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We want our horses back! —Pahrump group has plans to return wild herd to town

For many in the Pahrump Valley, the horse and burro herds that roam through town are a beloved part of the community. For others, they’re a nuisance.

The Bureau of Land Management recently rounded up more than a dozen well-known horses from a herd in the northern part of town and a herd which regularly visits the Calvada Eye area. The action sparked an outpouring of anger and grief from those who have come to know and love the horses. But these residents are doing more than just lamenting— they are now working to raise money to bring the horses, along with around 100 wild burros, back to the valley. To ensure the herds can maintain their wild ways in safety, the fundraising group is also aiming to have lands designated or even purchased to provide a permanent home.

Priscilla Lane, with Friends of the Wild (Horses and Burros), said her group regularly receives requests from the community for updates on the condition of the recently gathered horses and she was pleased to report they had not been harmed.

“They are in Ridgecrest (Calif.), they are doing fine. There are some pictures on our website if you care to go on there,” Lane stated. “We had about six people go up to Ridgecrest on Friday, they did an exam, they did videos and pictures. They talked with different managers and such up there at the facility. They (the horses) are separated but they are doing well.”

Several others spoke on the contentious issue of roundups, too, all expressing their deep disquiet over the removal of animals that have become so loved over the last few years.

“I am urging you, do not drop the ball on locating land for these horses and burros,” resident Kelly Green told the Nye County Commission during its Aug. 15 meeting. “Anywhere near Pahrump could bring an economic benefit, especially if it became a wild horse sanctuary that would draw tourism in. I also urge you, if it’s at all possible, to pass a law in this county banning future roundups any time of the year when the average daily temperature is in the triple digits… because gathering horses, or any mammal, in that temperature is cruel.”

LeeAnn Larson, one of the locals who made the trip to Ridgecrest to check on the Pahrump-area horses and burros, said the facility to which they had been taken is safe and well-run. However, that does not mean that she and other supporters want to leave the situation as is.

“There are a lot of people who are really concerned about them here in Pahrump — and I mean a lot,” Larson explained. “And I want to assure everybody that we are trying to get them back… Because these horses and burros mean a lot to Pahrump.”

To assist with this goal, a GoFundMe account has been set up by Anne Swanke on behalf of the animals gathered in recent weeks, titled Wild Horses and Burros of Pahrump, NV #FreeFred. The name was derived from one of the horses taken from the valley, a stallion who is widely known as “Fred”.

“Healthy, beautiful wild horses and burros across Nevada are being forcibly taken out of their homes,” Swanke wrote in the fundraiser’s introductory page. “Recently, two herds of horses, as well as over 100 burros who called Pahrump home, were rounded up and taken to the BLM holding in Ridgecrest, Calif. The people of Pahrump would like these horses and burros returned to our community.

“For that to happen, we need assistance with adoption feeds, land, shade structures, feed and transportation fees - before the BLM auctions occur in mid-to-late September,” the introduction continues. “From there, we would like any remaining funds to support their ongoing care. Sixteen to 20 horses, some mares and pregnant, and 100 burros are counting on us… These are special horses that belong to our community. Please help them return home.”

An ambitious fundraising goal of $1 million has been set and as of the morning of Thursday, Aug. 17, roughly $3,300 had been donated. Anyone willing to contribute to the cause is encouraged to donate through the GoFundMe page and/or reach out to the Friends of the Wild (Horses and Burros) on Facebook.

Earlier this month, Bureau of Land Management officials said they gathered and removed 16 wild horses and 115 wild burros in Pahrump earlier this month as part of the agency’s 2023 roundup.

The purpose was in response to concerns of public and animal safety. The horses and burros were crossing state highways and entering private properties, causing damage to fencing, water lines, and vegetation, BLM officials said. The animals were also causing a safety threat to humans.

“The gather was critical to ensuring the health and safety of the animals, as well as humans in the area,” said Nicholas Pay, Pahrump field manager. “Wild horses and burros moving outside the herd management area and into populated, residential areas creates a safety issue not just for the animals, but also the people living in the area.”

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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