Wild Horse Education

Sheldon: The Final Chapter?

9/11/2013 Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

9/11/2013 Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

“The first day of operations were postponed. It is unclear at this time if operations will begin tomorrow as significant weather has moved into the area bringing a possibility of lightening,” reads the first line in the observation log for the final removal of Sheldon mustangs.

Sheldon is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of their national system of wildlife refuges. Sheldon has no “multiple use” mandate like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There are no domestic livestock permittees, no drill pads for gas or oil. Sheldon is the last example of an intact Great Basin eco-system in the west. Even though mustangs and burros inhabited the area long before Sheldon was established in 1931, and horses and burros are manageable to the extent that the eco-system remains intact, those that manage the refuge created a plan to remove all horses and burros because they consider them “non-native” and destructive to the preservation mission of the refuge.

One of the last free Sheldon Mustangs

One of the last free Sheldon Mustangs

The Sheldon mustangs played a significant documented role as cavalry remounts in WWI and into WWII. The horses in the area were also used by the military prior to this time but not as clearly documented. Even this contribution to the history of the state and country does not carry enough importance to have these herds protected in the wild for future generations to know and appreciate.

As Sheldon is not managed by the BLM, nor Forest Service (USFS), these horses were not afforded protection under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. In the past Sheldon Mustangs have been removed without public notice, experimented on (vasectomies, hysterectomies, and even hysterectomies performed through the rectum) and sent to slaughter middle men.

Included in Declaration presented to court "The foal with the two hind socks was very lethargic the day we were there and even fell from weakness. It was so weak in fact when it fell, Mr. Palmer reached down and picked it up by its tail. A wild horse would not let a human get that close to it unless it didn't have the strength to flee. The foal with the white patch on it had to be euthanized. It had a swollen front right when we got it. We gave it several weeks of treatment hoping to save it but after having it x-rayed, it had already developed into ring bone."

Included in Declaration presented to court “The foal with the two hind socks was very lethargic the day we were there and even fell from weakness. It was so weak in fact when it fell, Mr. Palmer reached down and picked it up by its tail. A wild horse would not let a human get that close to it unless it didn’t have the strength to flee. The foal with the white patch on it had to be euthanized. It had a swollen front right when we got it. We gave it several weeks of treatment hoping to save it but after having it x-rayed, it had already developed into ring bone.”

It has been a long fight to try to gain protection for this significant piece of our American history. We have written multiple articles over the years and have filed litigation on differing occasions. https://wildhorseeducation.org//?s=Sheldon The latest case (and pressure from public and Congress) brought the “stop work order” to J&S Associates, a notorious contractor that demonstrated multiple instances of a lack of care and carelessness as he gave away mustangs to those that shipped to slaughter. This year Sheldon has found new contractors, but has yet to make a formal announcement as to who they are and has not yet formally announced a plan in moving forward as wild horses WILL move onto the refuge from BLM land (nor have they provided a public accounting of the horses that went to J&S in 2013). We are still working on getting that information.

Wild Horse Education is devoted to several additional projects as the roundup commences. We have created a website devoted to preserving the legacy of the Sheldon Mustangs and burros that will undergo significant reconstruction soon. We are working on a short documentary, to keep the legacy and lessons of Sheldon, alive and available to the public.

Yet the project most near and dear to us is our attempt to give the smallest of the babies and their moms a safe place to land. We are working with the contractor that is to receive mares and foals. We will take the smallest and most vulnerable to save them a long trailer ride that might further traumatize their young bodies.

Rosie and Kidron in holding at Sheldon during the only observation day allowed. WHE was the only observer present.

Rosie and Kidron in holding at Sheldon during the only observation day allowed. WHE was the only observer present.

The stories of the Sheldon foals has been particularly haunting. From the images of foals allegedly hog tied in the desert that died  in 2006 to the need to rescue foals from J&S in 2012 where poor “Apatchy” was already so far gone he needed to be euthanized.

Last year two babies were born in holding shortly after their moms were captured. We stepped up to take them. Yet before they could be transferred one of the mares broke her neck and her baby sent by Sheldon into “foster” and was never seen by the public. The other mare and foal came to us. Rosie and her baby Kidron have been a constant inspiration to the drive to make sure this legacy is never forgotten… and to bring the smallest and most vulnerable into our care.

Kidron today

Kidron today

“This roundup creates so many emotions it feels like standing on a beach as wave after wave crashes on the shore,” said Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education, “but right now it’s not time to let them wash over us. Right now it’s time to document so that our country never forgets the Sheldon and to stand ready to provide whatever hands on care required to see at least a handful of the Sheldon babies and moms find loving hands and a safe future.”

Wild Horse Education will update daily on the Situation at Sheldon as it evolves and we truly pray that at this juncture the sad historic legacy of the Sheldon can change for the horses and burros removed this year.

To learn about our effort for Sheldon mares and foals and to help Please go here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/special-project-sheldon-mares-and-foals/ We have initial hay and a couple of shelters arriving but need to have supplements, etc. If we can gather enough funds we will expand the effort to more mares and their foals. Thank you in advance as we are really busy at the removal, working with media and public speaking (to gain awareness) and readying for the arrival of the babes and moms… as well as documenting the removal operation.

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Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for our American wild horses and burros. http://WildHorseEducation.org

 

 

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