Wild horses that survived the Soda Fire now face another threat: starvation, after the fire burned their food supply. The Bureau of Land Management plans to rescue those animals and feed and house them until the landscape can recover.
Three horse herds - the Sands Basin, Hardtrigger and Black Mountain herds - live on the 445 square miles burned in the Soda Fire. Twenty-seven horses died in the fire, but those that survived now face this new peril, says the BLM’s Heather Tiel-Nelson.
“These horses of course need enough forage to sustain them and there simply isn’t enough out there right now to get them through much longer, which is why we’re doing this emergency gathering of those horses,” says Tiel-Nelson.
The food source for two of those herds was 100 percent destroyed. Another herd saw a third of its food burn.
This week, the BLM hopes to rescue 295 horses and take them to the Boise Wild Horse Corrals. The horses will be gently herded by helicopter into areas where they can be rounded up.
“We just want to ensure that these horses will have enough food and water of course to maintain them until that range can recover and we can return those horses back to their herd management areas,” says Tiel-Nelson.
In 2010, the BLM rescued horses from the Long Butte Fire south of Glenns Ferry. They were returned home after just one year, because the landscape recovered quickly. Tiel-Nelson says it's not clear how long the BLM will have to house the Soda Fire horses. It could take one to two years. But once enough food grows back, she says they’ll be returned home.
The rescue will cost between $300-$350,000. The national average to feed a horse held by the BLM is about $5.21 a day.
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