2024 Roberts Mountain Complex Wild Horse Gather
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.
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, and mule deer. Removing excess wild horses and burros supports significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council. The removal of excess wild horses is also needed to remedy public safety and private land nuisance issues that have been ongoing for several years.
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 are committed to using 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 Program.
Details of Gather:
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Battle Mountain District, Mount Lewis Field Office will begin a wild horse gather on the Roberts Mountain Complex located in Eureka County, approximately 20 miles northwest of Eureka, Nev., west of State Highway 278 and north of U.S. Highway 50. The gather operation will be conducted using the helicopter-assisted method.
The BLM plans to gather approximately 1,106 wild horses, remove approximately 1,068 excess wild horses, treat up to 19 mares with GonaCon Equine, a population suppression fertility control vaccine, before being released back to the range along with up to 19 stallions. Gather operations will take place in areas outside the HMA / HA where wild horses have moved in search of food and water. In excess of 60% of the population is estimated to exist outside of HMA boundaries where wild horse use is not allocated. The gather is needed to halt degradation by an overpopulation of wild horses both inside and outside of the HMA, protect habitat and prevent decline of animal health.
In March 2023, BLM documented 1,161 wild horses (which did not include any foals born this year) within and directly outside the management areas of Roberts Mountain and Whistler Mountain HMAs – over 6-times above the high end of the established appropriate management level. The most current estimate of the population following foaling in 2023 is 1294 wild horses based on the direct count obtained during the most recent inventory in February 2022.
Once gather operations are completed, approximately 110 wild horses will remain in the HMA, and 122 wild horses left uncaptured outside of the HMAs. The gather is expected to last up to 19 days.
All horses identified for removal will be transported to the Axtell Off-Range Corral, located in Axtell, Utah, where they 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 Roberts Mountain Complex information hotline nightly no later than 5:00 p.m. at (775) 861-6700 to RSVP. If no RSVPs are received by 5:00 p.m., no public viewing will be available the following day.
Excess wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the Axtell Off-Range Corrals, located in Axtell, Utah. Upon arrival to the facility, all animals will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sales Program.
For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 866-468-7826 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Complex includes the Roberts Mountain, Whistler Mountain, the northern portion of the Fish Creek Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and the Kobeh Valley Herd Area (HA). The Complex encompasses approximately 556,500 acres of public and private lands and has an Appropriate Management Level of 110-184 wild horses.
The Roberts Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) eastern boundary is shared with the Whistler Mountain HMA, spanning approximately 17 miles long and 10 miles wide. The terrain within the area varies from level valleys to high mountains, with elevations ranging from 5,500 to 7,500 feet. The terrain across most of the Shoshone-Eureka Planning Area managed by the Battle Mountain Field Office is typical of the Great Basin region with steep north and south trending mountain ranges separated by large sweeping valley bottoms.
Temperatures range in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to less than 30 degrees below zero in the winter. Precipitation is in short supply with an annual total of only 5 to 16 inches. Nevada is the driest state in the nation with the least amount of annual rainfall and the lowest amount of surface water.
Vegetation types are distributed according to topography and elevation and the associated precipitation. Within the highest elevations, and subsequently the greatest precipitation, the vegetation consists primarily of pinyon-pine and juniper trees, mountain-mahogany and low sagebrush. The lower and drier elevations consist of saltbush, greasewood, sagebrush and a variety of annual and perennial grasses and wildflowers. In some areas it can take 25 acres to support one horse for one month.
The animals in the Roberts Mountain HMA vary in color and confirmation but are generally some of the larger horses within the Shoshone-Eureka Planning Area, with a suspected ranch stock ancestry. Many of the horses are buckskin, dun and palomino in color in addition to sorrel, black, chestnut and gray. Roberts Mountain Complex horses are very popular with adopters. In addition to wild horses, the HMA is often utilized by domestic cattle and domestic sheep. Wildlife species occurring in the area include mule deer, sage grouse, chukar, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, pronghorn antelope and numerous other small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
The horses of the Whistler Mountain HMA are similar in size and color to the horses in the Roberts Mountain HMA as described above. This HMA shares its west boundary with the Roberts Mountain HMA, and it is known that horse movement occurs between the two HMAs. State highway 278 forms the eastern boundary of the HMA. The area spans 16 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest points and is comprised of a small mountain range that reaches 8,226 feet in elevation, surrounded by valleys of 5,900 feet in elevation. The climate, vegetation and wildlife are similar to the Roberts Mountain HMA.
The northern portion of the Fish Creek HMA is separated from the larger, southern portion by U.S. Highway 50 and thus this area is most reasonably managed with the Roberts Mountain Complex. The area is 7 miles wide by 5 miles long. A good portion of the area consists of Lone Mountain, 7,900 feet high supporting pinyon and juniper vegetation. Lone Mountain is surrounded by Kobeh Valley which supports Wyoming big sagebrush, Greesewood and salt grass communities. The horses in this area intermingle with the horses of Whistler Mountain and Roberts Mountain HMAs and thus are similar in characteristics. For the purposes of inventory and gathers, Fish Creek North has been managed with the Roberts Mountain Complex for well over twenty years, including setting AML separately for both the north and south portions.
As of Nov. 6
This gather was conducted from Oct. 22 through Nov. 6, 2023
858 Wild Horses (338 Stallions, 397 Mares, and 123 Foals)
847 Wild Horses (325 Stallions, 397 Mares, and 125 Foals)
Animals Treated with Fertility Control: 0
0 Wild Horses (0 Stallions, 0 Mares, and 0 Foals)
GonaCon: 0 (0 Mares, 0 Jennies)
1 Wild Horses (1 Stallions, 0 Mares, and 0 Foals)
-Sudden / Acute: 2
-Pre-existing / Chronic: 8
Scroll to the bottom of this gather page for detailed “Daily Gather Reports"