They’re totally rock stars

12 08 2017

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Earlier this week, I visited the BLM state office in Denver (Lakewood). As we walked into the entry way … I was drawn to the photo of mustangs on the wall (naturally, right?!).

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Photos also were on the opposite wall, but the mustangs catch your eye (of course!). (Above: Already out the door is BLM’s Ben Smith, wild horse and burro specialist based in Grand Junction, and holding the door while yours truly geeked out taking photos of a mustang photo is Jim Hyrup, president of Friends of the Mustangs, which is the group that advocates for Little Book Cliffs mustangs near Grand Junction.)

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This is the view of the photo as we walked into the building. It’s the view EVERYONE has as they walk into BLM’s state office!

I stopped to look closer … and was about to ask if anyone recognized the horses … when *I* suddenly did.

I might have gotten a little loud. 🙂

Pictured are Hayden, Jif, Chrome, Two Boots and Rio (now named Legado, owned by an NMA/CO board member). The BLM people didn’t know who took the photo, but it had to have been taken in 2010.

Because our wild beautiful ponies are just that famous. 🙂

In other pretty awesome news, we were there to support friends who advocate and volunteer and partner and collaborate with BLM for the good management of our Colorado mustangs on Colorado’s herd management areas and wild horse range: Sand Wash Basin, Little Book Cliffs, Spring Creek Basin (specifically) and Piceance-East Douglas (coming soon, we hope!). BLM folks, including Laria Lovec (on-range management), Steve Leonard (off-range management) and Ben Smith (wild horse and burro specialist based in Grand Junction), were there to recognize folks including Michelle Sander and Aleta Wolf (with Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and Sand Wash Advocate Team), and Jim Hyrup (president of Friends of the Mustangs).

FOM has been involved with Little Book Cliffs mustangs for more than 30 years and have been using PZP for more than a decade. SWAT and GEMS are about 5 years old, and advocates have been darting in Sand Wash Basin for at least the last three years. We are so happy and proud to support their efforts and call them friends and heroes/heroines for mustangs!

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Left to right: Steve Leonard, Laria Lovec, moi, Michelle Sander, Aleta Wolf, Jim Hyrup and Ben Smith.

Many of our valued volunteers couldn’t attend the meeting, but Stella Trueblood and Connie Wagner (SWAT), Marty Felix and Billie Hutchings (FOM), and Pat and Frank Amthor and Kat Wilder (Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners) are standout folks who spend hours working for our mustangs – and have done so for years and years. Marty earns the longevity award for more than FORTY years with Little Book Cliffs’ mustangs! Pat and Frank Amthor have logged TWENTY years supporting Spring Creek Basin’s mustangs!

In the “coming soon” category, Dona Hilkey and Pam and Tom Nickoles have been visiting, photographing and documenting Piceance-East Douglas’ mustangs for at least 12 years. They’ve been working closely with BLM, and folks are close to forming an advocacy group for that herd (and perhaps casting an umbrella over West Douglas as well). When that happens, it will mean every mustang herd in Colorado will have the support of volunteer advocates!

THANK YOU to every one of our dedicated volunteers!

And THANK YOU to BLM for recognizing and appreciating their work for our Colorado mustangs!

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Celebration in Piceance-East Douglas

11 05 2017

Last weekend, BLM folks from the White River Field Office in Meeker hosted a “celebration” of the mustangs in the Piceance (“pee-antz”)-East Douglas Herd Management Area. An unofficial count of around 40 people made the trip to talk to each other and BLM range specialists and managers, and take tours of this amazing – 190,000-plus acres! – range in northwestern Colorado.

The wildlife in this area of the state is abundant and varied. It also – until recently – had a widespread oil-and-gas presence (still there, just not as widespread). Interestingly, friends say that those workers are among the friendliest they encounter while looking for mustangs, and they’re always happy to point out the locations of horses for my friends to find and photograph. Cattle and sheep ranching also is abundant in the area, and my friends pass on information about livestock and fences to the ranchers via BLM.

During this celebration, three tours were offered throughout the day, and we had the opportunity to speak with people from all backgrounds: oil-and-gas workers, ranchers, mustang advocates, local and not-so-local BLM employees, and others. We all have a stake in preserving Colorado’s public lands and wild places, and the wildlife those lands shelter, so it was a good coming together of people and ideas and planning to see how those interests can merge and move forward for the benefit of all involved.

This wasn’t my first visit to Piceance-East Douglas, and it certainly won’t be the last. BLM does want to conduct a roundup and removal of horses here (population estimate is 400-plus horses). But it also wants to start a PZP program, which would mean that – at that point – all of Colorado’s mustang herds would be managed with scientifically-sound fertility control, enabling more horses to live wild and free on their home ranges.

My friends Tom and Pam Nickoles have been visiting the area since 2006, learning about the mustangs, learning about the area … learning all the intricacies. They work closely with the BLM range specialist and herd manager, Melissa Kindall, as well as a local woman who has been documenting the mustangs for many years, Dona Hilkey. Friends of the Mustangs, the advocacy group that helps BLM with the Little Book Cliffs herd near Grand Junction, also had members present, and they might be able to provide human power and some funding to help establish a local advocacy group for the Piceance-East Douglas mustangs.

Good things are going on in Piceance-East Douglas and all around Colorado!

Not too many photos from this last visit, as I was more interested in looking wide-eyed at everything, but here are a few of the gorgeous mustangs that call Piceance-East Douglas home:

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This handsome guy was with a young grey stallion and an older sorrel mare. This was the only photo I came away with that shows some of the long views available from this herd management area.

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This is the young grey friend of the above stallion, showing the *short* sagebrush. Most of the sage in this region is TALL – as in, jungle-tall. Sometimes it’s hard to see any more of horses (or cows) than their ears. No pix of the mare because – ironically – she was too close for my lens. Most of the Piceance-East Douglas mustangs are extremely wild and wary, which is awesome! But challenging for photos. 🙂

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Case in point: This handsome family was pretty OK to watch us from a distance while we stood at the Jeep, photographing from the road. But when I took a few steps away from the vehicle, to get a better view across/over the sage and other vegetation, that was enough of a trigger for them to bid us farewell.

Young grey stallion by himself in Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area.

This hunky young guy was all alone. We walked out into the sage a short distance (also mindful of ticks!), and he came to investigate …

Young grey stallion by himself in Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area.

… then high-tailed it away from the two clicky ladies. 🙂 Isn’t he magnificent?

Some take-away facts from Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area:

  • The mustangs are gorgeous with a capital G.
  • The region is large. Huge. Ginormous. There are a lot of roads. The roads are in relatively good condition (probably in large part because of the oil-and-gas access), but, as everywhere, beware wet conditions.
  • The scenery is large. Huge. Ginormous. Especially as seen from Cathedral Bluffs – and other places. 🙂
  • The sage is tall and thick, and sometimes it’s hard to see even a few feet beyond the road.
  • What an amazing place to explore!




BLM to round up West Douglas and Piceance-East Douglas mustangs

12 02 2015

BLM is planning roundups in West Douglas Herd Area and Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area, both in northwestern Colorado.

BLM gave just a two-week comment period about these proposed roundups, and the deadline is Saturday – Valentine’s Day.

Read information from the Cloud Foundation – http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/take-action/action-alerts/448-take-action-colorado-wild-horse-herds-in-jeopardy – and American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign – http://act.wildhorsepreservation.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19386 – for more information and to send comment letters.

BLM info: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo/wrfo_wild_horses.html

BLM scoping notice: http://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/co/information/nepa/white_river_field/fy15_scoping_and_comment.Par.11525.File.dat/doiblmcoN0520150023ea_scoping%20doc_1.29.15a.pdf

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BLM seeks comments on Piceance-East Douglas Roundup EA

19 07 2011

Thanks to photographer Pam Nickoles for this heads-up about the environmental assessment now out for comment about the upcoming Piceance-East Douglas roundup scheduled for Sept. 20-30 (just after the one here in Spring Creek Basin, which is set for Sept. 15-18). She has been visiting this herd and has some awesome photos of these beautiful mustangs.

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 and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros 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 Aug. 8, 2011. Comments may be sent via email 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 E. Market St., Meeker, CO 81641. For more information, call James Roberts at (970) 878-3873 or Melissa Kindall at (970) 878-3842.

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I went looking for information about the specific fertility control to be used … “two-year PZP contraceptive vaccine,” according to the EA, but the language seems to mean native PZP and/or PZP-22 interchangeably. (Page 94 of the PDF; Page 85 of the EA document.)

It seems odd that BLM would continue to use PZP-22 given the known timing problems from the HSUS studies in Sand Wash Basin and Cedar Mountains – and the EA acknowledges that it is best given between November and February (though I’ve also heard between December and March, and I think the Spring Creek Basin preliminary roundup EA pegs it at between December and February). This roundup is scheduled immediately after the Spring Creek Basin roundup.

PZP-22 is not “fairly inexpensive”; PZP-22 was about $200 a dose when it was allegedly administered to the Spring Creek Basin mares in 2007. Native PZP, however, is quite inexpensive – less than $30 per dose. Also, PZP-22 can be given “in the field” if that means at the roundup … but not (yet, that I know of) without a roundup – like native PZP can be given. The efficacy percentages are attributed to Dr. Kirkpatrick, who works with native PZP (and percentages are low for native PZP, which has at least an average 90 percent efficacy rate – also, native PZP is effective for one year, so the rest of that would seem to be moot)). Dr. Turner, attributed elsewhere, works with PZP-22.

Just some “hmms” I had when reading that part of the EA. I am not familiar with this herd at all and plan to seek more information from people who know those horses and that area.