We are concerned about the plan to roundup and remove the Cold Creek wild horses in Southern Nevada. We understand that while some horses may be in poor condition, many are not and there is sufficient feed and water on the other side of the mountain from where these horses reside.
While we support assisting horses in poor condition to give them necessary care, we believe all horses in good condition should be left on the range and potentially relocated to areas of more plentiful feed and water.
The Cold Creek wild horses are examples of the inhumane mismanagement of wild horses by the federal government. The Forest Service and BLM refused to take simple actions to prevent the current situation, despite in 2015 when in this same area 202 horses were removed and 28 horses were euthanized by BLM due to a similar situation. Instead, they exploited the Cold Creek horses, distributing photographs of them to promote the erroneous belief that wild horses across the West are starving and that roundups and removals are the only “humane” solution.
Prior to the 2015 crisis, AWHC and local groups plead with the Forest Service and BLM to implement a humane birth control program to manage population growth in this area where feed and water were known to be limited. Instead of creating a public-private partnership to protect and humanely manage the Cold Creek horses, the federal agencies ignored the situation in order to create a crisis for these horses. Even after the 2015 emergency removal of horses the Forest Service and BLM again refused to a public-private partnership to humanely manage these horses, thus creating the situation today.
We have been told that a group of horses in this area have become acclimated to people feeding them and no longer migrate seasonally into the hills. Proactive range management options should be explored including making water available in areas of greater forage availability, educating residents about the harmful effects of feeding wild horses, and relocating horses, if necessary. Only horses in poor condition should be removed.
While the BLM will once again use the Cold Creek horses in its propaganda campaign to convince Congress to authorize massive roundups and slaughter, the Cold Creek situation is actually an example of agency mismanagement and failure to implement birth control and proactive range management to ensure the health of the horses and the land on which they live.
Cold Creek is an area of Wheeler Pass Joint Management Area (JMA), located about 30 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and managed jointly by U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
By Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review Journal
For the second time in less than three years, federal authorities plan to conduct an emergency roundup of wild horses on the brink of starvation in the Spring Mountains.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management announced Monday that as many as 200 horses in the Cold Creek area are in immediate need of food due to drought conditions and overpopulation.
Starting next week, the agencies plan to gather and feed the hungry animals, which have taken to eating nutrient-poor desert shrubs and the bark from Joshua trees in a desperate search for food.
“The Forest Service and BLM have been monitoring the situation, and the wild horse population has increased beyond the area’s limited forage resources,” said Bill Dunkelberger, supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, in a statement. “Many of the animals are in very poor condition, and we do not expect the situation to improve any time soon.”
The horses will be lured into corrals using hay and water and immediately moved to a temporary holding facility for health assessments and additional feeding.
Once medically cleared for transport, the horses will be moved to a BLM holding facility in Ridgecrest, California, where they will be made available for adoption or transferred to off-range holding facilities.
The BLM rounded up 201 horses from the same area during an emergency gather in 2015. Twenty-eight were later euthanized because they were in such poor health, officials said.
Overpopulation is a persistent problem in the Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area, a 102,000-acre swath of public land surrounding Cold Creek.
According to the BLM’s “appropriate management level,” the land only has enough water and forage to sustain a herd of 66, but hundreds of horses regularly roam the area.
Federal officials will discuss the planned roundup during a community meeting in Cold Creek at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the volunteer firehouse, 28431 Coldcreek Road.