The Bureau of Land Management has captured 131 wild horses during the first four days of a 250-horse “emergency” helicopter roundup on the Centennial Herd Management Area, located primarily on the Naval Air Weapons Station — China Lake in San Bernardino and Inyo counties in California. No deaths have been reported.
BLM’s website for the roundup was down until Tuesday.
The roundup will take place entirely on the Naval Air Weapons Station. It is necessary, BLM said, due to lack of forage and water resulting from prolonged drought and two August 2020 fires that burned 45,000 acres within the Naval Air Weapons Station.
“Under the California Desert Protection Act, the Secretary of the Navy is responsible for managing the wild horse and burro populations on the base,” the BLM said in a press release. “The base coordinates the management of the animals through a Memorandum of Agreement with the base commander, Navy Region Southwest, and the BLM; it is through this agreement that NAWSCL is utilizing the BLM to remove the animals through a cost-recovery agreement.”
The BLM did not provide a current estimate for the population of wild horses on the Herd Management Area.
The 318,499-acre Centennial HMA has an agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 134-168 wild horses. Burros also live on the HMA but are not officially managed.
The BLM’s plans do not include treating and releasing additional wild horses with safe, proven and humane fertility control, which would reduce future roundups.
Viewing the roundup
Because the roundup is taking place on the Naval Air Weapons Station, no public viewing will be allowed. Members of the public can see the captured wild horses at the Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals daily from 3 to 4 p.m., from Sunday to Sunday, Oct 10-17.