February 5, 2010

BLM concludes wild horse round up north of Reno, says it met its goal

By Frank X. Mullen Jr.
Reno Gazette-Journal

The Bureau of Land Management today concluded the Calico Mountains Complex roundup about 100 miles north of Reno with 1,922 wild horses removed from the range.

The mustangs are held at the Indian Lakes Road holding facility in Fallon, where they are being prepared for shipping to an adoption program or to long-term holding pastures in the Midwest.

The BLM estimates 600 wild horses remain in the complex, which is within the agency’s target of 600 to 900 established for that area. Another horse census will be taken in the spring, officials said.

“The gather went well, despite the weather-related delays we experienced throughout the operation,” said Gene Seidlitz, BLM Winnemucca District Manager. “By reducing the populations now, we can avoid the potential for an emergency gather situation later this summer.”

Wild horse advocates in December had attempted to stop the roundup, but their lawsuit was unsuccessful. The advocates say the gathering of horses with helicopters is cruel and that the BLM overestimates the number of horses on the range and manages public land for the benefit of cattle ranchers.

Members of the Cloud Foundation, an advocacy group, said they remain concerned about the safety of the horses in Fallon, where 32 of the 39 horse fatalities occurred. The BLM said most of those horses were euthanized after they got sick while trying to adjust to a domestic-feed diet.

The BLM said it will continue to offer public observation days by appointment to view the horses that have been transported to the Indian Lakes Road Facility near Fallon.