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Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

BLM News Release / Update: Callaghan Complex & New Pass/Ravenswood HMA Gather Concluded

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 7, 2011

BLM Nevada News
CONTACT:  Schirete Zick, (775) 635-4067,

BLM Completes Callaghan Complex Wild Horse Gather

Battle Mountain, Nev.–The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Battle Mountain District concluded the Callaghan Complex and New Pass/Ravenswood Herd Management Area (HMA) wild horse gather on Friday, Jan. 21. Of the 995 wild horses gathered in the Complex, only 387 animals were removed from the area.  The post-gather population estimate is 857 wild horses throughout four HMAs.  The appropriate management level for the four HMAs is a range of 894 to 1,161 animals. The BLM returned 581 wild horses to the HMAs; 272 mares after receiving a fertility control vaccine and 309 studs. The Callaghan Complex consists of the Callaghan, Bald Mountain, and Rocky Hills HMA, located approximately 55 miles south of Battle Mountain, Nev., and 45 miles northwest of Eureka, Nev.  The New Pass/Ravenswood HMA is about 13 miles northwest of Austin, Nev.

The Callaghan Complex and New Pass/Ravenswood HMA wild horse gather implemented a catch, treat, and release approach, which is part of a new strategy announced by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to balance wild horse population growth rates with the public adoption demand and control of holding costs.  A fertility-control vaccine, Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP-22), was given to mares that were then released back to the HMA which they were gathered from.  By treating the mares with fertility control, the wild horse population growth rates will slow, thus maintaining Appropriate Management Levels (AML) and reducing the numbers of wild horses that would need to be removed from the range in the future.

Gather operations began on Dec. 6, and continued through January 21, with a brief break over the holidays.  An Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) veterinarian was on site daily to evaluate animal conditions and provide recommendations to the on-site BLM wild horse and burro specialist for care, treatment or euthanasia. 

A total of 387 wild horses transported to the Indian Lakes Road short-term holding facility in Fallon, Nev., where they will be prepared to enter into the BLM’s Adopt-a-Wild Horse or Burro Program.  “More than 70 percent of the horses transported to the Fallon facility were 2-years-old or younger, and highly adoptable,” said Doug Furtado, district manager for the Battle Mountain District. “We only transported a few wild horses over the age of four, which were gathered from outside HMA boundaries.  Most of the wild horses transported are less than four years of age.”  

Furtado also noted the benefit of the catch, treat and release gather in reducing the number of wild horses that would have to be held in long-term holding pastures that are not adopted by the public because of their age.  The BLM also gather seven domestic (branded) horses which were either claimed by their respective owner or the Nevada State Brand Office.  Three foals were born in the holding corrals during the gather; the foals and their mothers were transported to the short-term holding facility in Fallon for proper observation and care. 

A helicopter was used to guide wild horses into corrals in a manner that minimizes harm and stress to the animals.  A recent report from the Office of Inspector General, Department of Interior, concluded that wild horse and burro gathers are an essential means to control the population and their review did not find that the BLM or its contractors treated wild horses and burros inhumanely.  The entire report can be accessed at

In accordance with BLM policy, twelve wild horses (1.2% of animals gathered) were euthanized due to pre-existing conditions (e.g. severe tooth wear, or poor body conditions due to old age) in order to prevent a poor quality of life or suffering on the range.  Only eight wild horses (0.8% of animals gathered) were euthanized due to gather-related causes, such as colic, or injury.

Shawna Richardson, the Mount Lewis Field Office Wild Horse and Burro Specialist who administered the gather operations, noted that the overall health and body conditions of wild horses and the health of the range have improved since achieving the AML and implementing fertility control treatments in the previous gather operations completed between November 2007 and January 2009. 

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the gather and the health of the animals,” said Richardson.  “We encourage anyone that would like to learn more about the gather to go to the website to view photos, and videos from the gather.”  Photos of the gather may be downloaded from the website. The BLM’s Callaghan Complex and New Pass/Ravenswood HMA website can be accessed at this address:

Contact: Schirete Zick, (775) 635-4067,



6 Responses to “BLM News Release / Update: Callaghan Complex & New Pass/Ravenswood HMA Gather Concluded”

  1. Donna Buscemi said

    “Highly adoptable” does not address the current economy and situation in the equine ownership reality.

    • Agreed. Any thoughts on how to best address those issues?

      • Roxy said

        Stop rounding them up and remove the tax payer funded cattle – use that money for better adoption events and training, help during this and other future economys for those struggling to feed rescued horses and keep the range fit, implement Craig Downers ideas, put horses on Pickens land? Just a few ideas.

        News release does not say any effort was put into keeping family bands together. If New Mexico can accomplish this why can’t Nevada? And I am sure they skewed sex ratios as well – what a mess.

        Helicopter used to “guide” – how can they say that with current evidence on -line to the contrary? Not asking you Tracie, just venting.

  2. Marybeth said

    BLM’s aerial inventory, conducted in September 2009 counted 969 horses. Thus the census showed the population was well within the permitted AML range: 894 to 1,161. However, BLM then tacked on an estimated 11-percent foaling rate for the Callaghan Complex plus a 12-percent birth rate for the New Pass / Ravenswood Complex, which added 114 to the total and thus projected a 2010 population of 1,083 for purposes of determining an AML surplus. But even that number was still within the AML range. Moreover, foals are not supposed to be counted for purposes of determining AML; thus, no removals were truly necessary. The Environmental Assessment called for 862 mustangs to be left on the range — fewer than even the low end of the AML. That seemed excessive.

    In its news release, BLM officially reports 988 horses captured and processed in its roundup — an extraordinary, better-than 91-percent gather “efficiency” per the estimated population of 1,083 — missing only about 95 horses. Of the 988, BLM reports that 581 were freed, while 387 were removed and 20 were put down. But BLM then announces that it estimates 857 horses currently populate the range. This would appear to mean that, in addition to to the 95 the gather supposedly missed and the 581 BLM claims were released back — which adds up to 676 mustangs — another 181 have magically materialized in the HMAs. My conclusion is that BLM is hoping that by grossly over-estimating the current herd size, nobody will notice that they have actually performed a drastic removal and not the “limited” removal that the subject roundup was advertised to be.

    As for independent observation of the roundup operations, here are links to videos posted by Laura Leigh that evidence how BLM and its contractors keep the public at bay and obscure activities. Also documented are the miserable conditions the horses suffer.

  3. […] artificially deflated “gather mortality rates” in the vicinity of 1%.  Indeed, in its press release announcing the conclusion of the Callaghan Complex roundup earlier this week, the BLM boasted that […]

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