In the fall of 2005, BLMs Wyoming Rock Springs Field Office issued a wild horse removal plan for the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Areas (HMA).
BLM claimed that 730 wild horses would be removed(1) but during the roundups 1,197 horses were actually taken, 467 more than originally planned. (2)
In the 2005 proposal, BLM stated, “At the present time, it can be projected with a high degree of confidence what the population will look like at gather time…” (3)
And is it any wonder BLM felt they really knew the numbers since the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek wild horses have been rounded up 8 times in the last 8 years. (4)
The remaining wild horse population after the 2005 removals, based on BLMs “in-depth” and confident authority was projected to be 861. We can only assume that taking 467 more wild horses during the 2005 removal operations was necessary to achieve this goal.
Flash forward…five month’s later, BLM reports 1,825 wild horses still remain. (5)
What happened? A new census technique is what happened.
BLM and USGS have been working on a new way to count wild horses in Wyoming that have produced some amazing results. For 30 years, BLM has been claiming their wild horse counts were within a 15% accuracy rate but now, USGS stated there’s an 800% increase in the Salt Wells wild horse population.
How do we know? Well, we don’t really and questions to the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board about this new method were met with the usual dumbfounded silence only these BLM appointed experts are capable of.
Based on BLMs reported populations in February 2006, the Salt Wells Creek HMA went from 169 wild horses after the 2005 fall removals to 1,133 in February 2006. This also caused a dramatic increase in the projected new spring foals, bringing the Salt Wells population up to 1,349 by the summer of 2006.
So BLM whipped out a new assessment to remove more wild horses and in January of 2007, while the Nation was gripped in snow, ice and subfreezing temperatures, the Salt Wells wild horses were driven again to the pens, this time removing 846 more, until BLM finally deemed weather conditions were extreme enough to halt the helicopters. (6)
So what does all this mean? Is the old method of counting wild horses really that bad? Is the new method really that accurate? Is this just more “authoritative and confident” flimflam from the masters of spin to butcher viable wild horse populations?
So far, public questions are only being met with silence while the costs of holding over 30,000 wild horses and burros continue to climb.
(1) Bureau of Land Mangement, Rock Springs Field Office, 2005 EA# WY030-05-EA-158, pg. 4
(2) Bureau of Land Management, Rock Springs Field Office, 2006 EA# WY040-EA07-37, pg.4
(3) Bureau of Land Management, Rock Springs Field Office, 2005 EA# WY030-05-EA-158, Site Specific Gather Plan, pg.7
(4) Removals were reported in 1999, Fall-2002, Spring-2003, Summer-2003, February-2005, September-2005, January-2007, and July-2007
(5) BLM National Herd Statistics, Fiscal Year 2006, Wild Horse & Burro Program http://www.blm.gov/
(6) Personal Email Communication, BLM Rock Springs Wild Horse & Burro Specialist, Jay D’Ewart, 2/26/07