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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.

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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

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.

First aerial photography experience.

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A deceased and decaying wild horse.

A deceased and decaying wild horse.

I have delved into the world of aerial photography via the purchase of a DJI quadcopter. Here’s the story: I went to the area where there are a lot of wild horses east of Reno Nevada. I did not know there was a dead or decaying wild horse at this location until I uploaded the content to my computer. If I would have seen the horse I would have tried to figure how it died(whether by vehicle etc.) This is the first time my cameras have been able to look out to places I haven’t been to on foot.

If you’d like to see the model of quadcopter I bought check it out here.

BUT BUYER BEWARE. QUADCOPTERS ARE NOT EASY TO FLY AND THEY DO CRASH. IF YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER THE COPTER YOU MUST BE PREPARED TO PICK YOU’RE CRASH SPOT. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CONTROL OVER THE COPTER THEN IT COULD BE A TOTAL LOSS.

Other wildlife I encountered on the Virginia Range in Nevada

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There were other wildlife I spotted while I was hiking on the Virginia Range in Nevada.

A Great Basin Collared lizard.

Collared Lizard

And a jackrabbit.

Jackrabbit

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.

Coyote Encounters on the Virginia Range in Nevada

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I encountered several Coyotes while exploring, scouting-for and or discovering the wildlife on the Virginia Range in Nevada. I cannot give up the exact location, but they live amongst wild horses, free range cattle, and heavy truck and or auto traffic east of Reno Nevada.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a  Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a  Coyote.

Went out to photograph wild horses, and also met a Coyote.

Taking the High Road!

Taking the High Road!

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