Federal agency proposes roundups that cap wild horse populations

09/16/2012 12:00 AM

09/15/2012 10:35 PM

Federal officials will gather more than 230 wild horses from ranges in northeast California and northwest Nevada if a proposed plan is adopted.

A Bureau of Land Management environmental assessment proposes removing 138 wild horses from these ranges in an effort to lower the population to 109 animals, said Jeff Fontana, a spokesman for the agency in Susanville.

The remaining horses targeted for roundup, half mares and half stallions, would be released back onto the range after the mares have been treated with a fertility control drug, he said.

The public has until Oct. 10 to comment on the Buckhorn and Copppersmith HMAs Wild Horse Population Management Plan, which is available at www.blm.gov/ca/surprise. Those who prefer the document in written or computer disk form can request copies from the BLM Surprise Field Office at (530) 279-6101, Fontana said.

The goal of the roundup is to maintain a herd in the Coppersmith area of between 58 and 85 horses, and 50 to 75 horses in the Buckhorn area. BLM estimates the current wild horse population at 247 animals within the two areas.

The horses are consuming up to three times the amount of forage allocated to them and causing damage to riparian and wetland areas, Fontana said. The environmental assessment discusses the environmental effects of several alternatives, including use of fertility control and the consequences of taking no action.

The gathering is scheduled to take place between 2012 and 2015, according to the plan.

Horses removed from the range would be offered for public adoption in the BLM's Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro Program.

– Jane Braxton Little

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