BLM plans to remove 50 wild horses, 25 burros from Montezuma Peak HMA (Nev.)

/ In The News, News, Roundups
Wild horses captured during an “emergency” roundup on the Fish Lake Herd Management Area in 2013. Over the past five days, BLM has announced plans for four emergency roundups in Nevada. BLM file photo.

The Bureau of Land Management is set to begin an “emergency” bait-and-trap roundup on the Montezuma Peak Herd Management Area on Wednesday, July 29.

BLM plans to remove 50 wild horses and 25 burros over roughly one month using corral panels stocked with water or hay. No helicopters will be used.

This is the fourth emergency announced by BLM Nevada over the past five days. The others will be on the Triple B and Maverick Medicine Herd Management AreasAntelope Valley Herd Management Area, and Wild Horse Range Herd Management Area

Including Montezuma, more than 600 wild horses and burros are to be captured and removed, all for what BLM has called a “lack of water and declining health of the wild horses and burros associated with herd overpopulation.” 

The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burros Management Handbook notes that “emergencies generally are unexpected events that threaten the health and welfare of a [wild horse and burro] population and/or their habitat. Examples of emergencies include fire, insect infestation, disease, or other events of a catastrophic and unanticipated nature. Immediate action is normally required.”

Under BLM policy, Environmental Assessments (EAs) for roundups are to be issued such that the public has 30 days to review and comment. Decisions to proceed are to be issued 14 days before a roundup commences. Declaring an emergency situation allows the agency to avoid those steps.

RTF recognizes that there will be emergency situations that threaten the health of wild horses and burros, especially as climate change accelerates in the West. However, it is incumbent upon BLM to work to anticipate the needs of the wild horses and burros under its management in order to comply with requirements for public transparency and the consideration of options under the National Environmental Policy Act. Thoughtful advance planning will also allow for the judicious implementation of proven, safe and humane fertility control that can reduce the need for roundups.

BLM has no plans to treat wild mares or burro jennies during any of the recently announced emergency roundups with save, proven and humane fertility control that would reduce calls for future roundups.

The Montezuma Peak Herd Management Area is made up of 76,437 acres of BLM land and 1,439 acres of a mix of private and other public lands for a total of 77,876 acres. It is located west of the town of Goldfield, Nev.

In a press release, Doug Furtado, Battle Mountain District Manager for BLM, called the situation for wild horses on the Herd Management Area “dire.”

“With the dry conditions we’ve had this year, they’re only going to worsen as time goes on,” he said. 

Since mid-May, Goldfield to the east has had .02 inches of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. No rain is in the area’s forecast well into August. Forecasted high temperatures are in the mid- to high 90s. 

As of March, the BLM-estimated population of the Montezuma Peak Herd Management Area stood at 130 wild horses and 207 wild burros, not including foals born this year. Its agency-set Appropriate Management Level sits at four wild horses and 10 burros, according to BLM’s press release or as low as one wild equine for every 5,460 acres.

By comparison, BLM has allocated up to 13,494 Animal Unit Months for privately owned livestock on grazing areas that overlap the Herd Management Area. One AUM is the use of public lands for one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.

BLM attempted to remove all wild horses and burros from the Herd Management Area in a 1996 emergency roundup, according to the agency. Wild horses and burros now on the HMA were either missed or descended from animals missed during the removal or that have migrated from the nearby Paymaster/Lone Mountain Herd Management Area.

Captured wild horses will be shipped to the Ridgecrest (Calif.) Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals to be readied for adoption or sale.

TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to press the Bureau of Land Management to implement proven, safe and humane fertility control in order to phase out roundups