BLM investigates wild horse shooting report |

BLM investigates wild horse shooting report

by Linda Hiller

They don’t shoot wild horses, do they?

A report that three wild horses deemed “unadoptable” were killed after being relocated to the north end of the Pinenuts is being investigated by the Bureau of Land Management as of Friday morning.

“We are serious about investigating any mistreated or shot horses,” said Dan Jacquet, assistant manager for the division of renewable resources for BLM. “It is clearly illegal and outside BLM policy to shoot horses. Our employees are dedicated to the health of the animals and their ranges.”

Thirteen wild horses were rounded up in Fish Springs Wednesday, Sept. 2 in response to written complaints by at least two landowners. Three of the horses were separated and relocated, according to witnesses and Jacquet.

“I have not heard anything – beyond one call from a Fish Springs resident – to substantiate the horses being killed,” he said. “We have a law enforcement officer Wayne Bernard, going out to the area right now.”

By law, the BLM must respond to any complaint regarding wild horses or burros, as directed by the Wild Horse and Burro Act, according to Jacquet.

Two issues. “We are guided by that law,” he said. “In the case of Fish Springs, we had two issues: the herd was out of the herd management area and the complaint came from private land.”

The “herd management area” under BLM jurisdiction stops approximately 10 miles north of Fish Springs, Jacquet said.

Fish Springs residents have been critical of the 1971 Wild horse and Burro Act, which they say doesn’t represent the majority of landowners.

“I don’t understand how five people can rule over the rest of us,” said Peggy Eppler, 10-year Fish Springs resident. “We have 10 acres that back up to BLM land, and we know where we live. We don’t complain when the cows, who are much more destructive than the horses, come onto our property. We just repair the damage ourselves.”

Fish Springs resident Betty Allie agrees.

“What gets me is they don’t pay attention to the cattle, and they can do a lot of damage, but the horses get hauled away,” she said. “I think the law is terrible about what happens to these wild horses. They (BLM) don’t survey the rest of us to see how we feel.”

Jacquet said the horses remaining in the Pinenut range should be able to repopulate in approximately three years.

“We work hard to try to ensure the horses are a healthy, as well as keeping their range healthy,” he said. “We are required to keep a balance between livestock, horses and wildlife, and right now the herd in the Pinenuts is appropriate for the available range.”

n Healthy herd. Jacquet said that the management techniques employed by BLM has created healthy herds of wild horses with a 25 percent reproduction rate.

With few natural predators, wild horses, if left unchecked, would overpopulate in a natural “boom and bust” population cycle, which occurs naturally in wild animal populations, he said.

“People are understandably emotional about wild horses, though,” he said. “The public wouldn’t accept a boom and bust cycle, because they would have to see starving animals during the bust cycle.”

Instead, BLM officials do a “gather” when the horse numbers get too high for the range to support them or when a private landowner complains.

For more information on BLM policy, call Jacquet or John Singlaub, at 885-6000.

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