Please sign RTF’s anti-roundup petition here. Thank you to those who’ve contributed to the Wild Horse Defense Fund, which makes it possible for RTF to have humane observers on the ground at roundups. Having an active voice has proven valuable for holding BLM and contractors accountable for humane handling of wild horses, pressing for improvements to humane standards, and educating policymakers and the public about how tax dollars are being used.
About 70 wild horses were captured on Sunday during the ongoing Owyhee Complex helicopter roundup in Northern Nevada, according to Laura Leigh, who is acting as a humane observer for Wild Horse Education and Return to Freedom.
An estimated 657 wild horses have been captured since the roundup began on Nov. 2. Four have died.
The Bureau of Land Management has not posted a gather report with exact numbers since last week.
On Sunday, “drives were longer and a bit more fatigue was seen in the horses,” Leigh wrote.
At one point, a trailer was allowed to head toward the trap during a drive. A Judas horse — a horse trained to lead wild horses into the trap — was also not in place.
“I am not sure if that contributed to the difficulty getting the band in,” Leigh wrote. “It was driven back and forth across the valley, a lot of pressure was used and a lone horse broke off. The chopper went off in pursuit. When they tried to drive that horse in, it broke free of the trap.”
Captured horses are being transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center near Reno, Nevada, where they will be prepared for the BLM adoption program. Those not adopted will later be taken to off-range pastures.
The BLM plans to capture 680 wild horses in and around the Elko District’s Rock Creek and Owyhee Horse Management Areas. Of those, about 450 will be removed from the range.
A second phase of the roundup was scheduled to be held after Thanksgiving on the Winnemucca District’s Little Owyhee Horse Management Area, though Leigh reports now that the roundup may move to that location sooner.
There, 920 wild horses are the be captured and 650 removed from the range.
Mares that are not transported to the adoption center will be treated with PZP-22 fertility control vaccine before release. In the absence of updated BLM gather reports, it’s unclear how many wild horses have been released onto the range.
The agency justifies the roundup as an effort to “remove excess wild horses in order to prevent further deterioration of Greater Sage grouse habitat within the Sagebrush Focal Area (in northern Elko and Humboldt Counties. Overpopulation of wild horses leads to the degradation of rangeland resources, which adversely impacts habitat for other species as well as the horses themselves.”
Photos from Sunday, Nov. 13: