Horse News

Oregon wild horse herd will be cut in half under new Forest Service plan

By Michael Kohn as published on OregonLive

A barely viable herd of  120 wild horses roaming free in the Ochoco National Forest will be cut in half into unsustainable numbers as part of a management plan which is step one in zeroing out this herd.

Oregon Wild Horses – photo by Carol Walker

The 2021 Ochoco Wild Horse Management Plan will establish a management level of 47 to 57 horses that can reside in the national forest, according to a news release on Friday from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Big Summit herd is the only one in Oregon and Washington to be managed solely by the U.S. Forest Service. Most of the other wild horse herds in the Pacific Northwest are managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The number of horses permitted in the herd takes into account forage availability in winter and the management of a lack of genetic variability in the horse herd. The decision also includes an emergency action plan that provides protocols for how the Forest Service will intervene on behalf of sick, injured or starving horses.

The herd is located about 25 to 30 miles east of Prineville and grazes on 27,000 acres of land located at 4,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation.

The management plan, which became effective on Friday, updates the original herd management plan drafted 46 years ago.

The horses are believed to have first appeared in the area in the 1920s, when it is believed that ranchers at that time turned loose quality animals from a good breeding stock to ensure a future supply of good horses.

“In general, wild horses and burros are descendants of animals released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, ranchers, miners or Native Americans,” said Kassidy Kern, a spokesperson for the Ochoco National Forest.

While horse lovers are fond of seeing the animals roaming wild in the forest, the Forest Service says the herd is damaging riparian areas by chewing up forage along river banks.

“The horses will be managed through gathers beginning in the fall of 2021,” said Kern. “It will likely take five years or more to gather down to the appropriate management level set out in this plan.”

Kern said about 100 horses will need to be removed over that five-year period. The current herd size is between 120 to 150 horses.

“Gathering a little at a time allows us to gather valuable genetic information to work with wild horse genetics experts to ensure that we have adequate genetic variability in the herd,” said Kern. “Additionally, when we bait the horses into the corrals, we typically only get smaller bands of 5-10 at a time. Gathering this way minimizes stress on the animals.”

According to the decision notice, horses removed from the territory may end up in one of three places. These include the Bureau of Land Management corral facility in Burns or a Forest Service corral. A third option could see the horses transported to leased or contracted private facilities, where they will be prepared for adoption or sale.

After removal of the horses, the numbers will be maintained through contraception and sterilization.

For more information on the project and to view the decision notice, visit the project web page:

8 replies »

  1. Would there happen to be livestock allotments in this area? Possibly? Reading that wild horses are “damaging riparian areas”? That sounds just a little fishy. AND the idea that
    “Gathering a little at a time allows us to gather valuable genetic information to work with wild horse genetics experts to ensure that we have adequate genetic variability in the herd,”
    Seriously how much genetic variability will there be after they remove almost half of the numbers?
    Whats the real reason for this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN, THEY WILL KILL THEM!!!!!! Tragic & inhumane, Oregon, if you care get involved, i cannot imagine people wanting the horses killed!!!! If this is so people are a bigger disappointment than i thought. WE are not a 3rd world country where they are brutal and unreasonable.


  2. Agreed Maggie. It’s well-known and documented the destruction livestock do to riparian areas vs. wild horses. 120 horses grazing on 27,000 acres is deemed an inappropriate number, so they are halving it?? There won’t be any genetic viability left in the remaining 60 horses. Ranchers in that area have been trying to get these wild horses removed for years and sounds like now they are getting their way. The Forest Service in that area is not known to be a fan of the wild horses either, as evidenced by their lack of concern or actions when multiple wild horses have been found shot in that area over the last few years. This is the same old story that is being acted out…..ranchers are again getting their way and the wild horses are losing. Its sickening, watching this play out time and again, despite objections by the public and science showing these claims of habitat destruction are baseless.


  3. Yet more dismaying news, there was substantial lasting public opposition to this plan yet USFS is forging ahead regardless. It is telling they state the wild horses are “believed” to have shown in in the 1920s but the fossil and indigenous cultures place horses there a minimum of hundreds of years prior. Our own beloved explorers, Lewis and Clark, found long established horse cultures in Oregon in 1904 for example, and north of the Canadian border much older horse cultures that preceded even the fur trappers.

    It is true horses were later introduced but it is a fabrication and absolute hubris to insinuate this vast continent was known to be entirely empty of any horses when the Spaniards first set foot in what is now Baja California!

    Notice of Decision

    Ochoco Wild Horse Herd Management Plan and Forest Plan Amendments

    This legal notice announces that the Decision Notice for the Ochoco Wild Horse Herd Management Plan and Forest Plan Amendments has been signed by Forest Supervisor Shane Jeffries and is available to the public. This decision permanently amends the language in the Ochoco National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan to update overall guidance related to wild horse management including allowing for adjustment of the Appropriate Management Level (AML) based on ecological conditions. The Decision Notice also sets an initial AML and authorizes the use of population growth control methods including gathers and fertility control, authorizes actions to improve genetic variability, and establishes guidelines and best management practices for wild horse management in the Big Summit Wild Horse Territory.

    These forest plan amendments were subject to notice and comment as well as the pre-decisional administrative review (objection) process pursuant to 36 CFR 219 subpart B. Fourteen objections were received and have been responded to. The final Decision Notice was modified to address objection issues. The forest plan amendments are effective immediately upon publication of this legal notice.

    The signed Decision Notice and supporting documents can be found on the Ochoco National Forest’s website at:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Am I the only one who gets physically ill every time the USFS talks about giving birth control to the wild horses, or worse yet ripping out their ovaries. My god how barbaric. Seperating these horse from their families and way of life. There is absolutely no reason to ” manage ” these horses. Mother nature knows better than the USFS. The decision made by Shane Jefferies is not based on science. Please, everyone wake up. Our tax dollars pay his salary. How on earth are people working for the USFS that have such a callous disregard for these beautiful animals but yet they love sheep, 6,000 head of sheep that belong to Gorden Clark who lives in Madras and is allowed to graze his sheep in the horses territory. Gorden Clark is a self proclaimed millionaire. Why do his wants take precedence over our wants which is to leave the horses alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A true self regulating herd. The herd size I heard has gained in population in just a few months by a mysterious event. It is believed the extra horses were brought over from the neighboring hma, Murders Creek. Many of them already having been darted. This way they can zero Murders Creek out sooner.
    The conspiracy is still afoot. My gut feeling is Ken Salazar with all the antihorse policies he influenced in 2011 are still active. I even have a feeling there is some familiarity between him and Haaland. ?? I know Biden, Obama and Clinton have used his counsel and Trump exploited them with his mob. He has put himself out there as the in-the-know guy for western land. He has the Naturalistic IQ of a moran as well as most land profit. managers.
    How did we ever let gangsters such as who has taken over Montana, take over our lands.

    Liked by 2 people

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