Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Dead of Winter

The BLM has again announced their intent to remove more wild horses from public lands in the Ely District’s Eagle Herd Management Area in Nevada.

Captured Wilson Creek wild horse found online at BLMs Wisconsin holding facility, 7/18/07

As usual, the proposal is filled with the worn out rhetoric of “save the horses” and “protect the range” and a whole lot of spin but little mention of BLMs previous chicanery.

First, BLM states on page 3 of the EA, Section 1.1, Background, that;
The Wilson Creek HMA (approximately 687,932 acres of public and private land) and the Deer Lodge Canyon HMA (approximately 109,717 acres of public and private land) were combined in the 2008 Ely District Record of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plan into the Eagle HMA (approximately 670,000 acres of public land)".

BLM then states on page 25, Past Actions, that;
“The Schell (1983) and Caliente (1982) MFPs (Ely District) designated the Deer Lodge Canyon and Wilson Creek (Fortification and Patterson-Eagle Herd Areas) HMAs for the long-term management of wild horses. The HMAs was later combined into the Eagle HMA in the Ely District Record of Decision (ROD) and Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) in August 2008 due to the interchange between the two HMAs. The HMA is nearly identical in size and shape to the original Herd Areas representing where wild horses were located in 1971.”

According to real world math vs. BLM math, the Wilson Creek and Deer Lodge Canyon acreage totaled 797,649 acres before BLM created the “new” Eagle HMA in 2008, not 670,000 acres. With a loss of approximately 127,649 acres in its creation (and we can only speculate how many critical water sources disappeared in this decision), how is it that BLM can tell the public with a straight face that the Eagle HMA is “nearly identical in size and shape to the original Herd Areas representing where wild horses were located in 1971”?

If you would like to check on the validity of the historical Herd Area acreage vs. the new Herd Management Area acres by cross referencing them with the National Program Office Fiscal Year 2009 Herd Management Statistics for Nevada, you will be in for a real treat as, apparently those Herd Area acres identified in 1971 have now been erased from the records.

Perhaps BLM intends to imply and allow the public to assume this 127,649 acres now lost from historical Herd Area records are a result of their removing the “private lands” when they created the Eagle HMA. Without BLM providing any numbers in the current EA of what comprised that acreage, it’s is kind of hard to tell how much was private, so let me help BLM out.

In the National Program Office Herd Management Area Statistics for Fiscal Year 2008 for Nevada (before BLM made the acreage breakdowns disappear), approximately 670,786 acres were listed as BLM public lands for the Wilson Creek HMA and approximately 106,735 acres were listed BLM public lands for the Deer Lodge Canyon HMA; all combined, the most private acreage could possibly account for is only 20,128 acres.

As for the other 107,521 acres that disappeared in the 2008 Resource Management Plan, can anyone guess what happened? Well, quite simply put, it has been stolen from the wild horses and the public through a bureaucratic Schell game.

So how about BLMs wild horse population figures; could there be more of BLM’s math at play here as well? You betcha!

The Wilson Creek and Deer Lodge Canyon wild horses were last rounded up in February 2007. In the 2007 Preliminary EA, BLM stated they estimated populations totaled approximately 900 wild horses.

According to the BLMs 2007 National Gather Schedule report, BLM removed 646 wild horses from Wilson Creek and 106 wild horses from Deer Lodge Canyon for a total of 752. The estimated remaining population was 130 wild horses for Wilson Creek and 30 wild horses for Deer Lodge Canyon, which totals 160 wild horses. If you add those removed from those remaining, it equals 912 animals; right on target with what BLM claimed they needed to remove in order to "protect the range from deterioration associated with an overpopulation of wild horses".

Yet, lo and behold, just one year later, BLMs National Herd Statistics report a bit of an anomaly with these former figures. Apparently, Wilson Creek jumped from 130 wild horses to 386 after only one foaling season (despite a reported intermingling of these two HMAs, Deer Lodge Canyon saw no similar population explosion as BLM reported only 35 for the area).

In the current EA on page 4, BLM is now claiming that, “The area was last gathered in the winter of 2007. Due to weather conditions at the time, the BLM did not gather enough excess wild horses to achieve AML” even though their previous EA and reported removals clearly show that BLM did achieve AML at that time with no interference from the weather.

BLM goes on to say that an aerial census conducted in March of 2008 found 421 adult horses (so where did the National Program Office get the 386 figure from?) and an aerial census conducted last month (December 2009) directly counted 595 wild horses within the Eagle HMA alone.

As for the 2007 round up reportedly achieving their former population goals, that’s yesterday’s news as now BLM reports that over the last two years, they have found heavy resource damage occurring as a result of the remaining wild horses whose most recent estimates top 645 animals spread out over a minimum of 670,000 acres (BLM estimates an additional 50 horses are permanently residing “between” the Eagle and Silver King HMAs that are causing a potential traffic hazard along hwy 93 but fails to report how much acreage between BLMs imaginary HMA boundaries this actually covers).

While the current proposal also throws in the removal of wild horses from the Utah managed Mt. Elinor and Chokecherry HMA, much less information is presented to the public about the multiple use "relationship" for Utah. For example, while BLM states that livestock grazing has been at or below permitted use levels in the Eagle HMA (pg. 22), they fail to include the livestock allotments within the Utah HMAs. As a side note, BLM performed another bureaucratic shuffle to report livestock use by reporting a 10-year average versus current use. I suspect this is because they really didn’t want to report what the livestock have been consuming since the last round up in 2007.

Captured Deer Lodge Canyon wild horse found online
at BLM holding facility in Wisconsin, 7/18/07.

And so, to protect the range, livestock permittees and wildlife from all that heavy resource damage being caused from wild horses since the 2007 round up as well as preventing wild horses from “starving to death”, BLM must again send the choppers to scoop up a questionable wild horse population to save them from potential death on the range.

To BLM, it matters little if they run wild horses and mares heavy with foal during the dead of winter in an area they report as ranging in temperatures from "greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months to minus 20 degrees in the winter”.

While BLM is going to capture the Eagle wild horses in order to protect them from the harsh realities of an overpopulated range, here’s some additional concerns about the harsh realities they are about to face that BLM obviously isn’t going to report to the public in the current capture proposal.

The following information was obtained from BLM Capture Status Records obtained from
American Horse Defense Fund's Freedom of Information Act request that provided the status of captured wild horses from January 1 through October 17, 2007, as well as BLMs 2007 National Post-Gather Schedule.

The first concern is, according to BLMs 2007 National Post-Gather Schedule, they removed 802 wild horses from the Wilson Creek Complex in 2007 but researching the Capture Status records, only 766 wild horses could be found.

The comparison of these two reports have sparked some serious questions, such as:

*Why were zero horses found in the Capture Status records for Utah’s Mt. Elinor HMA when BLM reported they removed 25?

*Why were more horses found in the Capture Status reports attributed to the Deer Lodge Canyon HMA than BLM reported removing in their 2007 National Gather Schedule?

*Where did 36 wild horses disappear to between the round up and their shipment to BLM holding facilities?

*Or did BLM publicly report more wild horses were removed from the range than they actually took to inflate holding facility numbers?

There’s one other serious concern that BLM probably isn’t going to bother telling the public about either regarding the truth of what happened to the wild horses in the Wilson Creek Complex after they were driven by helicopters and captured in the winter of 2007.

BLMs Post-Gather Report reported a death toll of 3 wild horses dying and 11 that were destroyed during the Wilson Creek Complex round up. It is these Post-Gather Reports that BLM derives their "low" capture mortality statistics from.

But the 2007 Capture Status records revealed a much grislier scene played out in the following months in BLM holding facilities as a total of 85 wild horses were found dead throughout the nine-month report, many of which died within a month of capture.

Since American Horse Defense Fund was embroiled in a legal fight for months to obtain the status of wild horses and burros for just these paltry nine months in 2007, good luck to us in finding out how many wild horses will eventually die in BLMs holding facilities after this newest removal operation.

Wilson Creek Complex
Wild Horse Death Toll

Click Here to view the Preliminary EA regarding
the new capture plans for the Eagle wild horses

BLM is accepting public comments through:

-Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 4:30 P.M, pst-

Be sure to include the Eagle HMA Wild Horse Gather
DOI-BLM-NV-L020-2009-0051-EA in your title.

Submit to:
BLM Ely District Office
HC 33 Box 33500
Ely, Nevada 89301
Attention: Mary D’Aversa, Schell Field Manager
Fax: (775) 289-1910
Email at: eaglegather@blm.gov

For additional questions, contact:
Ben Noyes, BLM Ely District WH&B Specialist
Phone: (775) 289-1800

Please be aware that submitting information for this proposal, including personally identifying information such as your name and contact information may become part of the public record. While you may request that BLM withhold this information, they may not be able to guarantee privacy in all instances.


Marilyn Wargo said...

CM, Your research and dedication are a great asset to our wild ones, thanks. mar

MorganLvr said...

Indeed, your research is an extremely important asset for all of us fighting this battle.

Thank you! I'll spread the word.

Lisa LeBlanc said...

At the risk of being negative on two fronts:
Are comments from the public to the various BLM branches met with any credence or are they simply round-filed?
When it comes to efforts by the Wild Advocates, do you really WANT to be anonymous?
I thank you for calling attention to the 'mathematics'. While I was never a numbers genius, and have a tendency to rely on a calculator whenever possible, there are some basic universal principals in math that, in BLM data presentation, clearly don't add up.
And I thought it was just ME.

lynnbauer@att.net said...

I've been reading everything I could find on this issue and find your research and resulting information a real eye-opener! I'm retired now and have spoken up at every opportunity, including letters to both my senators and my congressman. What else can I do that's intelligent and constructive to help? I have the time - I just need to be pointed in the right direction. As a side question: Can you find out if there's a document/procedure that defines how EACH state's BLM Manager will conduct the activities of each HMA office/officer under their jurisdiction? Seems to vary a WHOLE LOT and I'm wondering why. Again, THANKS for all that you do!
Lynn Bauer
New Mexico

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