After being grounded by winds and snow on Friday, the Bureau of Land Management captured 161 wild horses Saturday and Sunday, the 12th and 13th days of a helicopter roundup on the Pancake Complex of Herd Management Areas, about 30 miles west of Ely, Nev.
One wild horse, a 20-year-old stallion, suffered a broken bone on Saturday and was put down.
A total of 949 wild horses (394 stallions, 430 mares and 125 foals) have been captured, so far. A total of 11 wild horses have been killed, eight listed as chronic / pre-existing conditions, like swayback, and three for sudden / acute injuries, including a broken leg and an unspecified “acute condition (undiagnosed).”
Four mares are listed as having been released. Because they were not counted as being treated with fertility control, they may have escaped the trap site.
BLM plans to capture 2,060 wild horses and remove up to 2,030 from their home range. It plans to treat and release with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22 up to 30 mares but only if it captures any of a small number of mares treated with fertility control in 2012, an action too small to be effective in halting future roundups.
BLM last removed wild horses from the complex during “emergency” bait-and-trap roundups in 2018 and 2016 during which a combined 228 wild horses were captured and five killed. During both of those roundups, BLM failed to treat and release additional mares with safe, proven and humane fertility control that could slow reproduction and halt future roundups.
In a press release, the BLM said that the removal of wild horses was necessary “to reduce [the] overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the complex, where there currently is not enough water and/or forage, both for short- and long-term management, to support the number of horses in the area, and to prevent further degradation of public lands by helping to balance herd size.”
The Pancake Complex includes the Pancake Herd Management Area(HMA), Sand Springs HMA and the Jakes Wash Herd Area, managed by BLM, as well as the Monte Christo Wild Horse Territory, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Jakes Wash is not actively managed for wild horses.
Altogether, the complex includes 1.2 million acres of public and private lands. In March 2001, the BLM estimated the population at 3,244 wild horses in or just outside the Herd Management Areas. The combined agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 361-638 wild horses.
By comparison, BLM allows up to 59,427 Animal Unit Months of seasonal private cattle grazing over the same acreage. That’s the year-round equivalent of 4,952 cow-calf pairs.
Captured wild horses will be transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center, in Reno, Nev., Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corral, in Fallon, Nev., and Sutherland (Utah) Off-Range to be prepared for adoption or sale.
Viewing the roundup
Members of the public who wish to view the roundup must call nightly to (775) 861-6700 to receive instructions for meeting times and locations. COVID-19 guidelines include mask-wearing, social distancing, and bringing hand sanitizer. Those who are feeling sick or were exposed to COVID-19 during the previous 14 days should not attend.