2023-2024 McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Bait Trap Gather
Purpose of Gather:
Despite the continued use of Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) since 2011, the McCullough Peaks wild horse population increases at an average of 2% annually, necessitating occasional, small bait trap gathers.
The purpose of the gather is to return the population to the high end of its appropriate management level while maintaining genetic diversity; selectively remove a portion of horses for placement into the adoption program; and capture, treat and release horses for application of fertility treatment. The gather will allow older horses to remain in the McCullough Peaks HMA.
This bait trap gather also gives us the opportunity to reset the sex ratio of the herd to a more favorable ratio. Currently, the sex ratio of the herd is 40:60 (stallions:mares), perhaps because PZP-treated mares generally have a longer lifespan than stallions. Mares that are treated with fertility control have better overall health, as they do not experience the biological stress of reproduction, foaling and lactation as frequently as untreated mares. Because of this, McCullough Peaks horses have an average lifespan of over 25 years, five years longer than the average lifespan of a wild horse.
Details of Gather:
The BLM Cody Field Office is conducting a wild horse bait trap gather operation in the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse HMA, just east of Cody. The BLM is using temporary bait traps consisting of a series of corral panels stocked with food and mineral tubs; no helicopters will be used.
The BLM plans to gather approximately 80 wild horses and remove approximately 35 to reach the high Appropriate Management Level of 140 horses in the HMA. Operations could continue into March.
Mares due for their regularly scheduled PZP fertility control booster will also receive those during the gather operation.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Learn more about the bait-trapping process here.
Because of the nature of the bait trap method, wild horses are reluctant to approach trap sites when there is too much activity; therefore, only essential gather operation personnel will be allowed at the trap sites, and the spur roads leading to the trap sites, during operations.
Additionally, the recreational use of drones, which could disrupt horse movement, will not be allowed near the trap sites.
All horses identified for removal will be transported to the Rock Springs Wild Horse Holding Facility, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for adoption. Information about how to adopt a McCullough Peaks wild horse will be posted at www.blm.gov/whb in early 2024 and shared via news release and social media.
The McCullough Peaks HMA is located east of Cody in Park County in northwest Wyoming.
The current population of the herd is 175* horses based on direct counts in 2023, while the appropriate management level is 70–140 horses. The BLM is conducting the gather under the McCullough Peaks HMA Bait Trap Gather Environmental Assessment. The environmental assessment, decision record and other associated documents are available at the BLM National NEPA Register.
While mares of the herd have been treated with fertility control since 2011, herd growth continues at approximately 2% annually. The reasons for this are that (1) several mares have not responded to PZP treatments and (2) the BLM allows each mare to foal once to provide genetic diversity to the herd. The BLM will continue to apply PZP but may implement the use of GonaCon-Equine on mares over the age of 13 that have already contributed to the genetic diversity of the herd and are not responding to PZP.
Learn more about the McCullough Peaks HMA at https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/herd-management-areas/wyoming/mccullough.
*175 reflects the most recent direct population count, a decrease from the previous count of 181, following the deaths of 6 horses from natural causes over the summer/fall.
Animals Gathered: 37
Animals Shipped: 9
Animals Returned to Home Range: 27
-Sudden / Acute: 1
-Pre-existing / Chronic: 0
*Scroll to the bottom of this page for details in the “Daily Gather Reports"