Goal of Gather
The Battle Mountain District, Tonopah Field Office is planning a wild horse gather within and outside of the Reveille Herd Management Area. The goal of the project is to gather approximately 120 horses from within the Reveille HMA and surrounding areas in the Reveille Allotment. Approximately 70 excess wild horses will be removed and approximately 50 horses would be returned to the HMA. Fertility control and/or sex ratio adjustment would be applied to the released animals in order to slow population growth rates and assist in maintain wild horse population levels below the established appropriate management level (AML). The post gather population goal is approximately 98 wild horses, which will allow for at least three years until the population nears the established AML and another gather is scheduled.
The AML for the Reveille HMA was established through the Final Multiple Use Decision for the Reveille Allotment issued June 13, 2001, which adjusted the AML to 138 wild horses. The current estimated population is 168 wild horses based on an inventory flight in November 2013 and annual growth of approximately 20%.
Details of the Gather
The BLM uses a Federal gather contractor to gather wild horses from HMAs where the BLM has determined that excess animals exist. The contractor uses a helicopter to locate and herd horses towards a set of corrals where the horses are gathered. The helicopter is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse, to lead the gathered horses into the corrals. If needed, the ground crew may assist the helicopter by roping the horses from horseback.
The BLM takes very seriously the humane treatment of wild horses and burros, especially during gathers. Helicopter has shown to be the most humane method to gather wild horses while providing for the efficiency needed to allow for selection of animals to release to the range and for the implementation of Population Growth Suppressants such as fertility control (PZP-22). The potential hazards and impacts of the gather to wild horses were fully analyzed in the 2010 Reveille Gather Environmental Assessment available at the link to the right. The Agency Expectations document for the Reveille Gather presents additional safeguards to minimize stress and injury to wild horses during gather operations.
The holding corrals and gather locations for this gather have not been chosen at this time and will be selected by the contractor during completion of the gather. It is estimated that 2-6 trap sites will be necessary. The gather area will be Reveille Valley, approximately 50+ miles east of Tonopah. There are no services in the area and part of the access will be gravel roads. Refer to the maps below for more information.
About the HMA
The Reveille HMA is located 50 miles east of Tonopah and 12 miles south of Warm Springs, Nevada, in Nye County. The area consists of 105,494 acres and encompasses an area 17 miles wide and 10 miles long. The Proposed Gather Area encompasses the Reveille Allotment which exceeds 600,000 acres in size. This area is typical of the Great Basin region characterized by north-south trending mountain ranges. Significant features are large flat valley bottoms and steep mountains with elevations ranging from 5,000 feet in the Reveille Valley to over 9,400 feet on Kawich Mountain. The area is remote and rugged, with portions of four Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) included within the proposed gather area, and portions of two WSAs within the Reveille HMA itself. The vegetation consists primarily of salt desert shrub, black sagebrush, and pinyon-juniper woodlands. Noteworthy species include Indian ricegrass, needle-and-thread grass, galleta grass, bottlebrush squirreltail, winterfat (white sage), fourwing saltbush, shadscale, and bud sagebrush.
The area falls within the Great Basin Desert which encompasses much of Nevada, western Utah, portions of southern Oregon and small parts of Idaho and California. The weather and precipitation patterns vary considerably within Central Nevada. The orographic features of the region play a very important role in the unequal distribution of precipitation. Central Nevada is very arid. The Reveille HMA area receives 5 inches of annual precipitation in the valley bottoms. The mountain tops can receive as much as 16 inches. The average precipitation received at the Reveille rain gauge since 1985 is 5.2 inches annually. Summers are hot and dry, with high temperatures in the 90’s or higher. Winters are cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing and below zero degrees. The Reveille HMA receives snow during the winter which may range from several inches to nearly a foot in depth depending upon the severity of the winter, and elevation. As a comparison, Texas, Nebraska, Kentucky and Northern California all receive 15-30 inches or more annually, which is 3-6 times more precipitation than the lower elevations of the Reveille HMA. Wild horses of the Reveille HMA are able to move into the Stone Cabin HMA and into the Nevada Wild Horse Range on the Nellis Test Site (please refer to map 4 above).
During the last Reveille gather in 2010, hair samples were collected from 51 wild horses and sent to Dr. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University for Genetic Analysis. The results indicate genetic variants and genetic variation above the mean for other wild herds. The closest similarity to domestic horses is with the Light Racing and Riding breeds followed by Oriental and Arabian breeds. There is also a cluster with a group of draft horse breeds. According to the report, the results indicate a herd with mixed origins with no clear indication of primary breed type.
During the 2014 gather, hair samples will again be collected for further genetic analysis.
Special Reveille On-site Adoption
The Tonopah Field Office plans to hold a special On-site Adoption event in Tonopah, Nevada following the gather. 10-15 recently gathered weanlings and yearlings will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals on November 8, 2014. These horses will have been vaccinated, dewormed, Coggins tested and have the BLM freezemark applied. For more information about this unique event, refer to the flyer above, contact Shawna Richardson at 775-635-4181. Click here for more details.
The remaining horses removed during the gather will be transported to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Facility at Ridgecrest, CA, where they will be prepared for adoption to the public.