Rift in Wild Horse World

The policy change by the Sierra Club marks a widening gap among those who are trying to protect wild horse and burros.

On one side are the sellouts and charlatans—those who signed the rancher-friendly ‘Path Forward‘ and those who give tacit approval through their darting programs, which includes most of the advocates.

On the other side are the originalists—those who reject the ranching agenda and believe that areas set aside for wild horses and burros should be managed principally for wild horses and burros, as specified in the original statute.

Pine Nut Advocates Help Ranchers Not Horses

The real estate agent and PZP darter who wrote the article about euthanizing foals in the current edition of Horse Tales also wrote the condescending article in last month’s edition about the dangers to wild horses posed by local residents.

The Pine Nut HA, not shown in the Western Watersheds map, extends well to the south of the HMA.  It’s drawn with a brown border on page 15 of the BLM map.  The area was identified for wild horses in 1971 but has since been zeroed out.  It has no AML.

The HA contains some private land, denoted by white.

Like the HMA, the HA intersects several grazing allotments, notably Buckeye, Sunrise and Pine Nut.  All three are in the Improve category according to the Allotment Master report (click on map to open in new tab).

Pine Nut Allotments 11-19-21

The author’s listings appear on the last page of this month’s edition of Horse Tales.

Some of the parcels have cattle fencing.  Others are surrounded by BLM land and have no legal access.  The description at the top says “Look for owner name Bently.”

Curiously, the permittee holding most of the active AUMs on the Buckeye Allotment is the Bently Family Limited Partnership.

Interesting.

RELATED: Well for Fish Springs Mustangs Needs 640 Acres?

How Many Wild Horses Should Be Allowed on Public Lands?

Depends on how you weigh the value of horses, cattle, wildlife, economic growth and ecological sustainability, according to a column in the Herald Journal of Logan, UT.

The government already knows what resources are available and typically assigns most of them to privately owned livestock, as in this example from the Warm Springs HMA.

Warm Springs AUM Summary-1

The 202 horses allowed by plan receive just 11% of the authorized forage, supporting an observation made earlier this week that livestock, not horses, are are the highly valued animals on western rangelands.

This is not a consequence of the original WHB Act but a result of changes wrought by FLPMA and PRIA, which promoted the interests of ranchers, not wild horses as suggested by the writer.

RELATED: Origin of AMLs?

Rock Springs Roundup Day 44

The incident began on October 7.  Gather stats through November 19:

  • Type: Planned
  • Method: Helicopter
  • Horses captured: 1,843, up from 1,631 on Day 42
  • Average daily take: 41.9
  • Capture goal: 4,400
  • Removal goal: 3,500
  • Returned: 1, no change from Day 42
  • Deaths: 7, no change from Day 42
  • Shipped: 1,701, up from 1,410 on Day 42

The death rate in this roundup, described as cruel and inhumane by the advocates, is 0.4%.  If they are disappointed by any of this it’s that the government is getting rid of the horses, not them.

Foals represented 20.1% of the horses captured.  Of the adults, 48.4% were male and 51.6% were female.

Body condition scores were not reported.

Gather activity continued at Salt Wells Creek.  Five HMAs are involved in the roundup.

Rock Springs HMAs 10-13-21

Day 44 ended with 134 unaccounted-for animals.

Other statistics:

  • AML: 2,165 (across five HMAs)
  • Forage assigned to horses: 25,980 AUMs per year
  • Pre-gather population: 5,105
  • Forage liberated to date: 22,104 AUMs per year
  • Water liberated to date: 18,420 gallons per day
  • Forage assigned to livestock: 191,791 AUMs per year (estimated)
  • Horses displaced from HMAs by livestock: 15,982 (32% of off-range holding)
  • True AML: 18,147

RELATED: Rock Springs Roundup Day 42.

Sierra Club Parts Ways with Public-Lands Ranchers?

A story by Tri-State Livestock News says the group now wants permitted grazing ended in areas set aside for wild horses.

That they had an alliance with the ranchers, or the appearance of one, casts a long shadow over the organization’s mission and intent.

In 1981, according to the report, the Sierra Club adopted a policy that referred to wild horses and burros as feral, to be eliminated from key wildlife habitat and carefully regulated to minimize conflict with wildlife, livestock and other range values.

But earlier this year, their Board of Directors adopted a new policy that likens wild horses and burros to wildlife, and calls for the elimination of livestock from herd management areas administered by the federal government.

The writer tries to downplay the presence of 3,000 domestic sheep in the Sand Wash Basin HMA two months after most of the horses were removed, noting that they were trailing to their winter range, but does not indicate if it was inside or outside the HMA.

The permittee has not been able use his authorized AUMs for over a decade because of overgrazing by wild horses.

The roundup likely fixed that, and the advocates are now working overtime to maintain the new status quo.

RELATED: Sand Wash Horses Get Short End of Stick.

Rock Springs Roundup Day 42

The incident began on October 7.  Gather stats through November 17:

  • Type: Planned
  • Method: Helicopter
  • Horses captured: 1,631, up from 1,254 on Day 39
  • Average daily take: 38.8
  • Capture goal: 4,400
  • Removal goal: 3,500
  • Returned: 1, no change from Day 39
  • Deaths: 7, no change from Day 39
  • Shipped: 1,410, up from 1,164 on Day 39

The death rate dropped to 0.4%.

Foals represented 20.4% of the horses captured.  Of the adults, 48.1% were male and 51.9% were female.

Body condition scores were not reported.

Gather activity continued at Salt Wells Creek.  Five HMAs are involved in the roundup.

Rock Springs HMAs 10-13-21

Day 42 ended with 213 unaccounted-for animals.

Other statistics:

  • AML: 2,165 (across five HMAs)
  • Forage assigned to horses: 25,980 AUMs per year
  • Pre-gather population: 5,105
  • Forage liberated to date: 19,560 AUMs per year
  • Water liberated to date: 16,300 gallons per day
  • Forage assigned to livestock: 191,791 AUMs per year (estimated)
  • Horses displaced from HMAs by livestock: 15,982 (32% of off-range holding)
  • True AML: 18,147

RELATED: Rock Springs Roundup Day 39.

FOA Seeks Overhaul of WHB Rules and Policies

The group submitted a rulemaking petition to new BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning, according to a news release, asking for the impact of cattle and sheep to be included in rangeland assessments and to immediately reduce the number of those animals within HMAs when any management actions are planned because of rangeland deterioration, followed by a phaseout of all livestock as grazing permits expire.

If the BLM denies the petition, the group will likely take the agency to court.

Western Horse Watchers believes that scientific methods are used to assess resource availability and reliability but the apportionment of those resources is arbitrary and subject to influence by special interests.

Livestock Are the Highly Valued Animals, Not Horses and Burros

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.

RELATED: Wild Horse and Burro Research Initiative Announced, Origin of AMLs?

Wild Horse and Burro Research Initiative Announced

Development of safe, effective and longer-lasting fertility control methods is at the top of the list, along with the impact of climate change, according to today’s news release.

The research will support goals in a new Wild Horse and Burro Strategic Research Plan, which identifies topics that are the highest priority for improving BLM’s management of these “highly valued animals.”

No need to waste money on the second item, man-made global warming doesn’t exist.

As for the first item, is it consistent with the idea of highly valued animals?

In a statement following his arrest, a man who beat his wife, pushed her down the stairs and left her stranded on the edge of the road said he loves her.

Do you believe him?

If the bureaucrats take away almost half of their land and manage it principally for livestock, assign 85% of the food on the remainder to privately owned cattle and sheep, and use population suppression to keep the resource scales tipped indefinitely in favor of the ranchers, would you say they’re talking about highly valued animals?

Of course not.  You know them by their works, not by their words.

Hunter Defends Ranchers, Favors Heber Management Plan

The removal of a large amount of horses is absolutely necessary to maintain the balance for all wildlife, according to the author of a guest column in today’s edition of the White Mountain Independent.

The preliminary EA and management plan were posted under the Analysis tab with other project documents.

RELATED: Heber Management Plan and Roundup Getting Closer.

Rock Springs Roundup Day 39

The incident began on October 7.  Gather stats through November 14:

  • Type: Planned
  • Method: Helicopter
  • Horses captured: 1,254, up from 1,170 on Day 34
  • Average daily take: 32.2
  • Capture goal: 4,400
  • Removal goal: 3,500
  • Returned: 1, no change from Day 34
  • Deaths: 7, up from 6 on Day 34
  • Shipped: 1,164, up from 1,066 on Day 34

Helicopters were grounded on Days 36 and 37 due to high winds.

One horse was put down on Day 38 due to pre-existing conditions.  No details were given.  The death rate increased slightly to 0.6%.

Foals represented 20.7% of the horses captured.  Of the adults, 46.7% were male and 53.3% were female.

Body condition scores were not reported.

Gather activity continued at Salt Wells Creek.  Five HMAs are involved in the roundup.

Rock Springs HMAs 10-13-21

Day 39 ended with 82 unaccounted-for animals.

Other statistics:

  • AML: 2,165 (across five HMAs)
  • Forage assigned to horses: 25,980 AUMs per year
  • Pre-gather population: 5,105
  • Forage liberated to date: 15,036 AUMs per year
  • Water liberated to date: 12,530 gallons per day
  • Forage assigned to livestock: 191,791 AUMs per year (estimated)
  • Horses displaced from HMAs by livestock: 15,982 (32% of off-range holding)
  • True AML: 18,147

RELATED: Rock Springs Roundup Day 34.

Economics of ‘Path Forward’

If the current population, assumed to be 80,000 horses, is reduced to AML (27,000), the goal of the rancher-friendly plan, and the excess forage is shifted to the ranchers, the revenue increment at current rates would be

(80,000 – 27,000) × 12 × 1.35 = $858,600 per year

The cost to remove 53,000 animals at $1,000 per head would be $53 million.

Few will be adopted, as the system is already flooded with captured animals.

The cost to stockpile them in long-term holding, around $2 per day per head, would be

53,000 × 2 × 365 = $38,690,000 per year

If they are placed in short-term holding the cost would be around $5 per day per head.

The government will spend $53 million initially to get them off the range, plus $39 million annually to care for them, so it can collect approximately $0.9 million per year from the ranchers.

Nobody in the private sector would do that.  There is no net present value, no positive rate of return.  A waste of taxpayer money.

UPDATE: Refer to Attachment 2 in the 2018 BLM Report to Congress for unit costs.

More Wild Horses Than the Land Can Sustain?

There are more wild horses than allowed by plan, and the plans assign most of the resources to privately owned livestock.

Remove excess animals with helicopters and PZP darting.

Blame droughts on climate change and use those events to remove more horses.

Don’t talk about base properties, rented pastures and off seasons.  Act like the cattle and sheep have nowhere else to go.

Insist that the number of wild horses an area can actually support is unknown and unknowable.

Never let the wild horse and burro program get in the way of the grazing program.

Price of Hay Up Again

On July 3, the price was $19 per bale for 20 bales or more.  Today, the price was $24 per bale, a 26% increase in just four months.

The average horse would consume around five bales per month, putting the cost of feeding him at $120 per AUM.

Price to graze livestock on your public lands?  Steady at $1.35 per AUM.

Adopters will burn through the $1,000 incentive in about eight months.

RELATED: Price of Hay Still Climbing.