Bureau of Land Management to gather excess wild horses in the Pine Nut Mountains

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Beginning on or about February 6, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management, Carson City District, will begin gather operations to reduce an overpopulation of wild horses in the Pine Nut Mountains herd management area near Carson City.  Excessive grazing from wild horses has already degraded sage-grouse habitat and reduced the amount of native grass both inside and outside the HMA.  Because of lack of forage and water within the HMA, horses have been moving into residential areas and roadways, creating a public safety issue. The BLM will remove approximately 575 excess wild horses from within and outside the HMA.

The purpose of the gather operation is to prevent further degradation of the public lands associated with over-grazing by an overpopulation of wild horses. As of March 1, 2018, the BLM estimated approximately 775 wild horses roamed the Pine Nut Mountains HMA, which is more than four times the number that the area can support.

Due to the overpopulation, an increasing number of horses have left the HMA in search of food and water, creating traffic hazards, conflicts with local property owners, and other public safety issues. Within the last year, three horses have been killed in vehicle accidents outside of the HMA. The BLM aims to restore the habitat to a thriving natural ecological balance.

The Sierra Front Field Office is conducting the gather operation, which is expected to last approximately two weeks. The gather area is located south of Dayton and east of Carson City and Gardnerville, Nevada within Lyon, Douglas, and Carson City Counties.  The appropriate management level (AML) for Pine Nut Mountains is 118-179 wild horses. Approximately 200 wild horses will remain in the Pine Nut Mountain range once the gather is completed. The gather will be conducted by helicopter.  

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 our overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with current BLM policy, standard operating procedures, and contract requirements. The contractor for this gather is Sampson Livestock of Meadow, Utah.

All horses removed will be transported to the Palomino Valley Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Reno, Nev., where they will be checked by a veterinarian and prepared for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption and sale program. For information on how to bring home a wild horse or burro, visit www.blm.gov/whb

Members of the public will have an opportunity to view gather operations, provided that it does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff, or observers, and does not disrupt gather operations.  The BLM will offer observation opportunities at the gather site; however, public observation may be limited when operations take place on private land. Limited first-come, first serve observation will be held daily at temporary holding when observation is not available at the gather site. Members of the public must email blm_nv_ccdowebmail@blm.gov  to request to observe gather operations at least 24 hours prior to the date they would like to attend. Please put “Pine Nut Wild Horse Request” in the subject line.  A confirmation will be sent to individuals with instructions on when and where to meet. The BLM anticipates that viewing opportunities will be limited due to logistics in regards to private land, terrain and weather. 

The BLM is conducting the gather under the DOI-BLM-NV-C020-2016-0020-EA Pine Nut Mountains Gather Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed on November 28, 2017.  Access the decision record and determination of National Environmental Policy Act adequacy at https://goo.gl/uqpD2w.

Once the gather is underway, the BLM will post gather reports and additional information on its website at https://go.usa.gov/xEXxR For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, John Axtell, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at (775) 885-6146 or jaxtell@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


Carson City District Office


Lisa Ross