Goal of Roundup:
The BLM plans to gather approximately 150 wild horses from the Winter Ridge Herd Area (HA) beginning September 9, 2011. As outlined in the 2008 Vernal Resource Management Plan, all wild horses gathered in this area will be permanently removed from the HA. The Winter Ridge HA encompasses approximately 46,500 acres of public and private land, within Grand and Uintah Counties in Utah. The HA is approximately 90 miles south of Vernal, Utah. Horses gathered from the Winter Ridge HA will be shipped to the Delta Wild Horse Corrals in Delta., Utah. Due to the historical outbreaks of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) in the Uinta Basin area, all of the animals gathered will be tested for its presence before being moved from the gather site.
Details of the Roundup:
Members of the public are welcome to view the gather operations daily once they begin, so long as the safety of the animals, staff, and observers is not jeopardized, and operations are not disrupted. During the public observation days the interested public may participate in an escorted tour and will meet at 5:30 a.m. at the Pelican Café in Ouray, Utah. Current plans call for the Winter Ridge gather to operate September 10, through September 14, 2011, although weather conditions and available resources may affect the projected schedule. Participants must provide their own transportation, water and lunches. The BLM recommends that the public dress for harsh field conditions. Binoculars as well as four wheel drive vehicles are strongly recommended.
Animals removed from the Winter Ridge area will be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. To learn more about the program or to obtain an adoption application, visit the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro website at www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov.
For BLM news releases and statements issued about the Winter Ridge gather, check our Newsroom.
The Winter Ridge HA encompasses approximately 46,500 acres of public and private land, within Grand and Uintah Counties in Utah. The HA is approximately 90 miles south of Vernal, Utah. The elevation ranges from about 7000 feet on the north boundary to about 7500 feet on the south boundary along the Uintah and Grand County line.
The HA is generally characterized by flat open ridge tops and Sleep canyons. Vegetation varies from riparian willow/sedge community in the perennial water drainages to pinyon and juniper (PJ) woodlands and open sagebrush and perennial grass parks on the uplands. Douglas-fir and browse species are found on the steep slopes of the ridge.
About half of the water in the HA falls within the growing season (March to July 1) and half falls during the winter months as snowfall. Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer and can reach lows of -20 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. Because of the high elevation of the area, deep snow (24-40 inches annually) can accumulate during the winter months, putting the wild horse herd in this area at risk.
The 2008 Vernal Field Office (VFO) Resource Management Plan Record of Decision (ROD) did not establish an Appropriate Management Level (AML) for wild horses within the HA. Further, the ROD did not allocate Animal Unit Months (AUMs) for wild horses. The ROD determined that the existing free roaming horses throughout the Winter Ridge HA were in excess and would be removed.
The current estimated population of the herd is between 120 and 150 animals. Estimates are based on an aerial population inventory conducted in April of 2010. Horse numbers have increased an average of 26% per year since the HA was last surveyed in 2004.
Due to the historical outbreaks of EIA in the Uinta Basin area, all wild horses captured will be tested within capture area for presence of EIA. In consultation and cooperation with the Utah State Veterinarian, should any animal test positive for EIA, all of the gathered wild horses would be held in quarantine for a 45-day period. In accordance with Utah law, any horse that tests positive for EIA will be put down in a humane manner. Their remains would be buried to a minimum depth of 6 feet, with 4 feet of soil on top, in the vicinity of the holding facility. At the end of the quarantine, all the remaining gathered wild horses would be retested. This process would continue until the State Veterinarian determines that the remaining wild horses are EIA-free.
For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 866-468-7826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.