Wild Horse Education

Release (Black Mountain, ID)

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At the Black Mountain HMA in Idaho, mare and stallions were released back to the range (17).

Many of you will remember the September roundup of Black Mountain, Hardtrigger and Sands Basin. The roundup was controversial in many ways: not only was it still actual data-based foaling season in the area, these HMAs were placed on the schedule before a draft plan was even provided to the public to comment on.  The three HMAs encompass more than 128,000 acres of BLM-managed public, state and private lands in southwestern Idaho. BLM says only 129-254 wild horses are “appropriate” for the area that is managed primarily for domestic livestock. Forage is allocated: livestock allocated 135,116 AUMs and wild horses 2,304 AUMs. In other words, wild horses get only 1.7% of the amount of forage allocated to livestock.

It should be noted that Idaho only manages 6 HMAs for a total of only 640 wild horses on a total of 418,000 acres in the entire state. BLM administers about 12 million acres of public land in Idaho with livestock allowed to graze 11,500,000 acres of that land. This makes it easy to understand how wild horses are given minimal land and minimal forage even within the land designated for their use. Wild horses are not the most impactful issue when it comes to trying to achieve a “TNEB” (or Thriving Natural Ecological Balance) on public lands.

Above: After coming off the trailer there was almost a “regroup” moment after all they had been through: roundup, transport, families separated, held for over a month while mares were given 2 doses of GonaCon (a powerful hormone treatment used on domestic mares to treat things like ovarian disease to stop ovulation and shrink ovaries; it stops reproductive cycles for 5-10 years).

It should be noted that the genetic diversity of these herds are low. In this release, a mare from the Surprise Complex (Fox Hog) and one from Pancake (Sand Springs West) in Nevada. However, we are really unclear as to how BLM believes this will increase genetic diversity when they release primarily older mares and all are treated with fertility control (where GonaCon will not wear off in the natural lifespan). We are waiting to see their calculations and are ready to listen to them explain it (our legal action is finally entering a discussion phase and we will update you if we can gain any “cooperative” mitigation for these herds. Of note, the appeal process was ongoing during the roundup that was rushed onto the schedule).

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After some “discussion” among the wild ones they began to sort themselves into groups and make their way back home on a cloudy and windy day… as winter begins to arrive.

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BLM plans to release one more horse (that was limping and are waiting for healing) in Black Mountain and about 47 back into Hardtrigger. No horses will be released back in Sands Basin. 

No observation will be available for future releases as BLM says the time window for notification will be short. We don’t think that is a good excuse. BLM could still give notice, even a short notice, and allow people to decide if they can make it… to see the horses they adore go back home. 

We will continue to work hard to protect our wild ones, those captive and those that still run free.

Our teams are working hard.

A fast rundown on some of our work in October (HERE)

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

WHE carries ongoing litigation to force BLM into open public process to create an enforceable welfare standard for our treasured wild ones. WHE carries ongoing litigation to hold BLM accountable. Our wild ones need data-based on-range planning (BLM has scant data, science and basic management planning) and transparency. 

Thank you for keeping us in the fight!

As holiday shopping begins, you might be able to find a gift for yourself or the horse lover in your life at our WHE storefront on Zazzle. All proceeds support our work for our wild ones. HERE. 

Categories: Wild Horse Education