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Drought conditions force emergency wild horse gathers in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Drought conditions are forcing the emergency gather of more than 1,000 wild horses from the northern Nevada range, the Bureau of Land Management said Wednesday.

About 600 horses will be taken from the Little Owyhee Herd Management Area north of Winnemucca near the Nevada-Idaho line, said BLM spokeswoman Maxine Shane in Reno.

”They’re in good shape right now, but they won’t be if we wait,” Shane said. ”They’re really down on water.”



The area encompassing 415,000 acres has only three permanent, publicly-owned water sources, Shane said.

Three-hundred horses – the number the BLM considers appropriate for the area – will be left on the range but moved to a different part of the pasture where water is still available.



The last roundup there was conducted in 1997, when the number of horses was reduced to or below the 300 level, Shane said.

”This is a real prolific herd when there’s water there,” she said.

Ranchers who have grazing allotments in the area have voluntarily moved their livestock to summer pastures with half the usual number of cattle because of the lack of water, officials said.

Emergency gathers in the extreme northwestern corner of the state are also planned, according to BLM spokesman Jeff Fontana, who is based in Susanville, Calif.

About 350 horses will be taken from Little High Rock Canyon Management Area, while 80 will be removed from the Fox Hog area. Both regions are ”in the same part of the world,” east of Cedarville, Calif., near the Nevada-Oregon line, Fontana said.

”Water sources that are normally reliable there are dry now, forcing the horses to congregate on what small water sources are left,” Fontana said.

”It won’t last much longer.”

There is no livestock on either management area, but Fontana said ranchers in other regions are also taking cattle off public lands because of a lack of water and fodder.

”There’s little or no grass growth and water sources are just drying up,” he said, adding that agency experts in Cedarville say the current drought conditions there are the worst on record.

The horses gathered near Cedarville will be taken to the BLM’s holding corral in Litchfield, Calif., where they will be put up for adoption.

Those removed in the central part of the state will also be available for adoption. But they will be taken to a contract center in Fallon because the Palomino Valley facility north of Reno is being prepared for horses that will be gathered later this summer in regularly-planned roundups, Shane said.

”The Palomino Valley center now has more than 1,000 horses,” she said. ”They need to disinfect and clean the corrals to get it ready.”

Some older horses may also be shipped to long-term holding facilities in Kansas or Oklahoma, she said.


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