BLM to remove all wild horses from Moriah Herd Area (Nev.)

/ In The News, News, Roundups
Mares, right, and weanlings in temporary holding pens after being captured during a roundup on the Eagle Herd Management Area in Nevada in 2019. BLM file photo.

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday announced that it was moving forward with a plan that would see the agency capture and remove the remaining 714 wild horses from the Moriah Herd Area in White Pine County, Nevada.

No date has yet been set for the roundup.

The 55,300-acre Moriah Herd Management Area was demoted to Herd Area status in 2007 because BLM deemed it deficient for one of five essential components: forage, water, cover, space and reproductive viability and set the Appropriate Management Level at 0 horses.

Of the estimated 714 wild horses that still live on the range there, about half regularly leave the Herd Area in search of forage and water, according to the agency.

BLM will set out to capture as many of the horses as possible through a helicopter roundup and return periodically over the next decade to zero out the Herd Area. Captured wild horses would be offered for adoption or sale.

BLM’s assessment rejected raising AML, because its regional plan does not include horses on the Herd Area, using a bait-and-water trap as a primary means of capturing wild horses, because they have access to water outside of the Herd Area, or the use of fertility control via darting to reduce herd numbers, because it would take “decades” to zero out the herd and because much of the Herd Area is inaccessible with no roads.

Reversion of HMAs to HAs with objectives to zero-out wild horses from these areas while providing no alternative lands for those horses results is a net loss of resources for wild horses overall and a disproportionate gain for other uses. 

RTF recommended a slower and multi-faceted approach including the implementation of well-executed fertility control program that would include some on-range fertility control (via remote darting) and some gather-administer-release fertility control. That would have been more effective at creating and maintaining sustainable wild horse management with less dependence on transportation and short-term holding, where a majority of the program budget is spent.

The BLM did not analyze a reduction of privately-owned cattle or sheep on the Herd Area. The agency has allocated 17,346 Animal Unit Months (one AUM equals enough forage for one cow-calf pair, one horse or five sheep) to private livestock use. Actual use on the five allotments varied from 24-96% over the previous 10 years.

Read BLM’s planning documents here.

Send a message to your members of Congress urging them to press BLM on the implementation of safe, proven and humane fertility control.

Sign our petition telling Congress to analyze all public land use impacts, allocate an equitable share to wild horses and burros.