BLM to begin an emergency wild horse, water and bait trap gather in Central Nevada


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Ely District Office

Media Contact:

Ely, Nev.  - The Bureau of Land Management, Ely District, Bristlecone Field Office will begin a wild horse gather on or about July 9 in Big Sand Spring Valley as there is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area. The gather will be conducted by BLM employees (not contractors) using the bait and water trap method; no helicopters will be used.  Corrals will be placed within the Pancake Herd Management Area (HMA) about 30 miles west of Ely and 80 miles northeast of Tonopah, Nev.  The BLM plans to gather and remove approximately 250 excess wild horses.

The Pancake HMA encompasses 855,000 acres.  Wild horses overpopulate nearly 120,000 acres of this area, which has an Appropriate Management Level of 240-493 wild horses.  With a current population of approximately 2,160 wild horses, valuable resources have been depleted, affecting the health of those animals.  The central portion of Big Sand Spring Valley is extremely dry with few perennial waters and the area has been closed to cattle grazing since 2000. 

The BLM’s goal is to help as many horses as possible while protecting the habitat for other wildlife, including water sources and vegetation.  Without emergency action, the condition of the wild horses in the Big Sand Spring Valley is expected to deteriorate, potentially resulting in the death of some of the horses within a few weeks.  In addition, the overpopulation of wild horses on the limited water supply is reducing the spring’s flow due to trampling and depriving other wildlife of water.  Limited water is available in the foothills. Heavy to severe wild horse use in the valley bottoms and at spring sources and heavy trailing is affecting vegetative resources, degrading habitat necessary for wildlife, including that of the Greater Sage-grouse.

Only those personnel deemed essential to the gather will be permitted to participate.  The bait and water trap method requires horses to adjust to the hay and corrals in a quick and safe manner, and wild horses are reluctant to approach the trap site when there is too much activity.

All gathered wild horses will be taken a short distance to a temporary holding facility, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and given free access to water and hay. The horses will then be transported to the BLM’s Indian Lakes off-range corrals located in Fallon, NV and be readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption and sale program, or moved to off-range holding pastures.  For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit

For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Chris Hanefeld at 775-289-1842 or

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.