On Monday, the Bureau of Land Management resumed a helicopter roundup on hold since February on the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area in Nevada, capturing 10 stallions, seven mares, and four foals.
The agency plans to capture an additional 127 wild horses, removing 109 from their home range near Carson City, Nev., over about four more days, not counting the 21 horses captured on Monday.
Mares returned to the range will be treated with the safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccine PZP.
The Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management HMA includes 104,316 acres, including 95,391 acres of BLM land with the rest comprised of other public and private land.
As of June 20, the BLM estimated the population n the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area at 228 wild horses compared to an agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 118-179 horses — as low as one horse for every 884 acres.
By comparison, BLM has allocated 43,008 Animal Unit Months during portions of the year to privately owned cattle on nine grazing allotments that overlap the HMA, the equivalent of 3,584 cow-calf pairs. An AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow-calf pair or five sheep.
BLM planning documents note that actual livestock use has been limited to no more than 363 total AUMs, or about 30 cattle, for year-round use, since 2006. No livestock have grazed on seven of the nine allotments during the same time period, according to BLM.
In a press release, BLM justified the roundup by blaming “excessive grazing from wild horses” for “degraded sage-grouse habitat and reduced the amount of native grass both inside and outside the (Herd Management Area). Because of lack of forage and water within the HMA, horses have been moving into residential areas and roadways, creating a public safety issue.”
Viewing the roundup
Those who wish to view the roundup are asked to call (775) 885-6101 at least one day in advance to receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times. The hotline will be updated each day by 7 p.m.