Fish Creek HMA (Nev.) update: 135 wild horses removed, 63 released

/ Featured, In The News, News, Roundups
Wild horses photographed on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area in June 2019. BLM photo.

On Sunday, the Bureau of Land Management ended a helicopter roundup of 198 wild horses on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area in Nevada. No deaths were reported. 

A total of 63 wild horses were released, including mares treated with the safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccine PZP-22. RTF strongly supports the use of PZP-22 as a way to slow, not stop reproduction, as a way to slow government roundups.

The 135 wild horses removed from the range were transported to the Bruneau (Idaho) Off-Range Corrals to be readied for BLM’s adoption and sale program.

The 250,000-acre Fish Creek HMA has an agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 107-180 wild horses –or as low as one horse for every 2,336 acres.

The BLM allows private grazing on four allotments totaling 417,000 acres that overlap about 230,675 acres of the Herd Management Area. The total permitted livestock use for those allotments is 8,855 Animal Unit Months (one AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep). Actual grazing use from 2008-14 was 5,530 AUMs, according to BLM planning documents.

BLM’s stated purpose for the roundup was to “prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and burros, to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands …The action is also necessary to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the HMA, where there currently is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area,” according to a press release.

BLM also seeks to protect habitat “for other wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk.”

In 2019, BLM captured 558 wild horses and removed 533 during a nine-day helicopter roundup. Thirteen studs and just seven mares treated with PZP-22 were released, while five wild horses died. Had BLM treated more mares, it would have curbed reproduction and reduced calls for future roundups.

Read BLM’s planning documents here.