BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. — The federal government is a step closer to relocating more than 1,000 wild horses to a private ranch in southwestern South Dakota.

Initial results of a Bureau of Land Management study indicate the move would have no negative impacts on the environment, the Black Hills Pioneer ( ) reported.

The herd would come from the famed Triple U Ranch near Fort Pierre, a main setting for the movie “Dances with Wolves.” The ranch was sold last year.

The herd could be relocated to Butte County as early as next month. The wild horse facility would be known as the Elm Butte Off Range Pasture and would be operated by Spur Livestock, the current bureau contractor that has managed the herd since it was relocated to South Dakota seven years ago.

The livestock management company plans to lease nearly 41,000 acres of private ranch lands to the east of Eight Mile Creek in southeastern Butte County to pasture the horses on.

The environmental assessment says the hoses will only be pastured on the central and eastern portion of the ranch initially.

Chip Kimball, BLM field manager of the BLM’s Belle Fourche office, said people worried about the horses relocation will have 30 days to appeal the bureau’s finding of no significant impact. The bureau would work to mitigate any concerns.

“Assuming it goes according to plan, relocation of the horses will begin next month,” Kimball said. “Everything is still on track.”

Information from: Black Hills Pioneer,