Wild-horse roundup set near Lake Lahontan

Federal officials plan next week to remove all but 10 of about 261 wild horses roaming federal land near Lake Lahontan.

The Bureau of Land Management hopes to reduce the horses to a number they believe is compatible with a healthy range.

The gather will involve helicopters and wranglers and all horses will be placed in the Bureau's Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program at Palomino Valley north of Reno, said BLM spokesman Mark Struble.

"A lot of people like these animals," he said. "They're larger, have better color and features people like, so they're popular. I think a number of them will be adopted."

The Lahontan Herd Management Area includes about 18,000 acres adjacent to Lahontan Reservoir in Churchill County, but the horses acquire 90 percent of their feed and water outside its boundaries, BLM officials said.

"This gather is the top priority statewide. The horses have been drifting into the parklands and doing damage," Struble said. "We've talked about fencing off the parklands, but then we couldn't have 260 horses in the area."

Between 40 and 60 horses remained in the area after the last gather in 1996, but budgetary constraints and crisis situations in the other parts of Nevada and the West over the past seven years have delayed a gather at Lahontan, BLM officials said.

"Last year, horses in the Pine Nut and Desatoya ranges were a lot more stressed than those at Lahontan," Struble said.

He said the gather will be conducted for five to seven days and odds are the bureau won't be able to reduce the herd to their goal number of 10, Struble said.

"It's hard to get those last horses without unduly stressing the animals," he said. "It's a bit of a tradeoff."

Half of the nation's wild horses and burros live on Nevada rangelands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The current population is estimated at 21,400 wild horses and 700 wild burros, living within about 100 herd management areas across the state.

n For more information concerning adoptions, call (775) 475-2222 to schedule an appointment. Trained horses are available through the Nevada Department of Corrections at Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City. Call (775) 861-6469.

Contact Susie Vasquez at svasquez@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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