Meadow Valley update: BLM captures 459 wild horses, kills 22 in ’emergency’ roundup

/ In The News, News
Wild horses on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area in Nevada. BLM file photo.

The Bureau of Land Management has captured 459 wild horses in what the agency deemed an “emergency” helicopter roundup of all of the wild horses on the Meadow Valley Mountains and Delamar Mountains Herd Areas southwest of Caliente, Nev., due to lack of forage and water.

Twenty-two horses died, according to the agency. Of those, 20 had a body score of 1-2 (“poor” to “very thin”) on a 9-point scale. A 21st suffered an unspecified fracture during the roundup and was euthanized, and the 22nd died from an “unexpected / acute … heart disease or failure.

The BLM’s goal was to capture and remove all of the estimated 414 wild horses. It claimed the action is needed due to a lack of forage and water, in part because of a July wildfire that burned 60 percent of the Meadow Valley Mountains HA and 14 percent of the Delamar Mountains HA, as well as ongoing drought conditions, and because of the declining health of the horses.

Since 2008, the 94,521-acre Meadow Valley Mountains HA and 183,558-acre Delamar Mountains HA have not been managed for wild horses. The BLM estimates the current populations on the two Herd Areas at 414.

The two Herd Areas are part of the 911,892-acre Caliente Herd Area Complex, none of which is managed for wild horses.

By comparison, BLM allows up to 39,920 Animal Unit Months for the grazing of privately owned cattle, sheep and domestic horses. Drought conditions have seen lower actual use: an average of 9,856 AUM over a 10-year period, from 2007-16, for example, according to planning documents, with seven allotments in voluntary non-use. One AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horseone cow / calf pairor five sheep.

Captured wild horses were shipped to the Bruneau (Idaho) Off-Range Wild Horse Corrals to be prepared for adoption or sale.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to require BLM to improve wild horse handling standards, make roundup process more transparent