Bureau of Land Management to begin the FY2021 Antelope Complex Emergency Wild Horse Gather


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Ely District Office

Media Contact:

ELY, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Elko District, Wells Field Office and Ely District, Bristlecone Field Office will begin a wild horse gather on or about August 1, 2021, on the Antelope Complex located about 50 miles southeast of Elko or 50 miles north of Ely, Nevada. The BLM plans to gather and remove approximately 2,200 excess wild horses. The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-assisted method.

The Antelope Complex has four herd management areas (HMA) which consist of Goshute, Spruce-Pequop, Antelope Valley, Antelope HMAs and encompasses over 1,608,350 acres of public land. The combined Appropriate Management Level (AML) is 435-789 wild horses. At the beginning of March 2021, the BLM conducted simultaneous double-observer surveys helicopter survey, the current estimated adult population is 6,032 wild horses within and directly outside of the Complex. The current estimated population, which did not include foals, is nearly 7.5-times above the high end of the established AML.

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 HMAs, where there currently is not enough water and/or forage 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 sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and elk. Livestock grazing permittees in the Elko District have taken non-use or reduced use for over 10-years, while still providing positive resources such as water for the horses and wildlife. Removing excess wild horses would also enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council.

“We conduct gathers like this to ensure the health of rangelands within the HMAs, 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 Gerald Dixon, Elko District 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 and burros 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 Palomino Valley Center in Nevada or Axtell Off-Range Corrals in Utah. Upon arrival to the facilities, 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 following COVID-19 guidelines rules may apply based on the State Governor’s recommendations up to:

  • Facemasks are required for daily safety briefings and in the observation areas.
  • Always stay at least six feet from others. Avoid gathering with others outside of your household.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use if soap and water are not available.
  • Do not attend the gather if you are sick, recently exposed (within 14 days) to someone with COVID-19 or are not feeling well.

The BLM is conducting the gather under the DOI-BLM-NV-E030-2017-0010-EA Antelope and Triple B Complexes Gather Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed on December 21, 2017. Access the Decision Record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy at https://go.usa.gov/xFDvP.

Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website at https://go.usa.gov/xFK5U. For technical information, contact Bruce Thompson, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at (775) 753-0286 or b50thomp@blm.gov.

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.