HMAs: a Comparison

Since I’ve noticed that people tend to generalize their experience with one HMA or region to all HMAs, I thought I would write a comparison of the HMAs I have visited. I’m including Teddy Roosevelt National Park in this comparison, because although it is managed by the NPS and not the BLM, I thought it would still be a good example of the differences in region. I know many of you have already read my blog posts about each area, but I’m hoping if I include them all in one post, it might highlight the differences better. So in order of when I visited them, here’s a bit about the Pryor Mountain HMA, Teddy Roosevelt National Park, the McCullough Peaks HMA, and the White Mountain HMA:

Pryor Mountain HMA

I’ve mentioned before that I really like the Pryors for a couple reasons.  One, I love the different ecosystems present. The second reason is I love being ignored by the horses.  It gives viewers an opportunity to see natural behavior that might not be as readily available in another HMA. I also really like the direction the Billings BLM is moving in the way they manage the horses. Rather than having mass helicopter removals, they’re using PZP more with the hope that removals won’t be needed.

A small band on the mountain top. Not all of the range is alpine meadows, some of it is desert.

A small band on the mountain top. Not all of the range is alpine meadows, some of it is desert.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Something it didn’t take me long to notice in TRNP is both the landscape and horses are more colorful than in the Pryors. While the horses also seemed to ignore people, it seemed harder to find them. Also, while my information is second hand, I am unimpressed with the way the NPS has been managing the horses so far. My understanding is the NPS does a lot of large scale gathers, but they haven’t used PZP or other ways of managing the horses too much. However, I think they also recognize the horses bring in tourism, so I would think they would start to manage the horses differently in the future.

The double band against the backdrop of the badlands.

The double band against the backdrop of the badlands.

McCullough Peaks

The McCullough Peaks horses are also tolerant of people. Like the TRNP horses, the desert landscape is colorful, and there are a lot of pintos in the herd.  They also seem to spend time in larger groups than what would be expected for other HMAs. I also want to like the Cody BLM since they are managing the horses more with PZP than removals, but they just got some negative PR for the way they removed and sold feral horses. Just to give the Cody BLM the benefit of the doubt, I’m hoping the situation was a onetime event.

A group of bachelors greets a yearling colt.

A group of bachelors greets a yearling colt.

White Mountain HMA

The horses in White Mountain are skittish. They also aren’t as varied in color as some of the other HMAs. Also, while I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt, I have yet to see evidence that the Rock Springs Field Office is managing for the horses. While I hope I’m wrong, it seems like the Rock Springs is in favor of the person with the most money. Currently that seems to be the Rock Springs Grazing Association, so visit the Southern WY herds while you can, folks.

Bachelors in White Mountain.

Bachelors in White Mountain.

The descriptions may be brief, but I hope they helped show the similarities and differences between the HMAs. I hope by outlining some of the differences between horse management, it helps show that generalizing adds confusion.


  1. This. Great write up, Livi! The HMAs are so incredibly different, even the herds that are an hour apart from one another. The horses and how they behave, the topography, how they forage, where they get their water, etc. is incredibly diverse.

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