Wild Horses and Water in Oregon’s High Desert

SSTNSHORSESWATERNEG1reducedWater is a vital basic nutrient for each horse – 10-12 gallons per day. If a horse becomes deficient in its water intake, it will soon stop eating, even if there are abundant food sources available.

In most of the BLM Heard Management Areas in Oregon’s High Desert; water is a scarce element. The annual moisture amounts range from 5-7″ total, and much of that comes in the form of winter snows. Some Steens Mountain HMA-South Steens Herdareas only have seasonal streams, and when those dry up, horses must depend on man-made structures such as reservoirs, guzzlers, or wells for their daily water needs.

The wild horses also must share these scarce water resources with livestock and wildlife. For example, in the Prineville, Burns, Vale and Lakeview BLM districts (where most of the wild horses exist) there are over 700 livestock grazing permits that total almost one million animal unit months (AUM’s).

It is not unusual for wild horses to travel 20 to 30 miles for water. However, if water sources are not spread throughout an HMA, then there will be greater numbers of horses, and other animals, in a concentrated area, which can cause forage degradation.

Please help Wild Horse Solutions, as we work with our Federal partners to provide new water sources, and/or make improvements to existing sources that will match the seasonal travel patterns of the wild horses.

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