On Saturday morning, on a very cold day, I joined up with the BLM, researcher from University of Wyoming and a BLM ranger as we caravaned out to Adobe Town to release wild mares that had been fitted with radio collars on Thursday. There were also some mares that had been being held for several weeks at the Rock Springs corrals, and I was very glad that they were finally being released. As usual, I was the only member of the public attending.
We turned off at Bitter Creek Road, and started down the road, which was in good condition until after we passed Eversole Ranch. Then, as we continued south more and more big drifts of snow covered the road. The big truck towing the horse trailer in front was breaking through the drifts for the rest of us. After about 10 miles, we stopped, and let out the first collared mare, a light grey color, I am calling her Meryl. She jumped out and then her friend, a bay mare jumped out behind her.
Even though she was being let go about 20 – 25 miles from where she had been captured, at least she had a friend with her, unlike most of the mares who had been released before, all alone. They went a little way from the trailer, then turned around and looked at us, then casually strolling and exploring. They did not seem alarmed.
We got back into our vehicles, then stopped after 2 miles. After checking with the researcher, we got back in – despite the worsening road conditions he wanted us to go further away – they want these mares’ collars to be “spread out.” We kept going another 2 miles until stopping at a big snow drift – the truck and trailer were stuck in a huge snow drift! So they decided to let the remaining mares out there just past Cow Camp, a collection of old derelict buildings.
This time the horses are a bit confused and so the contractor has to wave the flag a bit to get them to come out. First is one of the mares without a collar then the collared mare and another mare come flying out of the trailer, and into deep snow by the side of the road.
There is no way to tell if these mares were from the same family – no one kept track of that important fact, but I was told that they were captured in the same area. Certainly the collared mare, who I am calling Sunny, looks very similar to the other sorrel mare, so perhaps they are related. At any rate, they leave the area where the trailer is quickly, pausing briefly by the old buildings.
Then I see them head out, and they are soon out of sight. Again, I am very happy that this mare had two friend with her, and they were all released about 20 miles from where they were captured.
So now they have to get the truck and trailer out of the snow drift. I am very glad it was not my vehicle that was stuck. Soon we all turn around and head back on the long trek toward the highway.
On the way home I am thinking about the mares with radio collars, 10 so far out of the 20 that they want to put these collars on. I am hoping that the collars are not too tight, digging into their necks, and also hoping that none of these mares gets hung up on a post or fence or her own hoof. 18 months is a long time to wear these old fashioned, bulky and dangerous collars. And I hope that if any of these mares do run into trouble that the researchers at University of Wyoming are actually able to release the collars before the mares die. I still very firmly believe that the best way to study wild horses is in the field, without capturing them and removing them from their families, without endangering their lives with these dangerous radio collars.