The Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday ended its helicopter roundup on the 606,000-acre Silver King Herd Management Area, located about 60 miles south of Ely, Nev., having captured 285 wild horses.
Three deaths were reported: A 12-year-old mare with gastric ulcers, a 13-year-old stud with one eye, and a 10-year-old blind mare were euthanized.
The agency set out to capture about 258 wild horses. Its stated purpose for the roundup is to “prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses … and to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands.”
The BLM intends to treat “up to” 25 mares with the fertility control vaccine GonaCon-Equine, then release them back onto the range.
Return to Freedom supports the use of the fertility control vaccines PZP and PZP-22 to slow reproduction and reduce calls for roundups. Because GonaCon interrupts the hormone cascade, it may cause other behavioral changes that would affect herd dynamics. As such, RTF would like to see more studies to ensure that GonaCon meets the parameters of ethical and thoughtful wildlife fertility control.
The agency estimates the current population of wild horses on the HMA at 343, including foals born this year. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 60-128 wild horses or as low as one wild horse for every 10,100 acres.
By comparison, BLM allows up to 55,940 Animal Unit Months of private cattle and sheep grazing on six allotments that overlap the HMA by 24-100%. One AUM is enough forage for one cow-calf pair or five sheep per month.
In 2018, BLM captured and removed 996 wild horses from the Silver King HMA. Nineteen died during the roundup.
Horses identified for removal during this month’s roundup will be transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center in Reno, Nev., where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption and sale Program.
To view BLM’s planning documents, click here.