The Bureau of Land Management plans to roundup about 365 wild horses in the Challis area next month to “reduce overpopulation.”
The project, which begins Nov. 5, will use helicopters to herd the horses into a capture area where the BLM plans to remove about 244 horses into the wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program. Remaining mares will be released back to the range after being treated with a fertility control vaccine. About 185 wild horses will remain in the Challis Herd Management Area.
“By balancing herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk,” the BLM said in a news release on Friday. “The Challis (Herd Management Area) encompasses over 168,700 acres and has an appropriate management level of 185-253 wild horses. The current population is estimated to be around 429 animals in and directly outside of the (Herd Management Area).”
BLM acting director William Perry Pendley said the agency adopted out more than 7,000 mustangs and burros captured last year — the most in 15 years and a 54 percent increase from the previous year. The BLM’s goal is to reduce the herds from its current size of 88,000 to the 27,000 that Pendley says the national rangelands can sustain.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $35 million last month for a new package of mustang proposals supported by an unprecedented alliance including the Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation. Pendley estimated that it would take $5 billion and 15 years to get the overpopulated wild horses under control across the West.
Horses captured in the Challis area and slated for adoption will be transported to the Bruneau Wild Horse Off-Range Corral facility south of Mountain Home.
“The Bureau’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient and successful wild horse gather operations, while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered,” the BLM said of its Challis roundup. “The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses, while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with the BLM Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.”
The public is welcome to watch the Challis wild horse roundup. Interested parties should call the Challis Wild Horse Gather Info Line at 208-879-6271 by Nov. 2.
The BLM recommends appropriate footwear and neutral-colored warm clothing. Binoculars and four-wheel drive or other high-clearance vehicles are also recommended to access the locations.