Cross posted from the Las Vegas Review Journal
Centennial Hills resident Robin Warren, 11, interacts with a gentled wild horse July 12 in Sparks. Robin has been an advocate for the protection of wild horses and burros for three years and is youth campaign director for the nonprofit group Protect Mustangs.
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One Centennial Hills 11-year-old has turned a nickname, Wild Mustang Robin, into a passion in motion.
Sixth-grader Robin Warren’s mission to protect indigenous horses and burros has garnered national and international attention, visits with legislators and a youth advocate title for a preservation group.
For three years, Robin has worked to raise awareness of the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and the Bureau of Land Management’s exemption to it.
She started a petition and gathered about 2,500 signatures to request that the BLM adhere to the same rules and regulations as the general public in regards to the humane treatment of wild horses and burros.
“We don’t want them to reduce their numbers or to have the horses’ watering holes polluted or herds run around by motorists,” Robin said. “I hope many people see my petition and understand the problem and issues and help us put a stop to this.”
Robin was introduced to the cause by the book “Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West,” written by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Robert Lougheed. Her humanitarian spirit was also influenced by “The Puppy Place Special Edition: Puppy and Chica” by Ellen Miles due to its message about puppy mills, said Robin’s mother, Denise DeLucia.
“In the end of the book, it says how you can help, and it was to start a petition,” she said.
Robin obtained signatures from family, friends and patrons outside area libraries at first. She then made a Facebook page and a series of YouTube videos, and her pleas were viewed globally.
In one video, Robin addressed her peers when she sang, “Come on, you kids out there, sign my petition. You could be a world changer.”
DeLucia said Robin’s fervor hasn’t waned.
“I was taken aback by her zeal and determination,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how lasting it would be . You know how a child can be.”
DeLucia battled health troubles last summer, but Robin continued her fight.
“She encouraged me,” she said.
Robin’s videos were viewed by people in every state and 33 countries, DeLucia said.
A link to Robin’s horse petition is included in each video.
The videos caught the attention of Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs, a San Francisco Bay Area preservation group. The group’s mission is to educate the public about the American wild horse, protect and research wild horses on the range and help those that have lost their freedom, Novak said.
“I noticed her about two years ago and I saw how dedicated this young lady is,” Novak said. “She’s amazing and brilliant and a great wild horse advocate.”
Novak appointed Robin as Protect Mustang’s youth campaign director . She is to help with outreach, public appearances and political events.
Robin spoke about the issue with a Nevada senator and addressed crowds at a rally and press conference in front of the Sacramento Federal Courthouse last month.
“She had people in tears,” Novak said. “And she had a standing ovation. She’s a very strong voice for Protect Mustangs.”
Robin said her work with Protect Mustangs is fun and exciting.
“I’m very proud of her,” DeLucia said.
There have been massive removals of herds since 2009, Novak said, and a debate about the wild horse and burro population merits.
“We’re starting to get to a situation that is dire,” she said.
There is varied census information for indigenous horses and burros in the United States.
There were an estimated 51,000 horses in holding before the BLM’s Jackson Mountains Herd Management Area roundup in June, a controversial helicopter operation that gathered 424 wild horses.
There are an estimated 20,000 wild horses in 10 most Western states. Eighty percent of them live in Nevada, Novak said.
Wild horses and burros help sustain biodiversity in ecosystems and are a source of ecotourism, Novak said.
Protect Mustangs hopes to highlight the issues for a new generation via Robin.
“Robin is a wonderful leader and inspiration for kids,” Novak said. “It’s important that even though they aren’t voters, they will vote, and we want to have something left for them to see on a ballot.”
To view Robin’s online content, visit youtube.com/us.er/wildmustangrobin
For more information, visit protectmustangs.org