74 Rescued Calico Mustang Mares Begin Their Journey to Return to Freedom

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Pioneering Program Advances to Re-establish Family Bands for Wild Horses Captured in Controversial Roundup

Fallon, Nevada --As the one-year anniversary of the controversial Calico wild horse roundup fast approaches, Return to Freedom – a leading wild horse sanctuary, education, conservation organization -- is continuing its groundbreaking rescue of captured Calico mustangs. Today, the group will receive 74 Calico mares delivered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to temporary quarters in Fallon, Nevada.

The mares are “sale authority” horses, meaning that they are 10 years and older and could be sold for as little as $10 a head or shipped to government holding facilities in the Midwest, where they would never again have the chance to live in natural family groups.

Return to Freedom has a different plan for the mustangs: the group will reunite the mares with 20 already-rescued Calico stallions who hail from the same Herd Management Areas as the mares. This will allow the horses recreate family bands and live as naturally as possible at a spacious preserve in northwestern Nevada.

“We’re pleased to offer these mature mares, who carry the wisdom of their herds, a better life and a chance to live in the family social groups that are integral to the life of a wild horse,” said Neda DeMayo, Founder and CEO of Return to Freedom. “With the arrival of these horses, the first step of our pioneering rescue is complete. Return to Freedom looks forward to giving something back to these wild horses who lost everything in the BLM roundup nearly one year ago.”

The horses were captured between December 28, 2009 and February 4, 2010 from Nevada’s Calico Mountains Complex in one of the largest and most controversial BLM roundups in years. Return to Freedom has rescued 95 of the 1,922 wild horses removed from the Calico Range by BLM. The majority of the remaining horses who survived capture and confinement have been trucked to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest, where maintenance will cost taxpayers an estimated $800,000 per year over the 20-30 year lifespan of the horses.

In addition to creating a wild horse preserve, Return to Freedom has proposed a pilot program for on-the-range management of the wild horses in the Calico Complex.

"We are proposing a new direction for the management of wild horses that keeps them on the range, saves millions of tax dollars, and expands options for the preservation of natural habitat, wildlife and wild horse herds," said Neda DeMayo, Founder of Return to Freedom. "We are hopeful that the BLM will accept our proposal to create a pilot program to maintain healthy herds on healthy ranges in the historically unique and beautiful Calico Mountains Complex in Nevada."

The mares are scheduled to be delivered today at 1 p.m. at Return to Freedom’s temporary facility in Fallon, Nevada. Photos and video will be available upon request.

For more information about this historic rescue, see:

Calico Stallion Rescue
Calico Stallion and Gelding Back Home in Nevada

To support the rescue effort:

Save the Calico Mares
Meet Commander and General: Help Get Them Home
Sponsor Mist: Help Get Him Back to His Homeland

Return to Freedom Sanctuary, incorporated in 1997, is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America's wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation. RTF has rescued and relocated approximately 1,000 horses over the past decade, and manages intact bands representing various strains of America’s wild horse herds at its 310-acre sanctuary in Santa Barbara County.