The Bureau of Land Management completed its emergency wild horse gather in late July in the Seaman Herd area, located about 100 miles south of Ely.
The BLM watched the area since the middle of June before making the decision to conduct the emergency horse gather beginning on July 23. The BLM monitored animal conditions and had an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian make recommendations for care and treatment.
“It depends on the area and what the resources are doing,” Benjamin Noyes said. “That area, we started in the middle of June and transported more water to then, fixed a concrete tank and then hauled water to them. They weren’t drinking from the supplemental water sources, so we started adding more to the seeps they were drinking out of. Then we realized how critical it was.”
The BLM transported the horses to the Delta Wild Horse and Burro facility in Delta, Utah, where they will be prepped to join the BLM’s adoption program. Horses that are not adopted will be placed in long-term pastures to be cared for while retaining their “wild” status. The BLM does not send or sell any wild horses to slaughter.
Overall, Noyes said the horse gather went well.
“For the most part, it worked out,” Noyes said. “We thought we’d have maybe more animals that we’d have to euthanize that were in critical condition than we did. We were able to mitigate by adding water to them before we gathered so they were getting more water and were a little healthier. That helped quite a bit.”
The Seaman Herd Area isn’t likely to be the last area a horse gather is conducted this summer or fall. The BLM is also monitoring several other sites in case an emergency horse gather is needed.
“We have a lot of critical areas that we’re watching,” Noyes said. “The northern Butte valley area is one of them. There’s many different areas with different resources issues.”
With unpredictable weather, the climate in this part of the state makes watching these sites even more important because the conditions can change very quickly.
“We’ll continue to monitor and see how it goes,” Noyes said. “We’ve got some areas that are really kind of touch and go and are two hot weeks from everything dying and two good rain storms form everything living and being green. You just never know in this area.”
While the BLM is monitoring multiple sites, a long-term problem may cause complications. The BLM is facing a shortage of long-term holding facility space.
“It’s something that has trickled down,” Noyes said. “Without having space, we can’t gather more horses and that’s kind of where we are right now. It’s something that we don’t control here on the ground, but it’s something that affects us directly.”
Deputy State Director for Natural Resources, Lands and Planning Raul Mora told the Ely Times in June that if nothing changes, the BLM will reach capacity in its long-term holding facilities in 2014 and is an issue that State Director Amy Lueders said the BLM will be addressing in both the short-term and long-term.
“So clearly it’s a program with a lot of passion from folks that have interests on all sides of that issue,” Lueders said in June. “Certainly space is a large constraint for us right now. I think what we need is as many tools as possible. We’re looking at fertility control, looking at long-term holding, looking at eco sanctuary types of ideas. We need as many tools as possible.”
While the BLM works to find a solution, Noyes said that they are starting to see the effects of limited space for holding wild horses already.
“We’re seeing that more,” Noyes said. “That’s the direction we’re starting to get is the issue of space is really critical right now to getting horse gathers done. We’re seeing it on the ground.”