Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Final Solution

The BLM is still accepting public comments on their Final Gather plan for the last 147 wild horses of the West Douglas HMA.

Zeroed out after long and lengthy legal battles that ended on October 10, 2007, the BLM Director dismissed all protests of the decision (1) and now BLM is revving up their engines to take them out starting October 1, 2008 and will continue indefinitely until they are only memories.

The Final Plan (or should we say Solution?) can be viewed by clicking Here and includes “humane standards” of limiting helicopter driving of the horses to 5 miles if snow is over a foot and/or canceling helicopter captures if temperatures drop to –10 degrees below 0.

So we finally started getting some answers about what BLM considers “humane treatment”!

The Cloud Foundation and Volunteer Executive Director Ginger Kathrens have posted her letter to BLM (Click Here to View) and is urging everyone to please contact BLM to voice your concerns.

The central focus of BLMs decision to revoke the West Douglas’s federally protected status stemmed from officials determining the 128k-acre habitat is only capable of supporting 60 wild horses. BLM has decided this population is too small to be naturally self-sustaining or genetically viable. But didn’t the Interior Board of Land Appeals just rule that BLM could supplement herds if they were too small? Click Here to see IBLA Ruling (172 IBLA 128)

Only 4 herds remain out of 8 with a state “appropriate management level” of 812 wild horses, which means wild horses are allowed 9,744 Animal Unit Months (AUM) of forage per year.

For comparison purposes, the State of Colorado authorizes 219,664 head of livestock annually totaling 573,918 AUMs of forage and their 2007 free-roaming elk population was estimated between 250,000 to 260,000 - elk herds have been reported at 10-15% above population management objectives for over 20 years. (2)

Just the White River Field Office alone, who authorized the irrevocable loss of the West Douglas Herd, doles out a generous 118,441 AUMs for exclusive livestock use totaling 41,478 head while the 60 wild horses that were considered too small to be genetically viable and therefore must be removed were issued 720 AUMs.

One of the main livestock allotments occurring in the West Douglas HMA, Twin Buttes, was re-authorized by BLM in 2005 to run over 3,900 head of cattle totaling 11,500 AUMs. The other main livestock allotment in the West Douglas HMA is controlled by Cripple Creek Cowboy Company, proud recipient of over $77k dollars in livestock subsidies between 1996-2006 (3) but public lands statistics reports showing how many cattle are being run on his allotments are mysteriously “unavailable”.

Anybody else think it’s funny that the Twin Butte livestock allotment, which spans 140k acres can support 3,900 cattle but the West Douglas Herd Management Area, which spans 128k acres can only support 60 wild horses?

If you have any questions about how illegal this is, read BLMs Code of Federal Regulation 43 CFR 4710.5(a) Closure To Livestock Grazing, which states: "If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock."

Turns out Colorado Senator Wayne Allard (R) is a personal advocate for the permittees and has interceded with BLM on their behalf to make sure we know where the beef is. He is a member of 12 different subcommittees in the House of Representatives, including the Minority Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Interior Environment and Related Agencies and keeps his fingers in wide variety of pies.

If you would like to tell Senator Allard or other Colorado representatives just what you think of what they are allowing to happen to one of Colorado’s last remaining herds just to stuff a few more cattle, elk and oil wells on the land, Click Here for contact information.

Unfortunately, American Herds has just found out about the comment period for the West Douglas Herd and there is almost no time left! If you would like to be herd, you must submit your comments by May 23, 2008 before 4:30 p.m. for BLM to consider them.

~Contact Info~
BLM White River Field Office
220 East Market Street
Meeker, CO 81641
Fax: (970) 878-3805
Phone: (970) 878-3800
Melissa Kindall

Please include the proposal number
EA# CO-110-2008-052-EA in your submission.

Photo is of a captured wild horse taken from the East Douglas Herd.

All Herd Statistics taken from BLM Herd Statistics Fiscal Year 2007 Wild Horse & Burro Program
All grazing authorizations and cattle numbers taken from BLM Public Land Statistics – Colorado

(1) BLM Press Release – October 11, 2007 Elk Management of 5 Western States – No Longer Available online
(3) Farm Subsidy Data Base – 2006 Reports

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