The use of helicopters to roundup wild horses and burros equals danger and great financial expense and result in trauma, injuries, family bands torn apart, and even deaths.
After capture, horses and burros are immediately sorted and split apart from their families. Horses have strong bonds with complex social structures, and cry out for their family members as they are cruelly separated.
After suffering the brutality of the roundup and culling process, they are transported to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities, most of which are overcrowded and understaffed.
In 2022, disease broke out and killed 146 wild horses at a holding facility in Colorado. In Wyoming, a holding facility was shut down for months due to “strangles,” a highly contagious disease that spread quickly throughout its pens.
As of August 2023, reports show there are 64,588 wild horses and burros in government holding facilities.
According to the BLM’s estimates, it costs the American taxpayer up to $48,000 over the lifetime of a wild horse or burro when kept in a government holding facility.
While the BLM reports low death rates, it has been shown that the rate skyrockets within the first 30 days of a roundup.
A case in point: Last summer the BLM rounded up over 1,000 wild horses and burros from Nevada’s “Blue Wing Complex”. At the end of the roundup, the BLM reported 14 deaths of wild horses and burros.
Based on documentation from FOIA requests, in the 30 days post roundup, an additional 38 wild horses and burros died at the holding facilities where they ended up.
And 30 of those deaths were burros who died as a result of lipemia or hyper-lipidemia, which often results when an animal stops eating.
Documentation also shows that an additional burro died of the same cause weeks later. It is most likely that the burros stopped eating as a result of extreme stress from the roundup.
In addition, FOIA records showed that during the three months post roundup, another 25 horses and burros died in the holding facility. Causes of deaths ranged from complications during gelding, colic, spinal cord injuries and traumas or illness.
In short, the total deaths from the beginning of the roundup was approximately 77 wild horses and burros, far more than the 14 reported dead by the BLM.