Date of Award

5-11-2014

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.S.

Keywords

Feral horses (Equus caballus), protection, Nevada National Security Site, Geographic Information System, federal management

Department

Geography

Abstract

Feral horses (Equus caballus) are free-roaming descendants of domesticated horses and legally protected by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which mandates how feral horses and burros should be managed and protected on federal lands. Using a geographic information system to determine the home range and preferred habitat of feral horses on the federally managed Nevada National Security Site can enable wildlife biologists in making best management practice recommendations. Site suitability was calculated for elevation, forage, slope, water presence and horse observations and were combined in successive iterations into one polygon. Suitability rankings established that 85 square kilometers are ideal habitat for feral horses on the NNSS, with 860 square kilometers of good habitat and 2,082 square kilometers of fair habitat and 484 square kilometers of poor habitat.

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