Wild horses on the move – again
Appeal Staff Writer
Seventy-five wild horses that used to roam the Virginia Range are homeless again.
The group is part of the original 82 horses taken in 2001 to the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
According to Karen Sussman, president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, the horses were taken to the reservation to graze with 800 of the tribe’s buffalo.
“We had rescued these 82 horses form the Virginia Range in 2001,” she said. “We released them on a 22,000-acre preserve on the reservation.”
The tribe held special ceremonies welcoming the animals and many horse activists from Nevada took part.
But now, Sussman said, federal funding to the tribe has been cut and tribal officials are not certain they can keep the preserve they purchased for the animals. She said the tribe has already sold the 800 buffalo in order to save the land.
The horse herd has now grown to about 300 in the past six years, and the tribe is returning the horses to the ISPMB, which was the organization begun by Velma Johnston, better known as “Wild Horse Annie” in the 1970s.
The horses sent were believed to be descended from the first U.S. wild horses to be protected.
Sussman is calling on other horse advocate groups to help with finding homes for the horses, and provide financial support to keep them going through the winter until a new free range can be located for 75 of the original 82 horses.
“All 300 are legally going back to us, but the tribe has been very good about trying to adopt them out,” she said. “They are working with us on an adoption program.”
Sussman said the group has adopted out 106 of the animals, and more than 100 still have not been rounded up from the preserve.
Willis Lamm, of Stagecoach, president of Least Resistance Training Concepts, said his group is helping with logistics and finding temporary homes, but is hampered by its location and the horses in Nevada that need help.
“We’re trying to pair up foster homes and deal with the older horses,” he said. “But we’re still trying to place the horses we got. Things are just so slow right now.”
He said it was probably better to find homes for them around South Dakota, because the cost of transporting them would be too high.
One place they will not be coming is back to Storey County.
Mike Holmes, program manager for the Nevada Department of Agriculture, said there were 1,100 to 1,200 horses on the Virginia Range, twice what he said the range can support.
“Our intention is not to put them back there, unless the groups there are talking about trying to lease land for animals there,” Sussman said. “Our goal is to find permanent adopters, excluding the original 75.”
Those she hopes to place again in a wild setting, to keep them free.
“We are going to give them birth control, and we’re going to try to find a place we can re-release them,” she said.
“We’re heading into winter and we’re trying to raise $50,000 and that will go to vet care, hay and other needs,” she added.
You can help
To adopt a wild horse or donate, call Karen Sussman of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros at (605)964-6866, or go online to http://www.ispmb.org.
• To find qualified homes for the younger horses.
• Volunteers to put on fundraisers.
• Sponsorships at $5,000
• Pass on information
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.