The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

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

Pine Nut Gather Updates…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on November 28, 2010


Submitted on 2010/11/28 at 7:15 pm in Comments » Lahontan / Pine Nut Gather… the rest of the story…

Sorry for not keeping everyone up to speed “real time.” We’ve had one heck of a busy time. When there is helicopter activity on the north end of the Pine Nuts it can spook the Virginia Range horses that live down near the river bottom and we’ve been getting horses out of Carson City and Dayton and back to where they belong with the help of the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Here is a post I sent out to the folks involved on Friday, but I didn’t get a chance to post it here. Clarifications are added in ().

– – –

Today (Friday) I had a good, candid conversation with BLM State Director Ron Wenker where we discussed the Pine Nut gather and the issue of the mares and foals. To cut to the chase, here’s what came of it.

Director Wenker stated that it was never BLM’s position that the foals were to be removed (not be returned with their dams) from the Pine Nut Range. BLM’s position going into the trap, treat and release operation was that, extenuating cases notwithstanding, all horses removed from within the HMA were to be returned. Director Wenker assured me that this is exactly what is going to happen. Extenuating circumstances in this instance could include situations such as a mare and foal that did not pair back up. Nobody is going to release a foal onto the range without the protection of its dam. However every horse suitable for releasing would be put back onto the range. Director Wenker also indicated that he wanted to see that happen as quickly as it was safe to do so – as soon as the horses definitely paired and there was suitable weather to conduct a safe release.

Director Wenker also indicated that from what he has learned so far, there apparently were mistakes made in the trap, treat and release operation. With so many bands coming in, the horses should have been identified (e.g., marked with non-toxic paint) as they were received so members of the same band could be identified. Also the decision to send the foals to Palomino Valley Center without their dams was not proper. Director Wenker made it very clear that he is on track for Nevada BLM to be accountable to its commitments and that the horses that BLM indicated would be returned to the HMA will be returned as promised. I came away with the impression that he plans to see that such principles are passed down the chain of command.

We have to give props to Mark Struble and Alan Bittner in this situation. Mark became aware of the foals being sent to Palomino Valley Center and sent up a red flag. Alan Bittner saw to it that every mare that appeared to be a nursing mare was sent to meet up with the foals. Given the circumstances, having the horses at Palomino Valley Center where they could be checked by a vet and watched by an experienced crew was a sensible remedy.

Dorothy Nylen (Wild Horse Preservation League) went up to Palomino Valley Center and observed the mare and foal pairs. Based on her observations all but one foal appeared to be fully bonded with its dam. With the number of horses in the pen, she could not be sure about one of the foals. There was no evidence that it wasn’t paired with a mare and it could have simply had an independent nature.

Hopefully all the horses will be returned safely to the range within a couple of days. Mark Struble promised to provide us with advance notice of the release so advocates can be present.

Director Wenker mentioned that there were a number of other trap, treat and release operations on BLM’s schedule and he expected this mistake to not be repeated.

No operation is perfect. In this case it seems pretty clear that the appropriate corrections have been made.

“:O) Willis

– – –

As an added explanation, it was BLM staff from the Carson City office that caught on to what was going on and interceded before the nursing mares were let loose without their foals. While the foals were old enough to be weaned, without the protection of their dams they would be easy prey for predators so that would have been 22 horses that BLM had committed to return to the range that would have been permanently removed. It appears that many of these kinds of problems trace back to a couple of people who in my opinion lack an appropriate level of sensitivity. Once the mares and foals are safely back on the range, this is an matter that will be brought up for discussion.

As Director Wenker said, it takes too long for BLM to build up credibility. He’s not about to lose it over a bad decision.

As an oft time critic of various BLM actions, I really have to give props to the folks at the Carson City office. They stood up to people above them on the food chain and this isn’t the only time they’ve done what’s right rather than what was easy. That’s an attitude that needs to gain ground throughout the bureau.

“:O) Willis

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5 Responses to “Pine Nut Gather Updates…”

  1. Linda Horn said

    Willis, thanks so much for all you’ve done and for getting this new info up. Cross fingers everything works out for the best.

  2. Eileen Coe said

    Thank God for people with common sense and decency! This does my heart good to know that the folks at the Carson City office of the BLM will stand up and do what is right!

  3. SHIRLEY LE GARDE said

    DIRECTOR WENKER SEEMS TO BE A CREDIT TO THE BLM AND AN EXCEPTION. WE NEED MORE MEN LIKE HIM IN THE BLM A MAN OF AUTHORITY BUT A MAN WHO KNOW HOW TO USE THAT POWER AND SEEMS TO CARE FOR THE HORSES. THE PEOPLE OF THE WILD HORSES WANT THEIR HORSES SAFE AND MANAGED WITH RESPECT. THIS ALSO APPLIES TO THE ROUNDUP CREWS WHO SEEM TO FORGET THAT OUR WILD HORSES ARE LOVED BY THE PEOPLE AND WE WILL FIGHT TO GET THAT RESPECT FOR THEM. THE BLM WAS HIRED TO MANAGE THE WILD HORSES BUT IT SEEM OVER THE YEARS THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO MANAGE, KEEP RECORD, ETC. IT COULD BE DIRECTOR WENKER MAY BE THE MAN TO DO JUST THIS.

  4. Jan said

    is there anyway we could influence blm to put wenker in charge of blm horse project instead of whats his name don abbey – seems wenker is looking at things from the horses’ point of view and is taking their priories into consideration and not treating them like excessive baggage as the blm normally tends to do so maybe we will have some more positive results from any future roundups – i sure hope so and not a repeat of the calico roundup like last winter when so many horses were lost

  5. Janet Schultz said

    This is a refreshingly honest and straight forward report and I thank you from the deepest part of my heart. I can see progress!!

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