or are not adopted will receive 1 strike against them. What this means is that after 3 strikes, even if they are under 10 years old, they can be offered as Sale Authority, not needing to be adopted but sold without limitation, or shipped to Long Term Off Range Corrals or Long Term Pastures where they will have no ability to be adopted.
There will be a Public Tour on April 14 at the facility, although the weather in April in Wyoming is notoriously unreliable. There have been no details published yet about the hours of the event, and Kevin has said he will look into having a Zoom portion of the meeting for those who cannot attend. There will be no adoptions at this event.
On April 28, the first adoption at the facility will take place, but attendees will only be able to see and adopt the 40-50 horses they decide to offer in the adoption corrals and will not be allowed to see the rest of the horses at the facility. This is because this is a private facility, owned by ZimMetal and Welding, Inc. a private contractor who is receiving a tremendous amount of money to house, feed and care for these horses and burros. The horses and burros are not owned by the contractor, but are owned by all of us who are United States citizens.
If the well being and future welfare of the horses was being considered as the primary goal, I strongly believe that they would
- Allow the public to request horses they were interested in
- Allow the attendees of every adoption to see all the horses at the facility during adoption events
- Not dump almost 700 horses in one online event – offer no more than 100
- Have more adoption events at the facility
- Enlist photographers with better knowledge of wild horses and photography to take the photos for the online events – the photos are abysmal and do the horses no favors. Yes I volunteer to do this.
- Have adoptions on the weekend so that more people can attend.
Here is the link to the BLM Press Release for these scheduled events: https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-wheatland-range-corral-reopen-wild-horse-and-burro-adoptions