Two years after staging one of the largest wild horse rescues in history, vineyard owner Ellie Price has given the rescued mustangs freedom and a new home.
Price, a wildlife advocate and owner of the famous Durell Vineyard, was present to witness the happy end of a long journey.
Price looked on in anticipation as 115 mustangs, rescued in 2010 from a livestock auction in Fallon, Nevada, and housed in leased feedlots ever since, took their first tentative steps towards freedom.
The horses were released into the wild at the new Montgomery Creek Ranch, a 2000-acre wildlife refuge established by Price just outside of Willows, California.
Ranch manager Mike Holmes, who has overseen the care of the horses since their rescue, will reside onsite to ensure the continued health and safety of these and future wild horses and other animals released to the refuge.
Over time, Price plans to work in concert with nearby ranchers and landowners to make Montgomery Creek an agriculturally sustainable and biologically diverse habitat for wild horses and other local wildlife.
“These wonderful horses have brought great joy to my life, and the experience of releasing them into the wild was deeply gratifying,” says Price, who is working closely with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign to raise awareness.
“I have been profoundly inspired by the animal welfare advocates who work on the front lines to promote the use of humane and sustainable practices. I am fortunate to have the resources to save these particular horses, but there is so much more we need to do to protect wild horses and other threatened wildlife.
“That’s why groups like Wild Horse Preservation really need our help.
“While I am grateful that I was able to help these horses, rescue and re-homing is not an ideal or sustainable solution to wild horse management,” Price said.
“That’s why I’m working with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign to encourage the Bureau of Land Management to use birth control vaccines to manage herd populations and keep wild horses in the wild where they belong. It’s the most humane and, in the long run, cost-effective way to manage wild horses on the range – so that both they and we can continue to enjoy their freedom.”