Wild Horse Bands Vanishing Under BLM Extinction Efforts
By Steven Long
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The leadership of the wild horse preservation movement in America got a VIP tour of the Bureau of Land Management’s worst nightmare late Friday when they finished a jam packed day with dinner near the proposed Fossel Bed National Monument site. There, the bones of prehistoric rhinos and horses stick out of the Nevada landscape. The site, among others, is the birthplace of the horse as a species.
The site is 20 minutes from a herd management area the federal agency plans to clear of wild horses in its ongoing effort to rid the West of what many BLM land clients consider a nuisance and call the “cockroaches of the west”.
The occasion was a tour of the BLM’s Cold Creek, Wheeler Pass herd management area 40 minutes northwest of the Las Vegas strip. It ended with dinner near the prehistoric bone yard.
About 30 movers and shakers, arguably among the most influential wild horse advocates in the nation, broke away from the International Equine Conference for a trip to the field. They included Ginger Kathrens, PBS documentary filmmaker, John Holland, President of the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance, author R.T. Fitch and wildlife photographer and Greater Houston Horse Council Board Member Terry Fitch, EWA Vice President Vicky Tobin, and wild horse advocate Garnet Pasquale as well as wild horse preservation and anti horse slaughter financial benefactors.
The advocates endured a tedious BLM permitting process, said field trip organizer Arlene Gawne, a Las Vegas realtor, and former wildlife photographer who spend decades in the African bush.
“We had great difficulty getting a permit from the BLM,” she said. The federal agency is notoriously secretive and takes great effort to prevent press and public from viewing the horses under its federal mandate.
“We saw nine bands of wild horses,” said nationally acclaimed true crime and animal welfare author Cathy Scott. “There was lots of feed and water at low elevations,” she said.
Scott is the bestselling author of The Millionaire’s Wife, and also writes for Forbes.
The BLM has claimed Nevada horses are suffering from drought conditions. Frequently, when advocates follow up on the agency’s claims the are found to be false.
Gawne complained BLM’s efforts to largely remove wild horses from their herd management areas and is depriving the state of a much needed revenue.
“They are going to take eco tourism jobs away from the local Las Vegas people,” she said.
Plenary sessions of the conference will work through a jam packed agenda Saturday as it continues on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.