The BLM claims it will return 200 out of the 300 wild horses rounded up from 3 HMAs. (Note that Sands Basin “maintains” only 70 wild horses, and Black Mountain “maintains” only 80 wild horses. These are NOT viable herd numbers to begin with.) BLM claims that 100 out of the 300 removed will either go to adoption or holding facilities. 35 wild horses died in the fire and “aftermath.” My guess is (this is the same old story in the case of fires) – the rain will begin in a month or so, and new grass will be seen all over the burned areas, and after the first few blades of grass pop up, the livestock will be grazing away in perpetuity. Meanwhile, many wild horses were permanently removed from their HMAs. – Debbie
BLM gathers 300 wild horses after fire destroys habitat
Just over two weeks ago, the Soda Fire sparked and quickly grew to more than 283,000 acres. The massive wildfire devastated habitat for a number of wildlife species throughout Owyhee County, and it tore through three Wild Horse Herd Management Areas. (Photo: KTVB.com)
OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho — Just over two weeks ago, the Soda Fire sparked and quickly grew to more than 283,000 acres. The massive wildfire devastated habitat for a number of wildlife species throughout Owyhee County, and it tore through three Wild Horse Herd Management Areas.
These HMA’s, as the Bureau of Land Management calls them, are thousands of acres each. Sands Basin is the smallest of the three and maintains about 70 horses. Hardtrigger HMA has 150 horses and 80 horses call the Black Mountain HMA home. Sands Basin and Hardtrigger are both considered 100 percent burned in the Soda Fire. Just small islands of unburned land remain and that’s where the horses have grouped.
Those islands, though, won’t support the herds through the winter. Too much forage has burned. So, the BLM decided to move all of the horses away from Sands Basin and Hardtrigger, and about a third of the horses at Black Mountain. The emergency horse gather began Thursday in the Sands Basin HMA.
Just after sunrise, a helicopter buzzed over an unburned island of land about one square mile in size. Dozens of wild horses started to trot, as the helicopter herded them towards what BLM officials call a “trap.”
“The wings of the trap are sort of set up like a funnel, so when they come in to the wings of the trap they go into the corral. We then sort them and they are transported to the Boise Wild Horse Corrals,” said Heather Tiel-Nelson, public affairs specialist for the BLM.
A veterinarian will check out each horse. The fire and aftermath killed 35 horses, and officials hope they won’t lose more.
“These horses have been through a lot. The Soda Fire that came through here really stressed the horses, the lack of forage, the fire suppression activity also can play a role in stressing out the horses,” said Jason Lutterman, public affairs specialist for the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
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