2020 Buffalo Hills and Granite Range Wild Horse and Burro Gather
The gather has concluded; it began on October 7 and ended on October 12, 2019
Purpose of Gather:
The purpose of the gather is to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and burros, and 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. In addition, it is to alleviate safety risks to motorists travelling Highways 34 and 447
The primary issue in these HMAs is limited water, especially in relation to the population in excess of the established AML. Reducing the excess wild horses will help bring the population to a closer balance with available waters, until a follow up gather can be completed to achieve the AML and fully implement a population growth suppression program. 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.
Details of Gather:
The gather will take place within and outside of the Buffalo Hills and Granite Range HMAs which are located in Washoe and Pershing Counties, in Northwest Nevada, north of Gerlach. The BLM plans to remove up to 100 wild horses and 175 wild burros in order to reduce the excess wild horses and burros currently in the HMAs (these HMAs are not managed for wild burros). This gather will not achieve the AML for the Buffalo Hills HMA, but will bring the Granite Range HMA to low AML.
The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-assisted method and the gather is classified as a “gate cut removal” with the intention of removing all animals captured. The gather is expected to last 7-10 days, approximately 423 wild horses will remain in the Buffalo Hills HMA, and approximately 155 wild horses will remain in the Granite Range HMA once gather operations are complete.
The Buffalo Hills HMA consists of 131,861 acres of BLM land, which includes a mix of private and other public lands. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) is 188-314 wild horses, this HMA is not managed for wild burros and the estimated population based on an inventory flight in June 2019 was 450-500 horses, and 175 wild burros. The BLM last gather conducted on the Buffalo Hills HMA was in 2009; at that time, the BLM removed 318 horses.
Horses within the HMA are descendants of ranch horses that either escaped or were released into the area, and horses that were raised for the cavalry remount program. The majority of horses exhibit a bay, brown or sorrel color pattern.
The terrain in the area consists of a circular shaped basaltic plateau dominated by large rugged rocky canyons. Elevations within the HMA range from 3,823 feet along the Smoke Creek Desert to 6,832 at Poodle Mountain. Climate is characterized by warm dry days, cool nights and low yearly precipitation that ranges from 4-6 inches at lower elevations to approximately 12 inches at higher elevations.
The Granite Range HMA consists of 103,804 acres of BLM land and a mix of private and other public lands. The AML is 155-258 wild horses. The estimated population, based on an inventory flight in June 2019, was 165 wild horses. The BLM last gather conducted on the Granite Range HMA was in 2012; at that time, the BLM removed 195 horses.
Horses within the Granite Range HMA are descendants of ranch horses and horses raised for the cavalry remount program that either escaped or were released into the area. The majority of horses exhibit a bay, brown or sorrel color pattern; however, there are a number of paint, buckskin and appaloosa horses as well. It is not possible to provide any specific information on parentage of wild horses in the area.
The terrain in the area consists of a steep north-south trending mountain with small narrow valleys in the south half and broad sloping ridge tops in the north half. Elevations within the HMA range from 3,920 feet along the Black Rock Desert to 9,056 feet at Granite Peak. Climate is characterized by warm dry days, cool nights and low yearly precipitation that ranges from 4 to 6 inches at lower elevations to approximately 14 inches at higher elevations.
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 2020 Buffalo Hills / Granite Range HMA gather hotline nightly at (775) 861-6700 to receive specific instructions on each days’ meeting location and time.
Excess wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the BLM’s Litchfield Off-Range Corrals located near Susanville, Calif., where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program. Animals not adopted will be cared for in off-range pastures, where they retain their "wild" status and protection under 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 1-866-468-7826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.