Plans to release some of the wild horses gathered in the Wassuk Herd Management Area southeast of Yerington have been canceled by the Bureau of Land Management because the horses were in poor condition.
"These horses are in such poor condition, it's not really an option to release them back to the same circumstances they came from," said Terri Knutson, Stillwater Field Manager. "Lack of forage because of excessive drought conditions and overpopulation of animals are worse than it has been in years."
The BLM's Carson City District began gathering wild horses on Nov. 3.
The original plan was to gather about 475 wild horses and remove about 250 excess wild horses from the range. As many as 250 wild horses were to be released back to the range following the gather-mares having been vaccinated with a fertility vaccine and an adjusted sex ratio of 60 percent males and 40 percent females on the range to help control population growth.
But because of poor body condition of the majority of the gathered horses, along with impacts of overpopulation and drought, they won't be released back into the wild.
The pre-gather population estimation is 623 wild horses, and the appropriate management level for the HMA is 110-165. The post-gather population will be approximately 170 wild horses in the Wassuk HMA at the conclusion of the initial gather operations. The BLM intends to still continue with population controls and activities to achieve and maintain AML over the next 10 years by returning every two to three years to treat or re-treat mares with fertility control vaccine as well as to remove excess wild horses.
The gathered animals will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center near Reno, Nev. where they will be prepared for the BLM adoption program. The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter. Horses removed from the Wassuk HMA will be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program.
The gather area is located 12 miles from Yerington, and west of Walker Lake.