The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday captured 27 wild horses on the second and final day of a helicopter roundup on the Four Mile Herd Management Area, located north of Emmett, Idaho.
The BLM captured a total of 215 wild horses (88 mares, 78 stallions and 49 foals). One stallion was put down on Tuesday after suffering a broken neck.
The agency set out to capture 189 wild horses, permanently removing 173 and returning eight mares treated with fertility control and eight studs to the range. Though BLM hit nearly its removal goal on the first day, the agency continued rounding up horses in and around the Herd Management Area on Wednesday.
BLM said Thursday that it would release a 50-50 ratio of mares treated with fertility control and studs, but the exact number would be determined by a census flight and trips onto the Herd Management Area to get a better picture of the remaining wild horses. Its goal is to be at the low end of its “Appropriate Management Level,” or 37 horses.
BLM’s stated reason for the roundup is that the estimated population of 210 wild horses, including foals, exceeds the agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 37-60 wild horses on the 18,800-acre Herd Management Area.
By comparison, BLM allows up to 4,449 Animal Unit Months of seasonal private livestock grazing (the equivalent of 371 cow-calf pairs annually) on an allotment, 53 percent of which overlaps the Herd Management Area (one Animal Unit Month is the amount of forage needed to feed one cow-calf pair, one horse or five sheep for a month). No livestock grazing is allowed between Aug. 16 and Oct. 31 of each year, according to February 2020 planning documents.
Captured wild horses will be transported to the Boise, Idaho, BLM Wild Horse and Burro Facility to be readied for adoption or sale.
In 2003, removed 37 wild horses from Four Mile and returned 20 mares to the range treated with the safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccine PZP-22. In 2009, 112 wild horses were removed and 11 mares were treated with PZP-22.
In 2021, BLM plans to use the fertility control vaccine GonaCon.
RTF strongly supports the use of safe, proven and humane fertility control to eliminate future roundups; however, because GonaCon affects the hormone system, it may cause other behavioral changes that would alter herd dynamics, so RTF believes more studies are needed to ensure that GonaCon meets the parameters of ethical and thoughtful wildlife fertility control.