The Bureau of Land Management responds to allegations it mistreated a foal during a gather.
According to a statement from the federal agency, BLM is committed to using humane acceptable handling methods when gathering wild horses and burros. In some instances, animals may need to be restrained temporarily, which may include flanking the animal to put it on the ground and avoid injuring its legs. Animals that were restrained are immediately checked by a veterinarian and marked for future identification and follow-up care at the facility.
During gather operations at the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area on July 1, a foal unintentionally became separated from the trap by a barbed wire fence. Bringing the foal over the fence with a rider would have posed an undue safety risk to the animal and gather personnel. Additionally, the rocky terrain and vegetation prevented bringing a truck and trailer to the foal. For these reasons, it was determined that the safest way to bring the foal into the trap was to restrain the animal and transport it using a UTV.
The foal was immediately examined on site by a veterinarian, transported to the BLM Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center in Reno, Nevada, and examined again after its arrival at the facility. The foal sustained no injuries and BLM staff continue to monitor the foal.
The Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area encompasses approximately 131,861 acres of public land and private lands. The appropriate management level is 188 to 314 wild horses. A helicopter survey conducted April 27, 2022, documented 541 wild horses within and directly outside of the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area, nearly two times above the high end of the established AML.
The Black Rock Field Office staff and contractor plan to gather approximately 383 wild horses, remove approximately 353 excess wild horses, and treat up to 30 mares with GonaCon-Equine, a population suppression fertility control vaccine. The treated mares will be released back to the range.