Justice for Danns’ horses
A rancher in whose care dozens of horses died and were dumped on public land in Nevada was charged in Santa Barbara County, Calif., last week with nine felony counts, including cruelty to animals and theft.
Santa Barbara rancher Slick Gardner has been under investigation since summer, when the bodies of about 50 horses—including many foals—were discovered in Eureka County, Nev.
In February, employees of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management seized about 500 free-ranging horses—many belonging to Western Shoshone ranching sisters Mary and Carrie Dann. Gardner bought the horses at a BLM auction. Julie Fishel of the Western Shoshone Defense Project said that Gardner initially seemed willing to work with various organizations to make sure the horses ended up in gentling programs or youth programs specifically geared to Indian country.
That didn’t happen. The Dann sisters were outraged when they heard that many of their horses had died, likely from starvation and trampling. Authorities in Nevada brought no charges against Gardner, who contended that the horses were starving on the range—and he was trying to bring them back to health.
Nothing could be further from the truth, Fishel said. She showed video of the horses to prove to Santa Barbara county commissioners that the animals were doing fine before the BLM’s round-up.
Fishel and the Dann sisters say they are relieved that the remaining horses are now in a better place—a wild-horse sanctuary in southern California called the Return to Freedom Ranch.
“It’s all working out,” Fishel says.