Despite protests, BLM resumes bait and trap of wild horse herd
An isolated band of wild horses is set to be removed from the area between Brunswick Canyon and the Carson River after five were baited and trapped earlier this year.Baiting and trapping of the 11-horse band was suspended for two weeks to allow the public and horse-advocacy groups to suggest alternative measures to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.“We did get three proposals, but none of them fully released us of liability,” said Leon Thomas, BLM field manager.Although suggestions to help keep the horses on the range might be valid, they did not address the immediate public-safety issues, Thomas said.The proposals included installing 5 miles of fencing to watering troughs on the east side of Deer Run Road, reflectors, city ordinances and Carson City adopting the horses.“Down the road, these are things we could look at,” Thomas said.A fence could cut off access for recreation, he said. Deniz Bolbol with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign countered that gates could keep residents from being cut off. “It’s basically a range improvement to keep these horses free,” Bolbol said. He is the communications director for the national group, a coalition of 50 wild-horse advocacy groups.“The reality is, wild horses being fed in the city park will never be safe,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to leave. They’re used to being fed in the city park.”Brunswick Canyon isolates the horses from the rest of the Pine Nut Mountains Herd Management Area. Although there are ways the horses can get through Brunswick Canyon, the animals aren’t always familiar with them, Thomas said.“There are a number of ways other horses can get in,” he said.Thomas said he worried about safety dangers such as cars hitting horses and people feeding them, especially if two horses were to get aggressive while feeding.They’re 1,200-pound animals, and they could hurt someone” unintentionally, he said.Deer Run Road horse-preservation group coordinator Annie Jantzen criticized the BLM’s rejection of alternatives to moving the horses.They weren’t interested in hearing it. We’ll fence it, we’ll help them stay on the range, we’ll basically do your job. They’re not even trying. They’re not even trying,” she said.The BLM is being pressured from up above (to remove the horses). I can’t even tell you the name of the person in the BLM who told me that. We are doing everything we can to keep the horses on the range,” Jantzen said.Four of the five horses captured in the first bait-and-trap session have been tapped for adoption by a person in Colorado, Thomas said.Jantzen said she represents a medium-sized group of Carson City residents.“It’s amazing to get 24 people in Carson City who are all pointed in the same direction,” she said. “Now, that’s a story.”Thomas said he received many calls from residents thanking him for deciding to remove the horses.We did receive calls from people in the community saying that themselves, and about seven or eight other people in their group fully support what we’re doing . . . and they’re glad that the pressure from this small but very vocal group didn’t keep us from making the right decision.”Carson City Open Space Manager Juan Guzman said the city neither removes nor attracts the horses but would cite people caught feeding the horses.“Some people really like the horses and other people have more concerns,” he said. “We do not have any authority over them.”The BLM said the horses will be offered for adoption as soon as possible at Silver Saddle Ranch, and details will be posted at http://www.blm.gov.The BLM said the appropriate management level for the Pine Nut Mountains HMA is 119 to 179 horses, below the current population of 293. The horses will be transported to the Northern Nevada Correctional Center and prepared for adoption.MORE INFORMATIONThe community’s proposed alternatives to removing the horses, as well as BLM’s information replies about the viability of those solutions, are at http://www.blm.gov.