Federal authorities in Oregon are gearing up for one of the biggest wild horse roundups in the state’s history, as opponents condemn the ongoing use of musters to control herd numbers.
The horses are being targeted in the Beaty Butte Herd Management Area. The current herd population is estimated to be 1500, at least six times the appropriate management level of 100 to 250 animals.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to gather all 1500 horses before returning 60 stallions and 40 mares. It plans to treat the mares with the birth control agent PZP.
The operation, scheduled to begin this week, will employ four or five capture sites.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign criticised the roundup.
Its director, Suzanne Roy, said just 100 wild horses would be left on 400,000 acres after the roundup.
“Today, there are more wild horses and burros warehoused in government holding facilities than remain free in the wild.
“The Beatys Butte roundup will add 1400 wild horses to a holding system that is already collapsing with the BLM’s stockpiling of nearly 50,000 wild horses and burros in holding pens and pastures.”
Roy said that more humane and cost-effective population management alternatives existed to keep wild horse and burro populations free on the range.
“However, in spite of the anguish, the trauma and the suffering of wild horses and the cost to taxpayers, the BLM continues to use roundups as the primary method of managing wild horse and burro populations in the West.”
The group suggested the roundup was being conducted to appease local ranchers.
It has been running a petition calling for the abandonment of the roundup. It calls for a humane fertility program to control and reduce wild horse numbers over time. It also wants a mechanism to allow ranchers to be compensated for voluntary relinquishment of grazing permits within the designated herd management area.
At the time of writing the petition had gathered nearly 22,000 names.
Roy continued: “There are many times I am proud to be an American, but this is not one of those times that I am proud. I am, however, grateful for the nearly 20,000 Americans who signed our petition and who are helping us to build an army of voices and action to defend the freedom of America’s iconic wild horses and burros.”