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CHALLIS — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management Challis Field Office will begin to gather wild horses in the Challis Herd Management Area on or around Tuesday for five to nine days. The purpose of the gather is to reduce the overpopulation of wild horses within the area.

The BLM plans to use a helicopter-assisted method to gather about 365 wild horses and remove about 244 excess wild horses. The mares released back to the range will be treated with fertility control. Approximately 185 wild horses will remain in the herd management area once the gather operations are complete.

By balancing herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk. The Challis Herd Management Area encompasses more than 168,700 acres and has an Appropriate Management Level of 185 to 253 wild horses. The current population is estimated to be around 429 animals in and directly outside of the area.

The Bureau’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient and successful wild horse gathering operations, while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with its Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.

All horses identified for removal will be transported to the Bruneau Wild Horse Off-Range Corral facility where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program. Wild horses to receive fertility control vaccines will be held temporarily in the facility before being returned to the management area.

Members of the public are welcome to view the gather operations — if doing so does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff and observers or disrupt gather operations. Observers must provide their own transportation, water and food. No public restrooms will be available. Wear weather-appropriate footwear and neutral-colored warm clothing. Binoculars and four-wheel-drive- or other high-clearance vehicles are also strongly recommended. To protect the wild horses and the horse gather operations, no drones will be allowed to be flown in the vicinity of the gather sites.

BLM staff will escort members of the public to gather observation sites. Those interested in observing Tuesday should call the Challis Wild Horse Gather Info Line and RSVP by leaving a message at 208-879-6271 by Saturday. Due to the topography of the possible viewing locations on public land, the BLM may need to limit the number of vehicles traveling to the sites. Once gather operations have begun, those wanting to view them must call the info line nightly to receive specific instructions on each day’s meeting location and time.

Analysis and effects of the gather were documented in Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-ID-1030-2019-0001-EA. The decision to authorize and implement Alternative B was signed Aug. 21. The decision record and environmental assessment can be accessed at eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=178915.

Gather reports and additional information will be posted at blm.gov/idaho/2019-challis-HMA-wild-horse-gather.

For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, go to blm.gov/whb.

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