Feds target 600 mustangs for removal from burnt range

Three young mares captured in a roundup in the Twin Peaks area in 2010.
Three young mares captured in a roundup in the Twin Peaks area in 2010. © BLM

Federal proposals to remove 600 wild horses from a major herd management area in California because of wildfire damage have been condemned by an advocacy group.

Protest Mustangs says less than half of the vast 798,000-acre Twin Peaks herd area burned in the August wildfire, and more than 400,000 acres of unburned range remained for the horses.

The group also disputes there are 950 horses across the herd area, saying a recent independent count put the number at fewer than 400.

Fire damage is patchy and there remains some forage available for the wild horses and burros in areas affected by the blaze, the group says.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Eagle Lake office in Susanville proposes removing 600 wild horses, plus burros, to allow for range restoration due to the August wildfire. They are claiming that there are currently 950 horses on the entire HMA.

Protect Mustangs says the bureau has failed to consider alternatives such protective fencing, using wild equids to reseed the range or some relocation to the unburned areas.

The proposal signals the end of California’s last viable herd, it says.

The California-based preservation group is planning a protest in San Francisco against the roundup, with the date to be announced soon.

“Americans value California’s treasured herd of native wild horses, with cavalry remount influences, known as the Twin Peaks horses,” says Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs.

“These mustangs are survivors and play an essential role in creating biodiversity. Native horses heal the land after wildfires and from livestock over-grazing. This ultimately benefits livestock, too.”

The group says native wild horses have survived in nature for hundreds of years and do not need to be rescued after a wildfire when there is forage and water out there.

“If they need extra forage or water then the BLM can bring them forage – it’s much cheaper than rounding them up and warehousing them in the Midwest, where they risk being sold to a slaughter middle man someday.

“If the land needs healing after the fire then engage the latest science to use native wild horses to help heal the land and reverse desertification.”

The group has also released a statement from Craig Downer, a wildlife biologist and wild horse and burro expert, explaining how wild horses could help in reseeding the land.

Novak said: “It’s time the BLM used good science and cut down on invasive techniques that cause global warming. Wild horses and burros can heal the range after the wildfire so let them do it.”


Downer’s statement read: “The wild horses would be the perfect restorers of an ecosystem after an extensive fire, since they would disperse many intact seeds in their feces which would form well-fertilized bed for their germination. The feces of the wild horses more greatly feeds the ecosystem and creates the vital humus component of the soils to a greater degree than is the case with most ruminants, such as cows, sheep, and deer. Also, after passing through the post-gastric digestive tract of horses and burros, many seeds are perfectly conditioned for germination, as they have their coats made softer and more penetrable by the tender shoots. Many of these same seeds are killed after passing through a ruminant’s digestive tract. In the Twin Peaks, the wild horses and burros would be the perfect, for natural, agents for ecosystem restoration for the above reasons and also because of their great mobility. They do not camp on wet meadows and around and in water sources as do cattle, for example. Also most of the Twin Peaks HMA ecosystem did not burn and the wild horses and burros who survived the fire could subsist here then go reoccupying the recently burned areas as they are restored, all the while aiding in this process.”



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3 thoughts on “Feds target 600 mustangs for removal from burnt range

  • November 9, 2012 at 4:46 am

    There is only one genetically viable wild horse herd left in California. They are in the crosshairs of BLM unrelenting harvesting machine wasting taxpayer dollars, violating their mandate to protect and preserve these American Icons. PLEASE STEP IN AND STOP THIS FINAL BLOW TO THE LAST FEW WILD HORSES/BURROS ON OUR PUBLIC LANDS.
    BLM claims there are 900 on 800,000 acres in Twin Peaks HMA but a recent independent aerial survey estimates less than 400. Here’s a link to areal survey report: https://www.box.com/s/48ogye7nt7so06seux4k
    BLM will also claim “lack of forage” due to wildfires, survey also proves this is malarkey.
    Also this HMA has already been decimated by roundups several times in recent years. Another roundup assault on this herd will be total eradication and violates Public Law 92-195.
    Fossil evidence proves that horses are native species to N. America, they have a vital role in the ecosystem. They will restore burned areas by propagating seeds (cows fully digest seeds and therefore do not propagate), consume dry brush thereby reducing wildfire fuel, not to mention the ecotourism possibilities to view these magnificent animals in their native habitat displaying “wild horse” behavior!
    I urge you to step up in the name of JUSTICE and defend the last viable herd in California.
    Lisa Norman
    Taxpayer/US Citizen
    cc: Governor Jerry Brown

    • November 10, 2012 at 7:51 am

      I echo your call to Government, Lisa !

  • July 13, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I totally agree with what your saying . Something needs to be done and soon!


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