Challis, Idaho— The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Challis Field Office will begin a wild horse gather in the Challis Herd Management Area (HMA) on or about Nov. 5, 2019. The purpose of the gather is to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within the HMA and is expected to last five to nine days.

The BLM plans to use a helicopter-assisted method to gather approximately 365 wild horses and remove approximately 244 excess wild horses. The mares released back to the range will be treated with fertility control. Approximately 185 wild horses will remain in the HMA once gather operations are complete.

By balancing herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk. The Challis HMA encompasses over 168,700 acres and has an Appropriate Management Level of 185-253 wild horses. The current population is estimated to be around 429 animals in and directly outside of the HMA.

The Bureau’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient and successful wild horse gather operations, while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses, while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with the BLM Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.

All horses identified for removal will be transported to the Bruneau Wild Horse Off-Range Corral facility, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program. Wild horses to receive fertility control vaccines will be held temporarily in the Challis Off-Range Corral Facility before being returned to the HMA.

Members of the public are welcome to view the gather operations, if doing so does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff and observers, or disrupt gather operations. Observers must provide their own transportation, water and food. No public restrooms will be available.

The BLM recommends weather-appropriate footwear and neutral-colored warm clothing. Binoculars and four-wheel drive or other high-clearance vehicles are also strongly recommended. To protect the wild horses and the horse gather operations, no drones will be allowed to be flown in the vicinity of the gather sites.

Bureau of Land Management staff will escort the members of the public to gather observation sites. Those interested in observing on Tuesday, Nov. 5, should call the Challis Wild Horse Gather Info Line and RSVP by leaving a message at (208) 879-6271 by Nov. 2. Due to the topography of the possible viewing locations on public land, the BLM may need to limit the number of vehicles traveling to the site(s). Once gather operations have begun, those wanting to view gather operations must call the Info Line nightly to receive specific instructions on each day’s meeting location and time.

Analysis and effects of the gather were documented in EA # DOI-BLM-ID-1030-2019-0001-EA Challis Herd Management Area Plan Environmental Assessment. The decision to authorize and implement Alternative B was signed on Aug. 21, 2019. The decision record and Environmental Assessment can be accessed at the national NEPA register at:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=178915

Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website at www.blm.gov/idaho/2019-challis-HMA-wild-horse-gather

For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit www.blm.gov/whb.

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