Photo taken 7/21/2018
In 2007 there were 100's of wild mustangs in the Rock Springs area. This is a small herd in the White Mountain area. They appeared to be in good health, but the alarming thing was the small number of foals.
In 2010-2011 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounded up and removed over 2,000 of these beautiful and majestic horses. They wanted to limit the amount of grazing by these animals so that ranchers could graze cows on the land.
To keep the herds under control they experimented with sterilizing many mares which they then placed freeze brands on either the neck or the hind quarters so they would know that these mares were sterile. In addition the plan was to only released back into the wild 40% or less of breeding mares and 60% or more of stallions. The actual percentages of release were closer to 44% mares and 66% stallions, with part of the 44% of mares being sterile.
There are many problems with this theory of population control. First off with so many stallions there are constant struggles for them to gain and keep bands. or families of mares and foals. Secondly it is not normal for a mare not to come into heat and that frustrates breeding stallions and adds unnecessary stress to the animals. Thirdly, with such small reproduction numbers the gene pool would get increasingly smaller leading to health and even physical problems in the herds.
Another factor is that since there are so many stallions there are bands of "bachelor" stallions. This is not a natural occurrence in the wild. Normally you do not find stallions banding together in a small herd. Also some herds have 2 or 3 stallions which is also not natural in the wild. These horses are having to adapt to the changes forced on them by the BLM.
As a result of these acts, the herds are now very small where they once ran free by the 100's. An average herd only appears to be approximately 8-12 horses. In the herd we photographed there were only 10 members. Two sterile mares, three breeding mares with foals, one yearling and the beautiful dapple grey Stallion.
We decided to call the Stallion "Rocky" due to his majestic, solid stance while he watched over his family and stood prepared to protect them should anything threaten them. Also due to the location near Rock Springs, WY.