Wild Horse Advocates Protest Latest BLM Roundup

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A small group of wild horse advocates protested the Bureau of Land Management's latest roundup of the animals in Nevada.

Advocates held placards Friday in Silver Springs to protest the agency's plans to reduce a 261-horse herd south of Lahontan Reservoir to no more than 15 animals.

The helicopter-guided roundup that began Thursday was expected to last five to seven days. About 150 horses had been captured by Friday night in the desert 45 miles east of Carson City.

Bonnie Matton, president of the Dayton-based Wild Horse Preservation League, said she's stunned by how few horses will remain in the 11,000-acre Lahontan Herd Management Area.

BLM officials have set the appropriate management level at only seven to 10 horses, saying the current herd is way more than the land can sustain.

"Cutting the herd to seven to 10 horses just isn't reasonable," Matton told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "How can you expect the herd to survive when the numbers are this low?"

She cited a steady decline in the number of BLM herd management areas in the West - from 303 in 1971 to 194 today.

She and other advocates also opposed a roundup in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Carson City last summer.

They urged the BLM to pay more attention to the damage caused to public land by cattle.

But Jim Gianola, wild horse specialist with the BLM's Carson City office, said the roundups are necessary because there's very little food or water for the animals.

He said an attempt will be made to leave about 15 horses in the Lahontan herd.

"This is sufficient to sustain the herd," Gianola said.

The roundup is part of a continuing federal plan to remove thousands of horses across Nevada over a five-year period ending in 2005.

The BLM plans to remove 5,500 wild horses in the state over the next two years, bringing the number down to 14,500 by the end of 2005.

The roundup is the last such effort for at least six months. Additional roundups are tentatively set to resume this summer if sufficient federal money is appropriated, BLM officials said.

Captured wild horses are being taken to the BLM holding center at Palomino Valley north of Reno, where they'll be prepared for adoption.