Wild Horse Education

Idaho, Owyhee Field Office (Rushed to Roundup)

On Wednesday, BLM is set to begin the Black Mountain and Hardtrigger Herd Management Areas (HMA) roundup in Idaho. Idaho just began calling this the “Owyhee Complex,” because of the mountain range that extends from NV into ID and the name of the field office.

Important note as this operation moves forward: There has been some confusion over place names: The Owyhee field office of Idaho manages the 2 targeted HMAs and referenced them as the “Owyhee Complex.” But the nearly 1.2 million acre Owyhee Complex (Owyhee. Little Owyhee, Rock Creek, Snowstorm) is located in Nevada and managed by the Winnemucca field office. 

Clearly, these are not the same place or same horses. But in typical BLM fashion, it appears no one pays much attention to anything outside the field office (or intentional confusion is a goal). We will call the Idaho roundup plan by HMA names: Black Mountain and Hardtrigger.

Volunteers head out regularly to watch these relatively accessible herds.

When it became clear that BLM had already targeted these herds for removal, prior to completing paperwork, the public rightfully became alarmed. These herds were placed on the removal schedule long before the paperwork (Environmental Assessment, EA) was even drafted. The draft finally went out for public comment and those comments were due June 13th. BLM rapidly approved the plan with barely enough time to allow the protest and appeal filing period to expire on August 20th.

The decision is literally just at the beginning of the Appeal period as BLM works through the final stages of getting a contractor in place and traps set.

The rush to remove these horses is crystal clear.

Idaho has never set a data-based foaling season for any of the HMAs in the state. Foaling season has become a very simple way to demonstrate the lack of actual necessary data collected to comply with any mandate of managing wild horses and managing them humanely. 

If you do not have a data-based foaling season you can’t humanely manage wild horses. How can you determine a safe time of year for any capture deemed necessary? Helicopter drive-trapping is forbidden during foaling season. How can you actually analyze what kind of fertility control is appropriate and track impacts to foaling season from any fertility control used? Vaccines wear off at rates from 12 months, 18 months, 22 months, 36 months, 42 months, etc. and shift the time of year births will take place.

Saying foaling season ends on July 1 (without data) and then using a vaccine that shifts births to later in the year, should also shift the drive-trap prohibition. This is NOT rocket-science. 

Foaling season is just one example where a lack of baseline data (naturally occurring) is manipulated by an “approved plan” and a lack of monitoring of consequence causes further impacts that are never even contemplated, let alone “analyzed.”

Pregnant mare with last years colt at her side and an old fertility control brand.

While our core team was out at the 42 day Antelope Complex roundup in Nevada where we had to file litigation against abuse (the case is still active in the courts and moving through briefing), we also filed an Appeal of the approved ten-year plan for the wild ones managed by the Idaho Owyhee field office. 

Yesterday, we filed a supplemental brief for the land use court to update them on the urgency of addressing the motion for Stay (to halt the operation until issues are resolved). Foaling season is still active for these herds and appears to now extend through the end of September due to previous use of fertility control… and the prohibition against drive-trapping should also be extended. 

Taken in spring of 2023 showing range and herd health.

There is no emergency situation or even any remotely pending urgent situation on these HMAs due to a very wet winter last year and over summer. The range and herd are in good shape. Our volunteers love these horses and have even worked hard to help get waters maintained.

Originally scheduled to begin September 1, BLM has notified the public and changed the schedule to note operations are now expected to begin September 6. We can only assume the delay is to wait for approval from the land use court.

We hope the additional information we provided on Friday can positively impact the situation for the wild ones in the area. BLM has clearly rushed this operation through the NEPA process limiting the time the public can engage guaranteed avenues to address grievances. 

The roundup on tap to begin September 6th would be the first roundup of a ten-year plan to keep going back out, taking more wild horses off range and using a variety of fertility control methods.

We have a team member set to report back from range and roundup.

Let’s all hope that the court can see the urgency of “herd and range health” presented by BLM is manufactured and that BLM has ignored their own policy to monitor, collect data and ensure that all young foals born on the range are treated humanely. However, the fight against another ten-year plan that allows no room for revision when new information is obtained and conditions on the range change, has just begun.

Our teams are super busy. We know we did not tell you that we filed an appeal for this herd… but we did. That is how busy we are. . The work comes first for our small but dedicated team. We will try to provide you with updates on other actions our team has been taking this summer as soon as time allows

A bit more about Idaho:

Idaho is the 14th largest state in the country with a land area of 83,570 square miles. BLM manages 12 million acres in the state.

Only six small HMAs exist on all of BLM land in Idaho. BLM says only 617 wild horses can be managed on 418,000 acres in the entire state, where domestic livestock receive over 80% of available forage.

In contrast, BLM Idaho authorizes livestock grazing for domestic horses, sheep and cattle on more than 11,500,000 acres of public land. This includes more than 2,100 grazing allotments, approximately 1,500 livestock operators and roughly 1,900 grazing permits.

WHE has been offered a $10,000. match to keep our team in the field and to help fund ongoing litigation. The match runs through September 15. All contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar. 

Our wild ones should live free on the range with the families they hold dear. Our wild ones should also live without abuse. 

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

You can support WHE while you shop or make a donation of stocks. To learn more visit the main contribution page HERE. 

Categories: Wild Horse Education