Wild horse sanctuary proposed north of Gerlach

Cross-posted from Reno Gazette-Journal

Image by Kurt Golgart, BLM

Written by FRANK X MULLEN JR. | May 31, 2010

“A Nevada rancher and a wild horse advocacy group have proposed creating a mustang sanctuary in the desert hills 160 miles north of Reno and have asked the Bureau of Land Management to release 1,700 captive horses into the sanctuary’s care.

“The proposal comes from the nonprofit Return to Freedom, which runs a horse sanctuary near Lompoc, Calif., and the Soldier Meadows Ranch, a resort and cattle operation 65 miles north of Gerlach. The proposed public-private partnership would hold most of the mustangs on 5,200 acres of private, fenced pastures around the Soldier Meadows property.

“BLM officials said they are soliciting suggestions and public comments relating to the development of a new strategy for managing wild horses and burros.

The BLM will consider any proposals from individuals or organizations with ideas on ways that the bureau can more effectively deal with the myriad challenges facing its wild horse and burro program,’ said Tom Gorey, BLM spokesman in Washington, D.C.

“In February, the BLM rounded up 1,922 wild horses north of Gerlach. Most of those animals are being temporarily held in corrals in Fallon and Palomino Valley. They will be transported to other states for long-term holding. About 34,000 wild horses are in federal captivity, costing taxpayers an estimated $35 million this year for care and feeding.” Read full report >>


Interesting quote by Jim Kudrna, owner of the Soldier Meadows Ranch and Resort. He said “if the government approves the sanctuary plan, his cattle operation will be changed to be compatible with a horse sanctuary.” So it can be done. Why can’t, and why won’t, the public welfare ranchers raising cattle on our public lands — set aside for our wild horses and burros — or even the management challenged BLM, do something like it? -Editor

19 thoughts on “Wild horse sanctuary proposed north of Gerlach”

  1. No matter what Mr. Gorey says, the BLM has no desire whatsoever to listen to the American public where the Wild Horse and Burro program (especially the roundup part) is concerned. They only want to hear from the public when it’s time to train and adopt the mustangs.


  2. If Mr. Kudrna isn’t willing to sell, the BLM might threaten to take his ranch by “eminent domain”, arguing the “highest and best use” of the property is for energy transfer and development. Court battles over “eminent domain” are notoriously long, expensive, and most property owners ultimately lose. Many take the initial offer rather than fight it out. With so much profit at stake, the “Godfather” El Paso cadre is bound to “make him an offer he can’t refuse.”


    1. Let’s hope it will not come to that, Linda, and the BLM will seize this opportunity to allow this latest band of rounded up wild horses from Calico to return to open land where they can run free and live out their days peaceably. While being watchful, let us be optimistic, for them.


      1. I always hold positive thoughts and hopes for the wild ones in my mind and heart. Maybe all the “cozy” relationships between government agencies and private entities coming to light have me rattled.

        I hope what’s going on in the Gulf will be a wake-up call to the American people. We shouldn’t have to battle our own government to adhere to its own policies and enforce existing laws to protect our wild lands, the seas, or our wild horses.


  3. I hope that this will move forward. It is better than moving them back East or keeping them in holding pens. Anyone know what the process for approval will be or if there will be outside support and documentation on how the horses adapt?


  4. Brilliant Idea !!!! I would be happy to contribute to this Plan for sure…………….. No more beef for me I will not eat anymore beef !! I didnt eat much anyway !!! To he** with he cattle ranchers and their stinking ground stripping cattle……………….. They will make no money from me or anybody else I know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. If you read the current american herds report from the final EA on ruby pipeline..the BLM is offering and encouraging the pipeline co..to purchase the solder meadows ranch..plans revealed in the WWP lawsuit on the calico complex-the BLM intends to replace the calico horses with cattle on soldiers meadow.


      1. Hope is a rare & precious commodity where Wild Equines and stockmen are concerned; in this instance, I’m hoping for the best first. If this becomes an actuality, then hundreds of Wild Equines will get back on the range, Wild Equines who will be observed by tourists and Advocates alike. It is unlikely this fella, who’s ranch is also a resort, would allow a situation to develop where his income, livliehood and reputation would suffer.
        Whether he’s choosing to provide for the Equines for profit or to stick it to the Ruby conglomeration, I have to give him his chance. He is the one guy who has voiced his willingness to Stand Up.
        It may sound naive, but I simply can’t view Evil in every intent. I have to believe there is some benevolence left out there.


        1. But will the BLM approve this plan, if the man in question is trying to “stick it” to the Ruby P/L folks? Let Kudrna make a buck by all means. I don’t know about you, but I would welcome someone making money from doing something that does not destroy anything or anybody.


          1. Yeah, I’d feel a little better if the BLM were less of a consideration in the whole equasion. But I’m rootin’ for this man. It’s still his ranch. And regardless of other’s opinions of those who advocate, we are not anti-business or anti-profit. We simply appreciate a little responsibility and a lot less suffering.


  6. P.S. I’ve gathered information from the last two the Internet Adoptions, and have some suggestions from an advertising/marketing perspective (my career area) that might prove helpful.

    I’ve also been monitoring the stats on the Mustang Makeovers. The BLM webpage is helpful, but limited. I’d like to get more specifics on what seem to be extremely successful events. From my research, the percentage of adoptions of professionally-trained horses for CONSIDERABLY more than $125 stands at about 98%. Also, I need more accurate info on “live” adoption events.

    My ultimate goal is to get a better handle on the “big picture”.


  7. If this test case is given a chance, it could pave the way for a sea change in the entire BLM WH&BP, but a single experiment over a five-year trial period will only be hope for under 2,ooo wild horses. At the rate the BLM is removing “excess” wild horses, “zeroing out” HMAs, and the ever-present Burns amendment lurking in the background, how many will ACTUALLY be left after 5 years?

    Allowing at least some of the horses out of holding and back on the range would be a show of good faith by the BLM. I’d be willing to bet more ranchers could see potential in this approach, and might be willing to change their operations somewhat and get on board for a broader experiment.

    I applaud Jim Kudrna and Return to Freedom for putting forth a practical idea for a public/private partnership which seems to address many of the goals stated by the BLM. Actually “managing” a large herd in a controlled environment would be preferable to the BLM’s current program of allowing the wild herds to expand over an unreasonable number of years. Removing so many at once, especially with adoptions tanking in this economy, has obviously proved totally unworkable.

    The $350 stipend per horse per year may be a sticking point. I believe that was part of what stalled Madeline Picken’s plan. While it’s less than the $500 dollars I think she wanted, it’s still money from the government. In my opinion, the BLM wants to totally eliminate any financial responsibility for the upkeep of these horses and burros.

    When it comes to change, our government either moves like a herd of turtles or runs frantically in all directions, accomplishing nothing. But to save our wild ones, IT’S GOT TO START SOMEWHERE! This plan may not be perfect, but what is? At least it’s a step in the right direction.


  8. The idea of the sanctuary is good. I would like to know if they are going to leave the horses to live in their family groups. Letting the stallions stay stallions. I can understand to use limited birth control on some mares but not all. I wish more ranchers would offer help in saving our wild horses. There would have to be fencing Without barbed wire. A wildlife friendly fencing. I also think the BLM should let Madeleine Pickens take the horses that are in long term facilities and move them to her 1 million acre sanctuary. She has offered to buy the land herself with no expense to blm.


  9. This seems like a brilliant & feasible solution to the mess the BLM has made with these horses. Leave them in the west, let them live together. Return to Freedom has done a great job managing their wild horses. I support this new play 100%. It never made sense to move the horses to the east. this is the best plan I’ve heard yet.


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