Nineteen wild horses were captured on Monday on the Triple B Complex in Nevada, bringing the total captured to 346 since the Bureau of Land Management’s ongoing helicopter roundup began on July 17.
Two wild horses were killed on Monday: a 6-year-old Palomino stallion that suffered a broken neck and a 10-year-old sorrel mare put down for club foot. A total of eight wild horses have been killed since the roundup began.
The previous six were all put down for what the BLM described as “pre-existing” conditions. They included two 4-month-old foals, one for a pre-existing fractured right leg and the other for a “pre-existing deformity” of weak flexor tendons.
The BLM plans to capture up to 1,900 wild horses from the Triple B Complex to reduce the herd population to about 1,675 wild horses, not counting this year’s foals.
The agency’s stated reason for removing wild horses from their home range is a need to reduce “overpopulation within and outside the complex, where there currently is not enough water and / or forage to support to the number of horses in the area.”
The Triple B Complex includes the Triple B, Maverick Medicine and Antelope Valley Herd Management Areas. It is made up of about 1.6 million acres of public and private land and has a combined agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 482 to 821 wild horses, or as low as one horse for every 3,320 acres.
By comparison, as of 2017, when BLM completed its most recent Environmental Assessment for the complex, as many as 87,226 Animal Unit Months were permitted on the Triple B Complex for seasonal and some year-round grazing of privately owned cattle and sheep. That’s the equivalent of 7,269 cow-calf pairs, though actual use numbers have been lower in recent years. An AUM is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow-calf pair or five sheep.
As part of the roundup, the BLM also plans to treat up to 100 mares with the fertility control vaccine GonaCon, then release them.
Return to Freedom strongly supports the use of reversible fertility control as a tool to halt roundups by slowing (not stopping) herd growth, but treating about 12 percent of the remaining mares will not make an appreciable difference in reducing the size or frequency of future roundups.
In addition, we will always support the use of PZP over GonaCon. PZP has been studied and proven safe, effective, and humane over the longest period of time and in the greatest number of horses, including, importantly, the greatest number of horses in free-roaming situations.
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.
In July 2019, 802 wild horses were captured and 12 died during a roundup on the Triple B Complex, according to BLM. The agency opted not to administer any fertility control, which could have reduced the size and frequency of future roundups.
Wild horses captured during the current roundup are to be shipped to the Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corral, in Fallon, Nevada, and Sutherland (Utah) Off-Range Corrals, in Sutherland, Utah, to be prepared for adoption or sale.
Observing the roundup
Members of the public who wish to view the roundup must RSVP to (775) 299-2645 by 5:30 p.m. the night before the intended observation date. They will receive a call back no later than 9 p.m. with the observation schedule, meeting time and location. A BLM official will the group to and from observation and/or holding sites. Observers must provide their own transportation. The BLM recommends a four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle with spare tires and extra can of gas.