Owyhee Complex (Nev.) update: BLM captures 21 wild horses, kills 4

/ In The News, News, Roundups

Wild horses are driven into the trap by a contractor’s helicopter during November 2016’s Owyhee roundup in Nevada. RTF file photo.

The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday captured 21 wild horses on the 17th day of a 947-horse helicopter roundup on the Owyhee Complex in Humboldt and Elko Counties in Nevada.

Four wild horses were put down on Wednesday, according to BLM’s gather report:

  • A sorrel mare more than 20 years old “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with no prognosis for recovery”;
  • a buckskin mare more than 15 years old “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished and broken fetlocks) with no prognosis for recovery”;
  • a 9-year-old roan mare “due to chronic injury (poor body condition: starvation/malnourished) with no prognosis for recovery”;
  • and a 3-month-old 3 bay foal “due to chronic injury (hernia: developmental).”

A total of 552 wild horses have been captured during the roundup, so far. Eight other wild horses have been put down for reasons that have also included poor body conditions, a developmental hernia, “no teeth / very old age,” and “chronic injury (fractured / broken ankle).”

Fourteen stallions were released on Wednesday, bringing the total number of wild horses released to 69 (46 stallions, 20 mares treated with fertility control and 3 foals).

The agency plans to permanently remove 615 wild horses from their home range. Of the horses released, BLM plans to treat up to 185 mares with the safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccine PZP.

“The purpose of the gather is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses, to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands…,” BLM wrote in a press release. “By balancing herd size with what the land can support, the (field office) aims to address resources issues related to drought and past fire damage and protect habitat for other wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.”

Prior to the roundup, BLM estimated the population of the complex at 1,188 wild horses, including foals this year, based on a May 20 flight over the complex.

The Owyhee Complex is made up of the Little Humboldt, Little Owyhee, Owyhee, Rock Creek and Snowstorm Mountains Herd Management Areas. The total agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the 1.055 million-acre complex is 621-999 wild horses.

By comparison, BLM allows 153,624 Animal Unit Months for seasonal private livestock grazing on allotments that overlap the Owyhee complex by 5-91%, the equivalent of 12,802 cow-calf pairs annually, according to planning documents. One Animal Unit Month is a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep.

Wild horses removed from the range will be shipped to the Sutherland, Utah, Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, where they will be prepared for adoption or sale.

BLM last conducted a roundup on the Owyhee Complex in 2018. The “emergency” roundup followed a wildfire that burned 438,000 acres in northeastern Nevada. A total of 1,178 wild horses were captured. Of those, 280 wild horses were returned to the range, including 127 mares treated with fertility control, and 25 wild horses were killed.

In 2016, BLM captured 1,832 wild horses on the complex. Of those, 402 were re-released, including 199 mares treated with fertility control. Eighteen wild horses died.

For BLM’s planning documents, click here.

For BLM’s tentative roundup calendar, click here.

Viewing the roundup

When traps are located on private property, viewing will be allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while viewing will be available every day when traps are set up on public land, according to the press release. Once gather operations have begun, those wanting to view gather operations must call the gather hotline nightly no later than 5:30 p.m. at (775) 861-6700 to RSVP.