The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Worland Field Office is conducting a roundup of wild horses from the Fifteen Mile HMA in Wyoming. Located 30 miles northwest of Worland, the Fifteen Mile HMA encompasses 81,000 acres of mostly public land and is currently home to approximately 700 wild horses.
The agency's goal to reduce the population -- through helicopter stampede -- to the low "Appropriate" Mangement Level (AML) which currently is only 70 wild horses. However, in its new plan, the BLM wants to raise the AML to between 100-230 wild horses. While this sounds great on the surface, the BLM is planning to include foals in that total AML, which is counter to the policy detailed in the agency's own handbook, which states "applies to the number of adult wild horses or burros to be managed within the population and does not include current year's foals." Therefore, raising the AML by counting foals in the AML total will not actually result in an increase in the population limit for horses in this HMA. AWHC is also concerned about broader implications of this change on agency wide management practices.
In addition to the above actions, the BLM is also proposing to adjust sex ratios by skewing the ratio in favor of males - an action that can disrupt herd social dynamics and has proven ineffective as a population management tool.
Bottom line: This roundup is unnecessary and the plan involves an outdated and unsustainable approach. The Evironmental Assessment on this Plan itself states that at the current population level, the Fifteenmile wild horses are healthy and that minimal livestock grazing is taking place in this HMA. Instead of continuing the broken approach of roundup and removal, the BLM should allow the current population of horses to remain in the HMA and implement a comprehensive fertility control program to maintain herd numbers within healthy limits.
The BLM estimates that the current population is approximately 700 horses. 600 will be permanently removed.
October 22, 2019 - 18 wild horses were captured and there were three deaths.
18 wild horses were rounded up and removed from the Fifteen Mile HMA today and there were three deaths.
According to BLM:
October 21, 2019 - 112 wild horses were captured today and there were 3 deaths.
AWHC's field representative was one of three people on the ground today to document the roundup of the Fifteen Mile wild horses. Observation was limited as days priors because we were located 1.5 miles from the trap site.
Our observer saw a lot of color today with several bands of pintos. We saw one big beatiful palomino stud - he was put in with other stallions that will eventually be released back to the HMA, before he escaped by jumping the trap panels.
The horses have good size, conformation and body conditions. (4 to 5 on BLM scale). A few beautiful pintos came close to our observation as they escaped temporarily, while the helicopter worked others towards the trap.
112 horses were captured today, and there were three deaths:
October 20, 2019 - Zero horses captured today - helicopters did not fly due to inclement weather
October 19, 2019 - 217 wild horses captured resulting in two deaths
AWHC's field representative was one of 6 people that came to observe and document the roundup of the Fiftteen Mile wild horses. Our viewing area offered little to no observation again, as it was located 1.5 miles from the trap site.
The horses were brought in big groups again today. There was a plethora of colors and more mare/foal pairs than the day prior. The horses were in good body condition, on the 4-5 Henneke body scale. 217 horses were captured in total, and there were two deaths - One horse succumbed to a neck injury from the operation and another succumbed to a strike in the head by another horse on the way to the trap.
October 18, 2019 - 211 wild horses captured in first day of the roundup
AWHC's field representative was just one of 22 members of the public in attendance to observe or document the roundup of the Fifteen Mile mustangs. We were located approximately 1.5 miles away from the trap site and because of the distance we had very little observation of handling at the trap.
The horses came in big groups on the HMA. We saw a lot of color and good body conditions, mostly 4's with the exception of one older mare that was a 2. One mare had a cut and was being taken to Rock Springs for treatment. One foal split off and had to be roped to get in the trap.