ePlanning DOI-BLM-UT-W020-2015-0017-EA (Population Control Research Wild Horse Gather for the Conger and Frisco Herd Management Areas)  
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11/13/2015 16:14:48 MST
Population Control Research (Also on ENBB)
The BLM Fillmore and Cedar City Field Offices propose to gather and remove excess wild horses from the Conger and Frisco Herd Management Areas for the purposes of a proposed population research study to be conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Fort Collins Science Center and Colorado State University (CSU).  The BLM has focused population control on the females through contraception and this proposal is to study the effects of removing males from the reproductive population through gelding as an alternative potential management tool. There is no published information on the effects of this on wild horse behavior, range use, or whether there would be a measureable impact on population growth.  A recent publication from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward, discusses several methods of population control both in females and males.  Gelding is one method discussed in the report and states that “the effect that gelding a portion of the males in a herd would have on reproduction and behavior could not be predicted at the time this report was prepared” (NAS Report. 2013. Male-Directed Methods of Fertility Control. pg. 123).

The USGS and CSU submitted to the BLM a Proposal for Research Effort “Evaluating behavior and ecology of geldings among a breeding population”.  The Conger and Frisco HMAs were selected based on similar herd sizes, population demographics, habitat, topography and vegetation types.  The Conger HMA would be used as the treatment population and the Frisco HMA would be the control population.  The two HMAs would be studied simultaneously for a period of five years.  The first year would be to gather and remove excess wild horses above appropriate management levels in both HMAs to achieve a base line population that is the same in both HMAs which will be approximately 100 animals.  Radio collars and radio tags would be placed on 30 adult males and 30 adult females in each HMA.  Hair samples would be collected during the gathers for paternity analyses.  The second year of the study would include a gather on the Conger HMA and treating up to 75% of the males three years of age and older and then releasing back into the HMA.  The Frisco HMA would have monitoring of marked individuals, presence of foals, and other population parameters conducted along with aerial surveys to assess population sizes on both HMAs.  Years three, four and five would be monitoring and locating marked individuals for survival, presence of foals and other population parameters along with aerial surveys conducted to assess population sizes on both HMAs.  At the conclusion of the study, the USGS/CSU would produce their findings in a report to the BLM.
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