Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dickie,Virginia Range Wild Band Stallion Challenge Painting #401

Dickie, Wild Stallion of the Virginia Range:  "When Civilization Directly affects Wild Horses."

5 by 7 inches watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist
Dickie is alive and well, however, he has quite a story.  This is a story that plays it’s self out  every day every time  wild horses come into contact with humans  near subdivisions  and towns.  You see whenever development is put in the place that cuts across the historic  trails to water or pasture, wild horses will come into contact with humans.

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
Generally, when a wild horse, or any wild animal, becomes what is known as a nuisance animal, It is captured and released  in an area far away from  human  interaction .  Generally, if there is plenty of food and water in the new location the horse will stay put. In the 300,000 plus acres of the Virginia Range there are still plenty of locations to remove horses too. However, sometimes if  there is a food shortage or even an overpopulation of stallions seeking mares, a stallion might migrate back to his old range with his mares seeking relief from hunger and  constant defense of his harem. 

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:

Dickie 2011

“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
Click Image
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment