The 2021 Silver King roundup ended with 284 horses gathered, 256 shipped, 25 returned and three deaths.
Wild horses require 12 AUMs per year of forage and ten gallons of water per day, on average. The resource requirements of wild burros are about half of those for horses.
Forage liberated = (Horses gathered – Horses returned) × 12
Water liberated = (Horses gathered – Horses returned) × 10
The roundup reduced forage consumption by (284 – 25) × 12 = 3,108 AUMs per year and reduced water consumption by (284 – 25) × 10 = 2,590 gallons of water per day.
Roundups usually occur when the horses are consuming more than their allocated share of the resources, not because they are outpacing resource availability.
That is the working definition of ‘overpopulation.’
The missing elements are wildlife and other mandated uses of public lands—code words for privately owned cattle and sheep.
The management plan for the typical HMA assigns four to five time as much forage to livestock as it does for horses, with a small amount reserved for wildlife.
Resources consumed by ‘excess’ horses can be shifted back to their rightful owners, the public-lands ranchers.
The same concept applies to wild horses eliminated by contraceptives, IUDs, sex ratio skewing and sterilization.
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