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Northern California District
Release Date: 09/11/12
Contacts: Jeff Fontana , (530) 252-5332  
News Release No. NC-12-98

BLM Seeking Public Comments on Environmental Analysis for Wild Horse Gather

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Surprise Field Office is seeking public comments on an environmental assessment (EA) addressing wild horse population management including a proposal to gather and remove excess wild horses from two wild horse herd management areas in northeast California and far northwest Nevada.

The EA, titled “Buckhorn and Copppersmith HMAs Wild Horse Population Management Plan,” is available online at  Click on the link for Buckhorn and Coppersmith Wild Horse Population Management Plan 2012. Those who prefer the document in written or computer disc form can request copies from the BLM Surprise Field Office at (530) 279-6101.

A 30-day public comment period runs through Oct. 10, 2012.  The BLM will consider comments in developing a Decision Record to be released this fall.

Comments should be sent to Surprise Field Office, Attn:  Buckhorn and Coppersmith, PO Box 460, Cedarville, CA  96104. Comments may also be sent via email to   To be most helpful, comments should be specific to the alternatives presented in the EA.

The BLM proposes gathering approximately 234 horses and removing 138 from the Buckhorn and Coppersmith herd management areas.  The goal is to bring the population to 109 wild horses, which is the lower end of the appropriate management level of 109-160 animals in the two HMAs.   Specifically, the Coppersmith HMA has a population range of 58-85 horses, and the Buckhorn HMA’s established population level is 50-75 horses.

Of the horses gathered, the BLM plans to release back onto the range 48 mares treated with a fertility control drug, and 48 stallions to maintain the herd size and help slow population growth.

The BLM would confirm wild horse populations using inventory flights before and after roundup operations.

Horses removed from the range would be offered for public adoption in the BLM’s Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro Program. If no adoption demand exists, they will be cared for in BLM’s system of

long-term pastures in the Midwest, retaining their federal protection status.

The population levels for the two HMAs were established in the Buckhorn and Coppersmith Wild Horse Gather and Removal Plan completed in 1995, and were affirmed by the Surprise Resource Management Plan and Record of Decision in 2008.  They are designed to ensure that thriving wild horse herds live on the range at numbers the rangeland can sustain while also supporting wildlife and permitted domestic livestock.

The BLM estimates the wild horse population at 247 animals within and around the two HMAs. The horses are consuming up to three times the amount of forage allocated to them and causing damage to riparian and wetland areas. 

The EA discusses the environmental effects of several gather alternatives, including use of fertility control, and the consequences of taking no action.

The proposed action would restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship in the area consistent with the provisions of Section 3(b) (2) of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.


Last updated: 09-11-2012