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New US muster proposed: 1800 horses targeted

February 7, 2010

Horses on the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area of Eagle Lake Field Office showing ranch horse and cavalry remount influence.

The Bureau of Land Management has announced proposals to remove a further 1800 horses from the wild, this time in California.

News of the latest proposal came within days of the completion of the controversial Calico muster in northern Nevada, in which 1922 horses were removed from five herd management areas.

In the latest proposal, the bureau wants to remove around 1800 wild horses and 180 burros from the 800,000-acre Twin Peaks herd management area, northeast of Susanville.

The proposal is likely to draw wide opposition from wild horse advocates, who have voiced their concerns over the scale and pace of recent gathers organised by the bureau.

The Calico muster went ahead despite the proposal drawing more than 10,000 public submissions, the great majority in opposition.

Bureau spokesman Jeff Fontana said the purpose of the California gather was to return the population of horses and burros to its appropriate management level, set out in the 2008 Eagle Lake Resource Management Plan.

The plan sets the appropriate management level at 448-758 horses and 72-116 burros.

"The current population is estimated at about 2300 horses and 250 burros, resulting in ongoing resource damage that will be analyzed in the environmental assessment," he said.

Under the proposal, most mares left on the range would be treated with a birth control drug effective for one to two years.

The wild herd would be structured with more males than females. Both actions are intended to slow the growth rate of the herds.

The bureau's Eagle Lake Field Office is seeking public input on the latest proposed gather and will accept submissions until March 5, after which a final decision will be made.

"The public is asked to identify issues to be addressed in an environmental assessment to be prepared as required by the National Environmental Policy Act," Fontana said.

The environmental assessment and proposed decision will be released about May 1 for public review and comment.



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