Soda Fire horses

Shown is a file photo from the Hardtrigger Herd Management Area, where 27 horses died in the Soda Fire.

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BOISE — Twenty-seven wild horses died near Salmon Creek within the Hardtrigger Herd Management Area, about 45 miles southwest of Boise, when they were caught in the fast-moving Soda Fire.

The horses were found by a team of BLM employees and a veterinarian who were checking the condition of two herds in the area. A gate was opened near the animals, but they were overtaken before they could escape.

“Due to the severe and erratic nature of the fire, we anticipate there will be more horses that were injured as they tried to escape the fire,” said Acting BLM District Manager Jenifer Arnold. “It’s a terrible reality for wildlife, livestock and wild horses living on the range, to be overtaken by an intense, wind-drive range fire.”

Additionally, two horses have been euthanized because their injuries were so extensive that they could not have survived.

Three wild horse herds were affected by the Soda Fire. The Sands Basin herd has about 60 horses and the Hardtrigger herd has roughly 170 animals. The third herd management area, Black Mountain, was not damaged to nearly the extent of the other two.

“Most of the wild horses have been able to find water and at least some forage,” Arnold said. “We began to haul supplemental hay in last week and we’ll continue to monitor the herds’ condition.”

Because of the condition of the horses and the lack of long-term forage to sustain them, an emergency gather is planned. The horses will be cared for off the range until they can return when conditions improve. Dates for the gather have not been determined.