The views expressed in this commentary are those of its author and not necessarily those of Western Horse Watchers.
If the government assigns 84% of the forage in HMAs to privately owned livestock, the number of wild horses displaced thereby would be 141,750, enough to empty all of the off-range corrals and long-term pastures almost three times over.
The True AML, the number of horses the HMAs could support if they were managed principally for horses, would be 168,750, to be achieved by ending public-lands ranching in those areas. A similar assessment for WHTs would likely drive the number higher.
The current population of 86,000 is well within this range.
Show your work:
Current AML = 27,000 (horses and burros but assume all horses)
Available land = 27,000,000 acres
Current stocking rate = 27,000 ÷ 27,000,000 × 1,000 = 1 wild horse per thousand acres
Forage demand = 27,000 × 12 = 324,000 AUMs per year
Total authorized forage in HMAs = 324,000 ÷ (1 – .84) = 2,025,000 AUMs per year
Forage assigned to livestock in HMAs = 2,025,000 × .84 = 1,701,000 AUMs per year
Horses displaced by livestock = 1,701,000 ÷ 12 = 141,750
True AML = 27,000 + 141,750 = 168,750
New stocking rate = 168,750 ÷ 27,000,000 × 1,000 = 6.25 horses per thousand acres
Land ratio at new AML = 1,000 ÷ 6.25 = 160 acres per horse