The Bureau of Land Management captured 128 wild horses on Monday during an ongoing helicopter roundup at the Triple B Complex in Nevada. Two horses were killed.
During the first week of the roundup total of 696 wild horses have been captured toward BLM’s goal of removing 800. Twelve wild horses have died, according to BLM, including most recently:
–A bay foal euthanized after suffering from water toxicity: drinking so much water that it causes a decrease of sodium levels in the blood, allowing for water to move into the brain, causing swelling that can cause seizures or death;
–A sorrel foal euthanized after suffering an unspecified injury while being transported.
The number of deaths raises concerns and the nature of some the descriptions of why horses are being euthanized again raised concerns that BLM and its contractor are not strictly adhering to the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program for Wild Horse and Burro Gathers (CAWP) guidlines.
The captured horses will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Sparks, Nev., where they will be prepared to be offered for adoption.
The 1.6 million-acre Triple B Complex includes the Triple B, Maverick Medicine and Antelope Valley Herd Management Areas and the U.S. Forest Service-managed Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory in Elko and White Pine Counties, about 60 miles north of Ely, Nev.
BLM’s stated reasons for the roundup include “to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of public lands associated with excess wild horses,” protecting the habitat of other wildlife species that include sage-grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk, and to make progress toward standards for rangeland health identified by the Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council.
BLM estimates the wild horse population there to be about 3,381 wild horses, not counting foals born this year. The BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the complex is 478 to 889 horses or as low as one horse for every 3,365 acres.
By comparison, the BLM permits 87,226 Animal Unit Months on the Triple B Complex for seasonal and some year-round grazing of privately owned cattle and sheep, the equivalent of 7,269 cow-calf pairs. An AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow-calf pair or five sheep.
Actual livestock use on the Triple B complex over the past 10 years has averaged 40,786 AUMs, or the equivalent of 3,398 cow-calf pairs.
BLM has no plans to administer fertility control and release mares back onto the HMAs, which would reduce the need for future roundups.
In 2018, BLM removed 902 wild horses from the Antelope Valley and Goshute HMAs because the agency said that the area lacked sufficient forage and water. BLM also removed 1,389 horses from the Triple B Complex. Between the two gathers, just 28 mares were treated with fertility control then released.
Roundups being conducted in Fiscal Year 2019 have nothing to do with the Fiscal Year 2020 proposal to Congress supported by RTF and other rangeland stakeholders nor do any of the stakeholders have control over BLM’s planned removals.
RTF remains focused on long-term systemic changes leading to the end of the capture and removal of wild horses as soon as possible. RTF has always, and will continue to challenge and strongly oppose: government agencies euthanizing healthy animals, selling wild horses and burros without restriction (to slaughter), surgically sterilizing wild mares and jennies, as well as any other plans, methods and policies that RTF believes to be unnecessary, inhumane or unlawful.
Viewing the roundup
Members of the public wishing to view the roundup will be escorted to the gather site by BLM. Those who wish to attend should call (775) 289-1800 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and receive instructions on meeting locations and times. Observers must provide their own transportation. BLM recommends that observers drive four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles and wear shoes and clothing suitable for harsh field conditions.