Livestock Outnumber Horses and Burros on Public Lands?

Refer to this handout for proposed changes to livestock grazing regulations.

The BLM authorizes around twelve million AUMs per year for livestock (page 11) on 155 million acres (page 1), enough to support one million wild horses, or, if you prefer, one million cow/calf pairs on a 12-month grazing season.

The agency also authorizes about 27,000 wild horses and burros on 27 million acres.

Assume it’s all horses.

The resource requirements of wild horses are said to be equivalent to those of cow/calf pairs, according to this 2016 infographic.

Livestock Grazing Infographic 08-14-22

Livestock can access 5.7 times more land than the horses, but the number of animals allowed by plan is 37 times higher.

Land is always more productive, from a resource viewpoint, and has a much higher carrying capacity, when it’s designated for livestock.  In some cases, it’s the same land.

The stocking rate allowed by plan in HMAs is one wild horse per thousand acres but the target rate in allotments is 6.5 wild horses (or cow/calf pairs) per thousand acres.

If there was no dietary overlap, livestock would not thrive inside the HMAs and the horses would die beyond them.

Neither is true.

The BLM will collect $936,600 in grazing fees from ranching activity that displaces the 58,000 wild horses in off-range holding, while it spends around $60 million per year to care for them.

Would you say that permitted grazing is a wise use of the public lands?

Thriving Ecological Balance-3

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