LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Daily logs from a wild horse roundup in central Nevada show that 26 horses died or were put to death.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gathered and removed 2,054 wild horses during the operation, and released 24 horses back into the wild at the Pancake Complex, a sprawling area 80 miles northeast of Tonopah and 30 miles west of Ely. The roundup started on Jan. 11 and concluded on Monday, Feb. 14.

Of the horses that were put to death, two were euthanized on Jan. 11 as the roundup began, when video of a horse with a broken leg gained attention. The log describes the incidents for the two horses:

  • 7 year old Bay Mare was euthanized in accordance with IM 2021-007 due to chronic pre-existing condition (Break)
  • Bay Foal was euthanized in accordance with IM 2021-007 due to acute injury (Break)

The BLM used helicopters during the roundup, a practice that has been criticized by horse advocates.

The incident caught on video helped to fuel efforts to stop wild horse roundups. U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said last week she would put forth a plan to ban the use of helicopters:

“But the roundups with helicopters are the worst.  You saw the pictures from the most recent one at the Pancake area near Ely, where they chased that little colt till he just ran down and then they had to shoot him.  What purpose does that serve? So, we need to find another method, and the first thing we can do is get rid of, outlaw and ban those helicopters,” Titus said. 

“The gather was crucial to ensuring the health of public lands within the complex as well as the wild horses in the area, both of which are at risk due to herd overpopulation and exceptional drought conditions,” said Robbie McAboy, BLM Ely District Manager.

Many of the other animals that were put to death had been partially blinded — missing an eye — or had broken bones previously.

The BLM said the operation will protect habitat for other animals including sage grouse, pronghorn antelope and mule deer. BLM land in Nevada is also used for grazing cattle, and horse advocates have been critical of BLM policies that target the horses for removal when cows are on the land.

(Bureau of Land Management)

The horses that were removed from the range were taken to corrals in Fallon, Sparks, and another site in Utah. They will be prepared for adoption or sale.

“Wild horses not adopted or sold will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their ‘wild’ status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act,” according to a BLM news release.