The Four Mile Herd Management Area (HMA) spans nearly 19,000 acres in Idaho. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently estimates that 210 wild horses call the HMA home. However, the BLM’s unscientifically low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the HMA – the number of horses the agency claims that the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses – is 37-60 horses.
While the BLM notes that the operation is needed because forage is only allocated for 37 wild horses (or 444 Animal Unit Months (AUMs)), but its monitoring data indicates that when the total horse population begins to reach the upper limit of 60 animals (720 AUMs), resource conditions begin to decline, especially in areas near water sources. At the same time, the BLM continues to authorize hundreds of cows to graze in the HMA.
It is time for the BLM to manage wild horse habitat for the wild horses.
This roundup will cost the taxpayers at least $85,050 thousand to just roundup these 189 federally protected wild horses from the HMA. Of that, only eight mares and eight studs are planned for return to the HMA, so the removal will also bring along with it the lifetime cost of approximately $8,650,000 to house the remaining 173 horses for the remainder of their lives in government holding corrals. The contractor for this roundup is Shayne Sampson.
On top of that, the taxpayer foots the bill for federally-subsidized livestock grazing on public lands as well. The federal grazing fee remains at its historic low of $1.35 per animal per month. That’s a steep discount, thanks to the taxpayer subsidies that prop up this federal entitlement program. (Estimates indicate that the overall cost to taxpayers for the federal grazing program could be as much as $500 million annually.
Helicopters are scheduled to fly starting on September 14, 2021. We will update this report as the operation progresses.
September 15, 2021: 27 wild horses were captured on the final day of this operation. There were no deaths.
September 14, 2021: 188 wild horses lost their freedom today and one stallion lost his life. The BLM notes his death as "sudden/acute" but provides no further information.