Taming a wild horse

Inmates gather around the pen as Todd Pierce, a pastor and cowboy, attempts to tame a wild horse. To combat hopelessness and share the word of God, Riding High Ministries visited Snake River Correctional Institution on Wednesday and presented Born Wild, Created to Free — a horse breaking illustration.

VALE — As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s commitment to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive, the Vale District announced plans to conduct a helicopter gather of wild horses within the Cold Springs and Hog Creek Herd Management Areas beginning in January/February.

The Cold Springs HMA is located approximately 45 miles southwest of Vale, 25 miles southwest of Harper, and 45 miles southeast of Juntura, in Malheur County. The Appropriate Management Level — the number of horses the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses — is 75 to 150 horses for this area. The current population is over 175.

The Hog Creek area is approximately 20 miles west of Vale, and 5 miles west of Harper. There are more than 60 horses in that area, currently, which exceeds the 30-to 50-horses allotment for that area.

Heavy to severe wild horse grazing jeopardizes the health of rangelands, wetlands, wildlife habitats, and ultimately animal health and condition. Both gathers will reduce the wild horse population to levels within AML and immediately reduce resource impacts, according to a news release from the agency.

Each gather will likely last less than one week, though exact start and end dates will be determined by the weather and contractor’s availability. BLM will host public viewing days during the helicopter gathers. The public is welcome to attend the gathers and must read the Field Observation Protocol information before visiting. Observation will be held daily during the gathers, with a maximum number of 15 people attending each day.

Observation will be offered on a first-come first-served basis for each day of the gathers. Observers must personally check in with the BLM official at the meeting site (Vale District BLM Office, 100 Oregon St. Vale) to be considered. Observers will be led by caravan to and from the gather site by BLM employees. Personal, high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles are required. Individuals who do not have adequate transportation to the observation area, may attempt to carpool with other observers (at their discretion), but this option is not guaranteed. Access to and distance from the capture site location will be determined jointly by the contractor and the BLM’s Contracting Officer’s Representative prior to gather operations. Safety of the horses, crew and public, is our top priority.

Animals selected for removal from the range will be transported to Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines to be prepared for adoption.

For viewing, the public may visit the Corral Facility anytime between regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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