The Bureau of Land Management will begin the Shawave Mountains Herd Management Area wild horse and burro gather


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Humboldt Field Office

Media Contact:

WINNEMUCCA, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Humboldt Field Office will begin a wild horse and burro gather on or about August 3, 2020 within the Shawave Mountains Herd Management Areas (HMA) located approximately 20 miles southeast of Lovelock, Nevada. The gather is expected to last 45-60 days.

The Shawave Mountains HMA is managed for wild horses only and encompasses over 177,204 acres of public and private lands. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) of the HMA is 82-136 wild horses and zero burros. As of the March 1, 2020 Public Lands Stats, the estimated population of wild horses on the HMA was 1,722 wild horses and approximately 160 burros. These population estimates do not include the 2020 foal crop.

The BLM plans to gather approximately 1,650 wild horses, remove 1,600 and treat up to 50 mares with the fertility control vaccine, GonaCon, and release them back to the HMA. Based on recent monitoring, approximately 200 burros have been documented within the HMA, therefore, the BLM will gather and remove up to 200 wild burros from in and around the HMA. The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-assisted method. Once gather operations are complete, approximately 466 wild horses and zero wild burros will remain in the HMA.

The purpose of the gather is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and burros, 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 Shawave HMA is sparsely vegetated and has limited water. Wildlife, as well as wild horses and burros use this forage and water for their survival,” said Winnemucca District Manager, Ester McCullough. “The excess numbers of wild horses and burros create competition and can result in decreased health of the ecosystem and the wildlife that depend on it.”

By balancing the herd size with what the land can support, the BLM aims to protect habitat for other wildlife species such as sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer. Removing excess animals would also enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council also alleviating private land issues. 

The BLM’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient, and successful wild horse and burro 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 horses identified for removal will be transported to the Indian Lakes Off-Range Corral, located outside of Fallon, Nevada. The burros will be transported to the Axtell Contract Off Range Corrals, located in Axtell, 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 will apply:

  • 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-W010-2015-0034-EA Blue Wing Complex Gather decision signed on October 23, 2017. Access the Decision Record and Environmental Assessment at

Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website at For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Garrett Swisher at (775) 623-1534 or

For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit

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.