The Battle Mountain District, Mount Lewis Field Office is seeking comments on the Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the potential impacts of a proposed wild horse gather in the Fish Creek Herd Management Area (HMA), located south of Eureka, Nevada. The public comment period ends Jan. 23, 2015.

The Proposed Action includes gathering approximately 500 wild horses, vaccinating approximately 125-150 mares with the fertility control drug Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) and returning about 300 mares and studs to the HMA. Approximately 200 excess wild horses, primarily three years of age or younger, would be transported to BLM facilities and prepared for adoption to the public.

The public is encouraged to review the EA for the Fish Creek HMA gather and submit comments or recommendations. The EA is accessible at http://bit.ly/2015FishCreekEAComments. Interested individuals should mail written comments to the BLM Mount Lewis Field Office, 50 Bastian Road, Battle Mountain, NV, 89820, attention Michael Vermeys, Acting Field Manager.

Comments may also be provided through e-mail to this address: 2014FishCreekGather@blm.gov.

The gather will implement a long-term plan for controlling population growth rates of the wild horses by vaccinating a large portion of the gathered mares with fertility control vaccine and releasing them back to the HMA. The initial phase of the plan would use a helicopter to gather horses within the project area. Future phases could include darting to booster treat the mares and bait and water trapping to capture wild horses for future fertility control treatment. The goal is to achieve the Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 101-170 wild horses, while reducing the numbers of wild horses that would have to be gathered or removed in the future. The current estimated population is 549 wild horses, and the area has been experiencing severe drought since 2012, making forage and water limited for the large population.

The BLM uses the PZP vaccine, which makes mares temporarily infertile, in cooperation with the Humane Society of the United States under Food and Drug Administration rules that apply to research on new animal drugs. Research using PZP has been conducted since the 1980s. The PZP vaccine does not affect unborn foals and the vaccinated mares return to normal fertility within four years.

A special on-site wild horse adoption is tentatively planned to occur in conjunction with the gather, and take place in the Eureka, Nevada area. More information about the Fish Creek HMA gather can be found at http://bit.ly/2015FishCreekGather.

For more information about the EA, or about the Fish Creek HMA Adoption event planned to coincide with the gather, contact Shawna Richardson, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, Mount Lewis Field Office, at 775-635-4181.