The Bureau of Land Management on Sunday began a helicopter roundup on the Stinkingwater Herd Management Area, 25 miles east of Burns, Ore., capturing 162 wild horses and euthanizing a foal with the “pre-existing condition of blindness/eye abnormality.”
The Bureau of Land Management plans to capture 420 wild horses from the HMA over one to two weeks.
The BLM reported that the wild horses captured Sunday had body conditions of 4-5 (moderately thin to moderate) on a 9-point scale.
About 30 wild horses will be selected to be returned to the Herd Management Area, including 18 mares treated with the contraceptive 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.
BLM is conducting the roundup because the population of wild horses exceeds the agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” and because animals have moved onto adjacent private lands. The current estimated population is 449, according to a press release.
The 78,000-acre Stinkingwater HMA has an Appropriate Management Level of 40 to 80 horses, or as low as one horse for every 1,950 acres.
By comparison, BLM allows up to 8,455 Animal Unit Months of private livestock grazing within the Herd Management Area or the annual equivalent of 705 cow-calf pairs, according to 2017 planning documents. One AUM equals monthly forage for one cow-calf pair, one horse or five sheep.
Wild horses removed from their home range will be transported to the Hines, Ore., Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals to be prepared for adoption or sale.
To view planning documents, see https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/71905.
Viewing the roundup
Members of the public who wish to view the roundup must call ahead by 5 p.m. the previous day. Observers must attend a pre-viewing briefing at the BLM Burns District Office, 28910 Hwy 20 West in Hines, Ore., before morning departure to the Herd Management Area. Observation will be held on a first come, first served basis. Viewing may be limited on some days. The number of participants may be limited in order to allow for social distancing.