Horse Breaks Back, Dies During Wyoming Wild Horse Roundup

Four horses died Thursday during the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse roundup near Rock Springs, according to the bureau's latest data.

Ellen Fike

January 07, 20223 min read

Horse roundup
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Four horses died Thursday during the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse roundup near Rock Springs, according to the bureau’s latest data.

One horse broke its back and died while being chased by the bureau’s helicopters, while three others died due to pre-existing conditions, such as a club foot and a broken leg.

According to the BLM, 119 horses, including 50 mares, 44 stallions and 25 foals, were gathered on Thursday, bringing the total number of horses rounded up since October to 3,240, including 1,272 stallions, 1,308 mares and 660 foals. Nearly 500 of the horses have been returned to their home range.

As of Thursday, 20 horses have died during the roundup since it began in October. Nine of the deaths were related to a situation caused by the roundup, such as two mares that broke tehir necks in late November, and 11 resulted from pre-existing conditions.

The BLM maintains a daily “gather” report that notes how many horses were gathered during a day, how many animals were shipped and how many deaths occurred.

The roundup resumed Thursday after a month-long pause. It began in October and is slated to last until February.

The BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins field offices are removing wild horses from the Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, White Mountain and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in southwestern Wyoming.

The BLM in Wyoming manages 16 wild horse herd areas on nearly 5 million acres.

BLM officials have previously noted that injuries to wild horses and burros during a roundup are rare.

BLM spokesman Brad Purdy told Cowboy State Daily in November that while BLM’s intent is to keep any fatalities from happening, they do occur, albeit not often.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but when you’re dealing with wild animals, it’s unrealistic to think no fatalities will happen,” he said.

Purdy encouraged anyone who has an interest in wild horses to consider adopting one (or more) once they have been rehabilitated at the Wyoming Honor Ranch in Riverton or the Mantle Training Facility in Wheatland.

“Once these animals are gentle, it’s incredible the things they can do,” he said. “That’s the best solution for both the horses and the taxpayer.”

Last month, the American Wild Horse Campaign filed a petition signed by more than 70,000 people to stop the roundup.

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Ellen Fike