Drought prompts two emergency musters in Nevada

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A remote camera shows the condition of two horses drinking at a water source in one of the areas to be targeted. The image was taken in June.
A remote camera shows the condition of two horses drinking at a water source in one of the areas to be targeted. The image was taken in June.

Two helicopter musters of wild horses are set to begin in Nevada because of drought conditions in two designated herd management areas (HMAs).

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is scheduled to begin the roundups within the Fish Lake Valley and Gold Mountain Herd Management Areas (HMAs) on or about August 19.

The agency intends to relocate 180 wild horses it says are threatened by severe drought to off-range facilities.

The bureau will use the services of a gather contractor which uses a helicopter to locate and guide wild horses toward a set of corrals.

“During the gather it is anticipated that as an act of mercy, some animals with a poor prognosis for survival may need to be humanely euthanized to end their suffering,” the bureau said in a statement.

“Without these actions, it is highly likely that more animals, particularly mares and foals, would suffer over time and die if left on the range.”

The bureau’s Nevada state director, Amy Lueders, said: “This is a sad situation all the way around. We have done our best to help these horses but the combination of no forage and limited water has led to wild horses that simply need more help.”

The bureau said drought conditions had persisted throughout Nevada since 2012.

It said it had been closely monitoring drought conditions within the two areas, and associated grazing allotments, since last year.

“Although some rainfall has occurred, the moisture has been insufficient to break the drought, which has left extremely limited amounts of water and forage in the area,” the bureau said.

“Henneke Body Condition Scores within the Fish Lake Valley and Gold Mountain HMAs range from poor (1.5) to moderately thin (4). Wild horses with a Henneke Body Condition Score of 2 or less are at risk of death if they remain on the range, given the current drought conditions and lack of resources.”

The Gold Mountain area is about three miles south of Gold Point, in southwestern Nevada, and encompasses about 100,000 acres of primarily BLM land. The appropriate management level for Gold Mountain is no wild horses and 78 burros. The estimated wild horse population within the Gold Mountain HMA is 33 horses and 1 mule.

Monitoring shows that the only known perennial water source within the area is nearly dry, and has completely dried in previous years, resulting in horse deaths. Additionally, because horses are reliant on a single water source, they are unable to venture far from that water. Horses removed from the area will be transported to the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.

The Fish Lake Valley area is just northwest of Dyer, in western Nevada, and encompasses about 70,000 acres of primarily BLM land. The appropriate management level for the area is currently 54 wild horses. The estimated wild horse population within Fish Lake Valley HMA is 229.

The bureau said monitoring showed that vegetation growth was extremely limited within the area. Additionally, areas lower in elevation have been denuded of nearly all vegetation.

“Lack of vegetation is not only a problem for the wild horses, but there is occupied Bi-State Sage-grouse (BLM Sensitive Species, and Endangered Species Act Candidate Species) habitat within Fish Lake Valley HMA, with two known active leks.

“Additionally, public safety issues exist as wild horses often trail across highways to access limited water sources and foraging areas.”

Horses will be transported to the Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Ridgecrest, California.

The BLM will offer public viewing opportunities during the gather operations.

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7 thoughts on “Drought prompts two emergency musters in Nevada

  • August 20, 2013 at 6:36 am
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    This is complete hogwash! More BLM lies just to get ride of the horses.

    What about the cattle, sheep?

    Reply
  • August 20, 2013 at 7:06 am
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    And the lies continue.

    Sally Jewell is a fraud and needs to be replaced STAT.

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  • August 20, 2013 at 7:31 am
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    ” You know BLM … if you had any “common sense”.. in that brain of yours… you would ” gather ” up some water troughs.. and hay feeders and place them in the area’s … where you know the horse’s go! Then.. all you would need is an employee that has ” enough heart “.. for the wildhorses… to keep them filled. ( Shade.. would be needed over the water trough.. so it won’t evaporate from the Sun.) Unless.. you could manage.. to get an automatic waterer! It’s not ” Rocket Science “!! You people are making things harder than it has to be!! Aho

    Reply
  • August 20, 2013 at 8:22 am
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    After last week’s debacle with the tribes and USFS, I am wondering just where BLM intends to relocate these horses. Please don’t tell me it is going to be a reservation where they will receive brands of deceased owners.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm
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    In order for survival of the fittest these wildlife herds must have access to migratory ranges and water just the same as deer, elk, antelope etc. The Utah Sulphur herd is an example of the herd management area reconfiguration that restricted them from the Burbank Hills and reservoir that has never gone dry. By fencing them in restricted herd areas they are not free roaming wild herds which are a protected species under the ESA criteria, a candidate for listing, a covered species that is rare, threatened and endangered by loss of habitat.
    In structure and purpose, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is nothing more than a land-use regulation enacted by Congress to ensure the survival of a particular species of wildlife;
    no less “wild” than are the grizzly bears that roam our national parks and forests. (Case Law Mountain States v. Hodel) Congress has explicitly declared “all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands” to be “wild horses and burros.” 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1332(b)

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  • August 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm
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    Right Kathleen, the BLM creates these problems by restricting “free roaming” effectively blocking them from reaching their historic seasonal resources. Then go in and “save” them from the conditions they created themselves. “Don’t fence me in” or out as the case may be.

    Meanwhile, the BLM “works with” (what a concept) other wildlife groups – such as Bighorns Unlimited – putting in water guzzlers throughout areas where bighorns roam. No such consideration is given to wild horse advocates and organizations. We can just kiss off.

    And “relocation” actually means moving them to holding facilities – where they will then suffer substandard care, that our tax dollars pay for.

    And apparently any horse under a certain weight will be shot (euthanized) in an “act of mercy” or those that their contractors injure so badly will be shot, also in an “act of mercy”.

    These horses that are already stressed by the circumstances will now be run for miles through desert heat to the capture traps. Then electric cattle prods will be used to shock them into trailers. No water, rest, or relief will be given between the helicopter chase and the truck ride.

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  • August 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm
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    GUESS HOW LONG AFTER THE HORSES ARE GONE THE COWS COME IN OR THE FRACKING STARTS. THEY COULDN’T TELL THE TRUTH IF THEIR LIFE DEPENDANT ON IT. WHY NOT BRING IN WATER AND FOOD, BUT INSTEAD THEY GO TO THE NEAREST HELL HOLE, WHERE THEY ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY ARE SICK AND HAVE TO BE EUTHANIZED! I HAVE NO FAITH IN OUR GOV’T, ESPECIALLY THE BLM, FOREST SERVICE OR ANY OTHER DEPT.
    THEY MAKE THE LAWS AS THEY NEED IT. INCLUDING OUR LUSTROUS NEW HEAD OF THE INTERIOR. ANOTHER PUPPET!!

    Reply

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