Gentry Ranger Tower
Black Canyon Lake
Forest slow to recover from the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire. Prior to the fire this area was covered in beautiful green trees and shrubs.
Lots of cattle grazing in and around the dedicated Heber Wild Horse Territory.
We saw about 10 deer in all. These two were from a group of about 6. Difficult to count them when sitting a good distance away in a truck while some of them were bounding away. These two were some that posed for us giving us that "deer in the headlights" look.
Moving along we came to another bachelor band of three. There are many young bachelors in the Heber Herd at this time do to the fact that for the past few years there were a majority of colts born compared to fillies. This will alter the herd in future years with fewer foals being born as the adult mares age and the number of producing mares declines.
Big bay trying to get the buckskin to play...
Much to the disappointment of the bay, the buckskin wants no part of it.
On FS 300 we came upon a bachelor band of 4. When viable herd numbers are discussed, keep in mind that does not include non producers such as bachelors. Only producers are counted, not horses that are too old or too young or bachelors.
Farther up the road a family band was spotted in among the trees. There were approximately 10 horses in this band. This dun stallion has primitive face markings. A dun with this dark mask is often said to have a "dirty face" which like leg bars is a primitive marking.
His band consisted of horses of several different colors...
And different ages. This little foal has a frosty tail.
Little bay colt.
An older foal.
One of the first things we noticed after turning onto FS Rd 51 were the beehives which we had never seen in this forest before. In this photo two beekeepers were tending to several of the hives. The hives were located in many different places along the 51 and the 300.
The Oversight Hearing on Challenges and Potential Solutions for BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program held by the House Committee on Natural Resources is a sham. For example, one of the "witnesses" giving "testimony" is a veterinarian. On the surface that sounds like a good thing until you find out that veterinarian is JJ Goicoechea, a 4th generation Nevada cattle rancher who is also the Deputy Administrator
State of Nevada Department of Agriculture Sparks, NV . Awards won include the Max Deets Leadership Award from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, NCBA’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference Chairman 2011. Past President Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. Goicoechea tried to make it sound like he cared for the welfare of the horses when in fact it was evident the only thing he cares about is the welfare ranchers.
There is NO overpopulation of horses but these guys don't let the truth get in their way. If the range can't support the few wild horses there are left then it certainly cannot support all the cattle which are many more in number than there are horses.
If the House Committe on Natural Resources truly wanted a fair and unbiased veterinarian who could speak the truth about the status of America's wild horses they would not have chosen a cattle rancher whose "witness" and "testimony" is a clear conflict of interest.
While we might laugh at their apparent typo, their highly exaggerated wild burro counts is no laughing matter. Their inflated numbers are what the BLM uses to justify removing America's wild burros from OUR federal lands.
Paragraph shown here is from the BLM Black Mountain Ecosystem Management Plan and Assessment
April 14, 2016
Barry Imler...Forest Service Rangeland Management Specialist made it clear that the Heber wild horse herd is on the Forest Service hit list.
"Now the hybrid.
This is in Arizona in the Apache Sitgraves national forest.
Since then, we had two large fires down there that removed barriers to migration, holding the forest for horses and created all kinds of high-quality forage.
As a result of that, we have a large number of horses that have migrated, mostly from surrounding reservations, where they are having their own issues as far as too many animals.
We believe we have had some abandoned animals placed out there also.
We also have a court settlement from some prior litigation that's hindering our ability to respond to that situation.
Now, in response to the court settlement, and the ongoing resource issues out there, we're looking at moving forward with the territory management plan.
There's an environmental impact statement planned.
That NEPA analysis through an EIS is probably not going to begin until we finish getting through the forest planning process and get that finalized.
Forest land management plan governs what we can and can't do as far as the territory management plan.
The forest plan is already out on the street, it's been through the appeal -- it has been through the appeal process, in the appeal process right now.
We received appeals and we are working through the process on that.
Once we get through the process, we will have a final decision and then the forest is geared up and ready to move forward with the territory management plan.
A lot of these horses -- well, the area we are looking at is called the Heber wild horse territory.
It's sitting in the middle where a lot of these horses have shown up.
We believe -- at least the forest believes that for quite a few years before the fires, that territory was vacant.
There were no wild horses present.
So part of the analysis for the territory management plan is going to be to determine was it vacant?
Do we have animals -- or do we have animals there covered by the act?
If we do, how are we going to manage them?
You know, what do we have an AML?
How are we going to manage any potentially -- any animals potentially covered by the act?
And how will we manage all the other horses that are out there that are not covered by the act?
This one I'm sure will be controversial.
I'm sure you will hear about it.
It already came up as an appeal issue and why they do the territory plan before the forest management plan."
Here is a statement from our attorneys who are working to protect the Heber Wild Horse Herd:
"In 1971, Congress recognized that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people”. 16 U.S.C. § 1331. Congress, therefore, announced the policy that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected . . . and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public land.” Id. With respect to the Heber Wild Horse Territory, the United States Forest Service (“USFS”) is directed to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses as components of the public lands. See 16 U.S.C. §§ 1333(a); 1332(a)."
"In 2005, the USFS capriciously determined that approximately 300 to 400 horses living and grazing in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest located near Heber, Arizona, were “trespass” horses and that they should be removed. Despite the fact that this area encompassed a federally-protected wild horse territory, the USFS summarily concluded that all the horses in that area migrated from the reservation borders of the White Mountain Apache Indians to avoid the Rodeo-Chediski fires in 2002. A group of local residents and a coalition of horse advocacy groups prevented the USFS from removing the horse through civil action. That efforts involved hundreds of hours of volunteer attorney time to build the case, including interviews of several dozen local residents, pouring through historic writings and old photographs, deposing several current and former representatives of the USFS and private residents regarding the status of the horses and the historic presence of wild horses in the area, and commissioning an expert report showing that the behavioral patterns of the horses in question in fact demonstrate that they are “wild,” as opposed to escaped domestic animals."
"In 2007, this group obtained a court approved stipulation requiring, among other things, that the USFS formally recognized the Heber Wild Horse Territory. The USFS acknowledged that “the Heber Wild Horse Territory still exists and has not been dissolved” and that “wild horses are by law an integral part and component of the natural system of the public lands, as expressed by Congress in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 as amended.” The USFS specifically agreed to work with the public in the “development of a written Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Strategy in accordance with the provisions of the [Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971].” USFS also agreed to conduct an appropriate analysis pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq. (“NEPA”), and finalize Management Plan for the Heber Wild Horse Territory. Moreover, the agreement mandates that the USFS to refrain from gathering or removing any horses from the Heber Wild Horse Territory and associated public lands until the USFS finalizes the Management Plan. Despite agreeing to complete, with public involvement, an analysis and appropriate environmental document pursuant to NEPA and develop a written Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Strategy in accordance with the provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1331 et seq. (“Wild Horses Act”), USFS has yet to do so."
"To further this effort, we have been working to further protect the interests of the horses. This involve a pending appeal of the proposed Land Management Plan for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, as well as coordinating meetings with local and regional representatives of USFS. WE are prepared to assist in the process of developing the much-awaited Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Strategy. Importantly, we have continue to monitor the Heber Wild Horse herd and have successfully prevent any further round-ups by USFS over the last several years."
Anthony W. Merrill
Disclaimer regarding this group, ‘Heber Wild Horses’
We want to make it clear that we are not now, nor have we ever in the past requested or accepted donations or funding for ‘Heber Wild Horses’. We are aware of many wild horse advocacy groups who are raising money but presently we have no need to ask for monetary support. The Heber horses are wild and as such they don’t require supplemental feed or veterinary care, hoof care, etc. That being said, we do ask for your support in helping us to protect and preserve this herd. Please help us to help the Hebers by following our page to keep up to date on any new developments in regards to what Forest Service is planning for the Heber Wild Horse Territory and the horses. Share our information with others to spread awareness of this herd. If you go to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests to see the horses and enjoy the forest in other ways, please keep your eyes open for anything that does not seem to be in the best interest of the horses. You can private message us if you see something that does not seem right. Heber wild horses have been shot in the past and we do not want that to happen again. Many eyes in the forest watching out for the horses is a good thing. And if you photograph the horses, please feel free to share them with us. We love to get and share photos of the Hebers!
Thank you for all your support...past, present, and future!
~Heber Wild Horses~
Michele ~ Mary ~ Nichole ~ Carly