NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — The Bureau of Land Management has released 26 wild horses into the Sands Basin Herd Management Area in southwestern Idaho.

This marks the first time wild horses managed by the agency will roam in the area in three years following a 2015 wildfire, the Idaho Press reported Wednesday.

Nearly all the Sands Basin Herd Management Area was burned by the fire that swept through southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho, the agency said.

After the fire, the agency gathered 279 wild horses from three affected areas and has cared for them ever since.

Sands Basin is the first of three herd management areas affected by the wildfire to have wild horses return, Heather Tiel-Nelson said, Idaho's Wild Horse and Burro team spokeswoman.

The land has recovered enough to allow the horses' return, managers said.

Horses are non-native animals and have no natural predator, so their numbers can double within four years, Tiel-Nelson said.

The horses are managed and protected through the Wild Horse and Burro program, which has an annual budget that fluctuates around $78 million.

"They are not a native species, but they are part of our Western heritage, and Congress granted them protection," Tiel-Nelson said.

The agency hopes to do a horse release in another area affected by the fire this fall or early next spring, she said.

More From News Radio 1310 KLIX