BLM considers removing wild horses due to lack of unburned forage from the Soda Fire in Idaho

The last paragraph of the BLM “news” release below states that the BLM is “considering” a roundup of the wild horses, but that only “some” of them will be returned to the range.  Will the BLM suspend AUMs for livestock grazing if there “simply isn’t enough unburned forage to sustain” the wild horses?  Or will the BLM only remove the wild horses?  – Debbie
Young horse from Sands Basin (photo: BLM)
BLM Monitors Status of Wild Horses Impacted by Soda Fire
BOISE –The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to actively monitor the status of the wild horses in the Sands Basin and Hardtrigger Herd Management Areas (HMA).  The Sands Basin HMA is located about 13 miles southwest of Homedale and the Hardtrigger HMA is south of the Snake River between Murphy and U.S. 95 to the West – both HMAs are managed by the Owyhee Field Office.
The 265,000 acre Soda Fire has burned much of the Sands Basin (11,724 acres) and Hardtrigger (60,961 acres) HMAs.  Boise District Wild Horse Specialist Steve Leonard flew over the areas yesterday and counted at least 60 horses milling near Jump Creek in the Sands Basin Herd Management Area (HMA) in an unburned area.  BLM staff will haul supplemental hay to these horses today, as there was not enough unburned forage to sustain them.
Additionally, there are 170 horses in the Hardtrigger HMA, and many of them are roaming in unburned areas within the HMA.  It looks as though there is enough unburned forage to sustain the Hardtrigger horses at this time.
Due to the severe and erratic nature of the fire, it is likely there will be some horses with injuries incurred as they tried to escape the fire.  All gates have been opened and fences cut so horses could move out of the way of the fire.  However, one horse has been humanely euthanized as it had sustained fatal wire injuries.
BLM is considering an emergency wild horse gather to ensure the health and well-being of the horses for the long-term.  There simply isn’t enough unburned forage to sustain them through the winter.  Some of the horses will be taken to the Boise Wild Horse Corrals to be cared for until the range recovers and they can be returned to their HMAs.


  1. Ok. 2012. Twin Peaks, “Rush Fire”, a wildfire that consumed nearly 300,000 acres. It was the second largest fire of it’s kind in California history ( I know it’s possible a lot of folks never heard about it because, despite it’s size, the media didn’t think it was all that important, and that is me, bein’ bitter.)
    Fire all out, and so a BLM muckety-muck goes on tour for an hour and declares, “The horses must be removed! There is nothing for them to eat!”
    Two weeks later, and caught on camera by a veteran Twin Peaks wild horse and burro observer, we got baby grass shoots growing among the ashes. Within weeks, TP looks as fresh as Spring.
    Whoever is making these declarations either has no patience or is using this disaster as the perfect cover to take out horses they would otherwise not be able to take.
    And I get really tired of these fellas making these grand announcements, with no pictures or video to back it up.
    Show us your evidence, folks, or shove it; we’re all really tired of having to take your word for it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lisa, I am no fan of removals but allowing grazing after a fire (especially this late in the season) does cause lasting damage to the grazed plants, especially grasses. They are using up their reserves to sprout that new growth and grazing robs their ability to replenish their root systems. In addition, the lush new growth is more attractive to grazing animals so they select for it more often while ignoring older and tougher unburned forages, causing more stress to the burnt over areas.

      This is one strong argument against continuously reducing the size of legal horse areas. Fires are a normal ecosystem element in the west and it is safe to say they will continue to occur in the future – and as we all know they are becoming more extreme for a variety of reasons. Shrinking legal habitat and removing animals is a plan to have a west devoid of wild horses in short order. Expanding areas opens up management possibilities such as shifting horses over into a different territory as needed, to let a burnt or overgrazed (by all species) area recover.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Grazing (fire or no fire) is relative to the number of acres and the number of mouths eating and MANY other factors. The AML for wild horses on the entire Hardtrigger HMA is only 66-130 (not even a genetically viable herd size) on 66,063 acres. Although one-size-does-not-fit-all, from my experience with the Twin Peaks Rush wildfire, if the (livestock) gates and fences are open and there are islands of unburned forage – the majority of the wild horses will survive and the habitat will repair itself WITHOUT BLM’s removal “management” if they keep the livestock out of there. The entire HardTrigger HMA DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK

        Liked by 2 people

  2. BLM could keep hauling them hay instead of removing them –would be best for the horses and a lot less expensive. Guess that would make too much sense though and BLM has no horse sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with Lisa – here in Colorado ranchers burn fields in the spring to get that new growth grass-a few years ago they had a big fire at Rocky Flats which is just prairie grass, a few weeks later driving by the whole area was green as far as you could see–people I,m sick and tired of them having it both ways.

    And if this government and it’s enities can do to human babies what it has been doing for years – why do we not think that if one of them needs a new car or house payment, they don’t sell off a couple of 4 legged cockroaches.
    Are they keeping these horses in pens and rounding them up as a virtual never ending piggy bank?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Was researching this fire and read elsewhere they are saying livestock won’t likely be returned to the range for a couple of years after the fire, so it’s a safe bet once wild horses are removed few, if any, will ever be returned. How can these horses be monitored so they don’t disappear into the pipeline? Webcams at the holding site would be a good first step.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They say the livestock won’t be returned for a couple of years, but then the ranchers get all over the BLM as soon as they see a few blades of grass pop up and the BLM will let the livestock return to grazing sooner.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Daryl, partly to my point (above). By continually shrinking legal horse areas they are also eliminating options for rotations which could in fact help ensure the “thriving ecological balance” required by federal law.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Re: Current HardTrigger HMA plan to remove wild horses from their HMA – things they don’t tell you in their press release.

    1) Last year the BLM signed a DNA (NEPA decision, action that is not advertised to the public) which said they would be removing 25-35 wild horses. Per FOIA document, they removed 39 in one day (9/15/14) and three are known dead in less than a year.

    2) And as for the “excess” capture numbers, I guess they decided to just toss in a few more wild horses while they were at it regardless of the legal decision? And now they are saying they are going to remove more … how many more??? As many as they can, of course.

    3) And then they say they will take some to the BLM corral and return them to the wild later – my foot. The have said this before in similar circumstances and to my knowledge they never do. This is pure BLM PR BS.

    4) The domestic livestock grazing on this Rats Nest allotment allows 323 cattle to graze fro April 1 to May 27 each year (per BLM RAS). Makes me wonder when the fire started.

    5) Per BLM RAS there is a large energy right-of-way that runs right through this portion of the HardTrigger HMA and although I can’t seem to find all the details, it appears there has been large wind turbines proposed for this area and allowed by BLM.

    And yet, wild horses must be removed???!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As far as the horses grazing new grass they will not stay in one place so don’t think they’d hurt new growth. Think we all know what cattle do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Louie, I fail to understand your links provided? (1st one doesn’t work ; it’s only a broad search page) the next describes a baittrap removal of 35 Hardtrigger horses in 2014, which I presume was completed? Removed from the RATS NEST alotment. (haha, sounds 1ike an inviting place to call Home? ) Anyway, they say above that HMA actually HAS enough unburned forage now? Are. you implying that BLM can attempt to tack on to the same document written for an entirely different HMA and cause for removal?


  8. Oops! Hit the button too soon!

    Anyway, the entire HardTrigger HMA allows 9,219 AUMs for domestic livestock! That is enough forage for 768 Wild Horses and yet they only allow 66-130 Wild Horses. They only designate 1,176 AUMs to the Wild Horses. In other words, eight times MORE to the for-private profit domestic livestock.

    They need to keep all the private domestic livestock OFF my land and especially OFF the land that is congressionally designated to the Wild Horses and Burros.
    And they need to take their dangerous barbed wire fences and cattle guards with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cssssswv, the first link is to the NEPA/projects page, which will give you all of the projects in any given state/field office.
    I followed through and posted the actual document, so that readers could see it without having to navigate the NEPA projects page.
    It looked to me to still be active…how would any of us know what they’re doing out there, away from Public scrutiny?
    I posted the information because I think it’s Idaho WH&B information that everyone should have. I doubt that many know about the bait trappings that are being done, somewhat under the radar, as BLM does not have to issue Environmental Assessments.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Soda Fire Update:
    Total Personnel 860
    Size 265,207 Acres
    Percent of Perimeter Contained 25%
    Fuels Involved Brush and short grass
    Fire behavior was moderate today with lower temperatures and reduced windspeeds. The fire continues to burn in the Reynolds Creek drainage. Minimal fire was observed on the north, south, and west flanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Are they using Napalm on these wildifires?

    According to early reports by the USFS, the Pagami Creek Fire started off as a 2 acre (believed) lightning strike. The Forest Service watched the fire until it reached 130 acres on August 26. “Then the Forest Service decided to use several hundred gallons of a napalm-like material to really get it going.” When the fire reached 1,750 acres, several Forest Service representatives noted “we were putting quite a plume up in the air.”

    … “early suppression efforts included a ‘firing’ operation in which helicopter crews dumped 1,900 gallons of ‘jelly gasoline’ on the fire over Labor Day weekend to create a buffer that would keep the fire from traveling northward to a populated area [Fernberg Road]…Sanders acknowledged that the gasoline drops, some from a machine that injected the thickened fuel into ping pong balls and dropped them from low altitude, expanded the nucleus of the original fire.”

    … Cook forest ranger Tim Sexton says, “Thirty-one barrels of the accelerant, each 55 gallons, was either fired from a suspended torch or spit out of a helicopter via ping pong balls.” Exactly how much accelerant was used in the fire, for how long, and what part did it play in the ultimate conflagration?

    How is it that no one within the Forest Service questioned allowing the fire to spread, in part by using napalm, when the original fire could have been easily doused with water?

    Liked by 2 people

      • I agree idaursine! Although we know the govt. agencies often expand wildfires using backfires, this massive use of chemical accelerant is frightening!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was a little curious about this, so I happened upon a very old article from the NYT that wrote about using these incendiary Ping-Pong balls(!) to get rid of a stand of trees they didn’t like, and to replant with vegetation they did like to make habitat for deer and elk. Not used for starting a backfire, which sounds chancy to me, and extremely unconcerned about damage to wildlife. *Facepalm* Lord only knows what else they want to destroy for human purposes.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. ida – that article is from 1987 so this must be common procedure ever since then – if not before. I guess they had “extra” napalm left after the Vietnam war and decided to use it on our public lands? OMG!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. BEAVER — Firefighters are planning a massive, 10,000-acre controlled burn next month south of Beaver in hopes of reducing the risk of an out-of-control wildfire in the area.
    April 8 2014

    The juniper and pinion-packed Greenville Bench area about 6 miles outside Beaver is the nursery for what firefighters say could be a catastrophic wildfire.
    A controlled burn is tricky because the weather has to be just right to allow firefighters to keep the blaze under control, he said. Additionally, helicopters drop a diesel gasoline gel, which Howell compared to NAPALM, to promote burning in the prescribed area.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I truly thank everyone on this site for posting your comments & for doing so much research to keep all of us informed with specific details. Sometimes I find it very difficult & depressing to deal with ( personally)… but ALL OF YOU keep me in line to continue to be a voice to help these innocent wild horses & burros & keep me FOCUSED! UGH! Many Thanks!! You will be blessed!! BLM needs to go!
    Until They Are All Safe!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wildfire is normal in the west but it is the innocent creatures that suffer – especially when the BLM is bombing them with Napalm-like fire bombs.

    Per BLM RAS GeoCommunicator map, this new” fire appears to be about 3 miles west of the Desatoya HMA and about 3 miles south of the Clan Alpine HMA and out of control with only 10% current containment. It was 50 acres Friday evening and now reported to be 2,500 acres.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Honestly, how do these firefighters feel about this “napalm bombing”? Since they are risking their lives fighting these dam fires – isn’t it dangerous enough? This is pure idiocy.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. OMG! The government is probably using that also! I recently read an article that they found buried barrels of agent orange left over from the Vietnam War. They discovered them either in Guam or the Phillipines. sp? Shame on them!! All of the veterans & civilians who were exposed to Agent Orange & Napalm & not being recognized nor compensated? And we are supposed to believe that the BLM & our govt. care about these innocent wild horses & burros?? Double yikes!! Denial is a river in Egypt, right? Beyond my comprehension!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Before even one horse is removed, all the cattle should go. We aren’t responsible for feeding privately owned cattle–their owners are. I want wildlife running free on our public land–not cattle and sheep!


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