Diamond Wild Horses, Truth and Hope


Family band utilizing water source in Corta. Corta showed significant, intense, impact from sheep. The area was strewn with alcohol containers and shotgun shells. At this time most of the wild horses had moved from this area and this small band may have been the only band (based on evaluation of fecal evidence) currently in the area.


The Diamond Complex roundup has ended. The area has been the subject of intense controversy for the last year.

Wild Horse Education (WHE) has been closely monitoring conditions at the Diamond Herd Management Area (HMA) prior to the Drought Environmental Assessment (EA). We issued field reports and directly commented on the request to the Secretary of Interior from the Nevada Department of Agriculture to remove all horses in Nevada to a “low” Appropriate Management Level (AML) , a level  that is actually far too low to ensure genetic viability. Boyd Spratling, in his capacity as a livestock representative to the State Agriculture board (yes, he serves on the Federal Bureau of Land Management ( BLM )Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board as well, which  would appear to be a conflict of interest), made a presentation that was inaccurate and misleading to the State Agriculture  Board to gain their support for his recommendation to remove wild horses. His concern was for potential livestock restrictions, and he was, as usual, blaming wild horses for all the problems on the range.

Wild Horse Education was on the range and was able to address the site specific issues at Diamond and lent support to BLM’s ultimate decision to restrict livestock. Unfortunately the restrictions did not take full effect until September, which was too late to save a range that had been suffering drought and overgrazing by livestock. However the Drought EA, and Decision Records, are an important part of having a pro-active plan in place as issues arise to attempt to effect changes in range management to protect all uses and the range itself. These plans need support and engagement by all uses to represent each interest as the public process dictates. (The creation of pro-active strategies is supported by Wild Horse Education and we hope to engage these plans in a broader capacity in the future as they are needed to protect wild horses and burros on the range. We hope that these plans can be created with an equitable vision, and implemented, prior to emergency measures becoming a necessity).

slippery trap removing off HMA horses on the Ely side

Slippery conditions at trap when removing “off HMA” horses on the Ely side

The roundup of wild horses has ended in the Diamond Complex. The Diamond Complex is a bit more confusing than most as management is shared by three different districts (Ely, Elko and Battle Mountain). A total of 792 were removed from the Complex. The decision to cease operations came as 79 horses were sighted in the Battle Mountain portion of the Complex. These animals were in isolated pockets and appeared in a good enough body condition that would allow them to survive the last bit of winter, as pressure had been relieved on the range.The  decision was made to leave them where they were.  A portion of the captured wild horses, 30 animals representing an additional genetic component, are being held in captivity, to build them up  for release in spring. The total removed represents more than the original 603 targeted in a “too high AML” operation, but was due to the poor condition of the horses. (Hair samples have been taken and genetic analysis will be done and compared to the samples from 2004. This will create a base to determine management plans moving forward that can be monitored to make sure the herd recovers without losing genetic viability).

Battle Mountain wild horses arriving at Palomino Valley Center

Battle Mountain wild horses arriving at Palomino Valley Center

MOVING FORWARD: Livestock restrictions must continue. There can be no livestock grazing until range recovery is sufficient to sustain cattle grazing for private profit and all other uses. Fences must be evaluated for removals. A number of aging fences exist and these fence lines appear poorly set without  any foresight to their impact to other uses. Any fences that remain must NOT create a barrier that inhibits movement. The HMA is essentially cut in half at present and the half available for horses is where the cattle are turned out in the hot season,  effectively pushing the wild horses to the east and off the HMA, or into pockets where the resource is not significant enough to sustain a viable population.


Wild Horse Education and the Battle Mountain BLM staff will share information and work toward gaining data to create solutions that will ensure that the range and the herd at the Diamond HMA Complex recover. We will work together toward creating a viable wild horse population whose needs are both understood and met on the range.

Wild Horse Education needs your support to make sure the resources are available to do the field data studies and to design and create a plan to help this herd recover and begin to flourish as a protected interest. Help us help the wild horses get the respect and recognition that is due them and that is required under the law.

This is a huge step forward for the wild horses and for those of us who love them. Help us be successful in creating a template for the management of wild horses in the wild. Consider becoming a monthly donor, as that is the best way to make sure we keep doing this kind of work for you and for the wild ones.

~~~ Wild Horse Education: “We don’t just take pictures.” All of our efforts are only possible with your support.

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A note: If we had the funding to adopt horses from the range we would adopt two from the  Diamond trap side adoption happening today and tomorrow at the fire station in Eureka. We would name them “Truth and Hope.”

If you are interested in adopting an amazing wild horse contact Shawna Richardson of the BLM and meet her in Eureka TODAY. Pictures of adoptable horses and information can be found on BLM’s webpage. http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmnevada/sets/72157632718520681/

Links to previous posts about the Diamond Complex: