BLM Begins Winter Wild Horse Gather

A roundup is under way to reduce two overpopulated herds of wild horses in eastern Sweetwater County, Wyo.

The roundup started Friday and is expected to take four to five weeks. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to capture 1,760 horses from the two herds, which together have about 2,200 animals.

The goal is to make available for adoption 1,399 of the captured horses. The BLM also plans to give a birth-control drug to about 200 mares and return those horses to the wild.

A member of a wild-horse advocacy group said the wintertime roundup could cause the horses to become wet and fall ill. Ginger Kathrens, volunteer executive director of the Cloud Foundation Inc., also said snow can cause the horses to fall while running during the roundup.

"You can't not expect to have some slips and falls and potential broken legs from the bad footing if it's muddy or snowy or wet or whatever," she said. "It's very unusual in a cold climate to run any horse."

Alan Shepherd, leader of the BLM horse and burro program in Wyoming, said the agency always is concerned about horse health during roundups.

"Any time we gather ... there's always a chance of a horse getting hurt," he said. "But our contractor is very, very knowledgeable about catching horses and how to treat them right."

He said horses are led into traps more slowly during the winter than during the summer, to help prevent them from slipping or overheating.

"Like with any animal worked during wintertime, they're going to sweat a bit, but we try our best to avoid all those types of risks," he said.

Wyoming's population of wild horses has risen to as many as 7,000, more than double the BLM's target management level of 3,263 animals statewide.

Wyoming has 16 horse herd management areas. Most of Wyoming's wild horses are in the southwestern part of the state.

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The Associated Press

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