“Review of this article indicates that the party involved was trying to do the right thing and help a horse she felt to be in distress. But in the wild, we keep our distance and let nature do what nature does. The only people who can harass, chase, round-up, hold captive, perform morbid tests upon and sell wild burros and horses to slaughter are employees of the BLM; the very agency charged with the responsibility to protect our wild equines is the only exclusive group, outside of welfare ranchers, that is hell bent on finding the “final solution” , destruction and ultimate extinction of or wild horses and burros on our public lands.” ~ R.T.
“I had to follow my heart instead of the letter of the law,”
An Idaho woman was fined by the Bureau of Land Management after attempting to rescue an emaciated wild horse.
The agency fined Cynthia Stoetzer of Driggs $275 for moving the animal she encountered while riding her horse in Utah in April, reported The Post Register.
Stoetzer said she saw the horse near an informal campground at the Justesen Flats and tried to contact Bureau of Land Management officials. She had cellphone service issues, however, and couldn’t reach anyone.
“I had to follow my heart instead of the letter of the law,” Stoetzer said. “It was just slowly suffering in front of my eyes.”
So she returned two days later, loaded the mustang into her horse trailer and took it to the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. Bureau officials took the horse back to its ranch the next day.
“Typically we try to keep the animal in its natural environment,” said Chris Robbins, wild horse and burro lead for the Idaho Bureau of Land Management.
When someone reports an unhealthy horse, the agency will send someone to examine it as soon as possible, Robbins said. What happens next depends on the horse’s behavior, condition and relation to its herd.
“If it’s naturally emaciated, if there’s poor hope for prognosis for health for the horse, we’ll usually euthanize it out on the range,” Robbins said. “If it has a good prognosis we’ll keep monitoring it. We definitely don’t allow the horse to suffer if it is indeed suffering.”
He said the bureau has policies against private citizens removing animals from the land because it is dangerous and can interfere with the ecosystem. It also drains bureau resources to rehabilitate and care for animals that would have died naturally in the wild.
Robbins had no involvement with Stoetzer’s fine.
Stoetzer maintains that she did the right thing and would do it again.
“I think they’re being pretty harsh on me, considering I really did do my best,” she told the Post-Register. “I wouldn’t try to save all wild horses in the West, but when you’re faced with one individual in front of you, I can’t imagine any horse-lover wouldn’t do the same thing.”
When federal authorities did catch up with Stoetzer to discover where the horse had been taken, they transferred her to a federal holding center in Axtell, Utah.
“I got the horse into Harvard and the BLM came and pulled her out,” Stoetzer said. “I think it was more about making a point that the horse was government property than what was in her best interest.”
Last week, Stoetzer was served a citation for the offense of ‘’removing a wild horse.’
Removing wild horses and burros from public lands was made illegal by the 1971 ‘Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.’
“I guarantee [that law] was written to protect the horses from ranchers,” Stoetzer said. “I don’t know if it was meant to punish do-gooders like me.“