Barren Valley Gather EA Comes and Goes, No News Release

The Decision Record, dated June 9, says this about public notification:

The EA was posted to BLM’s ePlanning website and a notice of availability of the EA was mailed to 70 interested individuals, groups, and agencies on April 17, 2020, for a 30-day public comment period.  In addition, a notice was posted in the Malheur Enterprise and Argus Observer newspapers.

However, the project was not announced on the BLM news site, unlike this recent EA for management actions on the Confusion HMA.

Looks like Western Horse Watchers isn’t in the club.

The Barren Valley Complex represents three HMAs in southeast Oregon, according to the final EA, which are managed together because wild horses routinely move between them: Coyote Lake-Alvord-Tule Springs, Sheepshead-Heath Creek and Sand Springs.

Barren Valley Map-1

On Coyote Lake, 390 wild horses are allowed by plan, with a forage demand of 4,680 AUMs per year.  Privately owned livestock receive an estimated 13,421 AUMs per year.

The management plan for Sheepshead allows 302 wild horses, with a forage allocation of 3,624 AUMs per year.  Livestock receive an estimated 7,276 AUMs per year.

At Sand Springs, the 200 wild horses allowed by plan require 2,400 AUMs per year, while livestock receive an estimated 6,314 AUMs per year.

The wild horse population in June 2019 was thought to be 1,590 adults and 325 foals.

The forage diverted to livestock could support an additional 2,250 horses across the three HMAs.  The combined AML could increase from 892 to 3,142.  The problem is public-lands ranching, not overpopulation.

Although the project is complete, gather dates have not been announced.

Then again, maybe they have.

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Warm Springs Horses Won’t Be Returned to Range

Fifty five wild horses removed from the Warm Springs HMA in October 2018, but slated to be returned, won’t be released, according to a Decision Record dated 12-10-19.

Eleven older horses were returned on 10-30-19.

The roundup yielded 845 horses, 2 mules and 41 burros.  Some of the mares were to become test subjects for spay research at the off-range corrals in Hines, OR.

The decision was not announced at the BLM news site.

RELATED: Warm Springs Horses Get Short End of Stick.

DNA Testing of Currituck Wild Horses Underway

A story posted this morning by The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC said that mass testing has begun, with the goal of identifying the lineage of every horse on the island.

How are they obtaining genetic material from free-roaming horses?  Darts.

The results will be used to manage breeding, according to the report.

With this much human involvement, are the horses really wild?

Don’t forget the fertility control program.

Kiger Scoping Period Comes and Goes, No News Release

The scoping period for management actions on the Kiger and Riddle Mountain HMAs began on January 28 and ended on February 29.  The project was not announced on the BLM news site.

The scoping letter gave recipients an opportunity to provide input on a new population management plan for the HMAs.

The next step in the process is to draft an environmental assessment for the plan.

Comments Invited on Confusion Wild Horse Gather EA

Yesterday the BLM announced the opening of a 30-day public comment period on a draft environmental assessment for management actions on the Confusion HMA in western Utah.  The EA looks at the consequences of a proposed action along with those of one or more alternatives.

The HMA covers 235,005 acres in Juab and Millard counties, according to the EA, but the HMA page linked above says 293,665 acres.  The area computed from the data in Table 3a of the EA is 270,574 acres.  (WHW has asked the BLM which figure is correct.)

Confusion HMA Map-1

The maximum number of horses allowed by plan is 115, for an aimed-at stocking rate of 0.5 wild horses per thousand acres, based on the area in the EA.  Recall the observation from April that stocking rates below one may indicate large amounts of forage diverted to privately owned livestock.

The management plan allocates an estimated 10,259 AUMs per year to livestock inside the HMA (88%), according to data in Table 3a, and 1,380 AUMs per year to wild horses (12%).  The AUM distribution will change if the acreage numbers change.

Comments can be submitted online at the project documents page or by US Mail.

Range Creek Roundup Starts Next Week

BLM said today that that approximately 125 wild horses will be gathered from the Range Creek HMA in Carbon County, UT, starting July 1.  The operation will be carried out with helicopters and will be open to public observation.

The HMA covers 55,023 acres and has an AML of 125, for an aimed-at stocking rate of 2.3 wild horses per thousand acres.

Range Creek HMA Map-1

The HMA intersects one grazing allotment, with 3,267 AUMs per year authorized across eight pastures.  The amount of land falling within the HMA was not given in the EA.

Captured animals will be taken to the off-range corrals in Axtell.

Gather stats and daily reports will be posted to this page.

A roundup occurred on the HMA last September, with 154 wild horses removed.

The current population is thought to be 184, plus this year’s foal crop, according to the news release.

Nye County Commissioners Reject Helicopter Roundups

On June 16, County Commissioners approved a resolution opposing helicopter gathers of wild horses and burros within the borders of Nye County, NV, according to a story posted this morning by the Pahrump Valley Times.

The motion passed with all in favor.

The Stone Cabin, Reveille, Hot Creek, Saulsbury and Bullfrog HMAs can be found in Nye County, along with the Nevada WHR.

RELATED: Public Meeting This Week for Aerial Roundups in Nevada.

PLC Wants to Change Image of Public-Lands Ranching

The executive director of the Public Lands Council said earlier this week that public-lands ranching should be viewed as “a land-management tool to reduce fine fuels that lead to intense wildfires, as well as a tool to cultivate native grasses and reduce invasive species,” according to a report by Capital Press of Salem, OR.

She also claimed that “herd management areas are overstocked” and stakeholders in the west are very interested in additional funding for the WHB program.

Residents to Protest Currituck Wild Horse Tours

No looting and burning expected, just some yard signs over the July 4th weekend, according to a story published this morning by The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, VA.

Wild horse tourism is a large part of Corolla’s economy.  “People come specifically to see the horses.  Visitors stay in rental houses and eat and shop locally.”

The horses roam on marshes and beaches north of town, near the Virginia border.

The barrier that keeps the horses away from town was damaged last September by Hurricane Dorian.

Comments Invited on Moriah Gather EA

BLM announced yesterday the beginning of a 30-day comment period on a draft environmental assessment for the removal of wild horses in and around the Moriah Herd Area in eastern Nevada.

The HA covers 55,300 acres on the Utah border and has no AML.  Horses were found there in 1971 but the land is no longer managed for them.

Moriah HA Map-1

The HA intersects five grazing allotments according to Section of the EA, with cattle and sheep present most of the year.

Note 13 on page seven of the BLM map says “Unsuitable habitat – (unproductive land – inadequate forage),” yet the area can provide an estimated 4,034 AUMs per year to privately owned livestock, based on data in Table 4, enough to support 336 horses.

The current population in and around the HA is thought to be 714, including this year’s foal crop.  The animals routinely move outside the HA in search of food and water.

All of the horses have been designated ‘excess’ and therefore subject to removal.

The Moriah HMA lost its HMA status in the 2008 Ely District Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan.

The roundup, when it occurs, will likely capture only 75% to 85% of the horses and follow-up actions may be necessary over the next ten years to achieve management objectives, according to section 2.2 of the EA.

Comments must be submitted by email or sent by US Mail to the Ely District Office.

An online form was not provided with the project documents.

Public Meeting This Week for Aerial Roundups in Nevada

BLM said yesterday that the annual hearing for the use of aircraft and motor vehicles in managing wild horses and burros would be held in Battle Mountain June 25.

What if those attending said “We object.”  What would that accomplish?

Roundups are effects, not causes.  They are symptoms of the way public lands are managed.  If you want change, you have to go after the causes.

The announcement said the state’s wild horse and burro population currently exceeds 51,500 animals, with 12,811 animals allowed by plan.  Is that a problem?

The meeting should not be about what type of equipment is most effective in removing these animals from their home range, but why they are being removed from their home range and what can be done to stop it.

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