BLM Plan for Sterilization Puts Wild Mares at Risk

“It is a dangerous procedure.  They’re doing it sort of the cheapest way.  Therefore, there’s a potential for basically fatal complications.”

Agree.  See the report posted today by Oregon Public Broadcasting.  Both sides of the debate are presented.  The story did not indicate if a reduction in livestock AUMs was under consideration to alleviate damage attributable to overgrazing.

RELATED: Sterilization Research Proposed for Wild Horses.

Readers Debate Wild Horse Sterilization

Two opinion pieces in the East Oregonian:

How many elements of the wild horse narrative can you find in the response?

AMLs tell you how many animals can inhabit a parcel of land.  They don’t tell you anything about the available resources and how they’re allocated across that land.

The total AML of 26,690, cited in the response, corresponds to HMAs covering 26.7 million acres, for an average population density of one animal per thousand acres on lands managed by the BLM.  (The population density of the Virginia Range, not managed by the BLM, is ten animals per thousand acres.)

The estimated population of 81,951 animals probably corresponds to HMAs and lands outside HMAs, wherever WHB are found, for an unknown number of acres.  You can’t compare 81,951 to 26,690 because the figures don’t have the same land-basis.


Instead of looking at AMLs, we should be looking at pie charts that show how the available resources are allocated among the various consumers (horses, burros, cattle, sheep, antelope, deer, etc).  A chart may indicate that, although the wild horse population of a given area is three times larger than AML, the horses only account for half the available resources.  The situation isn’t as serious as originally portrayed.

UPDATE: Added graphic.

RELATED: Sterilization Research Proposed for Wild Horses.

Wild Horse Narrative

Trailcam image of free-roaming bucks on the Virginia Range.  Probably the last ones, thanks to those damn horses.

  • They’re a non-native species
  • They’re overpopulated
  • They have no natural predators
  • They’re not special (mostly escaped ranch stock)
  • They damage rangelands
  • They’re a threat to wildlife

Livestock are blameless, always.  That’s the wild horse narrative in a nutshell.  You’re supposed to conclude that wild horses are bad for the environment and should be removed.  Removal was the answer all along, but it had to be justified.


Wild Horse Gather Set for Muddy Creek

BLM announced today that 149 horses would be removed from the Muddy Creek HMA in central Utah, beginning in August.  Overpopulation and dry conditions were cited as the reasons for removal.  Fertility control will be applied to the remaining horses to slow population growth.


The news release did not indicate if helicopters would be used for the roundup and if it will be open to public observation.  The presence of livestock on the HMA was not discussed nor the destination of captured animals.

A link for the gather reports and daily stats was not provided.

The Muddy Creek HMA covers 283,400 acres and has an AML of 125, for a target population density of 0.44 animals per thousand acres.  It’s managed for wild horses and burros.

Wild Horse Propaganda

Here’s a presentation about wild horses for a professional communications course at Colorado State University.  Purpose of this post is not to criticize the speaker but to question the content of the speech.  Maybe the student did what he had to do to get a passing grade from his Marxist professor.

Where did he get his information?  From the ranching industry?  Presentation seems to be very one-sided.  Includes the infamous photos from the Cold Creek herd in 2015 and contains several elements of the wild horse narrative.

  • Habitat damage
  • Competition for scarce resources with other native species
  • No natural predators
  • Overpopulation

The talk even mentions climate change, a sure sign the speech was produced by liberals for consumption by liberals.  The discussion beginning at 3:01 blames wild horses for damaging riparian habitats, when it was the fence that caused it, by interfering with the free-roaming nature of these animals and their search for food and water.

Wild Horse Awareness

Posting this video as a guest commentary.  More people are learning about these icons of the American West, and that’s a good thing.  Additional remarks:

  • BLM allows oil and gas exploration and production on public lands, along with timber harvesting and mining, but the greatest threat to WHB comes from the ranching industry
  • The conflict goes back many years
  • Horses and burros removed from public lands are also placed in off-range pastures
  • BLM spends about $50 million annually to care for animals removed from western rangelands
  • BLM tries to place these animals into private hands through adoption and sale
  • PZP is a contraceptive, extended use may lead to sterilization
  • BLM is moving ahead with sterilization research as a potential long-term ‘solution’ to the wild horse ‘problem’

H/T to Laura, a new voice for our wild ones at Gone to the Horses.

BLM Plans Roundup at Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range

This has been in the news for a few days but was not formally acknowledged by the BLM until yesterday.  Bait trapping will be used beginning in late August, to remove up to 60 horses from the Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range near Grand Junction, CO.

Overpopulation was cited as the reason for the gather.  Horses younger than five years of age will be the focus of the operation.


Captured animals will be taken to a BLM facility in Cañon City, CO, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and prepared for adoption.

Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range is one of just three areas in the western U.S. managed primarily for wild horses.  Livestock grazing does not occur there.

The post-gather population density, based on 130 horses remaining and 36,113 acres of land available for grazing, is 3.6 animals per thousand acres, considerably higher than the national average of one animal per thousand acres on BLM-managed lands.  But it’s one of the smaller HMAs managed by the agency.

A page for viewing day-by-day gather statistics has not been created as of today.

See also this report in The Daily Sentinel posted 07/27/18.

Fish Springs Gather On Hold

A spokesperson for the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates said the planned roundup of wild horses on the Pine Nut Mountain Herd Area won’t happen, according to a report published yesterday in Nevada Appeal.

BLM argued there is not enough food and water to support the 78 horses that currently roam there and was preparing to remove all but 26.  The Herd Area covers more than 100,000 acres, which means the post-gather population density would be less than 0.26 animals per thousand acres, almost nothing.

See also this story in Carson Now, posted 07/27/18.

RELATED: One if by Helicopter, Two if by Trap.

Cash and Carry

Refer to this opinion piece posted 07/25/18 in the Elko Daily Free Press about new rules for selling wild horses.

These letters often give the serious reader an opportunity to ferret out elements of the wild horse narrative, like one of those word puzzles.  Not so in this case.  There’s only one, namely, that horses are non-native species.

The government serfs, who fatten their cattle on public lands at fire-sale prices, are delighted that individuals can now purchase up to 25 animals at one time.  It was smart move by the BLM.  The waiting list is long and people have been hanging on the fence for years to just to adopt one or two horses.  There are many WHB enthusiasts that have large ranches and deep pockets, and can easily care for 25, 50, 75 or more horses.

These cattlemen are an entitled bunch.  They see these changes as a step toward ranching utopia, where wild horses and burros have been removed from public rangelands, no longer consuming forage that belongs to them.

In other parts of the country, hard-working farmers and ranchers use their own land to put food on our tables.  We need more of that.

Raise the grazing fee on public rangelands to $25 per AUM.  Or $50 or $75 or more.