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BLM to begin Augusta Mountains wild horse gather


blm_logo-300x261-1694876-8407812BLM NEWS RELEASE

WINNEMUCCA The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District, Humboldt River Field Office will initiate the Augusta Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) Wild Horse Gather on or about Monday, January 31, 2011. The Augusta Mountains HMA is located in Churchill, Lander and Pershing counties, about 75 miles southeast of Winnemucca, Nevada.

The BLM will gather approximately 275 wild horses from in and around the Augusta Mountains HMA.  There are approximately 294 horses that reside within the Augusta HMA.  All horses gathered within the HMA will be returned back to the HMA after the mares are vaccinated with the PZP-22 (Porcine Zona Pellucida) fertility control drug.  Additionally, the BLM plans to gather and remove approximately 40 to 50 excess wild horses that have established home ranges well outside the HMA in the adjoining Fish Creek Mountains.

Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Augusta Mountains HMA is 185 to 308 wild horses.  The goal by vaccinating the mares with PZP-22 before releasing them back is to slow population growth and maintain population size within the AML, and extend the time before a gather to remove excess wild horses would be needed.

Removing the excess wild horses outside the HMA will help to prevent degradation of the range, and achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship as required under the 1971 Wild Fee-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.  The removal of excess wild horse will help to achieve and maintain healthy, viable wild horse populations.

There will be no closure of the public lands and therefore, public lands within the HMA will be open to the public during the gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions.  The BLM has established protocols for both non-scheduled public observation days and scheduled public observation days to ensure the overall safety of the public, the BLM and gather contract staff and the animals.  The protocols are available at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/augusta_mountains_hma/publicviewing.html.        Maps of the gather area will be available at the Winnemucca District Office during regular business hours 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

BLM recognizes and respects the right of interested members of the public and press to observe the Augusta Mountains HMA Gather.  At the same time, the BLM must ensure the health and safety of the public, the BLM’s employees and contractors, and America’s wild horses.

Scheduled Public Observation Days

The BLM has tentatively scheduled observation days on Feb.1, 3, and 5, to provide the media and public opportunities to view gather activities.  The dates are subject to change depending upon weather and gather operations.  Scheduled days provide visitors more opportunity to interact with BLM staff and will include escorted opportunities to observe the animals at the gather.  To sign up, contact Lisa Ross, public affairs specialist, at 775-623-1541.  The BLM will also regularly post gather information on its Website at: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_programs/wild_horses_and_burros/augusta_mountains_hma.html.

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 confirm that the animals are not domestic horses.  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 the 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 gathered animals will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., where they will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals. Wild horses for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.

Gather site dates are subject to change depending upon weather and gather operation.  A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been set up at 775-623-1728 where the public can listen to a recorded message with information on daily gather activities and updated gather schedules.

For more information, contact Lisa Ross, BLM Winnemucca District public affairs specialist, at 775-623-1541 or [email protected].

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