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Carson City wild horse advocates speak out on BLM decision to trap Deer Run Road horses

UPDATE 10AM: Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a national coalition, joined forces with a Nevada State Senator and local community leaders in and around Carson City to harshly criticize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for refusing to work with local residents to keep a small group of wild horses free. The mustang herd at issue travels between federal land in the Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA) and a rural area outside Carson City.

“We are outraged that, at a time when the BLM has stockpiled an astounding 50,000 wild horses in captivity, this agency is unwilling to work with the community to prevent the removal of more horses by keeping one small family of cherished horses wild and free,” said Deniz Bolbol, AWHPC communications director who has been working with the community on a plan for the horses.

On Friday, Bolbol spoke with BLM manager Leon Thomas and urged the agency to build a fence to keep the horses in question on their designated range, offering to cover the costs if necessary. She noted that, each year, the agency builds miles of fencing for livestock, and expressed shock that the BLM had not even considered building a fence to keep these wild horses within their designated range. Bolbol points out that temporary fencing could be put up in a day or two to address any possible safety concerns.

Yesterday, the BLM announced that it will proceed with the immediate removal of the horses, rejecting offers from neighbors, local officials and wild horse advocacy groups to work on solutions that would keep the horses wild and free. The agency continues to cite outdated complaints more than a year old, relating to other horses, as justification for its targeting of these horses.

One of the public officials expressing dismay with the BLM’s announcement is State Senator Mark Manendo, who said, “"As an advocate for Nevada and its animals, domestic and wild, I encourage the BLM to exhaust all efforts to work with Carson City citizens dedicated to keeping our wild horses on their native land."

The wild horses at issue are locally revered by residents as a part of their culture. This band has lived in this area over 40 years; the herd originally had approximately 50 horses, who were systematically removed by BLM over time. Just weeks ago, the small herd was down to 11 members, when the BLM removed five horses. There are just six wild horses left in this family, and residents have been fighting hard to keep them wild and free.

“We are heartbroken that our government will not work with us on a solution for these beautiful wild horses who are cherished by our community,” said Annie Jantzen. “This is a heartless move by the federal government, which is thumbing its nose at local leaders, our community and the American taxpayers, who continue to pay as the BLM removes more and more horses from the range, while ignoring real solutions to keep them on our public lands.”

The BLM itself admits that the small family of horses at issue does not affect the Pine Nut Mountain HMA population count because they are isolated on the Carson side of Brunswick Canyon from the rest of the horses.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.

***

A group of wild horse advocates say they disagree with Bureau of Land Management plans to trap and remove 11 wild horses, part of a herd that was once much larger, and move them out of the Deer Run Road area of Carson City.

The group, organized by Margie Quirk, Annie Jantzen and at least 20 others from around the Carson City area, said it will use civil disobedience protest measures, if it has to, in order to stop the trapping.

Carson Now was alerted to the group, its plans and concerns on Monday night. Given that public land issues involving wildlife, especially wild horses, involves passionate views, traditional newsprint media is often and sometimes unfairly charged with taking a position or not doing enough. Issues that journalists would see are being fairly and adequately covered in the old paradigm news print sense are taking off and being examined and questioned in the new paradigm of the digital world. Carson Now has been built on the notion of asking the public to contribute to and participate in journalism.

The BLM has informed the advocates that the roundup of these horses is for public safety concerns and concerns about the animals themselves.

But wild horse advocates are arguing there is another side and a better way and they feel they are not being heard. Carson Now is providing them a forum and is inviting the BLM and others who disagree with the wild horse advocates, a place to communicate too.

We invite all sides to participate and allow for whatever points people wish to make. All we ask is that people rise above the cheap shots and name calling and present their ideas.

I asked Quirk to provide Carson Now information about the Deer Run Road horse issue and ask that she also do it fairly without taking pot shots but at least tell us about the BLM's point of view. She agreed and her reply is below. Feel free to comment on this in the space allowed for in the comment section below.

The following is from Margie Quirk. For more information, follow the group on its Facebook page. The public can find information about wild horses on the BLM Carson City District homepage here.

There has always been a herd of wild horses off of Deer Run Road. We moved here in 1994 and there were actually 2 separate herds. One down towards the north and one south. As the herds would increase in size the BLM would come in and and do a round up. At that time they would actually use a helicopter due to herd size. It was a horrific thing to watch from your yard. Eventually the herds became one. The largest number I saw was 25. When they did the rounds ups they would always leave a white mare. She was easy to spot on the hills and was a good way to keep track of them. She has been here at least since 1992 that we know of. That makes her pretty old at this point.

On Jan. 25th I was outside in the early morning with my farrier. It was extremely foggy that morning. Suddenly I heard what sounded like trucks and trailers with panels bouncing around on them. I know that sound well. Over the next few days our neighbor said she only saw 6 of the horses. There were 11 total. I remembered the sound I heard and called the local BLM office. I was told, no they were not doing any round ups. After several days when 5 were still missing I called again. Leon Thomas called me back and said yes they rounded up the 5 and were planning on taking the other 6 too.

I believe I posted something on LMVH FB page and I started getting comments and people who wanted to help. That is how I met Annie Jantzen. She is a photographer who has been following the herd for 1.5 years and is writing a book. She came over and we discovered the horse trap at the top of Sedge rd. We of course closed the gate to keep the horses out. With the help of several people and tons of phone calls we managed to keep horses away from the trap until the BLM agreed to meet with us.

We met at Applebees, all 24 of us plus Mr. Leon Thomas. He is the fairly new Field Supervisor for the Carson District. The reasoning behind this is the numerous complaints on the wild horses. At that time he could only say a horse chased a woman up a tree and that 2 mares were fighting by the school bus stop. When I asked him why after all these years they decided to round up ALL of the horses his answer was because no one else would deal with it. It was always swept under the rug and it was now is job to do it. During that meeting he decided to appoint Annie Jantzen as our spokesperson. He gave us a 2 week reprieve to come us with solutions to the problems. Mind you we still didn't know what the real problems were.

After much research and many calls and having as many people as we can call the BLM and leave messages with the State Director (she never called any one back), opposing this round up Annie received word from Chris Cook. He was brought in from Battle Mountain as "acting" District Manager for Carson City. Currently that position is vacant. We believe he was brought in to smooth over the issues that started with Leon. We came up with good positive solutions and presented them to Chris Cook, Leon Thomas and a few other BLM staff at an afternoon meeting on Tuesday Feb. 19th.

Since that time we have heard nothing from anyone. Annie has left messages for Chris Cook and he never returned her calls. Tonight at 5:00 she gets a call from Leon Thomas telling her the horses will be rounded up asap. He said our proposals would not work. We have heard nothing back regarding our proposals. Coincidently someone in our group stumbled upon our proposals on the BLM web site and the reasons why the different items would or would not work. Can't believe they never even told us where to find the answers. They were also supposed to supply us with the written complaints on their website the day after our meeting of the 19th. They never did. We finallly received an email with them.

I can tell you what I know for sure regarding their reasoning for removing the horses per Leon.

Public Safety
People feeding them
Inbreeding

Public Safety - 5 horses hit by cars since 1994. No people injured in those. One woman said she feared for her safety and had to climb a tree to escape one of the horses. A man was riding a mule and leading a mare behind. Suddenly the stallion of the herd was attempting to mount the mule. Duh she was in heat!
The young stallion we called Studley had become quite assertive and the majority of complaints were on him. The other 2 horses were his sons, also stallions whom he booted out and they were wandering and lost without their herd.

People feeding them. Yes this does happen periodically. I have been guilty of it when there is tons of snow on the ground and they are staring at me while I feed my own horses. Tourists will stop also and offer carrots to them. One of our solutions was education and awareness.

Inbreeding. These horses have been inbreeding for a very long time. Apparently eventually that can cause club foot, which we also see in domestic horses.

Here are some bullet points we wanted to focus on.

— The BLM is refusing to work with local residents to keep a small group of federally protect wild horses free and wild.
Local resident offer time and resources to keep this small group of horses free but BLM refuses. Simple fencing and educational signs could keep these horses free and wild.

— This is yet another example of the BLM's inhumane capture-and-remove policy of wild horses which has led the BLM to stockpile more than 50,000 wild horses in government holding facilities.

— BLM cites old and outdated safety complaints as the reason for removing this small family of horses, yet the safety complaints are over a year old and relate to a stallion who was removed by the BLM last year. There are NO valid issues concerning safety to legitimize the removal of these horses

— This small family of wild horses is locally revered by residents as a part of the local culture. The small herd of 11 horses was reduced to just 6 horses by BLM 2 weeks ago. This band has lived in this area over 40 years; herd originally had approximately 50 horses, who were systematically removed by BLM over time.

— We request that the 4 mares in custody at the prison facility be released; BLM has refused this request even though the prison is willing to release the horses from the adoption program, that has 1500 horses standing in the dirt waiting for adoption. If held, these horses will sit for a long long time.

— By BLM’s own admission this small family of horses does not affect the Pine Nut Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) population count because they are isolated from the rest of the horses (This small band is isolated to the Carson side of Brunswick Canyon).

— It's time the BLM start to work with the local residents who love these horses and ensure they stay wild and free.


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Photo provided by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

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