Running on Empty

Trailcam photos of some Virginia Range mustangs, at a time of year when they tend to be thin.  Is this what you’d expect to see for a herd that’s overpopulated?

At a stocking rate of approximately ten wild horses per thousand acres, you’d have to search one square mile to see six or seven of them.  Maybe.

And that’s ten times higher than your typical HMA.

Some ‘advocacy’ groups push contraceptives not because they care about the horses, but because they’re frauds.

RELATED: Virginia Range Darting Program in the News.

Water Tanks 02-22-20

Comments Invited on Changes to Big Summit Management Plan

Earlier this week the Forest Service announced a proposed update of the management plan for wild horses at the Big Summit WHT, according to a report by KTVZ News of Bend, OR.  The preferred option will reduce the AML from 55 – 65 to 12 – 57.

The WHT covers 25,434 acres in central Oregon.  The current AML yields a stocking rate of 2.6 wild horses per thousand acres.  The target rate across all areas managed for wild horses is one per thousand acres.

Big Summit WHT Map-1

Management actions for controlling the herd size include gathers and contraceptives.

The management plan allocates 2,322 AUMs per year to livestock, compared to 780 AUMs per year for horses under the current AML.  Refer to Table 21 in the draft EA.

The disparity will be greater under the preferred option, with 77% of the forage going to livestock and 23% to the horses.  On land to be managed principally for the horses.

Project documents are posted here.  A link to the online comments form can be found on this page.  Comments can be submitted through May 18.

Park Service Reports Shackleford Census Results

The Carolina Coast Online said today that 111 wild horses were living on Shackleford Banks at the end of 2019, with 38% males and 62% females.  Ten foals were born and fourteen deaths occurred.

The best way to protect the herd is public education, according to the story.

The report by NPS said contraceptives had been in use on the island since 2000.

The disparity between males and females, noted as longevity of mares and not mortality of stallions, was linked to the fertility control program.

Unlike the Assateague horses, these results could be produced by a simple random process centered at 50% males / 50% females.

Virginia Range Darting Program in the News

There are approximately 3,000 wild horses roaming an area that can only support 700, according to a story posted today by Nevada Current.

Sound familiar?

How did they come up with 700?  With a stocking rate of roughly ten wild horses per thousand acres, the Virginia Range sticks out like a sore thumb compared to public lands managed for wild horses by the federal government.

It doesn’t fit the narrative.  The people might even think the government is lying.

Therefore, we have to bring the number down.  The involvement of a so-called advocacy group makes the project seem legitimate.

RELATED: The Experiment Is a Success!

Too Many Horses in Elko County?

Two of the five HMAs located within the county are below their AMLs, according to an opinion piece posted yesterday by the Elko Daily Free Press, but three are way above their government-mandated limits.

The overpopulated HMAs belong to the Antelope Complex, reviewed on these pages back in August, where the management plan assigns 89% of the forage to livestock.

That tells you that the available resources are far greater than those required by the AMLs.  In other words, AMLs represent the number of wild horses the land can support after most of the resources have been diverted to privately owned cattle and sheep.

That’s what makes the writer grumpy: He can’t stand the thought of horses roaming freely on lands designated for them, enjoying resources that were set aside for them.

Such a waste!

The Spruce-Pequop HMA, one of the offending areas, was the scene of a wild horse shooting at the beginning of a gather in 2018.  Multiple rounds to the abdomens.

BLM knows who did it but to my knowledge there have been no arrests in the case.

The HMA intersects the massive Spruce Allotment, to which Madeleine Pickens has grazing preference.  Not for cattle but for wild horses.  Initially the BLM agreed with the plan but has since blocked every attempt to effect it.  Because of the crybaby ranchers.

The AML for Spruce-Pequop yields a stocking rate of 0.3 wild horses per thousand acres, almost nothing, which is what you’d expect for an area where most of the food has been allocated to public-lands ranchers.

Horses on the Goshute HMA, which is 1,184% over AML (not 1,284% as stated in the article) must be skin and bone.

Same for the Antelope Valley horses, which are 272% over the limit (not 372%).

Except they’re not.  Resources are more than adequate.  They’re just not being distributed in a manner that satisfies the ranchers.

Time Running Out for Comments on Rock Springs Amendments

An editorial posted this morning by the Rocket Miner of Rock Springs, WY says “It’s time for a roundup.”  Wild horses are robbing the poor ranchers of their birthright.

These animals have been set up to fail, by the government agencies entrusted with their care.  Yes, Virginia, it’s sabotage.

The management plan for the affected HMAs allocates 86% of the forage to privately owned livestock—on lands set aside for the horses.  This is now—before the plan is amended to satisfy a rancher-friendly court order!

Would that explain the movement of horses off their HMAs?  Would it account for complaints about wild horses on private property and safety issues attributed to the animals near roads and highways?

The ranchers, who believe they have a right to place their property on land they don’t own, cluttering it with various ‘improvements’ that allow them to strip away a sizeable portion of the resources, are the problem.  Never mind that the fees they pay have been stuck in time capsule since the 1960s.

Nobody’s trying to force them off their own land.  But they do need to be confined to it.

Many of the wild horse ‘advocates’ buckle at the idea, because they have ranching backgrounds or ties to the ranching industry.  They’d rather give aid and comfort to the government serfs through application of contraceptives.

The 50,000 wild horses in long-term holding can be explained by the misappropriation of forage on just a few dozen HMAs.

Payments by the ranchers ($1.35 per AUM) don’t even come close to the cost of feeding those animals ($60 per AUM).  There is no payout and no rate of return for removing wild horses from their home range.  Like other government programs, it’s negative cash flow all the way, with the shortfall covered by taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the ranchers and contractors get rich.

The wild horse outplacement program, with its adoption events, financial incentives and training programs is necessary because the WHB Act—altered at the behest of ranching interests—no longer functions as Velma intended.

It’s not time for a roundup.  It’s time to end public-lands ranching and restore the Act to its original form.

RELATED: Rock Springs AML Amendments, Defending the Ranchers.

PSA 12-03-19

Comments Invited on Pryor Management Plan Update

BLM announced today the opening of a comment period for proposed management actions on the Pryor Mountains WHR.

With goals involving horse color, age, bloodlines, size, growth rates, dispersion and sex ratios, the proposed plan is anything but management at the minimum feasible level, per Section 1333(a) of the statute.

The area would be closed from April 15 to June 15, according to the proposal, to protect the horses and their young during foaling season.

Comments can be submitted at this page.

Assateague Herd to Add More Foals This Year

Seven more are on the way, according to a report posted this morning by the Maryland Coast Dispatch.

The fertility control program was suspended in 2016, according to the story, as park managers realized the herd was too small.

The report did not mention the high mortality rate of the stallions, the highly skewed sex ratio of the herd, and the possible lack of genetic diversity—hallmarks of a successful management program, according to the PZP zealots.

Eight foals would put the growth rate at just 11% this year, four years into the ‘adaptive phase,’ making slow recovery another hallmark of the program.

RELATED: Assateague Herd Declines in Latest Census, New Assateague Foal.

The Experiment Is a Success!

So says the writer of an opinion piece appearing today in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

He’s talking about a Virginia Range darting program that started a year ago.  To date, his ‘volunteers’ have ‘treated’ over 950 mares with PZP.

At least he didn’t refer to them as ‘advocates,’ because they aren’t, and neither is he.

The Virginia Range, with a stocking rate of approximately ten wild horses per thousand acres, refutes the claim by the BLM that western rangelands can only support one wild horse per thousand acres.

And these idiots are destroying it.  Whose side are they on?

The author says “PZP doesn’t hurt horses.”  Apparently, he hasn’t looked at the data for the Assateague herd, where it has been applied for many years.

The EPA was recently ordered to review new evidence of the detrimental effects of the pesticide, that may lead to the withdrawal of its registration.

But he describes the affair as a model for humane management of wild horse herds.

The organization backing the venture is the American Wild Horse Campaign.

Two Parcels Up for Grabs at Fort Meade

BLM announced again today the availability of two allotments for cattle grazing near Sturgis, SD.  The previous announcement was on February 6.

The minimum bid is $29.50 per AUM, considerably higher than the $1.35 per AUM paid by public-lands ranchers in the western U.S.

Does that mean that forage in South Dakota is overpriced?

Or could it be that the grazing fee is stuck in a time capsule and that the United States is not receiving fair market value for the use of those lands, as required by FLPMA?

The maximum stocking rate on the Fort Meade allotment is 49 head per thousand acres and 76 head per thousand acres on the Bear Butte allotment, a bit higher than the rates seen in and around the Great Basin.

RELATED: Grazing Fee Defies FLPMA.