Wild horse roundup plan sparks controversy

By Paul Joncich, KLAS

8 News NOW

LAS VEGAS -- Those who live in Cold Creek know how majestic and friendly southern Nevada's wild horses can be.

But the majority of the wild horses left here are on the schedule to end up in federal holding pens. They are mostly in two spots Cold Creek, which is about 50 minutes north of Las Vegas off highway 95 and the west flank of the mountain just northeast of Pahrump.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to roundup 80 percent of the horses in the winter. One group of wild horse advocates showed up at Thursday's BLM advisory meeting in Las Vegas to oppose the idea.

They think the government is missing a big opportunity, if they go forward with the roundup.

Right now, there are between 500 and 600 horses in the Spring Mountains. This winter the BLM plans to only leave 63 to 93 of them there.

“We have got a phenomenal tourist attraction. And if Las Vegas learned anything in 2008, we need to diversify our tourist draw,” President of the Spring Mountain Alliance Arelene Gawne said.

Gawne wants to gather the horses and put them on birth control, then release them back.

Advocates want the BLM to use them as a potential tourist attraction, creating trail rides and backpack trips for tourists.

“A half-day trip, to see wild horses and burros behaving naturally,” Gawne said.

Members of the Spring Mountain Alliance said people from as far away as Japan and Europe come to see the horses. They think making it an official eco-tourism draw would bring tourists from places like China as well.

The proposed roundup would leave just one horse for every 10,000 acres.

“I have talked with many of the big tourist companies like Pink Jeeps. They will not invest the tens of thousands it will cost to have tour guides etc. unless they know those horses will remain intact on the range naturally,” Gawne said.

In June of last year, wild horse advocates showed up in droves at Cold Creek to tell the government they want the wild horses to stay.

The Spring Mountain Alliance's plan would require the BLM to engage in an experimental management program. It is something billionaire Madelein Pickens has been working on in Elko County for years, taking advantage of wild horse eco-tourism.

But Pickens said the BLM has only thrown up roadblocks. Cold Creek residents and wild horse advocates hope their pleas are not falling on deaf ears.

“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,” wild horse advocate Donna Comidi said during a 2013 interview.

The roundup would cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. For more information, go to springmountainalliance.org/the-state-of-nevadas-wild-horses or blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/wh_b.html

Originally Posted By KLAS