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BLM gathered nearly 300 wild horses from Central Idaho in effort to trim population

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The BLM rounded up nearly 300 Idaho mustangs from the Challis Herd Management Area between Nov. 5 and Nov. 11, 2019. | Courtesy Bureau of Land Management

CHALLIS (Idaho Statesman) — The Bureau of Land Management announced on Monday that it gathered nearly 300 wild horses from Central Idaho over the past week as part of an ongoing effort to address overpopulation.

In a news release, the BLM said it brought in 295 wild horses from the Challis Herd Management Area, a roughly 169,000-acre region that experts say can sustain about 185 to 253 mustangs. Currently, the BLM estimates that about 429 mustangs live in the Challis HMA area. The agency will conduct a census flight this week to determine how many horses remain there.

Horses from the Challis HMA are known for being larger than other wild horses, which are typically short and stocky.

The BLM used helicopters to herd the horses over the course of six days. Once captured, the horses were transported to a temporary holding facility, where they were sorted by age and sex.

Some of the horses will be released back into the Challis HMA. Mares (females) will be treated with fertility control vaccines before being returned to the wild.

The majority of the horses will be moved to the Bruneau Off-Range Wild Horse Corral and prepared for adoption through the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. According to a BLM video, the horses should be ready for adoption by January.

The adoption and fertility control efforts are part of a longtime campaign to deal with wild horse overpopulation, which the BLM says damages public land and harms native species. Last month, acting BLM head William Perry Pendley said it will take about $5 billion and another 15 years before the overpopulation issue is under control.

In recent years, the BLM has ramped up its adoption program. Pendley said last year that more than 7,000 horses and burros were adopted, a 54% increase over the previous year. Early this year, the BLM began offering as much as $1,000 to people who adopt the animals.

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