BLM removes 558 wild horses from Fish Creek HMA (Nev.)

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Wild horses photographed on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area in June. BLM photo.

The Bureau of Land Management on Sunday completed a nine-day helicopter roundup in which 558 wild horses were captured and 533 wild horses were removed from their home range on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area in Nevada. Five horses died.

The BLM released 20 of the captured wild horses back onto the range: 13 studs and just seven mares treated with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22, which if implemented more robustly would curb reproduction and reduce calls for future roundups.

Two of the wild horses put done were done so as a direct result of injuries suffered during the roundup: a 4- or 5-month-old bay filly and a yearling sorrel study that suffered compound leg fractures. The three others were euthanized because of what the agency deemed pre-existing conditions: a yearling sorrel stud with a severe joint infection, a 5-year-old sorrel stud with a club foot, and a 7-year-old bay study with fibrous dysplasia, a bone disease.

BLM’s stated reason for the roundup is to “reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the HMA, where there currently is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area, and to prevent further degradation of public lands by helping to balance herd size … 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 250,000-acre Fish Creek HMA and adjacent land have a wild horse population of 822, according to BLM. The agency says it conducted a helicopter survey on July 26-27.

The BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the Herd Management Area is 107-180 — or as low as one horse for every 2,336 acres.

The BLM allows private grazing on four allotments totaling 417,000 acres that overlap about 230,675 acres of the Herd Management Area. The total permitted livestock use for those allotments is 8,855 Animal Unit Months (one AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep). Actual grazing use from 2008-14 was 5,530 AUMs, according to BLM planning documents.

Wild horses captured in the upcoming roundup are to be transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center to be prepared for adoption or sale.

To read BLM’s planning documents, click here: https://bit.ly/348IeB5

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