The Bureau of Land Management captured 222 wild horses on Wednesday, the 10th day of a planned 2,200-horse helicopter roundup on the Antelope Complex, located about 50 miles southeast of Elko, Nev. No injuries were reported.
A total of 814 wild horses have been captured. Four horses have been killed: an 8-year-old bay mare died due to a “sudden / acute issue,” a “20+”-year-old stallion and 2-week-old colt both due to a “pre-existing chronic issue,” and a 6-year-old mare was euthanized due to blindness, according to BLM’s gather report. No further details were given.
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.”
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.
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.