Friday, January 29, 2021

A few pretty horses: BLM, critics butt heads over Idaho mustang management - Full Article

By Colin Tiernan (Twin Falls) Times-News
January 27, 2021 06:00 AM

This is some of the most desolate country in America.

It’s a land of brown-yellow grass, buttes and little else. This is a place where the few roads are gravel at best and often rugged two-tracks. There aren’t even any significant natural water sources out here.

But this unforgiving Idaho desert is home to one of the state’s six wild horse herds.

Last summer, the Bureau of Land Management gathered up most of the small Saylor Creek herd, and removed the horses from the range to trim down the population. On a cold, gray day in November, the BLM took 11 of the Saylor Creek mustangs out of Boise corrals and drove them back home.

The animals stood quiet and calm in their trailers right before their release onto the range. When the gates opened, they leaped out and huddled up. Then, almost in unison, they started running. They cut across the rolling desert in a short line of browns, grays and tans, shrinking into the distance.

Mustangs might inspire more passion and controversy than any other American animal. Many rural westerners, especially those connected to the livestock industry, want to see their numbers dramatically reduced and say they’re causing both ecological and economic harm. Wild horse advocates criticize the BLM’s management policies and argue any negative impacts caused by mustangs pale in comparison to those caused by cattle.

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