In January 2018, the Burns District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Oregon will conduct a bait-trap gather of wild horses within the South Steens Herd Management Area (HMA). The appropriate management level (AML)—the number of horses the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses, set by the BLM—for this area is 159 to 304 horses and the current population is more than 600.
The Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 gives BLM the direction for protecting and overseeing wild horses and burros on public lands. In managing these animals, the BLM says it works to maintain a thriving ecological balance that supports healthy horses on healthy rangelands. When the range cannot sustain all of the animals living on it, the BLM gathers and offers some wild horses for adoption to the public.
Heavy to severe wild horse grazing can jeopardize the health of rangelands, wetlands, wildlife habitats, and, ultimately, animal—horses and others—health and condition. Although the South Steens gather will not immediately return the herd to within AML, it will reduce resource impacts and briefly cut reproduction rates. After removing 60 horses, there will still be more than 500 horses remaining in the HMA.
Two similar bait-trap gathers were conducted in August and November 2016 with 200 horses selectively removed for adoption. To date, 100% of those horses have been placed in private care.
Animals selected for removal from the range this month will be transported to Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility, in Hines, to be prepared for adoption. For viewing, the public can visit the corral anytime between regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The gather will likely last through February 2018, though exact start and end dates will be determined by weather and trap site accessibility. Information and twice per week gather reports will be posted online at blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/gathers-and-removals/oregon-washington
Bait-trapping gathers are not conducive to capture site viewing opportunities.
For more information about the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program or the upcoming South Steens bait-trap gather, contact Tara Thissell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541/573-4519.