Federal Plan Will Remove Horses from Nevada Wildlife Refuge

Cross-posted from The Horse

by: Pat Raia
September 07 2012, Article # 20606

Wild horses and burros will be removed from their ranges in northwestern Nevada under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) conservation plan for the wildlife refuge on which they currently reside. The plan is slated to become effective after Sept. 24, said Jason D. Holm, assistant regional director of external affairs for the FWS Pacific Region.

Approximately 800 horses and 180 burros currently reside on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR), Holmes said. The refuge is also home to approximately 2,500 pronghorn antelope and 150 bighorn sheep, as well as greater sage grouse, mule deer, and other wildlife species, he said.

The horses and burros will be removed from the refuge under a final Comprehensive Conservation Plan intended to rid the sanctuary of non-native and invasive species, Holm said. Officials would conduct gathers with the goal of removing all the horses and burros within five years, he said.

“Horses and burros are damaging native habitats for refuge wildlife,” Holm said. “Controlling feral animals takes away from wildlife and public use management priorities and efforts, and is costly.”

American Wild Horse Campaign Director Suzanne Roy opposes removal on grounds that horses and burros have resided on the area since the 1800s.

“These are U.S. Cavalry horses and burros used in the California gold rush,” Roy said. “They’ve been there (on SNWR lands) long before the refuge was created in the 1930s.”

Anne Novak, executive director of the wild horse advocacy group Protect Mustangs said the FWS assessment of the equids’ environmental impact is flawed.

 “They want to get rid of all the horses without understanding the positive impact they have on the thriving natural ecological balance,” Novak said. “Wild horses heal the land and their grazing prevents wildfires.”

Roy said that wild horse advocates had recommended FWS officials use fertility control to phase out the horse and burro population over a 15-year period. The agency rejected the option, she said. Now she and others are exploring legal options that could block the total removal.

“Right now, we don’t know what we can do, but we’re looking into it,” she said.

Horses and burros removed from the refuge will be available for adoption, Holm said.

Link to the original article: http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=20606

Statement from Protect Mustangs:

“We are against phasing out the population using fertility control or by rounding them up,” explains Novak. “We ask that the wild horses and burros be allowed to stay.”


Nevada State Senator, Mark Manendo, comments to Protect Mustangs on the Sheldon wild horse and burro crisis

“According to Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau, the wild horses and burros living in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge appear to be managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the authority of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act and other applicable federal law,” explains Mark Manendo, Nevada State Senator.  “As such, the horses and burros are not feral horses or burros (domesticated horses or burros which have become wild) under NRS 569.008, and are therefore not under the jurisdiction of Nevada’s Department of Agriculture pursuant to NRS 569.010. Because there is no state jurisdiction, it would be questionable for the State of Nevada to try to assert any control or management over those horses and burros.”

“if people contact their Congress person and their two US Senators and let them know how you feel on this important issue that would be extremely helpful,” says Manendo.

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada to remove all wild horses, burros within 5 years

Cross-posted from The Republic

  • MARTIN GRIFFITH  Associated Press
  • September 02, 2012 – 8:04 pm EDT

RENO, Nev. — Federal officials have approved a final management plan for the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Nevada that calls for the removal of all wild horses and burros from it within five years.

The move is being made because the refuge was created for pronghorn antelope and other native wildlife, and horses and burros have a negative effect on habitat, said Joan Jewett, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, Ore.

“They trample the habitat and overgraze and disturb the water sources,” she told The Associated Press. “We’re required by law to manage our refuges in accordance with the purposes for which they were established, and Sheldon was primarily for pronghorn antelope.”

Horse advocacy groups sharply criticized the refuge’s comprehensive conservation plan, which will guide its management over the next 15 years. It was publicly released late last month.

They say horses and burros lived in the area long before the refuge was created in 1931, and the animals actually heal the land and help prevent wildfires through grazing.

“We are extremely disappointed that the federal government has chosen to eradicate wild horses and burros from the lands where their ancestors have lived for more than a century and a half,” Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said in a statement.

An aerial survey in July showed the 575,000-acre refuge along the Oregon border is home to at least 2,508 antelope, 973 mustangs and 182 wild burros, said Aaron Collins, a park ranger at Sheldon.

“We’re recording the highest numbers of pronghorn antelope since we began counting them in 1950,” he said.

Federal officials began the planning process on the refuge’s management plan in 2008, and received several thousand comments from individuals, organizations and government agencies during it, Collins said.

The final plan will be signed sometime after Sept. 24 by the regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Agency, he added.

Under federal law, only horses and burros removed from lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are protected from slaughterhouses if they can’t be adopted.

“Rounding up indigenous wild horses is wrong — especially when they can be sold to the meat buyers at auctions,” said Anne Novak of California-based Protect Mustangs. “These horses are vulnerable to ending up going to slaughter … The Sheldon plan to wipe out wild horses is nuts and goes against the public’s wishes.”

Activists said the final management plan rejected a more humane alternative to phase out horses and burros over 15 years using fertility control, an option that would have allowed unadoptable animals to live out their lives at the refuge.

(Story distributed by The Associated Press)

Link to the original article: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/9d2599146ac04731ae3b93a918db2c59/NV–Refuge-Wild-Horses

Science proves wild horses are indigenous so protect their rights to land and water

Stop the removal of indigenous wild horses from the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge.

Rounding up indigenous wild horses is wrong – especially when they can be sold to the meat buyers at auctions,” said Anne Novak of California-based Protect Mustangs. “These horses are vulnerable to ending up going to slaughter … The Sheldon plan to wipe out wild horses is nuts and goes against the public’s wishes.”

Read the full article here and please comment: http://www.lvrj.com/news/nevada-wildlife-refuge-to-remove-all-wild-horses-168331946.html?ref=946

Sign the petition to ensure wild horses will maintain their rights to water.

Removing wild horses from the definition of wildlife is a political maneuver to deny the wild horses access to  water. An argument of the opposition is that wild horses are not wild but feral. However, recent scientific evidence proves that wild horses are indigenous to North America.

As Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs points out, “most zoologists are familiar with the work of PhD.s J.F. Kirkpatrick and P.M. Fazio and the revised January 2010 paper Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife. The Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana, Billings.

Their scientific paper states, “Thus, based on a great deal of paleontological data, the origin of E. caballus is thought to be about two million years ago, and it originated in North America.”

Also the paper cites, “The fact that horses were domesticated before they were reintroduced matters little from a biological viewpoint. They are the same species that originated here, and whether or not they were domesticated is quite irrelevant.”

So, indeed, wild horses are wild. The current Nevada definition of wildlife states  “‘Wildlife’ means any wild mammal, wild bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, mollusk or crustacean found naturally in a wild state, whether indigenous to Nevada or not and whether raised in captivity or not.” No other species is singled out for exclusion, why should wild horses be?

In the 76th legislature, Nevada Assembly Bill 329 attempted to remove wild horses from the definition of wildlife. Even though Nevada voters overwhelmingly sided with the wild horses and the bill did not pass, it appears as though the argument will be pushed again during the 77th legislative session.

Las Vegas news station KTNV Channel 13 reported that the bill “…would have prevented the state engineer from approving water rights for wild horses in Nevada” and “would deny the animals access to water prevent water rights being issued if someone were to establish a wild horse sanctuary to promote eco-tourism”

If you agree that wild horses should remain in Nevada’s definition of wildlife, and that they should never be denied access to water, please sign the petition.

Robin Warren (Wild Mustang Robin), Director of the Youth Campaign for Protect Mustangs, co-authored this petition.

Read Dr. Kirkpatrick’s paper here: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=562

Stop the wipe out!

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“The proposed ‘final’ management plan is outrageous,” says Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “They want to wipe out all the wild horses and burros at the Sheldon Refuge. They have no respect for the stakeholders or biodiversity.”