Photo Of The Week – 9/22/11

September 22, 2011

An attentive Piceance Creek HMA band (Summer, 2011).

I spent a good deal of time with these horses this year; learning about them, their families and the area they call home. As I post this, there is a roundup underway in this HMA. How many of these gorgeous horses, these inquisitive faces, these peaceful souls will lose their home forever? Such a loss for all of us. I will just never understand or accept this method of management.

I will miss every horse removed that I had the privilege of spending a little bit of time with…

There is a recorded information line updated daily about where and when to meet to view the daily gather operations if you can attend: 970-878-3837.

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.

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El Mariachi is from White Mountain - this mare shares his coloring...

On our way home from vacation, we stopped by the Rock Springs, WY holding facility to view the Mustangs from the recent White Mountain/Little Colorado roundup. I didn’t have the opportunity to take photos from anywhere but the public viewing area so many of the horses can’t even be seen, but I’ve posted an album of some that are available. It’s my hope that folks will share this album which may result in a home for at least one of these beautiful horses.

The link to the Facebook album is: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2092842237525.2103286.1139356307&l=32b7abf0ab&type=1

Thank you!

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Losing His Family

September 2, 2011

There’s a certain Piceance Creek stallion that has been my favorite for several years now. On our first trip to this HMA, he and his mare along with their new foal were the only horses we spotted the entire day. So, as you can probably imagine, he made quite an impression on me.

This was taken back in 2006. He's younger and darker, but the same handsome boy. I refer to him as "Handsome," but it's not really a name, just an observation. 🙂

In May of 2010, I came across this stallion (and the same mare) again and wrote about it here:
The Newborn: http://wp.me/pqR49-1By

And there was a follow-up story about them here:
Fate Of The Newborn: http://wp.me/pqR49-1VT

Is this not one handsome stallion? (2010)

Our first trip out to Piceance Creek this year was in March (Day Onehttp://wp.me/pqR49-2b5 and Day Two: http://wp.me/pqR49-2dv). Though we spent two days driving around, I couldn’t find the Handsome gray stallion and his family. It had been a pretty severe winter so of course I was worried about how they had fared.

It was the end of May before we could get out to the range again. We drove to the “pasture” area where many horses are known to frequent – Handsome’s band included. Again, he was nowhere to be found. We drove very slowly to the west and finally, I saw something in the tall brush.

It was Handsome, but something was definitely amiss. Right away I noticed his torn right ear. I had to get a closer look. I got out and picked my way through the thick growth towards him.

I could now see that he’d been through quite a battle. He stared at me briefly and then slowly turned and limped away. Oh no I thought – he’s lame too. My stomach hurt seeing him like this. I wondered how long ago it had happened. And what had become of his family?

He didn’t venture far from me. It was pretty evident that movement caused him pain. I backed off and walked around a corner. To my relief, I saw two familiar faces.

A very pregnant roan mare with her yearling filly.

But that was the extent of the members of his family. What had happened to all the rest? Had they been won by another stallion? Obviously, Handsome had put up quite a fight trying to keep them. It was hard to believe that Pretty Mare (from “The Newborn” post) was no longer with this boy. I know it’s natural, but changes can also be hard to accept. I felt genuine sorrow for Handsome’s loss.

I stayed with this diminished family for about 20 minutes before they started to move away. That was my cue to end the visit. Handsome had chosen this secluded spot to try to recover and I didn’t want to push him away from it. I wished the family well and left.

Tom and I were pretty quiet as we continued to drive west. Just a few miles down the road, some of my questions were answered.

Handsome's stolen family

And here is the stallion that had managed to steal them away from Handsome

I didn’t recognize this boy. I could see that he had taken a few licks from Handsome. I’m sure it had been a hard-won victory. I wondered how old this stallion was (I’m guessing that Handsome is 10+ years old). Was he younger and stronger than the aging, gray band stallion? Was this the black’s first family? The questions made me wish I could be up there every day to follow the stories of these horses and know more of the answers.

Pretty mare (on the left) with this year's foal

And shortly after we arrived, the black stallion bred Pretty Mare. It's good for genetic diversity I told myself with a twinge of sadness.

Pretty Mare appeared to like the new protector.

The black stallion had had enough of us and snaked his new family away. I haven't seen any of these horses again.

The weekend of June 4th, we went back to Piceance Creek. Anxious to see about Handsome, we drove to the “pasture.” This time, he was there. A good thing. That meant he was feeling stronger as there are several bands that live in the area year round and he would have to be up to a challenge to keep what remained of his family.

He was healing, but still lame. And, he was being dogged by a bay stallion who was also lame. Despite their conditions, the quest to gain and retain a family continued.

He looked better and he still had the two girls.

June 19th – a surprise on this trip out.

The roan mare has a new filly by her side. 🙂

Big sister keeps an eye on me while the little one enjoys a roll in the grass.

The bay stallion is still dogging Handsome and his family.

Both still have lameness issues, but Handsome is moving more freely than the last time I saw him. Yay!

Moving his family away from the bay stallion.

The wounds are healing

On August 6th and 7th, we were back on the range, but both days we rode with the BLM. I took more notes than photos since they were taking the time to show us around the boundaries and answer some of my many questions. I did see Handsome and his family from a distance. He and the three girls were still together.

August 19th: My Mom, Tom and our friend Jim Westin have joined us – first time for my Mom in almost two years. We had just dropped down from the beautiful Cathedral Bluffs area and were driving down 24X Road. There to my left, a group of horses. We found a two-track and managed to get close enough that Mom could see the group well. It took me a second, because I’d never seen him this far to the northwest of the pasture, but I realize it’s Handsome and his family. Woo Hoo! Mom and Jim get to see my favorite stallion.

He looks great!

They didn’t run from us, so I don’t know if he’s still lame or not, but typical of a Mustang, it appears he’s made a nice recovery.

August 20th: Parting shots.

This would be my last opportunity to see this boy before the scheduled roundup at the end of the month. The wounds have healed and he’s managed to keep part of his family, but he may still be lame. When the helicopter comes, he’ll be forced to run and he’ll most certainly lose his girls. Any one of them may be injured as they’re run to the trap site, sorted and/or transported.

Some change I can learn to accept, but what lies ahead for this boy and the other horses of this HMA will never make sense to me. Yes, the horses need to be managed, but there is a much better and more humane way to achieve the goal – grounding the helicopters should be at the top of the list.

I have to hope that I have not seen the last of this incredible stallion on his home range…

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.

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Copied from the BLM website:

July 7, 2011

Contact: Tom Alvarez, Public Affairs Specialist, (970) 244-3097

Environmental Assessment for Piceance-East Douglas Wild Horse Gather Available for Public Comment

Meeker, Colo. — The Bureau of Land Management, Northwest District, White River Field Office (WRFO) is releasing a preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather Plan for public review and comment. The gather is needed to help balance wild horse populations with other resources, restrict wild horses from areas where they were not “presently found” at the passage of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act and to manage wild horses within the area designated for long-term wild horse management.

The WRFO manages wild horses within the 190,130 acre Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (HMA), located in Rio Blanco County, Colorado. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) in the HMA is 135-235 wild horses. The Proposed Action analyzes the impacts of gathering the current estimated population of 382 wild horses from inside and 78 wild horses from outside the HMA; to implement fertility control, sex ratio adjustments, and a selective removal of excess wild horses. If the Proposed Action is fully successful, the HMA will consist of approximately 135 wild horses; the lower range of the appropriate management level of 135 to 235 wild horses. The BLM would select the 135 wild horses to maintain a diverse age structure, herd character, body type (conformation) and implement a sex ratio adjustment of 60 percent studs to 40 percent mares. All mares, over two years of age, released back to the HMA would be treated with Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) immunocontraception (fertility) drugs. In addition, the BLM has fully analyzed three additional alternatives to the Proposed Action to address issues and concerns brought forward during the initial scoping process.

“The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with managing our rangelands for a variety of uses. Providing management for a healthy wild horse herd within the HMA so the thriving natural ecological balance is maintained for all plant and animal species on that range, in conjunction with all other resource uses, it is one of our most important responsibilities to the American public and public land users. The public’s participation in this analysis process is vital to the decision making process,” said Kent Walter, Field Manager for the White River Field Office.

The gather EA can be found on the BLM WRFO website at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo/piceance_-_east_douglas.html, and selecting Preliminary Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-CO-110-2011-0058-EA. All comments must be submitted in writing and received by the WRFO by the close of business on August 8, 2011. Comments may be sent via e-mail to mkindall@blm.gov with “Wild Horse Removal Plan” in the subject line of the email. Comments can also be sent by regular mail to the Bureau of Land Management, White River Field Office: attention Melissa Kindall, 220 East Market Street, Meeker, CO. 81641. For additional questions or information please contact James Roberts at 970-878-3873 or Melissa Kindall at 970-878-3842.

****************************************************

Please send in your comments – thank you.

Small Piceance Creek/East Douglas HMA band (June, 2011)

Click on the image for a larger/sharper view

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.

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Click on the image for a larger/sharper view

An adorable Mustang colt from the White Mountain HMA in Wyoming. If the current Record of Decision stands for the White Mountain and Little Colorado HMA’s, seeing young ones like this on these ranges will be all but a memory.

The BLM has chosen Alternative D. Spay the mares and geld the stallions to create non-producing wild horse herds. I just can’t wrap my head around it. And doing it in the field?! Beyond dangerous and inhumane. Please share the information, make the calls and send the e-mails. This is truly a disastrous plan for our wild ones.

The BLM’s Record of Decision from the Rock Springs, Wyoming field office regarding the White Mountain and Little Colorado HMA’s can be read here:

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wy/information/NEPA/rsfodocs/whitemtn-wind/rev-ea.Par.54148.File.dat/DR.pdf

Details and contact information (courtesy of Carol Walker) to voice your concerns and/or attend the planned meeting (a statewide hearing on the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles in the management of wild horses on June 21 at 5:30 at the BLM office in Rock Springs):

http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/news_room/2011/may/18hdd-helicopter.html

Wyoming State Wild Horse Specialist Amy Ruhs, 307-352-0375,

Rock Springs Wild Horse Specialist Jay D’Ewart, 307-352-0331

High Desert District Manager: John Ruhs, 307-352-0256

Wyoming State Director: Don Simpson, 307-775-6256.

And don’t forget about your elected officials! Let them hear from you as well. Contact information below:

https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

The Environmental Assessment (EA) can be read in its entirety here:

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wy/information/NEPA/rsfodocs/whitemtn_littlecolo.Par.10791.File.dat/2011_ea.pdf

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share the story via the link, but please respect my copyright.

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Wild horse prints, DVDs, totes, cards, apparel and more: www.NickolesPhotography.com

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