Horse News

BLM Begins “Emergency” Nevada Wild Horse Stampede

UPDATE ON THE ROUNDUP AT SEAMAN:  Rosemary Thomas, the BLM Ely District Manager reported that 30 wild horses were captured (10 of these were captured on the last day), and they were all sent to Delta, Utah.  (If any advocates are near Delta, please go check on the condition of the horses.)   Also, two mares were euthanized – one was about 4 yrs. old, and the other was over 20 yrs. old.  Thomas reported that 2-3 foals were dead prior to the roundup, from information on the game cameras.  Jeanne Nations, a Resource Advisory Council member went the first day of the roundup, and reported that a photographer from Las Vegas was also there,  and that the horses were driven in slowly and loaded 3 at a time into a trailer.  Nations also pointed out that as the horses were being rounded up, it rained.                           –  Debbie Coffey

Source: unedited copy from The Ely Times

Helicopters used to stampede alleged stressed horses

BLM Antelope attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM Antelope attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Bureau of Land Management Ely District, Caliente Field Office began an emergency helicopter gather on July 23, to relocate 50 wild horses threatened by severe drought from the Seaman Herd Area to off-range pastures and facilities.

Worsening drought conditions in eastern Nevada have resulted in emergency conditions within the Seaman HA that seriously threaten the health and well-being of these wild horses. Although some rainfall has occurred, the moisture has been insufficient to break the drought, which has left extremely limited amounts of water and forage in the area. Henneke body condition scores (BCS) within the Seaman HA range from poor (BCS 1.5) to moderately thin (BCS 4). Wild horses with a BCS of 2 or less are at risk of death if they remain on the range, given the current drought conditions. The BLM estimates that about one third of the horses need to be urgently removed from the area.

The BLM has been closely monitoring drought conditions and since early July has been supplementing the natural water seeps, filling tubs and troughs with water, and providing hay to the horses. Unfortunately, these animals are extremely skittish and will not drink from the man-made containers. Even with the extra water, the seeps do not provide enough water to sustain them.

“Due to the scarcity of water resources and forage, combined with the drought, these horses are quickly starting to deteriorate,” said Dr. Boyd Spratling, DVM and co-chair of the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, who toured the area on Tuesday. “Timing is critical and I believe that water trapping efforts on these particular horses won’t work. In this instance, a helicopter gather at the earliest possible date is the best decision.”

Don Davis, Wild Horse and Burro Representative on the Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council, which advises and makes recommendations to the BLM on public land management, supports the use of a helicopter to gather the horses. Davis also toured the area on Tuesday.

“What I saw was disheartening. Many of the horses that we observed were near death. A substantial number of them will die in the near future if immediate action is not taken,” Davis said.

The BLM will utilize the services of a gather contractor, which uses a helicopter to locate and herd wild horses toward a set of corrals. The pilot is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse that is trained to guide the horses into the corral. The use of helicopters has proven to be a safe, effective and practical means by which to gather excess wild horses with minimal anxiety or hardship on the animals, and is authorized by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Although the BLM had considered alternative methods of trapping, veterinarians have advised that due to their rapidly declining health, there is not enough time to individually trap the 50 horses. Horses removed from the range will be transported to the Delta Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Delta, Utah.

During the gather it is anticipated that as an act of mercy, some animals with a poor prognosis for survival may need to be humanely euthanized to end their suffering. Without these actions, it is highly likely that more animals, particularly wet mares and foals, would suffer over time and die if left on the range.

“This is a sad situation all the way around,” said BLM Nevada State Director Amy Lueders. “We have done our best to help these horses but the combination of no forage and limited water has led to wild horses that simply need more help.”

A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established at (775) 861-6700. A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and schedules. The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at

Public lands within the HA will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions, and the BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. Due to the emergency nature of this situation, the BLM appreciates advance notice from visitors wishing to attend the gather. Visitors are encouraged to sign up prior to arriving by calling the Gather Information Hotline (775) 861-6700 and leaving a message.

The Seaman Herd Area Emergency Wild Horse Gather and its impacts are described and analyzed in the Decision Record, which is available online at

The approximately 358,834-acre Seaman HA is located in Lincoln and Nye Counties, about 35 miles south of Lund, Nevada. Seaman is a Herd Area (HA), not a Herd Management Area (HMA). The horses found within the HA are animals that historically have been there, but have never been able to be totally removed from the area following the Land Use Plan decision in 2008 to zero out or not actively manage them. HAs are those geographic areas where wild horses and/or burros were found at the passage of the Wild Horse and Burros Act in 1971. HMAs are those areas within Herd Areas where the decision has been made, through Land Use Plans, to manage for populations of wild horses and/or burros. Seaman was determined to be a Herd Area due to the lack of suitable habitat, specifically inadequate forage or water. HAs, including Seaman, lie within a Mojave Desert transition zone where trees and brush comprise the primary vegetation; relatively few grasses or forbs are present and water is limited.

12 replies »

  1. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Horses who’s health is already compromised and they want to chase them with helicopters scaring the hell out of them. Yeah that’s right…perfect sense!


  2. God have Mercy ,,, they are not helping .Since they like helicopters so much they SHOUD SUPPLY HAY DROP WITH ADDING WATER TO EXISTING WATERING HOLES !!!! They can NOT take more that they are not capable of caring for !!!


  3. What kind of Mentality further stress already stressed Mustangs !!!!!!!!omg !!! jUST Bring the\m water !!!! For Gods sake PLEASE BLM dont do this round up!!!!!!!!!!




  5. I am the “photographer from Las Vegas” Jeanne Nations referred to in the above update. I documented this “gather” on July 23rd on behalf of the Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. I admit that I arrived at this “gather” with a chip on my shoulder… in other words, I was primed to jump down the throat of the first person that treated these horses outside the realm of proper handling procedures. (I’ve been around horses all my life. I’m a horse owner and operate a horse related business, so I know what that is) I almost hate to say it, but I was impressed with the professionalism of the BLM’s conduct. BLM personnel led us to an observation area up on a hillside right above the trap itself, with uninhibited viewing up and down the canyon. Even the helicopter pilot, (from the Cattoors no less!) did a good job… staying high above the horses, he brought most of them in at a slow lope. None of the horses appeared to be stressed-out and they weren’t sweaty. Once in the trap, wranglers shooed the horses through a series of 3 gates to the stock trailer, where they were allowed to get in, (and back off) if they wanted to. This is the accepted way to get a skittish horse into a trailer without freaking them out. Speaking as a licensed professional animal handler, nothing I saw on this particular day could be called inhumane… and that surprised the hell out of me! It proved the BLM does have the ways, means and personnel, (in possession of the necessary code of ethics) to conduct roundups humanely. If they had conducted every round up like this one, we advocates could only have complained about their motives for removing the horses.

    However, I don’t for a minute buy the BLM’s explanation that these horses are being removed because of drought conditions and/or a lack of forage. I saw plenty of cow pies all around the area, so there are definitely cattle grazing out there somewhere nearby. Also, as Debbie Coffey posted on July 24th, “BLM Digs Deeper Into Man-Made Drought”, this Herd Area is located on land the BLM is offering for oil and gas leasing. (So much for that!) Nor do I agree with the BLM’s assessment of the horses body conditions of 1.5 to 4.0. In my opinion, none of the horses in the temporary holding pens, (and I watched all of them come into the trap, so I know they were the same animals) looked, “near death” to me. Some were thin, yes, but that’s all. I think they would’ve been fine with continued supplementing of water and forage for awhile. But, these horses are in the BLM’s way, so, regardless of the fact that they are located, “where presently found” in 1971, the BLM feels justified in zeroing them out under the Land Use Plan decision in 2008.

    Ben Noyes (from BLM) escorted us around the temporary holding area and answered all questions asked of him. He was not condescending and it didn’t strike me that he was lying to us. He explained that they had observed one of the stallions chasing the others away from the water seep and was confident that once he was captured, more horses would come down for water. I was sad to read in Debbie Coffey’s update, that a few horses were euthanized, but in reality, sometimes that is warranted.

    Melissa Ohlsson
    Vice President
    America’s Wild Horse Advocates/Spring Mountain Alliance
    Las Vegas, NV.


    • Thank you Melissa, it is always good to have a horse professional go out to observe. I am glad it was Cattoors, myself. If it had been Sun J (and I think they were let go? Isn’t there a new contractor to replace them?) it would have been chaos.
      People in the area are keeping their eyes open for what is going on and the horses BLM wanted us to see that were in less good shape were in many of their photos. The horses run into the funnel and other pictures I saw looked very good. BLM is still into as much slight of hand as they can get away with. But Ben Noyes stayed out overnight with night vision binoculars to watch horses drink and the water was in little plastic tubs. If I were a wild horse I would have stayed away from the hidden man and the tiny tubs, also.

      Just ‘being in the way’ is all it takes for BLM to disenfranchise the wild ones. It is not legal.

      Best of luck to the law team on the Twin Peaks Appeal!

      There is a lot going on in Nevada with the wild ones right now and anyone who can get out there and observe should. Especially to HMAs who are on the bLM hit list.


  6. This doesn’t make sense either. The Blm just leased out over 388,000 acres for fracking in Northern Nevada. Using 3 – 5 million gallons of water per frack drill, which once used it’s toxic. I don’t really think the blm knows the meaning of anything they say or do. Just as long as they get money for their evil doings. Removing the horses to where? Relocating to another Palomino Valley or one other hell hole. That is a great thing, they can die there. Yep, makes a lot of sense to me.


  7. This is not the full story of what is happening in Seaman HA! These wild horses could be doing fine, but the BLM officials have failed to fend for their resources, including both forage and water, and have let others, such as ranchers and energy developers, hog the major resources!


  8. It is NOT the horses that are the PROBLEM…its the ranchers…plenty of open range in Nevada…these horses are not stupid they know where to find shade,food and water…they know THIER land and the ranchers want to take thier land….as usual…I just hope someone goes and checks these horses in Delta or wherever the BLM decides to put them…hopefully not Palomino Valley…that place needs to be shut down IMMEDIATELY!!!….you want to see neglect of the horses go to Palomino Valley…


  9. Cut back on livestock, secure water and forage, give the wild horse enough space and adequate year-round habitat for long term viable populations, be positive toward them not negative! BLM See my Reserve Design proposal in my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy, available on amazon


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