ELY – The Bureau of Land Management gathered and removed 2,192 wild horses from public lands in northeastern Nevada last month, but that barely put a dent in the population.
An estimated 3,832 wild horses remain in the Antelope Complex along the Elko and White Pine county border. The number of horses that the complex is estimated to support is between 435 and 789.
The emergency gather was conducted in August “to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the Complex, where there was not enough water and/or forage to support the number of horses in the area, to prevent further degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands,” stated BLM.
Parts of the range are seeing more invasive weeds, including one called halogeton or saltlover, which is poisonous to horses. Russian thistle and rabbit brush have also increased, according to the BLM.
The roundup was conducted in compliance with the provisions of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
“The gather was critical to ensuring the health of public lands within the Complex, as well as the wild horses in the area, both of which are at risk due to herd overpopulation and exceptional drought conditions,” said Gerald Dixon, Elko District Manager.
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According to the BLM, “Removing excess animals will enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council. In addition, by balancing herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for other wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.”
The BLM transported the animals removed from the range to the Palomino Valley Center Sparks and the Axtell, Utah Wild Horse and Burro Off-range Corrals, to be readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption and sale program.
Wild horses not adopted or sold will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.