BLM to remove 250 wild horses from Pancake HMA in Nevada

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Pancake Complex wild horses rounded up in 2012. BLM Nevada file photo.

With only three days’ notice, the Bureau of Land Management announced on Friday it will begin an “emergency” removal about 250 wild horses from the Pancake Herd Management Area in Nevada using bait and water traps.

The 855,000-acre herd management areas has a current population of about 2,160 wild horses compared to a BLM-set appropriate management level of 240-493 wild horses. Wild horses “overpopulate” 120,000 acres on which there is insufficient water to support them, according to a press release from the agency.

“Without emergency action, the condition of the wild horses in the Big Sand Spring Valley is expected to deteriorate, potentially resulting in the death of some of the horses within a few weeks,” according to the agency. “In addition, the overpopulation of wild horses on the limited water supply is reducing the spring’s flow due to trampling and depriving other wildlife of water.

“Limited water is available in the foothills. Heavy to severe wild horse use in the valley bottoms and at spring sources and heavy trailing is affecting vegetative resources, degrading habitat necessary for wildlife, including that of the greater sage-grouse.”

Nevada-based advocate Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education notes that while BLM states in its press release that the Big Spring Valley area of the HMA has been closed to cattle grazing since 2000, the agency neglects to mention cattle grazing near the area that BLM plans to target — or that fencing and closed gates are a known issue there.

“The valley has suffered severe degradation from livestock and currently there is no livestock in that exact valley,” Leigh writes. “However decades of overgrazing, particularly in areas where the cows were directly dropped, is still painfully present. In addition to issues involving a lack of water, water quality in that area is suspect.”

The wild horses removed will be transported to corrals in Fallon, Nevada, where they will be readied for adoption or moved to off-range pastures, according to BLM.