What Is a Stocking Rate?

It’s a measure of population density, usually reported on these pages as animals per thousand acres.

Animal dispersion varies inversely with stocking rates—the lower the rate the greater the dispersion.

Stocking rates are also indicators of grazing intensity.  The higher the rate the greater the demand for forage.  Can the land keep up with animal appetites?

The management plan for the Pryor Mountains WHR allows 120 wild horses on 38,000 acres, for a stocking rate of 3.2 animals per thousand acres (120 ÷ 38,000 × 1,000).

Why not animals per acre?  Decimals.  The stocking rate expressed in those units would be 0.0032 animals per acre (120 ÷ 38,000).

The management plan for the Silver King HMA in eastern Nevada yields a stocking rate of 0.00022 animals per acre.

The scaling factor in the first calculation (1,000) shifts the decimal to make the result a little easier to read.

The Virginia Range in western Nevada has a stocking rate of approximately ten wild horses per thousand acres, while the average rate for lands managed by the BLM is one wild horse per thousand acres.

What might account for the difference?

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