Double Devil Corrals Emptied

A report posted yesterday by the Herald and News of Klamath Falls, OR said all of the wild horses that were shipped to the Double Devil Corrals in Alturas, CA have been placed into homes, by sale or adoption.

The Forest Service is moving ahead with plans to remove another 500 horses from the Devil’s Garden Plateau WHT later this year, according to the report.

Estimates before the 2018 gather put the herd size at nearly 4,000 animals.

After forcing approximately 1,000 wild horses off their home range, the herd is now thought to contain about 1,800 horses, including this year’s foal crop!

If the figures from last year were truthful, the herd should be twice that size, assuming a 20% growth rate:

(4,000 – 1,000) × 1.2 = 3,600

This may explain why the 2019 goal is now 500 broomtails, down from 1,000.

RELATED: Forest Service: You Adopt, We Haul Devil’s Garden Horses.

Silver King Horses Get Short End of Stick

The announcement yesterday of a gather involving the Silver King HMA, among others, included a link to the final environmental assessment for a large roundup that occurred there in late 2018.

The EA looks at the effects of a proposed action along with those of its alternatives.

Table 1 on page 5 of the document says the HMA has an AML of 128 wild horses and a size of 606,000 acres, for an aimed-at population density of 0.2 animals per thousand acres.  The average density for all HMAs is one animal per thousand acres (27,000 wild horses and burros on 27 million acres).

The 128 horses allowed by plan would consume 1,536 AUMs annually, given they graze 12 months per year.

Table 3.3 on page 73, titled ‘Grazing Use Within Silver King Herd Management Area,’ shows eight livestock grazing allotments overlapping the HMA.  Only four percent of the Fox Mountain allotment falls within the HMA, compared to Ely Spring, which lies completely within the HMA.

The forage allocated to livestock must be calculated according to the percentage of land falling within the HMA.  For example, the Wilson Creek allotment contributes 43,450 × 0.36 = 15,642 AUMs, because 36% of its land is inside the HMA (assuming that forage is uniformly distributed across the parcel).

The eight fractions, added together, yield 24,048 AUMs for livestock inside the HMA.

In a similar manner, the forage allocations can be converted to cow/calf pairs using the annual grazing period (also given in table 3.3).  Wilson Creek livestock graze 12 months per year, so the number of cow/calf pairs inside the HMA would be 15,642 ÷ 12 = 1,304.

These eight results yield 2,332 cow/calf pairs inside the HMA, for a population density of 3.8 animals per thousand acres.  Note that one cow/calf pair is equivalent to one wild horse in terms of its resource loading.

These figures are presented in the following charts:

Silver King Charts-1

Land that can only support 0.2 wild horses per thousand acres can support eighteen times as many privately owned livestock.  Wild horses receive 1/15 (6%) of the forage allocated to livestock.

There’s your thriving ecological balance, on land set aside for the horses.

These alternatives were rejected in section 2.6 of the EA:

  • Raising the AML
  • Reducing or removing livestock
  • Managing the HMA principally for wild horses

Instead, the plan calls for additional roundups, fertility control and sex ratio skewing.

Table 3.3 in the EA also gives the allotment sizes, from which the planned population densities can be computed.  First, determine the number of cow/calf pairs on each allotment (inside and outside the HMA) using the permitted AUMs and annual grazing periods.  Then, divide those results by the size of the allotments.

For example, the number of cow/calf pairs on Wilson Creek, allowed by plan, would be 43,450 ÷ 12 = 3,621.  The population density would be 3,621 ÷ 1,090,414 × 1,000 = 3.3 pairs per thousand acres.

Silver King Allotment Densities-1

Note that the Ely Spring allotment, all of which falls within the HMA, can support 32 times as many cow/calf pairs as wild horses (6.5 ÷ 0.2).

These data provide more evidence that the WHB Act, which has been altered several times by ranching interests, no longer affords the protections sought by Velma.

The numbers also suggest that AMLs do not reflect the carrying capacity of the land.

Mustangs to Be Removed from Eastern Nevada Starting Today

BLM announced this morning that up to 100 wild horses would be gathered from the Caliente HA Complex, Eagle HMA and Silver King HMA starting today.  All three areas were the subjects of roundups last year, although Caliente was blocked by legal action.

Operations will not be open to public observation.

The free-roaming animals are crossing roadways and damaging private property, according to the news release, which failed to mention that Nevada is a fence-out state.

The announcement did not say if the removal was authorized on an emergency basis.

Caliente - Eagle - Silver King Map-1

Captured animals will be taken to the Indian Lakes off-range corrals in Fallon.

Gather stats and daily reports will be posted to this page.

RELATED: BLM Urged to Fight Caliente Legal Action, BLM Concludes Eagle Gather, BLM Ends Silver King Roundup.

Comments Invited on EA for Range Creek Gather Plan

BLM announced on 07/12/19 the beginning of a comment period for an environmental assessment of the Range Creek HMA Gather Plan.  The assessment looks at the effects of a proposed action along with those of its alternatives.

The HMA, in eastern Utah, contains 55,023 acres, according to the EA.  (The HMA page says 83,410 acres.)  The upper limit of the AML is 125, for an aimed-at population density of 2.3 animals per thousand acres.  The current population, estimated to be 282 wild horses, yields a pre-gather density of 5.1 animals per thousand acres.

The density target for all HMAs managed by the BLM is one animal per thousand acres.

Range_Creek_HMA_Map-1

The plan allocates 3,267 AUMs per year to privately owned livestock.  The allocation for wild horses is 1,500 AUMs per year (125 × 12).

The AUM budget for livestock yields 544 cow/calf pairs, assuming they graze six months per year, for a population density of 9.9 pairs per thousand acres.  (The resource loading for one wild horse is the same as one cow/calf pair per BLM guidelines.)

These figures are summarized in the following charts:

Range Creek Charts-1

There’s your thriving ecological balance.  Land that only support 2.3 wild horses per thousand acres can support almost five time as many cow/calf pairs.

The proposed action (page 12 in the EA) would remove up to 263 wild horses from the HMA, skew the sex ratio of the remaining herd, and apply contraceptives to mares returned to their home range.

The proposal will shift approximately 3,100 AUMs per year from the horse column to the cattle column, on land set aside for the horses.

This is because the WHB Act no longer affords the protections sought by Velma.

RELATED: Livestock Grazing in Utah, Range Creek Gather Ended.

Emergency Gather Ordered for Red Rock HMA

BLM said today that approximately 225 wild horses would be removed from the Red Rock HMA west of Las Vegas, starting July 28.  The roundup was prompted by lack of water and rangeland degradation, according to the news release.

Operations will not be open to public observation and captured animals will be taken to the off-range corrals in Ridgecrest, CA (site of the July 4 – 5 earthquakes).

The HMA covers 162,000 acres and has an AML of 27, for an aimed-at population density of 0.2 animals per thousand acres.

Red Rock HMA Map-1

Gather stats and daily reports can be found at this page.

The announcement did not indicate if any advocacy groups had offered to haul water to the horses and if ‘other authorized users’ were present on the HMA.

Roughly half of the 11,000 wild horses and burros gathered from public lands in 2018 were removed on an emergency basis.