Bureau of Land Management to begin the Buffalo Hills HMA Wild Horse Gather
Gerlach, Nev. – The Black Rock Field Office will begin a wild horse gather on or about July 1, 2022 in and around the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area located near Gerlach, Nevada. The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-assisted method.
The Buffalo Hill Herd Management Area encompasses approximately 131,861 acres of public land and private lands. The appropriate management level (AML) is 188 - 314 wild horses. A helicopter survey conducted on April 27, 2022, documented 541 wild horses within and directly outside of the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area, nearly 2-times above the high end of the established AML.
The Black Rock Field Office staff and contractor plan to gather approximately 383 wild horses, remove approximately 353 excess wild horses, and treat up to 30 mares with Gona-Con, a population suppression fertility control vaccine. The treated mares will be released back to the range.
The purpose of the gather is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses, to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands, consistent with the provisions of Section 1333(b) of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The action is also necessary to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area, where there currently is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area, and to prevent further degradation of public lands by helping to balance herd size.
By balancing herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for other wildlife species such as mule deer, pronghorn antelope, sage grouse, chukar partridge, coyote, and various rodents. Removing excess wild horses would also enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Sierra Front / North Western Great Basin Resource Advisory Council.
“We conduct gathers like this to ensure the health of rangelands within the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area as well as the health of the wild horses in the area, are not at risk due to herd overpopulation and severe drought conditions,” said Mark Hall, Black Rock Field Office Manager. “As always, we are committed to conducting safe and humane gather operations as we work to protect animal health by bringing herd size down to AML in order to work toward restoring a thriving natural ecological balance to the range and protect the range from further deterioration associated with overpopulation.”
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 will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.
All animals identified for removal will be transported to the Indian Lakes Off-Range Corrals, located in Fallon, Nevada. Upon arrival to the facility, all animals will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program.
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. Once gather operations have begun, those wanting to view gather operations must call the gather hotline nightly at (775) 861-6700 to receive specific instructions on each days’ meeting location and time.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people visiting public lands prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health. During the gather, the observants should follow local area health orders including the Emergency Directive 052 Guidance for individuals, businesses and employers, practice Leave No Trace principles, practice social distancing and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
- BLM reserves the right to limit media/public observers in order to comply with CDC guidance for social distancing.
The BLM is conducting the gather under the DOI-BLM-NV-W030-2015-0001-EA Smoke Creek Complex Wild Horse and Burro Gather Environmental Assessment decision signed on April 18, 2018. Access the Decision Record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/87483/510.
Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website here. For technical information, contact the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, Garrett Swisher at (775) 623-1500.
For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit www.blm.gov/whb.
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.