TONOPAH–Officials from Tonopah and Ely Bureau of Land Management offices said they’ll begin a massive wild horse gather starting Monday, Jan. 10 covering four herd areas and more than 1.2 million acres. The gather area is about 80 miles northeast of Tonopah and 30 miles west of Ely on public, Forest Service and private lands.
Plans are to gather up to 2,060 horses from the Sand Springs West and Pancake Herd Management Areas (HMAs), Jakes Wash Herd Area (HA) and Monte Cristo Wild Horse Territory (WHT). Officials will use the helicopter assisted method to conduct the operation.
Combined, the areas’ Appropriate Management Level (AML) is 361-638 wild horses. Aerial surveys completed in March 2021 estimate the population to be more than 3,200 horses—nearly 8.5 times the low end of the AML.
Officials said there isn’t enough water or forage in the area to support herds that large.
“We conduct gathers like this to ensure that the health of the rangelands and the wild horses are not at risk due to herd overpopulation and severe drought conditions,” said Robbie McAboy, Ely District Manager. “As always, we are committed to conducting safe and humane gather operations as we work to protect animal health by bringing herd size down to AML in order to help restore a thriving natural ecological balance on the range and protect it from further deterioration associated with horse overpopulations.”
Up to 30 of the mares gathered will be treated with a birth control vaccine and released back to the range. The remaining horses will be distributed to facilities in Reno, Fallon and Sutherland, Utah where they’ll be checked by a veterinarian and readied for adoption and sale.
The BLM invites the public to observe gather operations, and COVID-19 guidelines must be followed. BLM escort is required, and details will be provided through a hotline at (775) 861-6700 once operations have begun. Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website at https://go.usa.gov/xtrSa.