How Many Wild Horses Can the Blue Wing Complex Support?

The Blue Wing – Seven Troughs Allotment, which contains the five HMAs affected by the roundup, offers 20,316 active AUMs on 1,192,778 public acres, according to the Allotment Master Report.

Forage availability works out to 17.0 AUMs per year per thousand public acres, enough to support 1.4 wild horses per thousand acres.  Click on image to open in new tab.

Blue Wing Complex Allotment Map 07-30-22

Table 1 in the 2016 Final EA for resource enforcement actions in the Complex provides public acres and AMLs for the HMAs.  Those values are marked as Given in this table:

Blue Wing Forage Calcs 07-30-22

Three HMAs are managed for horses and burros so the first step is to convert the AMLs to horses only.

The resource requirements for burros are half of those for horses, so the equivalent AML for Lava Beds would be 148 + 16 ÷ 2 = 156.

The forage requirement for those horses would be 156 × 12 = 1,872 AUMs per year.

The next step is to estimate the forage assigned to livestock inside the HMAs, assuming the resource is evenly distributed across the allotment.

Forage availability in the Blue Wing allotment is 17 AUMs per year per thousand acres so the portion in Lava Beds should be 232,995 ÷ 1,000 × 17 = 3,961 AUMs per year.

That resource would support 3,961 ÷ 12 = 330, the number of horses displaced from the HMA by permitted grazing.

The bureaucrats refer to them as “excess animals,” more horses than allowed by plan, to be removed from their lawful home and shipped to feedlots in favor of the permittees.

The advocates want them removed with the Montana Solution, not helicopters.

The True AML for Lava Beds is therefore 156 + 330 = 486, the number of animals the HMA could support if it was managed principally for wild horses as specified in the original statute.

The True AML for the five HMAs is 1,400.

The BLM will collect 9,631 × 1.35 = $13,002 per year in grazing fees from ranchers operating inside the HMAs while it spends 802 × 5 × 365 = $1.46 million per year to care for the horses displaced thereby.

Would you say that’s a wise use of the public lands?

RELATED: Blue Wing Roundup Announced.

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