The roundup announced last week at Eagle HMA, the largest of the three HMAs in the Eagle Complex, will achieve a thriving ecological balance on the affected lands.
Sounds great, but what does that mean in terms of the numbers?
The HMA (not the Complex) contains 670,000 acres according to Table 1 in the final EA and has an AML of 210, for an aimed-at population density (stocking rate) of 0.3 horses per thousand acres.
Because they graze twelve months per year, the forage requirement for the 210 horses allowed by plan is 2,520 AUMs per year.
The next step is to estimate the forage allocated to livestock inside the HMA, the number of cow/calf pairs allowed on the HMA and the cow/calf density in the HMA, to be compared to the same figures for horses.
The HMA intersects nine grazing allotments. The size of the allotments, their grazing seasons, the portions inside the HMA and the historical forage consumption are given in Table 3.2 of the EA.
The permitted AUMs, not given in the table, were estimated from historical use.
For example, the average use at Wilson Creek is 20,408 AUMs per year, which corresponds to 45% of the permitted AUMs. Therefore, the estimated forage consumption allowed by plan on that allotment is 20,408 ÷ .45 = 45,351 AUMs per year.
Likewise for the other allotments. Those figures are shown in red on the following spreadsheet.
The Wilson Creek permittee(s) would have to place 3,779 cow/calf pairs on the allotment to graze off 45,351 AUMs in 12 months (45,351 ÷ 12), for a stocking rate of 3.5 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres (3,779 ÷ 1,090,414 × 1,000).
Given that 47% of the allotment lies within the HMA, the estimated forage available to livestock inside the HMA is 45,351 × .47 = 21,315 AUMs per year, which would feed 1,776 cow/calf pairs over a 12 month grazing season (21,315 ÷ 12).
The total calculated acreage inside the HMA is very close to the 670,000 acres contained by the HMA, so little if any of the HMA is not subject to permitted livestock grazing.
The total estimated forage available to livestock inside the HMA is 25,739 AUMs per year, which would support 2,286 cow/calf pairs over a weighted average grazing season of 11.3 months.
The EA notes on page 24 that “wild horses are present year-round and their impacts to rangeland resources cannot be controlled through establishment of a grazing system, such as for livestock.” Apparently, the writers didn’t notice that the cattle are on the land for roughly the same amount of time!
The estimated stocking rate allowed by plan for livestock inside the HMA is 3.4 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres.
These figures are compared in the following charts.
The thriving ecological balance is not a balance at all. Perhaps the BLM should refer to it as the thriving ecological bias (in favor of privately owned cattle and sheep).
The cattle allowed on the HMA each year are probably worth over $2 million, assuming that half of them ship to slaughter, versus a forage cost of $35,000 at current prices.
The forage allocated to livestock on the HMA would support an additional 2,145 wild horses (25,739 ÷ 12), for an AML of 2,355.
Even in the face of these results, the PZP zealots will spend the weekend cleaning their darting rifles, because they do not want to know the truth about America’s wild horses.
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