When wild horse and burro herds are too large, relative to available natural resources, they can cause substantial damage to rangeland forage plants and soils, outcompete native wildlife species for scarce water, spread invasive plant species such as cheatgrass, reduce sage-grouse populations, limit post-fire ecosystem recovery and affect authorized grazing, according to a statement at the bottom of page 3 in the Strategic Research Plan (page 4 in the pdf).
A statement on page 7 (page 8 in the pdf) says the driver of the fertility control research is the large and increasing number of excess horses and burros living on the range, relative to available resources.
These statements are misleading because they suggest the land can’t support the current number of animals.
They should refer to allocated resources, not available resources, and explain to readers that most of them have been assigned to privately owned livestock through a planning process that puts ranching interests far above those of the horses and burros.
A keyword search search of the document yielded these results:
- Livestock – No occurrences
- Allotment – 0
- Grazing – 1
- Permit – 0
- Cattle – 0
- Sheep – 0
- Allocation – 0
- Land-use plans – 0
As usual, Western Horse Watchers has to tell the other side of the story. Don’t expect the advocates to do that, they’re already riding the fertility control bandwagon.