California Riding Magazine • January, 2011

Hope For Calico Mustangs
Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary embarks on largest Mustang rescue in its 13-year history.

As the one-year anniversary of the deadly Calico Mountains roundup fast approaches, Return to Freedom -- the nation's premier wild horse sanctuary, education, conservation organization -- is continuing its groundbreaking rescue of captured Calico mustangs. On Mon., Dec. 13, the group received 73 Calico mares delivered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to temporary quarters in Fallon, NV. It is the largest single rescue of horses that Return to Freedom has undertaken in its 13-year history.   

The mares are "sale authority" horses, meaning that they are older and could be sold for as little as $10 a head or shipped to government holding facilities in the Midwest, where they would never again have the chance to live as wild mustangs in family groups.
Return to Freedom has a different plan for the mustangs: to reunite the mares with 20 wild Calico stallions the group has already rescued.

The goal is to recreate family bands for the horses to allow them to live as natural a life as possible at a spacious natural habitat preserve in Northwestern Nevada.

"We're pleased to offer these elder mares, who along with the stallions carry the wisdom of their herds, a better life and a chance to live in the family social groups that are integral to the life of a wild horse," said Neda DeMayo, Founder and CEO of Return to Freedom.  "Return to Freedom seeks to give something back to these wild horses who lost everything in the BLM roundup nearly one year ago."
The horses were captured between Dec. 28, 2009 and Feb. 4, 2010 in one of the BLM's largest and most controversial helicopter roundups in years. The majority of captured mustangs have been trucked to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest, where maintenance will cost taxpayers an estimated $800,000 per year over the 20-30 year lifespan of the horses.

In addition to creating a preserve on private lands adjacent to and within the Calico Mountains Complex, Return to Freedom is partnering with Soldier Meadows Ranch in proposing a pilot program for on-the-range management of the wild horses in the three BLM Herd Management Areas within and adjacent to the ranch's private lands and public grazing allotment. (California Riding Magazine, August 2010.)

"We are proposing a new direction for the management of wild horses that keeps them on the range and saves millions of tax dollars. This historic partnership with a local rancher expands options for the preservation of natural habitat, wildlife and wild horse herds," said DeMayo. "We are hopeful that the BLM will accept our proposal to create a pilot program to maintain healthy herds on healthy ranges in the historically unique and beautiful Calico Mountains Complex in Nevada."

Return to Freedom Sanctuary, incorporated in 1997, is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America's wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation. RTF has rescued and relocated approximately 1,000 horses over the past decade, and manages intact bands representing various strains of America's wild horse herds at its 310-acre sanctuary in Santa Barbara County.

For the latest on this rescue, visit www.returntofreedom.org.
Article provided by Return to Freedom.