The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

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

Archive for the ‘Virginia Range’ Category

New Research: Cattle vs. Wildlife

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 22, 2012

PLEASE CROSS POST WHERE APPROPRIATE.

Hey, everyone, check this out. It’s the result of Princeton’s recent research into cattle vs. wildlife. They determined that in a properly managed habitat, the presence of equines can actually improve livestock production. While the article is geared towards food production, it presents an argument that Craig Downer and Mineral County Commissioner Jerrie Tipton have been trying to get people to recognize for years – that in appropriate management models, equines can actually improve rangelands.
Sample findings:
Cattle paired with donkeys gained 60 percent more weight than cattle left to graze only with other cows. The conclusion was that the donkeys (used in the trials as they were more tame than zebras or horses) ate the rougher tops of the grasses, leaving the lusher, more digestible portions for the cattle. Furthermore, equines tend to remove the upper dead stem grass layer making lusher grasses more available to cattle.
It seems apparent that the models studied involved animal populations that were kept within the capabilities of the resources available to support them. I would think that overgrazing would not produce the same results.
The study didn’t address the seeding benefits provided by equines but it’s definitely a start.  Here’s the report:
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S32/93/41K10/index.xml?section=featured
Hopefully this study will encourage some broader based thinking with respect to range science – a departure from the “us versus them” standoff – and prompt more research into which models produce benefits for livestock, wildlife, equids, and the public.
Thanks to Carrol Abel for the heads up on this report.
“:O) Willis

Posted in BLM, Daily Posts, USFS, Virginia Range | 8 Comments »

LRTC’s Horse Emergency Response Team

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on January 24, 2012

Following the Washoe Drive fire a few folks have asked about LRTC’s Horse Emergency Response Team. Although we missed our initial assignment due to traffic delays, our team was the one that Incident Command held in staging until after midnight (after the winds died down) since we carry a lot of specialized equipment.
I’m providing a link to an information sheet about the team. I would like to point out that this info sheet addresses just the “core” equipment supplied by the team. The team is often (gratefully) filled out by other competent volunteers and their trailers from Lyon County and occasionally from as far away as the Fish Springs Posse down in Douglas County. For example, Sheila Schwadel brought her trailer all the way up from Gardnerville and joined up with us at the staging area for the Washoe Drive fire.
We will be organizing and participating in some training this spring. Any folks interested in becoming more integrated into emergency evacuation and sheltering activities, and/or in providing support activities that help produce successful evacuation and sheltering operations, are welcome to attend.
Here’s a link to the info sheet: http://www.whmentors.org/men/hert1201.html
Thanks to everyone who supports these kinds of emergency activities.
“:O) Willis

Posted in BLM, Daily Posts, Virginia Range | Leave a Comment »

Carson City Oct. 25th Rally Press Release

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on October 26, 2011


Carson City, NV October 25, 2011
At least 61 people from communities in six Nevada counties came to the rally on October 25th. The street in front of the Nevada State Legislature was constantly filled with the sounds of honking horns as motorists traveling through downtown “voiced” their support.
All the region’s television news crews were present including our Spanish language station. The print media was represented including the Associated Press.
The object of the rally was to focus public attention on the mismanagement of the historic Virginia Range herd by the Nevada Department of Agriculture. This herd that Velma “Wild Horse Annie” Johnston first fought to protect falls under the authority of the state, not the Bureau of Land Management.
Management of this herd was traditionally accomplished through non-profit groups that operated under cooperative agreements with the state. About three years ago then-Director of Agriculture Tony Lesperance summarily rescinded all cooperative agreements for the  management and control of the horses, for the supervised placement of horses with adopters, and even the saddle starting of horses by the Department of Corrections’ acclaimed inmate horse training program. All these activities were funded by the non-profit groups, not the taxpayers.
This action has, as was predicted, resulted in horses roaming through residential neighborhoods, horses roaming onto highways, horses that have been removed going to kill buyers, and the prison horse training program no longer saddle starting Virginia Range horses.
This demonstration was named “Rally for Solutions.” The participants were protesting incomprehensible actions by the Nevada Department of Agriculture that continue to put both the horses and the public at risk. The demonstrators hope to put enough pressure to bear that the department returns to some sensible and workable management models that
protect the herd, that protect the public, that protect horses that have to be removed and that don’t have to rely on dwindling tax support. It appears that the rally has achieved just that.
Immediately after the rally many of the advocates worked until well after dark taking in a large number of horses from a Bureau of Indian Affairs impound that will now be assured safe homes or sanctuary. The allied groups, that have taken in over 1,000 horses since the beginning of 2010, will continue to solve problems on the range and “in the corrals” in cooperation with agencies that wish to achieve solutions to free roaming horse issues and ensure humane placement of horses that have been removed.
Willis Lamm

Posted in Daily Posts, Virginia Range | 6 Comments »

Meeting Notice: Virginia Range Horses

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on October 25, 2011

I have just been informed that the Stagecoach Advisory Board has placed the Virginia Range horse removal issue on its agenda for its November 2nd meeting. Former horse program manager Mike Holmes indicated that he would attend, and if asked, would discuss the history of horses in this area, what the issues really are, what the Department of Ag seems to be doing and what needs to be done. (I’m trying to be objective with this announcement so I’m avoiding suggesting who has done what to create the present problem.)
Interested citizens are encouraged to attend. Mike Holmes is our best source of knowledge about this horse issue and he has a history of telling it like it is.
We all know that this is an emotional issue. The Stagecoach Advisory Board has a history of being liberal when it comes to allowing the audience to speak, ask questions and discuss town matters. Furthermore the Board has no authority over these horses and is empowered only to make recommendations to the County Commission on matters of concern to our residents. So please be orderly and respectful during the meeting so that the Board, if it makes a recommendation, can accurately represent the position of our citizens.

What:   Stagecoach Town Advisory Board meeting
When:  7:00 PM, Wednesday November 2nd
Where: Stagecoach Community Center, 8204 US-50 West (next to the old fire station just west of Shetland St.)

For further information please contact the Citizen Advisory Board Liaison:

Maureen Willis, t.775-463-6531, mailto:mwilliss@lyon-county.org

The Community Center is accessible to persons with disabilities.

~Willis

Posted in Daily Posts, Virginia Range | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

New Scheme to Auction Off Virginia Range Horses & Already a Horse Trap Found In Stagecoach

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on October 24, 2011

My phone didn’t stop ringing yesterday afternoon with people calling who were concerned about the following press release. (The concerns that people raised follow the copy of the press release.) ~Willis

The NV Department of Ag, Office of the Attorney General, the Nevada Department of Corrections, the Governor’s Office,& HORSE POWER

by Horse Power on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 4:16pm

Nevada Department of Agriculture to Begin Collection of Nuisance Estray/Feral Horses near Highways

Sparks, NV 10-21-2011 – The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) will begin trapping nuisance Virginia Range estray/feral horses near highways today. This action is a result of over 30 horses being hit on highways 50 and 95 by vehicles over a period of less than two months.

“We planned to begin this collection of nuisance estray/feral horses two weeks ago but needed private property owner’s permission to set up the panel traps,” said Ed Foster, NDA spokesperson. “We finalized that agreement with property owners today,” he added.

The Virginia Range horses fall under the jurisdiction of Nevada estray/feral laws. The NDA is responsible for carrying out those laws.

This estray/feral horse collection does not have a time limit. Captures will be compared to equine/vehicular interaction data on a daily basis.

This collection will strictly follow Nevada estray/feral law (NRS 569). After capture, the horses will be transported to the Stewart Facility in Carson City and held there until they are photographed, branded and advertised per statute. Through a special agreement with the Nevada Department of Corrections, these horses will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Stewart facility rather than Fallon livestock auction yards. Notice will be given as to when this event will occur. This change in practice will reduce operational costs as well as staff time resulting in increased efficiency.

This agreement is a collaborative effort by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Office of the Attorney General, the Nevada Department of Corrections, the Governor’s Office, the horse advocacy group HORSE POWER, and concerned private property owners.

( Working together for the Horses )

So here are the concerns being raised.
NDoA appears to be using Horsepower and NDoC’s Stewart Conservation Camp as a means to “sanitize” the auctioning of Virginia Range horses.  NDoA has apparently found a way to cut out the middleman (the auction yard) and the kill buyers will simply go to Carson City instead of Fallon to acquire their horses.  Historically, given the numbers of horses NDoA says that they will be bringing in, the kill buyers will be interested.
I’ve had people ask me if this means that their wild horse license plate money might be used to facilitate the sale of horses to kill buyers and/or have asked, “What is my license plate money being used for?”  I’d prefer not to speculate on that so I’d suggest that you ask Horsepower.
Here are the problems that I have with this scheme:
If NDoA and Horsepower wanted to prevent the horses from being vulnerable to the kill buyers, the law allows NDoA to enter into a cooperative agreement with Horsepower wherein Horsepower could be responsible for the placement of horses.  Under the old agreements, the cooperators facilitated and monitored adoptions, and brand clearances (equivalent to titles) weren’t issued for a year and after adopters proved good care.  The law doesn’t presently allow NDoA to write adoptions and set adoption requirements.  That authority is delegated to cooperators.
If Horsepower wants to get into the horse auction business, that’s their decision.  However I have concerns over what might happen to the inmate saddle horse training program if the kill buyers come to the same facility that the BLM horses use and remove Virginia Range horses.  Much of the public does not distinguish between Virginia Range and BLM horses and such “auctions” could have a significant adverse public relations impact on BLM and the prison training program.  (In my opinion the prison training program is our greatest asset with respect to horse placement in this region and its image needs protection.)
The law allows for the Nevada Department of Corrections to be the legal “cooperator” and establish adoption requirements, monitor adoptions and certify compliance.  However Horsepower’s announcement simply discusses the horses being “auctioned off.”  Also, historically back when Virginia Range horses went through the prison training program, one of the non-profit cooperators was legally responsible for facilitating the adoptions, not NDoC.
If there are some legally enforceable controls established to ensure that all Virginia Range horses removed from the range will not be at risk of being bought by the kill buyers or by a handful of private citizens who buy horses to turn over to the kill buyers, then this proposal could be a step forward.  However if such protections are not part of the design of this scheme, I have to agree that it’s little more than a sanitizing operation.
Hopefully some clarifications will be forthcoming.
Willis

Sunday, October 23, 2011: Although the Nevada Dept. of Agriculture has stated that it is after “problem” horses that constitute highway hazards in Mound House, Silver Springs and Fernley, a horse trap has been reported by residents near Roy’s Road in central Stagecoach and Daryl Peterson was spotted looking over the horses behind Iron Mountain Estates. 

It might pay for everyone to report any traps discovered so that we can keep track of what’s going on.
Willis

Horse Trap in Stagecoach, NV October 24, 2011

Map of Horse Trap in Stagecoach, NV October 24, 2011

Posted in Daily Posts, Virginia Range | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »