148 wild horses captured, 19 dead as Cold Creek roundup ends

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Mares and foals captured during the bait-and-trap roundup conducted by the U.S. Forest Service about 30 miles from Las Vegas. Forest Service photo.

The U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday completed a roundup of 148 wild horses in the Cold Creek area of Wheeler Pass Joint Management Area, about 30 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The “emergency” roundup was conducted because drought conditions in the area have resulted in a lack of forage and declining condition of the animals, according to the Forest Service.

Nineteen wild horses died during the roundup, including one foal with a broken leg and 18 adult wild horses typically described as “very emaciated … with a hopeless prognosis for improvement.”

A portion of the 72 studs, 67 mares and nine foals captured have been transported to the Ridgecrest (Calif.) Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, where they are to receive veterinary care, including vaccinations, deworming, blood tests, and freeze branding. Others will be transported once their conditions improve.

The captured wild horses will be offered for adoption. Those that go unadopted will be transported to BLM corrals or leased pastures.

The Forest Service used bait trapping, beginning on May 10. Starting on May 5, supplemental feed to the horses to build up their strength before the operations, according to the agency.

The Wheeler Pass Joint Management Area is made up of the Spring Mountain Wild Horse and Burro Territory, located on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, and Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area, located in the Bureau of Land Management’s Southern Nevada District.

Wheeler Pass JMA includes about 275,000 acres within the Southern Nevada BLM District. The government-designated “Appropriate Management Level” is 47-66 wild horses.

An estimated 138-142 wild horses remain there following the roundup, based on April 2018 population figures, according to the Forest Service.