ePlanning DOI-BLM-CO-S080-2018-0015-EA (Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range Gather)  
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07/25/2018 07:29:47 MDT
On July 24th the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) approved a wild horse gather to remove excess wild horses from the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range (LBCWHR) using bait and/or water trapping methods with an option of using the helicopter method if necessary.  Gather operations would be conducted in future years as horse populations and range conditions warrant, and authorization to gather excess horses has been received. For this gather in 2018, approximately 60 excess wild horses would be gathered and removed. In future years, the number may vary depending on populations and conditions on the range.

Current records kept by the BLM with assistance of the local volunteer group show a current population as of May 2018 of 176 adult horses and 8 foals born thus far in 2018 for a total of 184 horses. These records are based on year-round ground surveys and have proven to be accurate in the past.  

The BLM has measured heavy and severe utilization of vegetation forage species in the upper and lower elevation areas of the LBCWHR and has determined excess wild horses are present on the range. The use patterns of the wild horses within the LBCWHR have not shifted for a majority of the population since the last gather and heavy utilization continues in the same areas. The gather is estimated to begin in early fall 2018 but may occur earlier if rangeland conditions are poor due to over utilization or drought. Gather operations may extend into 2019 if scheduling requires. 
The proposed action was designed to protect rangelands from deterioration from an overpopulation of wild horses and help maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationships. The initial method of capture would be water and/or bait-trapping using temporary traps of portable panels throughout selected sites within the LBCWHR. The helicopter method may be used if the bait/water trapping is ineffective in capturing horses or dry conditions warrant removal quickly for maintaining wild horse health or prevention of declining rangeland health.  After capture in the trap, excess wild horses would be sorted and transported to a temporary holding facility in Grand Junction, Colorado.  From there wild horses will be transported to the Canon City holding facility where they would be processed for adoption. Adoptions for captured horses will occur in Grand Junction and may occur in other areas of Colorado.    

Since 1982, the BLM has worked closely with non-profit partner, Friends of the Mustangs (FOM), to monitor and support the wild horses of the Little Book Cliffs. Through a cadre of dedicated volunteers, FOM helps the BLM monitor the population and condition of the range, support adoption events and gathers, keep accurate genetic records, and build and maintain range improvement projects such as springs and fences. More information on FOM is available here: http://www.friendsofthemustangs.org/