BLM to begin wild horse gather in the Owyhee Complex


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Humboldt Field Office

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WINNEMUCCA AND ELKO, Nev. – In the aftermath of Nevada’s largest wildfire in 2018, the Bureau of Land Management’s Winnemucca and Elko District Offices will begin an emergency wild horse gather on or about September 21 within the Owyhee Complex located in Humboldt and Elko Counties, Nevada. The Martin Fire, which started on July 9, 2018, burned approximately 438,000 acres. The BLM plans to gather approximately 1,175 wild horses, remove roughly 875 excess wild horses, humanely treat and release up to 150 mares with fertility control, and release up to 152 stallions.

The Owyhee Complex is located within both the Elko and Winnemucca Districts and encompasses the Snowstorm Mountains, Little Owyhee, Rock Creek, Owyhee, and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas (HMAs).  The Complex is comprised of approximately 1.1 million acres of both private and public lands and contains the majority of the priority habitat for Greater Sage Grouse in northern Nevada. 

The Martin Fire burned approximately 46 percent of the Little Owyhee HMA and 26 percent of the Owyhee HMA, severely reducing prime grazing for wild horses.  Due to loss of forage resources, an emergency gather is necessary to help as many wild horses as possible while protecting water sources, vegetation, and important habitat for other wildlife, such as the Greater Sage-Grouse. The condition of the wild horses in the Owyhee Complex is expected to deteriorate, potentially resulting in the death of some of the wild horses if action is not taken. 

The BLM expects the helicopter gather to take approximately 30 days and will focus on the Little Owyhee, Snowstorm Mountains, Owyhee, and Rock Creek HMAs. The current population estimate for those four HMAs is approximately 1,400 wild horses, which includes foals born this year. The post-gather population will be approximately 535 wild horses, just below the established appropriate management level.  The BLM determined that the removal of additional wild horses below AML is necessary due to a lack of forage resources remaining after the Martin Fire.

Wild horses identified for removal will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center located near Reno, Nevada, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption and Sale Program. For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit

The BLM’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient, and successful wild horse gather operations while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with current BLM policy, standard operating procedures, and contract requirements.

Members of the public are welcome to view the gather operations, provided that doing so does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff and observers, or disrupt gather operations.  The BLM will escort the public to gather observation sites located on public lands.  The BLM anticipates that viewing opportunities will be limited due to logistics in regards to private land, terrain and weather. Once gather operations have begun, those wanting to view gather operations must call the Owyhee Complex gather hotline nightly at (775) 861-6700 to receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times.

The BLM is conducting the gather under the Owyhee Complex DOI-BLM-NV-W010-2012-0055-EA Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed in October 2012.  Access the Decision Record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy at For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Samantha Gooch at (775) 623-1519 or

Additional information and gather reports are posted on BLM’s website at  Photos of the gather will be posted on the BLM Nevada Flickr page at; in addition, for other updates on the gather, follow the BLM Nevada Facebook page at

For more information, contact Jenny Lesieutre, Wild Horse and Burro Public Affairs Specialist, at (775) 861-6594 or or Greg Deimel, Public Affairs Specialist at (775) 753-0386, 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.