Monday, December 19, 2011

Wild Horses: Ranchers struggle against variety of forces

It's the rancher's life, moving animals from summer to winter ranges, from one piece of grazing land to another, and using miles of fence and cattle guards to keep them in the right places. Then there are the wild horses. Heads high, at a walk or a run, they go wherever they want. And they can't be moved by anyone but the Bureau of Land Management, which is charged with managing and protecting them. So three dozen mustangs, including one band of nine, are hanging around one of Goicoechea's water sources on the pasture he just cleared. The spring is fed through a pipe system he put in to manage the flow of water on his grazing parcels. If he wanted to, he could cut it off. "They're on water of ours, but I'm not going to chuck the horses off and let 'em die," he says, noting the animals could dehydrate quickly in the heat of day. "The bigger problem is the pipeline. They paw and paw and break the pipe. They love a mud bath." The ranchers' main complaint about the wild horses is simple: They tear up the public land and ruin it for everybody else -- the cattle, wildlife and plant life, and people who want to hunt and play there. Goicoechea had called the BLM to pick up the mustangs, but they're small pickings compared to a major roundup the agency conducted on public land around his northeastern Nevada ranch this past summer...more

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