Owyhee (Nevada) Complex update: 852 wild horses captured, 21 killed

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A contractor’s helicopter chases wild horses into the trap during the 2016 Owyhee Herd Management Area roundup in Nevada. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.

The Bureau of Land Management has captured 852 wild horses and put down 21 during the ongoing emergency helicopter roundup at the Owyhee Complex in Nevada.

Through Wednesday, 365 mares, 332 studs and 155 foals had been captured, with 35 studs and 25 treated mares returned to the range, according to BLM. Those not returned to the range are being transported to Palomino Valley Center located in Reno, Nevada, to be offered for adoption.

Twenty-one wild horses have been put down for what BLM says were pre-existing conditions. Those included nine that the agency says suffered from blindness (seven of which were also labeled “inherently dangerous”). Other explanations included three put down for hernias, one listed as “inherently dangerous” without any physical problem mentioned, and three because of “serious physical defect” without further explanation.

The roundup had been planned for Fiscal Year 2019. It was moved up following the Martin Fire: a wildfire that burned 438,000 acres starting on June 9. That included about 46% of the Little Owyhee Herd Management Area and 26% of the Owyhee Herd Management Area.

“The situation is too extreme to be addressed through the normal gather cycle,” according to the agency. “The BLM’s goal is to help as many wild horses as possible while protecting the habitat for other wildlife, including water sources and vegetation. The condition of the wild horses in the Owyhee Complex is expected to deteriorate, potentially resulting in the death of some of the wild horses, if actions are not taken soon.”

The Owyhee Complex is made up of 1,120,763 acres of public and private land. Its BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the four HMAs (Little Owyhee, Snowstorm Mountains, Owyhee and Rock Creek) on which the roundup is to be focused is 573-919.

BLM’s goal is to capture 1,175 wild horses, removing 875 and returning 150 mares treated with fertility control and up to 152 stallions.

Prior to the roundup, BLM estimated the wild horse population on the four HMAs at 1,400 wild horses. The post-roundup number will be about 535 – 38 below low AML – because of a lack of forage on the Little Owyhee HMA.

By comparison, BLM allows 153,624 Animal Unit Months for private livestock grazing on the Owyhee complex, according to planning documents. One Animal Unit Month is a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep.

Viewing the roundup

Members of the public who wish to view the roundup must notify jlesieut@blm.gov prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and in order to receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times.

Take Action

Call your members of Congress at (202) 225-3121 (to find direct numbers, go to https://www.callmycongress.com).

Urge your senators to:

* Stand strong in Conference committee on the Senate’s language protecting wild horses and burros and on defunding horse slaughter, if the senator sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee (click for a list of members: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/about/members).

For senators *not* on the Senate Appropriations Committee: Ask them to tell members of the Conference committee that constituents do not want them to waiver either on protecting wild horses or defunding horse slaughter.

* Oppose a new, quietly implemented BLM policy increasing the number of wild horses that can be sold to individuals and the frequency of those sales. This move will only lead to the slaughter of wild horses, something Congress has strongly rejected;

* Support the SAFE Act (S. 1706) to ban slaughter and the transportation of horses for slaughter.

Urge your congressional representative to:

* Oppose a new, quietly implemented BLM increasing the number of wild horses that can be sold to individuals and the frequency of those sales. This move will only lead to the slaughter of wild horses, something Congress has strongly rejected;

* Oppose the House version of the FY19 Interior Appropriations bill because it contains an amendment allowing for the mass sterilization of wild horses and burros; instead, ask your representative to support Senate language on wild horses being considered by the House and Senate Conference committee, instead;

* Oppose the FY19 Agriculture Appropriations bill because it does not include the horse slaughter inspection defund language; instead, ask your representative to support the Senate language being considered by the House and Senate Conference committee, instead;

* Support the SAFE Act (H.R. 113) to ban slaughter and the transportation of horses for slaughter;

* Support the Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R. 4040) to ban hauling horses on double-deck trailers under all circumstances.

Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund, which fuels our lobbying, grassroots advocacy, selective litigation and on-range monitoring of roundups.

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