Fish Springs talks wild horses |

Fish Springs talks wild horses

BLM Field Manager Leon Thomas listens to a question at a public meeting in the Fish Springs Fire Department in July 2013.
Kurt Hildebrand | The Record-Courier

There were more people packed into the Fish Spring Fire House on Wednesday night then there were horses in the band they were discussing.

At issue is what to do about a herd of 40 wild horses that have moved south into the community.

More than 60 people turned out at a meeting hosted by the Bureau of Land Management.

A few residents at the meeting said they’d had personal experiences with the band of horses, and that they were very aggressive.

One woman told the crowd she had hot wires around her corral and the horses still came over them to get at her mare.

“There are three rogue stallions coming through the fence,” she said.

She said she used to see previous bands and would just ignore them, but this group of horses was very aggressive.

While riding her horse, she said that one day she was charged by a wild horse.

Field Manager Leon Thomas said the BLM has received four complaints from residents, but one is sufficient to prompt federal managers to start the process.

The horses are about 10 miles south of the herd management area established in the northern Pine Nuts. The area does not include Fish Springs, where wild horses periodically roam from the north.

Thomas pointed out that the drought has affected water available to the horses. A 325-gallon trough has been placed away from the community to draw them out of the neighborhood.

When asked if there was a possibility that Fish Springs could be included in a herd management area, Thomas said that could happen as part of the regional plan revision that is under way.

Four alternatives were presented to residents at the meeting, all of which involved moving the horses.

One alternative would see the release of 10 horses near the intersection of Buckeye Road and Buckeye Creek, which is six miles from Fish Springs. Those horses would be outside of the horse management area, and could be subject to an emergency gather should they wander away from water.

Two similar alternatives would move the horses to Eldorado Canyon, 11 miles north of Fish Springs. One alternative would also discuss extending a portion of the Pine Nut Herd Management Area south, or consider a new area east of Fish Springs on public lands.

The final alternative would be to capture and place the horses into an adoption program.

Under all the alternatives, all foals would be placed in the adoption program, mares would be treated with a two-year contraceptive, any released horse that returned to the area would be recaptured and put up for adoption.

According to the BLM, no healthy horses are euthanized or sold to slaughter. Adoptable horses are placed for adoption and older horses go to grassland pastures in the Midwest.

This is the second meeting on the band. Another session in Carson City drew about 50 people.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign wants the BLM to stop removing wild horses and to instead manage the horses on the range.

Horse advocates say wild horses have lived in the Fish Springs area for decades without interruption.

“The problem lies in part due to the recent removal of water sources that were available to horses in the area for decades,” aid Deniz Bolbol, campaign communications director/ “The campaign is calling upon the BLM to conduct public education, range improvements including securing water sources for the horses, a humane fertility control program and other management in order to fulfill its mission to protect and manage wild horses.”

Acording to the campaign, the BLM Carson City District, in the 1980s and 1990s, “zeroed out” or eliminated the management of wild horses in more than half of the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Area reducing the area where horses are allowed to live from more than 251,000 acres to under 105,000 acres.

Advocates say the BLM reduced the numbers of horses allowed to live in the area from 387 horses to just 179 animals.

“The agency permits far more private commercial livestock to use the public lands than wild horses,” Bolbol said.