The young horses will be bait-trapped and placed in the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary (GEMS) training and adoption program, and fertility control treatments will be administered to any mares being released back to the range.
BLM has named rapid, unhealthy population growth as the reasoning behind the decision. The agency has stated that it manages the area for up to 362 wild horses, but the current population exceeds 600, a number that poses a serious risk to the area’s ecological balance.
BLM will work with the Sand Wash Advocacy Team (SWAT), a partner group, to identify horses to be placed into the adoption program. SWAT members will also work to identify mares that can be treated with the contraceptive vaccine porcine zona pellucida (PZP), which delays fertilization, and released back to the range.
“The BLM is committed to maintaining a healthy wild horse population in Sand Wash over the long-term,” said BLM Little Snake Field Manager Bruce Sillitoe. “This small gather and fertility treatment will help keep their habitat healthy, which is key to keeping the wild horses healthy.”
The decision and associated environmental assessment are available here.