150 Utah wild horses to be captured as part of experiment, Dec. 30, 2016

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Wild horses flee a helicopter during a roundup at the Frisco Herd Management Area in July 2016. BLM plans to capture more wild horses there beginning next week. Photo by Steve Paige.

 

Sign RTF’s anti-roundup petition here. Please consider a contribution to the Wild Horse Defense Fund, which makes it possible for RTF to have humane observers on the ground at roundups. Having an active voice has proven valuable for holding BLM and contractors accountable for the humane handling of wild horses, pressing for improvements to humane standards, and educating policymakers and the public about how tax dollars are being used.

The Bureau of Land Management on Jan. 6 will begin a helicopter roundup that will see 150 wild horses captured — with some returned to the range fitted with tracking devices as part of a population-control experiment, according to a press release.

The roundup will take place at the Conger and Frisco Herd Management Areas in western Utah.

U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado State University researchers intend to study for five years “the effects of removing males from the reproductive population through gelding as an alternative potential management tool.”

There are no published studies of geldings on wild horse behavior, range use or population growth, according to BLM, citing a 2013 report on wild horse management by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Conger Horse Management Area will be used as “the treatment population”; the Frisco Horse Management Area will be used as the control group. The areas were chosen based on similar herd size, populations, habitat, topography and vegetation.

The BLM plans to capture about 150 wild horses, permanently removing 90 from the range, according to the press release.

Plans for the study called for the removal of about 100 wild horses, above the agency’s appropriate management levels, according to BLM’s planning site. Radio collars will be placed on 30 adult male and 30 adults females from each HMA, with hair samples gathered for paternity analysis.

In the second year of the study, researchers planned to geld up to 75 percent of males on the Conger HMA before releasing them.

Aerial surveys will be among the ways that researchers track survival, foals and and other population parameters in years three through five.

Roundup viewing

The public can view the helicopter trapping operation starting on Jan. 6. Those interested in taking part should meet at the KB Express Convenience Store/Subway at 238 South Main in Milford, Utah. Tours will depart at 6:30 a.m. Mountain time.

The BLM will escort members of the public to roundup observation sites. Details will be announced daily on the BLM gather hotline: (801) 539-4050.

Participants must provide their own transportation (four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles are recommended), as well as their own water and food. They should wear clothing suitable for harsh winter conditions.

Wild horses removed from the range are to be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. For an adoption application, visit the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro website by clicking here.

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