BLM begins roundup of Dann horses

Elko Daily Free Press Staff Writer

ELKO, NEVADA - 2/7/03-- U.S. Bureau of Land Management set up corrals this morning and began rounding up horses in Pine Valley that belong to Western Shoshone sisters Carrie and Mary Dann.

"The helicopter is up, but there are no horses in the corral yet," BLM spokesman Jo Simpson said at 11:30 a.m. from the Reno state office after talking with people in the field.

The gathering is another segment in the ongoing battle between the Danns and the BLM over land issues, and follows several weeks of warning that gave the Danns time to round up more than 400 horses.

Simpson said BLM decided to start the gathering now because "the Danns were not making good progress in the past few days. There are still 560 horses out there, and foaling season is going to start."

BLM reported last month there were 800 horses on the grazing allotment, but the Danns had already brought some horses in by then, and now has more than 400.

The Danns and supporters planned to be at the corral site where the BLM will be bringing the horses, Julie Fishel of the Western Shoshone Defense Project said this morning.

"We want to observe the animals and see how they are treated," she said from Crescent Valley as the project people and Dann supporters were pinning down the location for the BLM corrals.

"These are Shoshone horses. These horses were handed down," Fishel said.

She said it would be up to the Danns, however, whether they claim the horses the BLM gathers because they would then have to cover the costs of the roundup, and the Danns already have accumulated $3 million in trespass fines.

They have refused to pay grazing fees because they maintain the land belongs to the Western Shoshone and was never given up in the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863.

Simpson said the BLM is rounding up the horses because Danns haven't paid grazing fees and their animals are "imposing on the grazing operations of the five permittees authorized to use the land."

Also, their livestock are degrading the land, Simpson said. "I know, I've been out there," she added.

BLM also rounded up 227 Dann cattle off the same grazing allotment last September. These cattle were impounded and sold.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Dann cause headed for the Dann Ranch in Crescent Valley Wednesday night and today, and the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood is also planning to talk to Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval about the Danns.

Sandoval spokesman Tom Sargent said today the meeting is planned for 10 a.m. Feb. 26, but he also said today that from the state's perspective, "it's BLM land and their jurisdiction."

Dave Schumann, a Douglas County rancher who is with the Committee for Full Statehood, said today that he believes "there is a total lack of due process in this thing," and BLM is essentially stealing the Dann horses because the agency doesn't have court approval for the gathering.

Schumann, Jean Voight, also of Douglas County and O.Q. "Chris" Johnson of Elko are planning the meeting with Sandoval.

Voight said today she believes there Danns were doing a "good faith gathering," and BLM should have let them proceed to gather their horses.

Jackie Holmgren, also with the Committee for Full Statehood, said today as she and her husband, David, headed for this area to help the Danns, that she felt the BLM decided to do the gathering now because the Dann gathering was going so well.

"I don't think they thought we could do it. I think we're doing too good of a job," said Jackie Holmgren, who helped round up Dann cattle with her family.

Simpson said that if the BLM didn't gather the horses now, the agency would have to wait until next August or September for a gathering because of the foals and the summer heat.

"Then we'd have huge numbers again," she said.

Danns said earlier they planned to donate the horses they gathered with the help of their cowboys, Indian volunteer cowboys and sympathetic ranchers to the Western Shoshone National Council to start a horse program for Indians.

The horses they've rounded up are at the Dann Ranch, except for about 75 pregnant mares that were taken to a ranch near Elko.

Meanwhile, horse rescue organizations are standing by to help find homes for the horses BLM gathers, unless the Danns claim them. The Nevada Department of Agriculture put out a plea for help when it learned about the impending roundup.

The horses would be the state's, rather than BLM's, because they aren't considered wild horses.

Jim Connelley of the Division of Livestock Identification said Wednesday afternoon that the acting Agriculture Department director, Don Henderson, has heard from a lot of willing rescuers.

"He's had 1,700 e-mails over the past two months," Connelley said.


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