BLM seeking comment on Pine Nut horse plan |

BLM seeking comment on Pine Nut horse plan

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

More than 500 horses would be rounded up in the Pine Nut Mountains under a proposal presented by the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday.

The first efforts could occur as early as January 2017, and would be conducted throughout the Pine Nut Herd Management Area, which ranges from Lyon County south to Fish Springs.

Nearly 600 wild horses are wandering the Pine Nut Mountains, and their numbers are increasing an average of 17 percent a year, according to the BLM.

Federal officials say the area can only support 118-179 horses.

According to the initial report, the horses are having an adverse effect on several areas in the Pine Nuts, prompting consideration of several means to lower their numbers.

Complicating the issue is that part of the Pine Nuts was proposed as critical habitat for the bi-state sage grouse.

While not up for listing as an endangered species, it is a Nevada species of special concern. Under the proposal, the BLM has identified grouse habitat and will make it priority to keep wild horse numbers at what the feds say are acceptable levels.

The proposed action is to gather horses and apply infertility control to keep their numbers down. The use of infertility drugs was pioneered in the Fish Springs area of the Pine Nuts.

It was suspended in spring after being challenged by two organizations.

The BLM Sierra Front Field Office has prepared a draft Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area Plan for the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area. Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted through Jan. 22, 2017.

The HMAP is a 10-year plan for management of wild horses in the Pine Nut Mountains. It could include wild horse gathers, implementation of population growth control measures, public education and outreach, habitat improvements/restoration and monitoring protocols. The goal is to maintain or restore a thriving natural ecological balance of wild horses and their habitat.

For this plan, the BLM has prepared a preliminary environmental assessment to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. The preliminary assessment assesses the direct, indirect and cumulative effects from the draft plan and alternatives.

The HMAP, Pine Nut Mountains Summary, EA and Scoping Report can be found online at:

Please send comments to: John Axtell, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, 5665 Morgan Mill Rd, Carson City, Nevada 89701 or email at: Comments can also be faxed to: 775-885-6147 Attn: John Axtell.

For more information contact Axtell at Wild Horse Specialist at 775-885-6146.