By Julie Johansen
The Emery County Public Lands Council made a request for Mike Twedell, the Bureau of Land Management Natural Resource Specialist who oversees range and wild horses, to make a presentation to the council. This happened during the council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday morning.
Twedell’s report was data driven on the wild horses in the Muddy Creek Drainage Area, Mckay Flat. In 2018, 76 head were gathered, based on an aerial count, and two mares and two stallions were returned to the area. The mares were darted with infertility drugs and new genetics were also introduced into the herd.
The mares had to be monitored and recorded until the darts fell out. One mare did not reproduce but one mare had a foal each succeeding year. Twedell explained that if the mare is pregnant when darted, then she is not affected. The drug can last for five years and the darts must be regathered.
Darting is not easy, Twedell said. The darts must be placed in the hind quarters of the mares, and sometimes it will stick and sometimes it will not. The administer must be within 50 yards or closer to the animal. Twedell said the horses are very astute as to what is going on but also very curious. The sound of loading the dart scares them and the whole group could run.
To date, only about 4% to 5% of the horses have been treated on the Muddy Creek area. Twedell said he always has his equipment with him in the field but darting doesn’t happen very often, though he hopes to boost the number by capturing and treating. A council member remarked that the number of the horses is up by 200% in a drought infested year, which is very frustrating for all.
Twedell responded by stating that there have been no burros treated for fertility yet, even though they foal year round. In 2016, they were gathered, collared and hip branded for background research. A new document would be needed to start testing. Each one needs to be identified individually, but burros are hard to identify because they are all the same color and look alike, Twedell concluded.