Idaho's public lands are home to over 775 wild horses in six herd management areas (HMAs). Four HMAs are located in the Boise District, one in the Twin Falls District, and one in the Challis Field Office. The BLM studies each HMA to determine how many wild horses the area can support while also providing for other land uses and resource values. The overall capacity of the HMA to support wild horses is called its Appropriate Management Level (AML).
Idaho's wild horses are descendants of domestic horses that escaped to or were turned out on the public lands prior to passage of the Horse and Burro Act in 1971. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, many farmers and ranchers released their animals onto public lands because they couldn't afford to feed them. Idaho does not have any wild burro herds, but sometimes, wild burros are offered for adoption at Idaho's Adoption Facilities.
Wild horses have few natural predators and herd populations can double every 5 to 6 years. The BLM periodically gathers and removes wild horses to maintain each herd at its AML and especially to ensure horse and rangeland health. BLM employees who gather the horses care a great deal for the animals and do their best to ensure the safety and health of Idaho’s Living Legends.
Gathered animals are made available to the public through the National Adopt-A-Horse and Burro Program. BLM-Idaho holds regular adoptions across the state to find good homes for animals gathered from Idaho's rangelands. The BLM also conducts satellite adoptions each year in Idaho to help place wild horses gathered from herd areas in other western states.