Rationale for AMLs?

Several commenters at this week’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting claimed that the rationale for setting AMLs wasn’t clear.  These figures are specified in Resource Management Plans, which are usually cited in NEPA projects for wild horse and burro roundups.

If you look at the numbers, the rationale is obvious: Areas designated for wild horses and burros shall be managed primarily for cattle and sheep.

The typical AML works out to about one wild horse or burro per thousand acres, with seventy to ninety percent of the forage allocated to privately owned livestock.

One person—only one—mentioned this on Day 1.

Western Horse Watchers doesn’t see the value in creating Herd Management Area Plans, also mentioned by several commenters, when the RMPs are biased in favor of public-lands ranchers.  The government must first be compelled to manage these areas primarily for wild horses and burros and change the RMPs accordingly.

As for contraceptives, the subject of many comments on the first day of the meeting, the PZP zealots won’t look at the data because they’d have to admit they’re wrong.  Better to push the overpopulation narrative, it’s good for business.

Once you compute the true AMLs you realize most areas aren’t overpopulated and there’s no justification for fertility control.  These people are as much of a threat to America’s wild horses and burros as the public-lands ranchers.

Wild Horse Management

WHBAB Day 1: Get Rid of the Horses with PZP not Helicopters!


  • Continue managing HMAs primarily for livestock
  • Keep AMLs low to keep excess horses high, fueling the overpopulation myth
  • Forget about Velma Johnston and the original WHB Act
  • Don’t talk about public-lands ranching
  • Don’t look at the numbers

In the public comments, a representative of AWHC violated the fourth and fifth bullet points by suggesting that tens of thousands of wild horses could be returned to the range by removing a small percentage of privately owned livestock from public lands.

She was right.  Western Horse Watchers estimates that 108,000 wild horses and burros could be returned to their home range by removing livestock from lands that can only support 27,000 of them, enough to empty all of the off-range corrals and pastures twice.

RELATED: WHBAB Meeting Tomorrow.

Marching Orders

From Section 2.5.3 in the Final Environmental Assessment for wild horse management actions in the Red Desert Complex:

[C]hanges to livestock grazing cannot be made through a wild horse gather decision, and are only possible if the BLM first revises the land-use plans to re-allocate livestock forage to wild horses and to reduce or eliminate livestock grazing.

Will a court order be required to achieve this?

Roundups don’t allocate resources, they enforce resource allocations, and those are determined upstream in the management process.

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

Pendley Still Targeting Wild Horses and Burros

There’s not enough seed or fertilizer or technology or time or water to fix the damage they caused, according to an interview posted this morning by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Curiously, the leading beneficiary of the plan to remove them from America’s public lands was not a part of the discussion.

When the interview turned to fertility control, Pendley suggested that GonaCon is actually a chemical sterilant.  “We’ve got a new product out there that we think will last [with] a one-time application.”

RELATED: Pendley Won’t Head BLM.

Tour of Long-Term Holding Facility Announced

BLM has scheduled an online tour of a private pasture for wild horses, starting at 9 AM on September 21, Mountain Time.  The facility is near Davis, OK.

Wild horses are not sent to these places for protection and preservation.  They are not backups in case something happens to the original herd.  They will never return to their home range.

Rather, they are removed from public lands in favor of privately owned livestock and, if not adopted, shipped to segregated pastures to live out their lives and die.  No family, no foals, no legacy.

The announcement did not indicate if the facility holds stallions or mares and if any of them have been sterilized.  The event will be carried by socialist media.

Forget About Darting, Castrate the Studs

So says the writer of a letter to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, published this evening.

The AML of 27,000 does not represent the carrying capacity of lands set aside for wild horses and burros.  The true AML is likely five times higher and the current population of 95,000 is not close to that.

So why does everybody have their panties in a knot?

Because the horses and burros are robbing forage from the most noble and deserving inhabitants of America’s public lands: Privately owned livestock.

RELATED: New WHB Off-Range Corrals in the News.

AMLs and True AMLs

What’s the difference?  On HMAs subject to permitted livestock grazing (which is most of them), the AML is the number of horses or burros the land can support after diverting most of the resources to privately owned cattle and sheep.

The true AML is the number of horses or burros the land can support after taking back those resources and managing the HMAs principally for wild horses and burros, per the statute.  Some resources would be assigned to wildlife, bringing the total to 100%, with special attention to endangered species, per the statute.

The column headed ‘New AML’ in this report could have been labeled ‘True AML,’ as it was computed according to the definition above.  You may be shocked by the magnitude of the numbers.

Program Trains Excess Horses for Forest Service Use

There are 95,114 wild horses and burros roaming on America’s public lands, according to a story published August 26 by the Jackson Hole News and Guide, compared to a recommended maximum of 26,770.

In Wyoming, the population exceeds the state’s goal by 4,900 animals and ranchers say the excess “robs rangeland from their cattle.”

Curiously, the article did not include any complaints by drillers, miners and loggers.

There is a problem, however.  There aren’t any excess horses and burros on America’s public lands, overall.

Yes, some areas are overpopulated in terms of their true AML—the number of animals the land can support if forage diverted to privately owned livestock was returned to the horses and burros.  For example, the pre-gather population in the Sulphur HMA, now in a roundup, included 88 excess horses.

But numbers like that are more than offset by shortfalls in other areas.  The 68,344 excess animals indicated above is fiction.

The story did not mention that according to the WHB Act, areas set aside for wild horses and burros are to be managed principally for them.  Instead, the government supplanted the statute with a regulation.  We’ll do that if we feel like it.

It did not mention that almost half of the land set aside for wild horses and burros is no longer managed for them, usually due to ‘inadequate resources.’  Roundups do occur in those areas and many are subject to permitted grazing.  The gather at Jakes Wash in Nevada provides an example.  The Caliente roundup of 2019 is another.

The article noted that wild horses have no natural predators but did not mention that in most cases they share their land with livestock.  The animals that would keep horse populations in check would also be interested in cattle and sheep, and the ranchers aren’t going to tolerate that.

They’ve never been able to tolerate the WHB Act either and have pushed for several amendments since it was signed into law almost 50 years ago.

Today, the WHB program, like predator management programs, is nothing more than a grazing program ancillary, designed to give ranchers unfettered access to cheap feed on America’s public lands.

The enterprise, which has outlived its usefulness, should be shut down effective Monday morning, as the cost of those programs far exceeds the fees paid by the ranchers.

Cattle and Horses

Grazing Program Ancillaries

What do they have in common?  They work together to give ranchers unfettered access to cheap feed on America’s public lands.

You don’t have a horse problem on western rangelands, you have a ranching problem, and it is huge.

Grazing Program Ancillaries B-1

Don’t Forget the Laramie County CAFO!

The announcement earlier this week of three new off-range corrals and the expansion of a fourth complements the announcement earlier this year of the closure of three HMAs and downsizing of a fourth.

These short-term holding facilities are sometimes referred to as ‘concentrated animal feeding operations’ or ‘high-density feeding operations.’

Another such facility may be in the works, thanks to a rule change in Laramie County, WY that will streamline the approval of a CAFO near Burns.  Residents near the proposed feedlot opposed the change, along with the county planning commission.

The facility would have a capacity of 5,000 wild horses.

What Happened to the Saylor Creek Mares?

They dropped off the radar screen on August 11.  From that date onward, only ‘adults’ were captured.

Perhaps some of them transitioned but are still in the process of coming out.  Maybe the traditional stud / mare binary is just too damn divisive?  Or it doesn’t accommodate the full spectrum of possibilities?

As of today, the gather stats show 78 stallions, four horses with a cervix and 14 foals.

Saylor Creek Stats 08-20-20-1

So much for transparency.  These data can’t be can’t be produced by a simple random process centered at 50% males / 50% females.  Try tossing a coin 82 times and coming up with no more than four tails.

RELATED: Saylor Creek Mares Not Taking the Bait?

Medical Waste Facility a Threat to Virginia Range Mustangs?

The proposed incinerator, to be built in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center on the north end of the Virginia Range, was approved this week by Storey County Commissioners, according to a report published this morning by The Nevada Independent.

The project was questioned last month in a planning commission meeting about emissions, traffic and possible collisions with wild horses.

Who raised the concerns?  Who’s worried about the impact on horses?

The PZP zealots, whose war on the Virginia Range mustangs has already caused more loss of life than an incinerator ever could.

TRIC Sign-1

Founder of Wild Horse Preservation League Dies

She led the effort to ensure that Nevada’s wild horses got the top vote to adorn the state quarter, according to an obituary published yesterday by Nevada Appeal.

Today, the group advocates for smaller herds through application of contraceptives.

You see, the only other option is roundups.

Perhaps it was not like that when Bonnie was in charge.

Curiously, the group does not mention her passing at their home page.

On the Brink

Although the glorious ‘Path Forward‘ is designed to take America’s wild horses back to the ‘fast disappearing’ days, one change, just starting to happen when Velma died, is the use of political and legislative processes by ranching interests to undermine the WHB Act and advance their agenda.  It’s been going on for over 40 years.

Who do you suppose chased these horses to the edge?  Drillers and miners?

Do you think that only American companies want a piece of the action?


Who’s Buying Occidental’s Checkerboard Properties?

With its recent acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Occidental Petroleum Corporation became the largest private landowner in Wyoming.

The deal saddled Occidental with a large amount of debt, which it is trying to reduce through various divestitures, including properties in the Wyoming Checkerboard, a patchwork quilt of public and private lands in the I-80 corridor.

The Checkerboard is also home to hundreds of free-roaming horses.

The Rock Springs Grazing Association, whose lawsuit against the BLM became the driver of the Rock Springs RMP Amendments, leased some its land from Anadarko.  It also owns some of the private parcels in the Checkerboard.

Occidental is negotiating with a bidder and it’s not the state of Wyoming.  Those in the know aren’t talking.

What will be the impact of the sale on RSGA?  How might it affect the court order that’s forcing the closure of three HMAs and downsizing of a fourth?  Will BLM’s decision in the case be influenced in any way by the negotiations?

RELATED: Wyoming Not Top Bidder for Checkerboard Lands.

New Form Streamlines WHB Adoptions and Sales

Two applications have been combined into one, according to a BLM staff report posted yesterday.  The photo supplied with the announcement suggests that this will appeal to those who can’t get a horse to do anything without shoving multiple bits in his mouth?

A horse does what he has to do to save his life, don’t confuse it with your ability, my dear.

Keep in mind that the number of excess horses and burros on public lands in the western U.S.—animals destined for the WHB outplacement program—is directly related to the number of privately owned cattle and sheep allowed thereon, and that WHB stocking rates are often good indicators of magnitude of the problem.

Thriving Ecological Balance-3