BATTLE MOUNTAIN — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Battle Mountain District will start the Callaghan Complex wild horse gather on Monday, Dec. 6. The complex is located near Austin, Nev. and consists of four wild horse herd management areas (HMA).
The gather will implement a new strategy for controlling the population growth in wild horses by vaccinating a majority of the gathered mares with fertility control vaccine and releasing them back to the HMA. A limited number of excess wild horses will be removed. The catch, treat and release strategy, recently announced by the Secretary of the Interior, will help lower the number of excess wild horses to be removed from herd areas and reduce the number of animals that go to long-term holding pastures.
The BLM expects to gather about 1,030 wild horses in the complex; vaccinate an estimated 319 mares with the fertility control drug Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP); return about 637 to the herd area; and remove about 393 excess wild horses, primarily weanlings and yearlings but may include any animals up to 4 years old. The target post-gather population for the complex is 875 wild horses. Any wild horses residing outside the complex will be removed.
PZP makes mares temporarily infertile and is not available for commercial use. The BLM uses the PZP vaccine in cooperation with the Humane Society of the United States under Food and Drug Administration rules that apply to research on new animal drugs. Research using PZP has been conducted since the 1980s. The PZP vaccine does not affect unborn foals and the vaccinated mares return to normal fertility within four years.
The Callaghan Complex includes the Rocky Hills, Bald Mountain, Callaghan, and New Pass/Ravenswood HMAs. The health of these herds has improved since the BLM conducted a gather of the complex nearly two years ago, removing 1,462 animals and administering fertility control on 121 mares. Inventory data indicates the fertility control application reduced the expected number of foals by about half for two of the HMAs. By conducting another gather while the population is slightly above the appropriate management levels (AML) and using fertility control, the BLM expects to reduce foaling rates for up to three years.
Four escorted public observation days are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10 and 17 and Jan. 7 and 14. Interested members of the public are asked to RSVP to the Battle Mountain Office, 775-635-4000. On the scheduled observation days, the BLM will rendezvous with interested members of the public at a specified time and location to caravan to the gather site.
The BLM coordinates closely with the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s (NDOA) Brands Division to provide brand inspectors during wild horse removal efforts across the State. NDOA brand inspectors must verify the animals are wild horses and burros as defined by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Once verified, the brand inspector will provide the BLM a certificate to transport the animals. Without this cooperation and coordination, the BLM would not be able to remove excess wild horses and burros which, if not removed in a timely manner, would result in degradation of our native rangelands. The NDOA also may take jurisdiction of any estray, branded or abandoned domestic horse(s) under the State of Nevada estray laws.
The excess wild horses removed from the complex will be transported to the Indian Lakes Road temporary holding facility in Fallon, Nev., where they will be checked by a veterinarian, de-wormed, vaccinated and prepared for adoption.
Gather locations will move throughout the complex. The BLM will provide driving directions and maps at: www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/battle_mountain_field.html. Four-wheel drive or high-clearance vehicles are necessary to reach the remote locations. Winter weather conditions may be extremely cold, and observers are advised to wear warm clothes including heavy jackets, scarves, gloves and boots. No facilities are available at the gather sites.
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