As soon as Friday, the Bureau of Land Management will begin an emergency bait-and-trap roundup of about 60 wild horses on the Jakes Wash Herd Area, located about 30 miles west of Ely, Nev.
The agency says the removal of the wild horses over about 10 days is “needed due to lack of water and declining health of the wild horses associated with herd overpopulation,” according to a press release.
BLM will use temporary traps, made of corral panels, baited with water and feed. No helicopters will be used for the roundup.
Jakes Wash was previously a Herd Management Area: An area found by BLM to have adequate food, water, cover and space to sustain healthy and diverse wild horse and burro populations. In 2008, as part of the Ely District Resource Management Plan process, Jakes Wash was converted to a Herd Area managed for no wild horses due to a lack of water.
BLM estimates the current wild horse population of Jakes Wash to be 136-272 wild horses. The last roundup on the Herd Area was held in 2012.
The 153,663-acre Jakes Wash Herd Area is made up of a combination of public and private lands. While it is no longer managed for wild horses, it has historically been used for season grazing of privately owned cattle and sheep.
According to a 2011 Environmental Assessment, BLM allowed 13,147 Animal Unit Months of livestock grazing. One AUM is enough forage sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep for one month. Actual livestock use in the decade prior was 4,119 AUM.
The planned roundup is the latest in a series of “emergency” roundups conducted by the BLM in Nevada this summer. Others have taken place at the Triple B and Maverick-Medicine Herd Management Areas, Montezuma Peak Herd Management Area, Antelope Valley Herd Management Area, and Nevada Wild Horse Range Herd Management Area.
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.
Captured wild horses are to be shipped to the Palomino Valley Center Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Reno, Nev., to be prepared for adoption or sale.