Idaho's Last Soda Fire Mustangs Go Home To The Wild

May 20, 2019

The last wild horses rescued from the 2015 Soda Fire are going home this month.

The Soda Fire burned more than 400 square miles of rangeland in southwest Idaho and Eastern Oregon, including prime habitat for three wild mustang herds. Some horses died, some were burned and left without a food source. The Bureau of Land Management jumped into action, rescuing almost 280 animals and relocating them to horse corrals to heal.

As parts of the landscape recovered from the burn, the BLM started slowly releasing those horses back to their home range. On May 29, the BLM’s Heather Tiel-Nelson says the final group of 45 horses from the fire will be released back into the Owyhees into the Hardtrigger Herd Management Area.

“It’s a great moment for the horses, for those of us who have been caring for them and waiting for this day when they can finally go back to their home range,” says Tiel-Nelson.

That area is about 69,000 acres and can sustain 66 to 100 horses. Tiel-Nelson says the BLM was just waiting for the land to heal from the fire.

“Our biologists have looked at water resources and availability, vegetation, soils, all of those things and also recognizing we’ve got to balance the other uses on the range like livestock grazing, wildlife habitat and those things,” says Tiel-Nelson.

Not all of the horses from the fire will return to the range. More than 80 were adopted and some went into the 4-H training program.  

The public can watch some of the horses going home if they RSVP by May 28 to Ruby Kyle at 208-473-9868.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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