The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday captured 24 wild horses on the 16th day of an “emergency” helicopter roundup on the Jackson Mountains Herd Management Area in Humboldt County, Nevada. No horses were killed on Thursday.
A total of 527 wild horses were captured, short of BLM’s goal of 600 wild horses. Thirty-one horses were killed, all for what the agency classified as pre-existing conditions. Of those, 19 were put down for “starving / malnourished,” according to the gather report.
The roundup ended on Friday with the final 26 wild horses shipped to the Palomino Valley Off-Rand Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Reno, Nev., to be prepared for adoption or sale.
In a press release, BLM’s stated reasons for the roundup include what it says are the deteriorating body condition of wild horses “due to extremely limited water sources” and “undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses.”
Before the roundup, BLM estimated the wild horse population on the Herd Management Area at 848, not including this year’s foals. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the 283,775-acre Herd Management Area is 130-217 wild horses.
By comparison, BLM allows up to 32,744 Animal Unit Months (the annual equivalent of 2,729 cow-calf pairs) of seasonal livestock grazing on six allotments that overlap the Herd Management Area by an average of 31 percent, according to BLM’s most recent Environmental Assessment, completed in 2012. The agency has not provided more recent actual-use figures for livestock.
BLM did not treat and release additional mares with safe, proven and humane fertility control that could halt future roundups.
The roundup was part of a plan to remove 6,000 additional wild horses from the range because of drought conditions by the end of September.
Return to Freedom believes that we are in this tragic position because of the BLM’s failure to implement solutions that have been available for over 20 years. For nearly 50 years, these horses have had to suffer this management program and the Americans who love them suffer with them.
This is even more tragic because other solutions exist now. The agency has resisted creating an infrastructure and a culture that could have made a sustainable and effective fertility control program possible. It has rounded up horses year after year while waiting for longer-acting vaccines instead of using the safe, proven and humane fertility control that’s available right now. These sensitive habitats are vulnerable to drought and, knowing this, a national land management agency tasked with the preservation and protection of our wild horses should have been prepared long ago and in a much better position today.