Horse News

ALL burros and horses to be rounded up in Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be removing ALL of the feral burros and horses on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge during July and August.   Please go observe the roundups.  You have to register by June 30th, and you can read all of the details below the article.  –  Debbie


Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service, © D.E. Kirkland, photographer


By LEE JUILLERAT H&N Regional Editor Herald and News

Efforts are planned in July and August to remove all feral burros and horses from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.

Those wishing to observe the burro gather that’s expected to last from July 14 to 18 have until June 30 to apply; a deadline for the horse gather has not yet been finalized.

The Sheldon refuge, located just south of the Oregon and Nevada border about 65 miles from Lakeview, is managed by the Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Lakeview.

Megan Nagel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Portland regional office, said the goal is to remove about 70 feral burros from the Sheldon refuge as part of ongoing management actions to protect the refuge’s native wildlife and habitat.

Protecting native wildlife

In August, the Service will begin to gather about 420 feral horses, also to protect native wildlife.

Nagel said the goal is to remove all burros and horses from the refuge. After they are captured, the service will work with adoption contractors, such as Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, to have feral horses and burros adopted.

The Sheldon refuge, which spans 575,000 acres, is the largest remaining intact tract of the Great Basin ecosystem in the American West. It was established in 1931 to protect native wildlife, especially the American pronghorn, also known as antelope. The refuge also has several rare and imperiled species, including the greater sage grouse.

“The once-domestic feral horses and burros, which some people call wild horses and burros, cause significant damage to the refuge’s fragile landscape,” Nagel said. “If feral horses and burros are not removed from Sheldon, the Service will be unable to restore and conserve habitat conditions for native, fish, wildlife and plants that depend on the refuge. Removing feral horses and burros is critical to conserve and protect the native habitat and wildlife that depend on the refuge”

Damaging landscape

She said the refuge previously had more than 1,600 feral horses and burros that “significantly damaged the fragile landscape. These once-domestic animals compete directly with native wildlife for forage and water, both scarce resources in this arid environment. Though cattle grazing is not allowed on the refuge, feral horses and burros place year-round pressure on native habitats and wildlife and scarce water resources.”

Nagel said studies indicate feral horses and burros have degraded almost half of the streams and 80 percent of the refuge’s springs and other riparian areas, such as wet meadows, ephemeral wetlands, and emergent marshes.

During the gathers, which have drawn attention from groups opposing the removal of horses and burros, Nagel said the service is “committed to humane treatment of all animals. Animals will be gathered and transported to selected adoption contractors, consistent with the guidelines for humane treatment and safety outlined in the Sheldon comprehensive conservation plan.”

Occasional closures

To conduct effective and efficient operations, improve safety for horses and burros, and to ensure public safety, Nagel said the administrative facility, where horses and burros are held temporarily, will be closed to public entry.

Portions of the Sheldon’s surrounding gather operations, including some roads, will be occasionally closed to public entry July 14 through Oct. 15.

Nagel said the Service will provide limited escorted opportunities for the public and media to observe feral burro gather operations from July 14 to 18.

“Primary considerations for selection of observation sites are safety and to ensure efficient and effective gather operations,” she said. “The exact location of the gather sites will depend on site-specific conditions that may vary from day-to-day. The observation locations will be selected to provide an opportunity to view the gather without disrupting gather operations or creating a safety hazard. Consequently, members of the public/media should not expect opportunities for up-close observation or observation of all gather operations and should be prepared to travel to different locations within the broader gather area.”

It’s expected the burro gather will end July 18, although schedules are subject to change.

Register by June 30 to observe gather

Those wanting to observe the July 14 to 18 feral burro gather must make reservations with Megan Nagel by contacting her at or 503-231-6123 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 503-231-6123 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting by June 30.

Information on the feral horse gather planned in August will be issued in July and updated information posted at once dates are finalized.

As with burro gathers, opportunities to observe horse gather operations will be provided by reservation only. Observers will not be allowed into closed areas without prior reservation and escort.

Travel to observation sites will be on gravel and dirt roads suitable only for high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. The Service will not provide transportation.

Variable weather is possible, with temperatures from 30 to 90 degrees. Facilities will not be available. Observers should plan accordingly and provide adequate food and water. Observers should be prepared to hike through steep, rocky and uneven terrain up to a half-mile and remain at observation sites for a minimum of four hours.

16 replies »

  1. WILDLIFE REFUGE!!!!!!!!!!!! So why is the wildlife being rounded up? (I know, its the BLM doing exactly what they want). I’m curious – will they put cattle & sheep into this refuge like they do every where else?


  2. Could THIS be the reason for the rush in removing FEDERALLY PROTECTED WILD HORSES and BURROS from a Wildlife Refuge?
    Posted in the Federal Register
    Non-Federal Oil and Gas Development Within the National Wildlife Refuge System

    Pages 32903 – 32903 [FR DOC # 2014-13303] PDF | Text | More


  3. Here is the link to the notice posted on the Federal Register

    Fish and Wildlife Service/Department of Interior
    Monday June 9, 2014

    Click to access 2014-13303.pdf

    Non-Federal Oil and Gas Development Within the National Wildlife Refuge System
    Pages 32903 – 32903 [FR DOC # 2014-13303] PDF | Text | More


  4. From PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    After Years, Fish & Wildlife Service Still Unprepared to Propose Specific Safeguards
    Posted on Apr 24, 2014
    Washington, DC — Despite admitting “significant damages” from oil and gas operations on national wildlife refuge lands, there are still no safeguards against spills, leaks and other preventable contamination of these preserves. The responsible agency is still on the ground floor of adopting protective rules years after announcing that it would, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), which operates the network of 562 wildlife refuges, estimates oil or gas deposits exist on nearly half of all refuges; more than 200 refuges contain oil infrastructure with more than 100 active drilling operations, including 1,700 active wells and 1,300 miles of pipeline. Altogether, drilling on refuges accounts for approximately 1% of domestic production.

    Unlike other federal land agencies, FWS has no rules governing basic safeguards such as spill prevention, reclamation bonds or requirements that best management practices be employed. In April 2011, PEER filed a formal rulemaking petition urging FWS to adopt rules modeled on enhanced rules then proposed by the National Park Service. More than a year later in June 2012, FWS announced that in response to the PEER petition it would begin “promulgating regulations for administering private minerals on refuge lands” and would “conduct a thorough… analysis of the proposed regulations, most likely resulting in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).”
    For months, there was no public activity until a Federal Register notice of February 24, 2014 in which FWS issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of intent to prepare an EIS, declaring:

    “The Refuge System has sustained significant damages to refuge resources from leaks and spills, inadequate plugging, abandonment and reclamation.”


  5. Effects on Resources

    Oil and gas exploration and production activities can cause both direct and indirect effects on refuge resources.
     Leaks and spills of oil, brine, or other contaminants are a key concern. Soils, vegetation, water quality, fish and wildlife, and air quality can all be harmed by the release of contaminants.
     Fish and Wildlife Habitat can be altered, fragmented, or eliminated. Oil and gas activities can disturb and displace wildlife, cause physiological stress, and can even result in wildlife deaths.
     Introduction of invasive species, especially along road and pipeline routes, can alter habitat. Disturbance caused by oil and gas activities can result in fundamental changes in ecological functions and processes, and lead to increased predation of declining species, reduced reproduction, and increased susceptibility to disease.
     Public use of refuge areas may be restricted or prohibited. Although the areal extent of oil and gas exploration and production may be limited, the cumulative effects may extend to a much larger area.


  6. Sheldon Wildlife Refuge had an agreement with Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) and the Wild Horses were to REMAIN in the refuge.
    That agreement should be honored.

    Craig Downer worked with Wild Horse Annie. The following is from an interview with Craig:
    That’s one thing I remember about my work with Wild Horse Annie. She had established an apparently solid agreement with the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve, that the horses would be recognized in perpetuity as an integral part of the Sheldon wildlife community. Sheldon had a magnificent herd of horses that remained for nearly four decades thanks to her agreement. The officials there used to say, yes, the horses have been here for centuries and people love to see them, and they integrate well with the pronghorn and other wildlife. There were studies done by Jo Meeker at University of Nevada proving that they harmoniously exist with the pronghorn antelope. But recently there seems to be a vendetta. Basically we are talking about a war of values here.


  7. I hope your adoption contractor is not a KILL BUYER!! Shame if they are…Off to Canada’s slaughter houses…I say let the
    burros and horses alone…


  8. Boots have been on the ground in Sheldon Wildlife Refuge, but the management isn’t listening:

    Records Show Why Director Did Not Act After Investigations Proved Misconduct
    Posted on Jul 08, 2014

    Washington, DC — The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is wrongfully withholding documents detailing why top agency officials refused to act on findings of scientific integrity reviews confirming serious scientific misconduct by agency managers, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This stalemate signals that the vaunted new scientific integrity program inside FWS has broken down completely, apparently at the instigation of its Director Dan Ashe.
    The two guilty managers were not demoted or suspended. Instead, they were kicked upstairs through prestigious details until they ultimately found other jobs. One, Luke Bell, left to work for an oil company. Dixie Porter, the senior manager, eventually secured a high-level position with the U.S. Forest Service, although it is unclear if her new employers was apprised of the scientific integrity review findings about her deliberate misconduct;

    “The Service leadership is itself guilty of scientific misconduct in how it handled these findings,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Dissembling about its actions to ensure integrity speaks volumes.”


  9. When are these people who continually contribute to Corruption and illegal conduct going to be brought to Justice??????????????????/


  10. We always looked forward to seeing the burro’s at the Sheldon refuge, and hoped to take our grandson there also. My wife and I just returned and were wondering what had happened to the burro’s. Shame on you for removing them, they always were wonderful to stop and look at them. “PUT THEM BACK”


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