In support of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) mission to sustainably manage wild horses and burros on public rangelands, the BLM Rawlins and Lander field offices plan to begin gathering and removing wild horses on or after Oct. 6, 2020, from the Red Desert Wild Horse Complex in southwestern Wyoming. This continues a gather that initially began in August 2018 but concluded early when off-range corrals reached maximum capacity.
The Red Desert Complex, which includes the Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek and Stewart Creek herd management areas, is located in Sweetwater, Fremont, Carbon and Natrona counties west and south of Wyoming Highway 287.
The BLM estimates that the Red Desert Complex’s population is approximately 3,000 wild horses, while the appropriate management level is 480–724 horses. In addition, the horses are moving outside of their established herd management areas and causing impacts in areas not identified for their management.
The BLM will remove approximately 2,400 horses to return the population to within the appropriate management level. Following the gather, select mares and stallions will be returned to the complex to ensure genetic variability and to preserve the New World Iberian Genotype present in the complex. All mares returned will be treated with fertility control.
While the gather is underway, public lands will remain open unless closures are deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Because of low-flying aircraft, all drone use will be prohibited within 20 miles of the immediate gather area. Occasional road closures may also be necessary to permit movement of wild horses during gather operations.
Opportunities are available for the public to observe gather operations, provided that doing so does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff and observers, or disrupt gather operations. The BLM will escort the public to gather observation sites located on public lands.
Participants must provide their own transportation, water and food. The BLM recommends a four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. The following COVID-19 guidelines will apply:
- Always stay at least six feet from others. Avoid gathering with others outside of your household.
- Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as restrooms will not be available.
- Do not attend the gather if you are sick, recently exposed (within 14 days) to someone with COVID-19 or are not feeling well.
Those interested in participating must notify Sarah Beckwith at email@example.com or 307-347-5207.
Gathered wild horses will be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. Animals not adopted will be cared for in off-range pastures, where they retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act. The BLM is committed to managing and protecting these living symbols of the historic and pioneering spirit of the West and will continue to care for and seek good homes for animals that have been removed from the range.
For more information and to view daily reports once the gather is underway, visit www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/gathers-and-removals/wyoming/2020-Red-Desert-Complex, or contact Tim Novotny at 307-328-4200 or Clay Stott at 307-332-8400.