By Sage Leehy, Reno News and Review
“The horses were about a quarter mile away from where the trap site was,” said Annie Jantzen, photographer and coordinator of the Deer Run Wild Horse Protection Group. “A BLM [Bureau of Land Management] worker brought a bucket of grain and lured them to the trap. They just followed them. It wasn’t even hard to catch them. These are the horses that the BLM say are a safety risk.”
Although wild horse advocates call it a trap, BLM calls this process a “gather” and follows standardized methods, according to a gather process document on the BLM website.
“Section 9 of the of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act requires that a public hearing be held prior to the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles,” reads the document. “Hearings are held annually.”
This gather or trap occurred about three weeks ago in Carson City. This herd, including three pregnant mares close to delivery, has resided in the area for more than 40 years, according to Jantzen.
Jantzen, along with the Deer Run Wild Horse Protection Group, has been working around the clock and with nationally recognized organizations to try to get these wild horses back on the range. The BLM told the group they had two weeks to come up with a proposal that responded to the complaints.
“It was just lip service,” Jantzen said. “We offered to do fences. We offered to do birth control. A citizen coalition to monitor the herd and investigate complaints was also part of the proposal. They rejected it cold.”
According to Jantzen, these wild horses are loved by the community, and the BLM gave no warning. Residents were outraged when they woke to find that half of the herd was gone.
Jantzen has been working on a photography book of wild horses with this particular herd for about a year and says they are “extremely gentle and practically tame.” She said that when you bring your children to them, the horses show you their own.
The documentation of complaints against the herd that BLM gave to the protection group included car strikes—car and horse collisions—that happened in other locations in Northern Nevada, and all of the complaints were about a stallion that was removed from the area about a year ago, according to Jantzen.
One concern some have about gathers or traps is that the horses may be traumatized by the process or by the act of splitting up a herd or family. According to a gather process document on the BLM website, the wild horses are scared during the gather activities, but they do adjust and adapt to their new environment and to human presence. It also states that “most, if not all, impacts disappear within hours to several days of release.”
Jantzen said one of the largest issues in this situation is that the BLM will not work with the community. She also claims that the BLM currently has no one to investigate the validity of the complaints made against the wild horses. Spokespeople for the BLM did not return calls for comment.
“Every citizen should be scared to death that an agency, like the BLM, can come in and do whatever they want to do no matter how it affects this community,” Jantzen said. “These horses were a part of this community.”