This checkerboard wild horse removal is not a population management action related to appropriate management levels. Instead, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, Section 4 requires that the BLM remove wild horses from private land if requested by the land owner. This removal also complies with the court-ordered 2013 Consent Decree between the BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association which directed that all wild horses be removed from checkerboard lands within the HMAs. Not removing all wild horses from the checkerboard would result in non-compliance with the Act and Consent Decree.
The estimated wild horse population in the Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas (HMAs) and within the checkerboard portion of each HMA is based on statistically corrected population numbers gathered during simultaneous double-count census flights with the US Geological Survey in April 2014. However, these population estimates are not intended to be the minimum or maximum number of wild horses removed from the checkerboard portion of each HMA.
Removal of all wild horses from checkerboard lands began on September 15. Appeals and motions delayed removal operations, allowing more wild horses to move across the fluid boundary between solid block public lands and the checkerboard in preparation for winter and in search of water; thus, the population estimate for the checkerboard was surpassed by the number of wild horses actually removed.
Removed wild horses will be sent to BLM holding facilities in Canon City, Colorado and Rock Springs, Wyoming, and prepared for adoption. The wild horses will be available for adoption at the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility, the Mantle Adoption and Training Facility in Wheatland, the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton, the Wild Horse Inmate Program in Canon City and through the BLM's online adoptions.
Observation Opportunities and Tips
To participate in public observation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 p.m. the day prior. An email will be sent to observers by 7:30 p.m. with a time and place to meet the next morning, if conditions allow. Please call or text 307-315-0612 if you have any questions.
Public observation is dependent upon access, location, operational activity and weather. Media, please review the Media Access Guidelines.
Safety is our first priority. The BLM is committed to providing as much public access to the removal as possible as long as participants do not disrupt operations or create conditions that jeopardize the safety of the animals, observers, contractors or BLM staff.
Since the removal is entirely within the checkerboard of mixed public and private land, observation opportunities will be limited to locations and facilities located on public land.
BLM staff will escort members of the public on observation days to designated areas from which to view operations safely. Observers must stay in these areas.
Inclement weather, operations on or across private land or location/equipment moving days will cancel observation for that day. Cancellations will often not be known before the meeting time.
Observers must provide their own four-wheel drive transportation. A full tank of gas, good tires and carpooling are strongly recommended. Observers cannot be transported in government vehicles.
Parking may be limited at some gather locations. Be prepared to hike into some observation locations over occasionally arduous terrain.
Be prepared for weather extremes. Dress appropriately and in earth tones. Sturdy boots, sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray and a hat are highly recommended for the warmer months. Insulated coveralls/pants, heavy coats, winter boots, scarves, hats and gloves are recommended for the colder months.
Because of the fluidity of operations, be prepared for the possibility of waiting hours for any activity or wild horses.
There are no amenities or facilities, including restrooms.
Cell service is very limited or nonexistent.
Observers must provide their own refreshments.
Binoculars and a camera with a telephoto lens are handy.