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Wild Horse Roundup Nets Hundreds in Southern Oregon

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015   

LAKEVIEW, Ore. - It's been one week since the Bureau of Land Management started rounding up wild horses east of Lakeview.

Using helicopters, the agency has reached about a third of its goal, capturing close to 450 horses out of a possible 1,500. The BLM says the area is home to about six times more horses than it can support, and that overgrazing is threatening soil stability and sage-grouse habitat.

Gayle Hunt, founder and president of the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, said roundups on public land are inevitable when horse populations become difficult to manage - but she said it shouldn't have gotten to that point.

"Why wasn't there fertility control?" she said. "Why wasn't there selective adoptions, you know - strategic captures, where you have opportunities to perhaps bait-trap, which is a normally far less traumatic way to catch the horse."

Another organization, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, has suggested ranchers don't want their cattle competing for food in this 625-square-mile herd management area. The campaign threatened legal action and was granted daily public access to view the horse-gathering activities.

According to the BLM, it plans to return only about 100 horses to Beatys Butte near Adel, which the agency said is the "low end" of its target management numbers. For the rest, Hunt said, their future may no longer be wild but it isn't always bleak. First, they are branded, wormed and vaccinated.

"They'll do a health check - you know, if there's any problems, whether injury or illness, they're going to address that," she said. "Normally they're separated by gender, sometimes by age. And then, they're put up for adoption."

Most will end up at the BLM wild-horse adoption corrals near Burns, or at Palomino Valley near Reno, Nev.

Critics of the roundup say there already are 50,000 horses and burros in the system, and point out that not all potential adopters have the best intentions for the animals.

The BLM website for roundup updates is blm.gov.


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