Population Management Working Group

Led by Eric Thacker and Celeste Carlisle
Eric: eric.thacker@usu.edu
Celeste: podlypod@yahoo.com


Task:  Identify, prioritize, and support comprehensive research. Help solicit support to have research done.   Comprehensive analyses are necessary for managing HMAs. Research should engage and communicate with stakeholders.  Subjects include:

  • a better understanding of horse and native wildlife interactions
  • a better understanding of other uses and users of HMA areas
  • methods for sustainable herd management
  • when and how to use different fertility control tools using multiple replicates, and how they affect equid behavior and social structure
  • discuss authorized livestock AUMs vs actual use in HMAs and how this is affected by horse population levels over AML
  • livestock and horse interactions across a range of ecosystems and how this is affected by AML 

Task: Work with BLM to create an inventory to monitor HMAs. Make data available (perhaps on a dashboard) showing data collected and what it means.  A tracking tool from BLM is needed showing where they are implementing fertility control and % of herd who received fertility control.  What is Strategic Plan and did it meet objectives?  Proof of concept to show this approach will lead somewhere. 

Task: Identify and support collaboration with local groups to accomplish monitoring such as the ‘cooperative monitoring agreement’ programs that exist with BLM and NGOs. Have local working groups help manage herds where treatments are done.  Work with communities, counties, or states to coordinate management plans. 

Task: Create a riparian area and watering site disturbance metric that work on a site-specific scale rather than an AIM scale. We need upland too but riparian would be the priority.  Should we monitor or develop alternative watering sites to help protect damaged riparian areas? 

Task:  Define what a thriving ecological balance is; standards to use for HMAs (stubble height, water quality, soil compaction) to help protect areas for long-term sustainable areas.  Update items monitored to include new techniques common for rangeland monitoring.  What we would advocate as a thriving ecological balance from a population management standpoint?

Task Completed: Create a repository for fertility control options based on published research, publish current and upcoming fertility control options, collaborate with other groups to inform recommendations.

Fertility Control Toolbox courtesy of Ursula Bechert

Constraints to Applying Fertility Control courtesy of Mark Fraker

Repository of articles on wildlife fertility control hosted by Botstiber Institute

As of March 1, 2021, the BLM estimated that there were 86,189 free-roaming equids in BLM-administered HMAs.