A planned roundup of the much-loved Onaqui Mountain Herd Management Area wild horses has been postponed until 2019, according to a spokesperson from the Bureau of Land Management.
The agency had planned to begin a multiple year removal of 325 of the estimated 455 wild horses there, starting with 50 wild horses in a bait-and-trap roundup this fall. It will instead focus resources on what it says are drought-related emergency roundups, according to Lisa Reid, public affairs specialist for BLM.
The agency’s stated reasons for the planned removal included compliance with the Utah Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment and restoration of land affected by wild fire.
The BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the 205,394-acre Onaqui Mountain HMA is 121-210 wild horses — as low as one horse for every 1,697 acres.
Livestock grazing on the HMA is allocated for 19,235 Animal Unit Months (one AUM is defined as a month’s worth of forage for one cow-calf pair, one horse or five sheep).
The planned removal has frustrated wild horse advocates because BLM had been darting Onaqui mares with fertility control rather than rounding up and removing wild horses — a key component of a move away from the practice of capturing and warehousing wild horses.
The Onaqui Mountain wild horses have long been a favorite of photographers, partly due to their home range’s location about 40 miles from Salt Lake City.