Wild horse gather update

Gather operation complete, adoptions set for Sept. 8

The Bureau of Land Management completed its bait/trap gather of wild horses on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range this week. The last two mustangs removed, a mare and her foal, brought the total number of horses gathered and removed from the range to 38 adult horses and six foals. The gather concluded on Thursday, Aug 23. No injuries or deaths were reported.

The horses removed were preselected based on a number of factors including age, sex, genetics and how well the bloodline of the horse was represented on the range. Local horse advocates played a significant role in determining which horses would be the least detrimental to the herd if removed from the range.

“Thanks to the help of our partners, the BLM is pleased with the success we’ve had using bait trapping as a method to remove excess wild horses from this particular range,” said BLM representative Kristen Lenhardt. “All of the horses at the Britton Springs Corrals continue to do well as we get closer to the adoption on Sept. 8.”

This little mustang foal was removed from the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and will be made available for adoption along with his mother on Sept. 8 at Britton Springs Corrals near Lovell.

Lenhardt said that some of the horses removed had some physical concerns due to natural hardships on the range. She reported that those horses continue to make significant progress in their health and expects that their health will continue to improve once they’ve been placed in their new adoptive homes.

“We are very relieved that this gather is over,” said Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center director Lori Graham. “We are very appreciative to the BLM staff for the care that was given to the horses during this gather, and the continuing care that the horses are receiving at the BLM holding facility at Britton Springs.”

The PMWMC plans to adopt a few of the horses and will keep them on display for educational purposes in the pasture adjacent to the center, said Graham.

Thirty-one excess wild horses and four foals were removed from the high elevation areas of the mountain. Horses in the lower elevations presented more of a challenge, as they were less eager to go in the traps in spite of the tempting bait placed in the traps. As a result, in the arid Dryhead area of the range, only seven out of 15 excess wild horses identified in the Environmental Assessment were removed, as well as two foals. Twenty-seven band horses remain in the Dryhead portion, along with 10 bachelors that frequent the area.

During the bait trapping operation, the BLM gathered a total of 146 horses, only 38 were removed and the rest were released back on to the range. According to BLM wild horse experts, the horses gathered bring the herd close to the important “appropriate management level” or AML. The AML was established through previous studies conducted by the BLM to determine how many horses the range can sustain.

The adoption on Saturday, Sept. 8 will take place at Britton Springs Corrals, where all of the horses removed from the range during this gather are being held. All 38 horses gathered and their foals will be available through a competitive bidding process to pre-qualified adopters. The foals will be adopted out with their mothers.

The adoptions will be granted based on the highest oral competitive bid. The gates at Britton Springs Corrals north of Lovell will open at 8 a.m., and the bidding process will begin at 10 a.m. The facility will also be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, for horse viewing and registration.

The horses that will be available for adoption include 14 geldings and 20 females. Among the females, four mare-foal pairs and one pregnant mare will be available. The horses range in age from under 1 to 3 years-old. The horses removed this week in the bait trap gather will also be available and are not included in those totals.  All of the horses have received basic veterinary care and come with a health certificate from the veterinarian. The minimum bid for each animal is $125. The starting bid for pairs is $250. Prices often go much higher than the starting bid.

The BLM will help adopters load the horses as soon as the adoption concludes. To assist adopters traveling a significant distance, the BLM will also load horses through noon on Sunday.  BLM staff is also available to halter the horses before they are loaded into trailers. Adopters who choose this service, are asked to bring a halter and lead rope to the adoption site.

Horse trainer Dave Weeding will conduct free training demonstrations for the public at 3 p.m. on Friday and at 8 a.m. on Saturday during the adoption weekend.  Weeding is a horse trainer who has competed in three Extreme Mustang Makeovers, taking second place in the event in both Oregon and Wyoming.

For more information on how to adopt or to receive an application, contact Nancy Bjelland, BLM adoption coordinator, at (406) 896-5222. The BLM will process adoption applications on Sept. 7-8, however, to assist with timely processing and to avoid receiving all applications simultaneously, they ask that interested individuals send their applications to Bjelland prior to the adoption date. For information on qualifications for adopters, visit http://blm.gov/08jd.

By Patti Carpenter