The Bureau of Land Management captured 86 wild horses on Saturday and 104 on Sunday, the 12th and 13th days of a helicopter roundup on the Surprise Complex of Herd Management Areas in Washoe and Humboldt Counties in Nevada. No wild horses were rounded up on Monday because of windy conditions.
Five wild horses were put down on Sunday: a mare over 30 years old with a body condition score of 2 (very thin) on a 9-point scale, a mare more than 20 years old due to “possible neurological/spinal condition, ambulatory issues,” a yearling due to “crooked legs, lame,” a stallion because of a “complete club foot,” and a stallion more than 20 years old due to “preexisting knee, lame.”
A total of 1,087 wild horses have been captured, so far. Fourteen other wild horses have been put down for poor body conditions or pre-existing conditions and one horse suffered a broken neck during loading.
The BLM plans to capture 1,220 wild horses and permanently remove 1,050 from the Surprise Complex.
A total of 82 wild horses have been re-released: 66 (34 mares treated with fertility control and 32 studs) on Oct. 5 , 15 stallions on Sept. 30 and one stallion on Oct. 3, according to BLM’s gather report. The BLM “may release up to 170 animals back to the Herd Management Areas, if needed, to maintain viable populations,” the agency said in a press release before the roundup.
The 397,000 Surprise Complex is made up of six Herd Management Areas. Based on a June 2019 aerial survey, the BLM estimates there are about 1,300 wild horses on the six HMAs compared to a total agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 283-496.
By comparison, BLM allows seven livestock operators to use up to 30,587 Animal Unit Months, the equivalent of 2,549 cow-calif pairs annually, for seasonal livestock grazing on allotments overlapping the HMAs. One AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow-calf pair, one horse, five sheep or five goats for a month.
BLM also plans to remove about 10 wild burros because the HMA plans do not provide for burro populations, according to the release.
Captured horses will be transferred to the BLM’s Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, Calif., “and potentially other holding facilities,” to be prepared for adoption or sale, according to the release.
Viewing the roundup
Those who wish to view the roundup should reserve a spot by calling BLM Public Affairs Officer Jeff Fontana at 530-260-0189. Each viewing site can accommodate no more than 10 visitors. In accordance with protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors will be asked to maintain social distancing and to wear face masks where distancing is not possible. On most days, members of the public will meet at 6 a.m. at the Rabbit Traxx gas station and mini mart, 580 Patterson St. (intersection of Patterson and California Route 299) in Cedarville, Calif.
Visitors must provide their own transportation in a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. They should be sure vehicle tires are sound. They must have a good spare tire and tire changing equipment. Visitors should be prepared for a full day in changing weather conditions ranging from cold mornings to hot afternoons. They should bring plenty of water and food.
There is no shade or restroom facilities at the viewing sites. Most sites will have no cell service. Travel time to some capture sites is over two hours each way on dirt and gravel roads.