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SAVING AMERICA’S WILD HORSES SAVES THe WEst from WildfireS!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: By Jetara Séhart September 10, 2019

  

Wildfires are occurring in the wild West upon Nevada's Northeastern public and private lands due to the Bureau of Land Management's excessive removal of too many wild horses. A case in point of this scenario is recently evidenced in the North Eastern Nevada's BLM managed public lands within the Antelope Valley HMA (herd management area) and a nearby ranch, wherein vast fields of dry, overgrown cheatgrass caught fire and were set ablaze by a passing car's spark, according to the Elko Daily News and just a year after 902 free-roaming wild horses were removed from this same area, by the BLM. 


This arid high desert area is also vulnerable and prone to fires caused by lightning strikes. During this area's dry Summer months and their early Fall seasons, the danger of wildfire increases and there is now an even greater risk, due to the ongoing eradication of the majority of wild horses, the largest naturally migrating grazers. The vacant acres of public land vulnerably rests open and is filled with a sea of dry, overgrown grasses of uneaten wild horse forage, that now sits like millions of un-struck matches awaiting to be lit afire.


The irony and question is because wildfires pose one of America's greatest natural disaster threats, therefore why is the agency that is assigned to manage our public lands removing the very animals, which naturally prevent wildfires?

Just this past July and August Nevada's BLM acted swiftly in the rapid removal of many wild horses through the luring of the federally protected horses from public lands, onto private lands, with what is called a "bait and trap operation."


On July 13th The Nevada BLM issued wildfire warnings upon their web site stating :

"Fire Restrictions were implemented in Western Nevada: 

Due to drying vegetation, increasing daytime temperatures and several human-caused fires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Carson City District Office, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)-Western Nevada Agency, Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF), Public Domain Allotments, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex announce the implementation of fire restrictions on all lands under their jurisdiction effective Saturday, July 13, at 12:01 a.m. and lasting until further notice." The BLM further states there intent to: "Expand opportunities to mitigate hazardous fuel conditions. "


The head-scratcher is that before, during, and after the BLM's wildfire warnings were posted, the BLM has been executing the costly tax-funded removal of thousands of wild horses in America's 10 Western States. This cost hits unsuspecting Americans hard, first financially with the BLM’s approximate $91 billion-dollar annual budget expense and secondly hits citizens also financially, with the high cost of extinguishing mass and ongoing wildfire disasters. Sadly, also the cost for America and Americans is the damage and physical devastation wildfires cause for American citizens in the tragic loss of life, wildlife and in the loss of wellness of the public land, water, and private property. This loss is a price no one can afford or should have to pay. The cost for the wild horses themselves is paid with their sweat and blood, freedom, and their very lives.


A BLM plan was approved by Congress in November of 2017, which included the removal of approximately 9,000 free-roaming horses over the course of a 10-year time span. However, the Nevada BLM instead aggressively removed 7,000 wild horses, 70% of the 10-year wild horse population plan, in just this past year and a half. This quickened execution of the plan that is wreaking havoc and causing a dangerous imbalance for the land and the wild horse herds and the small bands, seriously increasing their challenge to survive. The approved plan did not share the BLM's intent to expedite the said longer-term removal management strategy, which would have caused less immediate harm for the horses.


The BLM expressed intent in this plan was to stabilize an overpopulation of the wild horse herds in the Antelope Valley, Triple B and Antelope Complex (Herd Management Areas) HMA's, because the report claimed the horses were damaging the range. However, this is untrue the wild horses, in fact, are not overpopulated, but rather are underpopulated, due to the BLM's excessive wild horse gathers. 


Presently many of the wild horse herds are below genetic viability standards established by the 2013 National Academy of Science's BLM paid study, in having less than 150 herd members and also clarifies "The Wild Horse and Burro Program has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate the population sizes of horses and burros, to model the effects of management actions on the animals, or to assess the availability and use of forage on rangelands," the scientists concluded. In BLM's plan, the inherent benefit wild horses offer in maintaining the health of the delicate high desert eco-system, in grazing away wildfire fuel, was not ever mentioned. Six years have now passed since the NAS 2013 scathing report and the BLM's modus operandi to unnecessarily remove wild horses, rather than working to support the horses, or the range and the water 

with available more cost-effective and sustainable strategies.


We discovered Nevada's Red Rock area also experienced a  wildfire that threatened nearby residents and 250-300 of their homes. The RedRock/Washoe County blaze occurred at the end of August. and this happened again, immediately after another tax-funded BLM wild horse and burro removal, took place in July, in the Red Rock HMA.  FEMA federal funds were used to pay for the cost of this fire. 

According to the BLM's site, the Red Rock WH&B Bait and Trap removal claimed to be necessary, due to lack of water and 237 wild ones were taken from freedom. There was no mentioned effort for the BLM to strengthen existing watering sites or to firstly haul water to help sustain the horses, through the dry spell.  The cost of the horses forever losing their freedom and for the citizens and the land, from this fire's threat and damage, may have been avoided entirely, had rainwater catches and other alternatives been utilized,  to provide more drinking water for the horses.


Many organizations and people are advocating to bring the wild horses back, to once again perform their role, in reducing the risk of wildfires, through their natural migratory grazing patterns and consumption of wildfire would be fuel.


The House Appropriations Committee supports the act to re-wild the captured wild horses and issued a report in May, that States : "—The Committee recognizes the value of horse re-wilding as one of many herd management strategies and encourages the Bureau to explore collaborations with suitable organizations and willing landowners to adopt, transport and locate horses to appropriate habitats at no cost to taxpayers."


Yet, presently there are no tax-funded re-wilding programs in place, rather the last of America's wild horses and burros are further being removed, at their grave and detrimental for their and millions of acres of rangeland and the costly American tax payer's expense. 

Further, presently an anti-wild horse plan is awaiting the Senate Appropriations Committee's review and vote, and if this plan that is referred to as "The Path Forward," is approved instead of their survival their extinction may be imminent. The plan includes removing 50,000 wild horses from public lands and freedom and is placing them within private holding facilities, with no safeguards in place to prevent their extermination and sale and exportation to other countries to be slaughtered and turned into pet food. Thousands of wild horse and burro lives are literally on the line, as is the wellness of America's delicate Western public lands, at stake.


Love Wild Horses; a California based non-profit, is proposing the wild horse and cost-saving solution of simply increasing the Bureau of Land Management's national wild horse appropriate management population allowance from a mere 24,000 to granting 200,000 horses, to once again roam freely upon America's vast 245,000,000 acres of public lands. 


The Love Wild Horses' re-wilding plan includes and has begun with a first of its kind completed public-private partnership, spring development project in North Eastern, Nevada; to conserve the water and better sustain the wild horses living in this arid region in times of drought. This project was a team effort supported by 900+ citizens. More spring development projects of this kind could be the ticket to saving the wild West's historic treasured icons as well as the least costly preventative measure to save the Wild West's rangelands from tragic wildfires. 


TO HELP and For more information and to share your opinion with the Senate Appropriations Committee to help, please visit the charity's Facebook page Wild Horse Protection Act. 



LINKS FOR REFERENCE:

https://elkodaily.com/news/local/fire-burns-acres-at-dolly-varden/article_7c1e6190-7020-5d58-9ff7-385f5d2411cc.html

https://www.idausa.org/campaign/wild-animals-and-habitats/horse-protection/latest-news/wild-horses-prevent-wildfires/

https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/07/08/fighting-fires-wild-horses/

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/84367/129092/157047/Decision_Record-508-Signed.pdf 

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/11/on-wild-horses-the-secretary-of-the-interior-needs-to-listen-to-the-scientists/281098/

https://www.blm.gov/site-page/programs-wild-horse-and-burro-herd-management-gathers-and-removals-2019-red-rock-herd

https://www.ktvn.com/story/40959492/fire-burning-in-area-of-red-rock-road

https://ihearthorses.com/are-diminishing-wild-horse-herds-the-reason-wild-fires-are-so-bad/

https://www.blm.gov/press-release/fire-restrictions-western-nevada-begin-july-13

https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/state-information/nevada

http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/blog/jessica-johnstons-great-comments-to-blm-on-their-10-year-plan-to-round-up-wild-horses-burros-in-the-twin-peaks-hma/

http://dels.nas.edu/report/using-science-improve/13511 

https://lovewildhorses.org

https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/FY2020%20Interior%20Report%20Draft.pdf

https://www.facebook.com/lovewildhorses.org/photos/a.148907945136649/2612108248816594/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/lovewildhorses.org/photos/a.148907945136649/2853174664709950/?type=3&theater


Press Contacts: 


Love Wild Horses® www.lovewildhorses.org Jetara Séhart, President (415) 275-4441 heartofsky@lovewildhorses.org 

Jeanne Bencich-Nations, Photographer, Public Relations and Nevada Field Manager (775) 934-2674  jeanne,nations7@gmail.com


Nevada resident, professional photographer and long-time wild horse advocate Jeanne Bencich-Nations, who is the Nevada Field Manager for the California based non-profit organization "Love Wild Horses" is deeply affected by the loss of these beautiful horses and shared her experience with us;  

"The BLM has once again used the excuse of an emergency roundup, claiming the horses had no forage or water, so they all needed to be removed, but this simply is not true. 

The BLM is attempting to get away with the destruction of the American people's Western Heritage, as these special horses are the direct descendants of the United States Cavalry and many also carry rare Spanish bloodlines.

In response to witnessing the BLM's July bait and trapping of the horses, helplessly I watched as my cherished herds of horses, that I have been documenting and photographing for years, sharing all the natural beauty, and sacredness of this wild place with people and experiencing the joy, that this brought them. .and knowing that there are thousands of people who love these horses, as much as I do. Caused my heart to ache, as I watched the horses trying to escape after they were captured and imprisoned. Some of the horses I have known since they were born. 

I had names for the different bands, and they were teachers and great healers for me. Just two weeks ago these wild horses were running as free spirits, but now they are trapped in a nightmare of confusion, all competing bands crammed together behind bars. 

The horses were frantically whinnying to their families for help, and the foals were calling and separated from the mares, an impossibly sad and unjust scene. The wild horses were wide-eyed with fear, traumatized and panicked running back and forth, looking for a way to run to safety, but there was no way to escape. 

Last week one stallion broke his neck in desperation for his freedom. 
This past year there were 15 deaths reported after one of the BLM removals were conducted. 

This government operation is shrouded in secrecy, once the horses are loaded onto the trucks, the horses will never know another free day in their lives and we the people will never really know what has happened to them. Witnessing this is one of the saddest and cruelest things imaginable. 

A little piece of my heart goes with each of these horses whose lives meant so much to so many people and to me and always will. Let's keep the destruction from happening again. We need to change laws for the better protection of our wild ones."

 


Photos below: by Jeanne Bencich-Nations of The BLM's September and July and August-ongoing bait and trapping and helicopter mass removal of 7,000+ of Nevada's wild horses, the resultant over grown cheatgrass in the area; the endangered scarce wild horses remaining amongst the fields of overgrown grasses; wild horses fighting for their disappearing freedom and their mares and foals; the resultant wildfire scorched land; the wild horses in a BLM holding facility awaiting adoption and at risk of all being sold to barbaric slaughter; and a serene moment of the wild horses when last they were free (Photo of a burned truck as seen in The Elko Free Press by Glenn Taylor)
 

Re-Wilding Wild Horses is the ticket to reducing wildfire disasters!

The photos below speak to the negative impact that removing too many wild horses is having upon the wild horses, the land and local residents, in stimulating the large expanse of wildfire fuel in overgrowing to acres and seemingly acres of endless cheatgrass, that would otherwise have been grazed down and naturally managed in balance by the free-roaming wild horses grazing patterns. 


However, because the BLM removed nearly all the wild horses, from this same and surrounding areas this past year, there remains the vast expanses of land filled with food for wild horses and just a few small bands of horses to be tasked with the a job that is virtually impossible for them to eat all the cheatgrass, by themselves. The BLM said there was not enough forage for the horses, but the photos below are evidence that in fact there is too much forage awaiting to be either grazed down by the wild horses or catastrophically set afire by lightning or a passing car's spark. 


As we are writing this article, we just received word that the BLM has set up yet another bait and trap operation in this same 335,000 acre area of overgrown cheatgrass fields and aims to lure and trap to permanently and unnecessarily remove another 800 wild horses from the public land, it is doubtful that there even are 1,000 wild horses who remain and 5 horses already were killed in this operation. If nothing is done, soon the wild horses will be gone.


Re-wilding the wild horses to this area and arid vacant areas of our public lands poses a simple natural, cost-effective win-win solution for the horses, humans and the land in saving the wild horses from unnecessary harassment, removal from freedom and sale to slaughter; and in so doing saves the wild West from catastrophic wildfires. People may help by supporting non-profit public partnerships, such as the Love Wild Horses plan in re-wilding wild horses to their and America's public open rangelands.