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by Reno Gazette Journal
The Bureau of Land Management announced it will begin an emergency gathering of 630 excess wild horses in northwest Nevada because of drought conditions and the health of the horses.
The total herd in the Jackson Mountains is estimated to be 930, which includes horses born this year, the BLM said. The area where the horses will be gathered is 60 miles northwest of Winnemucca in Humboldt and Pershing counties in the Jackson Mountain herd management area.
“The BLM is closely monitoring the condition of the wild horses in the southern end of the Jackson Mountain HMA,” District Manager Gene Seidlitz said in a statement. “It is necessary for the health of the horses to get the excess animals off the range now before their condition worsens.”
The BLM began hauling water to troughs last month but there will be little water to green the food they normally eat.
“The wild horses in the southern end of the HMA are foraging on last year’s cheatgrass and shrubs and their condition is declining,” Seidlitz said.
But the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign criticized the roundup, noting that it’s during foaling season and saying the BLM could have done other trapping to avoid using helicopters.
“The BLM’s decision to subject tiny foals, pregnant mares and already compromised horses to the trauma of a helicopter stampede without even attempting a safer and more humane clearly demonstrates the BLM’s callous disregard for the well-being of these federally-protected animals,” communications director Deniz Bolbol said in a statement.
The campaign also said the roundup didn’t meet the BLM’s criteria for an emergency.
“We’re calling on BLM to halt all plans to conduct a dangerous and cruel helicopter roundup in Jackson Mountains and to instead immediately call on the available expertise to implement a humane capture alternative that would involve the humane use of water and bait traps,” Bolbol concluded.
This roundup of wild horses will not achieve the desired population of 130 to 217, but the BLM expects there will be two or three more in the next 10 years.
“The BLM is taking precautions during the gather to reduce heat stress and distances we move the animals,” Seidlitz said. “We are working closely with the contractor to ensure we are conducting the gather in the most humane manner possible. We care about these animals and we take seriously our responsibility to manage healthy herds of wild horses on the public lands.”
The total area from which horses will be gathered is 775,000 acres.