The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

BLM and advocates have reached agreement on the one remaining issue involving the Pine Nut gather (the Fish Springs horses)

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on November 14, 2010

BLM and advocates have reached agreement on the one remaining issue involving the Pine Nut gather -the Fish Springs horses. These horses will not all be gathered off as originally proposed. Instead local advocates will identify some “problem horses” for removal (i.e., a band of young adoptable bachelor studs that have become desensitized to humans and are running through adjacent neighborhoods) and BLM will remove some weanlings from bands that have strayed off the HMA, treating the mares with PZP and releasing them. The treated mares will be returned with their respective stallions in their original “family bands.”
This agreement will still provide for a horse population consistent with the current Resource Management Plan. This “specialized” approach to managing the Fish Springs horses was made possible due to the historic involvement of the region’s horse advocates in helping identify and resolve horse problems, protecting resources and getting horses placed with adopters. Advocates and advocate groups will assist with monitoring, problem identification and helping get horses that are removed placed with appropriate adopters. BLM’s fresh approaches involving the Fish Springs, Pine Nut and Walker Lake horses should benefit a number of parties of interest. These approaches should not increase BLM’s holding facility burden, an issue of concern expressed by Senator Reid. The utilization of additional Federal lands (the Hawthorne Army depot) and involvement of horse groups and other agencies to assist in the control, management and placement of horses fits within the scope of Secretary Salazar’s initiative.
Bringing the various “stakeholders” together to produce practical solutions is consistent with Director Abbey’s objectives. The extensive engagement of the public and advocates by BLM personnel to inform the public and to identify and resolve issues of concern follows the expressed intent of District Manager Chris MacAlear with respect to sensitivity to community concerns. Management approaches that produce more stable and healthy horse populations, and therefore contribute to more stable and healthy wildlife populations, address the recommendations of the County’s Wildlife Board. As a result of the combined commitments of all of the parties, no horses will be removed from the Pine Nut HMA, but instead the mares will be trapped, treated and released in their family bands. Horses outside the HMA but that are determined to not be causing any problems will be subject to selective removal of adoptable weanlings and the mares treated and released with their family bands.
Representatives from the Fish Springs Posse, Wild Horse Preservation League and LRTC participated in these negotiations, with Sheila Schwadel leading the delegation. Our thanks go to Linda Kelly, Alan Bittner, John Axtell and Alan Shepard for producing a “model” that follows the intent of the Resource Management Plan but at the same time allows advocates to become involved in ways that reduce the needs for removals, and for collaborating with advocates to more efficiently place those horses that do come off. As a result this model should reduce BLM’s overall costs associated with this gather and for the downstream holding of removed horses. In a sense these latest developments are reflective of years past when the advocate groups were more routinely involved “hands on” in cooperation with BLM regarding resource management, horse population management and horse placement. Hopefully this latest model will be successful and the parties can establish a contemporary track record with respect to alternatives to large scale horse removals.
While the West’s horse ranges are diverse and models such as this one may not likely be practical everywhere, these approaches to managing the Pine Nut and Walker Lake herds could demonstrate what can be accomplished when the various “stakeholders” work constructively together.
Sorry, no drama in this report, just results LOL.


5 Responses to “BLM and advocates have reached agreement on the one remaining issue involving the Pine Nut gather (the Fish Springs horses)”

  1. Barbara Steele said

    Sounds like a positive step forward.

    Here is a 77 minute presentation by Jay Kirkpatrick on PZP that was presented in Billings, Montana that everyone needs to watch.

    I am familiar with the Assateague horses and the PZP has kept the herd healthy and none have been subjected to brutal helicopter roundups.

  2. puller9 said


  3. betty said

    I want to pat some one on the back! Great thinking from all these folks!

  4. Reveil said

    Great thinking and great work.

  5. Linda Horn said

    Thanks to EVERYONE, both outside and inside government, who helped make this happen. Overall a pretty good outcome. I think this is the way things will have to be done if we’re going to keep the wild ones wild – local people and the BLM in their area working out compromises.

    As Willis said, this model may not translate directly to other areas, but we’ll never know if we don’t try. Thrashing the issue out on the national stage is pretty much doing nothing except getting the BLM’s back up and hurting the animals we want to help.

    I have a question for Willis or anyone else who knows the Pinenut HMA. The BLM Geocommunicator “Rangelands” map shows a “Herd Area” at the SSW border of Pinenut that looks to be at least as large as the current HMA. It’s split into two grazing allotments – Buckeye #03509 and Pinenut #03576. Was that area ever part of the HMA and, if so, when and why was it removed?

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