Community Opposition Growing to BLM’s Fish Springs Wild Horse Capture & Removal Plan
National Petition Drive Snags 10,000+ Signatures in Just 3 Days
Gardnerville, Nevada (June 26, 2018). . . The Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates today called on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to leave a famous herd of wild horses that lives on public lands in the Fish Springs area near Gardnerville on the range. The BLM currently plans to capture 70 horses and permanently remove as many as 45 horses – or more than 50 percent of the population – in a bait trapping operation to begin in July.
The advocates launched a national petition drive in support of the Fish Springs wild horses this weekend and have already collected over 10,000 signatures.
“The Fish Springs wild horses have a worldwide following and are an important tourism resource for our Carson Valley community,” said Deb Walker, President of the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates. “The BLM’s current plan would devastate this popular wild horse population and would shatter the wild horse families that are followed and loved by thousands of people throughout the world.”
In partnership with the BLM, the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates humanely manage the Fish Springs horses utilizing the PZP birth control vaccine to reduce population growth in the herd. The program is funded privately at no cost to taxpayers.
The Fish Springs community – including local businesses and Bently Ranch, which holds a permit to graze livestock on the public lands where the horses live, strongly support keeping the Fish Springs wild horses on the range.
In response to community concern, the BLM has already modified its original plan to remove 70 horses from the Fish Springs population, an action that would have left behind just 11 horses on this 100,000 acre habitat area. In a letter sent today to the BLM Carson City District Office, the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates are urging the BLM to allow Fish Springs horses to remain on the range.
“The current BLM plan will send taxpayers a bill for as much as $1.4 million to remove and hold horses that are currently living on our public lands and being managed effectively without costing taxpayers a dime,” said the letter states. “In the interest of fiscal responsibility and humane treatment of these cherished horses, and given the stated commitment of this administration to honor the wishes of local communities, we officially request the BLM to pursue the a humane, cost-effective strategy for the Fish Springs horses.”
"The local BLM Sierra Front NW Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (RAC) which provides recommendations to the BLM on management issues has voted to support the continued use of PZP using community volunteers for wild horse management and population control within the Fish Springs area" said Greg Hendricks, Carson City resident and RAC member pending renewal. "This RAC has offered strong support in the continued cooperative management approach with the community of Wild Horse advocates and the BLM. "Managing horses on the range is the direction we need to go since gathering and storing horses has become less effective and a burden on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program budget."
In 2013, the BLM proposed removing the entire herd of Fish Springs horses because they reside outside the Pine Nut Herd Management Area (HMA) but still within a designated Herd Area. Overwhelming public opposition caused the BLM to cancel the plan and enter into an agreement with local citizens to humanely manage the herd using PZP fertility control. The birth control program stalled when an animal rights group, capitalizing on a BLM paperwork error, filed a lawsuit to stop it. It resumed this year, with local citizens darting over 90% of the mares in the herd with the vaccine that prevents pregnancy but does not impact the horses’ health or natural behaviors. The birth control program will humanely reduce the Fish Springs population over time and local residents are pleading with the BLM to allow time for the program to work.
“Please BLM, do not take away our wild horses,” said John T. Humphrey, a wildlife photographer who offers public wild horse tours of the Fish Springs area. “They’re good for business and draw visitors from all over the world. The BLM's excuse for taking away our horses is sage grouse. However, as a wildlife expert who out on the range almost daily, I can say definitively that there are no sage grouse where these horses roam. The BLM should work with the community, not against us, to preserve these local treasures.”
The Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates is a non-profit organization that stewards and humanely manages the Fish Springs horses in partnership with the BLM.