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First day of BLM’s efforts to gather wild horses from the Owyhee Mountains leaves one foal dead

By Allie Triepke

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    OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho (KIVI) — In the Owyhee Mountains, dozens of wild horses enjoy a hundred thousand acres of public land.

To manage their population, the Bureau of Land Management is working to gather the multiple herds with the use of a helicopter they have nicknamed the “Border Collie of the Sky.”

“The purpose is to get each of the herd management areas down to, what we call, the low end of the appropriate management level, and that is a number that we know this range can sustain and balance with the other uses out here,” says Heather Tiel-Nelson, BLM Public Affairs Specialist.

Wednesday morning was the first day of wild horse gathering for the band of horses in the Black Mountain Herd Management Area.

“This particular band that they are rounding up, is a band with a lead stallion that is pretty savvy. He has gotten them out of the trap twice, so we are hoping that this last run is successful,” said Leslie Morris with the Idaho Wild Horse Alliance.

Although the herds proved to be stubborn during the first few attempts of corralling, Oregon horse trainer Ryan Thomas says the helicopter pilot was maneuvering well throughout the sky.

“Clearly these horses have experienced this kind of situation before, and they have escaped from a trap before,” said Thomas.

Once they have rounded up enough of the horses, BLM will continue their corral efforts in the Hardtrigger HMA and Sands Basin HMA.

“It does happen. We have seen it many times where horses get killed, horses get injured,” says Bobbie Moller with the Wild Horse Education organization.

Wild horse advocates expressed their concern about the safety of using a helicopter being used to move the horses.

“My biggest concern here is that there are very little babies, very small baby [horses] that are out there that I feel are probably going to get trampled.”

Unfortunately, during one of Wednesday’s attempts to corral a herd, a foal was trampled and didn’t survive.

“I mean, I don’t see how they can’t. Gosh, they are smaller than many dogs,” says Moller.

The BLM told us their horse wrangler in the fields had never seen anything like it when the foal was killed.

In an effort to protect genetic viability within the herd, the BLM will reintroduce 38 mares that will be treated with contraceptives, and 40 studs to the three different HMA’s.

After gathering efforts have concluded, horses will be available for viewing at the Boise Wild Horse and Burro Off-Range Corral.

The horse gathering is anticipated to continue through September 16.

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