Forty-four wild mares were rounded up then released back to the Shawave Mountains Herd Management Area after they were vaccinated twice with GonaCon, a fertility control drug.
Forty-four wild mares were rounded up then released back to the Shawave Mountains Herd Management Area after they were vaccinated twice with GonaCon, a fertility control drug.
Pershing County wild horses rounded up by the Bureau Of Land Management will soon be available for sale or adoption. In August, the BLM removed 1,653 horses and 220 burros from the Shawave Mountains, Lava Beds and Kamma Mountains Herd Management Areas.

After the roundup, the BLM released 44 wild mares back to the complex after the animals were vaccinated twice in 30 days with the fertility control drug GonaCon. The drug is expected to prevent wild mare pregnancies for up to two or more years.

Horses not released were trucked to the Indian Lakes Short-Term Holding Facility in Fallon. The animals are still being processed for sale or adoption according to John Neill, Operations Manager for the BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Center north of Sparks. 

“The staff at the Indian Lakes Facility are still in the process of completing the initial prep of the horses received from Shawave,” Neill said last week. “I anticipate this to be completed in the next couple of weeks. At that time, booster vaccinations will be given and gelding of male animals will begin as well. The animals are still in the process of adjusting to their new location and putting on weight as many were captured in very low body condition.”
Neill said animals at the Indian Lakes corrals are checked weekly by a veterinarian to address health issues. He did not have a date when the animals will be available for adoption or sale.

Healthy horses will be available for a nation-wide adoption and sales auction. Some will be photographed for the BLM’s Online Corral according to BLM Wild & Burro official Jenny Lesuietre. Others may be sent to adoption or sale events outside the state according to Neill.

Those animals not adopted or sold end up at long-term “pasture” holding facilities operated by private contractors. Most of these corrals are in the midwest but, in August, the BLM announced three new facilities in Oregon and Washington state. There are no such facilities in Nevada.

The BLM normally conducts public tours of the private short-term holding facility in Fallon but, due to the pandemic, tours have been cancelled and no virtual tour is planned, Neill said.

“However, once COVID-19 restrictions relax, we will begin to host our public tours,” he said. “A press release will be issued in advance in order to give all interested parties the opportunity to visit the facility and see the animals on site.”


Wild Horse Education Founder Laura Leigh and her team of volunteers document each wild horse and burro roundup conducted by the BLM including the Shawave Mountains roundup. They watch for inhumane handling by roundup contractors such as helicopters hitting the animals, herding them into barbed wire or running horses and burros for miles in hot weather.

Shawave photos by Leigh  and her team show the roundup continued as wildfire smoke cut visibility for the helicopter pilot and created unhealthy conditions for wild horses and humans. 

After mapping the Shawave roundup sites, Leigh and her team asserted that wild horses and burros had been removed from three HMAs instead of one HMA as stated in the BLM press release. Sites were in the Lava Beds HMA, Kamma HMA and the Shawave Mountains HMA.

Last week, Nevada BLM Public Affairs Specialist Chris Rose responded to Leigh’s report.

“The Shawave gather was focused on horses that were populating the Shawave Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA). Due to the lack of physical barriers (fences, ridges, etc.), the horses move freely between the five HMAs that make up the Blue Wing Complex and operations crossed over into adjacent HMAs to capture horses that were originally located in the Shawave HMA which would fit the “in and around” description provided in the press release.”

Rose denied that the BLM intended to mislead the public about the Shawave roundup and said the BLM will provide more accurate information regarding future wild horse and burro roundups.

“As previously mentioned, the gather was focused on horses that were populating the Shawave HMA,” Rose said. “In hindsight, the agency could have been more specific in communicating that operations could potentially cross the boundaries into adjacent HMAs to gather horses that may have left the Shawave HMA. We will strive to provide greater clarity for future gathers about locations that may be included in order to avoid possible misunderstandings.” 

Leigh said the BLM does not track specific wild horses “well enough” to identify the animals that have strayed from one HMA to another in the massive Blue Wing Complex that has five HMAs.

“Can you imagine telling a chopper pilot what bands to capture?” she said. “This is an absurd statement from an agency that says things like ‘you cannot identify wild horses in large HMAs for fertility control darting’.”

Leigh said the BLM is required to have a long-term management plan (HMAP) for each Herd Management Area to maintain wild horse herds and their habitat. Roundups and holding facilities are costly for taxpayers and do not qualify as long-term herd management, she said.

“Livestock doesn’t go in without a management plan, mining doesn’t go in without a management plan. The only thing we don’t have management plans on are wild horses. All we have are ‘gather’ EAs that masquerade as management plans,” she explained. “These EAs allow BLM to avoid any ‘preservation of herd and habitat’ conversation and keep the program running, as it always has, to remove wild horses to satisfy industry and to collapse.”

Rose argued that gathers are part of the BLM’s long-term wild horse management strategy.

“Current efforts underway by the district, and documents like the Blue Wing Complex Gather EA that authorizes gathers in multiple HMAs over 20 years, are aimed at reducing the need for gathers and placement of horses in long term holding at taxpayer expense. In addition, the BLM is conducting research into other methods to reduce horse populations on the range including long-term fertility control vaccines.”