By Dr. Patrick Colletti
As Summer Roundup Is Scheduled, Veteran and Noted Reno Pediatrician Calls Feds’ Treatment of Sheldon Wildlife Refuge Horses a “Disgrace
RENO, NV (July 1, 2014) . . . . When World War I ended, thousands of America’s war horses lay dead on foreign battlefields alongside their human comrades.
Now the descendants of the few that returned home face a new foe. By summer’s end, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) plans to “zero out” all equines roaming the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.
Dr. Patrick Colletti, Reno pediatrician and Vietnam veteran thinks the treatment of descendants of remount and artillery horses is a military disgrace.
“President Wilson freed them from service and sent them to the range, on the now called “Sheldon,” says Colletti, whose great uncle, Francis Cooney of Dayton, Nevada, helped herd the horses to their current range.
“As a gesture of thanks from a grateful nation, President Wilson gave them and their descendants forever freedom, but now the Federal Government wants to remove all of these horses from that range to ‘protect’ it for the antelope and other game animals that have lived there in total balance with the horses for almost a century.
Wild horses on National Wildlife Refuges are not protected by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which only applies to mustangs and burros living on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands.
In September 2013, despite receiving 14,000 faxes and emails from concerned citizens, refuge visitors, and inquiries from Congress, (DOI) turned over an estimated 240 wild horses to a slaughterhouse middleman in Mississippi.
“The managers of this refuge neither care about how the horses got there in the first place or what their fate will be when removed,” says Colletti.
Between 2010 and 2013, Stan Palmer of J&S Associates in Pelahatchie, Mississippi received nearly $1 million (over $1,000 each) to give away horses captured from the refuge. The Interior Department sent 240 horses to Palmer in 2013 despite a DOI investigation that showed wild horses previously sent to Palmer had ended up in the slaughter pipeline.
Colletti says, “It is a disgrace to all veterans that these horses, whose forebears suffered so much and saved so many soldiers’ lives, should be summarily removed from a lifetime home and then probably killed like so much scrap.”
The FWS intends to remove the remaining wild horses via helicopter roundup in August. (The agency will round up the remaining estimated 70 burros in July.) Although the FWS has notified Congress that it cancelled the contract with Palmer/J&S Associates, the agency has yet to announce which contractors it will work with to place the estimated 420 wild horses it intends to round up this summer.