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.
An estimated 613 wild horses have been rounded up 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. At least four horses have died.
The Bureau of Land Management has not posted a gather report with exact numbers since midweek.
Opportunities to view the roundup operations have been limited by permission to access private land. Observers did gain permission by Friday, Leigh wrote, after signing a liability waiver.
“The area had been used at least two other days and captured about 200 horses,” she wrote. “But the only day I had viewing, we only saw one run out of eight, including a small foal. I also saw that barbed wire was used as a trap wing. Near the trap they had laid the jute directly over the barbed wire.”
On Saturday, Leigh was able to view some of the helicopter drive of the horses and all activity at the trap. The last group of about 50 horses came in together in one bunch.
“During the day, a foal did lag back at the trap,” Leigh wrote. “The little one snubbed the help of both Judas horses, heard mom at the trap and then brought himself in. Saucy trot on that baby doll.”
Leigh said that activity was not rushed and ceased after the total number of horses reached about 100.
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 as soon as next week.
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. A total of 111 horses had been returned to the range, according to the BLM’s last posted gather report.
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 Saturday, Nov. 12:
Photos from Friday, Nov. 11: