The Bureau of Land Management on Friday captured 30 wild horses and on Saturday seven on the final two days of a helicopter roundup on the Stinkingwater Herd Management Area, 25 miles east of Burns, Ore. On Friday, a 12-year-old dun stallion was euthanized for the “pre-existing condition of blindness/eye abnormality.”
A total of 401 wild horses were captured during the roundup. Two other wild horses died: a foal with “pre-existing condition of blindness/eye abnormality” and a stud yearling with “pre-existing condition/physical defect of severe chronic skin lesions covering over half of the body, indicative of autoimmune disease,” and a “poor prognosis for recovery,” were euthanized.
The Bureau of Land Management set out to capture 420 wild horses from the HMA.
About 30 wild horses are to 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 conducted 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 were to 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.