The Bureau of Land Management on Nov. 15 will begin a helicopter roundup of about 200 wild horses from the Fox and Lake Range Herd Management Area about 20 miles south of Gerlach, Nevada.
Brought under control in September, the Tohakum 2 wildfire burned 27,000 acres on the 177,724-acre herd management area, including an area that BLM says contain two critical water sources.
Writes the BLM in its planning documents, “Although the majority of the HMA was not burnt by the fire, the excess wild horses within the fire boundary continue to stay in the area identified for [emergency stabilization and rehabilitation] treatments. They have been and will continue to negatively impact fire rehabilitation efforts within the HMA as the horses are continually looking for food and water sources. Wild horse grazing will hinder success of the fire rehabilitation efforts for the Tohakum 2 fire.
“Protecting these areas from wild horse grazing is necessary to prevent the spread of exotic annual weed species (cheatgrass and medusahead) that has the potential for rapid conversion of this vegetation community to a weed dominated community with an entire loss of sagebrush habitat. For these reasons, the authorized officer has determined that an excess of wild horses currently exists within the Fox and Lake Range HMA and action is needed to prevent further damage to natural resources.”
In March, BLM estimated the wild horse population at the HMA at 530 wild horses, not counting foals. The agency’s “appropriate management level” for the HMA is 122-204 wild horses.
BLM permits livestock grazing on two allotments on the HMA. The combined permitted use is 5,796 animal unit months (an AUM is defined as the
amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month) on the two allotments, though ranchers with grazing permits there have voluntarily reduced their numbers in recent years and did not graze on the affected area from 2013-16, according to BLM.
Captured wild horses will be taken to the Indian Lakes Wild Horse Off-Range Corral in Fallon, Nevada, where they will be readied for the agency’s wild horse adoption program, according to BLM.
BLM is conducting the roundup under an emergency decision. To view planning documents, click here.
Attending the roundup
Members of the public who wish to view the roundup should call Jason Lutterman at (202) 304-0967 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and receive further instructions. Participants will meet at the Love’s Gas Station, 825 Commerce Center Drive in Fernley, Nevada. Those who attend must provide their own transportation — four-wheel drive vehicles are strongly recommended — as well as their own food and water. Bathrooms are not available at the trap site. Those who attend should wear shoes and clothing suitable for harsh conditions.