Two opinion pieces in the East Oregonian:
- Original: Don’t Permanently Sterilize Wild Horses, 07-20-18
- Response: Sterilizations Won’t Make Dent in Wild Horse Population, 07-31-18
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.