BLM seeks comments on roundup, fertility control plan for Utah HMA

/ In The News, News

A contractor’s helicopter drives wild horses toward a trap site on the Cedar Mountain Horse Management Area in 2017. RTF file photo.

The Bureau of Land Management has launched a scoping period to help inform an Environmental Assessment for wild horse removals and fertility control on the Cedar Mountain Herd Management Area in Utah.

Public comments are due March 5. For more information on how to submit your comments, see below.

Under its proposal BLM is proposing to remove “excess” wild horses down to the low end of the agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” (AML) of 190-390 horses and implement fertility control on the on the 411,636-acres Herd Management Area.

The agency estimates the current number of wild horses there at 790, not counting foals born this year. The roundup would take place no sooner than fall 2022.

BLM must prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) in order to take those actions. The scoping period is used to “identify reasonable alternatives” to be evaluated in the EA and identify environmental issues related to the proposed roundup and population control.

“Identifying long-term management requirements of the herd management area includes determination of strategies and techniques that maintain herd health, control wild horse numbers inside and adjacent to the HMA to stay within the established Appropriate Management Level, and properly manage wild horse numbers to minimize use of adjacent rangeland resources,” the BLM said in a press release.

Some things to consider in your public comment:

–We assume AML was determined based on BLM’s 2010 handbook, which presumes roundup-removal management scenarios only. If fertility control is some portion of a modern management plan, a decreased population growth rate translates to both longer times between roundups and fewer wild horses removed, so it is not necessary to remove horses to low AML. (Remember: Commenting on AML as a number is not relevant to an Environmental Assessment. AMLs are adjusted through the Regional Management Plan process.)

–Instead of immediately removing wild horses down to low AML, BLM should take into consideration already overcrowded off-range holding facilities and move more slowly with an emphasis on the use of safe, proven and humane fertility control.

–Fertility control should be implemented immediately, slowing reproduction and reducing removals, whether or not AML is achieved.

–Continue treatment with PZP or PZP-22. We will always prefer PZP vaccines because of their stellar reputation and long-term study and use in field situations, but additionally, this herd has previously been treated with PZP and PZP-22 so maintaining that consistency is important and also useful for long term data analysis.

Submitting a comment

Written comments will be accepted at the address below or through the BLM’s NEPA register (click the green Participate Now button).

Salt Lake Field Office

Attention: Tami Howell

491 North John Glenn Road

Salt Lake City, UT 84116