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Fort McDermitt Cooperative Domestic Horse Removal

Fort McDermitt Cooperative Domestic Horse Removal


The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest are working together to conduct a series of operations to remove tribal members’ privately owned horses that are grazing without authorization on the Santa Rosa Ranger District. These are domestic animals and are not protected under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Over the past 30 years, the number of unauthorized tribally-owned horses grazing on public and tribal lands has steadily increased to the current population of over 2,500 horses. These horses are competing for forage with authorized livestock and native wildlife, overgrazing and harming ecosystems and cultural resources, and damaging fences and stock-watering facilities. The horses are also causing safety concerns for people driving on public and tribal lands and U.S. Route 95.

Environmental analysis of the Fort McDermitt Cooperative Domestic Horse Removal Project was completed and a decision was signed on Nov. 9, 2018. During the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, the public had the opportunity to provide comment. Click here to see All NEPA documents associated with the removal.

The removal operations will take place about 75 miles north of Winnemucca, Nevada, on the northern portion of the Santa Rosa Ranger District and adjacent tribal lands. Safeguards have been built into the removal operations plan to ensure that wild free-roaming horses from the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Owyhee Herd Management Area are not impacted. No domestic horses were gathered during BLM’s 2018 Owyhee Complex Emergency Wild Horse Gather.

The removal operations will take precautions to minimize effects to wildlife, such as avoiding activities during sage-grouse lekking and nesting periods. Once the horses have been removed from the rangeland, ecosystem recovery may begin. This short-term effort will result in minimal impacts to wildlife. The long-term effects will be beneficial to wildlife habitats and populations.

The Forest Service will retain control of all horses removed until delivered to the tribal holding facility, where the animals will be inspected by a team of Tribal and Nevada State Brand Inspectors and Forest Service Wild Horse Specialists. Forest Service personnel will also be on hand to record the ownership of horses to help with future management.

Once removed from federally-managed public, tribal members will decide whether to sell or keep their horses and will constrain them from further unauthorized grazing. The Tribe is responsible for returning the horses to their owners, arrangement of sale, or transport off tribal lands.


Questions or Concerns

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


Public Observation

Opportunities for public viewing at daily removal operations are limited, since much of the activities will be on tribal lands and access to public lands is difficult without a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle. Those wanting to view gather operations on public land, please contact Public Affairs Staff Officer Erica Hupp at 775-771-4777 to discuss details. There will be no public access to tribal lands. 


Daily Removal Overview

As of  Tuesday, December 12 (Final Upate):

  • Total Number of Horses Removed: 532 (146 studs, 24 Geldings, 238 mares, 124 foals). 
  • Total Number of Deaths: 0 (0 Acute and 0 Chronic/Pre-existing)


News Releases



For photos and videos, please visit the Fort McDermitt Cooperative Domestic Horse Removal Project Album.


Other Documents