The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Vale District, in Oregon, has announced plans to conduct a helicopter gather of wild horses within the Cold Springs and Hog Creek Herd Management Areas (HMA) beginning in January or February 2018.
The Cold Springs HMA is located approximately 45 miles southwest of Vale, Oregon; 25 miles southwest of Harper, Oregon; and 45 miles southeast of Juntura, Oregon, in Malheur County. 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—is 75 to 150 horses for this area. The current population is more than 175.
The Hog Creek HMA is located approximately 20 miles west of Vale and 5 miles west of Harper, in Malheur County. The AML for this area is 30 to 50 horses and the current population is more than 60.
Heavy to severe grazing jeopardizes the health of rangelands, wetlands, wildlife habitats, and ultimately animal health and condition. Both gathers are designed to reduce the wild horse population to levels within AML and immediately reduce resource impacts.
Each gather will likely last less than one week, though exact start and end dates will be determined by the weather and contractor’s availability. The BLM will host public viewing days during the helicopter gathers. The public is welcome to attend the gathers and must read the field observation protocol information before visiting. Observation will be held daily during the gathers, with a maximum number of 15 people attending each day. If you are interested in observing the gathers, you must contact Larisa Bogardus at the BLM Lakeview District Office at 541/947-6237 or firstname.lastname@example.org to have your name added to the viewing list.
Observation will be offered on a first-come first-served basis for each day of the gathers. Observers must personally check in with the BLM official at the meeting site (Vale District BLM Office, 100 Oregon St., Vale, OR 97918) to be considered. Observers will be led by caravan to and from the gather site by BLM employees. Personal high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles are required. If you do not have adequate transportation to the observation area, you can attempt to carpool with other observers—at their discretion—but this option is not guaranteed. Access to and distance from the capture site location will be determined jointly by the contractor and the BLM’s Contracting Officer’s Representative prior to gather operations. Safety of the horses, crew, and public is the agency’s top priority.
Viewing opportunities and gather reports will be available at blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/gathers-and-removals/oregon-washington. The supporting planning documents for the Cold Springs and Hog Creek gathers are available on BLM’s ePlanning website at eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do.
Animals selected for removal from the range 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 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.