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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

Reward’s of my adventures!

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Reward for my photo adventures is capturing these beauties in their natural settings.

Wild Horse Virginia Range Nevada

Wild Horse Virginia Range Nevada

Wild Horses on the Virginia Range in Nevada

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I photographed and observed the wild horses on the Virginia Range for 3 days. Temps were in the 100’s, and the Virginia Range is a riparian forest or desert. The Virginia Range is mostly private property. I watched the wild horses, live, play, fight, socialize and I even watched one die. They are very affectionate animals and they always took the time to observe me.

A few facts about horses:

  1. Scientific name: Equus ferus caballus
  2. Lifespan: 25 – 30 y
  3. Mass: 500 kg on average (Adult)
  4. Speed: 40 – 48 km/h (Galloping), 19 – 24 km/h (Canter), 6.4 km/h on average (Walk), 13 – 19 km/h (Trot)
    Wild Horses on the Virginia Range

    I watched this one die. It was walking awkwardly, so I stopped and watched it for a while. He then suddenly laid down on the ground hard, let out a squeal, and then he stopped breathing.

    I watched this one die. It was walking awkwardly, so I stopped and watched it for a while. He then suddenly laid down on the ground hard, let out a squeal, and then he stopped breathing.

    Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range After a monsoon IMG_2461 Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range Wild Horses on the Virginia Range
    Baby horse with the momma.

    Baby horse with the momma.

Recovered From Loss of Mom by Photographing Wild Horses.

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Recovered from loss of my Mom by Photographing Wild Horses
In December of 2012, my mom succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer. She was diagnosed with it in the summer of 2012, and died from the cancer less than 6 months later. My mom was my rock, she was the only one in my immediate family who cared and loved me. She knew I was alone and unwillingly at odds with society.
It was a strange trip back to Maryland, I currently live in California and had not been to MD, where they lived, in over 15 years. I left Maryland in 1997, disgusted and estranged from the rest of my family. I left MD to seek out my Manifest Destiny. I left to remake my life, and pursue and develop the creative side of me. I also left Maryland to recover from the trauma caused from the fact that I could not raise nor be in my son’s life.
While at the hospital my mom could hear me when I talked to her, and she briefly opened her eyes to see me. While she laid there dying, I only had three brief moments without my sister in the room, but I made sure I communicated my exact thoughts; “mom, you made me happy.” She was the World’s best mom, at least in my mind. On December 30th, only a mere 40 minutes after I arrived at the hospital I watched her last breaths, and she was gone. I did not understand, and I was confused why she had been taken away from me and why I had to see her while she lay in a hospital bed dying from one of the worse diseases a human must endure.
The trip back to California was filled with teared-up eyes and utter grief. I was tore up, but I knew when I got back to California I had one thing, and one thing only at my disposal. MY CAMERA, and an urge to fulfill another one of my life’s dreams.

I rented a car and drove to Nevada. Nevada you ask? Yes, Nevada, the Reno area to be exact. Reno is mostly known for gambling and cheap hotels, but I knew something that most photogs don’t know. In an area known as the Virginia Range there exists a species of wildlife that has largely been ignored, disrespected and mistreated. They are known as MUSTANGS, aka wild horses. One of my life’s’ dreams has been to photograph them in their natural setting.
What I encountered and learned next was astonishing, shocking, sad, intimate, and satisfying. I drove around Storey County in Nevada, asking questions of locals, looking and searching and seeking those horses. And guess what? I found them. The first herd I found was located in an area known as the Pine Nut Mountain area. That was where I learned what the terms “boss mare” and a “stallion” meant. That is where I learned the boss mare protects and inquires about whom or what enters their family or space.
After I photographed that band and or herd, I moved onto another area. An area east of Reno known as the Clarke Mountain area, where there is a power plant, industrial parks, a dump, and police training areas. An area where the Truckee River weaves through, an area where there is abundant wildlife, a large brothel, and BLM land.

That is where I learned a fact that triggered something in my brain. The trigger fixed me; I was no longer depressed about my mom, a trigger that helped me to speed up my recovery.
I will explain, people asked me how can you tell those horses are wild; they could simply be roaming around on a ranch, so I allowed them to tell me and show me their life. I parked the car on the side of the road, grabbed my cameras, GPS and started walking. I immediately encountered a band. A band is a family unit that has a stallion (a male), juveniles and mares. One stallion may fulfill multiple mares and create multiple juveniles. Stallions protect the band. Mares are the Moms, they need to know who is penetrating their band and they need to know who you are if you decide to proceed. I followed one band many miles into land that showed evidence of Mountain Lions, Coyotes and multiple bands of Mustangs.
Wild horses were originally not wild, they were feral, left to run on the range by previous owners who for economic or personal reasons felt they would survive better on their own.
That band of horses, allowed me to get close, allowed me to be in their space, allowed me to observe their young playing and frolicking. But after several hours something happened that helped me realize: were all confused, were all sad, and were all dismayed about death. (see photos)
You see that band of horses led me into an area that was full of bones. Horse bones were everywhere, and the boss mare of that band with a simple glance, facial or body gesture helped me conclude even a horse has a hard time with the death of one of their own.
No other person nor religious text nor song nor relative helped me out of my depressive state, but a boss mare from a Mustang band in hostile wild country snapped me out-of-it. I was now okay.
I miss my mom, but I constantly think back to my encounters with the Mustangs in the Virginia Range. My encounter with those Mustangs made me happy just like my Mom did!

Flickr Photo Set of Mustangs

Mustangs: Untold Stories

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When I was photographing the Mustangs on the Virginia Range I noticed a behavior that was sort of heart breaking. I followed one band for a few miles into the range. You could tell they accepted the fact that I was there by their behavior, but suddenly a boss mare stopped kicked at the ground, looked at me, and gave me an expression that got my attention. At the bottom of her feet on the ground were the bones of another horse. I looked around and I realized the whole area had lots of bones. I’ll never forget that.

Mustang Band Virginia Range

 

 

 

A Mustang Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mustangs may also be struggling to understand why they die. I have been told, when their in captivity, when they die, they are usually isolated from other horses, so death may still be confusing to them.Some of those Mustangs, can die while giving birth, some die by natural causes, but some also die under suspicious circumstances.

Boss mare led me to this bone field.

Boss mare led me to this bone field.

Look at her feet. What do you see? Bones.

Look at her feet. What do you see? Bones. This Boss Mare and her band led me to the bone field. I wish I could figure out what she was trying to communicate. This has been one of the most precious wildlife encounters I had.

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