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State Herd Area: Sheepshead (OR)

The Heath Creek-Sheepshead wild horse herd management areas are located in the vicinity of the Sheepshead Mountains in southeast Oregon. The HMAs cover over 200,000 combined acres and is essentially a high desert area ranging from 4,300 to 6,300 feet in elevation. Winters are moderately cold and summers are hot and dry causing dusty conditions typical of high desert or semi-desert areas. In the spring months, winds sweep across the land evaporating soil moisture and surface water.

Precipitation averages approximately 7 to 9 inches per year and occurs during the late fall, winter, and spring months. There are no perennial streams in the HMA but several large ephemeral drainages are present. There are no large lakes or reservoirs, although there are several small, natural, cool temperature springs and a few stock ponds. Vegetation consists primarily of big sagebrush, Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass as well as cheatgrass at the lower elevations.

Wildlife in the area include; pronghorn antelope, mule deer, kit fox, various rodents native to eastern Oregon, rabbits, coyote, badger, bobcat and some upland birds, chukars, sagehens and doves. A variety of small mammals, reptiles and non-game animals common to southern Oregon can be found throughout the area.

The Southeast Oregon Resource Management plan proposes that the Sheepshead HMA of the Vale District and Heath
Creek-Sheepshead HMA of the Burns District be combined as there are limited barriers to wild horse movement between the two HMAs. Appropriate Management Level for the Heath Creek-Sheepshead HMA is from 61 to 102, while Sheepshead HMA is 100-200 head. Total AML for both areas is 161-302 head.

Wild horses of all colors are found within the two HMAs. Most are of saddle type conformation, showing influence of thoroughbred ancestry. Most mature horses are 14 to 15.2 hands and weigh 950 to 1,050 pounds. Major colors in the herd are sorrel, bay, black and a few paints and buckskins.

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