Due to Poor Range Conditions, Wassuk Gather Horses Won’t be Released Back to Range
|Carson City, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Carson City District, Stillwater Field Office began gathering wild horses from the Wassuk Herd Management Area (HMA) on Nov. 3. The BLM planned to gather about 475 wild horses and remove about 250 excess wild horses from the range. As many as 250 wild horses were to be released back to the range following the gather—mares having been vaccinated with a fertility vaccine and an adjusted sex ratio of 60 percent males and 40 percent females on the range to help control population growth. Because of poor body condition of the majority of the gathered horses, along with impacts of overpopulation and drought, the horses planned to be released back to the range will now be removed.“These horses are in such poor condition, it’s not really an option to release them back to the same circumstances they came from,” said Terri Knutson, Stillwater Field Manager. “Lack of forage because of excessive drought conditions and overpopulation of animals are worse than it has been in years.”
The pre-gather population estimation is 623 wild horses, and the appropriate management level (AML) for the HMA is 110-165. The post-gather population will be approximately 170 wild horses in the Wassuk HMA at the conclusion of the initial gather operations. The BLM intends to still continue with population controls and activities to achieve and maintain AML over the next 10 years by returning every two to three years to treat or re-treat mares with fertility control vaccine as well as to remove excess wild horses.
The gathered animals will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center near Reno, Nev. where they will be prepared for the BLM adoption program. The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter. Horses removed from the Wassuk HMA will be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program.
The gather area is located 12 miles southeast of Yerington, Nev., and west of Walker Lake.
For further information please contact Lisa Ross at 775-885-6100.
As of today, Friday November 9, BLM has removed 413 of the targeted 500 wild horses slated for removal in the Wassuk HMA.
The BLM “gather update” notes 5 deaths so far:
1. Sorrel yearling stud colt, body condition 2, and swayback multiple synovitois
2. Bay stud, age 7, body condition 2, and swayback
3. Bay mare, age 11, body condition 2, and icteris (jaundice)
4. Blue roan mare, age 4, body condition 2, blind in one eye, and water belly (acitis)
5. Bay mare, age unknown, body condition 2, unable to stand on her own and was euthanized in the field (this horse was not gathered so is not counted in the capture total)
The area has never had a removal operation in the history of management by BLM. Although the BLM’s assessment document failed to note the healthy predator population it is believed that is the reason this area has required so little management interference by BLM. The area has private livestock grazing, primarily sheep.
The stated purpose of the removal is to capture approximately 500 wild horses and remove approximately 250 excess wild horses from the Wassuk HMA. Removal of these animals will reduce the current herd population closer to the established appropriate management level (AML) of 110-165 wild horses. The estimated number of wild horses remaining within the HMA followin the gather will be at least 373 animals.
Photos from Wassuk: