The 2020 Fish Creek Wild Horse Gather concluded January 3, 2021.
2020 Fish Creek 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, 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 action is also 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, and to prevent further degradation of public lands by helping to balance herd size.
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 Resource Advisory Council.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Mount Lewis Field Office will begin a wild horse gather on or about December 26, 2020 on the Fish Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) located near Eureka, Nevada. The BLM plans to gather approximately 195 wild horses, remove approximately 135 excess wild horses and treat up to 30 mares with PZP-22, a population suppression fertility control vaccine. The treated mares will be released back to the range along with up to 30 studs. Approximately 105 wild horses will remain in the HMA once gather operations are complete.
All horses identified for removal will be transported to the Bruneau Off-Range Corrals, located in Bruneau, Idaho. 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 Sale Program.
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, strawberry), with other colors present including palomino, buckskin, grulla, sorrel, gray, brown and bay. The origin of wild horses in the Fish Creek HMA most likely descended from stock used by ranchers in the area, and are speculated to have originated from Quarter Horse stock. Curly horses can be found in the HMA and it is thought that these horses may be descendants of curly horses brought into the United States to Eureka, Nevada in the late 1800’s by Tom Dixon. The suspected origin of the Curly Horse in the Eureka area 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 HMA today, and it is the goal of the MLFO to preserve the curly traits in this HMA.
During the 2005 wild horse gather, blood was drawn for genetics analysis. Only 23 samples were submitted for analysis. The genetics analysis report concluded that the genetic variation was high with indications of mixed ancestry. The highest similarity of the Fish Creek HMA was to Old World Spanish breeds, but no strong allelic indication of Spanish ancestry, with similar values to all cold blood horse groups. Due to the small sample size taken at the time, and the fact that hair samples are the standard method for analysis, a large sample size will be needed for additional genetics analysis.
Location: The Fish Creek HMA is located just a few miles south of Eureka, Nevada in the Antelope and Little Smokey Valleys and in the Antelope and Fish Creek Mountains.
Size: The area 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.
Topography/Vegetation: 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.
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 gather hotline nightly at (775) 861-6700 to receive specific instructions on each days’ meeting location and time.
The following COVID-19 guidelines will apply:
- Facemasks are required for daily safety briefings and in the observation areas.
- Always stay at least six feet from others.
- Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use as soap and water are not available at the gather site.
- Do not attend the gather if you are sick, think you might be getting sick or were recently exposed (within 14 days) to someone with COVID-19.