Feds to gather wild horses in Owyhee Complex in wake of Martin Fire
Special to First Nation's Focus
ELKO, Nev. — In the aftermath of Nevada’s largest wildfire in 2018, the Bureau of Land Management’s Winnemucca and Elko District Offices will begin an emergency wild horse gather on or about September 21 within the Owyhee Complex located in Humboldt and Elko counties.
The Martin Fire, which started on July 9, 2018, burned approximately 438,000 acres. The BLM plans to gather approximately 1,175 wild horses, remove roughly 875 excess wild horses, humanely treat and release up to 150 mares with fertility control, and release up to 152 stallions.
The Owyhee Complex is located within both the Elko and Winnemucca districts and encompasses the Snowstorm Mountains, Little Owyhee, Rock Creek, Owyhee and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
The complex is composed of approximately 1.1 million acres of both private and public lands and contains the majority of the priority habitat for Greater Sage Grouse in Northern Nevada.
The Martin Fire burned approximately 46 percent of the Little Owyhee HMA and 26 percent of the Owyhee HMA, severely reducing prime grazing for wild horses.
Due to loss of forage resources, an emergency gather is necessary to help as many wild horses as possible while protecting water sources, vegetation, and important habitat for other wildlife, such as the Greater Sage-Grouse. The condition of the wild horses in the Owyhee Complex is expected to deteriorate, potentially resulting in the death of some of the wild horses if action is not taken.
The BLM expects the helicopter gather to take approximately 30 days and will focus on the Little Owyhee, Snowstorm Mountains, Owyhee and Rock Creek HMAs. The current population estimate for those four HMAs is approximately 1,400 wild horses, which includes foals born this year.
The post-gather population will be approximately 535 wild horses, just below the established appropriate management level. The BLM determined that the removal of additional wild horses below AML is necessary due to a lack of forage resources remaining after the Martin Fire.
Wild horses identified for removal will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center located near Reno, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption and Sale Program.
For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit http://www.blm.gov/whb.
Additional information and gather reports are posted on BLM’s website at https://go.usa.gov/xP4jx. Photos of the gather will be posted on the BLM Nevada Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/blmnevada; in addition, for other updates on the gather, follow the BLM Nevada Facebook page at https://goo.gl/abcBMM.