Sheldon NWR Prepares to Remove Horses, Advocates Prepare Litigation

Leigh_001(Winnemucca, NV) On August 30th, Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge was sent a letter on behalf of Bonnie Kohleriter, a private individual, and Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education, attempting to address serious issues concerning the Refuge’s plan to remove 412 wild horses starting September 9th. The letter, sent by legal council, addresses lack of transparency and the refuge’s conduct in failing to adequately protect wild horses from slaughter. The letter suggests the issues could be resolved, however filing litigation is pending.

“Sheldon has a sordid history” stated Leigh “hidden removals, horrific images of foals hog-tied and left in the desert to die, Sheldon horses found in kill pens right off their chosen contractors trucks and when horses leave Sheldon so many remain unaccounted for to this day.”

Horses living within the boundaries of the refuge are considered “feral”  and the plan is to remove the entire population of less than 900 horses over the next five years. In 2010, while litigation was active that addressed Sheldon’s failure to protect horses that are removed, Sheldon joined into a partnership with BLM in the “Tri-State Calico Complex.” Representing Sheldon at the time Paul Steblien claimed this was to appropriately manage horses across the landscape and provide additional resources for placement. The only change that has occurred since that time of any significance is that Sheldon has decided to remove all of the horses.

“I have been following specific horses that left the state after the removals last year,” stated Kohleriter “after finding that horses disappeared and were not cared for I started trying to work with Sheldon to find alternatives. What I thought was going to be a productive talk broke down when Sheldon apparently got additional funding and increased the number of horses to be removed this year. I am extremely frustrated and dismayed. Why is increasing the number of horses removed this year more important than their safety?”

One of the chosen contractors can not account for placement of all of the horses they have received, at considerable tax payer expense, over the last three years. It appears that Sheldon NWR is preparing to ship horses to J&S again this year.

Sheldon has a history of hiding operations. Observation opportunities have been non-existent or limited to one or two runs an entire operation. In recent years Sheldon has failed to notify the public of removals and avoided answering questions about observation until removals are completed. It appears that burros were removed this year without a simple press release.

sheldon03Horses residing in Sheldon are primarily descendants of cavalry remounts that served our country as late as the World Wars, that the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burros Act failed to protect when Sheldon received an exemption.

Wild Horse Education has had observers out in Sheldon NWR and although the animals appear in very good condition there is a disturbing lack of 2013 foals. Sheldon has done experimental permanent sterilization on the herds for years that range from vasectomies and hysterectomies through the rectum with no follow up on the effects to animal or herd health.

~~~ is a Nevada non-profit devoted to gaining protection for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.

Please consider making a donation to help us cover costs.