BLM Wyoming Wild Horse 500 Roundup Just A Start – Sheridan Media

This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Over the past two and a half weeks, the United States Bureau of Land Management has herded around 500 feral horses in the southwestern part of Wyoming – but that’s just the start.

The BLM aims to muster more than 3,500 horses by the end of the 2021 Rock Springs Wild Horse Rally, according to Brad Purdy, public affairs specialist for the BLM-Montana / Dakotas State Office.

“The ultimate target for the five HMAs (horse management areas) is around 3,500 horses phased out,” he said, adding that the intention is to muster a total of 4,300 horses by the date. expected completion date in early 2022.

“When BLM looks at this, we think of it as basically five gatherings, with the largest gathering in the Great Divide Basin – I think we’re gathering 1,124 there,” he explained. “This rally is in line with the Red Desert rally that we completed in 2020, I think we gathered 3,420 odd horsepower.”

BLM Wyoming operates 16 wild horse herd management areas over nearly 5 million acres.

BLM Wyoming Rock Springs and Rawlins field offices remove feral horses from Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, White Mountain and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMA) in the South western Wyoming. The appropriate combined management level for all HMAs in the state is 3,725 animals.

The BLM estimates the feral horse population in the five HMAs at approximately 5,105. Since 1971, the BLM has removed approximately 37,000 animals from Wyoming public ranges as part of its efforts to maintain healthy horses and burros on. healthy public journeys.

“The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971 is the law that oversees this type of operation,” Purdy explained. “The BLM is obligated, when we have more population than the appropriate level of management suggests, this law says, we go out there and then round up the horses.”

Cody’s Warren Murphy was in attendance and was part of the legislative process when the law was created.

“I was working on Senator Birch Byah’s team from Indiana at the time,” he said, “and he was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. I spent a few years on his team, and I was there for all the first-hand discussions with the team when the wild horse issue popped up out of nowhere.

“There were things on the news, people on planes pulling wild horses in the desert, probably in Nevada, although I later found out where it happened in Wyoming,” a- he continued.

Murphy explained that there had been such a national outcry over people seeing horses being shot that pressure was put on Congress to do something. “The then Wisconsin Senator, Senator Gaylord Nelson, proposed this bill called the Wild Horse and Burro Act to protect the wild horses and burros that roamed across the west of the country,” he said. he declares. “And Senator Byah was a co-sponsor, and we debated this bill in a year, this bill passed, Congress overwhelmingly passed it, and was signed by President Nixon in 1971. . “

The Rock Springs Rally is being organized to combat overcrowding in the HMAs, prevent the deterioration of courses due to overcrowding, and remove horses from private land and areas not designated for their long-term use.

The BLM estimates that approximately 800 animals that are herded together will be returned to the range. Any mare returned to a HMA will be treated with a temporary fertility check.

“Some of the horses are going to be put back on the lineup with things like PZP and intrauterine device treatments,” Purdy said.

Porcine Zona Pellucida, or PZP, is a fertility control vaccine given to female horses on the course by a distant dart injection. The treatment has been shown to be effective in other horse management areas, including the McCullough Peaks herd east of Cody.

Murphy, the former rector of Christ Church in Cody, joined the Friends Of A Legacy (FOAL) non-profit organization in 2005. The organization works closely with the BLM in the management of the McCullough Peaks HMA , including administration of PZP to the herd.

“In the last few years there haven’t been any roundups here because PZP has been operating and we have designated shooters,” he said. “Our PZP programs are working – and not only are working, but have become a model for the whole country. “

“I think the success of PZP somehow depends on whether or not you can consistently apply it to the horses that you need, to apply it properly,” Purdy replied. “In places like McCullough Peaks, we have a lot of partners, a lot of people helping us. “

He added that the McCullough Peaks herd is more accessible to the public, which may play a role in the success of the program there.

“Here on some of these other HMAs that are a little further away, you don’t get the kind of a visit, and these horses are getting, you know, more skeptical of these weird bipeds walking around,” he said. he declared. “So it is more difficult to apply PZP via darting on some of these other herds. “

But Purdy acknowledged that there is controversy surrounding wild horse gatherings like this one.

“There is a general aversion to gatherings of wild horses, and I understand where people are coming from,” he said. “And one of the things I tell them is, you know, we’re an agency of the federal government and we have to follow the law. Some of the changes that I think some of the people who don’t agree with these things want are going to take a change in the law. “

Part of the controversy, according to Purdy, is that the public does not believe viewing sites are adequate.

“We have a lot of different factors that come into play, the terrain, the safety for the public, for the BLM employees, for the contractors and for the horses,” he said. “We don’t want the viewing site and people moving around and taking pictures and things to scare a horse and a horse into getting hurt – that’s the last thing BLM wants.”

Resource issues also play a role in viewing sites, Purdy explained.

“I believe about 50% of the Great Divide Basin herd management area is also a priority habitat management area for sage grouse habitat,” he said. “It’s important to Wyoming, it’s important to BLM. So when we select these viewing sites, you know, resource damage is something that we take into consideration.”

Animals removed from public routes are offered to the public for adoption; unadopted animals are cared for in open pastures for the rest of their lives.

“All horses collected will go into the adoption program, after being seen by a vet,” said Purdy. “If they get too old, they go into long-term ranching – we have several pasture sanctuaries, we have a few here in Wyoming, they’re scattered across the Midwest. I think there are even on the east coast. And so those horses that aren’t adopted, they’re going to be living the rest of their lives in these longer-term holding facilities, which are basically private pastures where a breeder is paid to feed and watch these horses for the rest of their lives. lives. “

The public has the opportunity to observe picking operations, provided this does not compromise the safety of animals, staff, contractors and observers, or disrupt picking operations.

The BLM will escort the public to assemble viewing sites located on public land or licensed private land.

If you would like to attend the rally, you must contact Brad Purdy at [email protected]

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