Lying for the Cause?

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

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