Thursday, July 21, 2011

(2011.JUL.20) Day One - Triple B Gather


In our role as advocates for better treatment of our wild herds, it often seems like only the mistakes and abuses are talked about. The worst aspects of wild horse management operations do need to be brought to light, AND we should be just as quick to recognize improvements as they occur. 

Today, it must be said that Sun J and BLM did an excellent job in all aspects of their gather operations, and every part of the process was carried out with professionalism and skill.

Sun J pilot, Josh Hellyer, showed marked improvement from his earlier
performances at the Antelope Complex gather, early this past winter.
Throughout the day, Josh held back from the running herds, and at one point, even fell back and allowed them to rest and regroup before continuing into the jute enclosure.

None of the horses entering the trap appeared unduly stressed, and no lather appeared.

We noticed that most of the overhead railings were padded. Our BLM rep explained that the padding had been suggested as a way to reduce neck and head injuries, this small improvement has been incorporated into the standard setup. (One example of how speaking quietly gets better results than screaming epithets.) 
Padded overhead rails are known to reduce injuries significantly.

 A few of the railings were missing pads, and this was also pointed out to the rep.

Situated in a gravel pit, the gravel mounds provided an excellent point of vantage for wranglers.

Today's trap set-up was unique, inthat the trap and sorting corrals were directly connected to short term holding pens. This eliminates one in a series of loading and unloading, as the horses will be taken directly to their destination in Gunnison, UT.  This not only reduces stress on the horses, it is economically advantageous.

The pens were well supplied with fresh water and hay. A water truck from BLM Fire filled troughs, and then encircled the pens with a swath of cooling spray to quell the dust. We noticed that the animals seemed undisturbed by the large truck driving around the pens, while workers on foot were frightening to them. Given that this is a mining area, the horses are used to heavy vehicles rolling through their habitat.

The sorting process was carried out quickly and efficiently, and each group of animals settled down quickly after sorting.
The four-wave gather brought in eight stallions, eight dry mares, two mares with foals, and two heavily pregnant mares, for a total of twenty-two. At the end of the day's gather operations, we were invited to approach the holding pens.  All animals were in very good condition, and no series injuries were observed.
It is gratifying to note that cooperative efforts between advocates and BLM have brought about some improvements in the roundup process. We can be grateful for the horses' sakes. Such progress in dialogue bodes well for continuing efforts to achieve a healthy equine environment, and an end to mass removals of horses from their native ranges.

This is no time to relax our efforts toward achieving transparency  in all phases of wild horse management.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

RANGE REPORT: East Triple B WHA - Elko CO. (2011.JUL.12)

Twelve hours and 200 miles of rough road yielded:
Horses: 2 (Butte Valley)
Deer: 1 (Cherry Creek Canyon)

Antelope: 2 (Butte Valley)
Elk: 0
Cattle: @ 50

Temp: 75-93

The high desert is still relatively green, for mid-July.
Some snow remains on the highest peaks of the Ruby Mountains. Creeks in the higher elevations are slowing, and many of the washes are dry. Grass and vegetation are plentiful in the mountains and foothills.

There are THREE Cherry Springs near the Ruby Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Two of them are located in the Ruby Mountains, south of Shantytown. The northwestern leg of Cherry Springs Canyon falls within the Cherry Springs Wild Horse TERRITORY.

Ruby Mountains Eastern Slope - Elko County, NV

As there is still snow remaining, and plenty of forage visible, I quickly decided that these short canyons would not be the target of my investigation. The OTHER Cherry Springs, according to locals familiar with the area, would be dry, this time of year.

I stopped at the Ruby Lakes NWR information center and asked where a person might see wild horses?

The agent is new on the job, and anxious to be helpful. She doesn't have the answers, and goes into a back office to inquire of a more experienced agent. I hear him telling her that horses won't likely be visible now, as they will have moved up into the high country where it is cooler. He says that there are wild horses to the south, and to the east of the preserve, and that they are not allowed within the boundaries of the area. (A substantial post-and- barbed wire fence encloses the entire reserve.)

The new agent relays precisely what I had overheard. I asked her if she knew whether BLM had been hauling water to horses in the area?

Oh! Yes! She knew first-hand that they have been collecting water from Ruby Lakes (probably from the fish hatchery), and carrying it to somewhere on the eastern side of the valley. She has no idea what road they were taking, or the exact location they were hauling it to.

Friday, July 8, 2011

UPDATE: Cherry Creek Band (2011.JUL.07)

(2011.JUL.07) - Northwestern Steptoe Valley
White Pine County, Nevada

It was raining HARD when I got out there.

The band moved down on the bench and just stood there in the downpour.
I decided to wait for the storm to pass - as they so quickly do in Nevada.
Soon enough, the storm was over, and they started to mill around.

Stallion got a little randy, as one of his young looked on.

Mrs. Mustang wasn't all that enthusiastic, and his advances went nowhere.

 I laughed out loud as I realized the horses were drying each other's backs with their necks. Then they took turns rolling in the dirt and headed down into the flatlands.

Friday, July 1, 2011

(2011.JUN.30) - East Taylor Canyon Band - Cherry Creek MTs

(2011.JUN.30) - East Taylor Canyon Band - Northeastern Cherry Creek Mountains, north of the old Cordano Ranch in western Steptoe Valley.

There are nine members in this band. Two of them resemble the lead mare in another band that roams a few miles to the south, near Goshute Creek.

The littlest foal appears to be a few months old.

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