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Wild Horse Gather Near Tonopah

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 (9:42 p.m.)

In 1971 the U.S. Congress tasked the Bureau of Land Management with managing the population of free-roaming horses under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. The act gave protection to the herds but also gave the BLM the authority to remove the herds to maintain a natural ecological balance on the public lands and to remove excess animals in the case of overpopulation. Horses and burros, under five-years-old, may be placed in the BLM’s adoption program. The BLM has placed nearly 217,000 wild horses and burros into private care since 1973. The wild horse round-ups have many critics however. Some activists would rather see the horses and burros left alone. Others disagree with round-up methods. This summer, 34 horses died during gathers north of Elko. Some died due to dehydration-related complications, the BLM reported. Others were euthanized because of pre-existing injuries or other conditions. Near Tonopah, the BLM plans to leave only 3 horses and 10 burros in the Montezuma Peak Herd Management Area. The BLM says the area is too harsh for horses and has a history of emergency gathers to prevent wild horses from starvation and dehydration. There are nearly 100 HMAs managed by the BLM in Nevada. The wild horses gathered on Thursday were taken from outside the herd management areas, BLM said. The BLM estimates that there are approximately 38,400 wild horses and burros roaming on BLM-managed lands in 10 western states. Additionally, there are more than 34,500 horses and burros that are in short-term holding corrals and long-term pastures, mostly in the Midwest. Holding costs in 2009 were $29 million. This is about 70% of the wild horse and burro program’s budget for that year.

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