Report: Pine Nut Wild Horse Roundup, Summer 2019

The Pine Nut Mountains HMA consists of 95,391 BLM public lands acres, as well as 8,925 acres of a mix of both private and other public lands for a total of 104,316 acres. The BLM has established an arbitrary population limit of just 118-179 wild horses allowed to reside within the HMA.

The BLM has confirmed that this roundup will not impact the Fish Springs wild horses who live just outside of the HMA. These horses were the subject of controversy last summer when the BLM announced a plan to remove 70 wild horses from the small population.


The originally designed wild horse habitat for this area (called Herd Area) consists of 251,792 acres of which 183,479 are BLM-managed lands. In 1975, the BLM identified an estimated 297 animals in the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Area (the larger area which preceded designation of the HMA). In 1982 the BLM indicated that wild horses would be eliminated from the southern portion of the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Area (aka  zero out horses) indicating that “Wild horse numbers will be totally removed, as requested, from checkerboard lands in the ….Southern Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA) which is less than the total HMA.” The request to zero out horses came from private land-owners. In 1986 the BLM determined that the “Appropriate Management Level” (AML), which is BLM speak for the number of horses allowed to live in the northern Herd Management Area would be 387 horses. Flash forward to 1995, the BLM revised AML for the HMA to only allow 119-179 horses.

In 2016, the BLM claimed that there are more than 357 horses inside and 222 horses outside the HMA (presumably this number has increased). Today, the majority of the horses identified as “outside” the HMA are primarily in the HA or were found on the HMA and HA border. Additionally, it’s likely that these horses travel between the HMA/HA borders without knowing, of course, of the artificial line the BLM has created. Unfortunately, the BLM does not consider the natural wild horse movement – both daily and seasonal movement – when establishing the boundaries. AWHC believes such information must be taken into account to adjust boundaries to accommodate the horses’ natural movements that are largely dependent on nutritional and water needs.

The BLM claims that the Pine Nut wild horses congregate in the northern area of the HMA and are not evenly distributed across the HMA despite there being more vegetation and water in other areas of the HMA. Often livestock grazing allotment area enclosed by perimeter fencing; AWHC questioned whether fencing was keeping horses out of certain allotments within the HMA (see map for multi-color allotment boundaries). BLM claims that fencing was not utilized in the HMA and would not be the cause for horses failing to utilize the entire HMA.


August 1, 2019

6 wild horses were rounded up and removed today from the Pine Nut HMA outside of Carson City, Nevada. Advocates on the ground do not think there are very many horses to roundup. 

July 31, 2019

Our field representative was one of just two members of the public in attendance at the roundup of the Pine Nut wild horses. 6 horses were rounded up and removed and there was 1 death. An adult black mare was euthanized after suffering a with broken front leg. 

July 30, 2019

Our field representative was one of 6 members of the public at the roundup of the Pine Nut wild horses.

The observation area, if you can even call it that, was located miles away from the trap site. We could barely see anything, even with good binoculars and a telephoto lens.

The helicopter contractors attempted to capture the large group of horses that evaded capture yesterday. After several attempts, all of these horses managed to evade capture again. Later in the day, they were able to round up 3 horses before calling it a day.

Locals have said there are not many horses to even remove after the roundup in the winter.

July 29, 2019

21 horses were rounded up and removed from the Pine Nut mountains HMA. The observation area was limited, placed behind a mountain and approximately 1-mile away from the trap site.

The helicopter contractors stampeded a large group for several hours in temperatures ranging from 88 degrees Fahrenheit into the mid-'90s.

The large group all managed to escape, even after repeated attempts to push the group of exhausted horses, including foals, into the trap.