Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather
The Little Snake Field Office is currently gathering up to 50 excess wild horses from the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area using bait trapping. Mares captured but not removed from the range will be given fertility treatment before they are released back into the range.
Two partner groups, the Sand Wash Action Team and Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary, will help the BLM select and treat wild horses. The young wild horses gathered will go into the GEMS adoption program.
Our partnership with SWAT and GEMS are key to the success of this gather as well as the long-term management of wild horses in the Sand Wash Basin. These groups help us with on-range activities like assisting with gathers and administration of fertility treatment; maintaining fences, trails and springs; signing roads and trails; and reseeding; as well as off-range activities like adoptions and promotional events.
The BLM plans to have a local adoption for these horses with GEMS in the spring. Some horses may be adopted from our Canon City facility or GEMS. If you are interested in adopting a wild horse from this gather or elsewhere, please call 719-269-8500.
In bait-trap gathers, a temporary corral is established around attractive bait to horses, such as hay pellets. At an ideal time, the corral is closed, confining the horses to the corral. Bait trapping is ideal when a small number of horses will be removed.
We anticipate about five or six traps will be needed. Horses to be removed will be transported to holding in Sand Wash. Once about 10 are in holding, they will be transported to the BLM's facility in Canon City, where they will be freeze-marked, vaccinated and tested for disease. Then they will be transported to the GEMS facility. Horses to be released will be injected with fertility treatment and then released as a group, typically within 48 hours of capture.
The horses the BLM and GEMS will select for removal will be three-years-old or younger and will come from mares with other offspring still on the range. The BLM worked with GEMS and SWAT to determine which horses should not be removed from the range for genetic reasons.
Need for the Gather:
We're committed to maintaining healthy horses on healthy public lands, and a key aspect of this commitment is ensuring wild horse populations remain in balance with what the land can sustain. Wild horses don't have any effective predators in this area, so the BLM must supplement natural means with management such as birth control and gathers to keep horses from over-populating.
The current wild horse population in the HMA is about 607 animals, and the target population for the horses is 163-362. At its current population level, the Sand Wash herd is in danger of extreme winter stress and starvation. If we don't conduct a bait gather, increasing herd populations may require us to conduct a larger helicopter gather in the future.