CEDAR CITY – The Bureau of Land Management is looking to conduct a five-year research project on wild horses that Southern Utah officials say may lead to more improved management of the herds than seen in years past.
The BLM through its Fillmore and Cedar City field offices is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment for a wild horse gather and research project that would be conducted on horse behavior and ecology in the Conger and Frisco herd management areas.
The research would look into behavioral effects of gelding, population dynamics, fertility, reproductive rates, recruitment rates, age-specific survival and mortality, habitat selection, movements and habitat range among other things.
The study would be done on both individual and population levels and in coordination with the United States Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center and Colorado State University.
“The researchers will look at the wild horse populations before the research and compare them to where they are afterwards and they will use that research and those studies to manage them better in the future. The research could lead to substantial improvements in the herds and the range,” Chad Hunter, BLM range manager and wild horse specialist, said.
The Conger Mountain HMA, located about 20 miles northeast of Garrison in Millard County, is approximately 151,506 acres. The Frisco HMA comprises about 60,367 acres and is located in Beaver County, about 15 miles northwest of Milford.
Herd management areas are public lands under the supervision of the BLM that are managed for the primary but not exclusive benefit of free-roaming wild horses and burros. Each HMA has a set appropriate management level that determines the number of horses the land can sustain. It is dictated by the forage and water availability in the area.
The environmental assessment analyzes a proposal to gather and remove excess wild horses and conduct research for a period of five years. In that research, officials may be able to garner information that will allow them to reduce and maintain the appropriate management levels to the numbers allowed by law. However, Hunter said, during the research period, there will be no gathers or move to reduce numbers in the HMAs.
“Some people support the research and, even though they know the populations won’t be reduced during this time, when they realize it might help us to better manage the herds they generally are OK with what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Others don’t support it at all and that’s OK but we believe it will help us to improve and manage the HMAs better than has been done in the past.”
Currently in the Frisco area, the estimated number of wild horses come to 244, approximately 144 above the legally-imposed AMLs. In the Conger area, the number of wild horses are even higher above the AMLs with numbers as much as 285, around 185 more than what the population allows on the range, Hunter said.
The proposed gather in July would reduce Frisco by 30-60 head and the Conger area by 40-80.
The environmental assessment, including maps, is available online at the BLM website or on the eplanning website; search for project name “Population Control Research Wild Horse for the Conger and Frisco Herd Management Areas.”
How to comment
Written comments will be accepted by letter or email until May 17. The BLM notes the most useful comments are those containing new technical or scientific information relevant to the proposed action. Comments should be as specific as possible.
Comments that contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process. Please reference “Population Control Research Wild Horse for the Conger and Frisco Herd Management Areas” when submitting comments.
Written comments may be mailed or emailed using the following:
BLM Fillmore Field Office
Attn: Fillmore Field Office Manager
95 East 500 North
Fillmore, UT 84631
Before including an address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in any comments, be aware the entire comment — including personal identifying information — may be made publicly available at any time.
Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.
The BLM will not consider anonymous comments.
All submissions from organizations and businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety.
For additional project-specific information, please contact the Fillmore Field Office at 435-743-3100.
Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf, or TDD, may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.
About the BLM
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.
The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In fiscal year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.
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