The Bureau of Land Management is set to begin on Sept. 11 a helicopter roundup of 200 wild horses “from the perimeter and outside” of the Onaqui Herd Mountain Area in Utah.
The roundup, expected to last nine days, will be conducted on state and private as well as BLM- and U.S. Forest Service-managed lands, according to a press release.
The BLM estimated the wild horse population at 510 before the foaling season. The agency-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.
By comparison, 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).
Captured wild horses will be transported to the Delta, Utah, Wild Horse Facility to be prepared for BLM’s adoption and sale program.
The planned removal of wild horses from Onaqui has frustrated wild horse advocates because BLM had been darting mares there 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.
No application of fertility control is planned as part of the upcoming roundup.
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.
Viewing the roundup
Members of the public will be able to observe the roundup except for Sept. 14-15, when wild horses are to be removed from the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground. On other roundup days, members of the public should meet at the northeast end of the Walmart parking lot at 99 West 1280 North in Tooele, Utah. BLM will escort observers to viewing locations at 6 a.m. Observers must provide their own transportation (four-wheel drive or other high-clearance vehicles are recommended), water and food. No public bathrooms are available. Details will be announced daily on the BLM gather hotline at (801) 539-4050.