Why are Helicopter Round Ups of Wild Horses Illegal?


Dr. Lester Friedlander DVM
Former USDA Veterinarian & Whistle Blower
Board member WHOA

President Citizens Against Equine Slaughter

The WHOA National Plan –

Petition for WHOA National Plan http://chng.it/M7LTBhTzgk

WHOA’s president Patience O’Dowd is also the founding Board member of Citizens Against Equine Slaughter.


I am the president of Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES) a national 501c3 non-profit based in Oregon.

I Dr. Lester Friedlander DVM BA of Bradford County Pennsylvania do swear under penalty of perjury that the following statements are true to the best of my knowledge:

The purpose of CAES is as follows:


Stop the practice of equine slaughter and protect equines from cruel and harmful practices; Monitor the governments land use and resource management activities, as well as the impacts of agency decisions on equines;

Inform and educate the public about the decisions and activities of government agencies affecting equines; Work with the government, the public, and all interested parties to promote sound policies and laws that protect equines.

This is prominently displayed at our website at citizensagainstequineslaughter.org

Without a contraceptive biologic such as the imuno-contraceptive native PZP, wild mares can be pregnant year-round. They are polyestrous and usually become pregnant between Spring and Fall. However, they can become pregnant late into fall and winter and they carry their foals for eleven months.  Hence, they can easily be in any stage of pregnancy at any time of year.

Prior to a Helicopter round up:

  • There is no separation of pregnant wild mares and this is not even practical.
  • There is no separation of newly born foals and this is not practical.
  • There is no separation of sick old or sick young foals and this is not practical.
  • There is no separation of injured wild horses and this is not practical.
  • There is no method to ensure the very young can keep up or not wear their new hooves.  
  • Helicopters have generally been used for quick round ups in remote areas as was the Muddy Creek round-up.
  • There are deaths caused by roundup en masse generally reported by the BLM as at 1% however in the GAO report below it is clear that is not a full reporting of deaths due to helicopter roundups. See Attachment II. There were 362 deaths due to, or related to, helicopter roundups between 2005 and 2007 of those reported.
  • At the Muddy Creek Round up, both the Price Field office staff and the contractors left immediately after the round up and did not search for affected stragglers, injured, or dead as reported in the affidavit by CAES member Laurie McKline.
  • At the Muddy Creek Round as with the other BLM roundups upon information and belief, there were reportedly no cameras reported as utilized to the public and no cameras utilizing GPS as reported to the public on the helicopter/s.
  • The public is discouraged or not allowed to be out on the HMA during the round ups and are guarded by law enforcement agents.

These points are simple fact. There is no significant, or across the board categorization and sorting of wild horses prior to a helicopter round up. Wild Mares can and do give birth year-round.

Given the above first 7 points alone, Helicopter roundups are by definition, and in practice, inhumane, harassing and extreme animal cruelty as they generally utilize stampede under terror of wild horses and their families over rough terrain for miles. They can and do cause deaths during and after round ups. Many of these deaths are not documented or discovered, and many are.

There are no cameras, no transparency, and no post roundup discovery over or near the route taken to look for injured or dead horses or their young and aborted.

Only the Secretary of the Interior can authorize a round up by helicopter as clearly, this is a very dangerous situation for the wild horses. However, there is no legal right to condone extreme animal cruelty, harassment and death as wild horses are not livestock and Congress has not allowed treatment as livestock or even less.

Given the availability of feasible and scientifically recommended alternatives per the NAS Report (contraception) which can be utilized proactively, there is little excuse for the unfeasible and highly probable unbridled harassment and death against the intent of the 1971 Act and the will of the people.

There is a preponderance of evidence of use of motorized vehicles and closed gates, water removals, spikes, cover-ups etc. which tend to show that the remaining wild horses at the Price HMA at Muddy Creek are in imminent danger of death by imposed lack of water and by irresponsible and illegal management actions, as shown in our memberships affidavits.  

Wild horses are flight animals but that means only that they spook easily, it means in fact that they are not comfortable with aircraft swooping down on them and terrorizing them for long periods over long distances over various terrains at speed essentially on a crowded and dangerous unimproved highway situation with young and old etc.

I myself have taken the class on darting wild horses (and other mammals) with native Porcine Zona Pelucida (PZP) (now registered as Zona Stat H, by the EPA), at the Science and Conservation Center in Billings Montana from the late Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick himself.

Wild horses are easily herded or lure trapped for darting one family at a time

and they can be darted without trapping up to 50 meters away.  The usual excuse given for not utilizing native PZP is basically, how can we cover all the remote areas?

Importantly, wildlife is very often darted from helicopter for a variety of reasons.  This is often done by a veterinarian or a biologist etc. This is done throughout the United States as well as across the continent of Africa for decades.

I have also been a trainer of Veterinarians at the USDA and am familiar with slaughtering issues. I am profoundly against horse slaughter for humane reasons as horse slaughter also cannot be accomplished humanely. I mention this because it is also illegal to slaughter a pregnant mare even in Mexico, hence, pregnant mares are rejected at the border for slaughter for human consumption.

Therefore, wild horses often pregnant are therefore not suitable or legal in either wild horse slaughter or for a helicopter round up. Both are extreme animal cruelty.

A helicopter can be more humanely and feasibly used for darting of immunocontraception which is brief, feasible, and the helicopter does not swoop down on the horses as seen here in Attachment I at Muddy Creek and all other helicopter roundups.

There are big differences between darting wild horses from a helicopter with contraception and then leaving them on the range to live out their lives, versus a helicopter stampede round-up and managing the HMAs as breeding grounds akin to Puppy Mills while torturing them and complaining about their birth rate, ignoring the will of the people, the law, and wasting the taxpayers money.


    Darting from Helicopter vs Helicopter round up.


1.  A mare will only be chased for seconds to minutes.

2.  A family can stay together and be darted together for the most part.

3. The family does not have to leave their home and can live out their life in the wild on the range, and feasibly.

4.   The helicopter does not need to swoop down to within 20 ft or less to harass and turn the horses, it can just follow them from above at their same speed and can dart from 50 meters away.

5.   This distance will be less harassing, less traumatic and will not be causing/throwing the thick dust plumes full of debris at the wild horses as happened at the recent muddy creek round up. Video available by Laurie McKline. See screen shots attached.

6.   It is highly unlikely that wild horses will develop a cough with this brief Protocol of darting by helicopter and he/she will subsequently remain on the range. Given GPS and cameras, darts can also be retrieved.

While it would seem that the coughing at the holding facility nine days after roundup might be due to the round itself, it is more likely that the coughing is due the wild horses being penned in a contaminated facility where bacteria and virus likely abound due to a constant flow of horses both owned and wild. Wild horses can and do suffer.

7.   Darting will not cause a loss of genetics as wild horses can live out their lives on the range as intended, and no genetics will be removed. They will just take some years off from reproduction here and there as planned/needed.

I have been a race track vet and understand the injuries of stampede running of two-year old and older horses. Out on the range, there is no transparency currently with no cameras on the helicopter until they come into view at the very end of the miles long run.  There is admittedly no documentation of all the injuries or horses and foals which did not make it the miles to the gather-site. There is no documentation of the foals born on the run and no one to welcome them into the world, remove their placenta, and provide critically needed sustenance, colostrum as well as protection and familial companionship. Of the pregnant mares who foal in the few days after the round up, their foals are likely to be born dead or die shortly after birth due to the extreme stress put on their mothers in this terrifying stampede.

Wild horses live in a harem structure or in bachelor bands. They are a herd animal and live in family bands with a very hierarchical structure. These wild horses know their families and depend on them for survival, companionship, grooming, etc. The stallions spend 24×7 working to keep other stallions and danger away from his harem.

This is what the Stallion lives for.  A Stallion usually follows behind his family band and ensures that the very young keep up with the herd and don’t get separated. The young learn from him as they do from the hierarchy of mares and the lead mare.

Much of this is documented in the USGS Ethology of Feral Horses: Quantifying Equid Behavior A Research Ethogram for Free-Roaming Feral Horses by the USGS and Department of Interior. See attachment 1.

In reviewing the video/screenshots of the Muddy Creek gather recently, it is clear that these horses may have long term health issues now due to the dust and the miles traveled in the dryness and temperatures in the nineties during the round up. One horse that will definitely not recover from this round up was shot.

Per the BLM’s own report, a stallion kicked a young horse and it had to be put down. Under the stress of the stampede roundup this is no surprise.

Horses don’t usually run this far 5 miles plus switch backing, under such stress. This is completely unnatural and cruel.

See Attachment 2 Pictures with statements:

While wild horses can also be easily lured trapped peacefully as is done routinely at the Socorro Herd in New Mexico see BLM’s youtube video and even in the remote and treeless areas of Nevada and Utah etc.

   â€œhelicopter darting  would still be better than removals in terms of humaneness, , because the harassment is a matter of seconds to minutes,  not like the misery of removals. 

Helicopter darting would and does suffice in the remote and essentially treeless areas being used as an excuse for the BLM to continue treating the BLM HMAs like a Puppy Mill and then brutally ripping them from their homes, families, in an extremely cruel and unnatural procedure, the helicopter round up, pregnant, old, sick, injured, and young.

Unfortunately, a wild horse once rounded up is at tremendous risk and likelihood of injury and death by slaughter, even while in the care of the BLM itself. Much less, once it is sold or adopted out. Once the property of an individual or corporation it becomes legally livestock and though not raised as a food animal on a farm or ranch, it may be subjected to slaughter for human consumption over the US borders.  A true food safety issue due to horse dumping of slaughter rejects and other

Under Kleppe, a wild horse belongs to the people of the state where ever it walks and it is protected. However, in some states and many counties, it is illegal to harass a wild horse being considered an animal, wildlife, or feral and having animal cruelty laws which make it illegal to harass a wild horse even before it is rounded up as well as after. The US is a patchwork of animal cruelty laws which apply to the federally wild horses.

This patchwork of differing protections making it arbitrary and capricious to allow wild horses anywhere to be treated with the extreme animal cruelty of a helicopter round up, hence, the wild horses are protected from helicopter roundups.



 This is akin to 9/11 The helicopter goes too close and runs our natural resource the wild horse too hard and too long in adverse conditions. This is unnatural and abusive. Thee wild horses belong to the people. The helicopter goes to close to our property per FAA and too close to the man holding the Judas horse. In other round ups foals have come in with their hooves dangerously worn.

Screenshots from this recent Muddy Creek HMA Round up from video by Laurie McKline

Last one not in order

 Some redundant screen shots not included

 Attachment II

Helicopter gather statistics and lack of reporting was reported in the GAO Report to the Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives – BUREAU OF LAND
MANAGEMENT – Effective Long-Term Options Needed to Manage Unadoptable Wild Horses

Attachment III

National Academy of Science’s recommendation in:

Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: at Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward

Attachment IV


Abortion by Helicopter vs Normal Birth

Muddy Creek Herd by Laurie McKline




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