The BLM Challis Field Office is scheduled to begin gathering 305 wild horses on October 24, 2012. Of the 305 horses gathered, 174 will be removed from the Challis Wild Horse Herd Management Area (CHMA) to maintain the Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 185 horses. The gather is expected to last 6 to 8 days depending on the weather. The CHMA 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.
On September 19, an aerial census counted 359 horses inside and outside the CHMA. Up to 131 of the captured wild horses would be released back to the CHMA. Of these, about 52 would be mares treated with fertility control and about 79 would be stallions or a minimal number of geldings that were released in 2009 to maintain the current 60 percent male/40 percent female sex ratio identified in the 1989 Challis Herd Management Plan that was implemented in 2009.
Wild horses removed from the range will be offered for adoption in Challis, ID beginning December 14, 2012. The horses will also be available for walk-up adoption in the Boise Wild Horse Corrals beginning in January 2013.
Potential impacts of the actions during the gather operations have been analyzed in the Challis Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather Environmental Assessment and Decision Record.
BLM places the highest of priority on the safety of the horses, staff, public and contractors involved in this upcoming gather. Temporary closures to BLM-managed public land will be placed in the areas where the contracted crews will be working to bring the horses into the capture site. BLM is taking care to close only the minimum number of acres necessary to ensure the safety and security of the horses and people working the gather. Three or four capture sites and one holding/sorting facility are identified for temporary closure, totaling about 6,000 acres, or 3.5 percent of the CHMA.
Not all lands identified in the closure notice will be closed for the entire gather. The public will be temporarily excluded only from the actual area of operation, which will vary according to the needs of the gather contractor. Once operations have concluded in a certain area, it will immediately be opened for public use. A map of the temporary closure area(s) is also located HERE.
The public is welcome to attend the gather each day it is in operation. On the first day of the gather, October 24, the public is asked to meet at the Challis Field Office (1151 Blue Mountain Road, Challis) at 6:30 a.m. to travel to the observation area. If interested in attending the gather, please leave BLM a message on their public information line, phone (208) 879-6271. The public is asked to check this line each night for daily departure times and other pertinent information.
For additional gather information, including what you need to know before attending the gather, visitation protocols and an informative video regarding the Challis Wild Horse gather, please visit the Challis Horse Gather webpage.
Image courtesy Idaho Fish and Game/Bureau of Land Management