Owyhee roundup: Two wild horses die, 42 released, Nov. 15, 2016

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Update: BLM has fixed its website, and daily gather reports are now available by clicking here. This post has been updated to reflect BLM’s numbers.

Two more wild horses had died during the ongoing Owyhee Complex helicopter roundup in Northern Nevada, the Bureau of Land Management said on Tuesday.

Both were said to have died of pre-existing conditions, according to Laura Leigh, who is acting as a humane observer for Wild Horse Education and Return to Freedom. Seven horses had died since the roundup began on Nov. 2.

A total of 770 wild horses have been captured during the roundup. Of those, 153 have been released, including 42 studs that were set loose on Tuesday.

Leigh said that Tuesday was marked by apparent disorganization as changes were made to the release process after members of the public on hand were positioned for viewing. At one point, she said, a truck apparently driven by a rancher or hunter — not BLM or contractor employees — drove near the pens just as horses were released.

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 set out to capture 680 wild horses in and around the Elko District’s Rock Creek and Owyhee Horse Management Areas. Of those, about 450 were to be removed from the range.

A second phase of the roundup will take place at Winnemucca District’s Little Owyhee Horse Management Area. There, 920 wild horses are to be captured and 650 removed from the range.

Mares that are not transported to the adoption center are to be treated with PZP-22 fertility control vaccine before release.

BLM 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 Tuesday, Nov. 15: