Bureau of Land Management to begin the FY2021 Stone Cabin Emergency Wild Horse Gather

Five wild horses standing in an open playa

Battle Mountain, Nev. – On or around August 19, 2021, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Battle Mountain District, Tonopah Field Office will begin an emergency wild horse gather on the Stone Cabin Herd Management Area (HMA) located 28 miles east of Tonopah, Nevada in Nye County. The BLM plans to gather and remove approximately 450 wild horses. The BLM will conduct gather operations utilizing temporary bait and water traps consisting of a series of corral panels stocked with water and hay; no helicopters will be used. 

The Stone Cabin HMA encompasses over 407,700 acres of public and private lands. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Stone Cabin HMA is 218-364 wild horses. A helicopter inventory flight was completed in July 2021 and at that time, approximately 1,037 wild horses were identified within the HMA which included foals. The most recent gather was completed in 2016. 

The purpose of the gather is to humanely and safely gather drought impacted and compromised wild horses within and outside the Stone Cabin HMA. Monitoring of the Stone Cabin HMA during spring and summer 2021 revealed limited availability to water and forage. Due to the exceptional drought, little to no forage grew this year in Stone Cabin Valley. The gather is critical to ensuring the future health of the HMA lands as well as the wild horses in the area, both of which are in jeopardy due to herd overpopulation, limited water and extremely limited forage.  

The declining range conditions coupled with overpopulation have led to decline in body condition scores (BCS) of the wild horse population. The average body condition of the horses in the HMA is a BCS of 3.0 (Thin), and many horses are BCS of 2.0 (Very Thin), with some horses observed as a BCS 1 (Emaciated). Several springs are available to sustain minimal water needs, but with no forage, the condition of the horses is expected to continue to decline and lead to widespread suffering and death through the remaining summer months.   

Through removal of excess wild horses, the BLM aims to support recovery from exceptional drought conditions and return of perennial key grasses once normal precipitation patterns return which will ensure future herd health and fitness. Livestock grazing permittees have already removed livestock due to the absence of forage and exceptional drought conditions. The BLM will continue to monitor resource conditions. 

“Due to herd overpopulation and severe drought conditions, in much of the district and particularly in the Stone Cabin area, we monitor, plan and conduct gathers like this to ensure the health of the wild horses as well as health of federal rangelands.” said Doug Furtado, Battle Mountain District Manager. “As always, we are committed to conducting safe and humane gather operations as we work to protect animal health and prevent unnecessary death due to starvation." 

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 wild horses identified for removal will be transported to the Sutherland Off Range Corrals in Sutherland, Utah, 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 www.blm.gov/whb.

Due to the nature of the bait and water trap method, wild horses are reluctant to approach the trap site when there is too much activity; therefore, only essential gather operations personnel will be allowed at the trap site during gather operations. Gather operations will be conducted by Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc. located in Nephi, Utah.  

The BLM is conducting the gather under the BLM Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA) DOI-BLM-NV-B020-2021-0052-DNA; access the Decision Record at https://go.usa.gov/xFpmS.  

Gather reports and additional information for the “2021 Stone Cabin HMA Emergency Wild Horse Gather” will be posted on the BLM website at https://go.usa.gov/xFvEU. For technical information, contact Daltrey Balmer, Assistant Field Manager for Renewable Resources at (775) 482-7850 or dbalmer@blm.gov.


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.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Tonopah Field Office


Jess Harvey