Quick Look at the McCullough Peaks Bait Trap Removal
What? The BLM Cody Field Office will gradually gather and remove excess wild horses from the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Herd Management Area (HMA) using non-helicopter gather techniques.
Where? The Cody Field Office manages the McCullough Peaks HMA, located east of Cody and north of U.S. Highway 14/16/20. The HMA encompasses 109,814 acres of land, including the McCullough Peaks Wilderness Study Area. For more information about the McCullough Peaks HMA, click here.
When? The removal began in mid-January and will continue for two to three weeks. The duration of the gather is largely dependent on weather conditions and may be longer or shorter than originally anticipated. The bait trap removal may continue at intervals, if necessary, through 2018, but only if adult horse numbers grow beyond the upper appropriate management level (AML) for the herd.
Why? Each HMA has its own AML. That is the number of horses that can thrive in a particular area in balance with other resources and uses. When a herd exceeds its AML, it becomes necessary to remove some of the horses to ensure the health of the rangeland, wildlife and the horses themselves.
The AML of the McCullough Peaks HMA is 70 to 140 wild horses and the current population is 153 horses. The use of bait trapping to gradually remove excess horses through 2018 will help maintain a population of approximately 100 adult wild horses in the McCullough Peaks HMA.
What about fertility control? The Cody Field Office has been administering fertility control since 2009, and by way of field darting since spring 2011. The results of the fertility control program are beginning to be realized and should result in a stabilized population in the near future. However, the fertility control aims to level out the population, not reduce it, and currently the population is too large to maintain healthy horses on a healthy ecological landscape.
What happens to the horses that are removed? Horses removed from the McCullough Peaks HMA will be available for adoption in April in Powell. Additional information about the upcoming adoption will be posted as it becomes available.
Those that are not adopted will be cared for in long-term pastures, where they retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.