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Joe Biden: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/; BLM: [email protected]; Haaland: https://www.doi.gov/contact-us

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PETITION TARGET: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management 

Wild horses have snapped their necks running into corral panels, been killed following lacerations and broken bones, and died of “unexpected heart failure” in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s continuing helicopter-assisted roundups – or “gathers.”

At least 245 wild horses died as the result of 20 roundups in 2021-2022 where low-flying helicopters pushed the panicked animals toward corrals, according to a review of the BLM’s daily gather reports.

In 2023, Lady Freethinker sent an observer to the Antelope Complex to document the atrocity that happens year after year. Horses were driven relentlessly, despite high winds and excessive heat. 39 horses died during the roundups or were killed due to “pre-existing conditions” once the roundups concluded.

While the BLM’s reports cite “pre-existing conditions” – including blindness, fractures, club feet, poor body condition, and bad or no teeth – as the cause for most of the killings, the majority of wild horses died specifically from acute or gather-related injuries, according to the gather reports. 

Here are some of the victims, according to the BLM daily gather reports:

  • a bay foal killed for a “pre-existing” fractured leg
  • a sorrel foal killed reportedly for dehydration and diarrhea
  • a 3-month-old filly killed for a leg deformity
  • a 1-year-old sorrel killed for a “pre-existing” shoulder fracture
  • a 3-year-old stallion who broke his neck
  • a 3-year-old brown mare who broke her neck

To read about the other numerous victims in the 2023 roundup, you can read our report here.

While the BLM says that helicopters are a humane way to manage wild horse removals, the horrific death toll from a single year alone shows they are cruel, violent, and unacceptable

horse's broken leg

(Scott Henderson/Lady Freethinker Investigation)

The gruesome trend also isn’t new, with a report as far back as 2008 citing most deaths during helicopter roundups from “broken limbs or injuries sustained accidentally during gathers,” according to documentation from the Government Accountability Office.

Wild horse experts from several advocacy groups say a more effective – and less deadly –  approach would involve fertility control via humane darting that would allow wild horses to remain on the range, while also contributing to the thriving ecological balance the BLM is required to maintain. 

That alternative also would save U.S. taxpayers the millions of dollars spent each year to hold upwards of 50,000 wild horses in long-term holding corrals or to pay ranchers to keep the horses on private property. 

Captured wild horses also sometimes meet grisly ends, with the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program exposed by the New York Times as knowingly handing over the protected animals to individuals with a history of selling horses to slaughterhouses. 

Sign our petition urging the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Bureau of Land Management to end deadly helicopter gathers in favor of safer, more cost-effective approaches involving humane fertility control that would allow wild horses to remain free on the range, and so help end unnecessary, grisly deaths from injuries to intentional slaughter.

horse with broken leg

(Scott Henderson/Lady Freethinker Investigation)