The court rejected a last minute bid for an order to halt the roundup at the Onaqi HMA. The operation is set to begin and we believe it will begin in the morning.
The BLM is preparing to handle much larger than usual numbers of observers. This HMA is easy to drive to from Salt Lake City and the terrain is easy to navigate into the area in the north where photographers have turned Onaqui into a tourist destination and an extremely popular herd. Most roundup operations with lave one observer, or perhaps as many as three, for the duration of the removal. Dozens are expected during the early days of the removal of Onaqui as the weather is dry and travel ease continues.
In 2019 the first 3 days of operations had large numbers of observers and then the number dropped drastically.
In 2019 The BLM removed 241 wild horses primarily from the southern part of the HMA (no large photo following). Two wild horses died during the operation.
The “Gather EA” for this operation was approved in December 2018. The 2019 operation the first to transpire under this EA. The 2021 operation is the second operation under this EA.
The BLM states that the 2021 operation is to address “over population” during drought and to begin an aggressive fertility control protocol.
Darting of wild horses in the northern area of the HMA has been occurring for several years. In 2015 we took journalist Christopher Ketcham out to Onaqui to observe darting and he featured the visit in a 2017 article “All the Pretty Horses Must Die.”
The agency states that they must capture as many as possible (via helicopter) and treat at least 80% of mares to “jump start” the effort to dart. 296 of the 400 targeted for capture will be removed. The rest will be treated and released. “Partnerships” may be approved under the new grant program to expand darting at Onaqui later this summer.
We do know that there are organizations already making arrangements to place captured wild horses from Onaqui in sanctuary and private homes. When we have more info we will let you know.
(video below from 2019, you can hear the number of camera shutters in the background from the crowd observing the operation)
At this writing we believe the operation will begin tomorrow. If you are planning on attending check the BLM webpage for more info. https://www.blm.gov/programs/whb/utah/2021-onaqui-wild-horse
In the next two months over 4000 wild horses and burros will be targeted for capture west wide as the 2021 roundup schedule comes to a close. The 2022 schedule will begin in October.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education