Time to stop rounding up horses | RecordCourier.com

Time to stop rounding up horses

by Mary Cioffi

As I write this the BLM is packing supplies and loading their trailers with all the items they need to trap our Carson Valley’s wild horses. I have heard these stories over and over. I am a wild horse photographer and advocate. My kids are grown and I hate the gym so I spend many hours each week on the Nevada desert, mostly in Fish Springs where our local wild horses call home.

I feel like someone gut-punched me when I heard our federal government, the BLM, has scheduled a roundup of our wild horses in the Fish Springs area of Gardnerville. The majority of the residents love them and want them to stay in their natural habitat. The local advocates have worked tirelessly for five years, with a written agreement, doing the bidding of the federal government’s BLM office. They have provided fertility control to the mares, until BLM demanded they stop for two seasons. And now BLM complains the population is too high and they need to remove the majority of the horses. They will be tearing apart families, removing stallions and their bands, mares with new foals, young colts about to step into the bachelor band and mother-daughters who are constant companions. With wild horses their lives are all about family and the ties and connections with other band members.

For 5 years the advocates worked in good faith. The local residents attended meetings and read educational material and gave the wild horses their complete cooperation. They stopped feeding the wild horses and removed historic water tanks so the horses could be trained to move to new water sources and discouraged from going near homes and streets. The community rose to the occasion and protected their much loved wild horses.

Today the federal government has put us on notice that they will be trapping our Fish Springs horses in the Pine Nut Mountains of Gardnerville and removing them in spite of teams of people working in food faith for years. Several volunteers traveling to Billings, Montana, to get certified and trained to provide the mares with fertility control at no cost to taxpayers. Skilled people in the field identifying and documenting every mare darted with the vaccine. For years, trucking in water with a donated truck to encourage the horses to stay up in the hills and out of neighborhoods and responding to calls if a neighbor had concerns. They educated the public, attended meetings, read piles and piles of regulations, NRS statutes and history.

There is no compelling reason for these horses to be removed. Population can be reduced slowly by removing some bachelors incrementally allowing time for training and adoption and continuing to provide fertility control. The Pine Nut range has feed and the horses are healthy, fit and in good weight. There are ways for BLM to help improve range conditions like they do for cattle ranchers with reseeding (after years of drought) and fencing to keep them out of sensitive areas.

Several photographers frequent this range and some people give tours. Tourists from all over the world travel to see the Pine Nut wild horses and the world famous Blue Stallion. Many people tell stories of how moving their first encounter with the wild horses was. Our local Chamber of Commerce promotes them, the state of Nevada uses the symbol of our wild horses on their coins and songs are sung about the wild mustangs of Nevada, even our prison system has an absolutely incredible wild horse training program. I have lived here since 1978 and have never seen a sage grouse on this range. I am told there have been no sage grouse in this area for over 50 years.

Why then would the federal government send orders from Washington to strong arm our community and take away something that we so love and that the majority of the citizens enjoy and want to remain in their natural habitat and once removed will cost the taxpayers over $1.5 million to maintain? It would take one simple phone call from our state representatives to let them know Douglas County does not need this roundup. Please demand as a constituent that they make that call.

I am a taxpaying citizen and voter of Douglas County and Nevada and I am asking the federal government to let us manage our own Fish Springs wild horses.