The Bureau of Land Management’s helicopter roundup on the Chokecherry, Eagle and Mt. Elinor Herd Management Areas near Pioche, Nev., has ended with 1,704 wild horses captured and 23 dead.
Twenty wild horses were put down for “pre-existing conditions,” according to BLM, including four on Friday: a 1-year-old bay stud with a crooked back, an 18-year-old bay study with a blind left eye, and a 25-year-old bay stud and 20-year-old bay mare without teeth.
Others were euthanized for missing and blind eyes, a “severe” club foot, “severe” swayback, a severe mouth deformity as well two studs and two mares with body condition scores of two or lower on a nine-point scale.
Three wild horses died after suffering injuries or conditions that BLM defined as acute, or a direct result of the roundup. These included a 5-year-old bay stud and 20-year-old bay mare that suffered broked necks during sorting and a 5-year-old bay mare suffering colic.
BLM set out to capture 1,700 wild horses and remove 1,600 from their home range. Unusually, the BLM announced that was counting “all of last year’s weanable foals … as adults,” resulting in a tally of 937 mares, 762 studs and just five foals. In addition to capturing and removing 1,600 wild horses from the Eagle Complex, BLM plans to treat 50 mares with the fertility control vaccine GonaCon-Equine then release those mares with an equal number of studs.
The BLM estimated the wild horse population of the combined three HMAs, known as the Eagle Complex, at 2,484 horses, including foals. The agency-set Appropriate Management Level for the 743,042-acre complex is 139-265 wild horses or as low as one horse for every 5,346 acres.
By comparison, six cattle and sheep grazing allotments have at least 37% of their acreage overlapping the Eagle HMA. The 10-year average annual use on those allotments was 28,732 Animal Unit Months, according to BLM planning documents. One Animal Unit Month is a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep.
In 2018, BLM removed 303 wild horses from the Eagle HMA in an emergency roundup that the agency said was conducted due to lack of water.
Captured wild horses are being transported to the Palomino Valley Center Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, in Sparks, Nev., where they will be readied for adoption or sale.
To view BLM’s planning documents, click here: https://go.usa.gov/xpVZr.