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Posts Tagged ‘Tuscarora’

Judge Hicks Rejects TRO Allowing BLM to Reinitiate Tuscarora Emergency Rescue Gather

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on July 16, 2010

BLM Nevada News  

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEVADA STATE OFFICE No. 2010-026                                             

For immediate release: Friday, July 16, 2010
Contact:  Doran Sanchez, 775-722-9796,, or
Heather Emmons, 775-384-7966,

Judge Hicks Rejects TRO Allowing BLM to Reinitiate Tuscarora Emergency Rescue Gather

Reno, Nev. — Today U.S. District Court Judge, Larry R. Hicks, Reno, Nev. issued a decision ruling in favor of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and rescinding a temporary restraining order imposed on Wednesday, July 14.  This ruling allows BLM to move forward with the Tuscarora wild horse gather, which has become an emergency rescue gather operation following the determination that wild horses herds on the range are currently suffering from water starvation/dehydration due to a lack of water.  

Judge Hicks held a hearing Thursday afternoon to hear final arguments regarding a motion filed to stop the Tuscarora gather.  In addition to ruling that the gather could go forward, Judge Hicks ruled that BLM’s current temporary closure of the public lands during the gather is too broad, but held that BLM had a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the public, its employees and agents, and the horses during the gather, and that BLM could impose a reasonable closure. 

“The BLM is pleased that the decision of the court that will allow us to move forward with the Tuscarora emergency rescue gather, which is necessary to prevent the mortality of the wild horses that are currently suffering from water starvation and dehydration.” said Ron Wenker, BLM Nevada State Director.  

After the ruling, the BLM gather contractor initiated operations and brought in 54 wild horses which are suffering from water starvation/dehydration. 

The Government also submitted an interim report to Judge Hicks during the hearing that was prepared by a review team composed of BLM and independent experts brought together at the request of BLM Director Bob Abbey.  The Report provided the following recommendations to the Director: 

  • Re-initiate emergency rescue gather operations as soon as possible to save as many animals as possible; 
  • Gather all the wild horses in the Star Ridge and Dry Creek pasture that are not showing obvious signs of water starvation, bring them to the existing pens, treat and care for them in the pens until stable and ship them to other holding facilities.
  • For those horses on the range that are showing obvious signs of distress from water dehydration and in too weakened a condition to gather, they would not be trailed into the gather pens and would be left on the range, likely to experience a high degree of natural mortality. 
  • For horses that are already down and unable to be trailed and are not responding to the helicopter, the BLM would attempt to humanely euthanize those animals.

Team members include Mike Mottice, BLM Oregon/Washington Associate State Director (Team Leader); Tom Pogacnik, BLM California Deputy State Director, Natural Resources; Dr. Boyd Spratling DVM & BLM’s National Wild Horse Advisory Board; Eric Reid,Wild Horse/Burro Specialist, Fillmore, Utah; Dr. Klell Ekins, Equine DVM; and Robin Lohnes, American Horse Protection Association & BLM National Wild Horse Advisory Board. 

BLM field staff and specialists reported on Friday that the condition of the wild horses within the Owyhee Herd Management Area is critical and continues to decline rapidly.  The BLM Nevada will implement the Team’s recommendations, which may require the BLM to start humanely euthanizing suffering consistent with Bureau policy. 

The Tuscarora gather area encompasses the Owyhee, Rock Creek, and Little Humboldt Herd Management Areas (HMAs) located in northern Elko County, Nev.  The BLM initiated gather operations within the Owyhee HMA on Saturday, July 10, and gathered 228 excess wild horses, but suspended operations on Sunday after it discovered that the wild horses had been suffering from a lack of water prior to being gathered. 

The BLM gather contractor conducted an aerial flyover of the Owyhee HMA on the morning of Tuesday, July 13, and located two large groups of wild horses: the Dry Creek group that consists of about 125 wild horses; and the Star Ridge group that consists of approximately 400 animals. 

The Star Ridge group is located around a dry reservoir and has made no attempt to move to the nearest water source located approximately 10 miles away at the South Fork Owyhee River.  The BLM installed six water troughs with a combined capacity of 3,000 gallons near and around a reservoir located within one-fourth to one-half mile of horses within the Star Ridge pasture, and used a water tanker to fill the troughs and the reservoir. The BLM has hauled 12,000 gallons of water to the North Owyhee horses, yet only a small group have watered (probably less than 15) based on tracks in the mud.  However, the BLM will continue to haul water.  

From Saturday evening through Wednesday 12 horses died from complications unrelated to the gather, as a result of pre-existing water starvation/dehydration or subsequent water intoxication.  Based on necropsies of the dead horses by the on-site veterinarian, the BLM has determined the mortalities were a direct result of a lack of water in the immediate areas occupied by the horses before they were gathered.  One horse was euthanized shortly after being gathered due to a fractured leg that occurred in the temporary holding corrals. 

As more information becomes available it will be posted at the website:  For further comments and questions, the public may call 1-866-468-7826. 

Posted in BLM, Daily Posts, Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather Update, July 13, 2010 @ 1215hrs CST

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on July 13, 2010

Ok… Just talked with a few different folks out at the gather. Don’t quote me on any of this yet because everything was said so fast and there was so much information – I haven’t double checked anything yet. I usually don’t even post anything without the double and triple check but I’ll make an exception for this situation given the circumstances.

According to what I have been told so far this morning, there are no cattle on these lands currently, nor have there been cattle or any other livestock on these lands for quite some time. The reason is due to the lack of water on the range. Basically, the ranchers don’t even want to see their livestock out there because there isn’t enough water for them, let alone them plus the horses.

Additionally, there are no fences around the watering holes. The terrain simply does not allow for fences as it is very rocky and very uneven. And of course, if they’re not going to graze their livestock on it, why would they waste their time, money and energy putting up fences.

According to the National Weather Service the area in which these horses reside has been in drought conditions for the past 10 years. Currently, it is under a “Red Flag Warning” and a Hazardous Weather Outlook” statement has been issued. These warnings indicate that the chances for wildfires are extremely high given the drought conditions and the gusting winds across the area. The Elko, NV Regional Precipitation Table (both current and past) can be found here: Precipitation maps for the past month can be seen here:

And lastly (for the moment) – there were the campers out by the next nearest water source – the river. Apparently, in light of all of the criticism regarding land closures (not just from advocates but also from those who use the lands for recreation) the BLM utilized the “tightest and smallest land area closure as necessary in order to facilitate the gather process”. They kept the length of times as small as they could, as well as the amount of acreage that would be closed as small as they could while still trying to make sure no one would be hurt by a herd of horses galloping their direction. These closures were all done by the Tuscarora Field Office. Idaho officials were not involved.

The contractor performed a fly-over of the area in order to locate other possible sources of water for the horses, i.e. which one would be closest to get water to the horses.  Unfortunately, there were campers from the Idaho side that crossed into the area and had set up camp next to the river where the horses would normally receive their water when other sources were dry. Because of the camp, the horses would not approach the river, and therefore were becoming very dehydrated. The contractor promptly returned to base and informed the gather officials of the situation, who then in turn contacted the Ranger’s office who of course went out and told the campers to vacate the area. No word yet on whether or not the horses moved towards the river or not.

Bottom Line: This area is a fire pit of rich-lighter-pine just waiting for a spark. (Rich-lighter-pine in the South is the equivalent of whatever the North has that burns good, hot, and fast LOL.) Talk has been spread around about whether or not an Emergency Gather should have taken place a month ago due to the range conditions. Whether advocates like it or not, BLM does have authority over the horses. Whether advocates choose to believe it or not, BLM does conduct some gathers that are really in the best interest of the horses and no one else. This gather has already had casualties and it’s only a few days along, a high number of casualties when comparatively speaking. The area is dry. The horses have good body condition scores, but remember – BCS measures physical, objective ratings that are seen from the outside of the body. Yes, these are indicators of what is happening inside the body, but without further examination and tests the true nature of a physiological or pathophysiological condition cannot be known for certain. These are just a few resources regarding this subject:

More details to come as I get them.


Posted in BLM, Daily Posts, Tuscarora Wild Horse Gather | Tagged: , , , , , | 61 Comments »