Wild horse preserve operator Slick Gardner recently saved approximately 500 horses owned by two Western Shoshone Native Americans from being seized by the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) and very likely ending up in slaughterhouses.
An agreement reached by Gardner and sisters Mary and Carrie Dann calls for most of the horses to be relocated from Western Shoshone land in Nevada to the Gardner-Arciero Ranch in California. The others will be sent to a refuge operated by The Fund for Animals in Texas.
The BLM, which claims the horses were trespassing on federal land, had planned to place the animals under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA). The NDA was going to make each of the horses available for purchase by animal welfare organizations for $50 and then auction off any remaining.
"Most of the horses would have ended up being auctioned off to slaughterhouse operators," said animal welfare activist Steve Barth.
"The rescue of these horses firmly opens the path towards the implementation of the Western Shoshone Goodwill Horse Management Program," Western Shoshone National Council Chief Raymond Yowell stated. "The preservation of these herds is especially significant given the unique Shoshone heritage of the horses. The horses have been owned and controlled by Shoshone people for as far back as can be remembered and may in fact constitute their own breed of Indian horses."
"Although the best scenario would have been to leave these horses on their homeland, especially given the good condition of the horses and the potential harm in moving the pregnant mares and new foals, we are thankful to the many individuals and horse groups who have assisted us in finding alternatives to BLM impoundment of these animals," said Julie Ann Fishel, an attorney who represents the Western Shoshone Defense Project.