AMLs and True AMLs

What’s the difference?  On HMAs subject to permitted livestock grazing (which is most of them), the AML is the number of horses or burros the land can support after diverting most of the resources to privately owned cattle and sheep.

The true AML is the number of horses or burros the land can support after taking back those resources and managing the HMAs principally for wild horses and burros, per the statute.  Some resources would be assigned to wildlife, bringing the total to 100%, with special attention to endangered species, per the statute.

The column headed ‘New AML’ in this report could have been labeled ‘True AML,’ as it was computed according to the definition above.  You may be shocked by the magnitude of the numbers.

Emergency Roundup Scorecard

Jakes Wash HA

  • Animals gathered: 68 horses
  • Goal: 60 horses
  • Animals shipped: 0
  • Animal deaths: 0
  • Method of capture: Bait trap
  • Gather stats

Montezuma Peak HMA

  • Animals gathered: 5 horses, 43 burros
  • Goal: 50 horses, 25 burros
  • Animals shipped: 2 horses, 43 burros
  • Animal deaths: 0
  • Method of capture: Bait trap
  • Last update: August 17 (No activity since August 4)
  • Gather stats

Nevada WHR

Antelope Valley HMA

Triple B / Maverick-Medicine HMAs

Jackson Mountains HMA

RELATED: Emergency Roundup Scorecard, August 20.

Program Trains Excess Horses for Forest Service Use

There are 95,114 wild horses and burros roaming on America’s public lands, according to a story published August 26 by the Jackson Hole News and Guide, compared to a recommended maximum of 26,770.

In Wyoming, the population exceeds the state’s goal by 4,900 animals and ranchers say the excess “robs rangeland from their cattle.”

Curiously, the article did not include any complaints by drillers, miners and loggers.

There is a problem, however.  There aren’t any excess horses and burros on America’s public lands, overall.

Yes, some areas are overpopulated in terms of their true AML—the number of animals the land can support if forage diverted to privately owned livestock was returned to the horses and burros.  For example, the pre-gather population in the Sulphur HMA, now in a roundup, included 88 excess horses.

But numbers like that are more than offset by shortfalls in other areas.  The 68,344 excess animals indicated above is fiction.

The story did not mention that according to the WHB Act, areas set aside for wild horses and burros are to be managed principally for them.  Instead, the government supplanted the statute with a regulation.  We’ll do that if we feel like it.

It did not mention that almost half of the land set aside for wild horses and burros is no longer managed for them, usually due to ‘inadequate resources.’  Roundups do occur in those areas and many are subject to permitted grazing.  The gather at Jakes Wash in Nevada provides an example.  The Caliente roundup of 2019 is another.

The article noted that wild horses have no natural predators but did not mention that in most cases they share their land with livestock.  The animals that would keep horse populations in check would also be interested in cattle and sheep, and the ranchers aren’t going to tolerate that.

They’ve never been able to tolerate the WHB Act either and have pushed for several amendments since it was signed into law almost 50 years ago.

Today, the WHB program, like predator management programs, is nothing more than a grazing program ancillary, designed to give ranchers unfettered access to cheap feed on America’s public lands.

The enterprise, which has outlived its usefulness, should be shut down effective Monday morning, as the cost of those programs far exceeds the fees paid by the ranchers.

Cattle and Horses

Pine Gulch Fire Smoldering

Today’s report said that unburned fuels in the interior may smolder until rain or snow put the fire completely out.  This may not happen until mid-September, October, or even as late as November.

The latest map shows hot spots on the south and west sides but containment is holding at 77%.  Total area burned is 139,000 acres.

Management teams are transitioning and the number of persons assigned to the incident is declining.

The night shift is no longer needed according to today’s briefing.

Three cheers for our police officers, fire fighters and emergency personnel!

RELATED: Pine Gulch Fire Almost Over?

Sulphur Roundup, Day 14

Gather stats through August 28:

  • Horses captured: 620
  • Horses returned: 46
  • Deaths: 8
  • Goal: 600

Two studs were put down on August 27 due to pre-existing conditions.

Foals accounted for 20.6% of the horses gathered.

Body condition scores over the last two days ranged from 4 to 5.

Some of the horses returned to the HMA may have been treated with contraceptives but no details were given.

The goal of the roundup was to gather 600 wild horses but the number to be removed was not stated.  If 600 horses were gathered and 600 were returned, would the operation be considered as success?

RELATED: Sulphur Roundup, Day 12, Roundup Checks and Balances.

The First Thing to Do When You Buy Land Up Here

You’ll probably have to drill at least 500 feet at a cost of $40 or more per foot.

That doesn’t include the pump, controls or treatment.  It’s just a hole in the ground with a steel casing.  If you find water then you can go on with the rest of the project.

If you prefer smaller risks there’s all sorts of gaming in Reno.

Photo taken August 7 on the Virginia Range.

Well Drilling 08-07-20-1

Pine Gulch Fire Almost Over?

The burn map was not updated today and there was no morning report.

The map in today’s briefing shows the unburned area north of the Division B/A break has now been consumed by the fire, increasing the total acreage involved to 139,000.

The unburned area, referred to as a ‘green island’ at 5:32 in the briefing, can be seen in yesterday’s map.

Containment has increased to 77%.

RELATED: Focus Shifting in Pine Gulch Fire.

Pokegama Wild Horse Roundup Begins Next Month

BLM will remove an unknown number of horses from the Pokegama HMA, starting September 14, at the request of a private landowner.

The operation will be carried out with bait traps, according to the news release, and will not be open to public observation.

The HMA covers 80,885 acres on the California-Oregon border and has an AML of 50, for an aimed-at stocking rate of 0.6 animals per thousand acres.

The roundup will occur on private lands only, denoted by white in the following map.

Pokegama HMA Map-1

Horses will not be gathered from public lands, denoted by tan, which constitute a small part of the HMA.  The problem resembles that of the Wyoming Checkerboard: How do you keep the horses off private lands?  Are California and Oregon fence-out states?

Captured animals will be taken to the off-range corrals in Hines, OR.

A link to the gather stats and daily reports was not provided.

Saylor Creek Mares MIA?

Since August 11 only adults and foals have been captured.  But the number of animals gathered has increased from 78 stallions, 4 mares and 14 foals on August 20 to 81 stallions, 7 mares and 16 foals as of today.

The traps have been idle since August 24 according to the daily reports.

The operation will remove all wild horses from the HMA, followed by selective return, including mares treated with contraceptives.

The herd won’t be a product of natural processes, just a carefully curated exhibit.

RELATED: What Happened to the Saylor Creek Mares?

PSA 12-12-19

Jakes Wash Emergency Roundup Begins Tomorrow

BLM said today that approximately 60 wild horses will be removed from the former HMA, starting August 28, due to lack of water.

The operation will be carried out with bait traps, according to the news release, and will not be open to public observation.

The HA covers 153,663 acres in eastern Nevada.  It was demoted in 2008.  It has no AML because it’s not managed for wild horses.

The state allotment map suggests that it’s subject to permitted livestock grazing.

Jakes Wash HA Map

Captured animals will be taken to the Palomino Valley off-range corrals, about 20 miles north of Sparks, NV.

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

NOTE: If you don’t know the difference between an AUM and an AML, see the Lexicon.

Focus Shifting in Pine Gulch Fire

The latest report at InciWeb says yesterday’s growth was just 38 acres and the fire shows no signs of breaching the line near the Little Bookcliffs WHR.

The total area burned is approximately 136,000 acres.  Containment, denoted by a black border in today’s map, is now 53%.

A video posted yesterday shows an unmanned aerial vehicle that ignites fuels ahead of the fire to slow its spread.

RELATED: No Major Concerns at Pine Gulch Fire.

Sulphur Wild Horses Get Short End of Stick

The Sulphur HMA covers 265,675 acres in western Utah and has an AML of 250, as stated in the Final EA for wild horse management actions therein.

The actions were designed to achieve and maintain AML over a six to ten year period, according to a Decision Record signed in 2016.  The DR authorized Alternative 1 in the EA, the Proposed Action.

AMLs represent a thriving ecological balance between wild horses, wildlife and other mandated uses of public lands.  Sounds great, but what do they tell you about land-use plans and the attitudes and beliefs of those who wrote them?

The 250 horses allowed by plan require 3,000 AUMs per year.  The stocking rate allowed by plan is approximately 0.9 wild horses per thousand acres.

The HMA intersects nine allotments.  The EA provided grazing seasons and authorized forage but did not provide the sizes.  Refer to Table 3.2 in the EA (page 23 in the pdf).

The area subject to permitted grazing was estimated to be 80% of the HMA, based on the map supplied with the EA.  The Mountain Home allotment was inactive when the EA was published.  That may not be the case today.

Sulphur HMA Calcs-1

The stocking rates allowed by plan for each of the allotments could not be determined.

The total estimated forage available to livestock inside the HMA is 10,257 AUMs per year and the total estimated herd size is 1,755 cow/calf pairs.  The weighted average grazing season is 5.8 months per year.

Sheep are allowed on three of the allotments but the calculations are based on cow/calf pairs for a direct comparison to those for wild horses.  The resource requirements of wild horses and cow/calf pairs are said to be equivalent.

The stocking rate allowed by plan is 8.3 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres, based on an estimated 212,540 acres available to livestock.

These management indicators are compared in the following charts.

Sulphur HMA Charts-1

The forage assigned to livestock would support an additional 855 wild horses, for a new AML of 1,105.  The Rule of 5 yields 1,250 wild horses.

That figure, 1,105 wild horses, represents the carrying capacity of the land if permitted grazing was prohibited and the HMA was managed principally for wild horses according to the original WHB Act.  (Forage allocated to wildlife not considered.)

The HMA is currently subject to a roundup that will remove 600 wild horses.

The pre-gather population of 1,193 means there were 88 excess horses on the HMA when the operation began, not 943 per the current AML.

The roundup will take the herd to approximately 50% of the true AML, which probably won’t be exceeded for another five years.

Thriving Ecological Balance-3

Sulphur Roundup, Day 12

Gather stats through August 26:

  • Horses captured: 538
  • Goal: 600
  • Deaths: 6

One mare was put down yesterday after hitting a panel and breaking her neck.

Foals accounted for 20.2% of the horses gathered.

Body condition scores over the last two days ranged from 4 to 5.

If livestock are not free to roam across the nine allotments that intersect the HMA, how are the horses supposed to do that?  The average grazing season is six months per year.

RELATED: Sulphur Roundup, Day 10.

No Major Concerns at Pine Gulch Fire

The 9 AM report at InciWeb says there was a small amount of growth to the south at the Division B/A break but it did not threaten the control line.  The area is about a mile north of the Little Bookcliffs WHR.

The break is marked by back-to-back parentheses at the southern edge of the fire on today’s map.  The perimeter at that point is red—not contained—so there is still some risk of spread.

Light winds out of the northwest are predicted today, with a chance of thunderstorms.

The total area burned is now 135,900 acres, compared to 135,000 acres yesterday.

Containment holding at 47% with 935 persons assigned to the incident.

The Division B/A break is discussed at 1:40 in today’s briefing.

RELATED: Crews Taming Pine Gulch Fire?

Shawave Roundup Ends

An announcement has not been posted to the BLM news site but the daily reports say the operation concluded on August 24 with 1,873 animals gathered (horses and burros), 12 deaths and 1,814 animals shipped.

A small crew will probably remain on site for another week or two to treat the 44 mares that received contraceptives at the beginning of the roundup and release them back to the HMA.

The number of unaccounted-for animals remains at three (1,873 – 12 – 1,814 – 44).

RELATED: Shawave Mountains Roundup Starts Next Week.

Big Bear Wild Burro Roundup in the Works?

Refer to this story by Bear Valley News of Big Bear Lake, CA.  The WBT is in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Western Horse Watchers was unable to determine if this is the beginning of a scoping period for a new project, solicitation of comments on a draft environmental assessment for a roundup, or an announcement of a decision that will allow the plan to go forward.

Another possibility is that it’s already been authorized by an existing NEPA project.

WHW does not know if the burros have been denied access to critical resources by other mandated uses of public lands.

Roundup Checks and Balances

What is the relationship between animals gathered, animals returned, animals shipped and animal deaths?  Draw a box around the traps.  The animals going in should equal the animals going out.  Mathematically, this would be expressed as

Animals in = Animals out

That is,

Animals gathered = Animals returned + Animals shipped + Animal deaths

The formula can be manipulated algebraically to solve for any one of the four terms.

Roundup Checks & Balances

Refer to this roundup report from the Shawave HMA for an example of the calculation.

What about the number of animals removed from the HMA?  That would be equal to the number of animals shipped plus the number of animal deaths.