Lost Creek Horses Get Short End of Stick

Helicopters will be flying over the Lost Creek HMA, one of five HMAs in the Red Desert Complex, any day now.  Their mission is to enforce the resource allocations of the Rawlins RMP.

The HMA covers 251,000 acres in central Wyoming and has an AML of 82.  The horses require 984 AUMs per year and the stocking rate allowed by plan is 0.3 wild horses per thousand acres.

What do these numbers tell you about the way the HMA is managed?  The fractional stocking rate may indicate large amounts of forage diverted to livestock.

The HMA intersects one allotment according to Map 2 in the Final EA for wild horse management actions in the Complex.  The allotment extends into the Antelope Hills HMA but the EA does not provide the percentage in each.

Western Horse Watchers estimates that it’s one part in Antelope Hills and five parts in Lost Creek, or 83% in Lost Creek.  The estimated size of the allotment is 251,000 ÷ .83 = 302,410 acres.  Both HMAs are 100% subject to permitted grazing.

Table 5 in the EA provides the grazing season and permitted AUMs.  Although cattle and sheep are allowed on the allotment, the calculations are based on cow/calf pairs only, for a direct comparison to wild horses.  The resource requirements of cow/calf pairs and wild horses are said to be equivalent.

Lost Creek HMA Calcs A-1

The forage available to livestock inside the HMA is .83 × 27,292 = 22,652 AUMs per year, assuming the resource is evenly distributed across the parcel.

The Cyclone Rim permittees would have to place 3,539 cow/calf pairs inside the HMA to graze off 22,652 AUMs in 6.4 months.  The stocking rate allowed by plan is 3,539 ÷ 251,000 × 1,000 = 14.1 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres.

These management indicators are compared in the following charts.

Lost Creek HMA Charts-1

The HMA is managed primarily for livestock, with the horses receiving just four percent of the total authorized forage (excluding wildlife).  The HMA doesn’t have a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) but if it did do you think you could revise it independently of the RMP?

The pre-gather population in the HMA, thought to be around 4X AML (per the news release for the Complex), would include 246 excess horses, so the need for a roundup, along with other population controls, is obvious.

However, the forage assigned to livestock would support an additional 1,888 horses, for a true AML of 1,970.  There are no excess horses in the HMA, the roundup is not needed and there is no justification for a fertility control program.

RELATED: Red Desert Gather, Part 2, Starts Next Month.

Paisley Desert Emergency Roundup Starts This Weekend

BLM announced today that 750 wild horses will be removed from the Paisley Desert HMA, beginning on October 10, due to lack of water.

The operation will be carried out with helicopters, according to the news release, and will be open to public observation, except for horses found on private land.

The HMA covers 271,667 acres in central Oregon and has an AML of 150, for an aimed-at stocking rate of 0.6 wild horses per thousand acres.

As noted earlier this year, the fractional stocking rate may indicate large amounts of forage diverted to privately owned livestock.

Paisley Desert HMA Map

An environmental assessment from 2009 indicates the HMA intersects four grazing allotments, with livestock receiving 10,151 AUMs per year, compared to 1,800 AUMs per year for the horses.  Curiously, the HMA has a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP).

The pre-gather population is thought to be around 1,050.  The true AML is 996.

Captured animals will be taken to the off-range corrals in Hines, OR.

Gather stats and daily reports will be posted to this page.

Clark Mountain Roundup in Progress

BLM is removing 30 to 40 wild burros from the Clark Mountain HA and surrounding lands near the CA-NV border.  The operation was not announced at the BLM news site and may be closed to public observation due to the method of capture.

The Decision Record was signed on August 10, subject to a 30-day appeal period.

The documents for the project were generating error messages earlier today but you can view the DR here.  The area has no AML and is no longer managed for burros.

Clark Mountain HA Map

Gather stats were not found at the customary location and the destination of captured animals is not known.

The roundup follows the loss in 2019 of 46 burros who were gunned down.  That case is still under investigation.

RELATED: No Arrests in Clark Mountain Burro Case.

Mullen Fire Moving East

Today’s InciWeb report states that the fire has spread slightly to the northeast and east over the last 24 hours, with containment holding at 14%.  The total area burned is now about 161,200 acres.

Winds out of the west and southwest are expected over the next 48 hours.

Western Horse Watchers is estimating the fire to be about five miles west of Deerwood Ranch and two miles to the south.  An email sent to the ranch earlier today has not been answered.  The location on the following map is a best guess.

Mullen Fire and Deerwood Ranch 10-07-20 A-1

The ranch is home to 350 wild horses, according to the BLM page for off-range pastures.

RELATED: Deerwood Off-Range Pasture Threatened by Mullen Fire?

Wild Horse Darting Machine Considered in Confusion EA

BLM is aware of the contraption but describes it as “unproven” in Section 2.4.11 of the Final EA for wild horse management actions in the Confusion HMA.  If the machine is modified to read RFID chips in the neck, it may be suitable for providing booster doses of GonaCon-Equine in the field, according to the discussion.

RELATED: New Machine Darts Wild Horses Automatically.

Mullen Fire to Affect Red Desert Roundup?

The fire is not near the gather area but the BLM corrals at Rock Springs, one of the destinations for captured horses, are on standby in case the horses at Deerwood Ranch must be evacuated.

Mullen Fire and Red Desert Gather Map-1

A roundup in the Red Desert Complex was cut short two years ago due to inadequate corral space.  The 2020 roundup is set to begin this week.

RELATED: Deerwood Off-Range Pasture Threatened by Mullen Fire?

Confusion DR Setting New Precedent in WH Management?

The Decision Record issued yesterday states that “…sterilization is the minimum feasible level of management possible for the Confusion HMA.”

Section 2.2.4 in the Final EA for the Gather Plan indicates that the procedures would be carried out at a private facility and would not be open to public observation.

This is unacceptable.

In the future, writers of new gather plans will only need to point to this one to justify their ill-conceived ideas.  Each step in the process moves the program farther from its original charter, which is to manage the land principally for wild horses.

NOTE: The documents were combined into one file.  The Decision Record is not searchable but the Final EA is.

RELATED: Confusion Roundup Pending.

Cattle and Horses

Confusion Roundup Pending

BLM announced today the signing of a Decision Record, allowing plans for a roundup to move ahead, subject to a 30-day appeal period.  The DR authorized the Proposed Action (Alternative D) in the EA.  Both documents were posted as one file.

The operation would capture 560 wild horses and return 60, including those who received ‘population growth suppression.’  The news release did not indicate if the treatments applied to males and females.

The Confusion HMA covers about 235,000 acres in western Utah and has an AML of 115, for an aimed-at stocking rate of 0.5 horses per thousand acres.  As mentioned earlier this year, fractional stocking rates may indicate large amounts of forage diverted to privately owned livestock.

The current population is thought to be 661, including 546 excess horses.

Confusion HMA Map

The HMA intersects five grazing allotments, with the horses receiving just 12% of the total authorized forage, excluding wildlife.

The forage allocated to livestock puts the true AML at 932, meaning there are no excess horses in the HMA and the roundup is unnecessary.

RELATED: Confusion Wild Horses Get Short End of Stick.

Devil’s Garden Roundup Over

The Forest Service reported this morning that the operation ended on October 3, with 506 horses gathered and one death.  The number of horses shipped was not provided.

The sum of the daily reports indicates 502 horses captured.  Foals accounted for approximately 16% of the total.

Do the numbers balance?  Who knows.

The WHT was not overpopulated.  The AML was minimized to maximize the resources available to privately owned livestock, referred to as the ‘economy of Modoc county’ in the news release.

RELATED: Devil’s Garden Roundup, Part 3, Starts Next Week.

Stewart Creek Horses Get Short End of Stick

The Red Desert roundup begins this week, affecting five HMAs.  The news release said the current wild horse population in the Complex is approximately 3,000, compared to a total AML of 724.

If each HMA is at 4X AML, the need for this and other management actions, such as fertility control, is obvious.

The operation was originally authorized in 2016 but the supporting documents were revised in 2017.  Data in the Final EA are not sufficient for a report on the entire Complex but do allow reports for a few of the HMAs.

The Stewart Creek HMA covers 168,000 acres and has an AML of 175.  The horses allowed by plan require 2,100 AUMs per year and the stocking rate is approximately one wild horse per thousand acres, in line with the average rate across all HMAs.

The HMA intersects one allotment, shown in white on the following map.  The EA states on page 54 (page 58 in the pdf) that the allotment boundary is similar to the HMA boundary except the allotment includes about 5,000 acres outside the HMA.  Thus, the estimated size of the allotment is 173,000 acres.

Red Desert Allotments-1

Table 5 in the EA provides the grazing season and authorized forage.  Livestock calculations are based on cow/calf pairs for a direct comparison to wild horses.  The resource requirements of wild horses and cow/calf pairs are said to be equivalent.

The portion of the allotment inside the HMA is 168,000 ÷ 173,000 = .971.

Stewart Creek Calcs-1

The estimated forage available to livestock inside the HMA is 8,138 AUMs per year, assuming the resource is evenly distributed across the parcel (97.1% of 8,380).

The Stewart Creek permittees would have to place 1,292 cow/calf pairs inside the HMA to graze off 8,138 AUMs in 6.3 months.  The stocking rate would be 7.7 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres.

These management indicators are compared in the following charts.

Stewart Creek Charts-1

The HMA is managed primarily for livestock, with the horses receiving 21% of the total authorized forage (excluding wildlife).

If the HMA is at 4X AML, the pre-gather population of 700 would include 525 excess horses and the area would be classified as ‘overpopulated.’.

However, the forage assigned to livestock would support an additional 678 wild horses, for a true AML of 853.  There are no excess horses in the HMA, there is no need for a roundup and there is no justification for a fertility control program.

RELATED: Red Desert Horses Get Short End of Stick?, Rationale for AMLs?

Thriving Ecological Balance-3