As printed in the Elko Daily Free Press (unedited)
Local Herd Reduced to Possible Genetically Non-Viable Levels
ELKO — Wild horse gatherers are taking a break this holiday season.
The Bureau of Land Management has suspended operations for the Owyhee Complex gather, which began the end of November.
The Winnemucca District, Humboldt River Field Office completed its portion of the gather and when the operation resumes Jan. 4 it will be in the Elko District’s Owyhee herd management area, where an estimated 186 horses will be gathered. Of those, 47 will be removed from the range. The remainder will be released after many of the mares have been given a fertility control vaccine.
“Phase 1 of the gather has been completed with the last wild horses being gathered and removed from the Little Owyhee (herd management area),” Gene Seidlitz, BLM Winnemucca District Manager, said in a release. “The weather and mechanical issues on the helicopter caused several days without gather operations occurring but overall wild horses have been removed safely and humanely.”
To date, 819 horses have been gathered and 808 were removed from the Little Owyhee area.
Two studs were released.
The appropriate management level for the area is between 194 and 298 horses. It had a pre-gather population of about 1,097.
Removal of the excess horses will relieve pressure on the limited resources available, according to the BLM.
Wild horses removed to date have been transported to Palomino Valley Center near Reno and the Lichtfield Corrals near Susanville, Calif., where they will be prepared for the BLM adoption program.
Unadopted horses will be placed in long term pastures and retain their “wild” status.
No horses are sold or sent to slaughter, according to BLM.
Information on the gather can be found at http://www.blm.gov/nv.