Horse roundup in Churchill continues today

Despite recent speculation there would be no more federal funding for wild horse gathers in Nevada this year, it appears one more roundup in Churchill County will be carried out before the onset of spring foaling.

"We don't know what political forces were at work here, but we're just pleased the money has been released," said Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mark Struble, who announced Friday that more money had suddenly been appropriated.

The BLM, which is charged with managing wild horse herds on public land, will be heading to the Desatoya Mountains, about 75 miles east of Fallon, this Saturday and today to finish up a gather postponed seven months ago.

The BLM was looking to round up more than 300 horses from the Desatoya Herd Management Area back in July, an effort to get the wild horse population near the low end of its appropriate management level of 127. The BLM nabbed about 207 horses.

Since it was summer time, many of the horses were spending their days near the peaks of the Desatoya Mountains. BLM officials felt it would be too stressful and dangerous to chase the horses out of their rugged habitat.

The BLM hopes to round up about 100 mustangs to get the area's horse count down to 127. The BLM's management level for the Desatoya mustangs is between 127 and 180.

"That should give us years of potential growth with us staying in the AML range," Struble said.

The high-altitude weather is still frigid enough to keep the herd roaming and foraging mostly at lower elevations, where roundups aren't nearly as stressful.

While some activists oppose the roundups, saying they're only done because of grumbling ranchers, the bureau contends gathers are necessary to maintain a habitat's ability to sustain the horses and all other creatures that coexist with them.

The BLM is attempting to meet its goal of reducing Nevada's wild horse population from as high as 20,000 to 14,500 by the end of 2005. A failure to do so, the bureau fears, could lead to a lawsuit by the state of Nevada, similar to one threatened by Wyoming last year which prompted the federal agency to spend much of its roundup budget in that state.

Even if the bureau does receive more roundup funding, Struble said, this will still be the last gather until July.

Just three weeks ago, the BLM completed a roundup of 241 mustangs near the Lahontan Reservoir about 30 miles south of Fallon.

Virtually all of the horses to be gathered from the Desatoya range will also likely go up for adoption at the agency's Palomino Valley facility after being examined and fattened some.

For information on how to adopt a mustang, call the Palomino Valley at (775) 475-2222.

Contact Cory McConnell at


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