Herd Size Management and Sustainability

This innovative management approach replaces the infrequent and larger gather activities conducted in the past, with annual ground-based gathers and selective removals, coupled with fertility control application in mares.

The goal of this approach is to preserve a healthy wild horse population within the established AML (100-250 horses), reduce the annual reproduction rate through temporary contraception, and train and place into private care most horses removed from the range in the future.

As the horses will need to be gathered annually for fertility control and for selections for training, area ranch families will work with BLM to develop water and/or bait trap sites in which horses will become accustomed and enter with much less stress.

“As soon as I heard about the diverse working group in BB to discuss a system-wide solution to managing wild horses on the range, I wanted to get involved! I knew the collaborative decision-making process, facilitated by professionals experienced in conflict management, could work. Over 40 years working in corporate America, I had facilitated 100’s of diverse and divided working groups who tackled complex and seemingly impossible situations, and after much hard work and diligence, could find solutions that all participants could buy into, and say: “good enough.” The trick to success? Everyone who participated agreed to (1) a higher order goal, (manage wild horses on range, while maintaining stable herd size (birth and mortality roughly equal); and (2) to show up, be respectful of one another, listen, and speak one’s own truth. Stay open and expect a miracle!

My role was to cheerlead and advocate for the process. Most of my interactions were from the sidelines and among individual members. A couple times when a key voice wanted to drop out because they felt disrespected and not listened to, I argued to stay in the process.

My sense is the process was not perfect for a number of reasons: some members showed up with hidden agendas, some had trouble staying open to ideas not their own, trust of others was often low (“they’re just in this for the money,” etc.)

So, imagine my delight when a year or two later, I learned that a sensible plan was in place, and being implemented!


Wild Horse and Burro Volunteer Resource Center