Friday, September 26, 2008

Herber Wild Horses

The United States Forest Service (USFS) issued a public scoping notice requesting input for the future management of wild horses occupying the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest in the Herber Wild Horse Territory (Click Here for Notice). A scoping notice is the very first step government agencies are required to adhere too regarding actions taken with public resources.

Due to a successful lawsuit filed by Attorney Anthony Merril, JD, of the law firm Bryan Cave, LLP the Animal Welfare Institute, In Defense of Animals, The International Society for the Preservation of Mustangs and Burros and The Conquistador Equine and Rescue Advocacy Program, almost 400 wild horses were saved from slaughter as USFS officials attempted to disregard their duties under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act by citing the animals were just stray livestock and therefore, they could be impounded and sold at livestock auctions. USFS also asserted they were exempt from federal law requiring them to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement demanding proper procedures for wild horse management in the territory.

The Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy Program and Dr. Patricia Haight, Ph.D., has sent out an urgent notice requesting public input on USFS’s proposal by October 2, 2008 and has provided her comments to help inform those interested in the preservation and welfare of the Herber wild horses with some of the issues that need to be addressed. (Click Here)

In addition to Dr. Haights insights, I couldn’t help but add a few of my own you may want to mention, as it is glaringly apparent from the Scoping Notice that USFS is still kicking and screaming about being legally forced to comply with U.S. federal laws requiring their stewardship of OUR resources or having to involve the public at all.

The first clue that extreme prejudice is being exercised is the fact that USFS has already picked a number out of a hat for wild horse populations to be “managed” at. A scoping notice is suppose to identify base issues, not tell the public how it is going to be – that comes later! Furthermore, this is a notice regarding an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a document that far exceeds the basic requirements of an Environmental Assessment (EA).

What’s the difference?

Well, an EIS is suppose to be very detailed and requires a large amount of site-specific data on the proposal and area where an EA can get away with reporting more general overviews. Also, an EA is usually written AFTER an EIS has been done with the idea that the EIS provided a complete and comprehensive overview of all the factors that were required to be considered first, before moving on to the EAs. So the short version is, the EIS is suppose to be the grand daddy of analysis on a area.

Yet here USFS has already spelled everything out about “how” the Herber wild horses will be managed while simultaneously providing next to NOTHING in terms of data to support their proposal. In other words, they are already operating completely backwards to how the process is legally required to work, so don’t be surprised when they issue their final proposal next year that looks exactly like this first proposal, as they have clearly already made up their mind about what to do with OUR wild horses and have expressed no interest in acquiring actual scientific data to back up their plans!

So here’s my suggestions for USFS to incorporate that cover primarily two major issues now completely absent from their proposal.

The first is, they are required to offer and examine a range of alternatives in how they will manage the area, a legal requirement they obviously consider abhorrent! What this means is, they are required to pose different formulas for management such as;

In Alternative A, we propose and examine the impacts of managing exclusively for wild horses, remove all livestock grazing and consider big game species subordinate to wild horse needs, or

In Alternative B, we propose to manage mostly for livestock grazing with little wild horse or other wildlife species use, or

In Alternative C, we propose to make big game species as the priority with wild horses and livestock grazing coming in second.

It’s basic but you get the idea. It is suppose to be a range of management alternatives they offer and analyze, not the current – we have decided this is all we are willing to “manage for” and no other public lands use will be considered, analyzed, altered or adjusted.

The second consideration and this is a big one is, there is absolutely no data to support their current numbers and my guess is, they have no intention of working to accumulate or provide the necessary data they need to make an objective analysis.

For example, an EIS is suppose to list every water source in the area, how many gallons per hour it produces (so they can determine how much water is available to support wild horse populations, wildlife and livestock) and if the quality of the water meets federal standards.

They are also suppose to provide data on “forage production”, (i.e., how many pounds of food are totally available in the proposal area so they can then determine what they have to work with when they cut up the forage pie) and “carrying capacity”, which determines how many acres it takes to feed a horse, cow, sheep, deer, etc. for a month. This is how they are suppose to use science to determine proper allocations without causing over stocking (too many animals for the environment to support in healthy ways).

An example might include:

USFS determines 100k pounds of total forage is available within the boundaries of the Herber Wild Horse Territory but of course, they don’t want to allocate it ALL or it would be stripped to the bone and nobody could survive later! So they use a “standard” allocation of 35-50% (35% is the result of the newest studies on rangeland health while 50% is the old standard and is almost ALWAYS used for livestock grazing allocations.)

So, now that they know they have 100k pounds available, they only want to allocate 35k to 50k lbs for use so the area doesn’t end up looking like a desert due to their “management strategies”.

Then they break it down further by determining an Animal Unit Month (AUM) meaning, based on the data above, they figure out how many acres it takes to feed a 1,000 pound animal for a month and this figure will vary depending on the area- deserts obviously produce much less forage than green pastures do! For example, in one area, it may take up to 25 acres at 50% use to feed a horse or cow and calf or it may take as little as 5 acres and that’s how they figure out how much to allocate in their proposals.

Once they get this number, now comes the fun part – who get’s what?

Do they give the bulk of it to livestock grazing? Do they issue wild horse population numbers that are so low they don’t even have to bother allocating them anything? Do they reserve it mostly for “wildlife”? (reading between the lines, this almost always means big game species)

One of the big tricks our government agencies have “converted too” over the years is something called utilization levels. While this technique is good for measuring what is being used on an annual basis, it is NOT a substitute for first determining what is available before they start measuring how much of that available forage can be doled out.

They also like this technique because they are able to decide “what” areas qualify as the “key monitoring areas” they will take the measurements from and these can vary – wild horses may get the crap locations that nothing has grown in for a decade as their “key monitoring area” while livestock get the most prime locations measured before they turn them out to pasture…..

All these factors USFS is hoping the general public is largely ignorant of but consider surprising them by asking them to provide data and information in the EIS that covers:

*Forage production (before and after the wildfire damage)?
*Carrying capacity (before and after the wildfire damage)?
*Acres allocated per Animal Unit Month?
*Current and historical grazing allocations for livestock?
*Temporary grazing permits issued in the last 10 years?
*Total available water sources in the area?
*Gallons per hour of these water sources?
*How many water sources have been fenced?
*Miles of fencing in the area?
*Total big game species populations in the area, including how many they ultimately plan to manage for if those species are not currently at their maximum population targets?
*How they plan to distinguish wild horse use from other rangeland users?

For extra credit, ask USFS why they are putting the cart before the horse in deciding how to “keep the populations low” through the use of fertility control when they have failed to report on how many wild horses can actually be supported in the area first or what their reproduction rates actually are?

All public comments must be submitted by
October 2, 2008 4:30 p.m.


Allison L. Stewart/Acting Forest Supervisor
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest -Supervisor’s Office
30 South Chiricahua Drive, P.O. Box 640,
Springerville, AZ 85938-0640

Phone: 928-333-4301 Fax: 928-333-5966

All public comments and personally identifying information will become part of the public record will be available for public review. Comments must include your name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any, as well as the title Herber Wild Horse Territory Management as well as specific facts along with supporting reasons that you believe should be considered.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Losing Ground

The BLM Ely District has proudly announced the approval of their new Resource Management Plan (RMP). After undergoing a rigorous public Protest Period in which little was analyzed besides public “standing” (which apparently no one had), the BLM determined no changes were necessary to their proposal.

The new RMP ushers in brand new Herd Management Areas with shiny new names as BLM redrew boundaries, eliminated old areas and their herds, and zeroed out 1.6 million more acres of wild horse and burro habitat now deemed “unsuitable”, with 446 more wild horses no longer allowed on public lands and permanently erradicated from the American scene.

While livestock authorizations continue to flourish, Nevada Department of Wildlife will also toast the permanent elimination of competition to the “native” elk they imported in the late 70’s. Managed under the 1996 Lincoln County Elk Management Plan, the now defunct “historic” wild horse and burro habitat will be exclusively reserved for the 1,850 thriving elk that will replace them.

BLM assures the public they are following all applicable law under multiple use mandates, despite completely replacing the wild horses with cattle, sheep and elk and to make sure there will be no legal challenge to dispute their “trust us” plan, a coincidental “emergency gather” was announced by BLM (Click Here) shortly before releasing the RMP decision to the public, an emergency gather that just happened to cover the largest remaining wild horse populations of the now zeroed out Herd Management Areas (HMA).

The BLM reported Highland Peak, Miller Flat, Little Mountain and “outside” the HMAs were gathered, totaling 118 (including five that didn’t survive). However, a map of the gather area posted on BLMs website (Click Here) included Clover Creek, Clover Mountains, Applewhite and Delmar Mountains, also part of the RMPs zeroed out herd management plans. BLM has failed to report any removals occured in these additional HMAs, despite their obvious plans to include them prior to the "official" report. Anybody else wonder how BLM had time to draw that really fancy map even though it was billed as an "emergency"?

While advocates have been attempting to work with BLM to find areas previously zeroed out to return wild horses too rather than just killing them, it appears BLM isn’t interested in revisiting or questioning their prior land use decisions, which have removed 13 million acres once set aside for wild horse and burro “protection and preservation” (despite this being BLMs exclusive call in their exclusively managed fiefdoms deceptively called “public lands”).

Nor do they seem too interested in re-thinking their newest plans of zero tolerance on this additional 1.6 million acres, now to be managed "horse free" regardless of the 37+ years of former legal protection.

Wonder if the 13 million acres BLM reported includes the now zeroed out 1.6 million acres or do we now add the 1.6 million acres to it?

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has pledged to “squelch the ethics storm” recently exposing DOI employees for rigging bids, doing drugs, sleeping with company executives involved in the “land use plans” they were authorizing, all for the bargain basement price of ski tickets, snow boarding lessons, meals and let’s not forget the sex. Click Here to learn more.

In a totally unrelated related story, more questions are being raised due to an internal document leaked to the press with the Washington Post citing BLM is accused of neglecting its public commitments to monitor harmful pollutants in Wyoming for over 6 years. The story includes one employee quitting the Bureau due to ignoring impacts to wildlife, decline in wildlife species linked to the failure to monitor for acceptable levels, but after touring the area Secretary Kempthorne announced he was “impressed” at how the private companies were handling things. Click Here to learn more. Guess that's the DOI's way of "squelching" ethic concerns...

With more good news in the works as BLM continues to insist they have no money and must kill tens of thousands of America’s wild horses and burros in BLM pens or grant slaughter options to fix their financial woes, the Cloud Foundation has announced Montana BLM has decided it’s okay to remove wild horses in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range* (Click Here) and the Mount Lewis Field Office (formerly known as Battle Mountain) has announced they are planning on removing almost 1,500 hundred wild horses in the Callaghan Complex somewhere in the next few months, final decision pending….

In yet another surprise announcement, the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge will begin removing approximately 300 +/- wild horses from the Refuge starting Tuesday, September 23, 2008.

Sheldon managers have been completely silent regarding wild horse management on the Refuge since they approved of “keeping the populations around 800” last spring. No information has been forthcoming regarding any new population census that determined what the population is or why they are pulling 300 or more (foaling rates fail to support this increase based on their last census), nor was any real explanation given for where the "missing" 700 Sheldon horses might have gone since the last census, nor was any gather proposals released. The removals will be conducted again by Dave Cattoor, convicted horse hunter and responsible for the 2006 Sheldon fiasco (Click Here to learn more).

In Defense of Animals (IDA), responsible for the lawsuit demanding Sheldon begin living up to laws governing public resources, apparently just found out about the removals themselves. Expressing outrage that Sheldon managers ignored significant public protests regarding the use of Cattoor due to his past criminal record in wild horse hunting for slaughter, the entire IDA press release can be viewed by Clicking Here .

Note: On September 22, 2008, the Cloud Foundation sent an email Alert stating that Jim Sparks, Billings Field Manager, has announced the removal of Cloud's Herd has been indefinitely postponed. The Cloud Foundation also thanked everyone for all their involvement in helping to protect Cloud and his herd and all of America's wild horses. To receive email updates from the Cloud Foundation, go to:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Last Herd Standing

While BLM is busy complaining how they don’t have any money and all eyes are poised on the 33k wild horses and burros whose lives are now in peril, it hasn’t stopped them from cranking out more management plans to haul more out in the future.

The Las Vegas Field Office has issued a new Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) for the Gold Butte Herd Management Area (HMA) and is currently accepting public comments until September 19, 2008. This plan will become the legal foundation of their authority for the next 10-20 years and can be downloaded by Clicking Here.

The Gold Butte HMA is exclusively managed for wild burros, the last of three the Las Vegas Field Office hasn’t yet zeroed out around Lake Mead, but it looks like they are coming in for the kill with the new HMAP as BLM is only offering two options – their New Plan or No Action.

The Lake Mead Conservation Area use to be the third largest concentration of wild burros in the West with BLM estimating about 800 burros in the area, 600 in Gold Butte alone. Yet in 1998, a new Resource Management Plan reset their population objectives, zeroed out one HMA and slashed the allowable management levels (AMLs) to only 148. In 2005, BLM went back and zeroed out another HMA using highly questionable standards (Muddy Mountains) and today, BLM has determined the “maximum burro use” for the entire Lake Mead area is 98 wild burros on Gold Buttes 271k acres.

The Las Vegas Field Office has claimed this number was derived from “in depth monitoring reports” done in 1991 but apparently, that information doesn’t exist anymore or if it does, BLM has so far refused to admit it. A current Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is now in to see if they want to stick to that story….

Speaking of monitoring, check out this report done in 2001 of the Gold Butte HMA by Clicking Here. Here is a sample photo of the areas surveyed for wild burro use back then.

Now check out the areas BLM has established as their “key monitoring sites” in 2007 to determine future burro use by Clicking Here. Here is a sample photo of the areas BLM is now monitoring.

Anybody notice a MAJOR difference in the two areas being used to determine “rangeland health” and what can support future burro populations?

There’s some other pretty major issues going on too, the first being the 2001 report indicates that there’s a lot of fencing around springs with troughs and pipes supplying water for the burros outside the fences. BLMs new HMAP completely fails to authorize maintenance nor do they provide any stipulations that new fences will be required to provide water outside for continued burro use. BLM lists 24 springs in the Gold Butte HMA but were “unable” to answer questions about how many were now fenced or if they provided water outside for the burros.

The second thing that really stands out is, according to the 2001 monitoring report, those surveying the area said they could find almost NO burro use anywhere and what little they did find was very light. They also stated it was obvious that a round up had recently taken place as areas that had received heavy use “last year” (that would be in 2000) showed absolutely no signs of any burros anywhere.

Yet in BLMs newly released HMAP, Table 4, pg. 14, BLM only reports burros were removed in 1997 and 2003 with no mention of 2000/2001 removals. Hmmm….

In March 2006, BLM schedules an “emergency gather” of the Gold Butte burros due to wildfires destroying approximately 50% of their home range. The National Gather Schedule reported BLM only removed 132 but other documents found 151 were taken – so 19 more burros disappeared without being reported yet again.

Three months later, BLM announces about “60 animals” need to be removed from Lake Mead but the count keeps going up and by March 2007, just one year later, BLM takes:

a) 149 according to the BLM National Gather Schedule.
b) 140 according to the BLM Las Vegas Field Office Post-Gather Report.
c) 135 are only found in post-capture status documents.

In the Las Vegas Field Office’s 2007 Post-Gather report, (Click Here) BLM cited removals occurred between March 16-27 with no deaths occurring ~ yet in other documents, one burro was listed by BLM as dead and/or euthanized on March 20. After the burros were shipped to holding facilities, 15 more died or were put down between April 10 and April 22 (at least we can rest easy knowing the contractor got paid by getting them to the holding facilities) and by October 2007, a total of 12% of the gathered burros were now listed as dead according to BLM Capture Status Reports.

Now about how many are really left on the range. First, take a look at Table 5, pg. 14 in the HMAP. After the March 2006 round ups, BLM reported only about 40 burros remained yet by June 2006 it was up to 66, then adjusted for foaling, it went to 80, censused again in October 2006, the count went up to 92, adjusted to 110, censused again in December 2006, “adjusted count” went up again to 155.

So in March 2007 BLM pulled out another 140 burros but in May 2007, yet another census counted 48 burros that BLM “adjusted” to 186 burros. Say what? (Read that again in case you missed it the first time and if you are wondering where BLM has been spending all their money, maybe they spent it counting the Gold Butte burros!)

Apparently, there was a massive die-off or maybe National Park Service just removed them because yet ANOTHER census in December 2007 reported only 94 were found; 50% less than their May 2007 “adjusted count” but still 50% higher than BLMs direct count after the March 2007 removals. By the by, BLM only reported finding 3 foals in December 2007…..

So why would this matter? Well, the HMAP plans on not actually creating a formal document to reduce the Gold Butte AML, they are just “slipping in” a provision that the wild burro population will be maintained within the “AML Range” by keeping them between 22-49. When burro populations exceed 49, they are authorizing their removals, even though they will always be 50% lower than the “high” AML of 98. How sneaky is that, huh?

And of course, it is imperative that BLM “adjust” the 48 burros to 94 so when they rubber stamp their approval on the only alternative offered in the new HMAP, they can schedule new round ups to remove more burros to maintain them in their newly approved AML “range”.

In 2001, the surveyors could barely find any evidence of wild burros left at all. Since then, BLM has removed 311 more that has been reported. After looking at the habitat comparison and seeing how many burros BLM has been removing since 2001 (?), check out this You Tube Video BLM made with Las Vegas Field Office Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Jerrie Bertola and the Nevada Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses administrator, Cathy Barcomb by Clicking Here. Any of this sound familiar?

The good news is, when BLM was slashing wild horse and burro AMLs for Southern Nevada in 1998, they simultaneously approved of managing bighorn sheep populations to achieve the “potential goal” of 228-252 in Gold Butte, 500-550 in the now zeroed out Muddy Mountains and 400-450 in the equally zeroed out El Dorado area.

Current stats for Southern Nevada are:
Bighorn Population Objectives ~ 3,800
Wild Burro Population Objectives ~ 255

Now with the ONLY alternative BLM is offering the public to manage the Gold Butte burros over the next 10-20 years, we can count on it dropping another 49 burros to only 206 throughout the “life of the plan” (unless of course they make a new AML determination now scheduled for 2010. BLM will be allowed to decrease the AML range but the new HMAP locks in the “rules” to remove them when they hit 49 burros if the AML is still “over” this number).

Since BLM is only offering two options, the New Plan or No Action, please support and urge BLM to choose the No Action Alternative until a viable option is presented for sincere management. In addition to their currently proposed minimal management strategies, the following considerations should at least be include in a management plan that extends for two decades.

*An Alternative that allows the wild burro herds to reach their high AML range of 98 before BLM removes them, not 49 as the current plan is written.

*Including maintenance of the existing water developments (aka, troughs outside fenced springs) and require water be provided if any new springs are fenced.

*Allow the burros forage measurements to still extend 10 miles around water. The new plan only allows 1-3 miles to be used, a very short distance for burros!

*Must present a rangeland recovery plan for those portions of the HMA that were burned by wildfires. Currently, BLM has no plan in place to help the burros survive for the next 20 years.

*Establish a time frame for migration patterns allowing the burros to use Lake Mead water in the summer. Though burros have always gone here, BLM has no set time allowance for their migration and they can be removed at anytime.

*Do not continue to allow National Park Service to remove or dispose of this last remaining burro herd. All removals must be done by BLM through normal procedures.

Comments must be postmarked or received by
Friday, September 19, 2008.

BLM Las Vegas Field Office
4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130
Phone: (702) 515-5000, Fax: (702) 515-5023

Patrick Putnam/Assistant Field Manager
Jerrie Bertola, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist

Also you must include
Gold Butte Herd Management Area Plan
EA # NV052-2008-435 in all correspondence.

Thank You!

2 year old Gold Butte Jenny Captured on 3/19/07

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wild Hoofbeats - The Review

Wild Hoofbeats – America’s Vanishing Wild Horses
by Carol J. Walker
Forward by Ginger Kathrens

I have often thought one of the great pitfalls of technology is filming the natural world, whether through still photos or live action footage. Though this may sound strange as film has given the gift of transporting us into amazing worlds we’d most likely never see without it, I’ve always felt it insidiously caused a great disservice to both us and to Mother Nature herself.

Why? Because no matter how beautiful the images may be, there is one thing film just cannot do ~ it fails to fully transmit the absolute power that radiates from being in the presence of the natural world.

This living “essence”, which can only truly be felt through personal experience, is reduced to a two dimensional reality, whether on paper or on screen, and too often becomes the substitute for our relationship with the true nature of the world we live in. The sheer enormity of the animals is lost, the crackling energy of their wildness is diluted and the vastness of their homescapes is instead brought to us in boxes - tamed, controlled, safe and “managed”.

With that said, Carol Walker’s “Wild Hoofbeats – America’s Vanishing Wild Horses” is as close as it is ever going to get without actually being there.

For those that appreciate fine art photography, they will not be disappointed as it is absolutely packed with stunning photographs of the highest caliber; beautiful, rich, vivid, raw, tender, and intimate and just on this basis alone, it stands apart as a monumental tribute to the magnificence and beauty of the American Wild Horse.

Yet Wild Hoofbeats delivers much more than just beautiful images as it often transcends ordinary boundaries, leaving no question that you are in the presence of truly vital wild animals of profound importance.

For years, Carol photographed the wild horses of Wyoming and made the Adobe Town herds the focus of this incredible work of artistry. Visiting them during all seasons throughout the years, she shares with us her growing knowledge of each band, each unique family member, the bonds that can take them a lifetime to create as well as a brief history of the various herds highlighted throughout her travels.

From the time she “discovers them”, she follows them through their natural cycles on the great Red Desert plains, through the helicopter driving that rounds them up, shatters their families, their freedom and their lives, and even goes so far as to visit one of BLMs long-term holding facilities, where most of America’s wild horses have now been shipped too, in efforts to try and locate one of the now captured wild stallions whose riveting presence had so moved her to begin following him and his band.

As each page is turned, bringing one deeper into the heart of America’s wild horses with its electrifying visual connections as to why these majestic creatures were declared national icons and living symbols of America’s spirit, freedom and independence, the elegant and profound narration provides stark contrast as it simultaneously sums up the simple truths behind both the tragedy and the travesty that has been unfolding in relative obscurity to our vanishing wild herds.

Educational, beautiful and enlightening, “Wild Hoofbeats – America’s Vanishing Wild Horses” is an instant classic for those who already know the value of the distinctly American wild horse, but more importantly - it is a must have for those who don’t - as it powerfully communicates what is truly being lost or more accurately, what is being taken from us.

Ultimately, it reaches into the depth of the soul and as gratifying as it is visually, it leaves a penetrating sense of sadness through its crystal clear revelations - something precious and irreplaceable is being destroyed right before our very eyes and unless people wake up and speak up, it’s spectacular photography may only serve future generations by historically documenting what “use to be”.

Highly recommended, very reasonably priced, there is a 2009 Wild Hoofbeats Calendar with over 70 images available as well.

For more information or how to order
Click Here or go to

10% of all proceeds will go to the Cloud Foundation, a 501c organization dedicated to the preservation of wild horses on our public lands and the protection of Cloud’s herd in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Game Over

“The Secretary is authorized and directed to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses and burros as components of the public lands, and he may designate and maintain specific ranges on public lands as sanctuaries for their protection and preservation…. “

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act
Public Law 92-195
Section 1333

Despite the passage of federal laws to stop those who had been driving the American wild horse into extinction, many had already become well entrenched in respectable positions. As a result, they now had the unique advantage to manipulate governmental systems and they immediately set about to use this vantage point to corrode the new law.

As with most wars, the heart of the conflict was rooted in controlling and harvesting tangible resources and a new battle to push America’s wild herds into the most remote and hostile regions began.

With each passing decade, as cities grew and urbanization spread, even these areas began to be coveted. What little crumbs the majority of the free-roaming populations had once been allowed now came under further scrutiny as the sons of the fathers continued the family tradition.

In the way that only legal jargon seems to do, through vague phrasing and nebulous concepts, it was easy to allocate more and more forage for livestock, no matter what the cost to the wild horse and burro herds or their “protected habitat”.

It was in the 1998 Congressional Subcommittee Hearing of National Parks and Public Lands that a Nevada County Commissioner presented his vision of what America’s wild horse and burro population should look like when he stated, “We need to consider the idea of having one or two herds of horses in each state”, a vision that mirrored those once intent on eradicating the wild horse from the American West.

Nevada rancher and long time State Senator Dean Rhodes warmly embraced the idea by adding, “Then you could remove all the other horses from the west on much of our grazing lands.”

While our wild horse and burro herds have been disappearing from the American scene, BLM shrugs their shoulders, claiming there is little they can do, as they continue to dish out the lions share of forage pie on to the cattlemen’s plate. After all, they argue, the law never specifies how much each should get….

For thirty-seven years, this game has been played with America's wild horses and burros always on the losing end and those who value them have watched our herds “legally” disappear only to see livestock still grazing were wild herds once roamed.

It is BLMs own Code of Federal Regulations that states:
“If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses and 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.”
C.F.R. 4710.5 (a)

Yet BLM has continued to circumvent the intent of PL 92-195, which is to protect and preserve America's wild horses and burros, has continued to ignore the law by zeroing them out and “re-zoning” their habitat (despite Congress declaring this habitat was dedicated for the purpose of preserving them for future generations) and has continued to ignore their own regulations mandating livestock must go before the wild horse and burro herds do.

As the general public has tried to challenge BLM by pointing out the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandates their home ranges were to be devoted principally to their welfare, as with any species protected habitat is set aside for, the BLM often smugly rebuts ~ this clause only applies to “specially dedicated” wild horse or burro ranges.

In other words, it wasn’t good enough for Congress to have set aside the land once for their protection, now the public has to petition the Secretary of the Interior for a “special designation” if wild horses and/or burros are to be bestowed the honor of having their habitat managed in such a manner as to be “principally devote” to their welfare.

So perhaps the public should take matters into their own hands and close the legal loophole once and for all.

Petition the Secretary of the Interior to designate every remaining area wild horses and burros are still found in and have it declared a Range, which is to be “devoted principally but not exclusively to their welfare in keeping with the multiple-use concept for the public lands.” PL 92-195, 1332 (c)

Then the next time BLM starts scratching their heads, shrugging their shoulders and mumbling they were never told “who gets what”, the public can show them (or a judge);

In wild horse and burro habitat, they get at least 51% of the forage pie.

Game over....