RENO — A group that advocates for protection of wild horses says a federal agency didn’t provide adequate notice of a weeks-long roundup planned to begin Monday in eastern Nevada and western Utah and is asking for a postponement.
The American Wild Horse Campaign said in a statement Friday that the Bureau of Land Management was violating the public’s First Amendment rights by not announcing the helicopter-assisted roundup until Thursday afternoon and by not allowing public observation of the roundup from horses in the Eagle Complex near Pioche, Nevada, until starting the second day.
Public observers need time to be in place at the operation’s remote location to see whether the roundup of the federally protected wild horses is being conducted in compliance with the BLM’s animal welfare policie, said Brieanah Schwartz, AWHC policy counsel.
The AWHC said at a previous roundup in the same area included several violations.
Christopher Bush, communications director for the federal agency’s Nevada office, did not immediately respond Saturday to an emailed request for comment.
However, the BLM said in an earlier statement that it planned to conduct the roundup safely and efficiently.
The roundup is intended to prevent undue or unnecessary degradation of public lands “and to restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands”” consistent with federal law, the BLM statement said.
The agency said it planned to gather up to 1,700 “excess horses” and to remove up to 1,600 of them. It also said it planned to treat up to 50 mares with a fertility control vaccine and release the mares with an equal number of stud horses.
The statement said the Eagle Complex has a current estimated population of 2,484 wild horses, including the 2019 foal crop.
According to the BLM, the “appropriate management level” is between 139 and 265 wild horses.
Horses rounded up and removed will be transported to corrals in Sparks, Nevada, for evaluation and staging for the agency’s adoption and sale program, the BLM said.
“The BLM’s priority is to conduct a safe, efficient, and successful wild horse gather operation while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses while meeting overall gather goals and objectives in accordance with the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy,” the agency’s statement said.