Red Desert roundup ends: 1,444 wild horses captured, 10 dead

/ Featured, In The News, News, Roundups

A contractor’s helicopter drives wild horses toward the trap site during a 2017 roundup in Wyoming’s Checkerboard region. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday concluded early its helicopter roundup at the Red Desert Complex in Wyoming with  total of 1,444 wild horses captured and removed from their home range and 10 dead, according to BLM

The agency did not immediately explain whether a lack of holding capacity or other reasons played into ending the roundup after 11 days or whether it would return to the complex to trap and remove additional wild horses.

During the roundup, wild horses were transported to holding facilities in Rock Springs, Wyo., ,and Axtell, Utah, to be prepared for adoption. None were taken to a Canon City, Colo., as was previously announced.

BLM had planned to removed 2,670 wild horses — 76% of the Red Desert population — over six to eight weeks because of what it deemed an overpopulation of wild horses, deterioration of rangeland and requests to remove wild horses from neighboring private land.

Entering the roundup, BLM estimated the Red Desert population stood at about 3,500 wild horses.

BLM returned 25 wild horses to the range on Thursday, including 12 mares treated with fertility control. BLM selected mares and stallions from among those captured “to ensure genetic variability and to preserve the New World Iberian Genotype present in the complex.”

On Friday, 84 wild horses were shipped to Rock Springs and 76 to Axtell.

Another two were transported to the Wyoming Honor Farm, a prison training program with a veterinary clinic, which is where it previously took orphaned and injured foals. No explanation for given for why the pair were taken there.

The BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the Red Desert Complex is 481-725 horses — as low as one horse for every 1,566 acres of the complex, which includes 703,500 acres of public land and 49,500 acres of private land.

For livestock in the complex, BLM has allotted 69,889 Animal Unit Months. One AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow-calf combination, one horse, or five sheep for a month. Actual use has varied from 10-70% of authorized use in recent years, depending on availability of forage and water, according to the agency.

The Red Desert Complex includes the Antelope Hills, Crooks Gap, Green Mountain, Lost Creek and Stewart Creek Herd Management Areas in south-central Wyoming.

To read BLM’s planning documents, click here.

For BLM’s tentative roundup calendar, click here.

Take Action

Call your members of Congress at (202) 225-3121 (to find direct numbers, click here).

Urge your senators to:

* Oppose a new, quietly implemented BLM policy increasing the number of wild horses that can be sold to individuals and the frequency of those sales. This move will only lead to the slaughter of wild horses, something Congress has strongly rejected;

* Stand strong in Conference committee on the Senate’s language protecting wild horses and burros and on defunding horse slaughter, if the senator sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee (click to see a list of members).

For senators not on the Senate Appropriations Committee: Ask them to tell members of the Conference committee that constituents do not want them to waiver either on protecting wild horses or defunding horse slaughter.

* Support the SAFE Act (S. 1706) to ban slaughter and the transportation of horses for slaughter.

Urge your congressional representative to:

* Oppose a new, quietly implemented BLM increasing the number of wild horses that can be sold to individuals and the frequency of those sales. This move will only lead to the slaughter of wild horses, something Congress has strongly rejected;

* Oppose the House version of the FY19 Interior Appropriations bill because it contains an amendment allowing for the mass sterilization of wild horses and burros; instead, ask your representative to support Senate language on wild horses being considered by the House and Senate Conference committee, instead;

* Oppose the FY19 Agriculture Appropriations bill because it does not include the horse slaughter inspection defund language; instead, ask your representative to support the Senate language being considered by the House and Senate Conference committee, instead;

* Support the SAFE Act (H.R. 113) to ban slaughter and the transportation of horses for slaughter;

* Support the Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R. 4040) to ban hauling horses on double-deck trailers under all circumstances.

Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund, which fuels our advocacy, lobbying, selective litigation and on-range monitoring of roundups

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