The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) expects to begin a helicopter-conducted wild horse gather on or about Nov. 26 within and outside the Silver King Herd Management Area (HMA), in eastern Nevada.
The agency said the HMA’s horse population is currently more than 10 times above the land’s capacity to, over the long-term, support wild horses along with the other wildlife. The BLM plans to gather and remove up to 980 excess wild horses.
The BLM Ely District’s Caliente Field Office is conducting the gather operation, which is expected to last approximately 21 days. The gather might also take place in areas outside the Silver King HMA where wild horses have moved in search of food and water, creating a public safety hazard, the agency said. Approximately 244 wild horses will remain in the HMA once the gather is completed.
The BLM said the gather’s purpose is to prevent undue or unnecessary public land degradation associated with excess wild horses and restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-uses relationship on public lands, consistent with the provisions of Section 1333(b) of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Removing excess animals would also enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council, the agency said.
The HMA’s current population estimate is approximately 1,224 wild horses, including the 2018 foal crop. The BLM set the Silver King HMA’s appropriate management level—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—at 60-128 wild horses.
All horses removed from the range will be transported to the Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, in Fallon, Nevada, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program. Visit blm.gov/whb to find information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro.
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 agency said it 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.
The public is welcome to view the daily gather operations, provided that it does not jeopardize animal, staff, or observer safety or disrupt gather operations. The BLM anticipates viewing opportunities will begin on or about Nov. 26, weather and logistics permitting, and the agency will escort the public to gather observation sites located on public lands. Those wanting to view gather operations are asked to notify Public Affairs Specialist Chris Hanefeld at 775/289-1800 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and receive specific meeting location and time instructions.
The BLM is conducting the gather under the DOI-BLM-NV-L000-2017-0005-EA Silver King HMA Gather Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed on Nov. 8, 2017. Access the Decision Record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy at go.usa.gov/xQmBN.
Once the gather is underway, the BLM will post gather reports and additional information at go.usa.gov/xPGf8. Individuals with technical information questions should contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Ben Noyes at 775/289-1836 or firstname.lastname@example.org.