The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began a helicopter-conducted wild horse gather on Jan. 31 within the overpopulated Triple B Complex in Eastern Nevada.

The agency said the operation’s purpose is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses, and to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands, consistent with the provisions of Section 1333(b) of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM said it strives to be a good neighbor in the communities it serves, ensuring public safety is not at risk due to the overpopulation of wild horses and providing opportunities for economic growth with space for traditional uses.

The current population estimate for the Triple B Complex is approximately 3,842 wild horses. The BLM has set the cumulative appropriate management level for all the herd management areas (HMA) within the targeted gather area at 472–884 wild horses. The appropriate management level is the level at which wild horse populations are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them and other mandated uses of those lands, including protecting ecological processes and habitat for wildlife and livestock.

Originally, the BLM had planned to gather 1,500 wild horses and remove approximately 1,000 horses. Due to a larger number of animals located outside the complex and on private lands, public safety concerns, a higher rate of horses in poor body condition than anticipated, and concerns that the abnormally dry conditions could lead to an emergency situation this summer, the BLM has elected to gather fewer animals, but remove an additional 300 horses from the range.

Approximately 1,400 wild horses will be gathered and 1,300 will be removed. A total of 28 mares have been treated with PZP and released; there will be no further PZP treatments for the remainder of this gather. The gather operation, is still expected to last approximately a month and is being conducted by the BLM Ely and Elko District Offices. Approximately 2,466 wild horses will remain in the complex once the gather is completed.

The Triple B Complex is located in both the BLM Ely and Elko Districts and consists of the Triple B HMA (Ely), Maverick Medicine HMA (Elko), Antelope Valley HMA west of Hwy 93 (Elko), and Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory (Elko). The gather could also take place in areas outside of those HMAs where wild horses have moved in search of food and water and are creating a public safety hazard by traveling regularly across Jiggs Road.

The majority of the horses identified for removal will be transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center, in Reno, Nevada, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program. In addition, should the Palomino Valley Center reach capacity, the remainder of the horses removed will be transported to the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, located in Susanville, California. For information on how to adopt a wild horse, visit blm.gov/whb.

The BLM said its priority is to conduct safe, efficient, and successful wild horse gather operations while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses while meeting our overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with current BLM policy, standard operating procedures, and contract requirements.

Members of the public are welcome to view the daily gather operations, provided that doing so does not jeopardize animal, staff, and observer safety or disrupt gather operations. The BLM will escort the public to gather observation sites located on public lands. The BLM anticipates that viewing opportunities will continue daily, weather and logistics permitting. Those wanting to view gather operations must notify Public Affairs Specialist Greg Deimel at 775/388-7078 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times.

The gather is being conducted under the DOI-BLM-NV-E030-2017-0010-EA Antelope and Triple B Complexes Gather Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed on Dec. 21, 2017. The decision record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy are available at goo.gl/HQJ73h.

Gather reports and additional information are posted on BLM’s website at go.usa.gov/xnp7V. Gather photos of the gather are posted on the BLM Nevada Flickr page at goo.gl/2BXG3p. Additional gather updates can be found on the BLM Nevada Facebook page at goo.gl/abcBMM. For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Ben Noyes at 775/289-1836 or bnoyes@blm.gov.