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Online wild horse adoptions being offered by BLM

On Saturday, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hosted a viewing session for dozens of horses which will be available for online adoption.
Credit: Jake King
Recently gathered wild horses move about in the Boise Wild Horse Corral in Kuna on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022.

KUNA, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

Josh Schwenken leaned against a fence at the Boise Wild Horse Corrals, surveying a group of recently gathered wild horses running in unison. The snow-covered Boise foothills framed the background.

Schwenken’s horse for the last eight years, Annie, came from a friend who got her from the corrals. On Saturday, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hosted a viewing session for dozens of horses which will be available for online adoption.

“I have one already. So you have to have more, right?” Schwenken said, smiling. “My goal today is to see what’s here and what’s available and go from there.”

Already, he’d seen a few he liked.

“That’s the tough part is narrowing it down,” Schwenken said.

Many wild horses are available for adoption online at the Bureau of Land Management’s Online Corral. Online viewing launched Feb. 5 and bidding is open Feb. 15 through Feb. 22.

The horses available for viewing and adoption were mostly gathered from the Four Mile Herd Management Area, which is north of Emmett. Some of those horses will be available for adoption through the Bureau’s partnership with Idaho 4-H and the Mustang Mania Trainer Incentive Program.

The Bureau partners with the Mustang Heritage Foundation, which approves a trainer to take home a wild horse. The trainer works with the wild horse on basic handling requirements. The trainers and wild horses showcase their training during a July competition at the Ford Idaho Center.

Other visitors who made the trek to Kuna were greeted by a carved sign reading “Elwood T Smith Memorial Horse Corral.”

A group of burros followed people along the length of their pen. Slowly, the burros plodded back to a pink bucket. Bales of hay cast a shadow along the corrals as herds of wild horses trotted in unison. A dozen or so people milled around.

Credit: Jake King
People observe and discuss wild horses along the edges of the Boise Wild Horse Corral in Kuna on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022.

Around 40 people came to look at the animals in the first couple hours of the event.

In one pen, a palomino lagged behind the rest of a group of wild horses that kept turning in circles in the corner. Someone whinnied.

It takes a while for the wild horses to get used to what’s happening in their surroundings and the people watching them, Bureau of Land Management Public Affairs Specialist Heather Tiel-Nelson said.

Congress passed a law to protect wild horses and burros in 1971, when there were only about 25,000 wild horses roaming the West, Tiel-Nelson said.

A wild horse herd has no natural predators and a group’s population can double every four to five years, Tiel-Nelson said.

“They outgrow the land’s capacity to support them in a healthy manner,” Tiel-Nelson said. “So at that point when the herds become overpopulated … that’s when we start to see impacts to herds. They begin to starve and water is a significant issue.”

The national appropriate management level is close to 27,000 wild horses across the West, Tiel-Nelson said. Currently there are over 85,000 horses and around half that number reside in Nevada.

In Idaho, there are about 600 to 700 wild horses and six wild horse herd management areas.

The primary gathering method involves using helicopters. The helicopter is like a border collie in the sky, Tiel-Nelson said. The helicopter helps direct the horses in the direction of a blind trap. When the horses get close, wranglers will release a “Judas horse,” which is a horse that leads the rest of the group into the trap.

Potential adoptees have to apply and show they have an appropriate facility, based on the age of the animal.

The wild horse adoption is also personal: Tiel-Nelson’s mother adopted one of the horses and Tiel-Nelson’s husband trained the animal, named Chas.

“We enjoyed him as a member of our family for many, many years,” Tiel-Nelson said.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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