WINNEMUCCA — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Black Rock Field Office will begin a wild horse and burro gather on or about Oct. 7, on the Granite Range and Buffalo Hills Herd Management Areas (HMA) located near Gerlach.

The purpose of the gather is to prevent degradation of the public lands associated with excess wild horses and burros, restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands, and reduce safety concerns with motorists travelling Highways 447 and 34. 

The BLM plans to gather and remove approximately 100 wild horses and 175 wild burros. Approximately 423 wild horses will remain in the Buffalo Hills HMA and 155 wild horses will remain in the Granite Range HMA, once gather operations are complete. The gather is expected to last 7-10 days. 

The BLM will conduct gather operations using the helicopter-assisted method.

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 Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council.

Buffalo Hills HMA encompasses over 125,000 acres of public and private lands and has an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 188-314 wild horses and is not managed for wild burros. Granite Range HMA encompasses over 103,000 acres of public and private lands and has an AML of 155-258 wild horses.  A helicopter survey of the Buffalo Hills conducted on June 7, documented 493 wild horses and 175 wild burros within and directly outside of the HMA. A helicopter survey of the Granite Range HMA conducted June 27-28, documented 165 wild horses within and directly outside of the HMA.

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 will use 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 Policy. 

All horses and burros identified for removal will be transported to the Litchfield Off-Range Corral, located outside of Susanville, Calif., 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 gather hotline nightly at 775-861-6700 to receive specific instructions on each days’ meeting location and time.

The BLM is conducting the gather under the DOI-BLM-NV-W030-2015-0001-Smoke Creek Complex Gather Plan Environmental Assessment decision signed on April 18, 2018.

 Access the Decision Record and Environmental Assessment at https://go.usa.gov/xVyjk for the Buffalo Hills Portion and the DOI-BLM-NV-W030-2019-0017-DNA Highway 34 Nuisance Wild Horse Helicopter Drive Trap Gather Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA) decision signed September 19, 2019.  Access the Decision Record and DNA at https://go.usa.gov/xVyjD for the Granite Range portion.

Gather reports and additional information will be posted on the BLM website at https://go.usa.gov/xVpQs. 

For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Garrett Swisher at 775-623-1534 or gswisher@blm.gov. For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit www.blm.gov/whb.