Onaqui Wild Horses Brutally Removed from Their Public Land in Utah

Onaqui Wild Horses Brutally Removed from Their Public Land in Utah

During the middle of July, the wild horses of the Onaqui herd in Utah were mercilessly chased by a helicopter into small, inhumane traps, then crammed into livestock trailers and removed from land decreed by law to be theirs. Despite long and loud public outcry, the Bureau of Land Management was hell-bent on achieving its heinous plan to decimate the herd.   

In-person rallies held in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., and many thousands of letters and calls to President Biden, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Nada Culver didn’t stop the roundup of the world-renowned Onaqui wild horse herd. Citizens are livid that the American public has been ignored and that these horses are being brutalized using our tax dollars.

The BLM has said that it “had to” remove these cherished horses because of the drought conditions present in the U.S. West. Yet, observers and photographers provided plenty of evidence from days preceding the roundup that the horses were in healthy body weight and sleek condition. These wild horses know where to go to find forage and water sources.

The fact that the BLM allows thousands of cattle and sheep exploited by ranchers to graze on this public land raises serious questions about why it is removing federally protected wild horses instead of taxpayer-subsidized private livestock.

The story of the horses is heartbreaking, but there is also another issue. Wild horse and burro advocates have long known the depths the BLM goes to hide the truth. It forces observers to stay far away and behind obstructions so they cannot see the trap site (where the majority of horrors occur). This is the standard operating procedure for these roundups. It is especially egregious in the wide-open Onaqui herd area, where the BLM had to look very hard to find a spot where observers cannot see what happens in the trap area.

This 9.5-minute video is worth watching in its entirety. It was recorded by Ashley Avis, who also directed the newly released Disney film Black Beauty.

The video documents the obstinate refusal of the BLM staffers to allow the filmmaker to climb an easy ridge so that she could see the trap site. There is also footage of the helicopter chasing the horses toward the trap and heartbreaking sounds of the horses screaming for each other in the covered-up holding areas. 

Then, after the roundup action is over and the BLM “guards” have left, the video shows the ridge they asked to be allowed to go to and the view they could have had but were not allowed.  

Please help America’s wild horse herds. To find out how you can take action, visit our Wild Horses and Burros campaign. 

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