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Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates'



Issue: The Calico Mountains Complex wild horse roundup.

Update: 2/5/10 Situation Report Update

The following information was posted to the BLM web site:

Reno, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District has concluded the Calico Mountains Complex gather north of Gerlach, Nev., with 1,922 excess wild horses removed. The gathered horses were transported to the Indian Lakes Road holding facility in Fallon, Nev. where they are being prepared for the BLM’s adoption program or for long-term holding pastures.

Based on aerial reconnaissance by the BLM, an estimated 600 wild horses remain in the Complex, which is within the appropriate management level range of 600 to 900 established for that area. In late spring, the BLM will conduct a comprehensive post-gather inventory of all the herd management areas (HMAs) in the Calico Mountains Complex and the surrounding area.

“The gather went well, despite the weather-related delays we experienced throughout the operation,” said Gene Seidlitz, BLM Winnemucca District Manager. “By reducing the populations now, we can avoid the potential for an emergency gather situation later this summer.”

The BLM will continue to offer the public observation days by appointment only to view the horses that have been transported to the Indian Lakes Road Facility near Fallon. To participate in a guided tour of the Indian Lakes Road Facility, please contact the BLM at 775-861-6586.

Thirty-nine horses have died since the gather began: seven at the gather site and 32 at the facility in Fallon. Most of the deaths were horses that were in extremely poor body condition because of the lack of forage on overpopulated rangelands. These animals either died or were euthanized by the veterinarian on-site at the Fallon facility.

The Calico Mountains Complex encompasses 550,000 acres of public and private land and includes five herd management areas: Black Rock Range East, Black Rock Range West, Calico Mountains, Granite Range, and Warm Springs Canyon.

Some of the organizations that have been fighting with BLM over this roundup have taken notice that the population count at the end of the roundup (estimated horses remaining plus horses removed) totaled over 500 fewer horses than the estimate BLM used to justify the roundup, a margin of error of about one-fifth the total horses.

While it is still arguable that the horse population in the Calico was reaching a critical level, advocates are quick to point out that land use planning and animal management needs to be based on hard data, not estimates. Furthermore, as the advocates stated at the beginning of this gather, BLM's assertion that the agency was going to provide birth control to some of the horses was not supported by their gather strategy. As predicted, the concept of waiting until the end of the gather to provide birth control and release horses was a self defeating strategy for as the situation showed, no horses were left to provide with birth control.

The Western Watersheds Project has filed a court action regarding BLM's Resource Management Plans. This matter can be viewed here.

This concludes the report series on the Calico Mountains Complex gather.

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