BLM, advocates near deal on Fish Springs horses
September 21, 2018
While there's still some horsetrading to do, wild horse advocates and federal officials are close to a deal on the Fish Springs herd.
About 100 people attended an update meeting on the horses at the Fish Spring Fire House on Thursday night to hear an update from Bureau of Land Management Nevada Director Mike Courtney.
"I think we have some good news for you," he said to applause. "The first message is that we will work with you on your plan. But there're some milestones in that plan to make sure we hit."
He said that by 2020, the BLM expects the number of horses in the Fish Springs area to get down to 58 from its current size of around 78 horses.
"If you need our help with panels or bait trapping to get that reduction done, we will schedule that help," he said.
He said the community will continue handling fertility control among the horses.
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"We have to live within the existing laws and regulations, including managing for healthy rangeland," he said. "That means no more than moderate utilization 40-60 percent forage species between wild horses and livestock."
Should wild horse advocates be successful in managing the herd, he said it's possible the BLM will modify the 11-26-horse limit established in 2017 upwards.
"If we can manage for healthy range lands over the next two years, we're happy to work with you on adjusting that," he said.
One of the key points in the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates proposal was seeding, fencing off sensitive areas and water development, none of which the BLM will be able to help with in the near term, Courtney said.
"If you look across Nevada, what's happened this summer is that close to 1 million acres have burned," he said. "All our resources are going to rehab the black. Don't let that discourage you from seeking alternative funding sources. The message is that we want to work with you."
Wild Horse Advocates Vice President Deniz Bolbol said interference from an Eastern animal group cost a year of contraceptive use with the Fish Springs herd.
That means this year there are several foals.
"We have a lot of mares to catch up on because we did lose last year," she said. "We give the birth control this year to prevent mares from conceiving next year."
Darting mares with contraceptive is a program that began with the Fish Springs herd.
Bolbol said that they're looking at moving water sources around to reduce overgrazing in those areas.
"We want to see the range healthy and we want to see the horses wild and free," she said. "We felt this was a middle ground. It's not perfect for purists, but it's also not giving up too many of them."
Courtney confirmed that a roundup of horses in the northern portion of the Pine Nuts is expected to go forward sometime between November and January.
In July, more than 300 people turned out to a meeting in Fish Springs after the advocates got wind the BLM was planning a roundup of the herd.
"When I got here the herd management plan was brand new and my initial read of that plan was that we had been working with the community, and then July happened, and I found out that it was something maybe we could have done better," he said. " It's really important that as we move forward we do a better job of communicating."