SPECIAL REPORT: SODA WILDFIRE 2015 + IMPACTED IDAHO WILDS
As many are already aware, Wild Love Preserve is rooted in bringing all stakeholders together in a new light, opening fluid lines of communication and finding common ground on behalf our greater whole and the lasting preservation of our beloved wild horses. Over the last five years Wild Love Preserve has engaged public and private lands to address all facets of regional wild horse management on home turf in Central Idaho, from our adopted 130 Challis, Idaho wild horses to our collaborative work on the range with the BLM and WLP Volunteers. In addition to the Challis Herd Management Area (HMA), Wild Love Preserve advocates and works with the Idaho BLM regarding all six wild horse HMAs in Idaho state. That said, in response to countless inquiries, we will be sharing information and updates regarding Idaho wild horses impacted by the SODA Wildfire in SW Idaho, to include Hardtrigger, Sands Basin and Black Mountain HMAs.
The SODA Wildfire no longer burns, however the devastation left in its wake is heart-wrenching and very hard to swallow. Wild horses are stressed, fearful and confused by the wildfire, fire suppression activities, and now lack of forage on their home lands. The range is a sea of charred black vegetation. On August 14, twenty-seven wild horses were lost on the Hardtrigger HMA, overtaken by wildfire in an area where gates had been opened by the BLM. Wilds were found on both sides of the fence, along with coyotes, rabbits and other wildlife unable to outrun the fast-moving intensity of this wind-driven range fire. It is extremely challenging to go there in ones mind and feel this situation unfolding, but still, I wish to ask everyone to please take a moment and honor all lost in this natural disaster.
At this time logistics continue to unfold rapidly in response to this emergency state. The well-beings of stressed, injured and displaced wilds are paramount, time is of the essence. There are approximately 70 wild horses on the Sands Basin HMA, 150 wilds on the Hardtrigger HMA, and 80 on the Black Mountain HMA. In the best interest of the wilds, Idaho BLM is initiating emergency gathers that will begin in the next week or so. This is going to require complete removal on the Sands Basin and Hardtrigger HMAs because of wildfire burning the entirety of both HMAs. As for Black Mountain HMA, Idaho BLM will remove down to the low-AML count of approximately 30 wilds in response to roughly 1/3 of this HMA being burned.
Wild horses will be returned to their respective HMAs once rehabilitation and range recovery has taken place. Based on past range fires and forage recovery, this could be 1-2 years. It is likely that many horses are going to need special attention (supplements, vet care, etc.) for several months due to the fire, trauma, conditions and stress they have experienced. That said, this initial care will require temporary corral settings so they can be observed, monitored and provided with the care they may need on a daily basis. Again, this is all unfolding and it is yet unknown what to fully expect regarding health conditions and recovery times. Discussions of temporarily keeping them in larger corral settings after recovery will happen in time, but it is impossible to have all these logistics and answers right now, therefore WLP will share regular updates as things progress.
At this moment, one of Idaho BLM’s primary considerations for this emergency gather is situating bait traps as close as possible to the horses in order to minimize further exertion, panic and stress. There is great consideration being given to honoring public viewing opportunities, however all hiding cover has been burned to the ground. That said, I would like to make a personal request with all due respect to rightfully concerned advocates, asking to please, please keep in mind the precarious circumstances at hand and trauma these wild horses have already experienced. All movement right now is extremely delicate and risky due to the wilds panicked state. While Idaho BLM is still assessing whether public viewing during emergency gathers will be possible, please be understanding if this ends up being problematic and know actions are not intended as calculative, but rather trying to best address wild horse safety. There will be observation tours available at the Boise Wild Horse Corrals beginning a few days after the start of the emergency gathers.
In closing, the photograph included with this report, of a lone wild mare amidst a sea of charred black range, speaks volumes. Thank you for your understanding, kindness, patience and heart during this very difficult time. Your good energy and support makes a world of difference and is truly appreciated.
Andrea Maki, Founder/President. Wild Love Preserve
Read as Published in The Dodo: http://bit.ly/dodo-sodafire