Clan Alpine HMA Facts
Where is the Clan Alpine herd and what is special about these animals?
The Clan Alpine Wild Horse Herd covers about 314,986 acres of public and private land acres in the Clan Alpine Herd Management Area (HMA), located about 60 miles east of Fallon, Churchill County, Nevada.
Current horse population estimates are approximately 724 horses within the HMA, which is within the AML range of 619-979 horses.
The area is also utilized by livestock (under terms and conditions outlined in grazing permits) and a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.
The Clan Alpine wild horses are most likely descendants of local ranch horses that in 1971 resided in the area that is now the HMA.
What needs to be done to maintain this herd?
BLM plans to gather 580 horses within the HMA; 232 mares from this group will be treated with Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP), a two year fertility control vaccine, and then the entire 580 horses will be released back into the HMA.
Treating these mares will slow reproduction, helping to maintain a healthy Clan Alpine herd and to restore or maintain the rangelands in a healthy condition, maintaining the Appropriate Management Level (AML), and reduce the number of excess wild horses that would need to be removed in the future.
Post-gather, every effort will be made to return the released horses to the same general area from which they were gathered. The BLM intends to return to these HMAs in 2-3 years, if necessary, to gather and retreat the mares to maintain the proposed population control measures.
Why is the gather necessary?
The current estimated Clan Alpine wild horse population of approximately 724 animals is within the HMA is in the target range of 619-979 horses set for the AML. The utilization of the PZP-22 vaccine will help reduce population growth and assist in maintaining a population size within the AML, ensuring that the wild horses will remain healthy and vigorous and in balance with other range resources.
Maintaining wild horse populations within AML sustains a healthy horse population, ensures a thriving natural ecological balance, and prevents degradation to rangeland conditions by reducing negative impacts to rangeland resources that can result from wild horse over population. This has been demonstrated by the evaluation of key areas and ecological sites under rangeland health assessments protocol. Damage results from over utilization of resources when populations exceed the carrying capacity of the rangeland.
Reducing wild horse populations to within established AMLs will make significant progress in attaining the management objectives indentified in the Carson City Consolidated Resource Management Plan (CRMP) and the Standards for Rangeland Health & Guidelines for Grazing Management (S&Gs) in the Sierra Front Northwestern Great Basin Area.
How does BLM determine the Appropriate Management Level (AML) for horses?
The AMLs were established upon completion of an in-depth analysis of habitat suitability, resource monitoring and population inventory data.
The upper limit of the AML range is the maximum number of wild horses that can be maintained within an HMA while maintaining a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship on the public lands.
Establishing the AMLs within a population range allows for the periodic removal of excess animals (to the low end) and subsequent population growth (to the maximum level) between removals.
Development of the Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) for Clan Alpine included public involvement.
Which livestock grazing allotments overlay with this wild horse HMA?
The Clan Alpine HMA is found within portions of the Clan Alpine, Cow Canyon and Dixie Valley Livestock Grazing Allotments.
Forage is allocated by Animal Unit Months (AUMs). An AUM is the amount of forage consumed in a month by an adult horse, a mare and foal, two burros, an adult cow or cow and calf, or five sheep. BLM actively manages authorized livestock use to mitigate impacts, while wild horses roam freely, year-round as the law allows.
Why will BLM gather these Clan Alpine wild horses in the middle of the winter?
Winter gathers are preferred in the Clan Alpine Mountains because the steep terrain and higher elevations make it difficult to gather wild horses during the summer months. Under winter conditions, these horses are often located in lower elevations due to snow cover at higher elevations. This typically makes the horses closer to the potential trap sites and reduces the potential for fatigue and stress.
While deep snow can tire horses as they are moved to the trap, the helicopter pilots allow the horses to travel slowly at their own pace. Trails in the snow are often followed to make it easier for horses to travel to the trap site. On occasion, trails can be plowed in the snow to facilitate the safe and humane movement of horses to a trap.
In some areas, a winter gather may result in less stress as the cold and snow does not affect wild horses to the degree that heat and dust might during a summer gather. Wild horses may be able to travel farther and over terrain that is more difficult during the winter, even if snow does not cover the ground. Water requirements are lower during the winter months, making distress from heat exhaustion extremely rare. Temperature related stress in the winter can be avoided by limiting activities when temperatures are below zero.