Owyhee roundup: On day with public access, six wild horses captured, Nov. 23, 2016

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A stud separated from his band on Tuesday. All photos by Steve Paige.

A stallion separated from his band on Tuesday. All photos by Steve Paige.


Sign RTF’s anti-roundup petition here. Please consider a contribution to the Wild Horse Defense Fund, which makes it possible for RTF to have humane observers on the ground at roundups. Having an active voice has proven valuable for holding BLM and contractors accountable for the humane handling of wild horses, pressing for improvements to humane standards, and educating policymakers and the public about how tax dollars are being used.

Three mares, two studs and one foal were captured at the Owyhee Complex in Northern Nevada on Tuesday, a day which included the first public viewing of helicopter trapping operations since the second phase of the roundup began last Friday.

During the first three days, by comparison, 440 wild horses were captured and nine horses died. Trapping operations were postponed on Monday due to poor weather conditions.

After the six were captured on Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management’s contractor began moving the trap site.

Because of “private land access issues,” the BLM is only allowing the public to view the helicopter trapping operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

RTF humane observer Steve Paige was only allowed to photograph temporary holding pens from a nearby road on Friday and Saturday before being asked not to take photos of horses in trailers coming down the road. On Tuesday, he was allowed to tour temporary holding as well as view the roundup.

Altogether, 1,216 wild horses have been captured, so far, and at least 16 have died, since the roundup began on Nov. 2. Of those captured, 198 wild horses have been returned to the range — including 94 mares treated with PZP-22 fertility control vaccine.

During the second phase of the roundup, BLM plans to capture 920 wild horses and remove 650 from the range. During the first phase, 770 wild horses (297 studs, 329 mares, 144 foals) were captured.

Captured wild horses are being transported from temporary holding to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center near Reno, Nevada. Horses that are not adopted will later be taken to BLM off-range pastures.

BLM justifies the roundup as an effort to “remove excess wild horses in order to prevent further deterioration of Greater Sage grouse habitat within the Sagebrush Focal Area (in northern Elko and Humboldt Counties. Overpopulation of wild horses leads to the degradation of rangeland resources, which adversely impacts habitat for other species as well as the horses themselves.”

Photos from Tuesday, Nov. 22:


Wild horses are first visible in the distance as they are run between barbed wire fences.



Six wild horses are chased into the trap between two Judas horses, which are trained to lead horses into the pen.


Once in the trap, steam rises off the wild horses.



The transported wild horses are unloaded at temporary holding.


Upon arrival at temporary holding, the wild horses are sorted and separated.


A small black mare with foal is separated from her band’s stallion.