With federal officials a no-show at Thursday's meeting in Fish Springs, residents are discussing bringing their opposition to a plan to round up wild horses in the Pine Nuts to them.
Next week, members of the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates and the American Wild Horse Campaign plan on delivering a petition with 175,000 signatures to the Bureau of Land Management's offices in Carson City.
The Advocates' Sheila Schwadel said the group is planning their next move in light of the impending roundup, which could start as early as this week.
Around 300 people packed the Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday to protest the decision to round up the herd, estimated at slightly more than 100 horses.
Acting Carson District Manager Colleen Dulin told members of the Pine Nuts Wild Horse Advocates late Thursday morning that no one from the agency would be attending.
Wild Horse Advocate Deniz Bolbol told the crowd that it was the first time the Bureau hadn't attended a public meeting on the horses.
"This is the first meeting they've refused to attend," she said. "This is just the first step. We need to keep our eye on the ball and make noise."
Carlo Luri represented Christopher Bently, whose ranch is a grazing permit holder.
"We own 42,000 acres and five of the grazing permits here in the Carson Valley," he said. "People think cattlemen, the grazers, are always anti-horse, but that isn't always true."
Bently has worked with the advocates for the past five years to set up watering troughs that keep the horses out of the neighborhoods.
"We know first-hand what a cherished resource the wild horses are both to our residents and our visitors," Luri said. "We want to protect them for future generations."
He said Bently fully supports keeping the horses in Fish Springs.
"We'd like to go on the record in opposition to any plan to round-up the wild horses," he said. "The practice is inhumane and makes no sense from a fiscal standpoint. We stand with the majority of Nevadans and the majority of the Carson Valley to oppose wild horse roundups and advocate for the continuance of humane, successful and cost-effective, volunteer-led, birth control program."
The BLM rounded up 67 wild horses living outside the management area in November 2010, including a band living in Fish Springs.
In the aftermath of a November 2010 roundup of horses outside the BLM's management area, meetings were held where other ideas were discussed.
One of those ideas was a pilot program to dart the horses with a contraceptive to reduce the number of foals.
In 2014, the program was approved by the BLM. It was funded with donations and volunteers supplied the labor.
A proposal to round up the horses in 2015, was halted by a federal lawsuit, but the BLM continued to use the contraceptive.
In 2016, the BLM revoked the use of the contraceptive, but reinstated it the following year.
A 10-year plan to manage the horses in the Pine Nuts was unveiled in late 2017. The plan included roundups and the use of contraceptives.