TAKE ACTION: Tell BLM to continue wild horse fertility control at McCullough Peaks (Wyo.)

Wild horses on the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area. Photo by Meg Frederick.

Return to Freedom asks that you join us in telling the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that it should maintain the successful wild horse fertility control program on the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area.

RTF opposes capturing and removing wild horses from the hugely popular, highly visible and often-photographed McCullough Peaks herd living east of Cody, Wyo.

As part of BLM’s process to create a new, 10-year Environmental Assessment (EA), public comments are due by Aug. 12 (learn how to submit a comment below).

Since 2011, the BLM has worked with volunteers to dart McCullough Peaks mares with safe, proven and effective PZP fertility control. This effort has lowered the herd’s population growth to an average of 2% per year, according to the agency — as opposed to 15-20% growth rates typically seen in herds not being managed with fertility control.

As a result, the last removal of wild horses from McCullough Peaks took place in 2013, according to the BLM website, when 20 wild horses and seven domestic horses were captured in a bait-and-trap roundup, in which feed or water are used to lure wild horses in cattle pens.

The BLM says that the wild horse population on the Herd Management Area now stands at 181. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” allows for 70-140 wild horses on the 109,814-acre McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area.

If the BLM deems it necessary, it plans to remove “excess” wild horses there in bait-and-trap roundups.

Please join Return to Freedom in urging the agency to:

–Because of the longer-term research and use behind PZP and PZP-22, we encourage the use of these well-proven immuno-contraceptive vaccines as often as possible.

–We suggest continuing to scale up the existing, successful fertility control program immediately, and not waiting to attain the Appropriate Management Level (AML) before enhancing this important work.

–We are grateful that the first choice for capturing horses will be bait-trapping as opposed to helicopter trapping. While each methodology of capturing wild horses is stressful to the animals, trapping can be done more slowly.

–While we understand that adjusting AML is outside of the scope of an Environmental Assessment (EA), because the Herd Management Area is currently only 41 horses above high AML, we advise a conservative approach to the removal of horses from this range. Since fertility control is being utilized and since both short- and long-term BLM off-range holding facilities are at or above capacity, allowing the herd to maintain at slightly above AML seems reasonable. Fertility control will catch up and reduction of the herd can be reached through a combination of natural attrition and fewer births. 

Submit your comment

Input for the scoping process must be submitted by Aug. 12 in order to be considered.

Written comments will be accepted at eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2022012/510 (click the green “Participate Now” button on the upper left portion of the page).