Tuesday, October 9, 2007


The Bureau of Land Management Surprise Field Office in California has announced a scoping period for wild horse management actions and is requesting public comments.

The Surprise Field Office recently removed 84 wild horses from the Wall Canyon HMA, 142 wild horses between the Bitner and Nut Mountain HMAs and 75 wild horses that had established themselves “well outside” any HMA boundaries totaling 300 for the area.

The September roundups were based on decisions issued in the fall of 2005. As a result, BLM determined no public comments, current population census or EA was necessary to authorize their removals. This also prevented any public appeal of their “management” actions.

The current scoping proposal includes the capture and removals of wild horses in the Buckhorn HMA, the Carter Reservoir HMA and Massacre Lakes HMA, as well as possibly renegotiating the “Appropriate Management Level” (AML) for Massacre Lakes.

Buckhorn Herd Management Area
Buckhorn HMA spans 76,126 acres with an allowable management level not to exceed 85 wild horses. Last removed in November 2003, reported populations skyrocketed between 2005 and 2006, jumping from 71 to 239 and because of this, the current estimated population is approximately 344 wild horses. Based on the remaining wild horse population from the 2003 roundups and not including this stunning leap, wild horses in the area would only be about 122.

Carter Reservoir Herd Management Area
Carter Reservoir HMA spans 22,934 acres with an allowable management level not to exceed 35 wild horses. Removed in November 2003, this wild horse population also saw a stunning increase between 2005 and 2006, jumping from 29 to 95 wild horses in the HMA. BLM reports a September 2007 helicopter census confirmed 104 wild horses in the area. Based on the reported remaining wild horse population from the 2003 roundup, wild horses would only number around 50.

Massacre Lakes Herd Management Area
A Herd Area is supposed to be the original territory wild horses and burros occupied in 1971 becoming their “protected habitat” yet Herd Area acres seem to be in a constant state of flux.

In 2004, BLM reported that the Massacre Lakes Herd Area spanned 127,728 acres but in 2005 the original Herd Area was no longer 127,728 acres, now it is only 65,658 acres. Then BLM further reduced this to a “management area” of only 37,350 acres, a loss of 90,378 acres or 70% of their “federally protected habitat”.

The Wild Horse & Burro National Program Office reports that the Massacre Lakes HMA has an established AML of 20 wild horses but the scoping letter states the AML ranges between 25-35.

The National Program Office projects a wild horse population of approximately 183 but the scoping letter states a census conducted in September 2007 found 110 wild horses in the area and that included 12 new foals.

BLM reports the Massacre Lakes area hasn’t been gathered since October 1988. So how do wild horse populations double in size every 3-4 years if these wild horses haven’t been “managed” away for 15 years?

Part of the proposed management action is that BLM may “adjust” the wild horse population’s allowable management level to accommodate the thriving ecological balance, which includes heavy livestock grazing and what has been referred to as the “Big Game Mecca” of Nevada.

Massacre Lakes preliminary environmental assessment is expected to be out in early November so we can count on BLM giving serious consideration to anything brought to their attention through the public comment process.

Information that would be really nice for BLM to provide for a change include: total livestock numbers authorized in the HMA, the amount of AUMs given to livestock and big game, estimated populations of big game species that include mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk and big horn sheep, total number of water sources, recent monitoring data on more than one location in the HMA, actual dates on monitoring reports versus “recent” which often turn out to be years old, total miles of fencing that have been erected in the wild horse habitat, any future management plans such as introductions of other species, range improvement projects, and maybe even some current photos of the area and the wild horses.

-Public input and comments are due by October 15, 2007-
Reference #4700 (CA 370) (P) and be sure to include this # in your input.
Contact: Steven Surian
Bureau of Land Management
Surprise Field Office
P.O. Box 460
Cedarville, CA 96104
Phone: (530) 279-2712
Fax: (530) 279-2171
Email at: Steve_Surian@ca.blm.gov

All Herd Statistics taken from BLM National Herd Statistics Fiscal Years 2004-2007 available at
www.blm.gov Wild Horse and Burro Program.

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