BLM planning to capture 6,737 wild horses in Nevada

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A helicopter pursues wild horses during the fall 2016 Owyhee Complex roundup in Nevada. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.

 

The Bureau of Land Management is planning one of its largest roundup in years for this fall – capturing as many as 6,737 wild horses from the Antelope and Triple B Herd Management Area complexes between Wells and Ely, Nevada.

The BLM estimates that 7,739 wild horses live on the two complexes, not counting foals born this year.

The Antelope complex totals 1.3 million acres. The BLM estimates the wild horse population as 4,538, not including foals. The BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the complex is 427-789 horses.

The Triple B complex totals 1.7 million acres with a population of 3,201 wild horses, not counting foals. The Appropriate Management Level is 472-889 horses.

The agency’s stated purpose for the roundup is to “prevent unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses.”

Wild horses are hugely outnumbered by cattle on both complexes.

Permitted livestock use at the Antelope complex is 124,246 Animal Unit Months (one AUM is defined as forage for one mature cow and her calf), with a 10-year average AUM use of 40,612.

On the Triple B complex, permitted livestock use totals 87,406 AUM with a 10-year average use of 40,786.

Specifically, the BLM is proposing:

Capturing and removing about 6,737 “excess” wild horses, using helicopter drive tapping and bait and water trapping, with a goal of retaining breeding populations of 227 wild horses on the Antelope complex and 272 on the Triple B complex with 60% male and 40% female horses. All mares would be treated with a fertility control vaccine.

“Up to 50%” of the stallions ages 5-20 would be gelded during the initial roundup and “would be used to evaluate the effects of maintaining a population of gelded males on the behavior and spatial ecology of the overall population as well as to determine their health and short-term survival.”

BLM estimates these actions would reduce the overall population in the two complexes to about 899 wild horses.

The agency is also considering the same plan without gelding or without both gelding and fertility.

Environmental assessment

Click here to read the full environmental assessment (pdf).

Public comment

To comment on the Environmental Assessment, mail written comments to the BLM Elko District Office, 3900 Idaho Street, Elko, NV 89801 Attn: Marc Jackson, Wells Field Manager. Comments may also be sent to blm_nv_eldowellshorsegathers@blm.gov.

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