2021 Surprise Complex Wild Horse Gather
Purpose of Gather
The Surprise Complex gather is designed to reduce the wild horse population in six northwest Nevada herd management areas to their appropriate management levels. The HMAs are Massacre Lakes, High Rock, Wall Canyon, Bitner, Nut Mountain and Fox Hog. Based on recent census flights and population modeling, the BLM believes there are between 1,300 and 1,700 horses in the six HMAs. The combined appropriate management level, set in the BLM land use plan for the area, is 283 to 496 wild horses and 0 wild burros.
Details of Gather
Gather operations began Tuesday, Sept. 28, and are expected to continue through the first week of November. Animals will be gathered with the assistance of a helicopter, which moves the animals toward a capture corral. The BLM plans to gather 1,220 horses and remove 1,050 from the range. Horses and burros selected for removal will be transported to BLM adoption facilities, primarily the Litchfield Corrals near Susanville, CA, and the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley, near Reno, NV. Up to 170 horses will be returned to the range to maintain viable populations in the HMAs.
The public is invited to observe the gather daily from established viewing areas. Anyone interested should contact the BLM public affairs officer at 530-260-0189 to reserve space. Daily attendance is limited to 10 people due to space limitations and COVID-19 prevention protocols. Dogs are not allowed in the public viewing area. On most days, observers will depart promptly at 6 a.m. from a meeting area at the Rabbit Traxx gas station and mini mart along California Route 299 at the west end of Cedarville. Arriving early is recommended to be prepared to depart on time. Any changes in departure times or operations will be noted in a message on the public affairs officer phone line above. The BLM strongly recommends traveling in a high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle with sturdy tires, a good spare and tire changing equipment. Be prepared for changing weather and a full day in the high desert. There are no services or cell service.
For information on adopting or purchasing a wild horse or burro, please visit the wild horse and burro program website.
The BLM last gathered excess wild horses from herd management areas within the Complex in 2011, removing 1,148 excess animals from the High Rock, Bitner, Nut Mountain, Fox Hog and Wall Canyon HMAs. The Massacre Lakes HMA was not included in the 2011 gather. The Surprise Complex of HMAs covers nearly 397,000 acres of public and private lands, mostly in Washoe County, Nev., with some lands in Humboldt County, Nev. All public lands in the Complex are managed by BLM California’s Applegate Field Office, part of the Northern California District. The Complex name refers to the BLM Surprise Field Station, part of the Applegate Field Office, in Cedarville.