LANDER, Wyo. -- The Bureau of Land Management will gather about 100 fewer horses than originally planned when it starts its annual roundup Saturday in the Red Desert Wild Horse Management Area Complex.
The BLM plans to gather 1,140 wild horses and remove about 800, agency spokeswoman Sarah Beckwith said. Originally, management plans called for capturing 1,240 horses, but a census flight in August showed a smaller population than expected, Beckwith said.
The lower number is a good thing and a testament that fertility control administered in 2009 is working on the herds, Beckwith said.
Of the horses captured and released, the mares will receive either a booster to the fertility control shot given in 2009 or their first such shot.
The Red Desert complex has an estimated wild horse population of 1,247. The goal is about 600 horses for the area, Beckwith said.
The management area runs west and south of Wyoming Highway 789/287 and includes the Antelope Hills, Crooks Mountain, Green Mountain, Lost Creek and Stewart Creek management areas. It is located in Fremont, Sweetwater and Carbon counties.
No closures of public lands are planned, but there could be brief road closures if needed to move the wild horse herds, a BLM media release said.
The BLM asks pilots to avoid flying through the Red Desert area because of the low-flying aircraft needed for the roundup. Helicopters used in gather operations often have to change course and altitude quickly, the release said.
People can watch the gather from designated areas. Those interested must register to be added to a visitor's log and will receive daily updated information on meeting places and times, Beckwith said.
Observers are kept at a safe distance from the horses and helicopters, but people do get to see the horses coming in, sometimes from a variety of directions, Beckwith said.
The Red Desert gather will last about 12 days. Roundups will then move south to gather horses in the Divide Basin management area, then finish in the Red Desert area in November in an effort to complete the high-country work before winter storms arrive.