After being delayed by two days of rain, snow and windy conditions, the Bureau of Land Management on Monday captured 49 wild horses from the Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area in southwestern Wyoming. No injuries were reported.
According to RTF humane observer Steve Paige, one of only two members of the public who viewed Monday’s roundup, the captured wild horses all were rated at five (“moderate”) or better on the 10-point scale used by BLM.
BLM intends to remove 1,560 wild horses from their home ranges on the Salt Wells Creek / Great Divide Basin / Adobe Town heard management areas roundup in southwest Wyoming’s Checkerboard region.
In an unusual step, BLM officials say they’re only counting captured adult wild horses against their goal and will release a number of foals captured later.
The captured wild horses will be transported to the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility. They will be offered for adoption. Those that are not adopted will be moved to long-term pastures, according to BLM.
The agency plans to capture:
- 513 of the 1,123 wild horses present in the Adobe Town HMA, which has a BLM-assigned “Appropriate Management Level” of 610-800 wild horses;
- 322 of the 737 in the Great Divide Basin HMA, which has an AML of 415-600;
- and 725 of the 976 in the Salt Wells Creek HMA, which has an AML of 251-365.
The HMAs are part of Wyoming’s Checkerboard: an unfenced region alternating blocks of public and private or state land. The roundup is set to take place over a combined 1.7 million acres of public land and 731,703 acres of private land.
BLM allows private cattle, sheep and horse grazing on the three Wyoming HMAs equal to 149,962 Animal Unit Months. An AUM is defined as the use of public land by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. According to BLM, livestock use has been at 39% of permitted levels between 2008-16, with voluntary reductions, in part because of drought.
BLM conducted a 2014 roundup in the region after reaching an agreement with a ranching association to remove wild horses from the entire Checkerboard. That followed a 2013 lawsuit filed by the Rock Springs Grazing Association demanding that BLM remove wild horses from private ranch land there.
Last October, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that BLM violated both the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and Federal Land Policy Management Act in conducting that 2014 roundup. The court found that the agency illegally treated public lands as private in its plans.
Return to Freedom joined fellow wild horse advocacy organizations as a co-plaintiff in the case. The appeals court’s ruling resulted in the cancellation of a planned fall 2016 roundup in the Checkerboard, also based on the agreement with the grazing association.
Now, BLM is justifying its plans to maintain the HMAs at its minimum population targets based in part on the court’s ruling.
Those who wish to view the roundup should contact Tony Brown at (307) 352-0215 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They will meet at the BLM Rock Springs Field Office, located at 280 Highway 191 North in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Participants must provide their own transportation, water and food. No bathrooms on-site bathrooms will be available. The BLM recommends driving four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles.
More photos from Sept. 25:
Please donate to the Wild Horse Defense Fund to support RTF’s advocacy efforts, as well as selective litigation and coverage of roundups by humane witnesses