Two census efforts set; volunteers sought
PRINEVILLE, Ore. – The Ochoco National Forest announced Monday it is embarking on a new strategy for monitoring its wild horse population for the Big Summit Territory.
This year, two wild horse census efforts are expected to provide a more complete picture of the herd’s condition, demographics and location.
A herd count has been done annually for many years on the forest. However, officials said, it is challenging to cover all of the territory and outlying areas where horses are thought to frequent in a single monitoring effort.
Horses are reported to move into many remote sites and canyons. An accurate numbers count will provide needed information for the development of the new Herd Management Plan.
This new plan will replace the existing one, which is more than 40 years old. Many conditions outlined in the present plan have changed over the years, forest officials said.
The Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition has a long-standing partnership with the Ochoco National Forest in monitoring the Big Summit herd.
This June, as in the past, the coalition will bring volunteers to help with their census ride.
“The efforts of the coalition have contributed greatly to the Ochoco National Forest’s administration of the wild horse herd,” the announcement said. “This year’s two-prong monitoring effort, to add a second census ride for two days in July into outlying areas, is expected to compliment the efforts that the coalition has coordinated in the past. ”
There is much interest in the herd, the forest officials said, and with additional volunteers to support a second census effort, the forest can make a better determination of the overall health of the horses, try to determine how many are actually on the landscape and what possible interactions they are having with the land and resources.
The forest is working with Discover Your Forest to recruit volunteers for the July effort. Those interested in helping can contact Stacey Cochrane, Community Engagement Director, DYF at (541) 383-5530 or discoveryourforest.org.
For those interested in further information about the program, please contact project team leader Tory Kurtz at (541) 416-6500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.