.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Wild horse advocates in state call for gentle tactics

-A A +A

The Associated Press

A federal agency’s proposal to use helicopters to gather hundreds of wild horses in northwestern New Mexico has drawn criticism from animal advocates who are urging the government to use gentler tactics.

The Bureau of Land Management office plans to round up more than 270 wild horses off the Jicarilla/Carracas Mesa area near Navajo Dam.

An estimated 405 mustangs now roam the 76,000-acre Jicarilla Wild Horse Territory of Carson National Forest and 32,000 acres of BLM-controlled land in the Carracas Mesa Wild Horse Herd Area.

Range managers say the herd should be much smaller because there’s not enough forage to keep the horses healthy.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the federal agency’s preferred option includes using helicopters, which the agency has used for decades to gather mustangs around the West, despite protests from wild horse advocates.

Over the past few years, the Carson National Forest has rounded up the horses by baiting them with hay and trapping them in hidden corrals, a method the federal agency claims hasn’t been effective in removing enough of the equines from the range.

Wild horse advocates say helicopters frighten the horses and injure more of them during a gather than no-chase methods like bait-and-trap.

Plus, they say there are other choices the agency could use to reduce the herd size, keep it small and reduce the number of mustangs that end up in costly, long-term holding facilities. Restoring the number of mountain lions — the mustangs’ natural predator — is one. Regularly using contraception is another.