The BLM sells about 12 million AUMs to livestock operators on 155 million acres of public lands in the western U.S. every year.
That resource would support one million wild horses on a twelve-month grazing season, for an equivalent stocking rate of 6.5 wild horses per thousand acres.
The Virginia Range was carrying ten wild horses per thousand acres before the advocates got involved.
Land designated for wild horses, a subset of the acreage above, can only support one wild horse per thousand acres, according to the official narrative (27,000 animals on 27 million acres).
Why the difference?
The management plans assign most of the forage to privately owned livestock.
By how much are the horses being cheated?
The forage assigned to livestock is the missing piece in the carrying capacity puzzle.
Carrying capacity = Horses allowed by plan + Horses displaced by livestock
The number of horses displaced from their lawful homes by permitted grazing is
6.5 × 27,000,000 ÷ 1,000 = 175,500
The True AML, the number of wild horses the land could support if it was managed principally for them, is
27,000 + 175,500 = 202,500
The figure based on the land originally identified for wild horses, around 53 million acres, is
(1.0 + 6.5) × 53,000,000 ÷ 1,000 = 397,500
This is enough to empty all of the off-range corrals and long-term pastures six times over!
You don’t have a wild horse problem on America’s public lands, you have a resource management problem.
Who’s doing the cheating?
The bureaucrats, of course, with the cooperation of the ranchers and advocates.
Concerns about the rising costs of the wild horse and burro program are bullcrap.
More and more horses will be taken off the range and the costs will go wherever they need to go to protect the grazing program and the public-lands ranchers.
RELATED: Livestock Outnumber Horses and Burros on Public Lands?