Ep #18: Saving the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Interview with Christine KmanOctober 23, 2023
Ep #19: The McCullough Peaks HerdNovember 6, 2023
Time is Running Out for the McCullough Peaks Wild Horses By Carol J. Walker
Despite over 6000 comments from the public, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to remove 41 horses starting on November 15 from the McCullough Peaks Herd, one of the most beloved wild herds, visited by people all over the country and all over the world. This is a very small ageing herd, with only 175 adult horses, 1/3 of whom are over 15 and 22 of whom are over 20 years old. Many may die over this winter, and bringing the herd numbers down that far may permanently harm the genetic viability of the herd. Dr. Gus Cothren, the leading geneticist on wild horses has said that 150 breeding age adults must be in a herd at minimum to ensure genetic viability. Yet because there has been a birth control program with PZP, Porcine Zona Pellucida, used on the mares in this herd since 2011, many mares may already be sterile. The herd is on 110,000 acres in Park County, Wyoming outside of the town of Cody.
The BLM used to tout this herd as the shining example of using birth control to keep wild horse numbers in check – yet now they want to remove horses instead of continuing with their successful program that has kept a 2% annual increase in population. They plan to use a new drug, GonaCon on mares who are over 13 that have foaled, and GonaCon has been proven to sterilize wild mares. An there have been no studies done on the effect on the mares of using GonaCon after years of PZP treatments.
Livestock permitees of which there are two in McCullough Peaks, with a total of 6 grazing allotments, are the major drivers behind this roundup. There are 6191 Animal Unit Months allowed on these allotments which works out to about 516 wild horses grazing year round. The BLM did not present an analysis of the effects of wild horse grazing in the herd Management Area as they should have in the Environmental Assessment, the NEPA process.
The BLM says they will only remove younger horses, those under 5, leaving the old horses on the range. Yet there are only 48 horses under 5, so they will be taking 85% of the horses in that age group – entire generations. There are also three mares with foals under 2 months old and two mares who may foal soon. I am very concerned about these little ones getting injured, especially since they intend to try remote bait trapping, where BLM staff can operate the camera and trap remotely but the office is over an hour away and winter conditions may make a quick response to a problem or an injury impossible.
We have been told that the horses captured will be sent to the BLM holding facility in Rock Springs, WY for processing and adoption. Hopefully this is true and they will not send them to a private facility where the public cannot see them.
Removing these horses from the range is cruel, pointless and a detriment to the long term viability of the herd. These horses need your help now!
What can you do to help at this point?
You are welcome to use any of the information I have presented and if you want to look at the BLM’s Record of Decision you can go here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2022012/510
Sign the petition to stop the roundup here:
Call, fax or email the Director of the BLM, Tracy Stone Manning:
Call the Cody Chamber of Commerce and tell them you think the horses are a huge reason you visit or want to visit Cody and tell them how much you spend or would spend in local businesses:
Cody Chamber of Commerce: 307-587-2777, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact any media you can think of to do a story on the horses and why they should stay in their homes.
Share on social media, check back with Wild Hoofbeats and Wild at Heart Images on Facebook for updates.