This statement appeared on these pages back in November:
The number of wild horses and burros in off-range holding (around 50,000) can be explained by the misappropriation of forage on just a few dozen HMAs.
How’s the theory holding up?
Let’s look at the numbers for the areas reviewed in a series of posts called ‘Short End of Stick’ (refer to sidebar on the right). All calculations were based on horses and cow/calf pairs, even in areas designated for burros and sheep.
In the seventeen areas reviewed so far, 36,692 wild horses have been denied a spot on their home range because of privately owned livestock. That’s about 73% of the horses in off-range holding.
How many more areas would need to be reviewed to bring the total to 50,000? If the pattern holds, only about six. So the theory seems to be correct.
Note that livestock receive 85% of the forage overall, with 15% to the horses—on land set aside for the horses.
If livestock were removed, the total AML (for the 17 areas) could be increased from 6,371 to 43,063. A warrant for contraceptives can not be found in these data.