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Controversial Calico wild horse muster ends

February 6, 2010

About 600 horses remain in the Calico area in Nevada. © BLM

The controversial Calico muster has ended, with 1922 mustangs captured from the five herd management areas in northern Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management had intended to gather up to 2700 horses from the Calico complex, but it is understood that some horses had moved out of the area during the muster operation.

The bureau said aerial reconnaissance indicated about 600 wild horses remained in the complex - within the appropriate management level range of 600-900 horses for the area.

It said it will conduct a comprehensive post-gather inventory of all the herd management areas in the Calico Mountains Complex and the surrounding area in spring.

"The gather went well, despite the weather-related delays we experienced throughout the operation," said Gene Seidlitz, the bureau's Winnemucca District Manager.

"By reducing the populations now, we can avoid the potential for an emergency gather situation later this summer," he said.

The muster has proved controversial, with thousands of submissions lodged in opposition to it when the bureau sought public input.

Wild horse advocates voiced concerns over the scale of the operation, calling it cruel and unnecessary. The bureau countered that horse numbers needed to be reduced to maintain a healthy ecological balance in the area.

Wild horse groups have continued their criticism of the bureau during the muster, voicing their concerns over the number of deaths and miscarriages.

The bureau confirmed that 39 horses had died since the gather began on December 28: seven at the gather site and 32 at the holding facility in Fallon.

It said 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 bureau said.

The gathered horses have been transported to the Indian Lakes Road holding facility in Fallon, where they are being prepared for the bureau's adoption programme or for long-term holding pastures.

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.



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