Wild Horse Education

Idaho (gasoline meet match, a state to watch)

A Roundup begins in paperwork, planning and advocate action long before a chopper flies. Help us give the reality of the wild horse a fighting chance!



Wild horses are the only animal in our nation defined legally by the land it stands on, not what it is biologically. 

The “land they stand” exists in 10 western states. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently “manages” 180 distinct Herd Management Areas (HMAs). Many of them have what BLM calls “appropriate” management levels listed at under 100 wild horses.

Arizona: 9 HMAs. California: 22 HMAs (7 exist entirely in NV, managed by CA). Colorado: 4 HMAs. Idaho: 6 HMAs. Montana: 1 HMA. Nevada: 83 HMAs (7 of the HMAs managed by CA exist entirely inside NV and 3 are partly inside the state. NV has 93 HMAs inside it’s borders). New Mexico: 2 HMAs. Oregon: 17 HMAs. Utah: 19 HMAs. Wyoming: 16 HMAs.

We are doing some fast “real time” updates on some of the history, current and expected events, state-by-state. (The first “update” was a fast on-the-road recap, we will revisit with a longer piece than previously published on California.)

The BLM manages more free roaming horses than all other jurisdictions combined. The BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) are the only areas where the legal definition of “wild” exists for free roaming horses in the US.

The BLM is a federal land management agency that, in essence, is supposed to operate purely as a regulatory agency enforcing the laws and mandates of law makers in Congress. The offices in DC run the system of holding, send policy and agenda items. The state offices run the system of on range actions.

Idaho is an important place to watch over the next several months.


There are many herds you only hear about after a federal agency releases an EA (proposed action) or a roundup is underway. A roundup begins long before a helicopter flies… so do spaying and gelding plans.

BLM Idaho manages 6 wild horse HMAs that comprise about 418 thousand acres.

Four Mile: 25,806 acres, AML 37-60. Sands Basin: 11, 724 acres, AML 33-64. Hardtrigger: 67,882 acres, AML 66-130. Black Mountain:  50,904 acres, AML 60-30 Saylor Creek: 101,876 acres, AML 50. Challis: 167,848 acres, AML 185-253

The combined appropriate management level (AML) for all HMAs in the entire state is 617 animals.


Motorized Vehicle Hearing

The last removal of wild horses in the state of Idaho that made a big public splash were the 279 wild horses removed after the Soda Fire in 2015. In 2018 some of the horses were returned like the 26 released back into Sands Basin (HERE). In 2017 BLM removed 20 wild horses from Challis through bait trap (HERE).

On April 18, 2019 BLM Idaho will hold their “administrative hearing” on the use of motorized vehicles. The hearing will be held from 3-5 p.m. at the Marsing American Legion Community Hall, 126 S. Second Ave., Marsing.

BLM press release:

“The BLM plans to use helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and other motorized vehicles to estimate population numbers for wild horse herds throughout Idaho. The hearing will also consider the use of motorized vehicles to transport gathered wild horses and to conduct field monitoring activities.

Comments submitted to BLM must include your address, phone number, email, or other personal identifying information in your comment. Please be aware your entire comment–including your personal identifying information–may be made publicly available at any time. While you may request we withhold your personal information from public view, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.

To make oral or written statements to present at the hearing, contact the wild horse and burro specialist for the Boise District at (208) 384-3300, the wild horse and burro specialist for the Challis Field Office at (208) 879-6200, or the wild horse and burro specialist for the Jarbidge Field Office at (208) 736-2060.”


Do you remember Ken Salazar?

In 2009 former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar revealed his plans for America’s wild horses. When advocates hear “Salazar” they remember the family friend of Salazar, Tom Davis, and the nearly 1800 wild horses shipped to Davis on the tax payer dime that went to slaughter (HERE).

From the 2009 “Salazar Plan”:

  • Identifying and showcasing certain herds on public lands. These would highlight the special qualities of America’s wild horses while generating eco-tourism for nearby rural communities. The “showcase herds” would be targeted for prioritized strategies like temporary fertility control with long term preservation; distinct from the rest of the HMAs.
  • Managing the new preserves (holding facilities) by the bureau or through co-operative agreements between the bureau and private non-profit organizations or other partners to reduce the bureau’s off-the-range holding costs.
  • Applying new strategies aimed at balancing wild horse and burro population growth rates with public adoption demand. Implementing aggressive use of fertility control (including sterilization of portions of the herd, the active management of sex ratios on the range, and introduction of non-reproducing herds).
  • The new strategies would also include placing more animals into private care by making adoptions more flexible (where appropriate) and financial incentives.


Watch Idaho; Nonbreeding herds

On August 31, 2010 BLM gathered the entire Saylor Creek HMA after  the Long Butte fire. 30 horses were returned to the HMA in the early fall of 2011. (In 2005 the Clover fire created a similar event HERE).

The Saylor Creek HMA was selected to become a “non-reproducing herd” in the Jarbridge Resource Management Plan (RMP, often also labelled “Land Use Plan”).

Under the plan, the herd of wild horses in the management area would be sterilized either chemically or physically and kept to between 50 and 200 horses. The nonbreeding herd would be replenished with wild horses from Idaho and other states (a holding facility).

In 2017 U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said that he wouldn’t rule on whether the BLM violated the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Instead, he instructed the BLM to better articulate its reasoning for using sterilization. “The BLM … failed to discuss the obvious contradictions between its decision to maintain a non-reproducing herd and the self-sustaining requirement that includes the herd’s ability to produce viable offspring’ or `healthy foals,” wrote Lodge.

Officials had said when they released the plan that process is likely years away; details had yet to be worked out.

The courts ruling does not prohibit BLM from creating a nonbreeding herd at Saylor. It says BLM needs to create better justification.



“Officials had said when they released the plan (nonbreeding herds) that process is likely years away; details had yet to be worked out.”

The Jarbridge RMP included a concept that we have heard before, sterilized herds. This concept has been packaged in many ways. Spaying at Warm Springs brought with it the justified outrage of doing a highly invasive and dangerous procedure. Gelding has been discussed in multiple areas that essentially turn HMAs (the place wild horses are supposed to be wild herds) into holding facilities. We have seen this packaged using phrases that range from “nonbreeding HMAS” to “ecosanctuary.”

Turning Saylor Creek into a herd of geldings that the BLM can use to place more geldings (a holding facility that was designated as a “wild” place) it is still on the table.

In April of 2018 BLM submitted a report requested by Congress on the wild horse and burro program (HERE). The report was essentially a request to fund actions that include very aggressive (large) removals, financial incentives for adoptions, a goal of sterilizing up to 80% of wild horses, etc.

The report has a plethora of requests.There are very few facts to support any of the requests and some severe fabrications that take advantage of the fact that very few in Congress have read all of the BLM Handbooks.

Congress has requested a new report from BLM that will be presented in about 60 days. 

The document will create much of the “articulation” that Judge Lodge found missing.

In addition, Congressmen like Chris Stewart (R-Utah) have repeated to the media multiple times that there is agreement with advocates (!) that we need large scale removals each year (10-20K) and “safe” sterilization. His “working group” does have members advocates will recognize like Tom Persechino that was hired to run ASPCAs equine programs, Neda DeMayo with Return to Freedom, Gillian Lyons with HSUS. (HERE)

This month Deputy Director of the BLM Brian Steed, former Chief of Staff of Chris Stewart, gave testimony to Congress on the BLM WHB program. Among the subjects he touched on was an effort for “non lethal” alternatives; that is not a dart gun and PZP (that is only a potential for the “showcase herds” in the Salazar plan), it’s spaying (chemical and surgical) and gelding. He notes that the pending report will present the baseline for where the agency needs funding (and changes in law) to achieve the goals.  (Many forget that the “sales without limits” did not exist before the 2004 Appropriations debacle known as the “Burns Amendment.”)

Chris Stewart’s BLM (Steed was his Chief of Staff when the amendments forwarding sales without limits, spaying, et al were crafted) has also moved John Ruhs (former Nevada BLM State Director) into the directors chair in Idaho. State Directors are not random moves. These are the employees that sit at the top 2% of the (career employee) BLM payroll. John Ruhs was moved into Nevada to take the reins out of the hands of Amy Lueders after Bunkerville and the Grass March and all that happened at Fish Creek. Ruhs is the man that made mandatory legal penalties simply disappear for those that forward the “remove and kill” the wild horse agenda. (READ)

The guys at the top come and go. Many leave to take high profile jobs in extractive industry. The thugs at the state level? they just move with the next round of “leadership” and continue to carry out the “hits” on your public lands.

2020 will also bring another big political year as we head into the Presidential election.

In Idaho? Gasoline meet match.


We will bring you more state-by-state views soon. Our range, legal and outreach teams are hard at work.

We are up against well funded, glossy, relentless, greed. Without your support our work can not continue.





Categories: Wild Horse Education