BLM Death Statistics

Waited 30 minutes to make sure this filly was alive~ 4/2013

Waited 30 minutes to make sure this filly was alive~ 4/2013

Editorial: Laura Leigh

I recently received an email asking why I was not writing about the deaths of horses at Palomino Valley. Why was I not writing about the discrepancy?

When the filly rose I could see that her eye had serious injury. This was right after freezemarking. She has not been seen again.

When the filly rose I could see that her eye had serious injury. This was right after freezemarking. She has not been seen again.

I have been since 2010. It is absolutely shocking that this statistic is an unknown. I have been documenting foal deaths that do NOT show in any statistic. We also have a legal action that addresses access to each horse, including foals that die. I have made multiple comments to the Advisory Board about what that statistic represents, and why it is important, since 2010. HERE is an article written in May of 2010. This article mentions foal deaths being vacant from statistics in 2011 and goes on to write about the Advisory Board (and we note the same in our written comments to the Board). We gave all the info to NBC and we hope it is in the final cut when it airs.

Here is BLM’s 2012 schedule: And then the updated portion for fall/winter here:

Jackson Mountain foal before freezemarking

Jackson Mountain foal before freezemarking

Please also note that Jackson Mountain was added to, the schedule and began removals in June… “foaling season.” Our legal action stopped the removal in all but the “emergency” area (the case is ongoing and in Discovery). Many new babies went into that facility and many Jackson horses are still there.

Currently at PVC we see Jackson, Wassuk, Antelope, Owyhee (another court action that has won a TRO and is heading for hearing to gain an Injunction), Diamonds…. and a few other familiar faces. We track from range through holding as best we can. It has always been BLMs practice to NOT count foal deaths.

Jackson foals knee. Foal not seen again

Jackson foals knee. Foal not seen again

Also note that on BLM “gather update” pages the public is ONLY given information until the end of the removal portion… the reports end there. HERE is a link to Jackson Mountain. Jackson Mountain horses are still at the facility with gelding of youngsters being performed over the months of April and May… but no current statistics are online.

The “37” deaths reported so far this year are horses from Jackson, Owyhee, Antelope, Wassuk, etc. But they are adults, not foals… and not any of the foals born that do not survive from mares recently stampeded on the range.


Enter Sally Jewell

A Denver Post article is also making rounds and showing up in our inbox about new Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The article starts with “New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday that she is still undecided about how to handle a burgeoning wild horse and burro population that is eating more than half the horse budget at the BLM and sparking outrage among wild horse advocates.”
Then Ms. Jewell goes on to day that she is waiting for the National Academy of Sciences study due out in June, “It’s going to help identify what’s the sustained capacity of our public lands to handle our wild horses, what is the effectiveness of things like birth control methodology to try and deal with the issue.”

This is extremely disheartening. Instead of looking at the cost to tax-payers of allowing private interests to continue to reap a profit off of public land through activities subsidized with their money we are going to look to see “what’s the sustained capacity” to “handle wild horses.”

Please remember the BLM set the NAS itinerary and provided the bulk of the data. (Of course the public could submit reports but no official incorporation protocol is guaranteed).

So statistics that say “roundups are safe,” that do not include complete data like foal deaths or facility deaths over time due to respiratory illness like pneumonia after being run in sub-freezing weather, and “carrying capacity to handle horses” because of an out of control budget will be part of Jewell’s program I do not hold much hope that she will be the avenue for sane change.


These are many of the horses that went to PVC this past year.

I hope that answers some of the questions people have. It’s late and it has been a long day. We have a serious month of deadlines on issues surrounding our cases, field work. etc. If there are questions on the program, or information you need, please email  The work load is huge right now so be patient and we will try to get to your questions as fast as possible. ~ Thank you


13 thoughts on “BLM Death Statistics

  1. This management program is funded with our $$, we have a right to know what is happening to our treasured wild ones. The BLM must be held accountable! The burden of proof should not be on the public! The BLM must be forced to set a protocol for human treatment and all actions and documentation should be made transparent to the public and media! Every single one of our wild ones should be accounted for! Thank you for fighting for them!

    • Yes Damien, we do hae the right to know and will be interesting to see how the courts rule. In addition any decision based on a statistic that is incomplete will continue to be flawed…

  2. ongoing policy and practice of secrecy and deceit about gather related deaths… its no wonder BLM doesn’t report the total death figures after roundup, reporting all deaths, especially the young foals, fillies and colts.

  3. I agree with damien; the burden of proof should not be on the Public to prove or disprove how the BLM’s massive budget is being handled. But it is.

    A current article concerning Ms. Jewell stated keeping wild equines in captivity costs between $1.46 per animal (Long Term Pasture) and $4.96 (Short Term or Maintenance) per animal, per day. For a ‘short term’ facility like Palomino Valley, which boasted a population in February, 2013, of 1,914 animals, this works out to about $9,500 A DAY in feed costs and ‘care’ (whatever ‘care’ that might be). Over a 30 day average, this comes to around $285,000 a month. Palomino Valley’s reported populations rarely drop below 1,000 animals.

    Or does it? According to facility reports for June and July, 2011, more than 1,500 animals were ‘shipped out’ from PV. It would be interesting to know why, wouldn’t it?

    Last month, alfalfa and grass hay in certain areas of Nevada were selling for $8.00 a bale; at the $4.96 per animal cost estimate, a bale feeds less than 2 horses in a single sitting… and for horse people who know, that’s not quite accurate – two horses consuming a single bale every day. (My experience with feeding a 4 to 5 inch thick flake from a 4 foot long bale indicates about 9 horses off a single bale at a cost of around .89 cents per horse, but that’s just me…)

    So you might not need to wonder why mortality rates are excluded from ‘data’ presented by any holding facility. The more than 50,000 supposedly in holding facilities nation-wide equal the animals removed and unadopted – since year 2000. And, according to BLM statistics, none of those animals sent to holding over more than a decade have died. They simply live on and on and on.

    • Lisa every year that many horses (or more) ship from PVC. PVC is the short term processing facility. Broken Arrow is now “overflow.” So PVC is always cleared before the roundup schedule begins in July and “cleaned.” It happens every year.

      • Perhaps…but the bookkeeping that passes off as facility data is – unsatisfying – especially when mortality stats are completely absent. It makes no sense to me why in-holding mortality isn’t included; we’ve all seen the injured and dying after a roundup, and the results of the illnesses that follow. It’s distasteful and sorrowful but not surprising. If it hadn’t been for on-site observation after the Original Calico, those deaths would have been under-reported. It’s almost as if, after all the deaths and euthanasia related to a roundup have dropped off, ‘natural’ mortality simply isn’t worth reporting.

  4. Laura Leigh, I support you 100% in all of your work. You are so wonderful to make this committment to wild horses. I appreciate and treasure you every day.

  5. These horses should be returned to the range which is rightfully there’s, NOT big Oil & big Gas. Ty Laura Leigh for all you do, wish I could work right along side you!

  6. From what I remember the NAS study started in 1/2011? Blm instructed NAS to basically ignore data regarding cattle grazing which we all know from other studies and GAO reports, are the cause of the range/riparian zone damage & cover for water rights necessary for toxic mining. So yes, the NAS study will only show what the Blm wants it to show. Initially I had hoped that the NAS study would reveal the ACTUAL number of wild horses left in the wild, which I’m certain is below 10K and meets criteria for endangered species. Blm will never admit this and this congress will never add another species to the endangered list. The reason they are going extinct is because of Blm, fact. The whole situation is so corrupt including the pillaging of Public Lands for private profits. Laura is a true warrior using her art as a documenting vehicle to expose this destruction.

  7. Laura Leigh, thank you for all the work you are doing for these magnificent animals. They should not be harmed, destroyed, rounded up and sacrificed. Horses have been the backbone of the countries for centuries! Why are they doing all this? This is plenty of land to share and leave hem unharmed. What is ‘freezemarking’? Cannot get the picture of the little filly out of my head with her infected eye. I should just google it. Thank you again.

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