With passage of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, Congress found that: "Wild horses are living symbols of the pioneer spirit of the West." In addition, the Secretary was ordered to "manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands." To achieve this balance, the Challis Field Office (CFO) will gather approximately 274 wild horses over a proposed 8 day period beginning October 24, 2012. Of the 274 gathered, 137 excess wild horses from within and outside the Challis Herd Management Area (HMA) would be removed. Up to 137 of the captured wild horses would be released; of these, about 55 would be mares treated with fertility control and about 82 would be stallions or geldings to maintain the current 60/40% sex ratio that was implemented following the 2009 Challis Gather with the overall goal to slow population growth.
The Challis HMA encompasses 154,150 acres of public land in the CFO. The HMA is bordered on the north by the Salmon River, on the west by the East Fork of the Salmon River, on the south by the ridgeline between Herd Creek and Road Creek and on the east by U.S. Highway 93.
The BLM studies each HMA to determine how many wild horses the area can support while providing for other land uses and resource values. The overall capacity of the HMA to support wild horses is called its Appropriate Management Level (AML). Challis has an AML of 185 horses. The CFO manages the HMA through monitoring vegetation studies, census flights and gather activities.
Since the Act's passage in 1971, BLM has placed more than 230,000 horses into private care. The horses gathered from the Challis Herd Management Area will be available for adoption at the Challis Wild Horse Corrals in December.
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