More commentary by Rick Gore.
The video posted yesterday about the grazing program overhaul highlights the conflicts of interest that permeate the management of public lands in the western U.S.
Residents near the proposed horse-feeding operation in Laramie County, WY rejected the idea and so did the planning commission.
The county board of commissioners must now decide if a rule change favoring the developers of the facility will be approved.
At their meeting earlier this month, commissioners tabled the amendment, in hopes of finding an odor propagation model that will corroborate public concerns.
They are probably under considerable pressure to give the right answer, meaning they must ignore the wishes of the people and do as the swamp requires.
Next meeting is March 3, with the final decision postponed until at least April 7.
Panel discussion of issues facing the poor ranchers in Utah.
Concerns not addressed in the video:
- Water sources commandeered for personal gain
- Fences that impede the movement of other animals, limiting access to critical resources
- Grazing fees stuck in a time capsule since the 1960s
- Stocking rates that would destroy the land in a single season if it wasn’t for pasture rotation
- Rape and pillage sold as environmental stewardship
- Transmission of diseases to wildlife by domestic livestock (e.g., bighorn sheep)
- Wild horses forced off their home range so their food can be sold to the ranchers, courtesy of American taxpayers
- Consumers unable to tell if they’re buying range-fed beef
- Conflicts of interest by those who manage and monitor the programs
How can they defend any of this?
What does the new plan look like in terms of key management indicators?
- 19,700 acres available
- 1,248 AUMs allocated to horses
- 506 AUMs assigned to privately owned livestock
Other values needed to compute the KMIs:
- 12 month grazing season for horses
- 5.6 month grazing season for livestock (determined elsewhere)
- 600 pounds dry weight per AUM (assumed)
- 104 horses allowed by plan (1,248 ÷ 12)
- 90 cow/calf pairs allowed by plan (506 ÷ 5.6)
- 5.3 horses per thousand acres (104 ÷ 19,700 × 1,000)
- 4.6 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres (90 ÷ 19,700 × 1,000)
- 3.2 pounds per acre per month for horses (1,248 × 600 ÷ 19,700 ÷ 12)
- 2.8 pounds per acre per month for livestock (506 × 600 ÷ 19,700 ÷ 5.6)
Would you say that the WHT is managed principally for wild horses?
During the grazing season, no. During the off season, when livestock values drop to zero, yes.
Many of the horses currently inhabiting the area will have to be removed to achieve these targets.
Many people in the west understand the “ridiculous horse-feeding program,” but many in Congress and the rest of the nation do not, according to an opinion piece appearing yesterday in The Richfield Reaper of Richfield, UT.
Points discussed in the letter:
1. Almost 90,000 wild horses and burros inhabit ten western states but the government says the number should be about 27,000.
- The land, which was set aside for wild horses and burros, can support way more than 27,000 of them but the government has consigned most of their resources to public-lands ranchers.
- Which paragraph in the statute sets the limit at 27,000?
- The land is to be managed principally for WHB, according to the Act, but a federal regulation says ‘we’ll do that if we feel like it.’
2. Warehousing of wild horses and burros costs $81 million a year.
- Why are they in long-term holding? See Point #1.
- The government spends roughly $50 million per year to stockpile those animals so it can receive a few million dollars per year in grazing fees. If money and economic viability were the issues, the ranchers would have been shown the door years ago.
3. Distributors in the United States spent nearly $2.1 million in 2017 importing horse meat from Canada to feed carnivores in U.S. zoos.
- Shameful. The ranchers could be donating a small percentage of their output to help the poor zookeepers. What do you do for a living, madam?
4. Last year, the BLM began paying individuals a $500 incentive at the time of adoption and another $500 after the adopter takes title of the animal.
- The goal is to cashier as many animals through the program as possible, so more can be removed from the range and their food sold to the ranchers. See Point #1.
5. With so many horses in long-term holding, roundups will only exacerbate the problem and cost millions for taxpayers.
- Correct, because roundups treat the symptoms, not the causes. See Point #1.
Solutions are always aimed at causes. They stop unwanted events. We must have solutions to polio and smallpox because you don’t see them any more.
The answer, according to the writer, is to reopen the slaughter pipeline by overturning laws that prevent it.
How do you know it’s not a solution?
Because it guarantees that more and more horses will be coming off the range, bringing the ranchers closer and closer to the promised land.
Cumulative totals through 02-16-20, per the BLM roundup page for the Eagle Complex:
- 1,385 animals gathered
- 16 deaths (1.1%)
- 623 studs (45.1%)
- 757 mares (54.9%)
- 5 new foals (2019 foals counted as adults)
The range between males and females is still outside of statistical limits corresponding to n = 1,380 and p-bar = .50. The proportions of mares and studs don’t look like they came from a process that produces 50% of each.
The thriving ecological balance is now only 215 wild horses away (1,700 horses to be gathered − 100 to be returned − 1,385).
The forage allocated to livestock on the Eagle HMA, which represents about 88% of the Complex, would support over 2,000 wild horses, making the roundup unnecessary.
The government is probably spending around $1.5 million on the operation, which won’t increase the permitted AUMs, but it can lead to relaxation of AUM restrictions that were put in place because of the horses.
The incremental revenue will be no more than $26,000 per year (1,600 horses removed × 12 months per year × $1.35 per AUM).
Most of the horses won’t be adopted and will end up in long-term pastures at a cost of $1.2 million per year.
It’s absolutely nuts—the trouble and expense incurred by the government to prop up the public-lands ranchers. There is no economic benefit, no payout and no rate of return.
“Hey WHW, why do you say no economic benefit? These roundups create jobs for helicopter pilots, mechanics, wranglers, truck drivers and office personnel.”
Well, that may be true, but economic activity generated by government programs is always offset by a reduction in activity of those from whom the money is confiscated.
That would be you.
The wild horse ‘problem’ arises from government policy—its insistence on giving more and more resources to the public-lands ranchers, on territory set aside for the horses.
Photo: Studs from the Eagle Complex at Palomino Valley off-range corrals, 02-08-20.
The post about the four HMAs affected by the Rock Springs RMP amendment indicated that over 13,000 wild horses had been denied a place on their home range because of privately owned livestock. How would that number be apportioned if the livestock were removed and the forage reassigned to the horses?
On the Adobe Town HMA, 29,412 AUMs per year consigned to livestock, which would support 2,451 horses (29,412 ÷ 12), for a new AML of 3,251 (800 + 2,451).
On the Divide Basin HMA, 35,914 AUMs per year consigned to livestock, which would support 2,993 horses (35,914 ÷ 12), for a new AML of 3,593 (600 + 2,993).
On the Salt Wells Creek HMA, 59,592 AUMs per year consigned to livestock, which would support 4,966 horses (59,592 ÷ 12), for a new AML of 5,331 (365 + 4,966).
On the White Mountain HMA, 34,588 AUMs per year consigned to livestock, which would support 2,882 horses (34,588 ÷ 12), for a new AML of 3,182 (300 + 2,882).
Are you surprised that AMLs could be this large? Now do you understand why the government is warehousing so many wild horses, ramping up its outplacement programs, and shifting its messaging to ‘Off the Range?’