The Bureau of Land Management captured 15 wild horses on Tuesday, on a windy 23rd day of a 2,200-horse “emergency” helicopter roundup on the Antelope Complex, located about 50 miles southeast of Elko, Nev. No deaths were reported.
Windy conditions grounded the contractor’s helicopter on Monday. No information from Wednesday had been posted by late morning on Thursday.
A total of 1,591 wild horses have been captured so far. Nine wild horses have been killed, seven for “pre-existing / chronic conditions” and two “sudden / acute” deaths came as a direct result of the roundup. The BLM has provided very little detail about the deaths in its gather report.
The lack of information given about the deaths of these federally protected wild horses is unacceptable.
TAKE ACTION: Demand transparency and accountability for the humane handling of wild horses and burros: Send a letter to Congress.
The agency’s plan does not include treating mares with safe, proven and humane fertility control, strongly supported by RTF, which could slow reproduction and halt future roundups.
BLM’s stated purpose for the roundup is to “prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses … By balancing herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for other wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk.”
The BLM also says that there is not enough water for the number of wild horses on the complex.
Made up of the Goshute, Spruce-Pequop, Antelope Valley and Antelope Herd Management Area, the Antelope Complex encompasses 1.6 million acres of public land. The agency estimates that the current wild horse population is 6,032, not including foals.
The combined agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of the complex is 435-789 wild horses, or as low as one horse per 3,697 acres.
The complex is also used for private cattle and sheep grazing. The BLM has allocated up to 124,931 Animal Unit Months on the Antelope Complex, the annual equivalent of 10,411 cow-calf pairs, according to 2017 planning documents. One Animal Unit Month is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep.
In its press release, the BLM says that livestock grazing permittees in the Elko District “have taken non-use or reduced use for over 10-years” but provided no detail.
Captured wild horses will be shipped from their home range to the Palomino Valley Center in Nevada or Axtell Off-Range Corrals in Utah to be made ready for adoption or sale.
The roundup is part of a plan to remove 6,000 additional wild horses from the range because of drought conditions by the end of September.
Return to Freedom believes that we are in this tragic position because of the BLM’s failure to implement solutions that have been available for over 20 years For nearly 50 years, these horses have had to suffer this management program and the Americans who love them suffer with them.”
This is even more tragic because other solutions exist now. The agency has resisted creating an infrastructure and a culture that could have made a sustainable and effective fertility control program possible. It has rounded up horses year after year while waiting for longer-acting vaccines instead of using the safe, proven and humane fertility control that’s available right now. These sensitive habitats are vulnerable to drought and, knowing this, a national land management agency tasked with the preservation and protection of our wild horses should have been prepared long ago and in a much better position today.
Viewing the roundup
Members of the public that wish to view the roundup should call (775) 861-6700 nightly to receive instructions on each day’s meeting location and time. Under COVID-19 guidelines, masks and social distancing are required. Those who go should bring hand sanitizer. They should not attend if they feel well or have been exposed to someone ill within two weeks.