The Bureau of Land Management has ended its helicopter roundup on the Owyhee Complex in Humboldt and Elko Counties in Nevada.
During the course of the roundup, which began Oct. 11, 934 wild horses were captured. Of those:
–531 (187 stallions, 195 mares, and 149 foals) have been shipped to off-range holding facilities as of Monday;
–One domestic mare and one domestic gelding found among the captured wild horses were shipped to a brand inspector;
–One domestic stud was shipped to its owner;
–362 wild horses have been released: 162 mares treated with the safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccine PZP, 195 stallions and five foals;
–27 wild horses have been killed: 26 of them were put down during the course of the roundup for “pre-existing / chronic conditions” that have included poor body conditions, previous fractures, and hernias,while one mare died of “unexpected heart failure,” according to BLM’s gather report.
The agency set out to capture 947 wild horses and permanently remove 615 from their home range. Of the horses released, BLM said it would to treat “up to” 185 mares with 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 were to be shipped to the Sutherland, Utah, Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, in order to 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.