Because of on-going drought conditions resulting in insufficient water to support the wild horses in the Big Sand Spring Valley, the Bureau of Land Management will begin gathering and providing emergency care for up to 300 wild horses. The gather is expected to begin on Sept. 20 in the Pancake HMA located about 30 miles west of Ely.

An estimated 1,800 wild horses reside within the Pancake HMA based on a March 2016 inventory flight.  More than 1,000 of the horses were in the Big Sand Spring Valley area.  The HMA has an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 240-493 wild horses. Precipitation in May and June 2016 filled or partially filled catchments in the Big Sand Spring Valley area which normally provide water for a large portion of the resident horse population in the area. These catchments are now dry which has resulted in additional horses seeking water at the few available spring sources

The BLM’s goal is to help as many horses as able; without emergency action, the condition of the wild horses in the Big Sand Spring Valley is expected to deteriorate and potentially result in the death of some of the horses within a few weeks.

The BLM will gather and remove the wild horses utilizing temporary water and bait traps consisting of a series of corral panels stocked with water and hay; no helicopters will be used. Because of the need for wild horses to adjust to the hay and corrals in a quick and safe manner, only essential wild horse personnel will be allowed at the gather sites during initial operations. Depending on the animals’ adjustment, public viewing through an escorted tour of the temporary holding facility may be arranged at some point during the gather. A veterinarian will be on-site during the first two weeks of gather operations to assess animal condition.

All gathered wild horses will be taken a short distance to a temporary holding facility, where they will receive a veterinarian assessment and have free access to water and hay. The horses then will be transported to the BLM’s Indian Lakes off-range corrals located in Fallon, Nev., and be made available for adoption, sale, or moved to off-range holding pastures.

Gather reports will be posted on the BLM Ely District website at http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC.

For more information, contact Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist, at 775-289-1842 or by email at chanefel@blm.gov.