With the end of foaling season Saturday, BLM officials said, they plan to begin removing about 200 horses from the northern portion of the Jackson Mountains Herd Management Area.
U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben on June 20 granted part of a temporary restraining order sought by horse protection advocates who say the BLM's own rules prohibit helicopter roundups during foaling season.
He allowed the roundup to continue in the southern portion of the Jackson Mountains because BLM had proven an emergency due to drought. An emergency roundup there began June 8 and ended June 22 with the removal of 424 horses.
But he said that emergency didn't stretch to the northern half of the target area covering a total of more than 400 square miles east of the Black Rock Desert. He said no helicopters could be used there at least until foaling season ended June 30.
The rest of the roundup in the southern portion of the Jackson Mountains is expected to last about two weeks.
The roundup, which will involve the use of a helicopter to drive horses for miles to corrals, is needed because of a lack of forage and water on the range due to the drought, BLM officials said.
"Gathering the remainder of the excess animals in the northern portion will greatly assist the rangelands from a forage and water standpoint and will reduce the competition among the wild horses, permitted livestock and wildlife," said Gene Seidlitz, BLM Winnemucca District manager.
Horses removed from the range are taken to the BLM's Palomino Valley center north of Reno, where they're put up for adoption or sent to long-term pastures in the Midwest.
The roundup in the southern portion of the Jackson Mountains resulted in the "gather-related" death of only one horse and the "non-gather-related" deaths of six horses due to pre-existing health conditions, BLM spokeswoman Heather Jasinski said.
"We put them down in the field at the trap site or temporary holding corrals," she said, adding another three horses died after being transported to the Palomino Valley facility.
Anne Novak, executive director of California-based Protect Mustangs, said the animals probably would be alive today had they not been rounded up.
"Curiously, these wild horses were surviving on the range and only died at the hands of the BLM after being captured," she said. "We want transparency and request that all deaths be counted as roundup-related when they die or are euthanized within 30 days of the roundup."
The helicopter roundup puts pregnant mares and tiny foals "seriously at risk," Novak added.
"Just because it's July 1 doesn't mean foals aren't being born," she said. "Running foals with delicate hooves for miles is inhumane ... Helicopter roundups are terrible. They traumatize the wild horses when they stampede them for miles."
Nevada is home to about half of the estimated 37,000 wild horses on public lands in 10 Western states.