CHAPIN TWP, MI — The second of two runaway mustangs has been captured after days spent roving around rural Saginaw County.
Saginaw County Animal Care & Control Director Bonnie Kanicki confirmed the second female horse was contained within a makeshift paddock as of 1:40 pm Thursday, June 23. Neither mustang nor any people involved with their capture were injured during the multiday wrangling effort.
“This was a good end to the capture. Now we have to fill in the ‘now what?’” Kanicki said.
The two mustang mares escaped from a ranch’s enclosure near South Fenmore Road and M-57 in Chapin Township on Sunday, June 19. The next morning, Sheriff William L. Federspiel deployed 13 members of his office’s Mounted Division, or posse, to help corral the wild horses.
For days, the horses continued running free, as deputies and others could not get close enough to them to lasso them or sedate them with a tranquilizer gun, Federspiel said.
On Wednesday, a woman living near Chapin Township Hall, 21481 Peet Road, contacted deputies to tell them the horses had been visiting her property to eat, drink from her pond and roll in dirt. Deputy Dean Boivin erected a small paddock in the woman’s yard and baited it with cracked corn and grain.
Boivin spent the night in a nearby parking lot, waiting for the horses to enter the corral. Early on Thursday morning, one of the horses, a roan, entered the paddock and Boivin closed the gate behind it.
The second horse, a bay, remained near her captive fellow equine, Federspiel said. Eventually, deputies captured her in a second small enclosure they put up near the first.
“They were running free and it was a huge public safety concern of ours,” Federspiel said at a press conference after both horses were captured Thursday. “This is a 1,000-pound animal. If it comes through your windshield, it could kill you.”
He added Chapin Township farmers were getting agitated by the horses trampling and eating their crops. Many neighbors, though, contributed to the containment efforts, as did non-local people who own mustangs.
The horses hailed from Utah and were then shipped by the Bureau of Land Management to Ohio, where local adopters picked them up. They had been in Michigan for about two months before their escape.
Federspiel said the horses will be temporarily housed at the Thomas Township ranch of horseman Bill Thomas, who is not the pair’s adopters and is also a deputy with the Mounted Division. Kanicki said the horses are to be immediately returned to the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the horses.
“This was a pretty amazing, unprecedented incident, with wild horses loose in Saginaw County,” Kanicki said. “Our collective concern was for the life and safety and welfare of Saginaw County residents and also for the concern of the horses. For a mission of this magnitude to be effected over the amount of it days that it was and the resources that were deployed to provide this successful outcome is nothing short of amazing.”
Federspiel and Kanicki both lauded the efforts of the Mounted Division members, praising their dedication for working several days in extreme heat.
Due to the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 that declared such animals “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service are tasked with managing and protecting them.
The Bureau of Land Management manages the animals’ populations, which can grow up to 20% per year otherwise.
“Population control must be implemented to protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals,” the agency writes on its website. “To carry out this mission, the BLM controls herd growth through the application of fertility measures, such as birth control, and through the periodic removals of excess animals and the placement of those animals into private care.”
Kanicki added that once the investigation into the horses’ escape is complete, reports will be sent to the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office for review.
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