By Bradley W. Parks (OPB)
Bend, Ore. May 7, 2021 2:25 p.m.
The agency plans to shrink the Big Summit wild horse herd by capturing horses and putting them up for adoption. Horse advocates worry this puts the herd at risk of collapse.
The U.S. Forest Service will reduce the wild horse population on a 27,000-acre range east of Prineville to a level horse advocates say could lead to the herd’s elimination.
The most recent count of wild horses on the Big Summit Wild Horse Territory of the Ochoco National Forest puts the population around 130, but the Forest Service estimates it closer to 150. (Counts for the past two years have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The management plan approved Friday will cut the herd down to 47-57 horses total over the next five years.
“We want to make sure that we manage this herd for its genetic viability,” said Kassidy Kern, public affairs officer for the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. “We want to make sure it’s a healthy herd...”