The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District, Humboldt River Field Office (HRFO); and the Elko District, Tuscarora Field Office (TFO) will initiate the Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather on or about Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. The Owyhee complex is located approximately 60 miles north of Midas in Elko and Humboldt counties and is comprised of the Owyhee, Snowstorm Mountains, Little Owyhee, Little Humboldt and Rock Creek Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
“These five HMA’s are being managed as a complex due to their geographical location with the known movement of wild horses between and within HMA’s,” said Gene Seidlitz, District Manager, Winnemucca BLM. “This gather, of some of the HMAs, is the first step in a phased-in management strategy to eventually reach low (Appropriate Management Levels).”
The exact dates are subject to change based on weather and gather operations. A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established for this gather at (775) 861-6700. A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and updated gather schedules. The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at: http://bit.ly/Owyhee.
This initial gather will remove approximately 800 excess wild horses from the HRFO’s Little Owyhee HMA with another 186 being gathered from TFO’s Owyhee HMA. Of the 186 horses gathered from the Owyhee HMA, 47 will be removed from the range with the remainder being released back to the range. Of these, approximately 46 mares will be vaccinated with PZP-22, a fertility control vaccine, prior to release. Any horses gathered above the targeted removal numbers will be released back to the HMAs.
Public lands within the HMAs will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions. However, portions of the gather area are located on private property and may be restricted from public access. The BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. The BLM has established protocols for visitors to ensure the safety of the horses, the public, BLM and contract staff. The protocols are available at: http://bit.ly/Owyhee under Observation Opportunities.
Every day will be an observation day with every Saturday being a Public Outreach and Education day. On Saturdays, a member of the District leadership will accompany members of the public and, when possible and within safety constraints, members of the public will be permitted closer access to wild horses at temporary holding.
Visitors are encouraged to sign up prior to arriving by calling the Gather Information Hotline (775) 861-6700 and leaving a message or calling Lesli Ellis, Elko District Public Affairs Specialist, at (775) 753-0386 (e-mail: [email protected]); or Mark Turney, Winnemucca District Public Affairs Specialist, at (775) 623-1541.
The BLM will use gather contractor, Sun J Livestock, Inc. The contractor uses a helicopter to locate and herd horses towards a set of corrals where the wild horses are to be gathered. The helicopter is assisted by a ground crew and the use of a domesticated horse which is trained to guide the wild horses into the corral. The use of a helicopter 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.
The gathered wild horses will be transported to either BLM Palomino Valley Center north of Reno, Nev., the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Ridgecrest, Calif. or the BLM Wild Horse Corrals near Burns, Oregon where they will be prepared for the BLM adoption program. Un-adopted horses will be placed in long term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and will 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 for slaughter.
The Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather and its impacts are described and analyzed in the Final Environmental Assessment (EA), which is available online at: http://bit.ly/Owyhee under Documents and Maps.
For more information, contact Lesli Ellis, Elko District Public Affairs Specialist, at (775) 753-0386 (e-mail: [email protected]) or Mark Turney, Winnemucca Public Affairs Specialist at (775) 623-1541 (e-mail: [email protected]).