Idaho’s Herd Management Areas
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; Four Mile, Sands Basin, Black Mountain and Hardtrigger. The Saylor Creek HMA lies within the Twin Falls District and the Challis HMA lies within Idaho Falls District. These HMAs allow the horses to roam and graze freely within each HMA. 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).
Each Herd Management Area has an Appropriate Management Level (AML) that states the minimum and maximum number of animals that can inhabit an area. Appropriate Management Levels have been determined through rangeland monitoring studies, taking into consideration other natural resources such as vegetation and wildlife, and other uses such as livestock grazing and recreation on the public lands.
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 adoptions after gathers to find good homes for Idaho's wild horses. The BLM sometimes conducts adoptions across the state to help adopt wild horses gathered from herd areas in other western states.