The Bureau of Land Management is planning to remove 3,555 wild horses from five Herd Management Areas in Southwest Wyoming as soon as October.
The BLM plans to capture 4,397 wild horses, permanently removing 3,555 from their home range. It plans to treat and release 842 mares with fertility control.
The BLM contends that the helicopter roundup is needed to return the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, White Mountain and Little Colorado HMAs to their “Appropriate Management Level.”
This spring, the agency estimated that there were about 5,105 wild horses between the HMAs, not counting this year’s foals, according to planning documents.
The agency-set Appropriate Management Level for the five HMAs is 1,550-2,165 horses or as low as one horse for every 2,217 acres.
By comparison, the proposed roundup area overlaps 32 livestock grazing allotments with a total permitted use of 191,791 Animal Unit Months or as many as 15,983 cattle annually. One AUM equals the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow or five sheep for one month. Actual livestock use amounted to about half that maximum between 2010-20, according to BLM.
None of the options considered including reducing permitted livestock use.
Wild horses that are removed will be made available for adoption.
The five HMAs are composed of 3.4 million acres of federal, state and private land across five Wyoming counties.
To read BLM’s planning documents, see https://go.usa.gov/xpaEN.