McCullough Peaks update: Foal’s capture, removal angers advocates

/ In The News, News, Roundups

Thora with her mother, Takoda. Photo courtesy of Sandy Sisti.

Another heartbreaking loss in a needless wild horse roundup: A 6-month-old filly that was still nursing, Thora, was among those captured and removed last week from the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area (Wyo).

Since the bait-and-trap roundup using livestock panels stocked with feed began, 48 wild horses have been captured. Twelve were selected to be removed from the range. One 13-month-old filly died of head injury in a temporary holding pen.

Thora is the offspring of the stallion Thor and mare Takoda, part of a family band led by the stallion Tahlequah that is beloved by photographers.

Thora was not the first unweaned foal removed from the range and shipped to the Rock Springs (Wyo.) Wild Horse Holding Corrals, a 775-horse capacity off-range holding facility without shelter. The BLM says it is removing horses under 5 that are more likely to be adopted.

The agency’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Protocol, or CAWP, say that mares and dependent foals are not to be separated for more than four hours or for transport.

The guidelines do not clearly define “dependent foal,” however. Domestic horses are typically weaned at 4-7 months; foals on the range often nurse longer.

The BLM plans to remove 35 wild horses at McCullough Peaks in order to move to within the agency-set population goal, or “Appropriate Management Level,” of 70-140 horses on the 120,000-acre Herd Management Area.

We strongly opposed the removals—especially given that McCullough Peaks has had a successful fertility control program.

Since 2011, darting mares has reduced population growth to an average of 2% per year, according to the agency, compared to the 15-20% typically seen in herds not managed with fertility control.

TAKE ACTION: Send letters to Congress calling for the updating of humane handling standards and implementing proven, safe and humane fertility control.