Horse plan includes birth control, gathers |

Horse plan includes birth control, gathers

Staff Reports
Wild horses graze in the Pine Nuts with the Sierra in the background.
Brad Coman |

A 10-year plan to manage wild horses in the Pine Nut Mountains includes the use of a contraceptive to reduce the need to conduct roundups.

The plan approved by the Bureau of Land Management’s Sierra Front Field Office includes gathers, population growth control measures, public education and outreach, habitat improvement and restoration, and monitoring protocols.

The Pine Nut Mountains herd management area, designated for the management of wild horses and their habitat, is located in Carson City, Douglas, and Lyon counties. There were slightly more than 100 horses living outside the herd management area in the mountains above Johnson Lane and Fish Springs, according to a December 2016 population survey.

In December 2016, the BLM provided 30-days public review and comment of the draft HMAP and preliminary environmental assessment.

The BLM received a total of 5,045 comments ranging from removing all excess wild horses to not removing any. Most respondents were in favor of using PZP. Some comments from recreationalists visiting the Pine Nuts expressed concerned with the resource damage that the excess wild horses are causing, especially at springs.

Birth control using PZP was first tested in Fish Springs by the BLM with the help of the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates and the American Wild Horse Campaign.

It was halted after activists challenged the plan in court.

“While we support the BLM’s decision to resume the PZP birth control program with our local partner, the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates, we are deeply concerned about the number of horses the BLM intends to remove from this public lands area,” said Field Operations Director Deniz Bolbol. “We support the local community’s strong commitment to the wild horses of the Pine Nut Mountains and urge the federal government to work with the local community to create a long-term, humane program to manage these cherished horses in their habitat without large-scale removals.”

According to the BLM, there were 579 wild horses on the range, or more than three times the number there should be.

A census map shows 66 horses near the Fish Springs Area, but Bolbol said the agency only wants to manage 11-26 horses. Fish Springs lies outside the herd management area, and horses have been subject to gathers several times over the years.

For a copy of the final documents and maps, go to

Wild Horse and Burro Specialist John Axtell may be contacted at

For this plan, the BLM has prepared an environmental assessment, finding of no significant impact, and a decision record to comply with the national environmental policy act. The environmental assessment assessed the direct, indirect and cumulative effects from the HMAP and alternatives.

The purpose of the plan is to address the following issues:

Prevent the degradation of public lands within and outside the herd management area;

Address nuisance and other wild horses that are residing outside the HMA in areas that are not managed for wild horse habitat or that contribute to public safety concerns such as property damage and vehicle collisions;

Address long-term population trends within and outside the herd management area; and

Manage wild horses in a manner that supports meeting Bi-State sage-grouse habitat objectives;

Initiate an HMA suitability evaluation for the Fish Springs.