2018 Cold Creek Emergency Wild Horse Gather

August Adoption EventThe extreme drought conditions that have persisted in southern Nevada had seriously threatened the health and well-being of the wild horses in the Cold Creek area of the Wheeler Pass Joint Management Area (JMA). The continued decline in body condition and lack of forage culminated in the immediate need to remove up to 200 wild horses in this area.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who jointly manage the Wheeler Pass JMA, had been monitoring the situation since the BLM did an emergency gather in 2015 for the same reason. Both agencies had seen little improvement to wild horse and range conditions in the Cold Creek area, so it was decided that another emergency gather was needed to save the lives of these animals.

The Wheeler Pass JMA is made up of the Spring Mountain Wild Horse and Burro Territory (WHBT), located on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, and Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area (HMA), located on the Southern Nevada BLM District.

The Forest Service was committed to the safe and humane treatment of these wild horses throughout the emergency gather operations. Supplemental feeding was started the weekend of May 5 to prevent further deterioration of their body condition and improve their chances of survival. The horses were gathered by low-stress bait trapping by an approved BLM Gather Contractor starting on May 10. Prior to and during gather operations, a veterinarian was on site to assess the condition of the horses. The Forest Service concluded the 2018 Cold Creek Emergency Wild Horse Gather on Tuesday, May 22, 148 wild horses (72 studs, 67 mares, 9 foals)were gathered.

The gathered horses that were healthy enough to withstand the travel were immediately transported to the holding facility in Ridgecrest, California. The horses that were not able to initially make the trip to the Ridgecrest holding facility were immediately moved to a temporary holding facility where they received health assessments and feeding. Once medically cleared by on-site veterinarians the horses were transported to a BLM holding facility in Ridgecrest, California, where they will be made available for adoption or transferred to BLM short-term corrals or long-term pastures.




Questions or Concerns

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the Forest’s Public Affairs staff:


Daily Gather Overview

As of  Tuesday, May 22 (FINAL NUMBERS):

  • Total Number of Horses Gathered: 148 (72 studs, 67 mares, 9 foals). 
  • Total Number of Deaths: 19 (1 Acute and 18 Chronic/Pre-existing)


News Releases



For photos and videos, please visit the 2018 Cold Creek Emergency Gather album.


Other Gather Materials


U.S. Forest Service Wild Horse and Burro Program

The Forest Service administers wild horse or burro territories located in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah. Read more…


The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, amended by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and the Public Rangeland Improvement Act of 1978, directs the protection and management of wild horses and burros on public lands. Click here for information on legal, regulatory, and policy direction for the Forest Service.


BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program

For more information about how to adopt one of these horses, visit the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption webpage.


Other Links

BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program

BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program Data

Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals