The gather has concluded - it was conducted from September 6-15, 2019
2019 Fish Creek Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather
Purpose of Gather:
The gather is necessary to reduce overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the HMA, where there currently is not enough water to support the number of horses in the area. The purpose is to prevent further undue or unnecessary degradation of public lands associated with excess wild horses, 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.
The primary issue in this HMA is limited water, especially in relation to the population in excess of the established AML. The Mount Lewis Field Office (MLFO) has been hauling water and/or operating a well and a pipeline since 2012 to avert emergencies until a gather could occur. In addition, 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. Removing excess animals would also enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Northeastern Resource Advisory Council.
Details of Gather:
The gather will take place within and outside the Fish Creek HMA, which is located in Eureka County, Nevada, south of U.S. Highway 50. The BLM plans to gather approximately 600 wild horses and remove approximately 550 excess wild horses. The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-assisted method and the gather is classified as a selective removal with the intention of releasing approximately 50 horses with curly traits and/or that exceed 20 years of age. Mares released back to the range will be treated with fertility control. The gather is expected to last 12-20 days and approximately 270 wild horses will remain in the HMA once gather operations are complete.
The Fish Creek HMA consists of 250,244 acres of BLM land and 2,527 acres of a mix of private and other public lands for a total of 252,771 acres. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) is 107-180 wild horses and a helicopter survey conducted in July, 2019, documented 822 wild horses within and directly outside of the Fish Creek HMA – nearly five-times above the high end of the established AML. The area is 25 miles wide and 28 miles long. The majority of the HMA is comprised of north-south trending mountain ranges that include all or portions of the Fish Creek Range, the Mahogany Hills, and the Antelope Range. Elevations range from 6,030 feet in the wide valley bottoms, reaching 10,100 feet at Nine Mile Peak.
Typically, the wild horses found in the Fish Creek HMA are medium in size, reaching approximately 14-14.2 hands (56-58 inches at the withers) and weigh an average of 800-1000 pounds. The dominant color within the HMA is roan (blue, red and bay), with other colors present including palomino, sorrel, gray, brown and bay. The wild horses in the Fish Creek HMA most likely descended from stock brought to the area by Tom Dixon, a well-known local horse breeder that the Eureka area in the mid to late 1800’s. Tom Dixon reportedly imported horses to the area from all over the world and had upwards of 10,000 horses in the valleys and mountains surrounding Eureka. He is credited with introduction of the curly horses to the Eureka area, which is documented in the book, “The Dameles and the American Curly Horse” by Dale E. Wooley. Though limited in number, there are still curly horses present in the Fish Creek HMA today, and it is the goal of the MLFO to preserve the curly traits in this HMA.
The BLM last conducted a gather of wild horses from the Fish Creek HMA in the winter of 2015; at that time, the BLM removed 262 horses. This gather did not achieve AML, the last gather to achieve AML was completed in 2006. Following the 2015 gather, the Mount Lewis Field Office staff submitted 182 hair samples to Texas A&M for ancestral genetic sampling. The method does not provide an exact ancestry, but rather an idea of breed similarity. The breed that appeared most frequently in the ancestry results was the Garrano, which is a breed from Portugal followed closely by the Galiceno, which is a breed from northern Spain closely related to the Garrano. The genetics report also noted high genetic variation and likely mixing from adjacent HMAs.
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 Fish Creek 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 National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley located in Reno, Nevada, 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 email@example.com.