North Hills Gather Approved

Today the BLM authorized the removal of 213 wild horses from the North Hills JMA in southwestern Utah.  The roundup would occur later this year.

The area, consisting of the North Hills HMA and North Hills WHT, is managed jointly by the BLM and Forest Service.  It is northwest of Enterprise.

North Hilla JMA Map-1

The roundup would restore a balance between the horses and other public land resources, according to the news release.  Given that livestock grazing occurs on the HMA (but not on the WHT), those resources are probably cattle or sheep.

The distribution of AUMs among the inhabitants of the JMA was not provided in the announcement but odds are that the lion’s share goes to livestock, with some crumbs going to horses and wildlife.

Never mind that the land was set aside for the horses.

RELATED: Wild Horse Overpopulation?Livestock Grazing in Utah.

UPDATE: Added chart from page 28 in the Decision Record.

North Hills JMA AMU Chart-1

Wild horse AUM consumption, pre-gather, is about 3,000 AUMs per year.  Post-gather AUM consumption will be 500 AUMs annually, assuming forty horses remain on the HMA (which puts the herd in the ‘Not Genetically Viable’ category).

Three Assateague Mares Missing in Latest Census

A report that appeared today in Delmarva Now says they are presumed dead.

No problems though, mares outnumber studs on the island by a margin of almost three to one according to the census from November 2018.  Can’t possibly be related to the ‘humane management practices’ sanctioned by the Park Service and supported by most of the wild horse ‘advocates.’

The report also indicated that (only) four of the mares were in foal.

Public-Lands Ranching in Idaho

Video from BLM’s Rangeland Management page.  Fun facts, with their timestamps:

  • 600 cow/calf pairs graze on 50,000 acres (0:12)
  • 20% of the forage is utilized (5:29)

Public lands in Idaho can sustain twelve cow/calf pairs per thousand acres at a 20% forage utilization rate, suggesting a carrying capacity of sixty cow/calf pairs per thousand acres.

However, public lands in the state can only support 1.5 wild horses per thousand acres, according to the Herd Management page.

Probably because climate and resources vary wildly from allotment to allotment, with wild horses finding themselves in one of the bad spots.

Satellite Adoptions

Video posted in 2016 by the Michigan Farm Bureau about wild horse and burro adoptions at non-BLM facilities.  A list of these events for 2019 can be found here.

Roundups drive the adoptions and ‘multiple use’ drives the roundups.

Which of these ‘other mandated uses,’ mentioned at 2:26, interferes most directly with the health and welfare of wild horses and burros?

a. Recreation

b. Oil and gas development

c. Livestock grazing

d. Wildlife

How many reports have you read about

  • Wild horses being attacked by hikers and campers?
  • Wild horses being slaughtered by oil companies?
  • Wild horse herds being wiped out by wildlife?

The great destroyer is public-lands ranching, which explains the remark at 2:20 about no natural predators.

Sunday News Program Looks at Wild Horses

A segment yesterday on Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson briefly discussed the wild horse ‘problem’ in the western U.S.  Although it did mention the costs of helicopter roundups and long-term holding, it did not consider ‘other mandated uses’ of the territory where the horses roam.

Much of the information was sourced from the BLM so, of course, the public-lands ranchers get a pass.  No wild horse advocates were interviewed.

An aerial view of the Palomino Valley Off-Range Corrals appears at 1:27 and ranching shill Chris Stewart makes a few remarks at 2:26.  The guy is bought and paid for.

At best, the piece is incomplete.  At worst, it is biased against the horses.

RELATED: Wild Horse Overpopulation?

Economics of Wild Horse Gathers

Refer to the data and remarks in this post and this post.

  • Cost to remove a horse from his home range, $400
  • Cost to place him in long-term holding, $2 per day
  • Revenue from selling his food to a public-lands rancher, $16 per year


  • Costs of transport and short-term holding ($5 per day) can be neglected
  • Most horses removed from public lands won’t be adopted
  • Fee for livestock grazing is $1.35 per AUM

The adoption assumption is based on a removal rate of 12,000 or more wild horses per year, which floods the program, as in 2018 (lands managed by BLM and USFS).

A wild horse consumes 12 AUMs annually, yielding payments to the government of $16 per year from the rancher to whom the unused forage is sold (12 times 1.35).

The annual cost of holding him in off-range pastures is $730 per year (2 times 365).

Note that $2 per day equals $60 per AUM.  Are you seeing a problem here?

You’re spending $730 per year so you can collect $16 per year.  This is how the mortgage deduction works on federal income taxes.  Ditto for property taxes.

This is what the situation looks like on a cash flow diagram.  There is no payout, no rate of return.

Cash Flow Roundups-1

The BLM removed 846 wild horses last fall from the Warm Springs HMA.  The diagram for that would look the same but the figures would be different.

The initial outlay would be -$338,000 (846 times 400), the annual expenditure for long-term holding would be -$617,000 per year (846 times 730) and the revenue from grazing would be +$13,000 per year (846 times 16).

The grazing fee would have to be raised to at least $65 per AUM to make the program economically viable (internal rate of return greater than zero), a 4,700 percent increase from the current amount.

Corolla Stallions Spar for Mares

Good grief, people are shocked when horses act like horses.  An incident described as a ‘vicious brawl’ was captured on film and reported yesterday in The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC.  The story was also picked up by other news outlets.

“It’s completely natural and a behavior that we like to see,” said one person interviewed for the story, suggesting that the fertility control program hasn’t totally screwed up the herd, at least not yet.

Last month, the same individual blamed the occurrence of ‘swamp cancer’ at the OBX on climate change.

Pine Nut Gather Called Off

Helicopters were grounded today, due to weather, but they won’t be flying again anytime soon.  The roundup has been suspended according to a note at the top of this page, with 340 wild horses removed from the HMA at a cost of roughly $400 per head.

The BLM can expect to receive about $17 per year from the rancher to whom the excess AUMs are sold.  The cost of caring for the displaced animal, assuming he’s not adopted, is about $730 per year.

That’s like buying a machine that costs $400 and earns $17 per year, while driving up your electric bill $730 per year.  Nobody’s going to do that!

Unless you’re in government.

RELATED: Pine Nut Gather Resumed.

UPDATE: Refer to this BLM news release, posted today.

BLM to Return Wild Horses to Warm Springs HMA?

A report posted yesterday by YubaNet of Nevada City, CA, based on a press release issued the day before by the Animal Welfare Institute, says some of horses removed last fall for sterilization experiments will be returned to HMA.

The number and timing are unknown at this time, and an announcement has not appeared at the BLM news page.

Over 800 wild horses were driven from their home range, to provide test subjects for the ovary cutters at the off-range corrals in Hines, OR.

RELATED: BLM Abandons Wild Horse Sterilization Research.

Wild Horse Overpopulation?

Congress tells the BLM to fix the wild horse ‘problem.’  Let’s look at the numbers.

Data from this post and this post, rounded, lands managed by the BLM:

  • 9 million AUMs per year currently used by livestock
  • 12 million AUMs per year available to livestock
  • 155 million acres of public lands available to livestock
  • 71,000 wild horses and burros currently on public lands
  • 27,000 wild horses and burros allowed on public lands
  • 27 million acres of public lands available to wild horses and burros


  • Livestock graze 6 months per year
  • Horses and burros graze 12 months per year

AUM consumption, current conditions:

  • 9 million AUMs per year allocated to livestock
  • 0.85 million AUMs per year allocated to wild horses and burros

Animal population, current conditions:

  • 1.5 million cow/calf pairs
  • 0.071 million horses and burros

Population density, current conditions:

  • 9.7 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres
  • 2.6 horses and burros per thousand acres

Graphical summary:

Wild Horse Overpopulation Current-1

AUM consumption, planned:

  • 12 million AUMs per year allocated to livestock
  • 0.32 million AUMs per year allocated to wild horses and burros

Animal population, planned:

  • 2 million cow/calf pairs
  • 0.027 million horses and burros

Population density, planned:

  • 12.9 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres
  • 1 horse or burro per thousand acres

Graphical summary:

Wild Horse Overpopulation Planned-1

There is no wild horse problem, only a livestock problem.  Thanks to the public-lands ranchers, the contractors, the trade groups, their cheerleaders and political allies—all working together to eradicate wild horses and burros—on land that belongs to you.