From the Public
This Wild Horse and Burro Webpage is intended to answer questions that are on the public’s mind, based on e-mails and phone calls that the BLM has recently received at its National Wild Horse and Burro Information Center (firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-468-7826).
What is the status of an effort by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to control the herd population at Wheeler Pass/Cold Creek (Nevada) through use of the contraceptive vaccine PZP?
Has the BLM issued new contracts for helicopter gathers of wild horses and burros?
What is the current status on shade at Palomino Valley Corrals (PVC) outside of Reno, Nevada? (Updated August 2014)
Is the BLM looking into a wild burro-related partnership that would benefit small-scale farmers in Guatemala?
Does the BLM ever move animals from a long-term pasture to another holding facility? If so, why? (July 2014)
What is the situation regarding wind breaks at the Rock Springs, Wyoming, wild horse holding facility?
What is the overall condition of the horses at the Rock Springs holding facility?
What is the BLM’s response to allegations that there are signs of health issues and neglect at the Palomino Valley Center (PVC) outside Reno, Nevada, and that funding reductions have affected the level of care at PVC? (May 15, 2013)
What is the BLM's response to allegations that the mortality numbers for the Bureau's Palomino Valley Center (PVC) do not match the numbers listed on invoices submitted to the BLM from Reno Rendering?
Has the BLM entered into a horsemeat contract with a steak company?
What is the BLM's response to allegations regarding wild horse sales to a South Dakota long-term pasture contractor, known as Spur Livestock, in 2008 (Updated September 2014)?
What is the BLM's response to allegations that there was a 10 percent mortality rate during a 2010 gather of wild horses in Piceance/East Douglas HMA? In addition, it was pointed out that PZP was not applied for population suppression control.
What is the BLM's response to allegations that gather contractor, Sun J, did not meet the legal requirement for helicopter experience rounding up wild horses?
Did the BLM bait trap 11 horses in a residential area in Nevada? Why?
Did Wild Horse and Burro (WH&B) Advisory Board member Dr. Boyd Spratling, DVM, recommend that the BLM consider ovariectomies as a population growth suppression method?
What is the BLM's reaction to allegations regarding horse sales to Tom Davis of Colorado, as reported by Pro Publica?
Recently, the BLM announced its 2012/2013 fall/winter gather schedule. Since that time, the BLM has received numerous comments indicating the Bureau is operating without a policy for humane standards in place. Is that the case?
Does the BLM count or treat identical or similar comments received during its environmental-review process as a single comment?
In light of the drought that has been affecting the Midwest this summer (2012), what is the condition of BLM-managed wild horses that are cared for and maintained on private ranches in Oklahoma and Kansas and other Midwestern states?
How do I read the freezemark on an adopted wild horse or burro?
I have acquired a BLM-titled wild horse or burro, but do not have any paperwork. I would like to confirm its title status and learn more about the animal. Where do I start?
I have acquired a BLM-titled wild horse or burro. I would like to have the title transferred into my name. What do I do?
Question: What is the status of an effort by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to control the herd population at Wheeler Pass/Cold Creek (Nevada) through use of the contraceptive vaccine PZP?
Answer: The U.S. Forest Service and the BLM continue to work on a collaborative herd management area plan (HMAP) for the Spring Mountain Complex outside of Las Vegas. The development of the plan has taken longer than expected. Both the BLM and USFS have collaborated with the Spring Mountain Alliance in the development of the proposed HMAP and will continue to do so. The draft proposed plan has several alternatives, which include working with volunteer groups to administer the fertility-control vaccine PZP to reduce population growth and carrying out small bait-trap removals and adoptions to maintain the appropriate management level for the project area.
Question: Has the BLM issued new contracts for helicopter gathers of wild horses and burros?
Answer: Yes, the BLM, after careful consideration, has issued three new helicopter contracts for wild horse and burro gathers. The contracts have gone to Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., Nephi, Utah; Sampson Livestock, Meadow, Utah; and Sun J Livestock, Inc., Vernal, Utah. For the first time, Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) standards are incorporated into the agency's helicopter gather contracts. The CAWP standards, among other things, specify capture techniques; design standards for trap and corral facilities; requirements for vehicles used to transport animals; handling techniques; stipulations for the care of young, weak, or debilitated animals; and requirements for feeding and watering. The advantages of three contractors (rather than two, as has been the practice) are: increased bidding competition (and thus lower costs) for each gather job; greater capability for removals and population-growth suppression work; and meeting contingencies that may arise.
Question: What is the current status on the shade at Palomino Valley Corrals (PVC) outside of Reno, Nevada? (Updated August 2014)
Answer: Part 1. In August 2013, the BLM conducted a public workshop to discuss the issue of shade at the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center. As part of the workshop, the BLM invited animal welfare experts to speak on the subject of shade and the use of shade structures with domestic horses. One of the recommendations provided by the animal welfare experts was the BLM provide shade for animals that may be compromised due to injury or illness.
In response to this recommendation the BLM has placed shade structures in its two compromised animal pens and one large free standing shade structure in a pen often used to house foals. Click on each photo link to see photos of the shade structures (photo 1
, photo 2
, photo 3
, and photo 4
Part 2. The BLM is committed to providing humane, science-based care for wild horses and burros it manages both off and on the range. As part of this commitment, the BLM is commissioning research from UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine to determine horses’ shade preferences and needs at PVC. This will enable science-based decisions on provision of shelter at BLM corrals. The study will compare horses of different body conditions in order to evaluate possible differences in:
a) Total amount of shade use; b) Frequency of entering shade; c) Duration of time the horses spend in the shade; d) Time of day in shade; e) Level of UV radiation at time horse enters shade; f) Length of time in sun before entering shade; and g) Relationship between shade use and weather factor.
The study will investigate the differences in total time spent in shade and the frequency and duration of each visit to the shade. This knowledge will help inform BLM management practices for the care of captive wild horses. Click on each photo link to see photos of current shade research structures (photo 1
and photo 2
The research study officially began on August 14, 2014 and is expected to take 8-10 weeks to complete, weather permitting. To learn more about the research study click this link.
PVC has the capacity for 1,800 wild horses and burros. The animals have a continuous supply of water and are fed daily. PVC, as with all BLM facilities, has a veterinarian that visits the site regularly and is available on an as-needed basis.
Wild horses and burros are accustomed to open environments and when their nutritional demands and need for water are met, they do well in coping with the natural elements, including sun, rain, snow, and hot and cold temperatures. For more information, contact the BLM at 866-468-7826 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Question: Is the BLM looking into a wild burro-related partnership that would benefit small-scale farmers in Guatemala?
Answer: Yes, the BLM, which is dealing with limits on its off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros, is exploring the feasibility of a wild burro-related partnership with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org). Heifer International is a highly regarded, not-for-profit organization that provides education, tools, and livestock to poor communities and small-scale farmers. The prospective partnership would provide gentled, sale-eligible wild burros under BLM management to assist communities and farmers in Guatemala, where burros are prized working animals and expensive for families in poverty to buy. If the partnership were to move forward, the gentled burros would help carry water, crops, and other supplies. Heifer International would provide animal care training, regular animal welfare checks, and program evaluation to make sure the burros are kept safe and healthy. When determining where to place animals, Heifer makes an assessment to ensure that the recipients have adequate resources to care for the animal.
Question: Does the BLM ever move animals from a long-term pasture to another holding facility? If so, why? (July 2014)
Answer: Yes, BLM moves animals from long-term pastures to other facilities if the long-term pasture can no longer accommodate the animals. Examples of when this would occur include:
1. If a contractor sells the ranch and the new owner does not want to manage for wild horses.
2. If a contractor has lands recovering from drought and wants to remove grazing animals or decrease their numbers to aid in drought recovery.
3. If market conditions change in the livestock sector such that the contractor identifies a more lucrative use for the land.
Depending on the capacity of the facility needing to relocate animals, the number of animals being relocated can range from a few hundred to a few thousand head.
The majority of animals that have not been adopted are held on long-term pastures. Long-term pastures provide a free-roaming environment for the animals and it costs less for the taxpayer to house animals on long-term pastures than at short-term holding facilities. With long-term and short-term facilities nearly filled to capacity, the BLM is currently seeking new short-term and long-term holding facilities.
Question: What is the situation regarding wind breaks at the Rock Springs, Wyoming, wild horse holding facility?
Answer: Wild horses at the Rock Springs holding facility are provided with man-made and natural wind breaks. In contrast, in Wyoming's on-range Herd Management Areas, there are not many natural wind breaks because of the desert terrain. On-range wild horses huddle together in groups to protect one another from the elements, just as they do in corralled environments.
Question: What is the overall condition of the horses at the Rock Springs holding facility?
Answer: Animals held in the Rock Springs wild horse holding facility are healthy and hardy. They are provided humane treatment that includes veterinary care and daily feed with access to fresh water sources. Hay provided at the facility is very high in nutritive value, and the wild horses there typically gain weight and their body condition improves. A wild horse will eat 20 pounds of hay every day. Because of limited water on the range, wild horses must eat snow and ice to stay hydrated in extreme weather conditions. The Rock Springs wild horse holding facility provides plenty of fresh, clean water, which enables the wild horses to be fully hydrated.
Question: What is the BLM’s response to allegations that there are signs of health issues and neglect at the Palomino Valley Center (PVC) outside Reno, Nevada, and that funding reductions have affected the level of care at PVC? (May 15, 2013)
Answer: The BLM staff and the attending veterinarian closely monitor the health of the wild horses and burros under their care and take this responsibility very seriously. Budget sequestration has not affected the level of care provided to the animals at PVC or staff resources available to care for the animals. The health issues noted by the public—strangles, ringworm and warts—are caused by a bacteria, fungus and virus, respectively, that are very common in large groups of young or immunologically naive horses that are exposed to these infectious problems for the first time. These are not signs of abuse or neglect.
Respiratory problems, including strangles, are evaluated by the veterinarian as they arise. Depending on the severity of the infection, individual animals may be treated, but much like the common cold, many of these conditions have no prescribed drug treatment and need to run their course. Similarly, ringworm and warts on horses are largely self-limiting problems that resolve over time as animals’ immune systems recognize and respond to the causative agents. Typically, individual animals will show signs of these conditions for 3 to 6 weeks, and in a large facility like PVC it may take four to six months for these conditions to run their course through the overall population. Treating individual wild animals housed in a group setting can increase stress levels and the risk of injury for all of the animals involved. Unless a specific treatment is warranted, it is often not in the animals’ best interest to isolate and treat every affected animal. These situations are assessed on an ongoing basis by BLM staff with the valuable input of the attending veterinarian to identify the best course of action for each circumstance.
To deal with the recent health issues, a complete quarantine of PVC has not been needed. If animals are showing clinical signs of infectious respiratory disease, PVC routinely restricts the movement of animals out of the facility. Such restrictions were in place this spring while the facility managed the strangles cases at the facility. Based on the assessment and recommendation of the attending veterinarian, ringworm and warts are handled in a similar manner. Horses with these conditions may be shipped to another BLM facility if, in the opinion of the attending veterinarian, they meet the requirements for transportation. If present, these conditions are brought to the attention of adopters during the adoption process. It is not BLM policy to trim animals only prior to adoption and the allegation that this is done at PVC is incorrect. The attending veterinarian monitors the condition of the animals, including their need for hoof care, on an ongoing basis. One effect of government sequestration was a reduction in weekend public visitation days at PVC. PVC continues to be open on the first Saturday of every month from 8 AM to 12 PM.
Question: What is the BLM's response to allegations that the mortality numbers for the Bureau's Palomino Valley Center (PVC) do not match the numbers listed on invoices submitted to the BLM from Reno Rendering?
Answer: We welcome the public's interest in this matter and acknowledge that the horse mortality numbers being reported at BLM facilities are lower than the numbers invoiced by BLM-contracted rendering facilities that dispose of horse remains. The discrepancy results from the reporting procedures currently used by the Bureau. We are, however, moving quickly to change these procedures to improve transparency. The BLM remains committed to the health and well-being for the wild horses we are charged with protecting.
Question: Has the BLM entered into a horsemeat contract with a steak company?
Answer: The Bureau of Land Management strongly condemns a news release, published as a hoax on Monday, April 1, 2013 (April Fool’s Day), that claimed the BLM had entered into a contract to sell horsemeat. The hoax was perpetrated by Certified Steak and Seafood company (www.certifiedsteak.com), which has since claimed it was trying to draw attention to the issue of horse slaughter. The company has issued a clarifying statement that notes wild horses are protected under Federal law and that its reference to them in the hoax was done for “illustrative purposes” only. The company also acknowledged that it does not have any contract with the BLM.
It has been (and remains) the policy of the BLM not to sell or send wild horses and burros to slaughterhouses or “kill buyers.” The agency is committed to protecting the well-being of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range.
Anyone who has knowledge of the sale of federally protected wild horses or burros to a slaughterhouse or “kill buyer” is asked to report it to the BLM at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-4MUSTANGS (866-468-7826). Individuals who witness the inhumane treatment of these animals are also asked to report the incident to the same e-mail address and phone number. Law enforcement will investigate the reports as warranted.
The BLM uses its adoption program as the primary tool to place these iconic animals into private care. For information about an adoption event or site near you, please check the BLM’s adoption schedule or call 866-4MUSTANGS.
Question: What is the BLM's response to allegations regarding wild horse sales to a South Dakota long-term pasture contractor, known as Spur Livestock, in 2008? (Updated September 2014)
Answer: The BLM cares deeply about the well-being of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range, and takes seriously all accusations of the slaughter of wild horses or burros. These accusations were thoroughly investigated and the case was presented ot the U. S. Department of Justice who issued a letter of declination. The case has been closed.
Question: What is the BLM's response to allegations that there was a 10 percent mortality rate during a 2010 gather of wild horses in Piceance/East Douglas HMA? In addition, it was pointed out that PZP was not applied for population suppression control.
Answer: The BLM completed the Piceance/East Douglas gathers (outside HMA boundaries) on October 22, 2010. A total of 73 animals were gathered and removed. The original plan was to treat and release all mares older than two years of age; however, we did not gather enough animals to provide the proper conditions for PZP application. A total of three gather/non-gather-related deaths occurred, which is a 4 percent mortality rate.
The BLM completed the West Douglas emergency gather on July 27, 2012. Because of drought-influenced water shortages, a total of 20 animals were gathered and removed. There were no deaths; therefore, the death mortality rate was 0 percent. West Douglas is not an HMA and the current land-use plan calls for the removal of all horses. Therefore, no PZP was applied.
Question: What is the BLM's response to allegations that gather contractor, Sun J, did not meet the legal requirement for helicopter experience rounding up wild horses?
Answer: The gather solicitation in question required the contract bidder to provide the degree of overall experience of the organization and proposed key personnel in similar projects during the period of calendar year 2007 to the present. In addition, the bidder had to provide documentation of overall experience resulting in the capture of a minimum of 3,000 wild horses and/or burros.
Sun J interpreted the solicitation to mean their primary pilot had to have helicopter experience in gathering 3,000 wild horses and submitted a waiver. However, Sun J only had to show that their organization, not a single pilot, had gathered 3,000 wild horses. In addition, the primary and secondary pilots each had to have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flying experience in similar projects, which they did.
Question: Did the BLM bait trap 11 horses in a residential area in Nevada? Why?
Answer: Yes. Eleven horses that are part of the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) in Nevada had moved outside of the HMA, adjacent to Deer Run Road on the outskirts of Carson City. On Jan. 23, 2013, the BLM's Carson City District Office began bait trapping and removing these horses and concluded gathering them on February 27. These horses were routinely crossing the Carson River into River View City Park, and the BLM received several complaints of people feeling threatened by the horses.
After initially gathering five of the 11 horses, the BLM took a break from bait trapping because of some community concerns and met with constituents to hear their position and potential solutions. The community group submitted ideas that the BLM considered, but, unfortunately, these proposals did not address and resolve all of the public safety issues. BLM-Nevada has posted the community’s proposals, as well as its information regarding the viability of these solutions, on its Website at www.blm.gov/nv. The BLM recognizes that these horses have been part of the community for many years; however, we have a responsibility to keep wild horses from creating a safety hazard or threatening the well-being of the community and its animals. For instance, over the past two years, four horses have been struck and killed by vehicles. And community complaints submitted to the BLM have ranged from concern for the safety of residents’ children to concern over stallions fighting with domestic horses through fences. In all of the complaints, concerns over safety and property damage were expressed. The BLM follows the Code of Federal Regulations (43CFR 4720.2-1), which mandates the removal of strayed animals from private lands based on written request from landowners. The bait trapping responds to these complaints. The captured horses will be offered for adoption on Saturday, March 23, 2013, at Silver Saddle Ranch in southeast Carson City. Details will be made available at: www.blm.gov/nv.
Question: Did Wild Horse and Burro (WH&B) Advisory Board member Dr. Boyd Spratling, DVM, recommend that the BLM consider ovariectomies as a population growth suppression method?
Answer: During the October 29–30, 2012, WH&B Advisory Board meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dr. Boyd Spratling, DVM, presented the results of the WH&B Advisory Board’s Population Growth Suppression Working Group and the full Board recommended that the BLM consider ovariectomies as a population growth suppression method. The WH&B Division Chief will forward the recommendation to the WH&B Research Advisory Team for consideration and evaluation.
Question: What is the BLM's reaction to allegations regarding horse sales to Tom Davis of Colorado, as reported by Pro Publica?
Answer: The BLM condemns any sale of wild horses for slaughter. We care deeply about the well-being of wild horses, both on and off the range, and it has been (and remains) the policy of the BLM not to sell or send wild horses or burros to slaughter. We take seriously all accusations of the slaughter of wild horses or burros. The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of the Interior has initiated an investigation into the situation and will work in conjunction with the State of Colorado throughout its investigation. We look forward to the results of that inquiry. Anybody that is found to have violated the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act should be held accountable.
Question: Recently, the BLM announced its 2012-2013 fall/winter gather schedule. Since that time, the BLM has received numerous comments indicating the Bureau is operating without a policy for humane standards in place. Is that the case?
Answer: No. After the BLM released its Fiscal Year 2013 fall/winter wild horse and burro gather, treat, and release schedule on September 28, concern was expressed that the agency had not adopted a nationally consistent standard of humane care for gather operations and holding facilities. At the April 24, 2012, Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting, the BLM indicated that it had taken the first step toward developing a formal Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) – evaluating, compiling, and adding current guidance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for wild horse and burro gathers. The BLM remains committed to the best interests of the animals under its care.
The draft SOPs are currently under internal review. Although the SOPs are a work in progress and will continually be refined and modified through the adaptive management process, the BLM has existing SOPs in place that are cited in gather plan Environmental Assessments (link to SOPs)
, along with provisions in the gather contracts for humane handling and care. The next step in the development of the CAWP will be to finalize an assessment tool that will serve as a basis to evaluate the BLM’s adherence to the gather SOPs.
After completion of the gather portion of the CAWP, the BLM will begin development of SOPs and assessment tools for other facets of its Wild Horse and Burro Program, including holding facilities.
Interested parties may follow the BLM’s ongoing gathers by visiting www.blm.gov
and clicking on the respective state to review their gather page. For further assistance, you may call 866-4MUSTANGS (866-468-7826) or e-mail email@example.com.
Question: Does the BLM count or treat identical or similar comments received during its environmental-review process as a single comment?
Answer: The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has established regulations concerning the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, which Federal agencies such as the BLM are required to follow. CEQ also provides guidance for interpreting NEPA regulations. One such memorandum, “Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ's National Environmental Policy Act Regulations,” can be accessed at http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/ceq_regulations/guidance.html, where question 29a addresses the subject of comment responses:
…If a number of comments are identical or very similar, agencies may group the comments and prepare a single answer for each group. Comments may be summarized if they are especially voluminous…
All substantive comments are an important part of the BLM’s NEPA process.
Substantive comments do one or more of the following:
• question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of information in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA);
• question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of, methodology for, or assumptions used for the environmental analysis;
• present new information relevant to the analysis;
• present reasonable alternatives other than those analyzed in the EIS or EA; and
• cause changes or revisions in one or more of the alternatives.
It should be noted that the BLM, which welcomes public input, is not required to respond to non-substantive comments, such as those merely expressing approval or disapproval of a proposal without reason, as the opportunity to comment is not a voting exercise.
Question: In light of the drought that has been affecting the Midwest this summer (2012), what is the condition of BLM-managed wild horses that are cared for and maintained on private ranches in Oklahoma and Kansas and other Midwestern states?
Answer: Despite the current drought in the Midwest, wild horses on long-term pastures in the Midwest continue to thrive. If the drought situation does not change, pasture contractors may have to begin supplemental feeding earlier than normal. As a result, these wild horses will have the advantage of having someone on hand who can address their immediate needs.
Question: How do I read the freezemark on an adopted wild horse or burro?
Answer: To learn how to read the freezemark, visit http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/adoption_program/freezemarks.html. If you still cannot read the freezemark, please contact the BLM’s National WH&B Information Center at 1-866-4MUSTANGS or e-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can submit a photo of the freezemark, that will assist us in providing you with accurate information.
Question: I have acquired a BLM-titled wild horse or burro, but do not have any paperwork. I would like to confirm its title status and learn more about the animal. Where do I start?
Answer: Please contact the BLM’s National WH&B Information Center at 1-866-4MUSTANGS or e-mail your question to email@example.com. We will need the freezemark information to confirm the title status and history of the animal.
Question: I have acquired a BLM-titled wild horse or burro. I would like to have the title transferred into my name. What do I do?
Answer: The BLM cannot reissue the title to a new owner; however, the BLM can send you an official letter providing the title date and history of the animal. Please contact the BLM’s National WH&B Information Center at 1-866-4MUSTANGS or e-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Center can connect you with the BLM office of jurisdiction that will send you the official letter.