by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats
Yesterday, 20 wild stallions and 46 wild mares were released back into Stewart Creek in the Red Desert Complex in Wyoming. The day before 24 stallions had been released.
Yesterday morning we drove 2 hours to the trap site, hiked and set up our gear and then were told that they cancelled the roundup for the day because of high winds. Of course the forecast had said that last night and this am, so it should not have come as a surprise. One more day of freedom for the wild horses of Arapahoe Creek.
We rushed back to temporary holding hoping we could see the stallions being released.
I watched 20 wild stallions being released back into Stewart Creek Herd Management Area in Wyoming. As the trailers drove up I was struck by the wildly proud posture of a stunning buckskin stallion in the front of the trailer. He did not look like a good candidate for captivity, so it is a very good thing that he has been included with the stallions to be released back into Stewart Creek.
Most of the stallions bolted and ran as fast as possible never looking back but just as we thought they were all out one big gorgeous black and white pinto stallion leaps out then turns to take a look at us. So awesome! He headed a different direction from the other stallions, not in a hurry, clearly an older guy and an independent sort! I had very much enjoyed seeing him in the wild and was happy to see him here.
Next we saw 24 wild mares released in the same area as the stallions had been released into. They were not running as fast as the stallions, they called to each other and waited and all ended up together in a big group. It is so interesting how differently they behaved than the stallions. Yesterday I was at the Red Desert Complex wild horses roundup and was able to see 20 wild stallions released back into Stewart Creek then two groups of 46 wild mares released as well, bringing the total to 44 wild stallions and 46 wild mares released.
The original total to be released was supposed to be 150 but we were told that the helicopter pilot found 60 horses still on the range in Stewart Creek so instead of going back into Stewart Creek to roundup more horses they instead subtracted that number from the total. All of the mares were treated with PZP-22 birth control with a plan to continue field darting the mares in the future to control the population. Appaloosas, which include varnish roans as a type of coat pattern, are common in Stewart Creek and relatively rare in the wild so I was very happy to see many being released.
I know, this is supposed to be a happy post – after all, 90 horses get their freedom! But it just underlines what is wrong with this whole plan of removal and devastation. It is important to know that none of the mares with foals were released. None of the horses were kept with their families, so they must start over and there will no doubt be a lot of disruption and fighting. That huge gorgeous pinto stallion had a large family – no more. Although these horses are the lucky ones because they get to stay free, they have still lost so much.
The amazingly beautiful wild horses of Arapahoe Creek had another day of freedom because of the high winds, but now today most of them have been captured and are in the temporary corrals. Such a needless act of senseless waste and cruelty. None of the Arapahoe Creek wild horses will be returned to their homes. They are considered to have strayed “out of the Herd Management Area” because in the late 90s or early 2000s their HMA was turned into a Herd Area not managed for wild horses. Of course you would ask “why?”
Why would the Herd Management Area smack dab in the middle of the other 5 not be managed for wild horses? Sure there are some fences, but many downed fence as well. And the BLM’s justification for managing Crooks Mountain, Lost Creek and Antelope Hills at 60-65 horses in each which is way below the 150 adults needed to ensure genetic viability is that the horses go from HMA to HMA.
The BLM is determined to zero out the Arapahoe Creek HA. They are also going to remove many more horses than they should from all the HMAs because their “count” in August was impossibly high. There will be very few wild horses remaining in the Red Desert Complex when they are done. These wild horses were nit starving to death – they are fat going into winter with body scores of 4 or 5. The range is in good shape and there is plenty of water despite the fact that the cattle and sheep ranchers have left their livestock out for months longer than they are supposed to this year. This is wrong. Our wild horses need to be managed in their homes on our public lands where they belong with their families. This needs to stop.