Product Type: Open-file Report
Author(s): Lubow, B.C., and J.I. Ransom
Lubow, B.C., and J.I. Ransom. 2007. Aerial population estimates of wild horses (Equus caballus) in the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Areas using an integrated simultaneous double-count and sightability bias correction technique: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2007-1274. 13 p.
This publication is available from the USGS Fort Collins Science Center .
An aerial survey technique combining simultaneous double-count and sightability bias correction methodologies was used to estimate the population of wild horses inhabiting Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Areas, Wyoming. Based on 5 surveys over 4 years, we conclude that the technique produced estimates consistent with the known number of horses removed between surveys and an annual population growth rate of 16.2 percent per year. Therefore, evidence from this series of surveys supports the validity of this survey method. Our results also indicate that the ability of aerial observers to see horse groups is very strongly dependent on skill of the individual observer, size of the horse group, and vegetation cover. It is also more modestly dependent on the ruggedness of the terrain and the position of the sun relative to the observer. We further conclude that censuses, or uncorrected raw counts, are inadequate estimates of population size for this herd. Such uncorrected counts were all undercounts in our trials, and varied in magnitude from year to year and observer to observer. As of April 2007, we estimate that the population of the Adobe Town /Salt Wells Creek complex is 906 horses with a 95 percent confidence interval ranging from 857 to 981 horses.