The Bureau of Land Management announced on Wednesday that it will suspend the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area helicopter roundup in Nevada due to weather.
The agency says it may resume the roundup after foaling season.
BLM captured 340 wild horses from Feb. 7-19. No deaths were reported. The agency set out to capture and remove 575 wild horses from the herd management area, located near Carson City, Nev., over two weeks, but poor weather halted the roundup daily from Feb. 13-17.
The Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management HMA includes 104,316 acres, including 95,391 acres of BLM land with the rest comprised of other public and private land.
As of March 1, 2018, the BLM estimated the population n the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area at 775 wild horses, compared to an agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 118-179 horses — as low as one horse for every 884 acres.
By comparison, BLM has allocated 43,008 Animal Unit Months during portions of the year to privately owned cattle on nine grazing allotments that overlap the HMA, the equivalent of 3,584 cow-calf pairs. An AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow-calf pair or five sheep.
BLM planning documents note that actual livestock use has been limited to no more than 363 total AUMs, or about 30 cattle, for year-round use, since 2006. No livestock have grazed on seven of the nine allotments during the same time period, according to BLM.
In a press release, BLM justified the roundup by blaming “excessive grazing from wild horses” for “degraded sage-grouse habitat and reduced the amount of native grass both inside and outside the (Herd Management Area). Because of lack of forage and water within the HMA, horses have been moving into residential areas and roadways, creating a public safety issue.”
Captured horses were transported to the Palomino Valley Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Reno, Nev., where they will be prepared for adoption or sale.