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BLM prepares for horse gather at Fish Creek HMA

The Bureau of Land Management Mount Lewis Field Office will begin a wild horse gather on or about Dec. 26 on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area near Eureka. Gather operations will be conducted using the helicopter-assisted method.

Fish Creek HMA encompasses over 250,000 acres of public land and has an Appropriate Management Level of 107-180 wild horses. A helicopter survey conducted in December 2019 led to an estimated population of 240 horses approximately 140% of the high end of the established AML.

The BLM plans to gather approximately 195 wild horses, remove approximately 135 excess wild horses and treat up to 30 mares with PZP-22, a population suppression fertility control vaccine. The treated mares will be released back to the range along with up to 30 studs. Approximately 105 wild horses will remain in the HMA once gather operations are complete.

The purpose of the gather is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and burros, 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 action is also necessary to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the HMA, where there currently is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area, and to prevent further degradation of public lands by helping to balance herd size.

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, mule deer and elk. Removing excess animals would also enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Resource Advisory Council.

“Gathers like this are only part of the actions we take to meet our obligations to ensure the health of rangelands within the HMA, to maintain a thriving ecological balance across public lands and to promote the well-being of wild horse populations,” said Doug Furtado, Battle Mountain district manager. “As always, we are committed to conducting safe and humane gather operations as we work to protect animal health and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance while protecting it from the deterioration associated with overuse.”

The BLM said its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses and burros while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.

All horses identified for removal will be transported to the Bruneau Off-Range Corrals in Bruneau, Idaho. Upon arrival, all animals will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program.

The BLM is conducting the gather under the DOI-BLM-NV-B010-2015-0011-Fish Creek Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed Feb. 9, 2015. Access the Decision Record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/42687/510.

Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website at https://go.usa.gov/x78rK. For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Shawna Richardson at 775-635-4181 or s1richar@blm.gov

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