Drought in BLM Wild Horse Management areas being watched closely

Over the course of the last three weeks Wild Horse Education has been watching the drought situations in several key areas of Nevada closely.

McCullough Spring, current area for water haul

The Battle Mountain District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a FONSI that outlines potential courses of action after reviewing comments from the public that included wild horse advocates, livestock interests and Eureka County.

Laura Leigh, the organizations founder, has been on the ground in the district documenting range conditions and animal health.

The Fish Creek area was of concern after the agency announced they had begun to haul water out to the horses. BLM reports indicated that there were signs of animal health concerns.

“BLM took rapid action in this instance,” said Leigh “and began to haul water into the noted area of concern immediately and continued to monitor and haul water. I observed the three areas noted in the reports and can report that at this time any deterioration previously to animal health has been reversed. The animals I observed showed good body weight and no apparent signs of dehydration.”

Horses near the area of one of the water hauls

In Leigh’s preliminary report she notes that there is sufficient forage at this time a short distance from the area of greatest concern. BLM provided Leigh with wildlife camera photographs. After identifying the individuals on BLM digital photos, and in her own observations, it is noted that the horses may be beginning to move from the area of greatest impact into higher elevations where more forage and water is present.

“At this time the current situation at Fish Creek simply requires that the BLM continue to haul water and monitor movement,” said Leigh “this is an example where a timely pro-active action may very well have averted the need for more extreme measures.”

Brown Canyon trough

Several other key areas including the Diamond Herd Management Area, that is currently in the assessment phase for a winter roundup, are also experiencing the effects of this years drought.

“We are on the ground assessing the situation and so is BLM,” said Leigh “this is one of those instances where the issue is clear and the framework exists to address it. The drought FONSI that was completed before a full blown emergency existed gives an opportunity to get ahead of the situation and be proactive instead of in a scramble with ineffective protocol to address a crisis with action.”

However the overlapping uses, laws and specific conditions from range to range will require diligent observations to ensure the proper actions are taken specific to each area.

Leigh plans to continue to monitor the areas of noted concern and have a draft summary available to the public next week.

Palomino mare that had been documented by wildlife camera in potential distress showing improved condition


Links of Interest:

To support Wild Horse Education: http://wildhorseeducation.org

BLM Battle Mountain Drought FONSI: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/battle_mountain_field/blm_information/nepa/battle_mountain_district.Par.95981.File.dat/BMD_Drought_EA_FONSI.pdf

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