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      Allies at Work


      Near West Wendover, NV
      July 5, 2010

      In June, 2010, the Bureau of Land Management was contacted by the Simplot Land and Livestock Company located in Pilot Valley in northeastern Nevada. During their seasonal operations approximately 175 horses had wandered onto their operation. Their primary concerns were that they operated wells to provide water during their active operations, and that those wells would be unattended and shut down during the ranch's "idle" period.

      In 2009 approximately 40 horses died after wandering onto the Simplot property during the winter when water was plentiful, and became stranded the following summer when Simplot left and their wells stopped producing water. This year Simplot provided BLM with ample notice to remove the horses before seasonal ranch operations ceased.

      BLM arranged for the contractor to trap and remove the horses, as described in BLM to Impound Domestic Estray Horses in Pilot Valley, Mesquite Local News.

      BLM determined that the horses were "estray" (escaped domestic livestock) and turned them over to the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDoA.) Under Nevada state law, estray animals that are not claimed after legal notices are posted become state property and are subject to being disposed of through legally noticed sales.

      A number of horse advocates are concerned that BLM may have been premature in designating these horses as estray. The region has several BLM wild horse herd areas, including the adjacent Toano Wild Horse Herd Area, and nobody appears to have established a credible specific "private" origin for these horses. Advocates argue that even if a rancher in the region was running a large number of horses, it would be unlikely that such a rancher would lose 175 head of horses and it go unnoticed.

      Nonetheless 174 horses were picked up, turned over to the state and are being held at the Fallon Livestock Exchange for a published sale on Saturday, July 10, 2010. At least two of the "kill buyers" are expected to attend.

      Jill Starr of the Lancaster, CA based Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue is leading an effort to acquire these horses. Flanked and funded by allied horse organizations, Lifesavers intends to purchase all the horses at the auction and transport them to a nearby facility that the organization has rented. There the horses will be vaccinated, blood checked, stallions gelded, and all kept in safe custody. The ultimate objective for these horses is to place a few with appropriately qualified adopters who have an interest in keeping a Pilot Valley horse, and then place the remainder in permanent sanctuary.

      In the words of one of the project's organizers, "Our objective right now is to ensure that the horses are safe. After that we can look into the mystery of where they came from."

      More information about these horses and this project will be posted as things develop. The Field Manager for this project is Mike Holmes, who can be contacted at or you can get additional information by visiting the Lifesavers website at the link posted above.

      Continue to Part Two