CA Wild horse Alert, Carter herd in jeopardy

May 2014

May 2014

Same stallion, August 2014

Same stallion, August 2014

Your help is needed desperately to contact the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in California. 

The nature of the alert is simple, “A Dead Range Supports Nothing.” The Surprise field office in California has been extremely vacant in restricting livestock use due to drought. In the third year of drought nothing but “voluntary non use” was asked, not required. This has resulted in a situation where grass that was available was grazed to bare dirt on a range that supports one of California’s wild horse herds, the Carter mustangs.

The Carter Reservoir Herd Management Area is located in Washoe County, NV with a small portion in Modoc County, CA.  The NW corner of Nevada that includes the Carters, is managed by California’s Surprise office. The “AML” for the Carter it’s 25-35 animals. These AMLs are absurdly low. This herd carries distinct genetic markers. The preservation of these markers will be near impossible at this level. There are also several serious issues with drift fencing inhibiting use of available resource and facilitating necessary movement at such low AML.

Carter horses are forced off HMA in search of forage and water.

Carter horses are forced off HMA in search of forage and water.

RIGHT NOW the Carter’s are on the roundup schedule. Removals are being prioritized by “off HMA” animals forced to seek forage and water as livestock still inhabit the range and their presence has literally decimated the range. 

Wild Horse Education has documented the serious over grazing on the range since May of this year. As drift fencing (multiple) is closed to keep livestock “in” wild horses are left to attempt to forage in areas where livestock has literally left nothing but a few blades of grass in higher elevations. Water is extremely scare and is in the areas dominated by domestic cattle.

Because BLM literally “did nothing” even if we have rain in the fall it will not be enough to allow recovery. As root systems are literally eradicated there will be significant erosion of any fertile soil further impeding range recovery.

Livestock restrictions, full force decisions, MUST be implemented in the area for a minimum of two years.

Any wild horse removed must be returned to the HMA. Over the last few roundups it has been shown that the genetic viability of the Carter herd is loosing ground.

May 2014

May 2014

Same range after livestock use August 2014

Same range after livestock use August 2014

PLEASE use our sample letter, or write your own, and send to the following people:

Please email:

James Kenna BLM CA State Director, jkenna@blm.gov

Surprise Office Acting Field Manager: Heather Whitman, hwhitman@blm.gov  

Amy Dumas, State Wild Horse and Burro Lead, adumas@blm.gov

Steve Surian, Rangeland Management Specialist, ssurian@blm.gov 

Subject: Crisis in the Carter HMA 

We have a serious situation on the Carter Reservoir Herd Management Area.

In November of 2011 the United States Drought monitor began to label the area managed by the Surprise field office on some type of drought conditions. By January of 2012 the area was noted as entering severe drought. One year later in January of 2013 the area was noted in extreme drought.

Yet the BLM California webpages (as well as inquiry) have shown no mandatory non-use by domestic livestock producers.

The serious degradation of the range of the Carter Reservoir is not due to wild horses. Wild horses are being forced into non natural movement due to the fencing and livestock monopolization of remaining water resource. 

As BLM is in a holding facility crisis, the ranges are suffering severe drought and the Carter herd contains unique genetic traits that have been demonstrated to be in jeopardy the management of the HMA is nothing less than irresponsible.

We are awaiting the review of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report that may likely support that the Carter herd be managed under special designation. 

The degradation is so severe on the range that any rainfall will likely result in erosion, not recovery.

The wild horses in the area are beginning to suffer due to livestock and a lack of proactive action on the part of BLM’s Surprise field office. This time of year they should look their absolute best and instead noted decline is evident and horses are being forced off HMA for resource.

As such we request:

Any “off HMA” wild horse be relocated back into the HMA.

Full force Records of Decision be implemented immediately for full closure of permitted livestock use for a minimum of two years to allow recovery of the severely degraded range.

All domestic livestock be immediately removed.

Temporary use of “HA” resources for wild horses.

Plain and simple, a dead range supports nothing. With scrutiny at an all time high and the sage grouse issues escalating, vigilance should be a priority in preservation of all rangeland. With the recommendations of the NAS under review, that include preservation of unique genetics, the practices occurring at Carter are simply not acceptable.

Thank you,

Laura Leigh

President, Wild Horse Education

Reno, NV

note: We have been documenting the deterioration of the range since May of 2014 on a consistent basis. Please contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of assistance in facilitating appropriate actions to protect the range and the wild horses that inhabit the area.


Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for our American wild horses and burros.

Categories: Uncategorized