BLM dumps Pickens’ horse sanctuary; Coyote breaches Long Island; Wales gets Whales

BLM kills the idea of the NV Pickens sanctuary late on Friday without much explanation. Long Island may no longer be the last place in US without coyotes; one spotted in Queens. Wales hopes fin whale sightings mean whale watching. Georgia hunter gets away with online remote shotguns to kill feral hogs.

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Feds Want to Disappear Half of Outer Banks’ Wild Horses for Birds That Don’t Live There

FWS wants to get rid of half the Outer Banks’ wild horses, claiming they hurt protected birds. But the species in question–eagles and piping plovers–don’t actually live there.

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Is Freedom Free? Calico Wild Horse Roundup Concludes

Early on in the controversial round up of wild horses in the Calico range north of Reno, NV, a black stallion earned the nickname Freedom when he jumped a fence and escaped. It’s unclear if the Bureau of Land Management caught him, but if he made it so far, he’s all set. The Bureau of Land Management says they’re stopping the roundup at 1,922 mustangs instead of the 2,500 they set out to catch. In the process 30 have died.

It’s not because they’ve had a change of heart. They fought a lawsuit to stop the roundup. They’ve fought activists who want to document the gather. It’s just that the horses have moved off the range–as if they’d caught onto what’s going on.

Craig Downer and Elyse Gardner reported on Freedom’s escape on January 2 in Action for Wild Horses: “the captured band stallion, “Freedom,” valiantly fought for and regained his liberty although he had to leave his family of 8 adult mares and 2 colts. Jumping a 6-foot fence and immediately thereafter breaking through a barbed wire fence and injuring himself, this was an awe-inspiring, do-or-die effort demonstrating the loathing of captivity to a wild horse and his need for freedom.”

When I talked with some horse activists at a Madeleine Pickens event last month, they said they’d heard Freedom had been captured but everyone was appealing to set him free again. I haven’t found anyone who knows for sure. I would like to think he made it and somehow

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Are Undescended Horse Testicles Getting in the Way of a Sanctuary?

A big difference in the two leading plans for 33,000 wild horses now held by the federal government is whether mares and geldings may mix. The issue may come down to undescended horse testicles. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s plan wouldn’t let geldings mix with mares, who would also be on birth control. Madeleine Pickens’ plan would let the geldings run free and form normal social groups.

There are plenty of other things that divide the plans–location, price, management–but whether the wild horses get to live in their natural herds is a big sticking point for horse advocates. Suzanne Roy, program director for In Defense of Animals, calls it the “the Sala-Zoo plan.” “Most people can drive half an hour or 10 minutes to see horses,” she says. “These horses are wild in name only.” What makes these horses special is the wild, natural lives they lead, she says.

I asked Madeleine Pickens whether geldings at her proposed Mustang Monument would be able to mix. “They’d be able to roam freely and form bachelor bands,” she said.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey told me this week that they would have to keep the sexes segregated because you “can’t take a chance that the gelding might not have worked. There is always a possibility.”

Say what? I was always amazed when dog people would ask if my obviously neutered male dog Jolly was neutered. The testicles are either intact or removed. Either way, it’s highly visible.

But Gorey referred me to

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The Last Wild Horses in the Bahamas

The Bahamas are down to only six wild horses. Genetic tests show they’re Spanish Barbs who improbably survived for generations in pine forest and scrub.

Then logging companies came–clearing forests, bringing hunting dogs and flushing the horses into view, according to “The road put in by the logging company opened the area up to local hunters. When a child died due to her own misbehavior with a horse, locals tried to slaughter all the horses.  Three were rescued and placed on the [Bahamas Star Farms] and as their numbers grew they were released back into the regenerating forest,” say Milanne Rehor who founded  Wild Horses of Abaco.  Rehor desrcribes herself as a once “horse crazy child,” set out to find them after reading of them in a sailing guide. She eventually found that they were real, but about to disappear. In 1982 there were 35 Abaco horses. In 2005, the Bahaman government claims it shut down Bahamas Star Farms because of a citrus canker; Rehor says the area was clear cut. Now a mysterious illness is killing off the horses. “It has been invaded by Brazilian pepper and Lantana Sage, the latter deadly to animals. The horses know to not eat it, but it became so thick in one forage area that two ingested it by accident and died,” Rehor says. “The area has been closed off and there have been no more loses.”

Here’s the group’s emergency plan. If this rare population is going to survive, they

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Why Assateague is Way Better than Chincoteague

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD, Wild Ponies

Wild ponies live on Assateague, a barrier island divided into a good side (Maryland) and a bad side (Virginia). Oh, Virginia will call you–with bombastic billboards, then the impossibly scenic seaside Chincoteague. But cover your ears and keep driving to Maryland.If you do get lured to Chincoteague you’ll find, alongside the cute cottages, lots of mini golf courses and a shabby pony attraction. Chincoteage residents are such cheapskates that rather than pay taxes like the rest of us for a fire department, they have a volunteer one and the fund it by auctioning off the wild ponies each year. Viriginia is not for dog lovers. On the way to their side of the island, they have a huge sign, no pets allowed, NOT EVEN IN YOUR CAR. The townspeople claimed it was very important rule. “The dogs could hurt the endangered species.” The ponies? Really? And if it’s not the ponies, if this is just another piping plover situation, why all the fuss?Somehow when the ponies walk to the Maryland side, where dogs are allowed in and out of cars, they seem to do just fine. Maryland was very friendly. The ranger told us she’s never been to the island without seeing ponies. Sure enough, we saw ponies right away on the road in. Some were galloping in the bay, others mobbed by tourists on the roadside. Jolly’s reaction? None. Pony reaction to Jolly in the car? None.Maryland even let us take

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