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 scoping process, public comments are due by Feb. 7 (learn how to submit a comment below). Scoping is the BLM’s process for identifying issues or concerns before preparing a new 10-year Environmental Assessment for the Herd Management Area.

Since 2011, 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.

BLM says that the wild horse population on the Herd Management Area now stands at 179, based on counts last year. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” allows for 70-140 wild horses on the 109,814-acre McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area.

If BLMs 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:

–abstain from removing wild horses from the herd. While the current population on the Herd Management Area is just above the BLM’s Appropriate Management Level, it is not very much above AML and there will be attrition over time and herd numbers will come into balance by continuing to utilize fertility control.

BLM clearly should focus its attention and funding on other Wild Horse and Burro Program priorities, specifically the care of 64,000 wild horses and burros removed from our public lands now living in off-range government holding facilities. That includes feeding more than 23,000 warehoused in too-often overcrowded corrals at a time of skyrocketing hay costs.

–adjust upward the Appropriate Management Level at McCullough Peaks. Since the growth rate has been reduced thanks to successful implementation of fertility control, there’s no need for BLM to keep its population target so low.

–continue as-is the volunteer-run fertility control program. It’s an excellent example of a partnered project with BLM and an effective use of fertility control to slow wild horse reproduction without stopping it, keeping wild horses on their home range where they belong and reducing or eliminating the need for sometimes deadly roundups and costly off-range holding.

Environmental Assessments lay out why the agency believes a management proposal is necessary, the alternative actions it is considering, and the environmental impact of each alternative. The BLM says that an Environmental Assessment for McCullough Peaks will be available for public comment later in 2023.

Read the BLM’s scoping letter here.

Submit your comment

Input for the scoping process must be submitted by 3:30 p.m. Pacific on Feb. 7 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).

Comments may also be mailed to: BLM Cody Field Office, Attn. Abel Guevara, 1002 Blackburn St., Cody, WY 82414.