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BLM’s Indian Lakes corrals to expand

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
The Bureau of Land Management's Indian Lakes corral northeast of Fallon has been home to several thousand horses. The facility opened in 2010.
HOTOS BY STEVE RANSON / SRANSON@LAHONTANVALLEYNEWS.COM |

Although the calendar indicated winter, the unusual spring-like day earlier this month at the Bureau of Land Management’s holding pen for wild horses and burros northeast of Fallon gave visitors an update on the government’s care for the animals.

The Indian Lakes Off-Range Corral, which is used as excess for the number of horses captured at gatherings, recently conducted its first tour of the year to show visitors the condition of the horses and burros and to inform the public of future expansion plans.

With almost 50,000 wild horses located in various holding facilities in the West and Midwest, the Palomino Valley holding facility and adoption center north of Sparks and Indian Lakes are each nearing capacity to 3,000 wild horses, said Jason Lutterman, BLM’s spokesman for the national wild horse and burro program. He also said the BLM is looking at new pasture space to accommodate more horses.

The BLM also has some horses at Indian Lakes that are currently available for adoption. Lutterman said the BLM’s March Internet Adoption for wild horses is open through Monday with bidding through Tuesday. Applications will close at 9 a.m. MDT on Tuesday. In addition to Fallon, Lutterman said animals in the gallery are also at the Mantle Ranch in Wyoming. The BLM posted gallery photos earlier this month.

The Indian Lakes facility about 10 miles northeast of Fallon first began accepting horses in 2010. Lutterman said the holding pens for the Palomino facility’s overflow are located on private land, which is closed to the general public. Lutterman said the BLM tries to hold at least one tour of the facility each year

“As we need more room, more horses will come in this direction,” Lutterman said of Indian Lakes.

One of the reasons for the Nevada holding pens nearing capacity, said Lutterman, is the number of horses removed from the range over the years.

“About 48,000-50,000 are in holding facilities in a short-term or long-term pastures,” he said.

According to John Neill, BLM’s facility manager for Palomino Valley and guide for the Indian Lakes tour, 2,950 horses are now in Fallon, 1,000 more than a year ago after the BLM conducted a re-bid for holding pens with the contractor.

“The new contract calls for 3,200 horses, which now calls for new construction,” Neill said, adding that Indian Lakes will add five new 70,000-square foot holding pens to accommodate the influx.

Another reason for the additional wild horses comes a result of downsizing. Neill said the BLM’s Gunnison, Utah, facility closed, and many of the 1,400 horses were sent to Nevada. He also said a longtime pasture downsized, and the BLM shipped out the horses to other holding areas in the West.

Neill said many horses housed at the Indian Lakes facility have been there for at least several years. A large group of wild horses arrived after some of the gathers in 2010 and 2011, Neill said many Mustangs were undernourished. Now, he said quite a few horses are healthier or what he calls them as “fat and sassy.”

Neill said the alfalfa hay comes from many sources, some locally.