The agency plans to treat “up to” 30 mares with the safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccine PZP-22 and release them with a similar number of studs. The balance of the wild horses will be removed from their home range.
The 250,000-acre Fish Creek HMA has an agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 107-180 wild horses –or as low as one horse for every 2,336 acres.
The BLM allows private grazing on four allotments totaling 417,000 acres that overlap about 230,675 acres of the Herd Management Area. The total permitted livestock use for those allotments is 8,855 Animal Unit Months (one AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep). Actual grazing use from 2008-14 was 5,530 AUMs, according to BLM planning documents.
BLM’s stated purpose for the roundup is to “prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and burros, to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands …The action is also necessary to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the HMA, where there currently is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area,” according to a press release.
BLM also seeks to protect habitat “for other wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk.”
In 2019, BLM captured 558 wild horses and removed 533 during a nine-day helicopter roundup. Thirteen studs and just seven mares treated with PZP-22 were released, while five wild horses died. Had BLM treated more mares, it would have curbed reproduction and reduced calls for future roundups.
Wild horses removed from the range during the upcoming roundup will be transported to the Bruneau (Idaho) Off-Range Corrals to be readied for BLM’s adoption and sale program.
Viewing the roundup
The BLM will escort interested members of the public to observation sites during the roundup. Those who wish to take part must call the gather hotline nightly at (775) 861-6700 for instructions.
COVID-19 guidelines will apply. Participants will be required to wear masks, bring hand sanitizer and maintain social distancing. Those that believe they may be ill or who have been ill or exposed to someone who was during the prior 14 days cannot attend.