Triple B Horses Get Short End of Stick

Data from the news release announcing the roundup and final Gather Plan approved in December, 2017:

  • Current population 3,381 wild horses
  • Population target 472 – 889 wild horses
  • Available land 1,632,324 acres

The aimed-at population density for wild horses in the Triple B Complex is 0.5 animals per thousand acres, compared to the target density of one animal per thousand acres for all HMAs (the land—27 million acres—can only support 27,000 wild horses and burros per current narrative).

The 889 horses allowed by plan would consume 10,668 AUMs annually, assuming they graze 12 months per year.

The horses found in the Complex today would consume 40,572 AUMs per year, with a population density of 2.1 animals per thousand acres.

Land in and around the Triple B Complex is also used for domestic livestock grazing, with 27 allotments involved.  See Table 9 in the Gather Plan.

The forage allocated to livestock inside the Complex must be calculated because some of the allotments extend beyond its boundaries.  For example, Gold Canyon contributes 1,068 × 0.59 = 630 AUMs, because 59% of its land is inside the Complex (assuming that forage is uniformly distributed across the parcel).

The 27 fractions, added together, yield 49,188 AUMs for livestock inside the Complex.

If livestock graze an average of six months per year, the AUM budget yields 8,198 cow-calf pairs inside the Complex, which are equivalent to wild horses in terms of their resource loading.  The planned livestock density is 5.0 animals per thousand acres.

These results are summarized in the following charts.

Triple B Management Plan-1

Land that can only support 0.5 wild horses per thousand acres can support ten times as many cow-calf pairs.  That’s what you’d expect if it was managed principally but not necessarily exclusively for livestock, contrary to the WHB Act.

The following options were considered in the plan but rejected:

  • Manage the HMAs principally for wild horses
  • Remove or reduce livestock
  • Raise the AMLs

Note that the map on page 9 of the Gather Plan shows both the Antelope and Triple B Complexes.  Tables 1 and 8 could be used to generate the same charts and figures for Antelope.  Any volunteers?  The Antelope Complex contains the massive Spruce Allotment, site of the infamous Spruce-Pequop incident last August.

The gather that starts on Monday will shift 9,600 AUMs per year from the Horse column to the Cattle column, moving the plan one step closer to fruition.

RELATED: Triple B Gather Starts Next Week.

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