The BLM Battle Mountain Field Office has signed the “Final Decision” papers on a wild horse round up that began today for the Nevada HMAs of South Shoshone and Roberts Mountain.
BLM sent the Preliminary EAs out last April and May because they were originally planning to remove them in July.
Yet in June, BLM announced that other more pressing “emergencies removals” such as the Jackson Mountain fiasco were necessary and they tentatively rescheduled the South Shoshone and Roberts Mountain removals for January 2008.
Despite knowing for over six months that these captures would most likely transpire now, BLM didn't have “time” to publish their Final Assessment for public review so skipped it and jumped straight into issuing the decision to remove them.
Since 1971, the South Shoshone HMA has never been gathered by the BLM – ever!
For over 36 years, the BLM has never had to remove wild horses from the area despite their continued assertions that “over populations of wild horses cause range deterioration” and removals are necessary every 3-4 years to protect the range or the horses and burros.
So WHY hasn’t the BLM had to remove wild horses from South Shoshone before?
The original plan was to gather South Shoshone and Bald Mountain as a “Complex” but BLM changed their mind in the Final Decision to only remove wild horses from South Shoshone. Here are some exact quotes from BLMs Preliminary EA, (Appendix B, pg. 72/73) that address this question.
“The South Shoshone HMA population has never been reduced through a BLM wild horse gather. BMFO staff have not documented animals in poor condition or dying as a result of drought or harsh winters.”
“Both HMAs could have been influenced by illegal human activity. Anonymous reports have been received in past years of airplanes herding wild horses in the Bald Mountain and South Shoshone HMAs. It is possible that wild horses are being shot or killed by other human means, although carcasses have not been discovered. Over the years, field staff has located old skeletal remains of which cause of death was undeterminable. The Bald Mountain and South Shoshone HMAs are the only HMAs in the Shoshone-Eureka Planning area that exhibit a low or negative growth rate that cannot be explained by gather activities, fertility control or inherent movement patterns.”
“In 1980, dead wild horses were found in the Bald Mountain HMA and other nearby HMAs, which were determined to have been shot. In November 1980, 20 were located in Ox Corral Canyon, and in December, an additional 13 dead wild horses were located in the Bald Mountain HMA north of Corral Canyon. Between 1987-1989 over 500 wild horse carcasses were documented in Lander County. Investigators and veterinarians determined that the majority of animals had died from gun shot wounds. No less than 266 carcasses were discovered in Bald Mountain HMA, and 7 in South Shoshone HMA. Other HMAs involved included Augusta, Callaghan, and New Pass/Ravenswood.”
“Though several individuals were indicted for wild horse deaths in Lander and other Nevada counties, the cases were eventually dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Nonetheless, a significant number of wild horses were killed, which influenced the population sizes during that time. Today, groupings of wild horse skeletal remains are still discovered in both South Shoshone and Bald Mountain HMAs. As recently as winter 2000, 12 wild horse skeletons were located in close proximity of one another north of Corral Canyon in the Bald Mountain HMA. The grouping of the skeletons of apparently younger animals caused reason for suspicion; however, the carcasses were too decomposed to determine the cause of death. There have also been at least two anonymous reports received between 1990-1999 of small fixed wing aircraft pushing or herding wild horses. In one case, gunshots were heard, but follow-up investigation produced no findings of illegal activity.”
In the preliminary paperwork, BLM was considering micro chipping and branding the wild horses released back into the range after the round ups as well as conducting a “Trapsite Adoption” in this same area, an event that would allow the wild horses to be loaded straight into trailers from the gather pens without ever having to go to a BLM facility first.
BLM responded to public concerns about “adopting wild horses” through this kind of event in an area rampant with documented wild horse deaths and murders by completely ignoring their own recounted history of the South Shoshone HMA and assuring the public there was nothing wrong with this idea. After all, they did a Trapsite Adoption in 2001 and 2005 too!
BLM failed to mention in their Final Decision if the Trapsite Adoptions had been approved or not but obviously they had since here is the link announcing the “Trapsite Adoption Event” scheduled for Sunday 1/13 and Sunday and Monday 1/20 and 1/21. There is no mention in the Final Decision if the wild horses will be micro chipped or not.
If you’d like to know how to adopt a horse at the Trapsite, here are the requirements as provided by BLM in the South Shoshone HMA, Appendix A, pg. 55:
“Applications for adoption would be accepted by the BMFO until the day of the planned event. BMFO would evaluate applications received by potential adopters, and determine qualification to adopt. Adopters that do not submit applications by the event date would not have first priority for selection of animals. A public or viewing day may be scheduled the day before or the day of the event. The event type (first-come, first-served, competitive or lottery) would be based upon the interest received from potential adopters.”
In other words, just show up on the Event Day without BLM ever having an opportunity to make sure you have the adequate and required facilities to qualify you for loading them into your trucks, and your only “penalty” will be you will not be eligible for the “first-come, first-serve” adoption option but can still obtain wild horses by competitive bid or lottery. Of course they will do a compliance check later.
For the record, BLM stated the Trapsite Adoption Event would only be scheduled if there were sufficient public interest. They received two public comments during the spring assessments but of course, potential adopters were probably ringing the phone off the hook.
For more information contact:
Battle Mountain Field Office
50 Bastian RoadBattle Mountain NV 89820
Photo of South Shoshone wild horses April 2007 and taken from the cover page of Shoshone Complex Wild Horse Gather, Environmental Assessment #NV062-EA07-104 for Bald Mountain and South Shoshone Herd Management Areas.
Final Decision on South Shoshone Gather Plan can be accessed at: http://budget.state.nv.us/clearinghouse/FYI/2008/E2008-299.pdf
Final Decision for Roberts Mountain Gather Plan can be accessed at: http://budget.state.nv.us/clearinghouse/FYI/2008/E2008-298.pdf