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A weekend full of wildlife encounters.

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As many folks know it is tough living in San Francisco. Being a City slicker is a pain-in-the-arse, but this City can turn things around with the wildlife alone.

Friday, the 29th after dealing with a broke vehicle I decided to go off and find urban coyotes. Well I found them or they found me.While walking my normal wildlife touring route in Golden Gate Park an ambulance went screaming through the park. One thing song dogs like to do is howl at sirens.
Listen to this>>>>Coyotes howling Golden Gate Park

Soon after I entered their den and I was greeted.

 

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On Sunday the 1st I decided to use my unused Groupon coupon for a trip out to the Farallon Islands. However, we could not make it out to the Farallon Islands. About 12-16 miles out we started encountering swells that would have beat the boat up. But it was still fun looking for whales, and birds. I gotta do this again though. This ride was free, the next one won’t be though. It got rough out there, so in one of the photos it shows a belt. I used a belt with a marine buckle to tether myself to the railing. Photographing on a boat is another challenge in itself. It got cold out there too. It quickly went down to upper 40’s.

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In the end we did see a Minke whale, a Humpback whale, harbor porpoises, and that pelican? that seemingly liked us. For the first time in my life I have smelled whale breath, and it is everything they say, StInKy!

 

The weekend of September 29-October 1st was an excellent weekend when it came to our wildlife both in the City and outside in the Bay and Ocean.

oh yea, can’t forget about that sweet Great Horned Owlet photo from Friday.

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I’d like to give a shout-out to Ryan at the company San Francisco Whale Tours. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife in the Bay, the Ocean, and on the shores. An excellent host. We could not get out to the Farallon’s because if the waves. The waves were to big for the boat. There is nothing bad to say about the company San Francisco Whale Tours. They are women owned, and they care about the wildlife, and the Bay and the Ocean’s health. They have excellent employees.

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Labor Day Weekend Trip to Western Nevada

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My Labor Day weekend trip into Nevada was one of the hottest ones’ yet. Saturday September 2nd the desert heat reached a high of 118 degrees. At those temps the iPhone shuts down, a good DSLR will also shut down and mine did.
But it was all worth it to be able to see the mighty Zorro again, and that wild man named Rogue.

Years ago when I hung out with the Virginia Range horses I found one that didn’t look like the rest. Of course I was clueless and did not know if it was different than all the others, so I did some research. Turns out it could have been a Hinny. A Hinny is a “domestic equine hybrid that is the offspring of a male horse, a stallion, and a female donkey, a jenny. Hinnies are also sometimes classified as mules.These hybrids are sturdy and intelligent equines who have a longer work life, stronger hooves and greater endurance than horses. Mules and hinnies tend to be more resistant to disease and live longer lives than their parents.
I returned to that same area this past weekend and saw another wild horse that didn’t look like the others.

I’m starting to get the same feelings for western Nevada as I do when I visit Yosemite. While driving home, and when I was near Truckee, California I felt a need to pull over and have a moment. I stopped at some burger joint, and had that moment. Their were also burners in that joint having their moments. It was surreal.
My eyes welled-up with water, and I had to eat my burger with my shades on.

Sometimes in your life you find those places that excite you and lure you back again and again.

Western Nevada I will be back, REAL SOON.

The Wests’ most famed wild horse herd is facing a round-up.

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One of American Wests’ most famed wild horse herd may be rounded up and sold at an auction. In an area in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Gardnerville, Nevada there is wild horse herd known as the Fish Spring’s herd. This herd has many bands in it. I have counted at least 5 different band or family units in the Fish Spring’s herd. Bands known as the Blue’s band, Blondies band, Zorro’s band, Socks band, and Rogue’s band. The bands are named after the lead stallion. There are so few wild horses on that range that wild horse advocates, photographers and locals name the horses. The Fish Spring’s herd also has a volunteer group who used to control their population through the use of PZP. But the Bureau of Land Management put a halt to their operation. That volunteer group is known as the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates and their website is at this link>>>>>http://www.wildhorseadvocates.org/.

Wild Horse Tourism

This past winter locals and fans of the horses had to attend meetings hosted by the Bureau of Land Management over the pending round-up of their famed horses. I had reached out to the locals through a blog to inform them that as a tourist I have spent thousands of dollars in their town just to see that wild horse herd. In other words instead of spending my money in their casino’s, I spent my money in or around Gardnerville Nevada just because of that wild horse herd.

Why the Fish Spring’s Herd?

The Fish Springs herd genetic make-up is from South American Criollos and Exmoor Pony. The Exmoor pony has been given endangered status in the British Isles.

Somehow last year I became aware of that herd, so I visited them. My first visit to see that herd was incredible. I’ll never forget my first visit. No one can see the Fish Spring’s herd unless you have a 4×4 or an ATV, or a helicopter or plane. The road into the range to see them is full of boulders or rocks the size of watermelons. It is never easy to go out and see that herd in action, but once you figure out how to deal with those off-road conditions you’ll be amazed at what you can observe. My first visit I photographed new life on the range and death on the range. I saw horses happy in their family units and I saw wild horses grieve over the loss of their bandmate.

History

Wild horses also known as Mustangs roam free on our ranges and in our wilderness areas in the United States. The Bureau of Land Management manages or maintains the herds. Wild horses can be found in Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, Montana, Idaho, Florida, Colorado and Wyoming. There are also wild horses herds in North Carolina. When the BLM determines there are too many wild horses they initiate round-ups or gathers. The BLM states when the wild horse populations exceed appropriate management levels they start with the round-ups. In other words when there are too many horses on public land they take action. The Bureau of Land Management also initiates round-ups in the name of protecting the land and preserving a bird. Often the BLM will initiate round-ups to preserve sage grouse habitat. Sage Grouse are birds that live on and in our wilderness areas. In 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stated the decline in the Sage Grouse populations warrants them to be protected under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). However it was later determined that many other species are endangered and they want them on the endangered list, but not the Sage Grouse. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated the Sage Grouse habitat and concluded cattle were mostly responsible for the decline in Sage Grouse habitat. They never determined that wild horses were responsible for the destruction of the Sage Grouse habitat.

Laws that are supposed to Protect Wild Horses

In 1971 Richard M. Nixon signed into law the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of (WFRHBA). That act is supposed to cover “the management, protection and study of “unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands in the United States.” In 1950 Velma Bronn Johnston, also known as “Wild Horse Annie became aware of the extremely cruel and harsh conditions wild horses were facing so she helped pass the Hunting Wild Horses and Burros on Public Lands Act in 1959, but that law did not properly address the needs of the horses on public lands. As a result of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act (PRIA),[42] the BLM established 209 herd management areas (HMAs) where feral horses were permitted to live on federal land. However in 2004 a man by the name of Conrad Burn’s prepared what is known as the Burns Amendment, which “effectively allows the BLM, after rounding up free-roaming wild horses, to sell “without limitation” and placing them in jeopardy of commercial processing (slaughter) because once sold they are no longer under the protection of the Act.”

Round-ups

Wild horses love their families and their freedom, but after they are rounded-up they lose all of that. When the Bureau of Land Management decides the amount of horses exceed the appropriate management area (AML) they organize the rounding up of the excess horses. In all round-ups helicopters are used to corral the horses into holding pens. From those pens they are taken too adoption centers and either are put up for adoption or sold at auctions. Many times they are sold at auctions to kill-buyers. Several kill-buyers have in the past been charged with abusing the horses they bought. Wild horses are often die in those round-ups or are severely injured. Often wild horses are adopted by people who are willing to care for them and or train them to perform real life duties. When helicopters are used to round them up animal rights activists have witnessed;

  • Helicopters pursuing horses too closely and for too long;
  • Excessive and inappropriate use of electric prod, based on animal welfare experts’ review of the videos;
  • Kicking, pinning horses in gates and twisting of tails during loading.

Wild horses could be rounded-up into extinction.

 

Controlling Population

Sometimes the populations of wild horses can be controlled through the use of a pesticide known as PZP or porcine zona pellucida. “Two versions of the vaccine are currently in use – one version, known as Zonastat-H, is implemented through ground-darting programs and is only effective for approximately one year. The second version, known as PZP-22, is effective for 1-2 years but must be hand-injected into a captured wild horse.” Volunteer groups often are the ones’ who use the PZP type that is used to dart mares. Mares are female horses. However lately the BLM has denied permission to those volunteer groups, so the populations are growing.

What can you do?

Firstly I wish folks would re-think the wild horses. At this point in time they are no longer feral or estrays they are Mustang’s, and they all have backgrounds and genetic make-ups or bloodlines that are so precious and rare they deserve protection. If their bloodlines are wiped out then horses will never have diverse origination. In the end we may find their bloodlines or genetic make-up preserved in zoos.

Contact the Bureau of Land Management. Explain to them rounding up our famed herds is unacceptable and cruel. Please especially mention the Fish Springs herd in western Nevada.

Wild Horse and Burro Information Call Center 866-4MUSTANGS
(866-468-7826)
E-mail wildhorse@blm.gov

CALIFORNIA

California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite 1623
Sacramento, California 95825
(916) 978-4400

Litchfield Off-Range Corrals
474-000 Highway 395 East
Litchfield, CA 96117
(800) 545-4256

Ridgecrest Off-Range Corrals
3647-A Randsburg Wash Road
Ridgecrest, CA 93562
(800) 951-8720

NEVADA

Nevada State Office
1340 Financial Blvd.
Reno, NV 89502
(775) 861-6500

National WH&B Adoption Center at Palomino Valley
P.O. Box 3270
Sparks, NV 89432
(775) 475-2222

And please visit this website>>>https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/action

A Horse Tale

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On the Memorial Day 2016 weekend I set out on a wild horse adventure to an area in western Nevada known as the Pine Nut Mountains. I knew the area where I would have wild horse encounters were only accessible via 4×4 vehicles. I rented a Jeep Cherokee.

The first night on the Pine Nut Mountains I camped out on the range, but the weather conditions made for an uncomfortable night. So the next two nights I made my base camp Crystal Springs campground nearby, but it was across the Nevada/California border.

My first night at the campground I was able to get on the range by 8am. That was when I had my first wild horse encounter. I saw the band or group of wild horses alone in the desert seemingly having a meeting. I stopped and photographed that moment.

This is what I determined through research and knowledge of their behavior.

img_7104This wild horse caught my attention because he was waving his tail dramatically and making loud whinny sounds. The sounds coming from that horse were not sounds I heard before from other horses. This horse was also hoofing at something in the desert. I later discovered this horse was hoofing at one of his deceased band mates.

 

 

 

I observed and watched and tried to read the scene. I scanned around and realized a notorious stallion named Zorro by wild horse advocates was barking at a group of horses.
Zorro was seemingly trying to take a horse away from the group?

I then sat still and again tried to figure out was going on, but then I suddenly realized their was a deceased horse on the ground, and the horse who was whining loudly and waving his tail wildly pointed me to the carcass.

I then retreated and tried to process the scene, but I wasn’t smart enough, but after observing them for the remainder of the year and then using what I learned and returning to my photos I then concluded what I witnessed.

In the end a horse named Zorro, who killed more than his fair share of fellow horses, bowed down to the one horse on the range who allowed him to claim a dame.

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Observed Wild Horses in Nevada

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On Memorial Day weekend I once again visited our nation’s wild horses. This time I visited the herd on the Pine Nut Mountain Range in Nevada. That area is an HMA or a herd management area, which means they are “are lands under the supervision of the United States Bureau of Land Management that are managed for the primary but not exclusive benefit of free-roaming ‘wild’ horses and burros.” During previous visits to see wild horses I mostly concentrated my observation of them on the Virginia Range, which is geographically north of the Pine Nut’s. I targeted this herd because they have advocates that speak for them and maintain them. In other word’s they have people who look after them. It is my opinion the wild horse herd in the Pine Nut’s are very special because of the bonds they form between each other. Wild horses are considered by some, to simply be feral horses. Brought on by economic desperation or owners who simply became too poor to care for them, but, after they are in the wild, they are wild again. Wild horses do indeed become themselves after they are free to roam on the ranges. They form their own families, socialize with each other, they adopt or raise their own off spring, they have leaders, followers, babysitters, and bosses, and many become best friends’. Observing wild horses is simply the most amazing experience a wildlife photographer could do for themselves.

Big horn sheep

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I went on a road trip to Anaconda, Montana with a friend to hang out with friends and participate in a few events. Firstly the drive from San Francisco to Anaconda, Montana takes at least 16 hours. But since I drove with a friend we did a through drive. We arrived in Anaconda at approximately 4:30a.m.

A lot of stuff happened in Anaconda and I’ll write another story about my road trip with a friend.

However I would like to introduce you to some of the wildlife I was able to photograph in Anaconda ; big horn sheep.

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis)

Big Horn Sheep crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia, and at times reached a population of millions. Big horn sheep are susceptible to disease from livestock, and many of them are often dispatched due to that issue. There are three sub-species of big horns, Rocky Mountain big horn, Sierra Nevada big horn and Desert big horn. The sub species in Montana seems to be Rocky Mountain big horn. The herds in that area have in the past, been culled due to disease.

The mating season for big horns is November. The herds segregate according to age and sex. Ewes, lambs and yearling males will band together, and some adult male’s (ram’s) band together by classes. Big horn sheep are herbivores, however you see in the photos they are licking the salt off the road to supplement their mineral intake.

In 2010 a driver ran into seven rams and one ewe killing them. The driver claimed he did not see the warning signs. Some of the big horns are collared either to trigger road side signs or to monitor their health. The collars are also used to determine where they die.

 

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YOU COMING? Another Precious Urban Coyote Encounter

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You Coming? An Urban Coyote Encounter

I think this is a female, who is pregnant, maybe why she has a pack of male Coyotes, who come running to protect her? I will find out.
Today I walked up on this Coyote while he/she(?) was laying down on the ground. There were duck feathers everywhere, then I noticed bone fragments, a partial head, and a foot from this Coyote’s last meal.
When a Coyote takes off running their initial stance is so confident and wrought with strength that you can feel and hear them. Today my heart skipped a beat when I walked up on this Coyote and it ran off. They always seem scared at first, but after while they seem to entice me or lead me on.
‪#‎beingmyself‬ ‪#‎urban‬ ‪#‎coyote‬

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