Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Group opposes planned wild-horse roundup

Wild Love seeks support in valley

Express Staff Writer

In response to a planned horse gather and removal of the Challis wild horse herd later this month, Wood River Valley residents are protesting what they call “inhumane” treatment of the animals.

Ketchum resident Jo Howard was out in front of the Ketchum Post Office on Friday, lobbying for signatures in support of what she said was a more “humane plan” for horse management.

Howard was supporting a nonprofit organization called Wild Love, an organization founded by Seattle-based artist Andrea Maki in 2010. Maki visited the Sun Valley region in 2010, then traveled to Challis to spend time among 21 wild mares that had been gathered from the Challis Herd Management Area in 2009.

The wild-horse roundup and removal has been planned for Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 near Challis.

The BLM will attempt to gather 274 horses and remove 137 of those from the range. Of the remainder, 55 mares will be given fertility-control treatments to prevent them from reproducing when they are released back onto the range.

Horses that are removed will either be put up for adoption through the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program or will be sent to long-term pastures in the Midwest.

Maki said Tuesday that her goal is to ensure that none of the wild horses are removed from the Sawtooth Mountains.

“We don’t want to have them moved to long-term holding facilities in Oklahoma or anywhere else,” she said, adding that she has been working with ranchers and the BLM to attempt to implement a program that would focus on fertility control, not physical removal.

Howard was also selling rubber bracelets in support of the organization. Maki said the funds will go toward a few different projects, but the first major one is buying 432 acres adjacent to the Challis Herd Management Area that will be used as a wild horse preserve and education center. 

Part of the funding will also go toward training the future facility’s veterinarians and will purchase equipment for the facility.

Howard said she plans on talking to people at all of the post offices in the valley over the next week.

Kate Wutz:

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