5 by 7 inches watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
This isn’t unique to wild horses, these sort of conflicts arrive anytime any wild life comes into contact with humans and learns, through no fault of their own, that humans are a source of food.
Here in Virginia we have the same problem with black bears, deer, raccoons and skunks. However, the danger is, as with the wild horses of the Virginia Range, that untamed, un-handled animals are not only dangerous to humans, who mistake them for tame, but the animals are in danger of abuse or injury because they have a false sense of security near the food source.
|Part of Dickie's Harem grazing on |
bunch grass near the Bunny Ranch
Brothel in 2011
In the case of Dickie's Band, part of the year , like many of the Virginia Range Horses, they come down from the mountains in search of food and water. Because of development around his home range near route 50, Dickie and his band were forced to migrate through developed areas. Had the residents of those areas not interfered and not fed the horses , the band would have simply passed through the location and returned to their mountain range.
Mikel Ann Hettrick, a long time resident and wild horse photographer, on the Virginia Range now owns Dickie. Mikel Ann tells his story:
“I was taken with him from the moment I found him up in the hills behind my house. From that time on he was mine in my heart. I have always said I wish I would have put a rope around his neck and had taken him home. I will always regret I did not do that.”
“ He stands at fourteen hands, has a stocky body with attractive pinto markings. He has a N brand on his neck, which means he was captured and relocated by the state of Nevada. That was in 08 and I followed him where ever I could find him. I was there when he got his first pinto mare and when they had their first pinto foal. Over the years his band grew to ten. What happens next goes deep into my emotions."
“The prostitutes at the Bunny Ranch brothel began feeding and watering them. This act was absolute stupidity since there are hundreds of acres of feed. And within half a mile from the brothel there is a large watering hole. The brothel only sits three tenths of a mile from highway 50. By feeding the band they never went back into the hills.”
|Dickie and His Band grazing near|
the road at the Bunny Ranch in 2011
to see larger version.
“In between feedings, the band was often seen foraging along the side of the highway. On one occasion they crossed the highway where one of his mares was killed by an oncoming vehicle. Feeding horses in this environment makes them loose their fear of people and traffic and the brothel still continued to feed. "
“A month later a drunk driver killed Dickie’s first mare, her foal and another mare, because they were grazing alongside highway 50.”
Tomorrow: More of Mikel Ann and Dickie's Story; Complete with intrigue, rescue and a bitter sweet reunion.