Winnemucca District/Elko District

BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program LogoOwyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather

Gather operations ended Jan. 16, 2013

Extreme temperatures during gather operations
The well-being of the wild horses being gathered on the Owyhee Complex is being considered relative to the current cold temperatures. Wild horses are accustomed to weather extremes in the environment and generally do well at temperatures that make people uncomfortable. The BLM, in consultation with the on-site veterinarian is monitoring the horses on an ongoing basis. If gathered animals show signs of hypothermia (shivering, depression, reluctance to move, failure to dry off, failure to settle and go to feed and water when offered) the BLM is prepared to adjust its gather operations as necessary to protect the health of the animals. If problems related to temperature extremes are noted gather operations would be delayed or postponed. The animals’ recovery from the physical exertion of capture as well as their behavior are considered in the context of a variety of environmental factors. These factors include but are not limited to current weather conditions, terrain, snow depth, access limitations and the urgency of the operation. Unless there is a compelling and urgent need to capture the animals, wild horse and burro gather operations are not generally conducted outside the ambient temperature range of 10 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When, due to impending starvation or other emergency situations, capture operations need to be conducted outside this temperature range then monitoring of the animals is increased and specific measures may be put in place such as cooling animals with water in the case of high temperatures or drying and warming foals that may become sweaty or chilled in cold conditions. The BLM, at this time, is not seeing extreme temperatures outside the range of those typical for gather operations and has not seen any health problems associated with the cold temperatures among the animals gathered to date during the Owyhee gather.

Leader's Intent on the Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather
This document includes information the BLM will discuss with all gather personnel before gather operations begin. These guidelines are intended to ensure safe and humane handling of all gathered wild horses, and will serve as a reminder that the humane handling of wild horses and burros during gather operations is always a primary concern. The BLM Contracting Officer Technical Representative will address any actions or issues that seem inhumane promptly and within contract specifications.

Owyhee HMA--Elko District
The BLM completed the Winnemucca District portion of the Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather. Gather operations are suspended during the holidays. Gather operations resumed on Jan. 4, 2013 in the Owyhee Herd Management Area managed by the Elko District Office, Tuscarora Field Office. 

About 186 wild horses will be gathered from the Owyhee HMA. Of the 186 wild horses gathered, 47 will be removed from the range with the remainder being released back to the HMA with approximately 46 mares being vaccinated with PZP-22, a fertility control vaccine. Any wild horses gathered above the targeted removal numbers will be released back to the HMA. 

Public interested in viewing the Elko portion of the gather should call (775) 861-6700 for meeting time and location.

Mare Fatality - January 14, 2013

Mare and foal at Owyhee Complex Temporary HoldingThis mare and foal were gathered Jan. 4, 2013 and were in temporary holding until Jan. 13. BLM personnel and contractor crew had taken a special interest in this young foal and nicknamed him Cheddar because of his color. The pair were being prepared for loading for transport to Palomino Valley Adoption Center when the mare slipped and fell in the alleyway and hit her head on a gate, resulting in a broken neck. Recent heavy snowfall and the lack of activity in the alleyways contributed to icy conditions while loading. Transport to PVC in Semi-tractor trailers has not been safe until Jan. 13. Corrective action of spreading dirt in the alleyways allowed the rest of the wild horses to be loaded without incident. This young foal was transported to the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City where he will receive special care until he is ready for adoption.

Foal that tripped - December 15, 2012

On Saturday Dec. 15, 2012, a foal tripped and fell while entering the wings of the gather area during operations. The foal got to its feet and rejoined the rest of the wild horses it was with. Upon entering the gather area, the foal was inspected by the BLM's Contracting Officer's Representative and the on-site veterinarian for any signs of injury and none were noted. After the foal was transported to temporary holding, the foal was once again checked by the APHIS veterinarian and no injuries were noted. The foal was eating and drinking normally. Our two public visitors were provided the opportunity to photograph the foal at temporary holding. A photo of the foal entering the gather site after tripping is here.

Form Letter Response to Wild Horse Education regarding Owyhee Complex Gather - December 13, 2012  

Electric prod use at Owyhee Gather on November 30, 2012

On Friday, November 30, 2012 electric prods were used on adult horses during loading operations at Temporary Holding. These prods were used as a last resort to coax the wild horses into the travel trailers transporting them to Palomino Valley Center. The use of electric prods in this case was within pre-established guidelines of the gather.

The contractor had made many attempts to load the wild horses that day using voice commands, body position, sounds and flags, to no avail. Per procedures and to avoid human injury, electric prods were used as a last resort once other handling aids did not work. However, no members of the BLM gather team saw any colts being prodded with Hotshots and the entire event was overseen by BLM staff. 

Loading was a prolonged process, taking over two hours before the Hotshots were administered. The Hotshots were used in a manner consistent with domestic livestock handling procedures. Animals were not whipped or beaten. The electric prods were only used to shock the animals, not to tap or hit the animals, and were not applied to sensitive areas.

The wild horses which received the prodding by Hotshots were not harmed or injured, were received in good condition at the Palomino Valley Center and immediately went to food and water.

Barbed Wire Fence Incident on Wed., Nov. 28

The route to the Little Mud Springs gather site includes a barb wire fence and a 16-foot-wide gate about one mile from the gather site. Wild horses being herded toward the gather site must be brought through the gate. Nine wild horses were being moved toward the gate at the pace of a trot, five walked willingly through the open gate, but four hesitated and instead trotted down the fence line. The wild horses that trotted down the fence line jumped the fence to join the horses that had gone through the gate and were on the other side.

One red and white pinto stud caught himself in the fence as he jumped over and flipped onto his back. He immediately stood up and continued with the rest of the group which was brought into the trap. All nine of the wild horses in the group were inspected by the APHIS veterinarian and the BLM wild horse and burro specialist at the gather site and when they arrived at temporary holding. None of horses showed any signs of injury and were moving around the temporary holding corrals without any problem. This group of wild horses was transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center the following day where they received a subsequent inspection which showed they had no injuries.

The Little Mud Springs area has a population of about 500 wild horses. The BLM has been hauling water to this area all summer. It is critical to gather the wild horses in this area. The gather site/route was chosen because it is the only access usable by a horse trailer to this area. Since the start of the Owyhee gather, the BLM has safely brought about 250 wild horses through the gate and into the gather site.

The BLM NV has posted photos of the gate and fence on our Flickr website and a video on YouTube site.



This mare was gathered on Nov. 27, 2012 and entered the trap site with some blood on her chest. The mare was checked at temporary holding by this on-scene vet and it was determined the mare tripped in some greasewood and sage. There was a small puncture wound and some scrapes. The mare was later transported to temporary holding and later to PVC for further evaluation.

Puncture injury on Tues., Nov. 27

A buckskin mare entered the trap with minor abrasions. Photos are available here.


This young foal was brought in on horseback after his mare was gathered on Thursday. The pilot called out to the cowboys after seeing the mare and foal and thought it best to gather the young foal by horseback. The mare was a body class of 2.5. The mare and foal were paired up at temporary holding. The foal was checked by a veterinarian and was found to be in good condition. The mare and foal were shipped to Palomino Valley Center and will be available for adoption. Click here for more pictures.

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The Humboldt River Field Office and the Tuscarora Field Office have each signed a Decision Record for the Owyhee Complex Herd Management Area Gather Environmental Assessment (EA).  The Decision Records, as well as each Finding of No Significant Impact and the EA can be found here

For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 1-866-468-7826, email, or click here.