One of the goals of the pilot episode of Wild Lands Wild Horses was to present the truth about America’s wild horses.
The documentary was filmed in and around the Twin Peaks HMA on the California-Nevada border and featured interviews with key stakeholders.
An equally admirable goal would be to present the truth about permitted grazing in areas set aside for wild horses, so let’s get to the numbers.
A 2019 Final EA for resource enforcement actions in the HMA provides data for horses, burros, cattle and sheep in Tables 1-1 and 3-2. Additional information was obtained from the Allotment Master report in RAS.
The management plan allows 758 wild horses and 116 wild burros in the HMA, for a total forage demand of 9,792 AUMs per year.
The plan currently assigns 26,803 AUMs per year to privately owned cattle and sheep, down slightly from the resource allocations in 2019.
Approximately 99% of the public acres in the allotments do not meet standards for rangeland health. If those conditions can be associated with wild horses and burros, why are three of the allotments in the Maintain category? They’re all inside the HMA according to the map in Appendix H. (As of today, there is no category for blaming substandard conditions on wild horses and burros.)
Livestock receive 73% of the authorized forage, neglecting wildlife, with the balance going to horses and burros.
The forage assigned to livestock would support an additional 2,234 wild horses, or 2,200 wild horses and 68 wild burros, or any other combination as long as the total forage demand is 26,803 AUMs per year.
That means 2,234 wild horses have been displaced from the HMA by permitted grazing, a figure not in the film’s dataset.
The True AML would be 758 + (116 ÷ 2) + 2,234 = 3,050 for horses only, or 2,800 horses and 500 burros, or any other combination that requires 36,595 AUMs per year.
How can you justify a fertility control program in the area when that many animals have been cheated out of a spot on their home range? Only their enemies would endorse it.
Overall the film was enjoyable and worth the 50-minute viewing time.