Fish Springs horses are outside official range
Even as Carson Valley residents are passing around a petition to keep wild horses in Fish Springs, federal officials say there isn’t much they can do.
“People have the right to petition their government, but to expand the horse management area to include Fish Springs would have to go through the resource process,” said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Struble. “You can’t redraw the lines for horses just by asking any more than you could for grazing allotments or geothermal leases.”
The Bureau of Land Management plans to round up 67 wild horses living outside the management area in mid-November, including a band in Fish Springs. They will be using helicopters. The public is invited to observe. The comment period for the roundup closed on Sept. 23.
The horse management area for the Pine Nuts is centered in the northern part of the mountain chain that runs east of Carson Valley and Eagle Valley. Only a small part of the area extends into Douglas County.
Struble said that there aren’t 67 horses wandering Fish Springs. That number includes a large geographical arc that runs along the southern boundary of the management area.
The horses that live outside the management area are subject to being rounded up at any time.
“That red line is where the horses need to be,” he said referring to the area marked on a map. “If they are outside of that, especially 12 miles outside, like the horses in Fish Springs, they are not supposed to be there.”
Struble, who said that wild horses control is one of the most emotional issues the BLM deals with, said that the horse management area was drawn in cooperation with other public land users.
“Not every acre of public land in the Pine Nuts is in the herd management area,” he said. “A lot of us like to see the horses, but we are constrained about where we can legally manage them. I’m not sure we have too many options to deal with horses outside of legal herd management.”
Struble said it doesn’t do any good to move the horses back into the area, because they’ll wander back to Fish Springs.
“If the horses are truly wild, then they are still protected by us, but legally we have to get them out of there, either back to the HMA or into an adoption program.”
Dayton is far closer to the boundary of the horse area than Gardnerville is. Struble said that because much of the northern portion is fenced, there are fewer horses near Dayton.
However, he said that there is no agreement between the BLM and the Dayton Regional Advisory Council.
Struble said a proposal for the council to be a cooperating government was never approved.
He said BLM officials weren’t quite sure what they would do if it were approved.
“If they asked to have cooperation status, that would just mean they would be updated on the project,” he said.
Struble didn’t argue with the proposal to gather signatures.
“If people think something is wrong, they have a right and a responsibility to let us know about it,” he said. “But people should check into the facts before they sign something. I’ve never seen a program that generates emotional reaction faster than wild horses.”