Wild Horse Education

Sheldon, What Happens Next?

Father watches over his new daughter.

Father watches over his new daughter.

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)  is in the very last days of “zeroing out” the mustang and burro population that lives within their boundaries.

As the helicopter removal phase ends three big questions remain: What happens to the horses and burros removed this year, what happened last year and what are the plans for the stragglers left on the refuge and those that WILL come in off BLM land until the fencing project has been completed?

Our inbox has been flooded with these questions.

A good place to start would be to watch the video put out by KTVL, the only media station to cover the roundup. http://www.ktvl.com/shared/news/top-stories/stories/ktvl_vid_13468.shtml

You can read Sheldon’s page about the removal here: http://www.fws.gov/sheldonhartmtn/sheldon/horseburro.html

Let’s start with last year. WHE did file legal action last year to attempt to address these issues for the last of our American war horses, the Sheldon Mustang. Sheldon did an internal investigation in 2012 and did find that many of our concerns were valid. They told the Judge they “tightened” the requirements and 2013 would prove “different.” Under continued pressure from litigation that remained active, and the Congressional Committee that oversees Sheldon (thank you all for writing your letters), a “stop work order” was issued to J&S Associates (the contractor who did things like give 22 geldings to an “adopter” for breeding and multiple issues such as no telephone numbers present on other applications). A status conference was scheduled for July 1 with the Judge. Prior to the status conference the attorney on the case did drop litigation when he received a copy of the stop work order. At that time no information was confirmed about the current contractors, the plans moving forward, nor the horses from last year. We have continued to attempt to gain the information that all of us are looking for and the next two sections may answer some of those questions.

Removal 2014

Removal 2014

Moving forward with horses or burros on the range. At this juncture we have only speculation, nothing in writing to confirm future plans. We have been told that as Sheldon is literally part of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tri-State Calico Complex that horses or burros moving in off BLM land, will be BLM responsibility. In other words removed as part of a BLM Calico removal or an “off HMA” type situation and go into the BLM adoption program, However this has not been confirmed in writing. We also do not know if Sheldon intends to bring in horseback removal contractors to do “clean up,” (these were utilized on Sheldon until about 2008 as Sheldon used both types of contractors to remove horses and burros from the Refuge). The fence line around Sheldon is incomplete at present and movement will occur until Sheldon is completely cut off.  At this time we can not confirm plans moving forward. It is our sincere hope that the agreement between agencies will offer these horses and burros a consistent “adoption option” through the BLM agreement. This would relieve pressure from the Refuge staff and budget and give the public a consistent adoption option for any horses removed from the refuge (as in truth the vast majority of them will be BLM horses as Sheldon has a minimal population growth rate due to sterilization methods utilized. With the number of horses left on the range only one or two may be born next year from any fertile Sheldon mare still free).

EDITED 8/14 9 PM This phase of the roundup has ended. Moving forward it looks like there will be a waiting period for horses on the range to begin to regroup after this phase. Another operation will be scheduled for September. We will update when we have more information.

Three of the last of the free Sheldon burros

Three of the last of the free Sheldon burros

As the removal operation progresses Sheldon has been confirming contractors and posting information. What the public needs to remember is that this is NOT BLM. Horses and burros ARE NOT adopted out from the holding facility. Sheldon has no infrastructure for an adoption program. Contracts are awarded (people paid under those contracts from $1,100-$1,800, estimates for this year) per animal to house, feed and promote adoption. These contracts are confirmed based on the number of animals to be removed. Sheldon began this operation expecting about 450. The roundup will most likely end at about 100 animals lower than the estimate (we had estimated about 420 left on Sheldon, they said about 480). So this initial phase differential relieves some pressure on contract placement.

We DO NOT have a confirmation date on the shipping of horses to contractors at this time. We expect shipments to begin in about 10 days to two weeks after microchipping (Sheldon horses are NOT branded).

Our Sheldon filly that is in our care with her mom , from last years removal. Kidron was born in holding the day after mom was captured. She is an absolute joy and a living tribute to America's "war horse."

Our Sheldon filly that is in our care with her mom , from last years removal. Kidron was born in holding the day after mom was captured. She is an absolute joy and a living tribute to America’s “war horse.”

At this time Sheldon has confirmed the following contractors and provided public contact information (we hot linked those with either websites or facebook pages):

Carr’s Wild Horse and Burro Center, 4844 Couts-Carr Rd, Cross Plains, Tennessee, 37049, carrsholding@aol.com
Phyllis Strecker, Midland, Texas, dwaynestrecker@yahoo.com, 432-978-0062
Gray Parker, Stanton, Texas, grayparker91@yahoo.com
Tyler Horses, Salem, Utah, tylerhorses@yahoo.com, 801-420-5038

Burros were removed starting July 14 and a few more taken at this current operation. You can adopt a burro from Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue

At this juncture (if the removal operation ends with horses coming in below the expected number) these contractors that have been confirmed will be enough to place each horse with a contractor. These people are the ones to contact to adopt the rare treasure that is now a Sheldon Mustang. This is it… if you want to adopt, have ever dreamed of owning a Sheldon, this is your last chance. Contact one of those listed above.

Sheldon horses awaiting shipment from Virgin Valley holding corrals in 2013

Sheldon horses awaiting shipment from Virgin Valley holding corrals in 2013

With adoptions we always like to remind people that this is a lifetime commitment. These are also not domestic horses. Every wild horse or burro you adopt is different, just like we are. However they will all have one thing in common, they are wild horses that are unfamiliar even with a water trough. Every single experience you have with them will be absolutely new to them… and within that understanding you can build a relationship like no other. A great resource for anyone considering adopting a Sheldon Mustang or burro is the BLM adoption requirement page: http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/whb/files/adoption_requirements.pdf These ARE NOT BLM horses… but they are wild horses and burros.

It is our sincere hope that this year we will all do what we can to land these amazing beings safe. This is the last of our Sheldon Mustangs… we will never have a chance to “do it right” again.


Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction. Join us.

Categories: Wild Horse Education