RENO — Federal land managers have concluded a roundup of wild horses in Northern Nevada with the removal of some 200 more of the animals from the range than planned, citing the their poor body condition and risk of starvation, but the move drew criticism from a wild horse support group.
Nearly 800 horses were removed from the Diamond Complex north of Eureka during the just more than two-week roundup that ended Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials said.
The agency was forced to exceed the original target of about 600 horses because of reduced forage due to last year’s drought as well as stress from recent snowstorms, officials said.
Doug Furtado, manager of the BLM’s Battle Mountain District, said last month’s string of storms forced horses off the mountain and into lower areas that lacked forage.
“Unfortunately, based on the overall poor body condition and lack of forage, and understanding that more than six weeks of winter remains, we decided to remove horses that were struggling or suffering,” he said. “We did the right thing for the well-being of the horses.”
But Anne Novak of California-based Protect Mustangs was skeptical. “They always have some excuse to take wild horses off the range — to make it easier to industrialize our open space,” she said. “They have already taken way too many off the range. If we don’t have enough wild horses on the range we risk losing herds.”
BLM officials said the roundup was necessary to prevent further deterioration of the range and to protect an “overpopulation” of horses that face limited forage and water.
Horses removed from the range are transported to BLM facilities in Nevada and Utah, where they are prepared for adoption or transferred to long-term pastures in the Midwest.
About half of the estimated 37,000 horses and burros on federal lands are in Nevada.