BLM’s Beatys Butte “Model” Program: The Devil is in the Details

A special feature article on Straight from the Horse’s Heart:

(Photo:  BLM)

Beatys Butte is a Herd Management Area (HMA) of wild horses in SE Oregon.  With 437,000 acres, the AML, the appropriate management level of allowed wild horses on that acreage, is set at 100-250.  The program was designed as a closed loop system.  Horses on the range were to be bait trapped yearly.  Some would be given fertility inhibitors to manage population growth and some, 20 colts and fillies, would be brought in to resupply the training center in Adel, Oregon, for training and adoption.  The program was designed by ranchers, elected officials, fish and wildlife agencies, the BLM, and “advocates.”  The initial cost was $425,719 for the gather, training and adoption program over a 5 year period.  It appears money also came from the sage grouse program.  The concept of the program appears to be good, but is the execution acceptable?

This program is poised as a “MODEL” but is it a “MODEL?”

  • In November, 2015, 1070 Beatys Butte wild horses, out of about 1400 or 1500 wild horses on this Herd Management Area, were gathered and removed from the range.  Nobody talks about them today.  Nobody talks about the fact that they were to be used to do different sterility experiments on the mares until the BLM was stopped.  Nobody talks about the fact that some were sent to feedlots.  Nobody talks about the fact that some were sold to Dave Duquette of the pro-horse slaughter group Protect the Harvest (and a couple of other people), only to be spayed (likely by Oregon veterinarian Leon Pilstick) and sent to Futurity Contests to be used for reigning, when their bones hadn’t yet fused.  Nobody talks about the callous, abusive handling of these wild horses.  After all, this is a “MODEL” program.
  • The AML was set at 100-250 with the idea the BLM would put only 100, the lower AML, on the 437,000 acre range spouting “a thriving, natural ecological balance.”  Dr. Gus Cothran, the equine geneticist hired by the BLM, laughingly says there should be a “minimum” of 150 to 200 in a herd with 150 effective breeding age animals to have a slow genetic decline.  In other words, there should be many more wild horses if the herds are to be healthy.  With only 100 wild horses, they are not thriving.  With only 100 wild horses, they are far outnumbered by the 4000 plus livestock grazing on Beatys Butte.  A “MODEL” program?
  • The BLM wants to gather the remaining 200 wild horses on the range, even though they are not over AML.  Is this even legal?  A “MODEL” program?
  • Then the BLM wants to select 60 stallions in the Burns Corrals to put back on the range and 40 mares.  In other words, it wants to also skew the sex ratio, even though Paul Griffin, the lead researcher for the BLM, says sex ratio skewing is now believed to be detrimental to the herd’s social behavior and dynamics.  The Oregon BLM maintains this 60-40 sex ratio does not affect the growth of the herd, as opposed to the 50-50 ratio, so even why do it?  A “MODEL” program?
  • In addition to the sex ratio skewing, the BLM wants to give fertility inhibitors and fertility boosters to the 40 mares now confined in Burns for two years before they are returned to the range.  Then BLM figures it will bait trap 30% of the horses per year and dart them again.  Dr. Kirkpatrick would likely roll over in his grave if he knew the PZP program he developed was being administered in this way.  The BLM allowing only 100 wild horses not only compromises the continuance of the herd, but the sex ratio skewing and the application of the PZP further compromises the continuance of the herd.  This is setting up the herd for collapse.  The BLM isn’t worried.  They say they will just bring in horses from other herds to bolster the genetics of the herd.  So much for the closed loop idea of the Beatys Butte program.  The 1971 Law said the horses were supposed to be “where found.”  A “MODEL” program?
  • At the first Beatys Butte Mustang Adoption Event, the message booming over the PA System to the audience was “This year we have 10 Beatys Butte horses for adoption.  Next year we will have 20.”  First of all, the 10 for this year were not from the Beatys Butte range. Eight 2 year olds were likely born in captivity at the Burn’s Corral.  Then next year, it is unlikely that 20 will be from the Beatys Butte range, because of the 40 PZPed mares.  You’ll be lucky if you have one.  Not to worry, the BLM will bring in colts and fillies from other HMAs and call them Beatys Butte horses.  Again, so much for the closed loop.  A “MODEL” program?
  • With 60 stallions and 40 mares (Beatys Butte horses) from the Burns Corrals and with infusing horses from other herds into this herd, it seems a selective human based breeding program is being promoted and developed.  This is not a wild horse program.  A “MODEL” program?
  • The training and adoption event this past Saturday, April 14th, brought into question the practices of these aspects of the “MODEL” program.  Two 4 and 5 year olds were featured and eight 2 year olds.  The 2 year olds came to the facility last September at the age of 1.  In the brochure given, the public was told all the horses have been ridden in the mountains in the snow, mud, trees and rocks.  The public was also told these horses had been used in gathering, sorting and and trailing cattle in rough terrain.  Bumpy, at about 1 or 2 years old, is seen pulling a cart with a 200 to 250 pound man behind him.  Horse veterinarians will tell you that horses should not be ridden beyond a walk until they are 3 years old, and not ridden at a trot or gallop until they are 5 years old, because their bones are not fused.  Riding too early can create lameness problems when they are older.  A “MODEL” program?
  • The public is told the program is supported by ranchers, advocates, and government officials.  Yet no advocates are seen on the Board.  What is the cost for such a facility just to train 10 or 20 horses a year?  With only an adoption event one time a year, this does not seem cost effective. Should the other 162 HMAs across the West have this type of facility as well?  Should more wild horses be removed from other HMAs yearly to train just 20 horses for this adoption event?  A “MODEL” program?                                                                                                                                                                                  While the concept of a rangeland management, training, and adoption program might seem to be a good idea, this is not rangeland management and the details of this program are anything but ideal.  In fact, the details are egregious and do not benefit America’s wild horses on or off the range.  And, this “model” program does not benefit the American taxpayer.

Contact Rob Sharpe or James Price of the Oregon Wild Horse and Burro Program for more information or to address your grievances.

An interesting fact:  In 2009, the BLM conducted a gather and removal of Beatys Butte wild horses, leaving a reported 102 wild horses on the HMA.  With a 20% growth rate, 354 horses would have been on the HMA in 2015-2016.  Yet the BLM reported 1400 wild horses were there.

 

 

 

 

Craig Downer’s 2017 report on 5 wild horse herds and Herd Management Areas in Oregon

Source:  The Wild Horse Conspiracy

Kiger Mustang HMA, Oregon 10/2017.  Photo copyright Craig C. Downer 2017

Craig C. Downer, wildlife ecologist, has issued a report, including research by Marybeth Devlin, on 5 wild horse herds and Herd Management Areas in Oregon.

These include the South Steens HMA, Kiger Mustang HMA, and Three Fingers Wild Horse HMA in southeastern Oregon, the Paisley Desert HMA in south-central Oregon (managed by the BLM) and the Big Summit HMA (managed by the Forest Service) in the Ochoco National Forest.
You can read the report HERE.

US Court Overturns Round-Up of Wild Horses in Oregon

as published on USNews.com

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law by conducting an emergency round-up of wild horses in eastern Oregon because the agency did not fully consider the impact of its actions.

Steens HMA wild horse family ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law by rounding up wild horses in eastern Oregon without fully considering the impact of its actions, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon’s ruling could mean that some of the horses will be returned to the Three Fingers Management Area in Malheur County, the Capital Press reported. The judge is expected to rule separately on what to do in light of the violation.

The nonprofit group Friends of Animals sued after the BLM gathered up the horses following a 2016 wildfire that made water and forage scarce. The agency had planned to gather up 50 horses before the blaze, but instead decided to do an “emergency gather” of 150 horses because the fire had burned up so much available grassland and made water scarce.

Friends of Animals alleged the emergency action “went far beyond what was necessary to control the immediate impacts” of the fire without a proper review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

Instead of permanently removing the horses, BLM could have relocated the horses, used fencing to keep them out of fire-damaged areas or provided extra water sources, the group argued.

The BLM should have conducted a new analysis of the environmental impact after the fire and not relied on its earlier analysis, Simon said.

Lucinda Bach, attorney for the government in this case, said she couldn’t comment on the ruling.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney from Friends of Animals for comment.

Wild horse population wildly exaggerated

Beatys Butte 2015 wild horse roundup (photo:  BLM)

SOURCE:  heraldandnews.com

by Marybeth Devlin

Arbitrary management level (AML): The “overpopulation” of wild horses is a concocted crisis.

Per the 438,140 acres — 685 square miles — of mustang habitat, BLM manages the Beatys Butte herd down to the AML’s low end — 100 — restricting the stocking density to one wild horse per 4,381 acres — almost seven square miles!

Sparsely populated, widely dispersed: Other herds in Oregon besides Beatys Butte are similarly restricted.

 One wild horse per 4,500 acres — seven square miles — Warm Springs.

One wild horse per 5,062 acres — 8 square miles — Paisley Desert.

Most grazing slots given to cattle: Within Beatys Butte — where wild horses are, by law, supposed to receive principal benefit of resources — livestock occupy 90 percent of the grazing slots — called “animal unit months” (AUMs).

Normative annual herd-growth equals at most, 5%: Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) disclosed the average birth rate among wild-horse herds is 20 percent, but 50 percent of foals perish.  The population-gain from surviving foals (10 percent) minus a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5 percent) equals a normative herd-growth rate of 5 percent.

Fictitious figures: BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, BLM reports one-year increases far beyond what is biologically possible.

From Oregon:

  • 170 percent — 34 times the norm — Stinking Water.
  • 179 percent — 36 times the norm — Paisley Desert.
  • 256 percent — 51 times the norm — Beatys Butte **
  • 317 percent — 63 times the norm — Jackies Butte

** BLM reported that the Beatys Butte population grew from 117 horses to 416 horses in one year, an increase of 299.  If so, to overcome foal-mortality (50 percent) and adult-mortality (at least 5 percent), that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 10 or more foals.

Overpopulation is a false flag: Excess is found only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets.

 

Ochoco Natl. Forest Doubles Wild-Horse Monitoring

by KTVZ.COM news sources

Two census efforts set; volunteers sought

This image of wild horses is on the cover of the Prineville BLM’s Murderer’s Creek HMA (Herd Management Area) Wild Horse Gather Plan

PRINEVILLE, Ore. – The Ochoco National Forest announced Monday it is embarking on a new strategy for monitoring its wild horse population for the Big Summit Territory.

This year, two wild horse census efforts are expected to provide a more complete picture of the herd’s condition, demographics and location.

A herd count has been done annually for many years on the forest. However, officials said, it is challenging to cover all of the territory and outlying areas where horses are thought to frequent in a single monitoring effort.

Horses are reported to move into many remote sites and canyons.  An accurate numbers count will provide needed information for the development of the new Herd Management Plan.

This new plan will replace the existing one, which is more than 40 years old. Many conditions outlined in the present plan have changed over the years, forest officials said.

The Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition has a long-standing partnership with the Ochoco National Forest in monitoring the Big Summit herd.

This June, as in the past, the coalition will bring volunteers to help with their census ride.

“The efforts of the coalition have contributed greatly to the Ochoco National Forest’s administration of the wild horse herd,” the announcement said. “This year’s two-prong monitoring effort, to add a second census ride for two days in July into outlying areas, is expected to compliment the efforts that the coalition has coordinated in the past. ”

There is much interest in the herd, the forest officials said, and with additional volunteers to support a second census effort, the forest can make a better determination of the overall health of the horses, try to determine how many are actually on the landscape and what possible interactions they are having with the land and resources.

The forest is working with Discover Your Forest to recruit volunteers for the July effort.  Those interested in helping can contact Stacey Cochrane, Community Engagement Director, DYF at (541) 383-5530 or discoveryourforest.org.

For those interested in further information about the program, please contact project team leader Tory Kurtz at (541) 416-6500 or tkurtz@fs.fed.us.

http://www.ktvz.com/news/ochoco-natl-forest-doubles-wild-horse-monitoring/529495671

TWO WINS FOR AMERICAN NATIVE WILD HORSES

“The attached press release, below, gives the inside story of how the Oregon wild mare sterilization experiments were stopped by an appeal to the Department of Interior’s IBLA (Interior Board of Land Appeals) by a coalition of equine advocate, animal welfare and environmental groups.  Thanks again to all the individuals and groups that supported our appeal and kept believing we could win.  The topsy turvy events of the past week demonstrate that unity is more important than ever to protect our public lands and the wild animals we cherish.” ~ Charlotte Roe


Citizens Against Equine Slaughter

8 month old fillies at BLM's Hines, Oregon holding facility...saved from the "experiments" ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

8 month old fillies at BLM’s Hines, Oregon holding facility…saved from the “experiments” ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In a precedent setting case with the Department of Interior’s Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), environmental, animal welfare and wild horse advocate groups joined forces to defeat Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brutal plans to sterilize 225 wild mares, fillies and foals in Oregon’s Hines corrals in cooperation with Oregon State University (OSU).

On July 29, 2016, the BLM and IBLA received a Notice of Appeal and Stay of Implementation Petition from a coalition of 14 environmental groups. The Notice/Stay named Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES), Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association (OWHBA), Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition (COWHC) and Wild Equid League of CO (WELOC) as the main appellants.

On August 4, 2016, BLM filed a motion to dismiss the appeal with the IBLA. They claimed appellants did not have standing or proper representation.

On August 12, Appellants delivered a response to this motion proving that our representative was indeed a pro se attorney and that she was the founding member of the lead advocate group, Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES). Several affidavits were delivered proving standing of all the appellants. In particular, one member of both CAES and OWHBA who is disabled, challenged BLM’s claim of no standing of a person who cannot physically stand out on the range or travel to the holding pens as often as BLM felt was necessary to be considered sufficient for “standing.”

Two other appeals filed by individuals were dismissed September 7, 2016, for lack of standing. This coalition’s appeal was the only action that stood. Three lawsuits were also filed, but the Board’s procedures dictate that these legal challenges could not be considered until the it acted on the IBLA appeals.

On August 29th, 2016, the Coalition filed their Reasons for Appeal Brief. Among the affidavits delivered with this brief were the eyewitness testimony of an individual who watched Dr. Leon Pielstick perform ovariectomy via colpotomy on burros and mares during a public workshop in Arizona. This video and testimony demonstrated that the procedures were not successful, and that the death rate was significantly higher than that allowed by veterinary standards.

Seven business days after the reasons for appeal and these documents were presented in the case, the BLM submitted a Motion to Vacate and Remand. This was done because BLM no

longer wished to implement the Decision of Record (DR). In all likelihood, the Agency chose to avoid the risk that the Board could rule against it, setting precedent for the horses. On September 9, 2016, the IBLA Vacated and Remanded the DR to the BLM. This action meant the BLM’s decision to sterilize the wild mares and foals was vacated and rescinded. Implementation of these experiments would now be illegal.

The pressure put on the Department of Interior and BLM due to this Appeal, public outrage and a combination of related actions stopped BLM and OSU from submitting these wild mares to barbaric, unwarranted experiments and dangerous surgeries that would have resulted in the deaths of many mares, aborted foals, and permanent injury for countless others that may have survived.

To date, the coalition is formed of the following groups: Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association, Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, Wild Equid League of Colorado, In Defense of Animals, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Union for the Preservation of Wildlife, Animal Rights Leadership Council, Animal Horse Defense Coalition, Mobilization for Animals, Monero Mustang, New Mexicans Against Horse Slaughter, Wild Horse Observers Association and Pity Not Cruelty.

The coalition is growing and will continue to fight to keep wild horses and burros alive and free, and to defend all wildlife and the health of public lands.

The day we received the news of the victory with IBLA, the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Council voted with one dissent (by Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation) to recommend that the BLM euthanize all ‘unadoptable’ horses in long-term holding. This would mean killing some 45,000 healthy wild horses that the BLM had removed from the range. Killing captive prisoners whether human or animal is NOT what we or most Americans can accept. It HAD to stop, and it has been stopped by a tremendous civic uproar. This afternoon BLM announced that it has no plans to perform mass euthanasia. Our wild horses and burros have had a good week. How long will it last?

For questions or more information please contact:
Val Cecama-Hogsett, CAES & OWHBA media liaison Phone: 541.315.6650
Email: val4.wildhorses@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CAES4OWH/

BLM’s SE Oregon On Again Off Again Helicopter Stampede Rips Over 150 Wild Horses from Rightful Home

Source: KTVZ.com

“Under the guise of an ‘Emergency’ roundup the BLM side-steps the law and gains ‘fresh’ mares for gruesome sterilization experiments…”

VALE, Ore. – The Bureau of Land Management Vale District said Friday it has successfully concluded an emergency gather of wild horses in the Three Fingers Herd Management Area.

Between August 29 and September 1, a total of 155 horses – 33 foals, 55 mares and 67 studs – were gathered.

BLM Vet: "Come here little horsey, horsey girls."

BLM Vet: “Come here little horsey, horsey girls.”

All gathered horses were transported to the Oregon Adoption facility near Burns/Hines, and will be offered for adoption later in the year. For viewing,, the public may visit the Corral Facility anytime between regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This gather was safe and successful for the horses,” said BLM Vale District Manager Don Gonzales. “Our overall goal is to maintain a thriving ecological balance of the Three Fingers HMA and surrounding rangelands, and to preserve the health and well-being of the Three Fingers herd.”

The Cherry Road Fire, which started August 21, burned about 90 percent of the Wildhorse Basin pasture in the Three Fingers HMA, where more than half of the estimated 279 horses in the herd reside.

Most critically, the fire damaged the mature seed heads needed to sustain the horses through the coming fall and winter months. The remaining 10 percent of the Wildhorse Basin pasture has limited water resources or forage.

The Vale District BLM initiated this emergency gather due to the fire’s impact on forage and water resources.

Each horse gathered underwent a veterinary assessment upon arrival at the temporary holding corrals. Pre-existing conditions and burn injuries were noted on three animals, and one foal with a severe hernia was euthanized.

Located 25 miles south of Vale, the Three Fingers Herd Management Area (HMA) is bordered on the east by the Owyhee Reservoir, on the south by the Leslie Gulch Road, and on the north by the Owyhee Dam. The herd population is currently estimated at 279 — the Appropriate Management Level for the area is 75-150 wild horses.

http://www.ktvz.com/news/BLM-SE-Oregon-emergency-wild-horse-gather-successful/41496456

HAVE YOU TRIED TO BALANCE YOUR WILD HORSE AND BURRO “CHECKBOOK” LATELY?

Guest OpEd by Grandma Gregg

“…only about half of the foals survive to become yearling age…”

I am sure you are aware that the BLM wild horse and burro populations are almost always wrong and that they usually use 20% annual increase as their standard. Independent research has shown that the “average” annual foaling rate is about 20% (SEE LINK https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/04/28/report-wild-horse-population-growth/).

Even an Elementary School Dunce knows math better than the BLM

Even an Elementary School Dunce knows math better than the BLM

The issue that the BLM refuses to consider is that only about half of the foals survive to become yearling age (less than reproduction age). This gives us an annual herd population increase of only about 10%. Additionally, adult mortality must be factored which reduces the increase even further … to even less than 10% actual herd increase per year. I am aware that this is only average and that many factors (disease, climate extremes, changes in habitat, etc.) vary from year to year, but facts and simple math certainly contradict the BLM’s average herd increases of 20%.

With that in mind, take a look at the BLM’s population numbers and increases for our Oregon Three Fingers HA (below chart). Note that one year they even used a 67% increase – and this herd has been PZP’d in the past. Using this knowledge, it is my estimate that there are only about 100-140 or so wild horses on the Three Fingers, which is even less than the 150 planned capture/removal proposal.

If you have ever tried to balance your checkbook, you are aware that if you continue to take more money (or horses) OUT than what is being replaced … it is not long until you have a negative balance. That is what the BLM is doing – managing for extinction.

Three Fingers Oregon HMA per Herd Stats

ThreeFingers

From: “Moore, Larry” <l2moore@blm.gov>
Date: August 29, 2016 9:24:22 AM PDT
Vale District BLM Plans Emergency Wild Horse Gather

Vale, Ore. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Vale District is announcing a plan to conduct an emergency gather of wild horses in the Three Fingers Herd Management Area (HMA).

The Cherry Road Fire, that started August 21, 2016, burned approximately 90 percent of the Wildhorse Basin pasture, where more than half of the estimated 279 horse herd resides. The remaining horses reside in the Riverside pasture. Currently, the remaining 10 percent of the Wildhorse Basin pasture has limited water resources or forage.

For this reason, the BLM’s Vale District is planning to gather approximately 150 wild horses and transport them to the Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon. It is estimated that between 80 and 120 wild horses will remain in the Riverside Pasture in the southern end of the HMA.

The post-fire recovery period for the HMA is generally two active growing seasons for upland vegetation. The removed horses which exceed the low end of the Appropriate Management Level (AML) will be prepared to be included in the adoption program. The Appropriate Management Level for the area is 75 to 150 wild horses.

The start date of the gather has yet to be determined, but is expected to take place as early as August 29, 2016. The length of the gather is currently unknown.

Statistics associated with the gather can be found at: http://go.usa.gov/xW2Zk.

The Three Fingers HMA is approximately 25 miles south of Vale, OR. The HMA is bordered on the west by the Owyhee Reservoir, on the south by the Leslie Gulch Road, and on the north by the Owyhee Dam. The Cherry Road Fire has so far burned more than 35,000 acres to the west of the Owyhee Reservoir.

The public can visit and view the horses once they arrive at the Wild Horse Corral Facility any time during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additional information about the BLM’s wild horse and burro program is available at:

http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/whb/

Larry Moore

Public Affairs Officer

Bureau of Land Management, Vale District

U.S. Department of Interior

(541) 473-6218

(541) 709-1457

BLM Postpones Oregon Roundup of Wild Horses Targeted for Gruesome Spaying Experimentation

Recent news releases indicate that the Oregon BLM office has postponed it’s plan to harass and breakup wild horse families in the “Three Fingers” area due to a wild fire dubbed the “Cherry Road Fire”.

Steens HMA wild horse family, about to be destroyed by BLM for experimental sterilizations ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Oregon Steens HMA wild horse family, about to be destroyed by BLM for experimental sterilizations ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The ‘fresh’ mares captured from the postponed helicopter roundup were to be transferred to the BLM’s holding facility in Hines where they would be subject to grotesque, non-sterile and antiquated spaying experiments overseen by Oregon State University.

Although at first glance this may be looked upon as a reprieve for the federally protected wild horses of Eastern Oregon but comments from BLM spokesman Larry Moore indicates that the fire may be used as an excuse to rip even more wild horses from their rightful home at a later date,

“Now that even more of the forage has been burned completely, that will likely necessitate more horses bring gathered, though at this point we can’t say for sure,” said Moore.

No indication was given as to the status of private livestock that are allowed to graze upon the Congressionally designated wild horse’s forage at federally subsidized rates.

Vale OR BLM Postpones Wild Horse Stampede

Source: The Argus Observer

“Yesterday we commented that a helicopter stampede would be conducted in Oregon to kidnap more “fresh” mares for the BLM to brutally experiment on at their Hines Holding Facility; the torture was scheduled to begin next week on the 26th.  But it now appears that the horses will have a few more weeks to live in freedom,with their families and the mares with their ovaries.  The ridicules madness has been postponed until the end of next month.  The unedited article is listed below.” ~ R.T.


“…the appropriate management level for the area is 75–150 wild horses…(non-viable herd)”

8 month old fillies at BLM's Hines, Oregon holding facility...waiting for the "experiment"

8 month old fillies at BLM’s Hines, Oregon holding facility…waiting for the “experiment”

VALE — The Bureau of Land Management’s Vale District is postponing a planned gather of wild horses in the Three Fingers Herd Management Area.

The gather was expected to start July 26, but that has been postponed to a tentative date of Aug. 23.

The objective of the gather is to capture 100 wild horses from the Three Fingers management area and return 50 horses — 25 studs and 25 mares — to the range to re-establish an appropriate management level following the gather. The herd population is currently estimated at 202; the appropriate management level for the area is 75–150 wild horses.

The Three Fingers management area is approximately 25 miles south of Vale. It is bordered on the west by the Owyhee Reservoir, on the south by the Leslie Gulch Road, and on the north by the Owyhee Dam.

Extended drought conditions in the region and a horse population exceeding the management level have resulted in horses from the Three Fingers herd grazing well outside their area in search of water and forage. This grazing has extended into areas affected by the 2015 Soda Fire which burned nearly 280,000 acres in Oregon and Idaho. Grazing in these areas is especially destructive as the fire rehabilitation efforts are vulnerable to activity of any kind in the affected area.

Protecting these fire rehabilitation areas is necessary to prevent the spread of exotic annual weed species, which can potentially convert a burned area to a weed-dominated community. Additionally, heavy grazing by horses from the Three Fingers herd outside their management area jeopardizes the health of surrounding rangelands, wetlands, wildlife habitat, as well as the health and well-being of the Three Fingers herd.

Horses that are removed from the range will be transported to Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines. The public can visit and view the horses once they arrive at the facility any time during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The horses gathered during this effort will be made available for adoption later this year.

The Vale District BLM will host public viewing days near the capture site as horses are gathered and sorted. Viewing may be scheduled on short notice but can accommodate a maximum of fifteen people each day.

Those interested in viewing can contact Larry Moore at l2moore@blm.gov or (541) 473-6218 for more information. Viewing opportunities and gather reports will be shared at: http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/whb/index.

http://www.argusobserver.com/news/vale-district-blm-postpones-wild-horse-gather/article_1bb554b4-4f67-11e6-a0bf-63236181457f.html