BLM announces schedule for gathering wild horses and burros
The Bureau of Land Management announced its current summer schedule July 19, 2013, for gathering wild horses and burros roaming Western public rangelands. The schedule is subject to change because of continuing drought conditions across the West that are resulting in significantly limited water and forage for wildlife, wild horses and burros, and livestock. BLM managers are monitoring animal and range conditions, reducing livestock grazing, enacting fire restrictions, and providing supplemental water in some locations for wild horses.
Most of the gathers on the schedule will use bait and water trapping to attract, gather, and remove animals to off-range pastures and corrals over the next several months. Because of access constraints, lack of suitable bait-water trapping sites, and the need for more immediate action related to animal condition, six of the proposed gathers will be conducted using helicopters.
Because of off-range holding capacity limits and funding constraints, the BLM will attempt to gather and remove only 1,300 wild horses and burros this summer. Overall, the BLM anticipates removing about 4,800 animals from the range in FY 2013, as compared to 8,255 in FY 2012.
Most of the upcoming gathers have been scheduled in response to emergency conditions brought on by drought; public safety issues related to animals that roam near highways, residential areas, and agricultural areas; and requests from private landowners who have asked the BLM to remove from their property wild horses and burros that have strayed beyond Herd Management Area (HMA) boundaries.
With the exception of some re-treatments of mares in the Little Bookcliffs (Colorado) Wild Horse Range, the agency does not intend to administer fertility-control vaccine during any of the proposed summer gathers. Instead, the BLM intends to implement fertility-control treatments through ground-darting operations and during gathers between November and February – before breeding season – when the vaccines’ maximum effectiveness can be realized.
The BLM is committed to providing as much public access to gathers as possible. The terrain of and access to each HMA is different, as is animal temperament within each area, and thus viewing considerations may vary. Public viewing opportunities will be provided during all helicopter gather operations. Access to bait-trapping locations will be limited because of the need for minimal human presence near the sites. The public is advised to visit local BLM field office Websites for specific schedules and viewing opportunities.
The BLM was successful in removing 38 wild horses during the 2012 Pryor Mountain (Montana) wild horse gather using the bait-trapping method. To understand how bait gather operations work, please visit: http://blm.gov/g8kd.
Animals removed during the gather season will be made available for adoption through the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program. Those not adopted will be cared for in long-term and ecosanctuary pastures, where they retain their “wild” status and thus remain protected under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The gather schedule, which is subject to change because of emergencies, is below:
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2012, activities on public lands generated $4.6 billion in revenue, much of which was shared with the States where the activities occurred. In addition, public lands contributed more than $112 billion to the U.S. economy and helped support more than 500,000 jobs. F