Around 1350 wild horses will be removed from the US western rangelands in coming days in two major mustering operations in Nevada and Idaho.
The biggest operation, in Nevada, will see 1000 horses permanently removed from the range as the agency works to reduce numbers to appropriate management levels in a cluster of federally designated herd management areas in the state.
Meanwhile, federal authorities will also hold two hearings in coming days to receive feedback on its use of helicopters and motor vehicles in its management of wild horses.
Before motorized vehicles can be used, a public hearing is required to comply with Section 404 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
One hearing will be held in Idaho on January 23, the other in Montana on February 2.
The Idaho BLM is inviting the public to submit comments during the January 23 hearing from 1-2pm at its field office in Challis. Submitted comments should include the submitter’s address, phone number and email address.
It says the entire comment, including personal identifying information, could be made publicly available at any time. While individuals can ask to have their personal information withheld from public view, the BLM says it cannot guarantee it. Interested parties unable to attend can submit written statements to BLM_ID_WHB_MotorizedHearing@blm.gov.
The February 2 public hearing in Montana will run from 10-11am, at the BLM Montana/Dakotas State Office in Billings.
The BLM proposes to use motorized vehicles across the state to obtain population estimates, collect monitoring information, transport animals, and gather excess wild horses.
Meanwhile, the first of the musters, in the Triple B Complex in eastern Nevada, is set to start on January 23.
The agency plans to gather 1500 wild horses and remove about 1000. Unadopted horses will end up in long-term holding.
The BLM will release about 250 mares after treatment with the fertility control drug PZP-22 in a bid to slow the population growth rate. PZP-22 can prevent pregnancy in wild horses for one to two years.
In addition, around 250 gathered stallions will be selected and returned to the range.
The Triple B Complex comprises the Triple B, Maverick Medicine and Antelope Valley herd management areas, and the Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory.
The agency says the gather may extend outside those areas to collect wild horses who have moved in search of food and water.
The current population estimate for the Triple B Complex is 3842 wild horses. The cumulative appropriate management level for the targeted gather area is 472 to 884 wild horses.
In Utah, a muster is about to begin in areas within and outside the Bible Springs Complex in Iron and Beaver counties. The operation is set to start on January 30.
The Bible Springs Complex encompasses the Blawn Wash, Four Mile, Bible Springs, and Tilly Creek herd management areas.
The current wild horse population estimate in the Bible Springs Complex is 711 animals and the BLM plans to gather and remove 350 of them.
They will be available for adoption through BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. Those that are not adopted will be cared for in contracted off-range corrals and pastures.