New Interior Secretary Can Turn Around Broken Wild Horse Program


A Humane Nation, Wayne Pacelle, HSUS

f785e7d2-1e90-4374-9a75-61acc8e0225fThose of you who regularly watch our good friend Jane Velez-Mitchell’s show on HLN may have seen me last night in a brief segment talking about a potentially dangerous situation for 1,800 captive wild horses at a Bureau of Land Management facility near Reno, Nev., where temperatures have been reaching record highs exceeding 100 degrees this month. Despite the fact that the BLM requires those adopting wild horses from the agency to provide adequate shelter, there is no shelter for the horses at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center. Our request is hardly unprecedented, since the BLM has installed shelters at other facilities, like the one in Ridgecrest, CA.

After several wild horse advocates brought this matter to our attention, we wrote a letter to the BLM, urging the agency to develop a shelter to provide some protection from the sun at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center. Thus far, the BLM has installed a sprinkler system, but no shelter. Newly confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell can take action to show she’s serious about reform of this program.

While an important welfare issue for the horses, the situation unfolding at Palomino Valley is yet another symptom of a broken horse and burro program. The central problem is that the BLM continues to round up and remove thousands of wild horses and to aggregate more horses than it can responsibly care for at short-term and long-term holding facilities, all at an enormous expense to taxpayers and to horses, and in defiance of the spirit of the federal law designed to protect them.

We have only about 40,000 wild horses and burros living on our public lands today, but we have almost 50,000 in holding facilities. This is not what the drafters of the original Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act could ever have imagined, and the BLM knows that it’s removing more animals from the range than the agency can possibly hope to adopt out to loving homes – yet the round up and removal treadmill persists. This is the larger problem that Secretary Jewell confronts.

The only way the BLM will ever right the sinking ship that has become its Wild Horse & Burro Program is by immediately implementing the recommendations of a report prepared by the National Academies of Sciences’ National Research Council panel which, among its key findings, urged the agency to end its reliance on short-sighted roundups, and instead, to keep horses on the range while humanely limiting reproduction through the application of a contraceptive vaccine. And just recently, The HSUS also developed and presented a proposal to the agency for a bold new program that meets the challenges of the budget, the horse population and land-use issues head on.

We are ready to work with the BLM to address its continuing troubles in this area and to solve them for the long term. But in the meantime, the BLM needs to do right by the animals in its care and the best place to start is by providing the 1,800 wild horses at PVC with the shelter they so desperately need.


Habitat for Horses is a 501.c.3 nonprofit equine protection organization supported solely by donations. As of today, we have 175 donkeys and horses under our care, plus one ornery, old mule. Most of them are here because law enforcement removed them from their previous owner. Our ability to rehabilitate and rehome them comes from the financial support of people like you. Please support us by making a donation for the horses we all serve. Click HERE to donate

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Nancy Leake

    I was interviewed by John Potter reporter and anchor of the morning news at KTVN Reno Nevada.
    Please see the story at
    facebook ktvn john potter

    I felt he did a good story,presented all sides and it has caused a contraversy about #1 what I saw and #2 how BLM is treating these wild horses.
    I felt I did the right thing.
    If anyone wants to see my pictures please email me at
    I don’t want credit, I just want to get the word out on what my husband and I saw July 7th and July 14th.
    I have been going out to that facility since I moved to Reno in 1999 and it is getting worse.
    I feel this should be brought to the national news and world news. I am a private citizen and will help anyway I can and as I said I don’t want credit I am just one voice for these animals who can’t speak for themselves.
    Thank you
    Nancy Leake

    July 21, 2013
  • apatchett

    I’m also concerned about the welfare of the horses at the Broken Arrow holding facility. Since this facility is closed to the public. How many horses have died and are dying because of the heat?

    July 21, 2013
  • sherriey

    thank you Nancy….you are an angel and deserve credit…you are their voice and our eyes.
    thanks…. for the horses!!!!!
    keep up the great work.

    July 21, 2013
  • Daryl

    Hi Nancy, If I was there and saw some thing I would say or tell some one about it, The BLM what I have seen does not take care of the these animals in any way shape or form the way they should be cared for. Not having enough water bins, moldy hay, not helping an animal in distress, or shelter from the sun or the rain sleet, or snow , not clearing out the shit that covers the ground. Telling us they do not count the dead foals, if they have not been branded. These are all things our government needs to look in to, these people are paid to do a job, that is not being done. To keep gathering more and more horses in all ready filled pens is horrible conditions for these animals. Taking small foals away from the mother you know they are going to die, who are these hard hearted no caring ass holes who work for the BLM and who hires them? need to look in to him too.
    My heart is broken to the way these animals are being treated, we were to help protect them, not be the worst thing that could happen to them.

    July 21, 2013
  • debbie catalina

    there is an obvious and much more sinister reason than laziness that they don’t count or treat dead foals…. once they are dead, they are merely listed “undiagnosed”. If treated while alive, veterinary treatment will reveal the heat-related causes of death…like gas colics that can be be directely caused both by dehydration and by cessation of digestive processed when deep blood circulation is diverted to skin and periphery limbs to respend to overheating. we need to keep outing these evil people. with so many foia’s outing the fact that they have tried all sorts of sneaky stuff to kill wild horses, can anyone really believe this situation is not just ordinary bad management when it is absolutiely delibarate and awara that this is a nice way to get rid of a few more horses without getting obvious blood on their hands?

    July 22, 2013
  • Arlene

    Thank You Nancy Leake for your top notch Journalism, if only all were like you !!!!!!

    July 23, 2013
  • Jade

    Thanks, Nancy L!! You are my hero!

    July 23, 2013
  • Sharon Jacobs-Salinas

    The BLM, nor Sally Jewell care on iota about the report by the NAS; I doubt they’ve even read it. Sally Jewel is no better than Salazar! They’re not going to stop these horrific stampeding and removal of our beloved WH&B until they have all been eradicated. They cater to the welfare ranchers and do what they want, when they want. There’s another post by HfH that states they are fixing to removal another 4,800 horses, so what does that tell you? Business as usual for the BLM and their cattle cronies. I ask you, where are they going to put this many more horses when they can’t even take proper care of those that are suffering in the soaring heat at PVC. Those horses have been suffering far too long as it is and the BLM wants to WAIT for ‘input’ via a workshop [at taxpayers expense!] The horses don’t have time to WAIT; they are baking to death NOW and something should have been implemented long before this got to the point of horses dropping dead in the scorching temperatures! They don’t want ‘input’ they’re doing business as usual and neglecting these horses. The BLM mindset is, if they die, they die; they could give a damn about helping these horses NOW! And they no want to roundup/remove and additional 4,800 that they cannot care for! OUTRAGEOUS!

    July 24, 2013