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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program LogoWater Canyon Wild Horse Growth Suppression Pilot Program

Progress Updates


BLM Offers Public Unique Opportunity to Adopt Water Canyon Wild HorsesThe BLM is offering the public the opportunity to adopt a foal gathered from Water Canyon. Nine weanlings and two yearlings are being held together at the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley, north of Reno, Nev. The horses are available for walk-up adoption from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays. Click here for more.

Program Goal

The goal of the 10-year Water Canyon Wild Horse Growth Suppression Pilot Program is to stabilize and maintain a wild horse population of 25-30 animals within the Water Canyon portion of the Antelope Herd Management Area (HMA) located about 60 miles north of Ely.  The management number is based on range conditions, water availability and acreage comparisons, as well as seasonal movement during the summer and drier winter months. 

Program Details

The BLM between Oct. 22, 2015 and Dec. 12, 2015, gathered 53 wild horses in the Water Canyon area of the Antelope HMA.  Hay and water was used to gather the horses.

The BLM released 22 wild horses back into the project area, 15 mares and seven studs.  Mares selected for release were treated with the fertility-control vaccine GonaCon-Equine, which has an expected efficacy of about two years.  The 31 excess horses were removed and offered to the public through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro adoption program.

The BLM will monitor the treated mares and apply a booster every 20-24 months to maintain the vaccine’s effectiveness. The BLM will remove a small number of horses when the local population exceeds 40 animals.  Horses selected for removal, approximately 5-10 primarily young horses born within the project area, would be offered to the public through a trap site adoption.

Program Location

Water Canyon portion of the Antelope HMA, about 60 miles north of Ely.

Adoption

Wild horses initially removed from the HMA were transported to the Indian Lakes Off-Range Corral, in Fallon, Nev., to be prepared for the BLM’s adoption program.  Subsequently, horses selected for removal, approximately 5-10 primarily young horses born within the project area, would be offered to the public through a trap site adoption.

Animals for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.

Latest News

For BLM news releases and statements issued check our Newsroom.

Background

The BLM is facing formidable challenges in managing population growth of wild horses and burros.

Gathering horses, placing them into private care, and using short term contraception have been the key tools available to the BLM to manage population growth.  The BLM has placed over 230,000 wild horses and burros into private care since 1971.  But adoption rates have declined in recent years and in order to sustain healthy horses on healthy range lands, the BLM has been renting pastures and corrals for un-adopted animals.  There are currently 50,000 un-adopted horses in “off-range holding”.

For every 1,000 animals in off-range holding, it costs taxpayers approximately $46 million to care for them over their lifetime if they do not go into private care.  Over ten years, Program costs have more than doubled from about $30 million in 2004 to about $77 million in 2014, with off-range holding consuming an increasing share of funds.

Controlling wild horse and burro population growth in the West is paramount to keeping healthy horses and burros roaming free on healthy range land, while reducing the costs of off-range holding.  In order to do this, the BLM needs more effective and efficient contraception tools. 

In its 2013 report to the BLM, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that no highly effective, easily delivered and affordable fertility-control methods were currently available for use on wild horses and burros.

The Water Canyon Wild Horse Growth Suppression Pilot Program provides the BLM the opportunity to determine the efficacy of GonaCon-Equine on a small group of wild horses in a controlled environment with the possibility of expanded usage in future years, depending on the study’s results.

The BLM’s investment in research will ensure tools to control population growth are safe and humane to the horses and burros, are good for overall health of the herds, and are effective in controlling growth rates. The research will position the BLM to successfully manage population growth, ensuring healthy herds of free-roaming horses and burros and vibrant ecosystems for years to come.

Current supporters of the Water Canyon Wild Horse Growth Suppression Pilot Program include the Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (who has encouraged this project to go forward from the beginning); the Lincoln, Nye, and White Pine County Commissions (Tri-County); and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. All of these groups have been very supportive of any efforts to address over-population issues. Also, local resident and wild horse advocate Jeanne Nations is the Volunteer Project Coordinator.

Wild horses in the Water Canyon area of the Antelope HMA are pictured in summer 2015.

For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 1-866-468-7826 or email wildhorse@blm.gov.


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Today's Status
Dec. 12, 2015

Animals
Gathered

Animals
Returned to
Home Range

Animal
Deaths


 

0

22

0

Cumulative Totals
since Oct. 22, 2015

Animals
Gathered

Animals
Returned to
Home Range

Animal
Deaths


 

53

22

1