85 wild horses captured, 4 euthanized in roundup near Las Vegas


“None of the captured horses will be returned to the wild…”

A contract wrangler offers hay to wild horses near Cold Creek NV, May 12, 2018. Photo by Darcy Grizzle

Federal authorities have gathered 85 wild horses and killed four of them during the first five days of their emergency roundup in the mountains west of Las Vegas.

As of Monday night, the operation led by the U.S. Forest Service was a little under halfway to its goal of removing 200 mustangs from the range around Cold Creek.

A contract livestock crew launched the emergency operation Thursday after the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management determined that poor range conditions had left the herd at risk of starvation.

Some nearby residents said they were sorry to see the horses go but glad to see them rescued before it was too late. Other locals and mustang advocates angrily oppose the roundup and reject the reasoning given by federal land managers.

There were multiple reports Tuesday of a Cold Creek resident who lured some of the horses onto his property and closed his gate behind them so he could turn the animals loose again after the roundup is over.

Forest Service spokeswoman Erica Hupp said agency officials were aware of the reports but not immediately pursuing them.

“Right now our focus is on getting the horses we can get,” she said.

The animals rounded up so far include 41 studs, 37 mares and seven foals.

The Forest Service said three of the mares, all between the ages of 10 and 14, were euthanized because they were too emaciated to save. One of the foals was euthanized Saturday after breaking a leg.

Hupp said she did not know how the animals were put down, but federal guidelines call for wild horses to be killed “in a dignified and discreet manner,” either with a fatal injection of drugs or a bullet to the head, generally while under the supervision of a veterinarian.

During the first few days of the roundup, cowboys lured the horses into corrals simply by walking up to them and offering them hay. The crew is now using riders on horseback to guide some of the harder-to-reach horses toward baited traps.

Some of the horses collected since Friday have already been trucked to a BLM holding facility in Ridgecrest, California, to be prepared for adoption or transfer to long-term housing off-range.

Horses not healthy enough to make the trip are being fed and cared for at a temporary holding facility at Oliver Ranch in Red Rock Canyon.

Hupp said a foal whose mother could no longer care for it has been placed into foster care at a local residence.

None of the captured horses will be returned to the wild.

Officials expected the roundup to last a week to 10 days, after which the herd around Cold Creek will be reduced to about 50 horses.

According to the BLM, the entire 370,000-acre Wheeler Pass Joint Management Area, which includes Cold Creek, can sustainably support no more than 66 wild horses and 35 wild burros.

The BLM removed 234 horses and euthanized 28 during an emergency roundup in the Cold Creek area in 2015.

The Forest Service has set up a webpage with details and daily updates from the current roundup at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/htnf/home/?cid=FSEPRD578852.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Looking to adopt?

Assuming they’re healthy enough, the wild horses now being rounded up near Cold Creek will eventually be offered for adoption.

More information the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro adoption program is available at https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/adoption-and-sales.

I-Team: Critics say deadly wild horse roundup could have been avoided


Photo:  Cold Creek Stallions © Arlene Gawne

SOURCE:  lasvegasnow.com

By George Knapp, Chief investigative reporter


A roundup of wild horses north of Las Vegas has ended, for now. The Bureau of Land Management confirms it gathered 230 Mustangs over the past three weeks in and around Cold Creek.

The government says it took the emergency action in order to save the horses from the ravages of drought. But critics of the BLM say the Cold Creek operation illustrates everything that is wrong with the wild horse program and say it has all but wiped out the last viable horse herd in southern Nevada.

“They want us to believe somehow it’s a humane thing they’re doing for the horses and that we should all feel grateful. I don’t feel grateful at all,” said long-time wild horse advocate Jerry Reynoldson.

In the decades that he’s been fighting on behalf of the mustang herds, Reynoldson has seen this same story play out over and over.

Across the West, millions of acres which were designated by law as habitat for Mustangs have been zeroed out, completely stripped of wild horses. But it’s not entirely empty, he says.

“That’s just been set aside for cattle again, pure and simple.”

Reynoldson and other mustang advocates are heartbroken over the roundup at Cold Creek, but hardly surprised.

In the 20 plus years the I-Team has chronicled the Cold Creek herd, it’s captured some amazing images, many worthy of scenes from a Hollywood movie.

The Cold Creek herd is one of the West’s most iconic, in part, because they’ve always been so accessible. They are beloved by visitors and by nearly all of the residents, many of whom moved to the town to be near the Mustangs.

The BLM asks for public comment whenever it contemplates a roundup. Opposition is usually close to unanimous, but it never impacts the BLM’s decision.

In recent years, the BLM has come to rely on what it deems emergency gathers. Those are roundups carried out with little advance notice and no public comment at all.

Each time BLM staffers say they had no choice but to move in to rescue horses that were in bad shape due to drought conditions.

Reynoldson and others allege the emergency was manufactured.

“This didn’t sneak up on us. People have known these horses were out there for many years” he said. “I think they knew what their game plan was for a long time. They were just waiting for the situation to get dire enough and that’s a terrible remedy and a terrible way to manage.”

If you ask a BLM official what their overall wild horse strategy is, the answer is remarkably similar every time: the horses have to be managed. But the reality, critics say, is that management means only one thing to BLM: roundups.

In the mid 90s, BLM captured the last Mustangs in Red Rock Canyon, a supposedly temporary measure to allow wild grasses to replenish.

Twenty years later, the horses have never been returned.

After roundups, they get shipped off to holding pens where most spend the rest of their lives. In many previous roundups, BLM releases pictures of a few emaciated horses to the public, even though 90 percent of those captured might be in good health.

In Cold Creek, a round up to help emaciated horses ended with 15 percent of them being killed on the spot, for their own good, the agency said.

If BLM wanted to manage the herd at Cold Creek, it could have been pro-active, Reynoldson says, by working with local residents, culling the older sicker horses, instituting birth control, and actual management.

“In the end, they want to get these horses out of here. They want to remove them. Cold Creek was probably the last substantial group of horses in southern Nevada.”

30 wild horses from Cold Creek have now been “euthanized”

The current murder count is now up to 30.  Then the BLM plans to send the survivors to the holding facility at Axtell, Utah (which is flat like a feedlot with no trees and where there is no shelter) for what is expected to be an extremely harsh winter.  The BLM would rather just spend money to completely remove/kill wild horses than to distribute some food and water before the winter snow.  One has to wonder if the water being used for all the solar development has caused more man-made “drought” conditions by using water from shared aquifers and dropping the water table, making less water and forage available for wild horses and wildlife.   Shame on the BLM!  –  Debbie

SOURCE:  lasvegasnow.com

cold_creek_emergency.Par.12448.File.533.300.1  BLM photo

236 Cold Creek wild horses rounded up, 30 euthanized

By Mauricio Marin | mmarin@8newsnow.com, Tim Zeitlow

Thirty horses have been euthanized since the Bureau of Land Management started rounding up wild horses about two weeks ago.

So far, the BLM has captured 236 horses. Officials believe the  animals will die if they’re left to fend for themselves.

The wild horses are from Cold Creek, an area northwest of Las Vegas. Cold Creek is about 6,000 feet above sea level and very dry because it gets little rain. There is not much vegetation for wild horses to eat.

BLM says they’re doing everything they can to protect the horses and some Cold Creek residents are making sure they keep their word.

Over the years, people in the Cold Creek area have looked forward to seeing the wild horses.

BLM crews have rounded up horses they say are malnourished.

“The horses  are just getting hungrier and skinnier,” said Carmen Rhoda, a concerned resident.

She agrees drought conditions have left little food for the horses to eat, but she wants to make sure the BLM only takes horses that need help.

“We’re gathering the horses that might look like they may be in need,” said Jason Lutterman, BLM. “We’re not removing  all the horses in the area.”

BLM officials say 30 horses out of about 230 that have been rounded up were extremely thin and weak so they had to be euthanized.

Rhoda calls the situation heartbreaking.

“They are suffering from malnutrition that affects their internal organs,” she said. “Their kidney’s, heart and everything so I understand maybe they had to put down 28 of them.”

Rhea Little who also lives in Cold Creek feels the BLM could have taken proactive measures to stabilize the population.

“My feeling is if they would have implemented birth control four years ago, the majority of the horses taken today wouldn’t have been born,” Little said.

Now the BLM is looking into ways to keep this from happening again.

“We’re exploring the options in the future of implanting some kind of program or some way to keep the population in balance with what the land can support,” said Lutterman.

Since the roundup, there’s a lot fewer horses near Cold Creek.

Rhoda applauds the BLM for being more humane and using a bait and trap method so the animals wouldn’t get spooked.

“They’re very gentle with them. I have to commend the BLM that in this instance they’ve done a good job,” she said.

The horse advocates have asked the inspector general at the Department of the Interior to investigate this specific gather because of the number of horses the BLM put down.

The BLM has not confirmed whether the roundup is complete.

Once the horses are healthy enough, the BLM will put them up for adoption.

BLM to Decimate Americas most Accessible Wild Horse Herd

By Arlene Gawne – President, America’s Wild Horse Advocates (AWHA) – the Spring Mountain Alliance

“…stable wild horse family groups self-limit birth rates, but roundups destroy the family groups.”

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced a gather of up to 200 wild horses in the Cold Creek area of southern Nevada – about 30 miles west of Las Vegas. They say horses are suffering from extreme drought conditions and lack of forage. Local wild horse observers agree that some wild horses – perhaps up to 70 (but not 200 that the BLM intends to remove) have stopped migrating up to summer forage higher in the mountains until mares, particularly old ones, with foals are either in poor condition or starving.

However wild horse advocates once again disagree vehemently with the BLM as to the cause. They say the lack of forage may never have happened if the BLM and USFS had not delayed for 2 years in permitting trained volunteers to apply reversible birth control to the wild horses in the Spring Mountain range. And – to be fair – if some of the public had not fed Cold Creek wild horses to get close-up photos.

In June 2013, the US Forestry service (USFS) and BLM proposed a management plan based on  roundup and removal of  so-called excess wild horses. America’s Wild Horse Advocates then proposed an alternative management plan near Cold Creek where nearly all mares would be darted painlessly with a  proven contraceptive, PZP, that has significantly reduced birth rates, for example, in buffalo on Catalina Island, in 4 different wild horse areas across the US, in deer populations and even elephants in African parks. The animals were kept in numbers that their habitat could support. More importantly, stable wild horse family groups self-limit birth rates, but roundups destroy the family groups.

This is what local Las Vegas residents have argued for since 2011, even going to Washington to present their plan. At no cost to the taxpayer, local wild horse advocates could have provided the certified darters, the contraceptive and a careful documentation of the results of the PZP plan. Within 5-7 years, the birth rate would have just replaced animals lost to natural causes like mountain lions, lightning strikes and old age (see springmountainalliance.org).

Las Vegas wild horse advocates proposed to disperse water sources across the range so horses would not concentrate near Cold Creek. Dispersed water sources would also benefit deer and elk, the other large mammals near Las Vegas that the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife (NDOW) has tried to reduce in number by increased hunting licenses. But the BLM and US Forestry Service has extended the environmental assessment until January 2016 and, you watch, they may extend it to May 2016. Three years to analyze simple alternative plans?

So why don’t the trained advocates just dart the wild horse mares and build alternative water sources on their own? Because they would violate federal laws that carry heavy fines and even federal sentences.

Why don’t the federal agencies allow reversible PZP on wild horses in our public land in the Spring Mountains? Why indeed?

I-Team: Advocates Fighting Cold Creek Wild Horse Roundups

George Knapp does it again!  We’ll post updates and let you know what you can do to help the advocates in Southern Nevada save these wild horses.” ~ Debbie

Source: 8newnow.com   By George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter – bio | email     By Matt Adams, Chief Photojournalist – email

 “Let nature take its course. I’d rather them die on this land than in captivity.”

COLD CREEK, Nev. — Wild horses and burros living in the Spring Mountains in southern Nevada aren’t likely to remain free much longer.

The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service have proposed a range of alternatives for the local horse herds, but that process almost always ends in roundups.

One of the best known and most accessible herds lives in Cold Creek, 30 minutes north of Las Vegas.

Residents there are passionate about the mustangs that live among them, and Thursday night, they gave the government an earful.

Cold Creek residents know what Charlie Brown feels like every time Lucy snatches away that football.

Seven years ago, they pleaded and argued with the BLM to not take away the mustangs that live in their area. The government promised to listen to their concerns, then promptly went ahead anyway. In fact, in more than 20 years of covering the wild horse story, we can’t think of a single time that public opposition caused the BLM to cancel a roundup.

This time, they’re talking about spending $1 million or so to capture around 400 horses from the Spring Mountains, or maybe not taking any. Residents are pretty sure they know which option will be chosen.

“Wild horses are magnificent,” Cold Creek resident Kathy Valente said. “They helped build this country.”

Added wild horse advocate Robin Warren, “Let nature take its course. I’d rather them die on this land than in captivity.”

Cold Creek resident Kevin Malney said, “I bought land here in 2005 mainly because of the horses. It’s unique, one of the few places in America or the world where wild horses still roam.”

One by one, the residents of Cold Creek and their wild horse allies from Las Vegas unloaded on a panel of Forest Service employees concerning a range of alternatives being considered for the horses and burros of the Spring Mountains.

For many, it was a blast of deja vu. Seven years ago, they turned out to make public comments to the BLM about yet another plan to round up horses. The BLM wouldn’t allow them to speak, but only to submit written comments and questions. Then, as now, opposition to proposed roundups was virtually unanimous and the government promised to keep that in mind when it made a decision. It then quickly ignored the public’s wishes and rounded up as many horses and burros as it could find, terrifying the individual bands with choppers, running them for miles across the desert, sometimes using violence to subdue the beasts. And now, here we are again.

I-Team: Tell me, what’s the point of this?

Cold Creek resident Rhea Little: Because it’s the law. They have to do it.

I-Team: But will it make any difference?

Little: No. I’d be highly surprised.

Cold Creek has learned the hard way to not believe anything the government says about the horses. Just weeks ago, a massive, million dollar study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences for the BLM determined the wild horse program to be an abysmal failure, finding that the BLM does little more than guess about the number of horses, their impact on the range, and concluding the policy of recurrent roundups simply does not work and is more likely counterproductive. But the BLM hasn’t missed a beat and is proceeding with plans for more roundups all over the West, including Cold Creek and the Spring Mountains.

“You have no basis for claiming there are 400 horses here,” wild horse advocate Melissa Ohlsson said. “You don’t have a clue how many horses are here.”

Cold Creek resident Greg Clarke said, “I believe you do this because you have contractors who are part of your organization, former BLM employees, so you spend money on helicopters instead of humane ways to treat horses.”

Wild horse advocate Donna Comidi said, “This is just blowing smoke you-know-where. You think you are appeasing us. You’re not, because we’ve been through this before. Nothing changes.”

Most who live in Cold Creek said the ability to encounter horses in their yards in the morning or to see them in the evening around a water hole is a main reason they live where they do. Some residents get to know each and every horse by sight. During the I-Team’s interview of Little outside Thursday’s meeting, a band of wild horses wandered into the shot, as if on cue, and little recognized them.

“Oh yes, that’s one of the twins,” Little said of the horses. “I know each and every one. Twin sisters, different father.”

Are the numbers accurate? Not even close.

Will the Forest Service and BLM listen to the roundup opponents this time? Is it possible they will skip the roundup altogether? See if you can decipher this:

I-Team: The opposition is unanimous. Does that make any difference?

U.S. Forest Service area manager Randy Swick: It does to me. We need to get a balance of horses and burros and match them to the resources of the range.

If ever there was a chance for the feds to break the mold and do something differently, Cold Creek might be it. There are no cattle ranches competing for the range, just other wildlife, as well as weekend off-roaders who rip through the desert causing more damage than horses ever did. Residents said they would help with reseeding the land, or with contraception programs, or options other than roundups. Is the government listening? Or is Lucy about to yank away the football again?

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