Bureau of Land Management photo.


Update: Day one of the roundup was called off on Sept. 23-24 because of rain and poor road conditions.

As some in Congress push to allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses, the agency is gearing up to capture and remove 1,560 wild horses from their home ranges in southwestern Wyoming.

BLM is planning a Saturday start to a helicopter roundup to remove more than half of the wild horses on the Salt Wells Creek / Great Divide Basin / Adobe Town heard management areas:

  • 513 of the 1,123 wild horses present in the Adobe Town HMA, which has a BLM-assigned “Appropriate Management Level” of  610-800 wild horses;
  • 322 of the 737 in the Great Divide Basin HMA, which has an AML of 415-600;
  • and 725 of the 976 in the Salt Wells Creek HMA, which has an AML of 251-365.

The captured wild horses will be transported to the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility. They will be offered for adoption. Those that are not adopted will be moved to long-term pastures, according to BLM.

The future could be much darker for the captured horses, however.

Even as the roundup begins, Congress is debating whether to allow BLM to kill healthy unadopted wild horses and burros. President Trump’s budget request included removing protective language used in previous appropriations bills. In July, the House Appropriations Committee voted to approved an amendment that would allow BLM to “euthanize” — shoot — tens of thousands of wild horses and burros.

BLM allows private cattle, sheep and horse grazing on the three Wyoming HMAs equal to 149,962 Animal Unit Months. An AUM is defined as the use of public land by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. According to BLM, livestock use has been at 39% of permitted levels between 2008-16, with voluntary reductions, in part because of drought.

To read BLM’s planning documents, click here.

The Checkerboard is an unfenced region alternating blocks of public and private or state land. The proposed roundup would take place over a combined 1.7 million acres of public land and 731,703 acres of private land.

BLM conducted a 2014 roundup in the region after reaching an agreement with a ranching association to remove wild horses from the entire Checkerboard. That followed a 2013 lawsuit filed by the Rock Springs Grazing Association demanding that BLM remove wild horses from private ranch land there.

Last October, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that BLM violated both the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and Federal Land Policy Management Act in conducting that 2014 roundup. The court found that the agency illegally treated public lands as private in its plans.

Return to Freedom joined fellow wild horse advocacy organizations as a co-plaintiff in the case. The appeals court’s ruling resulted in the cancellation of a planned fall 2016 roundup in the Checkerboard, also based on the agreement with the grazing association.

Now, BLM is justifying its plans to maintain the HMAs at its minimum population targets based in part on the court’s ruling.


Those who wish to view the roundup should contact Tony Brown at (307) 352-0215 or agbrown@blm.gov. They will meet at the BLM Rock Springs Field Office, located at 280 Highway 191 North in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Participants must provide their own transportation, water and food. No bathrooms on-site bathrooms will be available. The BLM recommends driving four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles.

Take action: 

Call Congress to oppose the effort to kill wild horses and burros. Call  (202) 224-3121 today or contact your senators’ state offices (phone numbers are on their websites).

Tell your senators:

— I oppose any provision allowing BLM to kill wild horses or sell them to someone who will.
— I oppose any attempt to remove sale restrictions on wild horses.

Tell your congressperson and senators:
— I support the SAFE Act (HR 113 / S. 1706) to protect all of America’s horses from slaughter.


Deadline nears for comments on plan to capture 1,560 Wyo. wild horses, Aug. 5, 2017

‘No ambiguity’: Court tells BLM it cannot treat public land as private, Oct. 27, 2016

Press release: Landmark ruling stops BLM Wyo. wild horse wipeout, Oct. 14, 2016


Please donate to the Wild Horse Defense Fund to support RTF’s advocacy efforts, as well as selective litigation and coverage of roundups by humane witnesses