The gather has concluded; the gather operations were conducted from Thursday, February 6 through Wednesday, February 12, 2020.
2020 Reveille HMA Wild Horse Gather
Purpose of Gather:
The purpose of the gather is to gather and remove excess wild horses from within and outside the Reveille HMA and to reduce the wild horse population growth rates to achieve and maintain the established AML. This action is needed in order to achieve and maintain a population size within the established AML, protect rangeland resources from further deterioration associated with the current overpopulation, and restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship on public lands in the area consistent with the provisions of Section 3(b)(2) of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
The primary issue in this HMA is condition and productivity of the arid rangeland, especially in relation to the population in excess of the established AML. The most recent frequency trend studies completed in the HMA indicate status and downward trends, particularly in the presence of key perennial grass species. The BLM made a determination that excess wild horses are present and need to be removed based on a review of monitoring, inventory, climate and actual use data and other available information. Removing excess animals would enable significant progress toward achieving the Standards for Rangeland Health identified by the Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council and stop negative vegetation trends in the HMA and surrounding area.
The Reveille HMA is currently not in conformance with the 1987 Settlement or the 2001/2002 IBLA Orders described above. The estimated population based on the January 18, 2020 inventory flight is 200-220 wild horses, which is 1.6 times the AML.
Details of Gather:
The proposed gather area is located within Central Nevada within the Great Basin. The 105,494-acre HMA resides inside the 650,520-acre Reveille Allotment and is located in Nye County, about 50 miles east of Tonopah, Nevada.
The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-drive trapping/roping, capture, and transportation of wild horses from trap sites to a central temporary holding facility and sorting and handling for fertility control treatment of released mares. This gather is classified as a selective removal with the intention of releasing approximately 60-70 horses. Mares released will be treated with fertility control.
The Appropriate Management Level (AML) is 138 wild horses. The current estimated population (200-220) of wild horses in the Reveille HMA is based on an aerial population survey completed January 18, 2020. The previous inventory was completed April of 2019. Movement is thought to occur between Reveille and Stone Cabin HMAs and Reveille and the Nevada Wild Horse Range. Mares with Stone Cabin HMA and Nevada Wild Horse Range fertility control brands have been gathered in the Reveille HMA.
Genetic sampling analysis was completed for the Reveille HMA after the 2010, 2014, and 2017 gathers (Cothran 2010, 2015, 2017). Most herds sampled to date demonstrated high heterozygosity and allelic diversity from herds of mixed origins. The results of Reveille herd sampling since 2010 indicate a higher number of variants than the average for feral herds and a similarity with the light racing and riding breeds, followed closely by the Oriental and Arabian breeds. The reports from these analyses concluded that the herd has been fairly stable, genetically and of a mixed ancestry.
After the 2017 gather, 68 samples were analyzed for ancestral data. Once compiled, the data showed that the highest breed similarities were Hackney Horse, Quarter Horse, Shetland Pony and Garanno. The Shetland Pony is likely indicative of draft breeds. An HMA ancestral comparison was also completed comparing the Reveille HMA samples to the North and South Stone Cabin and Saulsbury HMAs and Nevada Wild Horse Range as well as to itself. The highest results (besides the Reveille HMA) were for the Nevada Wild Horse Range, followed by South Stone Cabin which indicates a common ancestry and likely continuous wild horse movement between these areas.
The area is remote and rugged, with portions of four Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) included within the proposed gather area, and portions of two WSAs within the Reveille HMA itself. Significant features are large flat valley bottoms and steep mountains with elevations ranging from 5,000 feet in the Reveille Valley to over 9,400 feet on Kawich Mountain.
The vegetation within the Reveille HMA consists primarily of salt desert shrub, black sagebrush, and pinyon-juniper woodlands. Noteworthy species include Indian ricegrass, needle-and-thread grass, galleta grass, bottlebrush squirreltail, winterfat (white sage), fourwing saltbush, shadscale, and bud sagebrush.
The Reveille area valleys receive less than five inches of annual precipitation, while mountaintops can receive as much as 16 inches. Since 1985, average annual precipitation at the East rain gauge (14 miles southeast of the HMA) has been 4.91 inches. Since 2014, average annual precipitation at the West rain gauge (within the HMA) has been 4.12 inches (this gauge was first established in 2013). Summers are hot and dry, with high temperatures in the 90s or higher. Winters are cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing and below zero degrees. The HMA receives snow during the winter, which ranges from several inches to nearly a foot in depth depending upon the severity of the winter, and elevation.
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 Reveille 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 Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corrals located in Fallon, Nev., 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.